Great drive in music today – Steve Vai set

About 2 minutes into my drive to the office today, a great set of tunes popped up on the ol’ iPod plugged into my stereo.

From the forgettable movie, “Crossroads” (the Ralph Macchio one, not the britney spears one), there is a scene where Macchio’s character cuts heads with Jack Butler (played by Steve Vai), a guitar player who sold his soul to the devil.

The scene has for parts, “Fried Chicken”, “Butler’s Bag”, “Headcutting Duel” and the victorious response, “Eugene’s Bag of Tricks”.  Fantastic guitar work, and the piece de resistance, is the Eugene’s Bag of Tricks.  It is really one of Pagannini’s Caprices arranged for the guitar.  (In the soundtrack, all these parts are played by Vai, naturally).

What a great way to make it into the office.


Damn, didn’t need that. Lost my best friend a year ago today

Opened my email this morning and got sucker punched.  I knew it was coming but somehow put it out of my mind.  Not hard to believe.  I set an annual alert in my Google calendar to remind me of the passing of my greyhound Oliver.  One year ago today, I made the toughest decision of my life, to allow him to pass with dignity and grace.  


We got him in early 2004.  He failed off the track, and never ran a race.  We liked to think that he was too smart to race.  All greyhounds have issues.  They spend their youths only in the company of other greyhounds, and live life in kenels.  It is hard, and it definitely affects them.

Oliver had needs.  He was afraid of most men, but I was the immediate exception,  He glommed on to me, and really was my biggest fan.  He would mope when I would leave on a business trip.  He would be bounce all over when I came home.  He was really a super companion.

As a greyhound, he loved to run.  It was in his blood, and he would turn it loose.  It was a thing of beauty. 


Then, one day, he pulled up lame.  I thought nothing of it at the time.  He had over exerted him self a lot of times, and always snapped out of it.  This time was different.  Over a period of three weeks, he got progressively worse.  We tried metacam (an NSAID), and other pain medications.  We tested for Valley Fever.  We had x-rays done.  THe hope being that he had a bone chip, or torn cartilege, or some other explanation.  

Alas, that wasn’t the case.  Greyhounds are highly susceptible to osteo sarcoma.  It is a hell of a disease, and really hard on the dogs.  No really good treatment besides amputation, and chemo therapy.  The was never an issue, but research showed that the prognoses even with this aggressive treatment is poor.

On his last night, He was up, restless and whimpering all night.  I laid by his side, and came to the realization that it was time to end his suffering.  Anything else would be selfish.

I guess that since this hurts me so to write (I am blubbering and crying like a baby) it means that he touched me in a very deep and special way.  I miss him terribly, and will probably always miss him.

God speed Oliver, keep chasing those bunnies in doggie heaven.  I miss you.


Travel Foibles: Part 4 (of many) – In room comfort

What is it with mid range business hotels?  They all race to the same amenities.  

Name brand toiletries (Neutrogena here at the Hilton Garden Inn).  

They have the wide shower curtain bars (so that you don’t notice that you are standing in your grandmother’s bath tub).

There is a pillow menu for soft to firm.

All to increase my comfort.

You know what would really help?  Getting rid of under window AC unit.  I would sleep tons better if it didn’t sound like a Boeing 747 powering up to a takeoff run.   

Travel Foibles: Part 3 (of many) – Rental car agencies

You know how hard it is to get a compact or ecnomony car?  

First, the travel agent seems to guide me into a midsize.  It is the “Corporate Standard”.  Really?  We have a standard class for rentals?

Next, the jockey working at the counter says “An economy car.  Are you sure?”  

After I say Yes, they then say “Well, for $5.00 a day, I can upgrade you to a fullsize, or an SUV”  #FAIL.  To me, an upgrage is a Posrche GT3, or a Bugatti Veryon.  Maybe a Bentley.  It isn’t a hunk of american steel in too big of a body size.

I really am just doing a few 10 mile trips, and back to the airport.  Yes, I will fill the tank (and not pay the $8.00 a gallon “convenience” fee).  Just give me the base econobox.  Really, it will be OK.

  • Exception.  When I am in Texas, I always upgrade to the sedab with a V8.  You gotta get up to speed on the freeway PRONTO.

Travel Foibles: Part 2 of (many) – in room amenities

I love the little boutique soaps, shampoos and other niceties that they lay out in most decent business hotels.

The Iron and Ironing board is also de riguer.  Needed for those with small carry on’s.

