weekly catch up

Posted in Housing Woes, The Family, Uncategorized on September 29th, 2007 by Michael

Okay, I am back from Orlando and our Client Symposium. I think it went well (well, most of it). I ended up playing in the “A” group during our golf event because someone let it slip I know what I am doing with the little white ball. Well, on this particular day, with not only the CIO of a major Anaheim-based client but also my own company’s honcho, I pretty much responded like the village idiot in a calculus class. I know I have not played much this year but still, I looked like Woody Austin playing Tiger. It was embarrassing. Came around at the very end but our fate was sealed early and often.

I was able to play again on Friday due to some meetings being cancelled at the last minute. A little better this time out. At least I could find my ass with both hands. Interestingly enough, I ended up teaming with a group of ‘semi-retired’ folks from New York. Different business types including “banking” and “waste management”. If that sounds familiar to those of you with HBO, it should. By the expressiveness witnessed, let us put it this way, they probably don’t play in the church events. With the play of the day, I even borrowed a couple terms from their vocabulary… Again, sorry it took so long to update the blog. After leaving the posh Grand Floridian (and having dinner during fireworks at California Grill), some dumb ass put me in a hotel without internet access to save a few hundred bucks (okay, it was me). I mean though, what hotels do not have internet access these days? I didn’t know I had to check. Sheesh. Friday was the last day for my boss. Good for him, not so good for me. Not so sure about what is to come about in the near term. I guess we will see.

Read a book called “Blink” by Gladwell on the plane. Interesting concepts.

So, everyone got the “blue” after some coaching it appears. I do try and make things apparent to one and all. In terms of the name game… We might not have one, on this final trip into pregoland. Why? Because I am not so sure we will decide the name until arrival. We will surely narrow it down to two by then. In fact, we are almost there. We have both the very traditional and what is surely to be seen as off the grid choices. Too much to think about for the next five months.

We had two open houses. No one showed up for either one. We were able to get two very cranky children out of it however, as they missed their naps.

I’ll get September pictures up soon. I have a lot of catching up to do on other tasks given my recent internet isolation.

Another great picture! (again)

Posted in The Family on September 21st, 2007 by maureen

I think I accidentally posted a blank post. 
Meghan’s hair looks like a wig, it’s so full!
I just thought you’d like to know that while others go to Orlando or Dallas or Vegas for work, I’m currently in Ashland, KY for my job.  With 27 teenagers.  At least we won the game tonight (2 – 0 against a previously unbeaten team from W VA).  Sure, while other companies send their employees to fancy dinners, I have the chance to go to the Golden Corral  (again, with 27 teenagers- all boys- after a tough soccer game- imagine how quickly the food goes!)

Something must be different

Posted in Uncategorized on September 21st, 2007 by Michael

Let’s see. Looks the same mostly. First, I must reload my browser (clear the cache or just “reload” by right mouse clicking — assuming you have a PC and not a Mac) to get the latest version.

But there is something different. But, what is it and why would it have been changed?

well, well, well…

Posted in Ranting, Uncategorized on September 20th, 2007 by Michael

I was going to make another happy list today since more things came to mind

  • Schlotzsky’s sandwiches
  • Bonuses that are actually paid out (regardless of size)
  • Those mini-chocolate donuts in vending machines (damnit!)
  • Ice cubes from hotels that are just the right size
  • Pizza
  • People looking at our house (two this week!)
  • Golf at Pine Barrens (I think I will like it, I like the idea of playing there)
  • It being Thursday and “Burn Notice” coming on (8p CT on USA – 2 hour special tonight)
  • Paula Creamer – we need more athletes like her
  • Ecco shoes
  • Weather between 70-80 degrees.
  • That “walking on sunshine” song
  • and the Mini S Cooper.

BUT all of that was thrown to the other side of the teeter-totter by some stupid senators. I refer to the “moveon.org sucks a whole bunch” decree:

“To express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces.”

