Wednesday, October 01, 2014

But do they accept Medicare?

One of my cousins is currently on a spectacular transpacific cruise, with a mid-cruise stay in Sydney, a circumnavigation of Australia, and a flight that stops over in Dubai for a couple of days on the way home. (Another of my cousins has just finished up a one month post-retirement stay in Paris with her husband. What am I doing wrong???)

Anyway, although Dubai is all sorts of modern, and has all those wacky man-made islands, and indoor desert skiing – amazing what you can do when energy is no object – I really don’t have much interest in visiting the Mideast. (I have already confessed to my Euro-centric travel interests. No need to re-harp on it here.)

What I hadn’t realized was that, if you look beyond the wacky man-made islands and the fabulous malls, Dubai has also become something of a mecca for medical tourism.

Already one of world’s ten most visited cities, Dubai is counting on more people like [Russian Maria] Ivanova to mix their holidays with high-end treatments for a luxurious form of medical tourism, rivaling Thailand and India. Now, it’s trying to attract 500,000 such visitors, adding 2.6 billion dirhams ($708 million) to its economy by 2020, according to a Dubai Health Authority plan announced this year. (Source: Bloomberg)

A lot of that medical tourism is cosmetic in nature. Ivanova is heading there for liposuction. And, Dubai being Dubai, the hospital digs can get pretty fancy.

Other than a doctor or two, I don’t know what the American Dubai medicalAcademy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital has to do with American anything. The pictures sure don’t look like anything I’ve seen in the American hospital system, that’s for sure.

 More Dubai tourism

Don’t recall anything quite like this at Mass General.

Then again, we weren’t there for liposuction or a nose job.

“The presentation and the aura are just as important as the quality of care we provide,” said Michael Stroud, chief executive officer of the hospital, the largest of its kind in the Gulf region. “We are capitalizing on Dubai’s luster.”

Me? Quality of care is actually more important than “aura”, but what do I know?

That Dubai luster does nothing for me, but I will be getting a full report from my globe-trotting cuz when she gets back. Maybe she’ll be able to convince me that it’s worth a look-see.

As for their medical tourism industry, Dubai is up against price pressure from India and Thailand, and quality competition from the U.S. and Europe. So the country – I almost typed “company’ in there -  positioning itself as the high-end, luxury choice. Which is pretty much how they position themselves as a tourist destination. After all, I don’t imagine there’s much to see or do there that doesn’t have to do with gawping at things like a really tall building, a seven-star hotel, and that indoor ski slope. That and shopping ‘til they drop. To me, it would be like visiting a Flash Gordon planet.

There’s pretty good reason underlying Dubai’s focus on cosmetic surgery. It’s kind of their starter-medical area. Excel here, and then start focusing on the boring stuff that, like, kills people.

Dubai Healthcare City representatives say its focus on elective surgeries and a plan to build a wellness center will create a niche market. It’s still working to improve its care in areas such as oncology and cardiology to keep locals from going abroad for more complicated procedures….

“With any new country, you basically build up your health system,” said Amer Ahmad Sharif, managing director of the education division at Dubai Healthcare City. “No matter what you do, there will be some specialized types of care that you will not be able to cater for at a certain volume.”

Focusing on breast implants and tummy tucks sure make an interesting way to build up your medical system, but I guess it’s where the money is.

Anyway, I recently applied for and received my Medicare card, which I can begin using in a short while.

Not that I’m necessarily looking forward to having this memento mori staring me in the face every time I look in my wallet, but, hey, even when you factor in what you pay for Part B, and top it off with supplemental Part C and Part D, I’ll still be saving a few hundred bucks a month. Which I intend to earmark for my travel fund. (Let the travel begin!)

I don’t imagine that any of that travel will be medical tourism. Am I really going to start worrying about a bumpy nose at this point?

