Archive for September, 2009

Taking Reservations by Money

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

My wife recently organized a fund-raising dinner in conjunction with a writing workshop.  She needed solid commitments in order to plan the food properly, and this is often a problem.

She commented at one point

“I’m not taking reservations by phone, I’m taking them by money.”

Perception is Reality

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

I enjoy the “daily tips on being a better husband” at  the-generous-husband.comToday’s tip deals with perception.

I was at the laundry mat today. (For the moment we have two families on one well, and we feel it’s wise to limit water use rather than find out the hard way how much we can draw.) My bride did the laundry mat run last time; I did it this time because she has a great deal of bookkeeping to do after the day job conference.

I am about done when a woman comes in, and before she can get her stuff into washers her phone rings. It is her husband, on his way home from work. She asks if he is going to stop on his way home and help her with the laundry. I don’t know what he told her as why he was not going to join her, but she replied “Fine, I’ll do it – AGAIN – even though I worked twelve hours today.” He apparently tired to convince her she was being unreasonable, but she quickly ended the conversation and started slamming clothing into machines.

I have no more information than this. I do not know how many hours a week they each work, what each of them does for the other, or how they split up the family chores. Maybe her side of the phone call did not give me the whole story; maybe I would see things differently if I heard his side of the story.  However, her perception is that she is doing more than he is, and that he does not care enough for her to help her out. And be it accurate or not, that is her perspective, and it is reality to her – it is what she is thinking, and feeling, and it is what she bases her decision on about her marriage, and her husband, and how much to put into each.

What is your bride’s perception of you, and of your marriage? Be it right or wrong, it is reality to her, and it is what she bases things on. Don’t ignore her perception just because you “know” it’s wrong. You are living with the consequences of her perceptions, so I suggest you deal with them. If her bad perceptions are wrong, how can you show her they are wrong? If her bad perceptions are based at least in part on truth, how can you change?

As Paul points out, perception is reality to the perceiver.  You will have to deal with the consequences of others’ perceptions, be they right or wrong.

A few years back, I inherited a perception issue with an employee under my (so called) management. We work in software development, where, for the most part, it doesn’t really matter what hours we work, so long as the work gets done and the necessary communication is not impeded.  This developer preferred to work a later shift – say, 10:00 AM until the wee hours of the night.  However, he had acquired a stigma of not pulling his weight.  I had to explain to him that it doesn’t matter how many hours he works, as long as it looks like he is slacking off.  Specifically, at 10:00, everyone is there to see him arrive “late”.  At 7:00 in the evening, nobody is there to see how late he works.  Not fair, but that’s how it works.

hey there (spam)

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Why do spammers think this approach will work?  Do they hope that when they send a million messages like this, some of the recipients will happen to have an old friend Roben with whom they used to have casual and unpunctuated conversations about online pharmacies?  Who else would take it seriously?

—–Original Message—–
From: []
Sent: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 9:51 PM
To: Undisclosed recipients:
Subject: hey there



hey where have you been recently ? I did not get any mail from you for a long time. Anyway, I found a very quality online pharmacy. I ordered some meds and I got them in 3 days. I remember last time you were asking for a cheap and quality it is :


Their url :



—–Original Message—–
From: []
Sent: Saturday, March 07, 2009 5:35 PM




hey how are you doing ? get back to me as soon as possible when you read my mail because i found a great offer on the internet and you should not miss this. I discovered a free medicine shop. I just paid for shipping and they sent my medicines in 3 days. You must check them out before this promotion ends.

Here is their address :



see you later




Friday, September 11th, 2009

Years ago, when I still controlled the bath water for my son, we had a humorous (to me, not him) exchange.

He asked me to make it “warmer”.  So I did.

He asked again for “warmer”.  So I made it warmer.

After several more exchanges, he’s in tears demanding “NO!  Waaarrrmmer”.

I finally figured it out – you have “Cold” and “Hot”, and “Warm” is in between.  The water was too hot, and he wanted it moved to “warm”.

