Durham Herald-Sun: Welcome to the 21st Century

January 29, 2008

When will local newspapers and those stuck in the “old” web ever learn. I tried to read a story about UNC basketball today in the local newspaper, the Durham Herald-Sun. I’d forgotten that every single story that you try to read on the DHS requires you to have a user name and password.

So instead of seeing my story, I got this screen.

dhs.jpg

Sure, I could have taken the time to create a user name and password. But undoubtedly I would have forgotten the password and also would have been hit with all kinds of Herald-Sun “offer spam”. It’s bad enough when old guard news/content companies require a login for premium content – and much worse when you have to do so to get a simple article.


I never made it past the inane password wall – no pageviews from these eyeballs – potential revenue thrown away b/c an old school newspaper company can’t reinvent itself. Remember Herald-Sun – open and free always wins.

It’s not 1998 anymore…


Thoughts from a Labor Day Weekend

September 4, 2007
  • The Bourne Ultimatum lived up to the hype. If you haven’t seen it yet, see it. If you’re not familiar with the story line, read this, and then go see it. You’ll be entertained.
  • David beating Goliath never gets old. Watching the blocked field goal amidst a crowd of exuberant Mountaineers at Champps was pretty awesome.
  • I heart Butch. It feels good to win games by 20+ points in Kenan. Something tells me things in two years may be even more interesting.
  • I’m ready for those patented North Carolina “crisp October nights”. I can feel the weather turning, and the next two months should be excellent.
  • If you go to Costco, buy some of their chicken salad. It’s life-changing.
  • Cheering for James Blake is like eating family style at Maggianos – you know it’ll be time well spent, but 3 hours later, your stomach will hurt and you’ll be completely drained.
  • When Tiger’s in the chase, it’s must see TV. When Tiger is chasing Phil, it doesn’t get any better.
  • Putting up a tile backsplash in your kitchen can be messy, grueling, and altogether miserable.

Drywall

  • Putting up a tile backsplash in your kitchen builds character and is completely satisfying.

Final Product


Back to Square One

August 23, 2007

A lot has happened since the ZM Blog was last updated. Without boring anyone with too many exact details, here’s a little third person play by play:

  • First week of January: ZM realizes that he’s completely miserable in his role as “inside sales guy” at Visitar. While the company has some good technology and a seasoned management team, there’s a big problem: no one wants to pay money for the software. Not good news for a guy who’s supposed to bang out 50+ calls a day.
  • ZM places an inquiry to a friend at Square 1 Bank to see if they have any openings in the analyst group. Within an hour, ZM has sent a resume and set up an initial interview.
  • Interview 1…week of miserable cold calling…Interview 2…cold calls…offer…immediately accept.

And that, my friends, is how ZM ended up walking into Durham’s American Tobacco complex on January 29th as the newest portfolio analyst for Square 1 Bank.

What followed was a 2-3 month “deep dive” into the wondrously exciting and pleasurable (compared to cold calling) world of venture banking. My days were spent re-schooling myself on the bits of accounting and finance that I learned at UNC and then learning what seemeded like millions of new things along the way. Then there’s the various systems, jargon, and internal processes that one has to learn in a new enterprise – and which are multiplied by the fact that this new gig is in a regulated industry.

In short, the first few months were a whirlwind. And I loved them.

Things are a bit more settled now, and the blogging bug is beginning to kick back in. In a way, it feels like I’m starting all over – time will tell if the bug will stick. Regardless, it feels good to be back at Square 1.


Fighting the Manual Labor Beast

January 8, 2007

When I was growing up, my family used to go to breakfast on Saturday mornings at a local “grease and grits” place called Danny’s. Danny is a Greek guy who loves to come by the tables and chat with the patrons. The only problem is that normal people can only understand about 20% of what Danny is saying. So inevitably you end of just nodding your head and enjoying the sweet sensation of biscuits and gravy.

As I got older, often times it was just Dad and me on Saturday mornings. We both liked the time together. But every once in a while, as we got in the car to head home, stomachs happy and full, I’d see a wry grin creep across my Dad’s face and know what was next.

Home Depot.

My Dad loved Home Depot. I’m convinced he could spend an entire day just walking around, taking in the smell of lumber and hardware and feeling every bit a man’s man. I, on the other hand, was never quite as amused. I’m a utilitarian shopper, and have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to buying anything in a store. This, compounded with the fact that Dad would usually play games with my head and not tell me what he was looking for, made the Home Depot experience completely miserable.

So I’d cry foul at my awful fate and generally bemoan the existence of hardware stores in general. But buying the goods wasn’t the worst part. No, the worst part about Home Depot is what awaits inevitably when you get home: Manual Labor.

Oh how I remember those Saturday afternoons in the yard. Seemingly endless hours of picking up hedge trimmings, raking leaves, and laying down pine needles. In retrospect, the days of yard work were relatively few and far between. Yet, while in the moment of adolescent angst, they were positively neverending.

“You’ll appreciate this someday,” my Dad would say. “It builds character.”

