Dear Celebrity,

It seems there has been some recent confusion as to what we, the non-celebrity population of America, want from you. Whether you act on stage, on screen, or sing our favorite songs… there's really only one thing we want from you. What we want, and why you're paid, is because you entertain. It's show business. You put on the show, and we pay to see the show. In doing so, you provide brief moments of wonderful entertainment. And during those brief moments, we get to escape for that time, and enjoy your talent. We thank you for that.

What we don't want is your political views and lectures on your favorite cause. If that confuses you, let me simplify it a bit further. In the same way you are paid to either act or sing, other Americans are paid to add fries to happy meals, sell cars, work at the mall, or even run multi-billion dollar corporations. In complete fairness, we aren't interested in the political rants or lectures on their favorite cause either. Somewhere along the line, there's been this confusion that the non-celebrity population of America is interested in the political rants & lectures from the celebrity population of America.

How crazy would it be if one of us stopped our mailman in the middle of their route, and asked, "Hey, what side of the political fence do you live on, and what exactly frustrates and offends you about the other side?" That's crazy right? Who would ask their mailman that? See, they provide mail, and you provide entertainment. So in that same crazy line of thinking, who would ask their entertainer that?

The confusion, celebrity, is that many of you operate under the impression that we've asked you that question. It's evident in the way you so often volunteer to answer to that question, when it hasn't been asked. We've now seen it on the Broadway stage, in the middle of concerts, and during your acceptance speeches after winning awards. I've been watching very closely, and no one is asking.

Please understand in no way does this invalidate your strong feelings regarding your favorite cause, or political discontent. Your friends and family are probably very interested in what you have to say. But the lane of legitimate influence ends there. See, I'm not a celebrity. I'm a business owner, and that squarely places me in the non-celebrity population of America. And just like you sell entertainment, I sell software. I wouldn't dare think for two seconds that you or any of my customers are interested in my political rants or most passionate causes. In that same way, celebrity, let's not confuse that your customers are interested in yours.

Now I know, I know, a moment is coming soon when you will be back on stage with the cameras rolling, and your mic will be wired to the masses. You will be tempted into thinking that everyone out there is desperately interested in your political leanings, why you're offended, and the cause that everyone else has forgotten about. Remember, we're not. No one's asking. Just entertain, and stay in your lane. We'll do our job, and you do yours.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 in Random
 
American Express Points Explained
American Express Amex Points

If you are wondering which Amex card to get to maximize your points usage, this guide is for you. For regular American Express cards like the Green, Gold, or Platinum Amex, your point conversions looks like this:

100 points per $1 when booking airfare through Amex Travel

133 points per $1 when booking hotel through Amex Travel

166 points per $1 when using points to cover purchases already made

200 points per $1 when trading in points for an Amex Gift Card.

^ Lets be real, most of those are pretty awful really.

However, with American Express Blue Sky, your point conversion is MUCH better. You can apply your points towards travel charges that show up on your account for things like airfare, hotel, and rental cars. The point conversion looks like this:

7500 points per $100 credit, or 75 points per $1.

The way to get the most out of these points it to use them to cover parts of a travel related purchase. If my airfare was $375, then I would apply 22,500 points to cover $300 of that charge. I would not apply 30,000 points to cover the whole airfare, because when it's not in even $100 increments, you lose the remainder. In that case, 22,500 would cover $300, but the final 7500 points would cover $75, at a conversion ratio of 100 points per $1 (not as good). Therefore, always apply your blue sky points in even $100 increments to get the most of your point's conversion.

Bottom line, if you want to play the Amex point game to win, use a platinum card to get the preferred airline credits, lounge access, TSA/pre or Global Entry, platinum concierge, or any of the other nice benefits that come with the card. Then try and use the Amex Blue sky for the bulk of your purchases as to accumulate points on the account with the better point's conversion ratio.

Friday, November 07, 2014 in Random
 
Cayman Islands - Stingray City
stingray cayman islands

Shot with a GoPro H3, Cayman Islands
Sunday, November 02, 2014 in Random
 
Texas, Traffic, and Phones

Ahhh, the great state of Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas, right? Big cities, big hats, big hair - we Texans just love big. We have big cars and big trucks to get to our big stores and we drive big distances to go to big stadiums to watch big people play sports on big screens.

