Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Global Warming My Ass!

So, Madison, Wisconsin has now recorded well over 100 inches of total snowfall this winter. In case you are reading this from Siberia, that is a record for us. This would have been a great year to live in an apartment or own a condo where someone else was responsible for snow removal. Since March 1st - or perhaps even a little before that - I have boycotted shoveling. After repeated back pains, shoulder and hand soreness, and one broken shovel, I have decided that it will be warmer than 32 degrees eventually and the sun will melt it for me. No sense in overdoing it. I only shovel the end of the driveway where the city plows put a 4-foot wall of ice and snow baracading me in my own driveway so that my wife and kids can get out once in a while. Oh, and on the news last night, the meteorologist mentioned we should be getting another 4-7 inches later this week. Sweet.

So, where the hell has Al Gore been lately? I noticed he didn't have any speaking engagements about global warming in Wisconsin lately. Him and other uneducated people blaming everything on global warming is really starting to annoy me. I'm not saying we shouldn't be conscious about our environment; I'm just saying stop blaming everything on global warming when you have no evidence to support your claim. I'm pretty sure Global Warming wasn't responsible for Madison, WI getting 100+ inches of snowfall. Or was it?

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Last Supper?

I was eating lunch today at a local establishment - a diner with a lot of old pop culture posters - when my eyes stumbled upon the above picture. As you probably know, it is a parody on Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" (of Jesus surrounded by his 12 Apostles).

Admittedly, I had the slightest "reaction" to seeing it. Although not severe, my reaction was just slightly on the negative side of neutral. I have often been fascinated with the original "Last Supper" because of its beauty and all of the question marks surrounding its meanings, such as the faces, the postures, the order, and the background. Obviously I am not the only person who has had some kind of reaction to the original: (see a blog that has collected many different parodies at

As far as I know, da Vinci's work was a "tribute" or sign of respect (as a gift to aristocracy) or at least to be looked at in a positive light by Christians. It wasn't to mock or ridicule by any means.

I found it interesting that someone thought it was a good idea to replace the figures with actors instead of Jesus and the Apostles. I find it even more interesting that a woman would replace Jesus' position; and even more "interesting" that it would be Marilyn Monroe - potentially the most famous female antithesis of Jesus of the 20th Century. Further, many of the men in the "Hollywood Last Supper" also do not exactly exemplify Christian values.

I understand parody and wanting to make a bold statement for sales; but I also understand sacrilege. The irony is fantastic: the poster "artist" used the famous depiction of a Christian scene to make money based on pop culture. How backward is that? I wonder if the creator of the poster also tried to sell it in a temple...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Traveling Wilburys

This isn't very deep, but I recently heard about this group called the Traveling Wilburys. The group is comprised of Nelson Wilbury, Otis Wilbury, Lefty Wilbury, Charlie T. Jr., and Lucky Wilbury. Or, more commonly referred to as George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan, respectively. You may have heard of some of these guys before...

You can hear/see their song "Handle With Care" at

You can also learn more about the forming of this group at


Sunday, March 9, 2008

What's the point?

I love to read. I love to watch movies. I love listening to new music and new artists. I have absolutely no problem commenting on what I read, see, and hear. I will watch Ebert and Roeper. I've even joked with friends about the idea of becoming a movie reviewer.

But just recently I wondered, "What's the point of professional 'reviews'?" Why should I take stock in what any other person thinks of anything, let alone "works of art". Isn't everything subjective?

In my opinion, a review tells me a lot more about the reviewer than it does about what that person is reviewing.

A person will review a movie based on how that movie impacts them, and that has a lot more to do what that person is about, or what that person is dealing with at that time. Will I like a movie just because someone else likes that movie - a so-called "expert"? Take a look at your own family or your workplace or your class at school or your local grocery store: do you think everyone in those groups would like or dislike all of the same movies?

Further, I think the same person would review the same movie differently based on where and when they watch it. The review would be different if the reviewer watched the movie 2 hours apart, 2 days apart, 2 months apart, or 2 years apart. So even if the I agreed with the expert reviewer one time, what is to say I would have at another time?

For example, I recently saw The Pursuit of Happyness about a man struggling to become successful and his young son. The movie touched me deeply and I generally liked it because I could relate to it. That being said, I would probably not have liked it near as much 5 years ago before I was married, or had a serious career, or had a son who I am crazy about.

If I am going to take anything away from a published review, then I would first need to read a brief biography on the reviewer so I know where they are coming from. Otherwise it won't really help.

So, if everything I say is even remotely accurate, then what is the point of professional reviewers publishing reviews about anything: books, movies, music, restaurants, or anything? What's the point?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Fair Transaction

I've noticed that I'm getting a lot of hits to my blog via my LinkedIn website. They are probably wondering why my blog topics are so random and not "business related". Well folks, there's a lot more to Ryan Hartberg than selling a boat load of trash cans. I'm a complex man in a complex world, or something like that. Anyway, something "business related" recent caught my attention, and I think its something worth repeating and spreading around.

My brother David, who is a very successful businessman and strong leader, lent me the book Nothing to Fear: Lessons in Leadership from FDR by Alan Axelrod. I haven't yet finished the book, but one of the very early "entries" really hit home with me. The title of the entry is "What's Worth Winning" and the accompanying quote from FDR was, "A selfish victory is always destined to be an ultimate defeat." Axelrod begins by challenging the idea that for every winner there must be a loser and for every gain on one side there must be a loss on the other side. In business this does not necessarily be true - companies can trade value for value - although, unfortunately it can be true if both parties in a transaction aren't on the same page.

Being in sales, it made me realize that it is important to make sure all of my relationships, techniques, and arrangements have integrity and insure future success on my part as well as my client's part. In my industry (waste hauling/removal), the transaction is money for service. In theory, the exchange is even - or at least perceived as even; though that quantity may change for individual clients. If I take advantage of my client by 1) overcharging them for a service or 2) underservicing them based on their price, then I am doing my client a great disservice. Similarly if my client 1) refuses to pay its bill or 2) demands that my company repeatedly go above and beyond its agreed upon terms for the price (always requiring extra service and time, etc), then my company would lose money. In either case, over time - especially if every transaction is similarly inequitable - one or both of the companies could/would go out of business.

Axelrod ends with,

"A selfish victory, a one-sided 'bargain,' is necessarily a dead end, whereas a victory for all concerned, a transaction in which true value is exchanged for true value, necessarily leads to additional victories of this kind."

In other words, it doesn't do any good to take advantage of another company; we should want all clients to be successful so that they can continue to be our clients. And we should not want to take advantage of our vendors, because we would want out vendors to be successful and continue to be our vendors. This mentality breeds long-term relationships. The alternative is a series of burns and short-term, non-trusting relationships in which everyone loses.