I guess it makes sense, but it is not standard usage of the words.

In a similar vein, when you “turn up the air conditioning”, do you turn up the power (making it colder) or turn up the temperature setting (making it warmer)?  Perhaps it depends on whether you have central air or a window unit.

IRS Notice of Underreported Income

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

I only see the rare spam that gets through all the filters on Gmail and my company’s Exchange server. This one gave me a start – I did have a complicated return last year, and this year will be even worse.

From: Internal Revenue Service []
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2015 9:59 PM
To: Doe, John
Subject: Notice of Underreported Income


Taxpayer ID: john.doe-00000174073547US
Issue: Unreported/Underreported Income (Fraud Application)

Please review your tax statement on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website (click on the link below):

review tax statement for taxpayer id: john.doe-00111174073547US

Internal Revenue Service

It startled me just for a second.  It has all the clues one needs to avoid being duped.

  • It’s an email.  The IRS just doesn’t work that way.
  • It’s an email to my company address.  The IRS doesn’t work that way.
  • It wants me to click something.  No legitimate business works that way these days.
  • As a bonus, check out the Sent date – apparently, I will be evading my taxes six years from now!

The URL is

  • This URL is clearly bogus.  Remember, addresses read right to left – top level domain (.com, .gov, etc) then domain. Everything else is optional and flexible.  So, this one is “stuff” at  Again, not as expected for the IRS.
  • Everything after the “?” is instructions to the program that renders the page.  The name, email, and supposed taxpayer id can all be echoed back to you.

As always, Google is your friend.  Search for a couple of key words “ fraud_application” and you get a telling scorecard – PhishTank, Malware Domain List, ZeuS Tracker.

Here’s a screenshot courtesy of PhishTank.  As a final insult, the instructions are to download and execute your tax return.

30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

I just read 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family, by Rebecca Hagelin.

30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family

My wife actually got this book from our library for herself, and I got hooked as I flipped through it out of curiosity.  This is how I find many of my more edifying books.

I believe that successful parents, and successful husbands, get that way by trying to get better.   We need to read good material and talk with good people who have more experience than we do.  Even after we know it all, there is great value in reading, learning, and evaluating.  We have so many opportunities and very busy lives.  Our children grow and change, and we must change our rules and parenting strategies to adjust.

Every time I read a book like this, it reminds me of what I already know I should be doing. If it gives me a motivational boost and causes me to evaluate our situations and strategy, that’s a good thing, right?

This book is organized into 30 short suggestions (the “30 days”). Each section has a challenge (problem), suggestions and encouragement, and a call to action, followed by a sidebar with additional helpful resources.  This format makes it easy to read in bite size chunks, or to pick and choose.  All made sense, but not all were really applicable to our family.  This book is an easy read and is certain to have a few gems for your family.

A handful of these suggestions were particularly meaningful to me — I will write more about a few of those in the coming week or so.

Not so good at math

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

I’m a sucker for tricky math problems, and for nifty illustrations of human psychology (what other kind is there?)

Seth Godin posed a good one last week:

Not so good at math

A simple quiz for smart marketers:

Let’s say your goal is to reduce gasoline consumption.

And let’s say there are only two kinds of cars in the world. Half of them are Suburbans that get 10 miles to the gallon and half are Priuses that get 50.

If we assume that all the cars drive the same number of miles, which would be a better investment:

  • Get new tires for all the Suburbans and increase their mileage a bit to 13 miles per gallon.
  • Replace all the Priuses and rewire them to get 100 miles per gallon (doubling their average!)

Trick question aside, the answer is the first one. (In fact, it’s more than twice as good a move).

We’re not wired for arithmetic. It confuses us, stresses us out and more often than not, is used to deceive. [PS here are some reader-contributed explanations for those still lost: Charlie, and Nariman.]


The trick to understanding this problem is to focus on the gallons, not the miles. Change Miles-per-Gallon to Gallons-per-Mile and normalize for miles driven.

As a political snipe, which program would our Politicians be most likely to sell? Most able to sell?