But if I were to do some medical touring, I’m wondering whether they’ll take Medicare.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Maureen Rogers, County Whatever, Ireland

I have some friend in Ireland with whom I exchange Christmas greetings.

When I send their cards off, I am always a bit amused that a couple of them don’t have street addresses with numbers, let alone zip codes. The cards just sort of go to a neighborhood in their small towns, and somehow wend their way to the right household.

Still, when I put their cards in the mailbox, the addresses always strike me as odd and incomplete.

Like many parts of rural Ireland, the town [of Abbeyfeale, County Limerick]  doesn't use house numbers. Some addresses don't even carry street names. And unlike the rest of Europe and most of the industrialized world, Ireland also doesn't have postal codes—the equivalent of a ZIP Code in the U.S. (Source: WSJ Online)

In Abbeyfeale, despite the fact that there are several Patrick Murphys who live in the same ‘hood, mail has pretty much always made it’s way to the right Patrick Murphy.

The Abbeyfeale postman first delivered mail to the Patrick Murphy who had lived in the village the longest, and they worked it out from there.

"My neighbors would get it first," said Mr. Murphy [the relatively recent blow-in], 40 years old. "They'd have a good read, and they'd go, 'No it's probably not us.' "

Come next spring, Ireland will be implementing is first postal code system. And, in pure Irish fashion, they’ll be overcompensating:

It promises to be one of the world's most specific—assigning an individual number to every residence and business.

That is far more precise than in the U.K., where a unique code might encompass more than a dozen homes. In the U.S., a ZIP Code can include an entire town.

This sounds like Zip-Plus 4 on steroids, but I’m sure at some point it’ll be coming our way, too.

The Irish, in pure Irish fashion, are not 100% enthused about the new system.

…It's intrusive, they say. And they worry it could affect property values. It's secretly designed to make it easier to collect taxes, others allege. Some Irish citizens just want their snail mail to stay slow.

"The bloody post codes…don't start with me on those," said Grainne Kenny, 76, of Dún Laoghaire, a town southeast of Dublin. "They're a necessary evil, maybe, but I think Ireland is losing its charm. We're a small country."

Can't find the right house? "Stop somebody on the road," Ms. Kenny said. "They'll say, 'Over that hill there.' "

"It's absolutely ridiculous," said Paul Davitt, 51, whose address is simply Badger Hill, Ashford, County Wicklow. "No postmen get lost. They all know their own routes. Who's it for?"

But others are giving it a céad míle fáilte. After all, not everyone wants a parade of other Patrick Murphys making “a good read” out of your personal Patrick Murphy mail.

Every once in a while, I get an e-mail for one of the other hundred or so Maureen Rogers in the United States. One was from an Australian landscaper. Even if I had some landscaping beyond the meager front garden I tend, I wouldn’t want to be paying the travel costs of an Aussie landscaper.

But I don’t think I’ve ever gotten snail mail for another Maureen R.

Then again, we have full addresses, and postal codes. Because we’re not, like Grainne Kenny’s Ireland, a small country.

But it’s a small country that’s going to have an ultra-detailed postal code system.

One of the drivers is having a postal system that keeps up with a country that rightfully prides itself on its technology prowess:

"You're portraying yourself as a very modern, fast-moving country," Mr. [former Irish government minister Noel] Dempsey said. "You're way to the forefront in IT, and so on, and you haven't got a post-code system? Embarrassing would be the word I'd use to describe it."

Ireland will, no doubt, continue to deliver mail that lacks a specific address. Apparently, if you send something to “Paul Hewson, Ireland”, it gets delivered to Bono. (My husband once got a letter addressed to “Jim Diggins, Beacon Hill, Boston”.)

Anyway, I just went and googled “Maureen Rogers Ireland” and found the death notice of a namesake, giving the address: Coolaha, Ballymackney, Carrickmacross, Monaghan. What I wouldn’t give to have Coolaha as my address…

May the other Maureen Rogers rest in peace, but who needs a postal code when you have an address like Coolaha?


