Tipping is Not a City in China

housevsaptHouseowners deal with many issues that are foreign to apartment and condo dwellers.  Beyond the seemingly endless (and often expensive) hassles associated with purchasing and moving into a home, one then has to deal with some combination of tasks which include: trash disposal, lawn maintenance, appliance repair and maintenance, outdoor holiday decoration placement and removal, basement flooding, HVAC maintenance, “Mischief Night” soaping and eggings, neighbors’ rogue pets, and on and on.  But this is the time of year where you “make some of that back.”
The "Where's my tip?" hand
The “Where’s my tip?” hand

The holiday season for apartment and condo dwellers might as well be renamed the “Tipping Season.”  Every person that works in and services the entire building (and parking garage if you have one), expects a hefty tip this time of year.  A reward for a job well done (or perhaps some insurance for good service in the year to come).  Many of these people are relatively invisible for 11 months of the year but like clockwork they’ll appear in your vicinity several times between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.  You’ll get a hearty “Hello!” and smile and even a handshake with eye contact from some of them as they happen to be there vacuuming in front of your door, getting to that old maintenance request, tidying up the lobby or offering to help with a package.  Wonderful, friendly busy staff as far as the eye can see.  Much like waiters and waitresses, the tip is essentially an expected part of their compensation so you’re a heel if you stiff them.

 

But how much to tip?  When?  Who?  How do you appropriately “slip them the cash?”  Despite literally hundreds of years of doorman buildings and other apartment complexes with staffers on the books, there has been no progress on exactly how to do this “tip drill” well.  Does each one get the same or do the people that know your name get more?  Is there a “class system” in which doormen get the big dough and maintenance gets 50% less?  Can you send a big check or bag of cash to some management flunky and trust them to divvy it up fairly?  What’s this year’s “rate?”  $100 each?  $200?  $50 due to Obama and the recession?  Does the Super really deserve $500 (after all, he already makes more than everybody else, right?)?  Do I slip a $20 to the weekend substitute parking guy?
Will "Schneider" fix your overflowing toilet in a jiffy next year?
Will “Schneider” fix your overflowing toilet in a jiffy next year?

 

It’s crazy!  Don’t you already pay a “maintenance” fee each year for these services?  Even if you want to do the right thing, there’s no way to know what “the right thing” is.  Ask most doormen and they’ll shrug and say, “Whatever you think is fair sir.”  That’s no help.  You may spend thousands of dollars tipping different people and still miss the guy that fixed your toilet during your Superbowl party because you forgot what he looked like (note: you’ll know if that happened the next time you desperately need his services and he’s conveniently unavailable btw).

 

So to all you house-owners out there, be happy this holiday season knowing that this is your time… a time where you can relax in your home and enjoy the holidays while your apartment-dwelling counterparts are struggling with the all that goes with the “Tipping Season.”

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Start It Up In NY?

New York wants new businesses to start up here!   Newly hired employees, innovative new services and products, new revenue and profits and tax income to the state and more!  I’ve heard NY politicians talk about it, “We’re making New York an attractive place to start and grow your company!” and the like.

Steve and Woz in Jobs' garage creating Apple.
Steve and Woz in Jobs’ garage creating Apple.

We’ve heard the stories about successful companies started in a garage or studio apartment with an idea and just a few hundred dollars in some cases. The next thing you know they’ve got a campus, thousands of employees and plans to hire thousands more.  Those stories are never about New York companies though, are they?  Coincidence?  Bad luck?  New Yorkers aren’t as smart as people in Washington state or Virginia or elsewhere?

Actually, just the opposite.  New York entrepreneurs are smart enough to know that New York state and especially the 5 boroughs of New York City have a unique “Publication” requirement for all new LLCs that will likely cost them thousands of dollars and 6+ weeks of hassles.  Open your business elsewhere, no such requirement and no such fee.  Hmmm…, NY and pay the fee or anywhere else and not pay the fee.  Tough choice for them, eh?  How does NY compare to neighboring states for formation of new LLCs per capita?  Terrible, of course.

The “Publication” requirement requires new NY businesses to publish an official notice of their existence in multiple printed newspapers for 6 consecutive weeks.  Any newspapers?  Of course not.  They select the newspapers and you have to call the county clerk to get the names of the papers who will get the $.  They say the requirement is so the general public is “notified” yet the New York Law Journal with its high rates happens to seemingly always be one of the required newspapers.  Big circulation of the general public for that one, eh?  Oh, and the information is already available online, for free, to anyone in the general public who wants it on the Secretary of State’s website.

How unique is the fee?  48 states don’t have it, that how unique it is.   If you’ve ever been curious about what a “special interest” group is and how their influence can drive lawmakers to do something for just them at the expense of virtually everyone else, here’s your case study at the state level.

