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Archive for May, 2008

Attention Guys: How Is Your Cave?

Friday, May 30th, 2008

I remember the first home I bought in Ashland, Massachusetts. I was in my twenties and it had three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, was about 1800 square feet and had some really nice views. The thing that I remember the most and probably enjoyed the most was my basement. Back then, my basement was "code" for sports bar. It had two TVs and hundreds of sports pictures, ticket stubs and other memorabilia everywhere in the room. Yes, there was a bar and refrigerator and yes, we had some really fun parties.

Over the years my homes have gotten a little bit bigger, BUT for some reason my sports bar or "cave" has gotten much smaller. In my current home office I have about fifteen sports pictures hanging on the walls and that’s it. In our media room (I wish that was my cave), I have about the same on the walls and according to Trish that is plenty. In fact, five too many. If I want to add another picture, there tends to be a negotiation that may include jewelry as a trade. I do understand her position since we do entertain quite a bit in the room.

Guys, my cave isn’t that great. How is yours? Yes, I have a large screen TV, but frankly in my perfect cave I would have five TVs in it, a nice bar area, pool table, ping pong table, pinball machines, cigar room and many other things.

It would also include beautiful and very comfortable oversized leather chairs and couches.

With the cost of sporting events increasing each and every day (or at least it seems that way to me) and large screen TVs being very common, it seems to be that media rooms will be a code word for "man caves." I wish I had a big and better one.

Perhaps it is time for us to move.

  • What about you? How is your "man cave?"
  • If you could do whatever you want in your "cave", what would it be?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Attention Movie Buffs: Who Is The Greatest On-Screen Tough Guy Of All Time?

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

DukeOver the years there have been some great tough guys. Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Lee, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Al Pacino.

I must admit I do like all of the Lethal Weapon movies. Mel Gibson plays a tough cop in those movies and has played a lot of tough guys over the years in Tequila Sunrise, Braveheart and many other movies. Who could forget Robert De Niro in Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Untouchables? He was amazing!

When I think about on-screen tough guys, they have it all: good looks, very impressive builds, careers that span decades, and look the part.

For me, my greatest tough guy of all time would be John Wayne. John made over 200 movies spanning 50 years. Think about that he did what he loved for over 50 years. WOW! Years ago I used to watch war movies every Saturday with my dad and it seemed every one of those movies had John Wayne in it. It didn’t matter if bullets were flying or bombs were dropping he rarely died. I loved him in Green Berets, The Comancheros, The Alamo and my favorite will always be True Grit. He was and still is a movie icon.

Not only was he in 200 movies – he was always working. He made at LEAST one movie a year for 50 straight years! That streak may never be broken.

  • What is your criteria for a movie tough guy?
  • Who is your favorite tough guy of all time?
  • What do you think of my choice?
  • Who else should be considered?

I look forward to your comments.

Shouldn’t this color be more important to me?

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

There aren’t a lot of things I constantly think about that I need to change but this is one for sure. I do things right sometimes when it comes to this particular subject, but not all the time. I know it is important but it just isn’t convenient all of the time. I need to be much more consistent and have it be top of mind much more often. I am good when I am in the kitchen or the den but not really good when I am anywhere else in my house. I am pretty good when I am in the office on some things and others not so much.

What I am referring to is making green my favorite color, and thinking about green very often, and how I can help, do my part, and really care about what I do. And more importantly, I need to think about what I am not doing.

I need to speak with friends and see what they are doing. I need to Google the subject and seeing what we can do different in our house. I need to speak with Trish and make this a conscious effort for both of us to participate. We need to start teaching our kids now, so when they are really old enough to understand, they will.

Recycling is important and this needs to be a daily habit for me as well as other things that I can do to help be more green.

What about you?

What efforts do you do to be more green?


Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Tampa Bay Rays finish over .500 this year? The Rays have never finished above .500 in their history. Last year they were 30 games under .500 and finished last for the 9th time in the last 10 years. They have some nice pitching and solid young players. I believe they will finish third in the east and end up 82-80. Do you agree? If so raise your hand!

Lance Berkman hits over .350 this year? Lance is currently around the .400 mark. Yes he is having a great year and is a career.304 hitter – clearly a solid player. I believe he will come back to life and finish around .330. Do you agree? If so raise your hand!

The Boston Celtics don’t need to win on the road to win the NBA Championship? The Celtics have won back to back seven game series. Each win ending with a victory in Boston. The “Garden” has changed its name but don’t underestimate what the fans can do to help a team down the stretch of a game. The Celtics had a great home record this year at 35-6 (2nd best behind Utah). They haven’t lost at home in the playoffs and WON’T! In fact they will win the NBA championship this year with the most playoff losses in one year. Do you agree? If so raise your hand!

Do you miss Barry Bonds? Short and sweet. NO! Glad you aren’t part of the game and hopefully it stays that way! Do you agree? If so raise your hand!