Rather than tip my scally cap to my sister Kathleen for pointing this article out to me, I googled “Kathleen Rogers Ireland” and found a late, lamented namesake for her, too. Her address?Dernabruck, Cloontia, Ballymote, Sligo


Monday, September 29, 2014

A degree in six degrees with Kevin Bacon

When I was in college, back in the day when a college degree didn’t cost as much as a sprawling house in the burbs, I heard a number of interesting speakers. Most of them weren’t coming to my school – a small, no-name “St. Elsewhere” place – but I was in Boston, which offered plenty of opportunities to hear people speak for little or nothing.

The two that stand out the most were polar opposites: Howard Zinn and Ayn Rand. (For the record, I thought he was great and she was nuts.)

For my graduation, the speaker was Congresswoman Margaret Heckler, who, despite the fact that she was a Republican, was chosen to speak to us 400 “Catholic girls” – 395 the daughters of Democrats – because she was a Catholic woman, her maiden name was O'Shaughnessy, and she was herself a graduate of a Catholic women’s college (though not ours). I don’t imagine that Peggy Heckler was paid more than $500 for her star turn. Then again, she wasn’t exactly a cool, hip, happening celebrity. She was a boring, middle of the road politician.

The University of South Florida apparently has more money – thank you, taxpayers of Florida –to throw at speakers, and a greater desire than Emmanuel College to bring someone to campus who was going to provide entertainment.

And the University of South Florida had no problem throwing $70K Kevin Bacon’s way last April:

…to discuss philanthropy, social engagement and the pastime he inspired: “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

“It’s 1994 and I’m just out there minding my own business, making movies and trying to support my family and all of a sudden people start talking to me about this game,” said Bacon, best known for his role as a dancing rebel in the 1984 film “Footloose.”

“It had taken off as this drinking game spreading across campuses, and I thought I was going to be responsible for all this young alcoholism.”

The crowd laughed as Bacon paced in black jeans and a black leather jacket, telling jokes and doing impressions.

And Bacon laughed all the way to the bank. $70K! Talk about bringing home the bacon!

Florida is not the only state frittering away funds to bring on celebrity speechifiers.

UNLV paid Hillary Clinton a whopping $225K to speak there last June. Arguably, Clinton brought more gravitas with her than did Kevin Bacon (three times as much, if you look at the speaker fees). Still, however you do the math, that’s nine students each taking on $25K worth of debt to offset this fee. (Okay, some/all of the money probably comes out of student fees, but let’s assume for a moment that all monies are purely fungible.)

Then there’s California, where state universities have shelled out more than $7.5 million in the last couple of years to hear from Tony Bennett ($110K) and William Shatner ($75K).

William Shatner? Beam me down and give me anyone within six degrees of separation of Kevin Bacon.

Schools in Florida paid Ron Paul $65K, Larry King $63.2K, and Sarah Silverman $50K. Apolo Ohno made $55K for speaking at a SUNY school.

Such fees “highlight the misdirection that besets our universities,” said David Neidorf, president of Deep Springs College, in Big Pine, California. The school’s 26 students do manual labor on a cattle ranch in the desert, while reading the likes of Shakespeare and Karl Marx.

“Five-figure speaking fees for anyone, let alone celebrities, are an embarrassment to anyone who cares about the moral and intellectual life of universities,” he said in an e-mail.

Manual labor on a desert cattle ranch?  (And, I looked at their web site: no smoking near hay bales.)

I have a couple of nieces who are seniors in high school, and I don’t think either one of them will be applying to Deep Springs, thank you. But I completely agree with David Neidorf.

Many of the big buck speakers are placed through speakers bureaus, which skim a significant percentage off the fee. So it’s no surprise that such agencies would defend the practice:

“It does change lives to see real people on a stage,” said Theo Moll, vice president of the college and university division at Keppler Speakers Bureau in Arlington, Virginia. “There’s also a lot of value in bringing prestige to the university.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Yes, it no doubt does change lives to see real people on a stage.