How can such an amendment ONLY get the support of 72 Senators ? Is it surprising to anyone that Boxer, Clinton, Feingold, Kennedy and Reid voted against it? Wrong wrong wrong but at least they did not cop out like Obama did – he didn’t vote (and yes he could have… he voted on another issue less than 30 minutes before this one).

more mini donuts please

The anti-rant

Posted in Ranting, Uncategorized on September 19th, 2007 by Michael

Some more things I like

  • The look of a nicely mowed yard
  • Cold beer (and not any of that “light” crap) and grilled meat
  • Getting emails from old friends (Angela, Jill, Michelle, John – HINT)
  • That feeling of hitting the ball so freakin pure, that it feels like butter.
  • Making any putt outside of four feet.
  • Free gifts from vendors, bonus buys, etc.
  • Actually having someone keep an appointment time (e.g. doctor, dentist, car mechanic, cable guy).
  • Good service by people who you know get paid nothing (e.g. airline person, waitress, check out person).
  • Not having a sore throat (or other ailment)
  • Old pants that aren’t tight.
  • Good hair days (e.g. when it doesn’t look like I’m really loosing mine)
  • Mackenzie behaving
  • Nap time.
  • Conference calls that actually are to the point and end early.
  • When asshole drivers actually get pulled over and ticketed.
  • New cameras (and lenses). OK… any time UPS arrives.
  • Actually, capturing the moment on [digital] film.
  • That look in Meghan’s eyes and then the big smile when she actually “gets it”.
  • Sales on things I really want
  • Finding money in pants pockets.
  • Leaving work early and not caring!

Rules of the Blog

Posted in Uncategorized on September 19th, 2007 by Michael

With my clients, I usually like to ask for policies or requirements before implementing a solution but like all good managers, I rarely follow my own rules.  Today, I am correcting that with the rules of [the] blog (or the ROB for short).

Here they are…

1.  My blog, my rules  — self evident

2.  Topics should be categorized.  Why?  So, people can view what they want (e.g. “the girls”) and to avoid everything else (like my incessant ranting).  If you do not see a category you like, let me know and I can create one.  They are clearly listed on the right hand side of the input screen when creating a message.  “Uncategorized” means general purpose.

3. PG is the strongest rating allowed on any input.

4. The blog is a communication forum I use to blast out thoughts AND messages.  They may be important or not.  You will have to decide.

5. Your participation (e.g. adding to the greater consciousness) is not required.  You are welcome to spin a digital yarn, but I won’t kick off you or stop doing what I do in the event I am the only one adding to it.

6. The blog is not the place to get into wars of opinion (religion, politics, or worse, football).  Like the editor of an OpEd section in the newspaper, I’ll put my thoughts out there from time to time (see rule#1) and you can mumble back to the screen that I’m brilliant or an idiot.  In most cases, I will try and put forth a view on issues that please or irk me, sometimes it will be balanced, sometimes not, depending on exactly how insane the object of my rant is being.

7.  Some pictures will be posted here but the main website is their primary home.  You will have to look in both places to take in the whole Robbins family experience.

8. It goes without saying (but I will say it anyway), a blog is a one to many communication forum.  It is not here to replace, but to supplement, e-mail, etc.  Remember that when posting.

9. The blog will be updated by me when I have time.  That usually is on the weekends, when no good TV shows are available, the Netflix envelope is still in the mail or when I am stuck on a long ass boring conference call.  You will have to check back often to stay up to date (or set us a RSS feed).

10.  Hmm.  I don’t have a 10th rule.  Wait, all rules are subject to change on a whim.


If you don’t like my rules you can boycott or compain to the committee (e.g. Mary Ann).  Good luck.

-Chief Blog Monkey

Boycott of the Day

Posted in Ranting on September 18th, 2007 by Michael

Man sore throat is making me cranky.

Anyway, during my lunch (which I am not eating since I forgot to bring one and at the same time I am resisting the vending machine, even with those deliciously mini-chocolate donuts), I looked out on the web and saw a horrific story.

“Manilow boycotts the View because of Hasselbeck”

First, I have not issue with not being on the View.  It is tripe.  But to do so because of that sweet Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s drubbing of the not so sweet Rosy O’Donnell is a whole other story.  This was scheduled a month ago and now make a demand? Barry, you are a professional so act like one.  Nobody is asking you to asking you to befriend her.