$2000.00 may or may not seem like a lot of money to you but to some budding entrepreneurs it is money they could clearly use better elsewhere (elsewhere meaning anywhere other than New York).

NY and its lawmakers don't seem to love new business
NY and its lawmakers don’t seem to love new business

 

 

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“Gate”-gate: A Travesty Analyzed – Breaking News

I think there is an emerging scandal that needs attention.  The “Gate-ing” of non-“Gate”-worthy scandals is a growing epidemic and it’s making me angry.  It is an insult to former President Richard Milhous Nixon, G. Gordon Liddy, and the rest of the Watergate gang to try to “-Gate” these minor scandals/dust-ups and put them on the level of the the G-Men’s “work” back in the 70s.  It’s the 40th Anniversary of the original “Gate” for crying out loud, so it’s time to act… and I intend to!

The one and only original “gate”

So which scandals qualify for “-Gate” status?  Let’s evaluate a small sampling (10), of the “best” of the many contenders:

Travelgate at the White House began in May 1993 and really got the “-Gate” business going when seven employees of the White House Travel Office were fired and replaced with friends of the Clintons.  During multiple investigations the discovery of reportedly false statements made by the first lady drove the Clintons to reinstate most of the employees and remove the Clinton associates from the travel office.  A 7-year+ investigation involving the White House, FBI, multiple Special Counsels, and the Attorney General = YES, it’s “-Gate”-worthy.

Bill & Hillary Clinton were at the center of the new “-Gating” craze

Troopergate began with the allegations by two Arkansas state troopers that they arranged sexual liaisons for then-governor Bill Clinton and the scandal escalated to include salacious and serious accusations regarding Paula Jones (who was paid $850K by the President), Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, and White House intern Monica Lewinsky (leading to his impeachment by the House of Representatives in 1998.  YES

Spygate was born when with the New England Patriots were found to be secretly taping NY Jets (and likely other teams), signals to gain an unfair advantage.  I would have originally voted NO to “-Gate” status for this but upon further review the facts do show an amazing pattern: 3-0 in Super Bowls while spying and cheating, 0-2 in Super Bowls since caught cheating.  That’s a YES.

Bagelgate occurred at a Fortune 500 company’s Annual Meeting in New York when the regular practice of serving breakfast at the stockholder meeting was changed by the incoming CEO, angering long-time stockholders who typically would make a day of it by eating at the meeting, voting their shares (or single share of stock in some cases), and catching a matinee at the theater.  The Q&A was dominated by elderly stockholders asking the new CEO why there were no bagels or other breakfast items provided for them at this year’s meeting.  Hilarious, but not a “-Gate” – NO

Nipplegate – Singer Justin Timberlake revealed Janet Jackson’s right breast to 89.8 million viewers in a staged “wardrobe malfunction” during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII causing an uproar and national debate about decency in modern culture as well as FCC fines for CBS.  The most viewed breast and nipple in recorded history = YES

Editgate – NBC TV edited a 911 recording in a way that made the motivation for the shooting of Trayvon Martin appear racial.  Powerful case but not “-Gate-worthy”-NO

Nannygate – A 1993 political controversy over nomination of Zoë Baird and near-nomination of Kimba Wood for U.S. Attorney General were withdrawn due to their hiring of illegal aliens as nannies or the failure to pay taxes for them. The soon-to-be chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. government and head of the United States Department of Justice breaking the law?… YES

Paterno/Spanier-gate at Penn State (hey, that rhymes!) – too soon to say but the coverup to hide the actions of a pedophile coach looks extensive and linked to the highest levels of power.  TBD

Camillagate was a Royal affair

Camillagate – Scandal which resulted from a tape of a telephone conversation between the married Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles in 1993; the tabloids leaked the details of an intimate recording in which Prince Charles told Camilla that he longed to be her tampon.  I’m still speechless about the content but not quite a “-Gate” – NO

Weinergate – U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account linked to a picture of a bulging penis (in underwear).  Weiner said his account had been hacked, but later admitted he sent the tweet; numerous other lewd photographs from the married congressman were later “revealed.”  All-time great NY Post tabloid headline (“HIDE THE WEINER”), but not a “-Gate” –so… NO

OK, so our analysis of these 10 media-anointed “-Gate” scandals shows that only half of them met the standard set by “all the President’s men.”  And these are only a handful of the dozens and dozens that people dare to bestow with the vaunted “-Gate” suffix.  This is Watergate we’re talking here… the biggest coverup in american government history; to besmirch it with Weinergates and other inferiors is tantamount to insulting the constitution itself.  It’s not right.   It will not stand.  Why?  I’ll tell you why… Because I’m here, I’m angry and I’m not gonna take it anymore!