I suspect that, for everyone at Ford Hall Forum who thought Ayn Rand was a nutter, there was someone who thought she was on to something (and a great writer). And while most of those who saw Howard Zinn – speaking for free at BU, as I recall – probably decided to become more political, a few in the audience were probably driven into the arms (and wooden prose) of Ayn Rand.

But, sorry, seeing Kevin Bacon or William Shatner is probably not going to change anyone’s life.

I’m sure I’m being an anti-celeb snob here.

I actually think it’s okay that the University of Southern Florida paid Jane Goodall $60K a few weeks back.

But Kevin Bacon?

Come on!

At least it wasn’t someone from the cast of Real Houswives of Miami, I suppose.

Here’s an idea for a speaker-related learning experience.

Have the students line up a headlining speaker, but don’t let them fully pay for it out of student funds. Have them sell tickets to make up the difference.

This could sharpen a lot of skills: reading the market, negotiating, marketing, sales…

At South Florida, Bacon talked about his charity,, which seeks to connect celebrities with other small charities to spread awareness of social issues. Speaking without prepared remarks, he covered topics including his wedding anniversary, the birth of his children, the power of social media and his movie career.

As celebrities go, I actually don’t mind Kevin Bacon. He’s a decent actor, not all that glittery, and seems to be socially conscious.

But is he really worth $60K for a canned speech?

It’s one thing for corporations to do this.

I worked for a company that paid Jack Welch a quarter of a million to flog his book at a client event. And, as I recall, Jack insisted that we hire Charlie Rose (to the tune of $75K) to interview him. This turned out to be a colossal waste of money, but we were just screwing our shareholders.

But to think that kids are paying thousands in student fees and/or taxpayers are subsidizing public universities so that students get a “free” ticket to see William Shatner. Well, it’s enough to make Ayn Rand’s skin crawl.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 26, 2014

T.G.I.F. (Pink Slip scrounges up a last minute post.)

The unthinkable has happened.

Pink Slip, which always has enough posts stockpiled for at least a day or two ahead, has skated out onto thin ice that finds me sitting here at 11:14 p.m. on a Thursday with nothing to post for Friday. Which would break a pretty long and mostly unbroken streak of daily posting.

Oh, the horror.

I have some excuses.

  • A client who asked me to help out with an extensive editing job on a piece written by a fellow-freelancer who, I can only imagine, will not be doing much more fellow-freelancing for that particular client. (I punched the clock on that one at 11:13 p.m.)
  • Combing through my slush pile of topics that I’ve begun noodling around with – and may well fully get to so day – and finding myself meh, meh, mehing one after the next. (Meh.)
  • Ending up the first anniversary of the glorious week I spent with my husband in NYC last fall. Our last trip together… And a glorious one it was, with Jim, even while in the midst of what turned out to be the last chemo gasp, with enough energy to take long walks every day, explore new restaurants, and even introduce me to a place in The City that I’d never been to: Gracie Mansion. A week or so after he got home, up popped the met to his brain. Our last trip together…And a glorious one it was. But one that makes me so damned sad when I think about it. So this week I spent a bit of time letting myself feel sad, listening to soppy music, staring off into space, just plain missing Diggy…

Thus, in the long dark night of the blogging soul, Pink Slip got nada, zilch, zippo.

Other than this litany of headlines – ripped from today’s online news – that might have made for a post. If I’d had the willingness to do one.

Haspel's New Take on Seersucker Is Tailor-Made for Fall. (Bloomberg/Business Week)

Sorry, no. Unless you’re in the tropics, seersucker, like straw hats, linen, and white shoes, should only be worn between Memorial Day and Labor Day. And if you don’t believe me, go ask Brooks Brothers.