We even have big roads. In fact, if you string our roads together you could drive more than 300,000 miles. That's enough to drive around this sweet Earth 25 times. We have massive freeways that are 20 lanes wide and ridiculous speed limits of 85 miles per hour. Yes, our highways can probably beat up your highways. Ours are bigger, wider, faster, and nicer. So don't mess with Texas, because Texas is awesome, right?

You know what we're awesome at? Staring at our phones.

Texas traffic has been a real bear lately hasn't it? It's probably because when the lights turn green, nobody moves anymore. So many people have their face buried in their phone that it takes a long lay on the horn to "encourage" them to unpeel their eyes from that precious little 4 inch screen.

So even with more roads that are bigger, faster, and wider, we're not getting anywhere any sooner. As if it's law that to operate your car, you have to also stare at your phone. [Section 32 - when you start your car, choose one hand to hold your phone, turn it on, and hold it directly in front of your face.] Honestly, no matter what state or country I go to, nobody stares at their phones on the road like Texans do.

My favorite is the little back windshield hand wave after they have realized they're a day late and dollar short. It's like the acknowledgment of idiocy. "Sorry I delayed everyone behind me and made some of you catch the fresh red light. This little wave should settle the debt." So sorry Captain Dumas, it doesn't.

Sure distracted driving is six times more dangerous than drunk driving, and texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to crash, and there are over 260 wrecks killing at least one person every single day in Texas... but let's talk about what really matters. It's slowing down traffic. First of all, more wrecks create more traffic. Even on my simple 17 mile drive to work, I can't drive it without seeing at least one wreck. I wish Vegas would let me bet on it. I'd be a billionaire. Even when you're driving and you haven't been delayed by a wreck yet, it's still slowing you down because half the people in front of you have their faces glued to their phone. So they're basically slow to react to... ANYTHING. Traffic now moving along is an unknown fact to them. Traffic slowing down? What, huh? (as they slam their breaks). Light turned green? "Oh did it? My bad," they would gesture. It's unprecedented idiocy.

Dear Texas, put the stupid phone down. Are we as a culture so smart phone dependent that we just have to fiddle with our phones even while we are behind the wheel of a 1000 pound potential killing machine? Do we have to check our SMS and social media at every stop light & sign? If that's you I have a terrible prognosis for you (you're welcome). Not being able to look out the window for 30 seconds and rest in your own thoughts is a severe disease. The best part? There's no medicine for it. It's up to you to change. I double dog dare you to muster up the will power to change your own behavior and cure yourself, because only you can.

So these days, instead of 20 cars making it through a green light, it's now 10, because half of them were oblivious to the fact that the light changed. So go ahead and respond to that text. Send that tweet, update your status, and don't forget to pin it. But I hope you like car crashes, because doing any of those things behind the wheel make you 23 times more likely to cause a wreck. Yes, twenty three times more likely.

We can all agree that you would never drunk drive, right? We all know that's like the pinnacle of bad driving decisions. Oh but it's not. Don't get me wrong, it's still monumentally stupid. But you fiddling with your phone is WORSE. Six times worse than drunk driving says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

So check this - Someone is injured in a car crash every 5 minutes in Texas from distracted driving. One in forty of those die. That's a crap ton of wrecks (and deaths) every single day. Why? Because that phone is so important, that whatever is happening on it not only carries a magical false sense of urgency, but it is apparently worth dying or killing for. FYI - your head won't explode if you ignore your phone while behind the wheel. But it might actually explode if you keep fiddling with your phone, and someone else's bumper travels right through the middle of your head at an uncomfortable pace. True story.

And I totally get that your slick phone connects you to the most important people of your life, and allows you to consume socially generated content at a near warp speed. But know this, the most important people in your life don't want to be complicit in making you 23 times more likely to wreck. And that socially generated content is being created at a rate that is insanely faster than you can consume it. So no need to panic - you wouldn't even catch up if you clicked, scrolled, and swiped 24 hours a day for the rest of your life. Safe conclusion - It's not worth it.

So please, if not for everyone else, do it for yourself. Put the phone down.