“Gate”-ing is only for the worthy.

UPDATE: Since the publishing of this entry several new unworthy “gates” have emerged (which I won’t detail here), and a new “one-to watch” – namely, “Deflate-gate.”  It seems a ballboy at the mighty USC Trojans football program deflated half the footballs (the ones USC QB Matt Barkley would throw), for the recent USC-Oregon football game.  You see, a football slightly deflated below official specs is easier to grip, throw and catch than a typical new game ball.  Results?  Already considered a top QB prospect USC’s Barkley exploded for 303 passing yards and 3 TD passes… in the 1st half!  At half-time, officials discovered the cheating and the seeds of “Deflate-gate” were born.  USC coach Lane Kiffin and everyone else with the program claim the ballboy was a “lone pin-man” who inserted that pin and masterminded the deflatement.  We should all follow this carefully to see if this one becomes worthy of the “Gate” suffix.

USC’s Coach Lane Kiffin: Innocent preppy leader or Nixon 2?

 

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Mr. President, A Budget Tip

November 6, 2012, 3:30pm ET   

President Obamney (I’m not sure who won yet), I feel that if the rest of us have to balance our checkbooks each month (and year), our country should too.

Voters have to balance their checkbooks, right?

Call me crazy but I believe that the USA can find a way to survive on a meager $2.5 trillion/year (or whatever the expected revenue is next year).  Go through every line item the way we workers do with our own budgets and make adult decisions about what you absolutely have to pay for and what is a “nice to have” that will have to wait until you get a raise in revenue or an unexpected bonus.  If you and the leaders of the House and Senate can honestly say that every line item in that proposed budget is 100% required this year, then I’ll personally bet you everything I own that you’re full of crap.  The size of the debt itself is the next economy and retirement-crushing disaster-in-waiting and you and the House and Senate were elected to address just this kind of tough problem.

Line-item veto? OK

Please don’t violate the “No Asshole Rule” and put politics ahead of doing the job right.  I don’t care how you do it or who gets the credit and neither should you.  If a “line item veto” is how it will get done, then I’ll support the President (and Speaker and Senate Majority Leader if needed) getting that power and I don’t care which party any of them are from.

This isn’t rocket science or difficult to understand and you all know it.  Once the budget is balanced for the year, THEN consider options for tackling the existing debt.  Increasing taxes and adding those additional short-term $ to the budget kitty will only increase spending, not decrease the debt in my opinion and isn’t that the point, to eliminate the debt itself?

It’s a balanced budget, not the quest for the Grail

Find a way to spend within your current means and then I’ll support really reviewing all options (including new and higher taxes and fees), to raise revenue for the specific purpose of eliminating the national debt itself.

Who’s with me?

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NYC Mayor Making Adults Fat. Why?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is cast as a benevolent Mr. Mom or “He-Nanny” who watches out for New Yorkers, wipes their mouths and fannies, and keeps them safe from evil sugar and 2nd hand smoke.  I’m here to tell you that something else may be afoot… something more sinister and malevolent.

What is certain is that he’s trying to make NYers fat; consider these events:

-He cancelled Halloween and trick or treating so now people will eat all the candy themselves and get fat.

-He still has Central Park closed so we can’t exercise there (and make an adult decision as to whether a road or path is “safe”).  No exercise = fat.
Central Park closed for exercise + NYers with huge bags of unneeded candy. Coincidence?

 

-The YMCA is again closed today which probably is due to some sort of government meddling or funding or tax issues (the ‘C’ stands for Christian so you never know).  No exercise = fat.

-And with no more smoking or large soft drinks allowed, people are drinking more high calorie beer and Red Bull every day!  More calories = fat and since smoking also curbs appetite, this = double fat.

 

It looks to me like NYC’s caring “Nanny Bloomberg” is secretly fattening us all up Hansel & Gretel style for some nefarious purpose.  I’m angry and a bit scared but I must say that my giant bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins looks soooooo tasty that I may yet fall into Mrs. Doubtberg’s evil trap!  You’ve been warned.
Are NYers just Hansels & Gretels to the Mayor’s evil, witch-like nanny?

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Why So Much of the Same Ads?

If TV this month is any indication then I’d say that clearly:

1. We all need new car insurance (and haven’t decided on who to buy it from)

and…

2. We’re all potential voters that are “undecided” at the moment

 

Really?  That many of us haven’t decided?

 

My theory is that advertising agencies and their “inside” men and women are doing a phenomenal job – a phenomenal job of convincing their clients that we the people haven’t decided yet and that another 100 or so viewing “impressions” (industry term) of that “reptile” each week will make the difference (Geico’s The Martin Agency does a good job too).