Twin Peaks: 'Hooters Just Wasn't Racy Enough' (Bloomberg/Business Week)

Well, seersucker might not make the cut. (After all, it’s after Labor Day.) But a post on a restaurant chain that strives to outdo Hooters. Coming up shortly. (Never having heard of the Twin Peaks chain, I clicked on this one just to see what the connection was being Twin Peaks the TV show and Hooters. It’s tough living in a blue state that doesn’t have a ton of breastaurants. There are things we just can not know.)

Polaroid Goes After GoPro With a $99 Action Camera (Bloomberg/Business Week)

I didn’t even know Polaroid was still in business? Or did I? I’ll have to look back through the Pink Slip archives.

Apple Rebuts Charges of Bending iPhones (WSJ Online)

Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me, but I remain unbending in my commitment to keep saying ‘no’ to the iPhone. Seeing last Saturday’s colossal line outside the Apple Store on Boylston Street did nothing to budge me here. (Let’s see what I end up doing when my trusty Blackberry bites the digital dust.)

Misdirected script text from Walmart drove guilt-ridden killer to drive across US and confess to woman's 1997 cold-case murder (Daily Mail – UK.)

Huh? I say, huh, huh?

12 Seriously Underrated Perks Of Being Single (Huffington Post)

I don’t think I’m quite ready to go there yet. All I can think of are two: more closet space, less trash. Other than that…

A couple of months before Jim died, but when we knew he didn’t have long, my wonderful friend Marie and I were talking and she said, “Just think of all the times you were sitting there wishing that you had the house to yourself. And now…” We shared a melancholy laugh – the kind that I think that only 50-year friends can. Fast forward a few months after Jim’s death, and Marie was gone as well. What a rotten two-fer this has been.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m actually someone who likes being by herself. (Good thing.) I’m not afraid of being alone, of going places by myself, or sitting here in the quiet. Still, the joys of being single remain, at least at this juncture, seriously overrated.

Now, post accomplished!

It’s nearing midnight.

Gotta get into bed with a good book.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gag me with a spoonful of creamed corn. (And turn up your nose at turnip, while you’re at it.)

There was a fun piece over on the Huffington Post in which Yagana Shah listicle’d 13 childhood foods that her fans nominated as the ones they would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever eat in adult life.

I was sure in agreement with some of them.

Creamed corn? That would be right up (down?) there on my list of must avoids. You really want to put something on your kid’s plate that already has the look and feel of vomit and expect them to eat up without producing the real deal?

But how did creamed spinach not make the veggie list?

Creamed spinach was not quite as terrible in at least one respect (color) as creamed corn, yet, for a child who didn’t like spinach to begin with, it was just plain yuck.

And perhaps none of the nominating committee was ever forced to eat a waxed bean from my grandmother’s garden.

Other than the fact that wax is tastier and easier to swallow, I actually thought they were made out of wax.

The only way to get one of these babies down was to pool enough milk in your mouth to float one down your gullet.

My final veggie nominee would have been turnip.

Not that we were ever forced to eat it as children. Even my mother, an ardent believer that you should (and would) eat whatever she put in front of you, never tried to force turnip on us. To this day, I dislike turnip intensely. Maybe it’s the smell… As we used to chant on the occasions when my mother did make turnip (New England boiled dinner night?), which I suppose she and my father ate: “Turn up your nose at turnip.”

Words to live by, my friends. Words to live by.

(All this said, I have two perfectly rational cousins who actually like turnip. They are the only people I know under the age of 85 who do so.)

The other item on the list that I’m 100% in agreement with was liver and onions.

I think my mother force-fed us this dish once or twice a year, perhaps when we were looking a bit peaked, as if we were suffering from iron-poor blood. Or maybe she and my father had, on occasion, the urge to relive the Depression.

The comparatively delicious and easy-to-eat Spam and Jello were both on the yuck list.

