where were they hiding the fat lady?

August 24, 2009

Do you have an iPhone? I do, and the MLB At Bat application is the best $10 I’ve spent in a long time. Tonight, it allowed me to keep up to date on the Giants/Rockies game in Denver while I did other things around the house.

The iPhone battery is, well, let’s just say the Energizer Bunny isn’t a fan. So when I saw the hated Giants take a 3 run lead in the top of the 14th, I turned off the phone to save the battery… and did so with every confidence the Giants were going to win and that as my beloved Dodgers invade Coors Field tomorrow night, even a sweep by the home team would leave the Boys in Blue a 1 game lead. Ever the Optimist? Ever the Pessimist? These are the Giants. The Hated ones. I should have known better.

But, it’s truly never over ’til the fat lad sings, and tonight she’s bellowing out a loud raucous tune… a grand slam in the bottom of the 14th caps a Dodger-esque rally by the Rox – and now this little 3 game series, that only 5 weeks ago looked like a gnat on the but of an elephant, becomes an even more crucial series for the Dodgers. A season on the brink. There I said it. And every member of that Dodger roster, coaches and players, better say it over and over in their heads because unless they come in with the passion and urgency that we saw from the Dodgers when Manny got suspended, this little series could turn their dreamy season into a nightmare. A month ago the Dodgers were making post-season plans. But now they’re a sweep away from the only post-season plans being made are for tee-times.

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com


I’m Back… and a shout out about customer service

August 24, 2009

Long time no talk to my small but loyal group of readers 🙂
I am back and hopefully going to be making more of an effort to keep my blog updated – this time though, most posts will be shorter and more to the point (but for those who know me, know I’m a bit wordy at times too).

But today, I want to shout out about GOOD customer service. I know, so RARE these days, but it does exist at places besides Axis Technical Group.

Last night I had some business to do with GoDaddy.com and spent about $100…. Not exactly the kind of sale that gets corporate America happy these days. So imagine my surprise when a guy named “Robert” called me this afternoon just to thank me for my business, and see if I had any questions. Of course there was the obligatory sales question about other services, but when I told him I didn’t need it, he remained friendly and on point about making sure our GoDaddy experience was a good one.

If only other companies, large and small, were more like GoDaddy or my company, Axis Technical Group, the world would be a much happier place.

Ahhh it feels good to be back – more to come in the days ahead so stay tuned.

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com

Springsteen rocks the Sports Arena

April 15, 2009

Another year, another Springsteen concert at the LA Sports Arena… Bruce & The E Street Band did not disappoint…it wasn’t the best show I’ve seen them do, but the first half tonight, opening with Badlands, was as good as any. Their performance of “Outlaw Pete” was phenomenal and for a song already stuck in my head, this tattooed it there. Thanks to DZ for great night!

No Vin Scully on Opening Day?

April 13, 2009

You can pretty much always count on one thing…Beautiful weather for the Dodgers’ Home opener. For 17 straight years, I attended the festivities that mark the opening of an 81 game (and hopefully more with playoffs) home calendar, a streak that ended in 2007, by choice, trading in the sun and the crowd for a front row seat in front of my nice HDTV LCD.

Times being what they are, and having had a lot of unofficial off days in recent weeks, I planned to work from the office today, to set a good example for my team, and besides, technology would virtually keep me at the game. In today’s world I’m only a video or radio stream away from the action.

True to form, on a beautiful California day on which Vin Scully, the iconic voice of the Dodgers for 6 decades, threw out the first pitch, I looked forward like a little kid, to his harmonious call of the 58th home opener at Chavez Ravine. As I began my hunt for the online radio station that would turn my office into the next best thing to a luxury suite, I learned the sports world lost the legendary voice of Harry Kalas. A moment of reflection and it made me appreciate the fact that we all still have Vin Scully that much more. I was mere cyberspace hops away from hearing Vin Scully again today.

As cliche as it sounds, I spent many a school night staying up later than I was allowed to quietly sneak a listen of Vin spinning tales of guys names Garvey and Cey and Yeager and Sax and Fernando and Jerry Reuss and… . It was storytelling mastery, and it was free and available to anyone who had a cheap am radio. The static sounds of the airwaves only added to the ambiance and delight of a game. So with today’s technology, I’d have no problem hearing Vin Scully visualize the game for me.

A quick click to the KABC radio website, the Dodgers flagship station, and I could listen for free… to their regularly scheduled programming of political know-it-alls. Strike 1, fastball that just nicked the corner.

Google had plenty of results…. And after another umpteen clicks of the mouse, my excitement to hear “play ball” took an inside fastball belt high. Strike two.