They’re slinging what the industry calls FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) at their own clients and it’s working.

So people, brace yourselves for lots and lots more Flo, Gecko, the deep-voice actor guy, the guy that played Brenda’s boss on The Closer, Aaron “Discount Double Check” Rodgers and, oh yeah, Barack and Mitt because the agency guys are gooooood.
On the bright side at least I get to see more of Ronald using karaoke to get his “profile” out there and save money on online dating (it is so popular btw that they released an extended version on YouTube for Ronald’s fans)
Apparently Ron’s “hairline is receding, but (he’s) getting a weave”

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Why Do We Expect a Scorpion Not to Sting?

Why do we expect the NFL to care about player safety and the integrity of the game when we know all they really care about is money?

Why do we expect a new CMO to only fix what’s broken when we know they’re 100% predisposed to do a flashy branding/rebranding exercise?

Why do we forget “The Frog and Scorpion” Tale?

Why do we expect politicians to do what’s best for their constituents when we know they’ll always do what’s best for themselves?

Why do we expect our favorite team to replace a fired coach with the best candidate when we know they’ll hire the “safest” option who is the most opposite of the last guy?

Why do we expect universities to use that billion dollar+ endowment to keep/make college affordable when we know they’ll use it all to grow bigger? {And why do we keep donating money to that university when we know the above is true?}

Why do we believe TV networks will obey the “commercials will never be louder than the program” regulations?

Why do we expect business leaders to really lead with the long term in mind when we know they’ll mortgage the future to make the number this quarter?

Why do we expect that this particular scorpion won’t sting that innocent, unlucky “target”?

Is it the hope that better things are just ahead?  Drinking-related memory issues perhaps?  Insanity?  Cockeyed optimism?  Well, why do we check the coin slot to see if a quarter is in there?…  Because sometimes there is a quarter in there and last time, I found a Sacajawea dollar coin.  That’s why-

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When Scandal = Opportunity

The latest scandal related to “the royals” in jolly old England has plenty of important people hopping mad and many more annoyed that telephoto photography technology isn’t better than it is.  It seems the newest princess (Princess Kate), was photographed sunbathing topless at a Chateau in the South of France last week and the grainy photos have been published in magazines in at least 3 Euro countries.

The attractive and extremely popular young princess and her family are angry and trying to fight back and contain the damage caused by this invasion of privacy perpetrated from over a half mile away by a magazine photographer (reportedly from a French magazine!), on assignment.

How is this latest scandal an opportunity?  Well, my Brit friends and colleagues have been complaining for years that adopting the Euro as their currency would be a huge mistake for Great Britain and would saddle (or is that “straddle” Joe? 😉 ), their economy with the negative effects of unstable and careless Euro countries (Greece, France, etc.), who economies are tanking (and/or are on the edge of doing so).   Perhaps this Euro-scandal plus the promise of a better, more artful British currency will be enough to ensure (for good), that the powerful government and other forces pushing the UK toward the Euro never succeed and that Brits everywhere can always savor their beloved pound notes.   For those who love tradition (and art), I believe the choice is obvious.

The “New” Old Currency in England?

 

 

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“Donations” and Other Former “Free”-bies

Has anyone else had enough of secret fees, extra charges for things that were free last year (or last week), and “mandatory donations?”

Having to pay hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for the right to pay full price for season sports tickets???  e.g.: Duke basketball fans can buy 4 season tickets at full price with a yearly donation of $15,000-$58,500.  That sure is a nice reward for your best customers, isn’t it?

A delivery charge from Domino’s Pizza accompanied by a reminder to tip the delivery guy???  Where does the delivery charge go Mr. Pizza Boss? – New laces for the sneakers he wears when he walks 2 blocks to deliver my pie perhaps???

Coming to your next flight?

My bank (ironically billed as “America’s Most Convenient Bank”), charged me 50 cents to check the balance on one of my other accounts at their in-bank ATM this week.  Really?  Yes, really-

And don’t get me started on the airlines – I fully expect pay toilets and an extra charge to recline my seat any f#%*ing day now!!!

This kind of bait and switch crap is really pissing me off and I’m putting all the young Harvard MBAs who thought this crap up on notice: Clean up your act and trade in your “Carny Scams” manual for “The Essential Peter Drucker” or I’ll find you and make you wish you had!

The Carny/Harvard MBA: “Princes Among Men” ?

Gotta run now, I see a young man in a suit taking notes at the “Pop the Balloon, Win Big Prize!” carnival booth-

Note: Museums with a specific “suggested donation” aren’t any better than these Harvard carnies’ and their scams… A “$5 Suggested Donation” sign in front of some old battle axe woman who gives you the stink-eye until you pony up is extortion, not a gentle suggestion. (23)

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