Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dive Bombing Bird

Last week on the downtown San Francisco Trailside Networking hike (@TrailsideNet on Twitter), we visited the now infamous "dive bombing bird" in the financial district. This Blackbird is obviously just protecting a nearby nest, but people are getting a kick out of watching it swoop down and peck people's heads as they walk by. People have put up a warning sign, and even a tree ornament! We had fun watching it swoop down on a few people. I'm definitely in the dive bombing bird fan club! :)

Hahaha, the British commentary in this news clip is funny:

My photos:

Note: Posted from 34,981 feet on Virgin America Flight 22 from SFO->JFK, 529mph, somewhere over Missouri!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What's Your Testimonal?

I am in the process of working with a technology consulting firm on being placed in a contract position for a large, well branded company you have probably heard of (more details later perhaps). One of the things they asked me to do was to help them write a short but pointed "testimonial" about my experience in 3rd person, as it pertains to the contract at hand.

I didn't think much of this process, until I completed it. It's actually a valuable thing to do if you are in a job search. Not only do you think of your qualifications, but you write them down as if someone was reading an article about you. I think it's a good mental tool before an interview, and also a good tool in helping create objective statements. Here's what I came up with. What's your testimonial?

Craig is a proven web application development professional, having 7 years experience in Quality Assurance, 7 years experience in Project Management, and a Masters Degree in Information Systems. He recently led the QA team at a small software company through the testing phases and successful launch of a new web application built from the ground up. Craig also has experience working on web application development teams for large companies such as Verizon Wireless & AT&T. He has a solid understanding of SDLC methodology in both Agile and Waterfall environments, and practical experience in creating a web application quality assurance strategy. He has a good-natured personality and will quickly earn respect from the rest of the development team.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Safe

One of the curious features of the house I bought last year was a really old looking locked safe in the garage (made by the Hermann Safe Company in San Francisco). The previous owner had the combination somewhere, but had never opened it. After closing on the house, I attempted to get the combination from the previous owner. Maybe he misplaced it or maybe he was reluctant to give it to me, kicking himself for having not opened it, but it took me about a year of bugging him to finally get the combination. We opened the safe with high expectations, kind of like Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's Vault, but of course there was nothing of value in it.

So what we are left with, is a very curious San Francisco artifact! The safe itself is very interesting, perhaps 3' tall and very heavy. The painting on the outside appears to have been done by hand. The inside has some cabinetry built in, and what looks like a carpet on the floor of the safe (which is now deteriorating over time). The house was built in 1941, and from the light research I did on the Hermann Safe Co., the safe was probably made in the 1920's or 1930's.

I hope to find out more about it in time (no plans to get rid of it). Although, if anyone has an indication on it's worth or how rare it may be - I'd be interested in learning. In the meantime, I did find out that the Hermann Safe Company is no longer in business; having sold out to a company named "The SafeMart" - and they supposedly no longer make safes. There is a listing for the "Hermann Associates Inc. The Safe Mart" in San Francisco I'd like to look into further.

I also found this photo of Carl Haas, vice president of the Hermann Safe Company, standing with John R. Hermann senior and junior from 1952 - as well as Hermann Safe Company workers delivering a vault to the American Trust Company in 1958.

Here's a photo of a beautiful safe door from the Old Mint on 5th & Mission Streets. I love how they took the time back in those days to decorate things by hand.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Trailside Networking

A few days ago, my buddy Chris Simpson called me and asked if I would be interested in helping start up a group he had been thinking of. The basic premise of the group is to get out from behind the computer, and get outside for a hike!

Like me, Chris has recently found himself looking for new work. There is a lot of pressure involved. It may seem dreamy, like we have a lot of time to do whatever we want on our hands, but fact is there is constant pressure to do everything you can to find new work. This means spending many hours a day in front of the computer reading job posts, sending out resumes/cover letters, connecting with people, etc. It takes up a lot of time. Chris found he was walking a lot less than he should be (I knew I was, he proved it by wearing a pedometer).

So, Trailside Networking was born. There have got to be hundreds/thousands of people like us given the poor economy, plugging away daily looking for new work. We'd like to meet some of you, use our gift of free time to get outside and go for a hike, and talk about what we've been up to in our job searches. The first hike is in Marin but I can see future hikes in SF or the East Bay perhaps. I can even see the idea of this spreading to other areas.

Join us for the next hike. Even if you are working, you may be able to join us at lunch or at an upcoming weekend trip.
Trailside Networkring on Facebook

UPDATE 6/14/09:
Photos from our inaugural hike! Looking forward to a bigger turn out on our 2nd hike downtown along the SF waterfront.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

La Ferme Julien Rosé - a review

I've been on a bit of a Rosé kick now that summer is approaching. During my many trips to Napa this spring so far, the variety seems to be the casual drinking wine of choice. And why not! Once you get over yourself that the drink is pink; Rosé is usually inexpensive, refreshing when served cool, and pleasing to most palates.

The problem is that not a lot of wineries produce a Rosé, and even fewer stores (at least in San Francisco) seem to stock them. I don't think everyone has yet heard the news about Rosé wines being IN. I was in Trader Joe's in SF and saw 1 Rosé variety stocked (ONE!). So I decided to try it.

It was the La Ferme Julien Rosé 2007. First thing I noticed was the super cool label. I don't know why exactly, but I like the goat. Score 1 point. The price was $4.99 (wow, cheap! Recession proof!). I know that price is not always an indicator of quality, but I am still skeptical of any wine for under 5 bucks. It's screw top too, which I am also not a huge fan of (even though I do understand the benefits of a screw top, I still am not completely over the hump in accepting it). La Ferme Julien proved me wrong though!

This wine was quite good! Not too sweet, well balanced, pleasant aroma. Serve slightly chilled but not too cold. Serve before dinner, with some cheese/crackers, while BBQ-ing, or if some friends pop over late afternoon. I wouldn't recommend it with a meal really, felt it was more of a casual drinker.

Definitely going back to get a few more bottles. Should fit almost any one's budget.

To read more reviews about Trader Joe's wines, head over to this blog.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Brand Can Have its own Personality

A lot of great talk going on about what the Murphy-Goode candidate who lands the job will leave behind in 6 months. It started on Andy's Goode Life Blog and continued over onto Hardy's Goode To Be First blog. The person who lands the job will have a "ton of equity- similar to a TV host or DJ". The Murphy-Goode position may be an anomaly to this, but does a Social Media position have to put so much stock in the personality of the person hired? My response on Hardy's blog:

There are certainly ways to promote the brand in social media without promoting one's self. I can think of several brands I follow in social media that definitely have personality, but I don't really know who the real person is behind it. If the person changed, I wouldn't know so long as the personality stayed the same. If you *create* a personality for the brand without linking it to you personally, someone else could potentially carry on that branding indefinitely. I think any brand looking for a social media professional should consider this, or else end up like Sirius w/ Howard Stern.

This may not be possible with the Murphy-Goode situation because of the publicity, we all know who is applying and eventually who will land the job. However, if I were at Murphy-Goode I would definitely be asking myself "...if after 6 months we don't keep this person on, would we lose all of our followers?".

I think the successful candidate will portray a little bit of "it's not about me, it's about Murphy-Goode".