Okay, those who know me know that I appreciate great talent.  I admit that Manilow is a little odd but the tunes rock (same goes for Streisand).  However, entertainers need to be entertainers and not politicians, activists, egoistical punks (okay, that might be a stretch for most of them) or otherwise bullyies from the pulpit.   So, as odd of a thing to ever say, I am boycotting Manilow songs now.  No CDs, no iTunes, no nothing.

Since I am only boycotting one thing at a time, AVIS is back in my good graces.  Hmmm.  Who will replace Barry?

More ranting… (feel free to filter it)

Posted in Ranting on September 18th, 2007 by Michael

Okay, I was going to stay out of the fray but add in a very tough week at work, a sore throat and some other things  — therefore, I might have reached rant point.  You can filter out these in the blog.

I put these out there just because.  No need to comment on them.  You can disagree.  That is fine…

First, is it really worth almost 40% of the on-air time for professional announcers to talk about this issue around the New England Patriots and some game video ?  First, EVERY team tries to steal signals.  There are assistant coaches dedicated to it.  What difference does it make if they video tape it versus write it down on charts for later review (legal).  Additionally, teams have access to all network coverage.  What if some signals got caught on that?  Plus, it is not illegal to do it from the stands, only from the sidelines/coaches boxes/etc.  Finally, these are not used real time in a game, only as research for future games.  Most teams admit that they change signals often and send in multiple dummy signals.  To that end, what is the big deal?  Broke the rules?  Yes.  Stupid rule?  Probably.  Also, when did Cris Collinsworth become the moral compass for football?  Geez.  SHUT THE HELL UP.

Do I even need to rant on OJ or more importantly the “news” organizations that dedicate time to his actions?  It is a robbery.  It happens every three seconds in America.  Does anyone care if the loot was an autographed football versus someone’s DVD player?  No.  Move on.

Speaking of which… MoveON.org and the New York Times.  Call yourself a newspaper?  Why give political groups a discount on ads?  Report on the news.  Don’t push an agenda.  What’s next?  Aliens impregnate famers in Kansas?  Guess that are trying to take market share from the NYPost… 

The big one today is Hillary’s healthcare “plan”.  First, it is a publicity move.  Secondly, it is shortsighted.  Third, we have this ridiculous “pile on” from her competitors.  John Edwards comes out and says she stole his plan for universal coverage.  Barack comes out and says his plan is cheaper.  Romney says “been there, done that.” Again, they are worried about  how they look versus the value of the plan. 

It is not the higher taxes that many will pay or the overall decline in the American economy that will likely result from the mandate associated with this plan but the fact that it is aimed at the symptoms not the problem I have big issue with.  I personally believe we need to figure out some means to take care of our people but the problem with healthcare is not lack of coverage but the need to have special financial coverage to begin with (outside of the general issues associated with our ridiculously poor habits).  Healthcare is incredibly expensive.  It is not the Mercks of the world that cause this.  Yes, huge R&D goes into it and meds are expensive but it is a drop in the bucket to the overall cost structure for healthcare.  Greed of doctors?   Some of that exists but again, it is probably not a significant portion of the costs.  What is the problem?  Insurance companies and more directly, lawyers.  When doctors are paying $50K a year for malpractice insurance, is it surprising that a 10 minute visit costs $150?  If that were it, it would not be so bad.  However, that  is a made up number since the only bill insurance $65 for visits.  The absolute arrogance of these companies to get “doctors” to “charge” this MSRP (which no one pays)  or actually the doctors who do this, is gross. 

It is worse that most hotel chains that have “AA” discounts on rates.  At least those are driven by volumes.  Most doctors are not.  Why charge less to an insurance firm than a person using hard cold cash?  What makes this even more upside down is that doctors have to pay for tons of administration support to actually collect money from these insurance companies.