No, I would not eat Spam on a bet at this point in my life, but as a kid I liked it. Since my father had spent 4 years in the Navy, we weren’t allowed to have it when he was around. But when he was away, we clamored for it. Very nice served up with home fries.

And while I could take or leave Jello, I did like it as a kid, as kind of an emergency dessert when my mother didn’t have the chance to bake.

Some of the items on Yagana’s list I just flat out disagree with.

Fish sticks, for one.

This was a foodstuff that I rather liked. My mother always served it with a big tossed salad, and I liked when the Ken’s Italian dressing ran off the salad and onto the fish sticks.

Sure, the smell was a bit disgusting, and the taste a bit fishy, but I did like Fish Stick Fridays.

And Kraft Dinner? Yes, you did have to overlook the “radioactive orange” color, but if you got beyond that…

We never had canned ravioli as kids, but we did have Franco-American Spaghetti for an occasional lunch.

Franco bore no resemblance whatsoever to “real” spaghetti, it was just mushy and bland, but I liked it well enough. It was not anywhere near as good as my mother’s spaghetti. For a German girl married to an Irishman, she made an excellent spaghetti sauce.

I can’t imagine opening a can of Franco nowadays, but – perhaps because I was deprived of it as a kid – I have been know to enjoy a single-serving Chef Boyardee ravioli, which is fine, as long as you put the idea of real ravioli out of your mind.

Tuna noodle casserole? Pot pies?

What’s not to like? As long as it wasn’t one of those times when your mother was cheaping out and got the lousy brand that only had upper crust, and used nasty bits of dark meat chicken or turkey, rather than tasty white chunks.

What didn’t make the list that I can still get the old gag reflex going on, although it’s probably been 50 years since I had it put in front of me?

Creamed chipped beef.

Served with creamed corn, this would certainly make a fine dining combo.

But my father liked it, so my mother made it on occasion. (He also liked finnan haddie and milk toast, but my mother never made us eat either of those delectables. What were the here-and-no-further standards being exercised Chez Rogers, in that mostly we had to eat the yucky stuff (c.f., creamed chipped beef), but occasionally we didn’t (c.f., finnan haddie).

As a child, I would only eat an egg that was fried as hard as leather. If there were any sign of runny yolk, I nearly went into cardiac arrest. Today, if someone put a fried egg in front of me that was cooked so hard there was no runniness to it, I’d take a pass. (One time, my mother served me an egg with some offending runny yolkiness. I showed her! I had a rather large baby doll with broken eye sockets, so that when you tilted its head and the eyes rolled, they left an open gap. Easy enough to stuff that egg in there when Mom’s back was turned.)

Anyway, one of the best parts about being a grown up is having pretty much total say over what you eat. The exception, of course, is when you eat at someone else’s home. But it’s hard to imagine anyone inviting you to dinner and serving liver and creamed corn, isn’t it? (Turnip loving relatives be warned!)


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

If only I had Photoshop, who knows where my business might go

Last week, I came across an article about a lawyer in California who’s likely to lose her license for six months because her web site had all sorts of pictures of her chumming around with famous people. Pictures that weren’t exactly for real. One step up from having someone snap a shot of you with your arm draped around a cardboard Fathead cutout, but phony baloney nonetheless.

I looked through the gallery of Very Important People on Svitlana Sangary’s publicity page. Many of them, I didn’t recognize. But there she is, tête-à-tête, with Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden. Al Gore. Barack Obama. And, from the other side of the aisle, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donald Trump.

Non-political celebs aplenty: Morgan Freeman. Dr. Phil. Anne Hathaway. Leo diCaprio. Pierce Brosnan. James Gandolfini. Ellen DeGeneres. Warren Beatty. Alec Baldwin.

While I certainly have no problem with someone wearing the same outfit in so many of the pictures. Who among us doesn’t double up on the fancy outfits?  But really canny viewers, even if they don’t quite know who the celebrity is, might have noticed that the face, hair, angle, and outfit is exactly the same in a couple of the pictures.

celebrity onecelebrity two

Well, why let a good head shot go to waste, but you might not want to show them side-by-side.