Thursday, August 07, 2014 in Random
 
What Little Girls Wish Daddies Knew

This is a snippet from an article that Tara Hedman, Registered Psychotherapist, wrote recently. Put simply, this is a very transparent list of what daddy's little girl wish her daddy knew. As a father of two girls, the weight of this text is quite pressing.

1. How you love me is how I will love myself.

2. Ask how I am feeling and listen to my answer, I need to know you value me before I can understand my true value.

3. I learn how I should be treated by how you treat my mom, whether you are married to her or not.

4. If you are angry with me, I feel it even if I don't understand it, so talk to me.

5. Every time you show grace to me or someone else, I learn to trust God a little more.

6. I need to experience your nurturing physical strength, so I learn to trust the physicality of men.

7. Please don't talk about sex like a teenage boy, or I think it's something dirty.

8. When your tone is gentle, I understand what you are saying much better.

9. How you talk about female bodies when you're "just joking" is what I believe about my own.

10. How you handle my heart, is how I will allow it to be handled by others.

11. If you encourage me to find what brings joy, I will always seek it.

12. If you teach me what safe feels like when I'm with you, I will know better how to guard myself from men who are not.

13. Teach me a love of art, science, and nature, and I will learn that intellect matters more than dress size.

14. Let me say exactly what I want even if it's wrong or silly, because I need to know having a strong voice is acceptable to you.

15. When I get older, if you seem afraid of my changing body, I will believe something is wrong with it.

16. If you understand contentment for yourself, so will I.

17. When I ask you to let go, please remain available; I will always come back and need you if you do.

18. If you demonstrate tenderness, I learn to embrace my own vulnerability rather than fear it.

19. When you let me help fix the car and paint the house, I will believe I can do anything a boy can do.

20. When you protect my femininity, I learn everything about me is worthy of protecting.

21. How you treat our dog when you think I'm not watching tells me more about you than does just about anything else.

22. Don't let money be everything, or I learn not to respect it or you.

23. Hug, hold, and kiss me in all the ways a daddy does that are right and good and pure. I need it so much to understand healthy touch.

24. Please don't lie, because I believe what you say.

25. Don't avoid hard conversations, because it makes me believe I'm not worth fighting for.

It's pretty simple, really. Little girls just love their daddies. They each think their daddy hung the moon. Once in a while when you look at your little gal twirling in her frilly skirt, remember she'll be grown one day. What do you want her to know about men, life, herself, love? What you do and say now matters for a lifetime. Daddies, never underestimate the impact of your words or deeds on your daughters, no matter their age.

Thursday, March 06, 2014 in Random
 
iPhone Won't Pair With Bluetooth?

Having trouble pairing your iPhone with your new Bluetooth device? Clock radios, wireless speakers, headsets, and several other devices made by iHome, Philips, Ion, Logitech and Sony may have trouble pairing the Bluetooth with your iPhone, but it's not necessarily the Bluetooth device's fault. The cause is probably on your iPhone.

iPhones have a number of default network settings turned on that often interfere with Bluetooth pairing. So if your phone is giving you're the dreaded Pairing Unsuccessful error message, here's a couple things to try. These tricks have worked for me more than once.

First, turn off wi-fi in the Settings. Then in Cellular Network settings, turn off cellular data, turn off LTE and basically anything in there. Also, remember what all you change, so you can change it back later. After turning off those settings, double tap the home button so you can shut down individual apps. Swipe until the settings app is in the middle then swipe up on that app to shut that app down. Once you've turned all that off, turn the whole phone off. Hold down the top button for several seconds and wait for the prompt to turn the phone completely off. Wait a few seconds then turn the phone back on. Now try and pair the Bluetooth. Once you have the successful pairing, you can turn the rest of those settings back to where they were originally.

Monday, December 30, 2013 in Random
 
Tom Thumb Wine - Is it a Scam?

Tom Thumb's recent marketing campaign boasting you can, "Save 30% on bottles of wine priced $20 and over," sure sounds intriguing, but a quick visit to a store proves otherwise. This massive ad run by Tom Thumb is not only a scam, but it tells us that Tom Thumb must think their customers are as dumb as a box of rocks.

I stopped into a Tom Thumb shortly after hearing their radio commercial, and was quickly awakened to their deceptive ways. Take a look at the two examples below.