Cynic that I was, I brushed off the old man’s wise words and instead focused on thinking up lyrics to the Manual Labor song. Sung in a loud voice that was intentionally meant to make dogs bark and babies cry, I think the ditty went something like this:

“I hate Manual Labor,
I hate Manual Labor.
‘Cause it’s hard
and you sweat,
Oh I reaalllllly
Don’t like it….Oh

I hate Manual Labor
I hate Maual Labor”

REPEAT

It was epically atrocious, and yet somehow helped the time to pass by more quickly.

4-dardanelle-lane.jpg

Fast forward to this year’s Yuletide season and you’ll find that Manual Labor has somehow crept it’s way back into my life. I guess that’s what happens when you buy and house and have to start thinking about blowing leaves and trimming hedges of your own. I’m now stocked up with a full line of yard work gear, and yesterday i set out to tame the Manual Labor beast (which I had conveniently avoided for the past couple months).

As I raked all the leaves in the backyard, pulled out some weedy bushes and organized the garage, a strange sensation overwhelmed me. I continued to pick weeds and trim some vines in the gently drizzling rain – yet the feeling remained.

I was doing Manual Labor – and I liked it.

Feeling empowered, I went inside and fixed the leaky toilet and began to put up some new blinds in the guest room. When all was said in done, the score was Manual Labor, 4 hours – Playoff Football, 0; and I loved every second of it.

It’s weird, how we change as we grow older. I think I may actually be able to get used to this. Now if I could just find a Danny’s in Durham…


You thought Brandan Wright had long arms…

December 14, 2006

How about the world’s tallest man, 7-foot-9 inch Chinese herdsman Bao Xishun. He used his 41 and a half inch arms to pull plastic material out of a pair of sick dolphins’ stomachs.

Seriously. I couldn’t make this stuff up.


Nintendo Power

November 29, 2006

Nintendo is making a big push back into the console market – as my buddy Eller so astutely alluded to in a previous post.

It seems that even if consumers can’t pronounce the name of the new console, they’re happy to buy it. Nintendo has sold more than 600,000 consoles in the first 8 days of release in the Americas. Sets are being sold on eBay for 3-4 times the MSRP. And Nintendo has its supply chain in order and will be able to ship more consoles for the holiday rush than rival Sony.

Priced at less than half the price of the new PlayStation3, the Wii is banking on its unique motion sensitive controllers that allow users to become a part of the games. For a guy who grew up on the 8-bit Nintendo with it’s directional pad and two buttons, the idea of trading in an XBox or PS3 controller and it’s endless amounts of buttons for a motion sensitive controller is appealing. I saw a commercial this morning and would love to try it out.

It will be fun to watch the console wars play out over the next year.


Nothing Could be Finer…

November 20, 2006

bunting-kiss.jpg Photo: Robert Willett, News and Observer

What a weekend for folks who, like me, cheer for teams called Carolina.

First, the Heels show up at Kenan and put together one final signature performance for Coach Bunting. It was senior day and things couldn’t have gone more perfectly. For all his troubles at UNC, Bunting has proven that he can beat NC State. Coverage of the game has been expansive, with Tar Heel Fan providing great commentary both on the game itself, and the coaching crisis at the agriculture school in Raleigh. The best thing I’ve seen though, is a photo slide show from the N&O site that has a voice over by Robbi Pickeral – check it out if you have time…the pictures are priceless.

One final note on the game and Bunting – for a coach who struggled to win games, Bunting has more than his significant wins. First, you have the obvious “landmark” wins vs. top rated opponents – Florida State in 2001 and Miami in 2003. There’s the Peach Bowl victory vs. Auburn (a team that had a young Jason Campbell at QB, Ronnie Brown in the backfield, and a number of other guys who are now playing on Sundays). He’s also done well against the local rivals, going 4-2 against NCSU and only losing once to Dook (but what an awful loss that was!) I’m 100% convinced that a change was needed, but in reflecting on the Bunting tenure, it’s interesting to see how these wins show just how up and (mostly) down his era has been.

Sunday at 1 pm was a veritable feast of sports on TV. I was mainly watching the Heels thrash an outmanned Gardner Webb squad, but occasionally changed over to the Panthers and watch their equally impressive domination of the St. Louis Rams. UNC looked like the team we all want them to be on Sunday, but a better indication of the team’s progress will come on Wednesday vs. the Zags. I was impressed by the interior passing of our bigs, the play of Ellington and Wright, and was happy to see Quentin with a few nice assists in the first half (Adam Lucas provides a great look at Q, a player who I think will end up playing a big part in at least one or two UNC wins).

Outside of 3 guys on one of my fantasy teams getting hurt on the same Sunday (McNabb, Colston, and Kevin Jones) the weekend was great. Heck, we even got a coffee table for half price from Pottery Barn! (It’s amazing, the things that will excite you as a homeowner.)

Looking back over this post, it’s random indeed. I’ll post again later today or tomorrow with a great video of Psycho T beating up on Bobby.