You know what I often don’t have, and could really use?  Toothpaste.  Those little .5 oz toothpaste tubes.  I forget toothpaste more than any other toiletry.  Yet, when I arrive in a city after 11:00PM, the last thing I want to do is realize that I need to get dressed and head out to a 24 hour Walmart or a Walgreens drug store for a travel size. 

Because you don’t want to buy a full size tube.  The TSA will just take that away from you, and the next week you are in the same boat again.

Yep, I could buy them by the dozen.  Yep, I could keep 3-4 in my travel plastic quart sized bag.  But I don’t.  


Travel Foibles Part 1 of (many)

As I approach a million miles on United airlines, and lately have struggled to earn even premier status on their Milage Plus program, I am accorded the benefit of “Unlimited Domestic Upgrades”.  This is a nice touch.  But I have yet to receive this “benefit” in the last 2+ years that they have offered it.

Why is this bullshit, you might ask?  Well, today, I was dutifully waitlisted for the “free” upgrade.  I was # 23 in the queue.  There were 12 seats.  So, even if First Class checked in empty, I am not going to get an upgrade.  Pretty scummy, eh?

I prefer the days when I had coupons, and I could exchange them on long enough flights.  This new mechanism is really just wishful thinking.  

And they wishfully think that I will remain loyal?  Ha!

NYT – Your special deal for $0.13 a week still blows

Twice in the last week I have received emails from the NY Times advertising a special 80 weeks all access for $0.99.  That is roughly 13 cents a week.  Sounds like a good deal.  But, after the 8 weeks, ir will rise to the $30+ per month.

Your digital deliver options are too expensive.  I would probably pay $2.50 a week ($10 a month or $120 a year) for your iPad and browser all access.  I do want to pay you for the information you provide, it is just that at near home delivery prices for the dead tree version, you are expecting too much.  

I am sure that the low uptake rate on the full access version of the digital offering is due to your pricing structure.  If you ever decide to get realistic in your pricing, let me know and I will likely subscribe. 

I miss my real blog – rambling about product management, and my sad state.

Summary:  A few weeks ago, a sales engineer was being disruptive in our iteration demo meeting.  I sent a (non appropriate) message to my scrum master to get this individual to stop trying to turn it into a design review.  The message was mistakenly displayed on the main screen (I may have used the acronym STFU for shut the F__k up).

I blogged about it.  About the proper purpose for the meeting, the type of feedback that was appropriate, and outside members are in “listen only” mode.  

The SE whose feeling were hurt found the blog, and I was told to remove it. 

Now I am sad.  My blog was where I shared some of the inside story on my life as a product manager.  14 years and you build a thick skin, a set of rules that work, and a string of successes.  I enjoyed sharing them.  Now.  They are gone.

Product Management is not a career that is great.  It is a thankless job.  It is the bucket that all the other groups dump the shitty tasks that they would prefer to not do.  You are part customer support.  Part sales engineer.  Part sales manager.  Part senior leader.  Part marketing.  I am envious of all the people who stand there and say that they live the Pragmatic Marketing system.  Or the Blackblot system.  I call bullshit.  I have been at many different places, and product management is always a messed up, ill defined, master of all trades role.  

I am tired of it.  I hate it.  I want off the rollercoaster.  This is not fun anymore. Sadly, I happen to be good at product management, so I will probably continue to gravitate to it.  I just want it to end.  

I sit here typing this as I await my 8:45PM update call with our India team.

Opt out marketing mail messages

We all get a lot of spam.  I have int he past, used one of my mail accounts to register for something or other.  Don’t know what it was, but it seemed to bring a few offers of “XYZ market report” or “Reach KLM decision makers in solar technology”.  Or some such similar twaddle.  Always addressed to me.  Always crafted to avoid the spam filters.

It was a minor annoyance.  Really, just a couple seconds, and I deleted them unread.  Then one day I opened one of them up, and saw a link to unsubscribe.  Well, these seemed like legitimate offers, I was just not interested.  So I clicked the link and unregistered my email.

Big mistake.

That appears to have validated that I exist.  Now I get 3 – 5 of these offers a day.  A range of market data and reports on: 

  • Heavy Industry
  • Mining Technology
  • Minerals Extraction
  • Petroleum engineering
  • Photovoltaic production
  • LED for Lighting applications
  • Photovoltaic installers
  • SAP
  • Sharepoint


I think you can see the trend.  Alas, I am afraid to try to opt out again.  The signal to noise ratio in my inbox is trashed.

Sigh.  Scummy, semi-legitimate spammers.