What they've done, across the board, for their wines over $20 is increase the price by 50% (shown by the white sticker tag), then "marked it down" 30% (shown by the left yellow sticker tag), with the largest price showing the 6 bottle discount of 10% (shown by the right yellow sticker tag).

Am I to assume they normally sell a bottle of Caymus Napa Cab for $92.84? If so, that's hilarious since you can get it from every other grocer, liquor store, and even Tom Thumb (in the past), in the low $60 range. Same story for Conn Creek - declaring a regular price of $33.99 is just laughable. Within 5 miles, you buy that bottle for $18-$22 from at least 5 other establishments. Just a few weeks ago, Tom Thumb was selling that bottle in the low $20 range. No one in their right mind would pay anything near those ridiculous advertised prices.

Groceries are staples, not oriental rugs from an unknown manufacturer. Customers know what groceries should cost. Pulling the ol' "mark it up 50% so you can advertise 30% off" routine is complete foolery and insulting to your customer base.

Tom Thumb, best of luck with your scam. Your shoppers aren't as dumb as you think they are. For your reward, I left empty handed and drove less than 2 miles to Kroger and filled up on groceries and wine. I won't be spending a solitary dollar with you. Perhaps you might tread a little lighter on words like "save" and "sale". Consider being sincere, and actually delivering on your promises.

1
Monday, December 02, 2013 in Random
 
Best Bottle of Wine Under $10

It's like the endless search that can't be finished. You think you've found it, but another year passes and that $9.75 bottle of wine that was so great last year just isn't the same this year. Years ago it was Veo Grande that made their mark on the under $10 category, but for whatever reason they couldn't keep the level of quality consistent year to year. So one year it tastes great, and next, well.. perhaps more like sand and water.

Hear me now, believe me later - this bottle continues to satisfy. Year after year, this proprietary red blend has kept the quality and the value pricing. Fleur De Lyeth is the best bottle of red wine under $10. I know some of you might argue shelf space hogs like Yellow Tail, a coastal Mondavi, Bogle, or what have you, but I would say different. While all those bottles have had their time in the spot light the quality consistency from year to year fluctuates like Texas weather. It just can't be trusted. And by no means am I dogging those other brands, but their entry level priced wine just isn't holding up right now.

You want to spend less than $10 on a bottle of red, and impress your company? Don't bother rolling the dice on several dozen bottles of junk in that $6 to $10 range. Just find the Fleur De Lyeth, and call it a win. You can't make nine dollars and change taste any better.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 in Random
 
Who is to credit for building my business?

Government? Obama? Exactly who built whatever it is that I have?

I went to work for KPMG in the late 90s. I got the job there because my parents sent me to Baylor University after my lukewarm high school performance. I was a Sigma Nu at Baylor and there I met a friend named Jocelyn. She walked my resume in to KPMG and landed me the job after one 45 minute interview. I was trained in web technologies at Baylor, which ultimately got me hired at Scient, which I left KPMG for. My friend Chad called me from Scient and convinced me to leave KPMG. At Scient I learned the important stuff to all things internet and web.

So who's responsible so far? What's the score card?
Parents & friends: 100
Government: 0

The government increased interest rates 6 times in a short period time around 2000. That dried up lending and that caused venture capital to fall apart. That started the bust of the dot com bubble. Government's oversized intervention in economic success created failure there.

Being laid off in 2001, with thousands of web workers out of work, the jobs dried up too. What were my real options? Starting my own business was really the last option left. It's certainly not like I woke up one day and said, "I can't wait to start my own business. You know the government has made that so easy to do, that's what I should do."

To keep the list short, my wife Katie believes in me. My parents believe in me. If I told them I was going to go into the garage and build a space shuttle, they would say, "you can do it, I believe in you." If I succeed, I learn. If I fail, I learn more. Either way, I have the support of those who matter most. The encouragement from loved ones is hugely responsible.

So what's the score card now?
Parents & friends: 200
Government: -100

Incorporating costs money. The paper work to the state and federal government is absurd. Then every year I have to re-fill out a couple cubic tons of paper work to basically say, I'm still here, not dissolving, & still working. Rinse & repeat.