Personally, I wouldn’t select an attorney based on whether they’d had their picture taken with John Stewart or one of the Kardashians. And Svitlana Sangary doesn’t exactly say that she knows these folks. But rules is rules, and the California State Bar recognized that the images were photoshopped, and considered it deceptive advertising.

Although the State Bar Court’s decision is awaiting approval from the California Supreme Court, the recommendation from State Bar Court Judge Donald Miles condemns attorney Svitlana Sangary’s “demonstrated lack of insight and her contemptuous conduct during these proceedings.”
In addition to concluding that she violated the Bar’s rules on deceptive advertising, Miles also notes that Sangary generally refused to cooperate with the investigation, according to the Recorder.

Miles also criticized the attorney’s “failure to remove the deceptive images from her website, even after the State Bar brought this issue to her attention.” (Source: Washington Post.)

Sangary sent the Bar a response in which she cited Natalie Portman’s winning an Oscar for Black Swan, even though her head was superimposed on a real ballerina’s body. Sangary also noted that she “recently received an email from President Obama, with the subject line ‘I need your help today’, asking SVITLANA SANGARY for an additional donation.”

I’ll have to keep all those e-mails from Elizabeth Warren that I’ve been getting…

All in all, it sounds like Sangary is a bit loosely wrapped. Maybe it’s because they’re both originally from the USSR, she reminds me quite a bit of Orly Taitz, the birther movement queen.

In describing her work on her own website, Sangary writes:

The Law Offices of Svitlana E. Sangary has developed a deserved reputation for utilizing the strategy and tactics of handling the case in to advance  the Clients’ success by delivering smart, aggressive, and creative representation, achieving victorious solutions, accomplishing Clients’ goals, and oftentimes even exceeding Clients’ expectations.

I have no doubt that she provided “creative representation.”

Her clients seem to return the favor.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Svitlana Sangary deserves to get a 15!
Ludmila Privorotsky

There are no famous names on the testimonial list, by the way, so it wasn’t as if she Larry King proclaiming her a 15 – make that a 15!

No, her reviewers are everyday folks like Mandy Tanny, Bogdan Polunets, and Semen (sic) Zikner. (Non-legal, free advice to Semen (sic) Zikner: you might want to consider changing that first name of yours. Have you thought about calling yourself Sam?)

But the whole thing gets me thinking about who I’d want to appear with, if I ever decide to set up a web site and include a publicity page. Of course, I already have my starter picture. That’s me – in real life - with Hall Pudge and Moeof Famer and Red Sox great Carlton Fisk. Not that I’d pretend for a moment that he endorses my skills as a marketer. But he probably could speak to my devotion as a lifer Red Sox fan, able to spot one of the old boys 25 years of so after he hung up his spikes.

But if I wanted to add to my rogues gallery, who would I Photoshop myself with?

They’re mighty cute, but what good would Pierce Brosnan or George Clooney do for my business?

Oh, well, if I do decide to Photoshop myself into a bunch of celebrity pictures, at least I’ll know better than to use the same head shot multiple times.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Glockenspiel Redux

There’s nothing I like better than reading about a family feud.

It’s not that my own personal family is one blissful, life-long love fest, but all of us, across the boards, seem to have inherited the get-along gene. It no doubt helps that there’s never been all that much to get riled up over, dollar-wise, which seems to be the root of so much family feuding.

Not that money is always present where extreme family dysfunction is found. I have a friend who has a particularly feuding branch in her family tree. This one family – which had 10 kids – was led by a matriarch who, at any given point in time, was only speaking to half of her kids and grandkids. (The original “issue” that set all this off was incredibly trivial.) All the side-taking and shifting alliances dictated who got invited to weddings and who would show up for wakes.  Auntie M was so nasty that, on her death-bed, she forbid the currently favored children to let the unfavored half of her brood know that she had died. Her attitude: let them read it in the obituaries. Fortunately, a couple of the chosen few broke ranks and let their sibs know that their mother had passed on to the Great Snitfest in the Sky.