MLB.com had the answer. In fact, they were pretty much the only answer: For a small fee, every game of the 2009 season could be mine on Internet Radio (not to mention streaming live video for every game for under $100). I smiled and my eyes focused…that next pitch was going to sail over the center field wall.

And then, giddiness struck out on a nasty curve ball at the knees.

In a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, and for some, to put a hot meal on the table, it’s the simple things, like listening to Vin Scully, that can make you smile for a few hours. Baseball has been heralded in movies and conversation as the glue that has held this nation together. It was America’s past time. But not anymore. Baseball is a business like any other. It’s P&L statements and board rooms and contracts and marketing. It’s not pennant races and head-first slides into home with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. It’s not Dad’s and their sons finding a common interest to bond over. Not anymore. Now, baseball is simply money.

I paid my $9.95, and I’m sure I’ll listen to countless games online throughout the year. But I won’t hear Vin Scully. Market restrictions limit what games, specifically, what Dodger games, I can listen to. And that doesn’t include home games. “Sorry Mr. Wolf”, no doubt would have been the Customer Service response had I called. “You can’t listen to Vin Scully but don’t worry, you can enjoy Jon Miller on the San Francisco Radio feed of the game.” Clearly that person has never tasted the incomparable difference of a grilled Dodger Dog to a boiled one. Like Jon Miller to Vin Scully, there is no comparison.

Nevertheless, thanks to technology and a nominal fee, I got to hear the game, and enjoyed every minute of the Dodgers’ thrashing of the Giants 11-1. I suppose sometimes you would eat a boiled Dodger Dog instead of no dog at all… but it’s not the same. So tomorrow, I’m going to let technology make sure this never happens again.

I’m going to Target and getting me a little AM radio. Look forward to hearing you Wednesday night, Vin!

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com

where have you gone?

April 1, 2009

Hi everyone… Well this blog was more successful than I thought it would be – unfortunately life (and work) got in the way….

My blog will be back VERY soon with all new posts, thoughts, rants and the next articles in the series on finding work in this economy.

Thanks to everyone who has written – more spewing from my brain coming soon…..

Ready to begin that search? You sure? (2nd in a series)

March 16, 2009

Now that you have your resume complete, you’re ready to begin your job search in earnest, right?

The answer to that question depends on several things. Ultimately, are you ready to start searching for a job? The search for a new position is very much a job in itself and you have to treat it as such for the best chances of success. The various job websites would have you believe it is as simple as posting your resume, but much like the picture of a juicy hamburger on a restaurant menu that somehow doesn’t arrive at your table with the cheese and fixings neatly hanging off the side, the job boards’ claims are a misrepresentation of reality.

In order to really be ready for the job search, you need to know a lot about yourself and what your objectives are, not to mention your limits. In a difficult economy and job market, those employers who are hiring, are more selective than usual and have a bigger pool of candidates to choose from. You have to remember that not every job is going to be right for you. Easy for me to say as I have a job I love. And for anyone currently unemployed, the prospect of a paycheck makes almost any job look good. But pull up the covers and take a really good look at yourself.

There are countless factors you have to consider in self-preparation:
> What am I good at?
> What do I want to do? What don’t I want to do?
> What will I do? What won’t I do?
> How far am I willing to commute?
> Will I relocate? Will I travel?
> How stable is the company?
> Is the compensation in line with my needs?

The list goes on and on. Granted, many of these questions will have to be answered (partially or in full) during an interview process, but you need to decide, before you begin searching for jobs, what the acceptable answers are to yourself. If not, you will spend a tremendous amount of time applying to jobs that ultimately are not right for you and will only further exasperate the situation you are in.

Let’s take a closer look at the hot topic issue right now – compensation. What you are paid is clearly the biggest question for candidates and employers alike. But each and every one of us is in a different financial situation and therefore your answer to yourself will be completely different and unique from anyone else. Many of your colleagues are openly dismissing many of the questions I pose above and even negotiating to take less pay than in the past, just to get back to work. Is that the right strategy for you? What if the offered salary of a position is the same as you are making now, but the commute is twice as far? What range of salary is acceptable to you?

Maybe the biggest question regarding compensation you need to ask yourself is if your expected pay is realistic right now? You may very well be worth $100/hour, but if equally qualified candidates will gladly take $75/hour right now, how flexible are you?

I can’t answer that question or any of these questions for you – and I will not even attempt to do so because these are deeply personal issues that you need to decide on. But decide you must and as you seek out a new job, know what your flexibility limits are when it comes to pay and every other possible variable. Once you have given ample thought to these questions, and you have a clear vision of what will and will not work for you, the real work of searching for a job begins.