Government: -200

The government wants an increasing piece of the pie. The state wants theirs too. After making my first hire in 2008, the government penalizes me through all kinds of various taxes to the tune of thousands of dollars per year. Thank you for creating a job and keeping yourself off the streets, now pay up. More, over & again. Rinse, repeat.

Government: -300

As the business grows, the paper work gets deeper, the taxes get worse, and new penalties & taxes show up. The more you succeed, the more you are penalized, and I'm not even getting into healthcare.

Government: -500

Now, I can only speak for myself. I don't know what everyone else has experienced. But it seams painfully obvious to me that when government gets out of the way, businesses start working. When government intervenes, bad things start happening.

Laissez-faire - If only the government could put that in their pipe and smoke it.

So who's responsible for the building of my business? I think my family & friends are hugely responsible. You can credit me for the failures, and God for the successes. My best ideas have come to me in dreams in the middle of the night, which I appreciate because that means I can't take credit for them. I work hard (arguable I know) because I have a family and the cost of living keeps increasing. The gap between the rich and the poor keeps widening. Social Security is a joke (actually a government Ponzi scheme), so if & when I retire, that's on me.

Perhaps I'm biased (because I own my business), but I see government intervention like it's cancer of the economy. I'm just not seeing how the government helped me build anything. And you can't really argue that the government laid a foundation or put a framework in place that allowed me to succeed. Well, maybe you could, but whatever they did isn't all that special. I could move my business to dozens other countries and do just fine. There are so many places and people to give credit to, but none of them have anything to do with government.

1
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 in Random
 
Will 50 Shades of Grey Wreck Your Brain?

While it's widely said that most men won't enjoy the book, the critics have come together in classifying the book as, "Mommy Porn." Now, there isn't a Mommy Porn section in the bookstore, so its real genre is Erotic Fiction. It's suggested that women, after getting past the graphic shock and sheer number of highly detailed BDSM sexual scenes, won't put it down. Almost as if you have to work through a shock & desensitization phase to start enjoying the content.

Interesting - It first shocks you. Then it desensitizes you. Then it entertains you.

You know what else follows that pattern? Everything else that wrecks your brain.

The first time a child snaps back at their parents is really something. The adrenaline flows. They get that rush to the head. They were frustrated, and the medicine for that frustration was to conquer the situation. It creates an emotionally heightened state. It's shocking at first. There's nervousness & anxiety there. It's there because you don't know what the outcome is yet. The first time you tell anyone off will produce that adrenalizing rush. You do it enough, and it's not very shocking anymore. You're used to it. Now it's just a part of life. With practice, that abrasiveness can come naturally. You can even get good at it. But is that a good thing?

What about drugs? That first time is really something isn't it? Didn't take much. But there's release, comfort, and mind bending pleasure there isn't there? It's all better now. Until you come down. But you have to try it again, because that first time was too sensational to leave it alone. A little more. Now it's just as good as the first time. But eventually you need more. That first time dose doesn't really do the trick anymore. You need more. Now you're back to where you want to be; cloud nine. Eventually it's routine, and you're used to it. It's a part of life now. It's not shocking anymore. You've been desensitized. You know what to expect. There's no more surprises, just temporal enjoyment. You know what it does, and you like it. You may not like that you like it, but you like it when it's there. But the law of diminishing returns continues to set in. Perhaps move to a heavier drug. Take the training wheels off. That'll do it. What happens when you chase this rope to its end?

How about lying? There was nervousness that first time. Like a shock to the system, you didn't know if your lie was going to hold water. The outcome was uncertain. Anxiety was there. Then they bought it. You got away with it, and now you can try it again. You'll be more experienced this time. You've done it a few times and you know where the line is now, or at least you think you do. How much lie can you package up and deliver? If you are good, a whole lot. But is that a good thing?

We could keep on going couldn't we? Violence, porn, drunkenness, racism, adultery, swearing, promiscuity, gossip? All of these things follow the same pattern, and all of these things wreck your brain. It just takes a little to start. You work through the shock & uncertainty. Once desensitized, you can actually find value and/or enjoyment in these things, at least for a while (until they wreck your brain). Don't worry, you don't ever have speak from your mouth that you value these things. That would be awkward. Your time, your money, and your actions will say it for you. The problem is that we humans are really bad at listening to ourselves. Once we have the entertainment blinders on, we turn a blind eye to the message our time, money & actions are telling us. We can even get real good at some of these brain wrecking activities. Our culture might even reward us for it.