Brett Favre comes out of retirement? Let the debate begin. I really like Brett Favre. Over the years I have become a big fan of his. I always liked the way he went about his business. He made things happen all the time on the field and is a winner and one of the all-time greats! I go back and forth with this one. I think we will hear some rumblings of Brett getting itchy and that he might reconsider but at the end of the day I say “no” he stays retired. Do you agree? If so raise your hand!

I look forward to your comments and seeing if your hand is raised.

P.S. Please also let us know if you have a burning question or comment about anything else you have thought of in sports.

Curious About The Top Ten Most Miserable US Cities? Read On.

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Forbes Magazine rates the most miserable cities in the United States. The rating is based on a number of things:

  • Unemployment rate
  • Income tax rate
  • Number of violent crimes per capita
  • Weather
  • Average commute time
  • Presence of superfund sites — this is an abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste storage site.

Base on the criteria, the ten most miserable cities in the United States are:

  1. Detroit, Michigan
  2. Stockton, California
  3. Flint, Michigan
  4. New York, New York
  5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  6. Chicago, Illinois
  7. Los Angeles, California
  8. Modesto, California
  9. Charlotte, North Carolina
  10. Providence, Rhode Island

A few comments. When I first looked at that list, I was happy not to see any cities from Massachusetts or Texas. When I gave it a little more thought I was shocked to see Charlotte, North Carolina on the list. I thought North Carolina was having a tremendous amount of people relocate there and I just assumed that Charlotte would get their fair share. I have heard nothing but great things about Charlotte and again very surprised they were listed. I was also a little surprised that Michigan had two of the top three most miserable cities on the list. I thought they had been working very hard to clean up the area and had dramatically improved things. Based on this list, it doesn’t appear to be the case. I was also surprised to see California occupy three of the top eight spots.

I also think they should add some additional criteria to identify the most miserable cities. Education and the rating of the cities’ schools is an obvious addition they should make.

  • What other criteria do you think they should add?
  • What was your first reaction when you saw the list?
  • What cities do you think should be added?

I look forward to your comments.

I Really Feel Old When…….._______!

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Yes, my birthday is this month. It isn’t a big one, but needless to say I am a year older. Sometimes I think I am really old. I can’t run as fast as I used to. I don’t heal as quickly as I used to. And frankly, I probably get tired a little more easily than I used to.

The top seven things to make me really feel old are when _________!

  1. My four year old is quicker on the computer than I am
  2. It is 95 degrees in my office and I actually like it
  3. I get out of bed in the morning and can’t even touch my knees
  4. I can’t read things that are a 10 point font or smaller!
  5. I have noticed myself pulling my pants lower and lower
  6. I hear the list of the top twenty songs and haven’t heard of any of them
  7. I have trouble picking up my daughter (who only weighs 20+ pounds) without something hurting

Clearly getting old is just part of life and in a lot of ways isn’t that bad.

What makes you feel old?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Are Your Presentations Boring? How About Slides with Fewer Words and More Pictures?

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Over the years I have presented hundreds of times. Some of those presentations were to clients, prospects, association board meetings or at conferences. During that time I have dramatically changed my style. I try not to have very wordy slides and found that adding pictures can make a huge difference to your audience. Here is what I believe pictures can do for you:

  • Keep your audience interested
  • Can really drive home a point
  • It can illustrate how creative your company can be
  • Used correctly can add some humor to the presentation
  • Is very easy on the eyes
  • Makes it easy for attendees to follow along
  • Will help the presenter not lose their place on the slides
  • Makes it very easy for the presenter to transition from one point to another

Here are some examples of pictures I have used in presentations in the past:

Problem Solving


Stay focused. Don’t drop the ball

Think a little bit out of the box

And on the lighter side, here are some recent pictures that I just used for a company presentation:

I think people enjoyed the pictures more than hearing about my vacation. I realize pictures and funny pictures can’t be used in every presentation, but I do believe they can be very effectively used at the right time.

  • What do you do to keep your presentations fresh?
  • When do you use pictures in your presentations?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Do You Love A Good Cigar? I Do! — By Lynn Stalone, Guest Writer

Monday, May 12th, 2008

One of my favorite things as a kid was to sit out with the "dads" while they smoked cigars and pipes, talked politics and sports, and drank whatever it was at the time. Sure, there was a lot of bluster, competition and boasting, but that’s part of the charm of the guys and, frankly, I was in awe of them with their European cars, high-powered careers and wry senses of humor. It was fascinating to listen to and cigars just solidified the mystique.

So, I’ve always loved the smell of a great cigar and the great memories associated with it. And, after all these years, I still sit out with my dad and the guys and soak up the cigar smoke, although now I get to partake in some great grappa, scotch, or whatever is on the agenda.