I do not know the exact breakout but lets contemplate a fictitious cost structure for a doctor office……

Operations – 35% **

Salaries (medical) – 25%

Insurance costs – 20%

Administration costs – 10%

Profit – 10%


Interestingly, operation costs (e.g. equipment, etc.) are expensive since each of those have at least at 25% markup to cover their own insurance expenses.  Together, insurance costs are the top factors in your cost for services. Given that most of this is related to legal protection, yes I will blame the lawyers (and the people who exploit them).

So back to cash… doctors should give you a 10% discount right off the top if not more.  It costs them nothing.  Plus, just think about the huge savings in paper by eliminating some of insurance requirements/forms (not to mention mail and downstream costs – fuel, landfills, identity management costs, etc.).  The rain forest would be saved!  That is usually a cause liberals like to claim as their own.  I say, seize the day!

Anyway, this is a vicious cycle.  And the best democratic solution?  Make more people get into the cycle.  Does anyone think that insurance costs are going to go down?  Might with volume (more users of the system) but unlikely since the bulk of those fees are to cover legal exposure.  The odds of those go up just with the numbers (more changes for error). 

 “Universal health coverage” is a catchy phrase but it does not solve the problem by mandating insurance coverage.  It  can ruin America’s economy and since it will have to be subsidized, it is in some ways, one step from  socialism.  How many people want to replicate Canada?  I dunno.  Hence my rant.  Solve the problem not the symptom.

That said, everyone needs access to health coverage so I ask one candidate (on either side)… take the money you get at ONE of these $500/plate dinners and put  it towards some smart cookies in a think-tank to come up with a good idea.  Bar the windows and do not let a single marketing and “campaign spin doctor” in there.  Do it and you will get my vote.

Okay, a new topic that pisses me off just the same.  The new Attorney General nominee.  Not the person – I don’t know anything about him – but the arrogance of the process for the nomination.  Pat Leahy gets the” thumb down” award of the week – a feat, given the other idiots out there vying for the award.  You get a new nominee — one that is an outsider and from what I have read, universally praised — and the first thing that Pat announces is that he may hold up the nominee hearings until the White House turns over some documents that the committee has asked for a few months ago during the witch hunt against Gonzales.  Are they related?  Nope.   It is a power play.  It is political and it is wrong.  I don’t vote in Vermont but if I did, Pat you would not get my vote.  On the flip side, I have to give some props to Sen. Schumer  (NY).  He normally is sort of a punk but he has stepped up to try and mediate the issue.  I should send him a “thank you” card for doing his job.

I would rant on the highway transit organization that leaves (or puts out) new speed limit signs and orange cones where there is no construction but would be a waste of digital bits.

I will end with a rave.  I am a big believer in zoos.  As you know, we went to one this weekend as a fundraiser.  While I might debate whether we should put animals in cages, when we do, I appreciate that these animals are well cared for and presented to the public at both an appreciation and educational level.  Add in the costs to visit most zoos are very reasonable (I think KC is like $7-10).  This makes it accessible to most people.  That is a very good thing.

That is all I have this morning.


Posted in Uncategorized on September 18th, 2007 by Chuck

This idea of Michael’s for this BLOG is a good one I am thinking.  It should/will allow us to stay up with things that are happening.

Info concerning MaryAnn and the up coming baby, (or should that be ‘out-coming’)  I am sure all of your are like I am, wondering if it will be a boy, another girl, which will be okay, for little girls are wonderful.

We will be able to know what the latest status is concerning the sell of the house, and we are hoping the open house this weekend with bring forth the headline of  “S O L D”

And most of all, we can know what is happening with those two little darlings of their household … whatever info that is posted will be most welcome and hopefully pictures, pictures and more pictures.

However this Blog, like everything else in life has to be used, or it may fade away and could even die.

So okay, here is my two cents worth for this week and hopefully I can post something more interesting next week  … so let us all give it a try and let Michael know that we are reading it.

Go Bucks!

Posted in The Family, Uncategorized on September 16th, 2007 by maureen

Nice picture! Those girls must have a great connection.
The question is was it actually cool enough for sweatshirts, or were the poor girls sweating like crazy?

Hope the open house went well.