But is that a good thing?

Legitimately, some of us read & do things that we don't know are bad for us. That is ignorance. It needs education. It needs investigation, and proper assessment. When you didn't know basic arithmetic, you were taught. You turned ignorance into knowledge. You can do that with the rest of life too. Turn foolishness into wisdom. If you don't know if something is good or bad, then find out. Ask someone you trust. Ask someone whose approval of you is valuable.

On the flip side, some of us read & do things we know are bad for us. That isn't ignorance, it's stupidity. Certainly no one wakes up in the morning and looks in the mirror to say, "You know what I want to do today? I want to be stupid. I want to excel in stupidity. I know stupid actions produce problems, and I choose to be stupid, and I'm looking forward to the problems." No one with 1% of their brain functioning can honestly say that... with their mouth.

Maybe you've read this before: The wages of sin is death.

I think many of us have heard or read that before, but I also think many of us haven't investigated the meaning of it. It's straight out of the world's number one best selling book. The reward for engaging sin is death. Not necessarily the kind of death where you are literally six feet under. You're not going to die if you read the book. But you'll kill off a little piece of your brain (heart, or body) that is still good. Just like adultery kills marriage, porn kills intimacy, and lying kills trust; to knowingly engage in something that will wreck your brain will kill off that precious part of your brain that's still good. Once it's gone, it's a naked in the winter's climb up Mount Everest to repair it.

Don't wreck your brain.

1
Wednesday, June 13, 2012 in Random
 
Herman Cain, Sharon Bialek, and her Accusations

If I was going to grade Herman Cain's response to his accuser's allegations on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give him a 9. He came across very strong in his press conference today. But for a quick recap, let's review the key statements so far.

Sharon Bialek says, "He suddenly reached over... put his hand on my leg, under my skirt, and toward my genitals." She then says that Cain added, "You want the job, right?"

Herman Cain spoke today in a press conference and stated with confidence that Bialek is lying. Three times he said, "I have never been inappropriate with a woman." I do find it interesting that in his language he repeatedly "rejects these claims." For better or worse, the words reject and deny are two different words in my book. I reject gas prices, but they are what they are. But seriously, I knew lots of people in college that viewed their actions as appropriate, when many would easily argue the same actions inappropriate. The choice of words was to grey for the subject at hand.

Still, at this point I error on the side of his innocence. There are just a few things I would have had him say had I been on his team.

At length, Cain described how he and his team watched the allegations on TV "over and over, over and over, and over and over." During that time he says, "I tried to remember, if I recognize her, and I didn't. I tried to remember if I remembered that name, and I didn't."

Now wait a minute. You mean to tell me a woman has come forward and accused him of putting his hand on her leg, up her skirt and then some... and he his racking his brain trying to think, do I know this woman? Have a seen this woman? Do I recognize her? Do I recognize her name?" Really?!

Let me say this. If you're a guy, and you were in a car, and you've been married for 30 years, and you put your hand up another woman's skirt where Sharon says you did.... you're going to remember that. So his thoughts racing to, "do I recognize her" and "do I remember that name" is really something else. Certainly any man, including Cain, can think to himself, "I either did, or did not sit in a car with a woman that I was not married to, and put my hand up her skirt." That either happened, or it didn't. Who cares if you recognize the woman? Who cares if you remember her name? It's the primary allegation that needs refuting.

Why couldn't he have just said, "This claim of me sitting in a car with this woman and putting my hand up her skirt is the dumbest thing I've heard since Obamacare. That never happened. I don't know this woman, and I'm pretty sure I've never even seen her in my life."

It's a tough call to judge at this point. I do think he came off real strong in his press conference, much stronger than I expected. What he said and the certainty in which he said it were very compelling. His strength in answering the reporter's questions was exceptionally strong. But still, at its core, I think he must emphatically deny the actions that he has been accused of. That has to be in addition to him not recognizing her. Without doing that, he isn't slamming the case shut. He's closed the door, but there's still a draft coming in, and it doesn't smell quite right.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011 in Random
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