In the next article of the series, we will discuss the job search itself. From websites to recruiters to networking, I will help you navigate the crowded roads on your search for a new job.

Are you looking for an IT job? Visit Axis Technical Group to learn more.
Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com

(See previous post “Looking for a job? You’re not alone…really you’re not”)

Feeling “blah”? Try the power of “Hello”

March 13, 2009

It’s been one of those weeks. We all have had them, and in these times, I suspect more of us have them more often. You know what I’m talking about – you just feel kind of “blah” – tired, rundown, unmotivated, unhappy for no reason in particular. Call it the weather, call it the economy, call it whatever you want, we have all been there.

Driving in to the office yesterday I was thinking back to one of the greatest trips of my life. In the summer of 2000, Solly (one of my 2 best friends) and I left on a journey together that covered Arizona and Nevada. For different reasons, we both needed to get away, we both were feeling the “blah.” This trip not only became my true introduction to the passion that is driving in a convertible (another story for another day), but it was a spiritual journey of self-discovery. Trust me when I tell you nothing compares to the feeling of wind rushing through your hair, and brushing by your face, at 75mph on the open road.

After a night in Phoenix, we cruised about 2 hours to Sedona. If you have never been to Sedona, Arizona, plan a trip. It is one of the most beautiful, serene and truly spiritual places you can ever visit. From the majestic red-rock formations (take a Pink Jeep tour to be amazed), to Devil’s Bridge (not a well-known tourist stop, but a definite must-see & must-hike) to the Church of the Red Rocks (it looks like this church was created right along with the rocks, not built later – truly incredible), you will find yourself at an inner peace you didn’t know existed.

But this is not about a trip I took. It’s about a journey – a journey that started on our first night in Sedona. We stayed at Solly’s cousin Cheryl’s house – Cheryl was the epitome of Sedona – peaceful, spiritual and carrying around a pure calmness. Her house was set against some mountains – LOTS of open space. Great to just peer up to the heavens at night and stare at stars. Well as we settled in that first night, I needed to find something to read for a few minute break (yes, that kind of break). I picked up a little book – it was about living a life of peace, and finding inner happiness. Of course I scoffed –after all 9 years ago I thought I knew it all.

But when I turned to the first page, the message struck me. It simply said, when you are out and about doing your daily business, shopping, taking a walk, filling up at the gas station or dropping a letter off at the post office, just look and smile at everyone you come across and simply say “hello”. Never before did I realize the power that a 5-letter word could have. The rest of that trip, and when I got back home, I made it a habit to smile and say hello to almost everyone I came across. Sometimes I got a “hello” back. Sometimes I got a look like I was from another planet. And sometimes I just plain got ignored. But for those people who did reply (either with a “hi” or a simple smile), the payoff was priceless. Maybe I brought a brief moment of joy to someone. Maybe I reaffirmed the belief in someone that not everyone in this world is cold and unfriendly. Maybe, just maybe, I made someone’s day a tiny bit better.

Then I realized… My “blah” was gone. The world – my world, was all of a sudden just a little happier of a place.

Yesterday was my 4th day of being in a “blah” rut and I kept thinking about that one night in Sedona that changed my life. It had been a while since I was saying hi to people on the street. Everyone in this world right now is stressed; pressure on people is immense and the entire “friendly” quotient is down measurably (and obviously) to anyone who spends time in public.

So as I walked out of a hospital yesterday (visiting a friend who just had a baby), and my “blah” was in full effect, I decided to say hello. First to the elderly woman confined to a wheel chair being pushed down the hall of the hospital. She said “hi” and smiled brightly back at me. Then I met another woman in the elevator down to the lobby. Clearly, she was not having the best of days. I said hello to her as well and got that look like I was from another planet. How dare I say hello. Then lastly, in the parking garage elevator, I said hello and tried to strike up a conversation with an elderly man sharing the ride with me. He smiled but couldn’t say hello. He motioned that there was something wrong with his throat and couldn’t really talk. I made a little joke about people wishing I couldn’t talk sometimes and he chuckled. The elevator doors swung open to the cold, dreary cement of the parking structure, but suddenly I felt like I was in a sunny paradise. The man patted me on the shoulder, with a huge smile, and though barely audible, forced out “have a great day.” And you know, from that point on, I did. No more “blah.”

So as you venture out in your life today, tomorrow and the next day, and whether you’re feeling “blah” or not, say “hello” to those you pass. People may ignore you. People may look at your funny. But some may say hello right back. And if we all did that, wouldn’t our entire world be a happier, less “blah” place?

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com