About a year ago, I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of a long-time news writer for USA Today, Bill Welsh. Bill joined my husband’s band of merry men on their pilgrimage to Sturgis, South Dakota for the annual Harley Davidson week, and he’s become a great friend since then. Bill is a man of the world. He’s seen it all and written about it, often on the front page. He loves southern blues music, any and every bar, and can wring an interesting story out of just about anyone — he’s a true master at work. But, more than anything, Bill loves his cigars. And, he always has great ones — Davidoff, Padron and numerous others.

At a recent dinner party, the guys headed outside to smoke (with me tagging along) and Bill turned to me and said, "You know, it’s a shame more women don’t smoke cigars." I’d always been tempted, but I just wasn’t sure (being someone who had never even smoked a cigarette). I felt I was satisfied to live vicariously through the guys, but I figured what the heck. I was in.

As with anything, there is a dramatically different camaraderie when you’re actually participating versus just observing. And, I have to say, it was great. I have a truly new appreciation for cigars and, I suppose, a new vice.

So, here’s my question…

  • What’s your favorite cigar and your beverage of choice to smoke it with?
  • Do you prefer something more robust, or smoother and more subtle?
  • Do you have an occasion where you had a truly incredible, one-of-a-kind cigar?

I look forward to hearing from you and your reading your comments.


Lynn Stalone is a partner with IHR Research Group and Restaurant Research Associates. Prior to being named partner in 1989, she was a senior analyst with the firm. She has extensive research experience in all facets of the foodservice and hospitality industries, though currently focuses her efforts on the company’s phone center operations.

Lynn attended California State University, Fullerton under a double major of Biology and Marketing. She is currently involved with National Charity League and strongly committed to charitable causes supported by this group. Lynn is also involved in several committees for MRA and is immediate past president of the Southern California Chapter of MRA.

Today Is A Happy And Sad Day At M/A/R/C Research

Friday, May 9th, 2008

I can remember my first day at M/A/R/C Research almost four years ago. I didn’t know anyone at all and needed help finding my office. One by one I met the staff. One by one I forgot the staff’s name and that probably continued for my first week. I was always impressed with how nice, open and talented they were. For some reason they accepted me–or at least appeared to anyway. Reviewing the financials, I knew pretty well that I had a few challenges in front of me. I knew each great or happy day could be followed with a hard or sad day.

Today May 9, 2008 is one of those days — a sad day. Today after 8+ years, someone on our team–Fred Van Tatenhove–will be retiring. Riding off into the sunset. Most of the readers don’t know Fred, so please let me take a minute to describe him.

  • He is the type of person who always seems to have a smile on his face
  • He is the type of person who would help out anyone at any time!
  • He is smart
  • He is a solid researcher
  • He is the type of person that everyone would want as a friend
  • He is very, very family-oriented

And yes Fred is a good golfer……just NOT as good as his wife (which is another example of how smart he is).

My life is a little better because I have worked with Fred for almost four years.

Fred, I am excited for you and Marge that you will be able to spend time with your grandchildren. I know how important that is to you. On behalf of the M/A/R/C family, thank you for all that you did.

Please don’t forget us, and know that we won’t forget you.

Not good bye, just so long!

Will Amy Shields Defend Her Title In “How Well Do You Know Americans?” Play The Blog Version Of “Power Of Plus Or Minus 10” And Find Out. ( *** CONTEST CLOSED! ***)

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

The contest is now closed. You can still take the survey to see how you fare, but there will be no prize. Click here to see the winners and check the right answers.

Six months ago, Amy Shields beat Dan Womack by only 13 points in this contest. Amy crushed most of the other contestants to gain her first title in How Well Do You Know Americans? "Power Of Plus or Minus 10″— the blog version of a popular game show where contestants try to accurately predict the respondent base’s answers to intriguing poll questions.

Today Amy, Dan and others (I hope) will try and play a second round of Power of Plus or Minus 10. On one popular game show, the winner gets 10 million dollars — sorry but that won’t be happening here. However, we will have a few lesser prizes for the top two people — assuming we get over fifty responses.

In case you’re not familiar with the Power of Plus or Minus 10, a few months ago, M/A/R/C Research interviewed 5,800 Americans between the ages of 18 and 65. We built a database of their answers, and it will be your challenge to see if you can guess how our respondents answered the questions.

The way this will work is this: Please click on the link below and answer the 7 questions in our little survey. We will total your answers and when we post your response, we will tell you how far away you were. It doesn’t matter if you are over or under the total. The top two people who are the closest in total to the seven questions will be the winners.

Click here to take the survey.

One change this time is that all M/A/R/C Employees can participate except myself, TA and anyone on our internal team who has seen the answers.

Look for the right answers and winners to be posted on May 19. Remember…the lower the score, the better.

Good luck to all!