But this attitude has trickled down to my friend’s generation. She recently attended the wake of her cousin, one of the 10 “kids” in this family. There, she ran into another cousin – the deceased’s brother – who had, in fact, read about his sister’s death in the newspaper. In the online notice, most of this woman’s siblings went unmentioned.

So it doesn’t necessarily have to be about the money.

In fact, although at first glance it appears to be about the money, the ongoing saga of the Glock family feud shows that sometimes, it’s about the business, it’s about the job.

It is, of course, difficult to separate out what’s money and what’s job, as they tend to go hand-in-hand. And we all know that enough, except for very rare individuals, is never enough.

But in this case, it seems that Frau Glock and the three Glock kinder are mostly ticked off because they’ve been shut out of the family business that they’ve all devoted their lives to.

Okay. I’m ignoring cherchez la femme for a moment. There is, in fact, another woman involved – wife number two, a woman young enough to be Gaston Glock’s granddaughter. But mostly, I’m going with: this is about the business, this is about the jobs.

From the outset, Helga Glock played an instrumental role in turning the Glock family business, helping transform a modest curtain rod manufacturing company to one of the best known, and most lucrative, gun slingers in the world.

Gaston and Helga married in 1962, just as they launched the family business. Brigitte arrived soon after. Gaston Jr. was born in 1965, and a year later, Robert. While raising the children in Deutsch-Wagram, outside Vienna, Helga also handled invoices, tax records, and wire transfers…

From the beginning, Helga says, Glock was a collaborative enterprise. By the late 1960s she had three children, a full-time job with the family metal shop in suburban Vienna, and a husband who expected hot lunch and dinner served every day. “I still ask myself how I managed this,” she says. In the company’s early stages, she and Gaston Sr. manufactured curtain rods and other house fittings. Her husband assured her that one day they’d be rich, and on that promise, at least, he kept his word. (Source: Business Week)

Well, at some point in there, a light bulb went off and the Glocks figured out there was more to be made in fire arms than curtain rods, and that light bulb going off made the collective day for the Glock family.

Then Gaston Glock had a near death experience, decided he wanted to spend the remainder of his life with the woman he loved – the one who was 50 years younger than he – and went ahead and reorganized the company. Well, what’s a reorganization without a few senior heads rolling, and the heads that rolled at Glock were those of Helga, and the Glocks three offspring. None had ever held a job outside of the family biz. All along the way, they were assured by their parents that someday, the business would be theirs.

The severance package was pretty good. No one week’s pay for every year worked, or any such nonsense. They were all set for life.

Set financially, but, hey, if you’re used to getting up and going to work at the same place since you could crawl, well, you might find yourself missing going to work at a place that you considered your life’s work.

The children never considered careers other than the family trade. Brigitte had joined in 1983 after graduating with a business degree from a technical school. She helped Helga with administrative work. In the next years, Gaston Jr. carved out a specialty in information technology, Robert in sales and marketing. Gaston Jr. ruefully recites “the famous quote from my father: ‘You don’t need to go to university. Come to work for me, and you will learn the most.’ ”

Gaston, Sr. sure wasn’t kidding. This probably was an environment where Gaston, Jr. would “learn the most.” About human nature, trophy wives, and getting screwed.

As so often happens when folks are laid off, the Glock children have changed careers. While they and their mother try to resolve the legal issues that are playing out, they’ve found something else to do with their time. (Helga is not going down without a fight, that’s for sure.) Brigitte owns a pet store. Gaston Jr. runs an online high-end hunting clothes company; Robert runs a couple of restaurants.

But, alas, it’s not the family gun works.

Aww, shoot.


Here’s my original post on the Glocks.