Thursday, September 18, 2014

Most marketable skill


I was approached by an online education company called Webucator to write a blog entry on the most marketable skill that new job seekers should possess. Because I lack the ability to say no even to requests from total strangers that pay nothing, I gladly accepted the challenge.

Here's my advice:

Be an interesting person.

Choose a college that inspires you, and a college major that inspires you, and a career that inspires you. That's hard, because college is incredibly expensive, and there are loans to pay back, and you want to think of it as an investment with a clear payoff, and yada, yada, yada.

Here's the thing.

Oxen exist to pull plows. People can pull plows too--often we must. But we can also aspire to be artists and writers and ballerinas and baseball players. Even if you don't end up making a living doing one of those things, don't be quick to trade in that part of your humanity to be a higher-paid plow-puller.

There are hiring managers in the world, believe it or not, who want more than oxen. They want people on their teams who can think creatively, who are intelligent and well rounded, who can adapt and grow, and who aspire to things beyond the mundane. They'd rather hire a person with a BA in English than a BA in Business.

Find those people. Do a great job for them. Then, when it's your turn, hire the smartest, most interesting people you can find.

That's the best I got.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My weird deli experience


Deli Guy: "Will that be all?"

Todd: "Yes."

Deli Guy: "Are you with the FBI?"

Todd: "No. Why?"

Deli Guy: "We were having a debate. My friend said you were."

Todd: "Really. Do I look like I'm with the FBI?"

Deli Guy: "Yes."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cover art


Yea! The cover art for "My Grandma's a Ninja" is now up on Amazon. And with the blinding speed of a slow iceberg, we inch ever closer to publication.

Monday, September 1, 2014

10 differences between Hurricane Harbor (NJ) and Camelbeach (PA)



1. Decor: Hurricane Harbor = Gilligan's Island. Camelbeach = Off-Season Ski Lodge.

2. Music: Hurricane Harbor = Beach Boys. Camelbeach = Oak Ridge Boys.

3. Water Temperature: Hurricane Harbor = cold. Camelbeach = frigid.

4. Wave Pool: Hurricane Harbor = small waves. Camelbeach = monster waves. (Both fine for little kids in the shallow area.)

5. Lazy River: Hurricane Harbor = extra charge for tubes, so most people walk/wade. Camelbeach = cluttered with tubes, and you're not allowed to walk/wade.

6. Lines: Hurricane Harbor = moderate to long. Camelbeach = generally short.

7. Cost: Hurricane Harbor = $42. Camelbeach = $38.

8. Parking: Hurricane Harbor = $25. Camelbeach = free.

9. Distance: Hurricane Harbor = 90 minutes from NYC. Camelbeach = 105 minutes from NYC.

10. Preference: Camelbeach is a better bargain for a single visit. Hurricane Harbor is a better deal with a season pass (because you get free parking and admission to Six Flags as well). Like steak and lobster, there's no wrong choice :)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

End-of-season visit to Hurricane Harbor


We hadn't been to Hurricane Harbor all summer, because we had season passes to Camelbeach this year instead. But we bought season passes for 2015 and got the final weekend of 2014 free.

A few things stood out.

First, the bad:
  • It was a thirty-minute wait in the hot sun just to get in the gates. Thirty minutes! Can't Six Flags solve this? With all their MBA analyses and regression models? Can't they figure out how to get people into the park? (Great Wolf Lodge had the same issue a few years ago with check-in wait times. Guess what? They figured it out.)
  • The lines at the slides were no better. You wait and you wait and you wait, then a dozen FlashPass jerks gleefully skip past you to the front of the line. Who is the Finance VP who came up with the concept of the FlashPass? There is a special place in hell. 
  • A few areas of the park are getting a little long in the tooth. The pirate-ship wall behind the wave pool, for example, is in dire need of a fresh coat of paint and a few more palm fronds on the roof of the fake hut. But thank God the Welch's sponsorship banners are new.
  • They still charge for tubes in the lazy river. I'm happy to walk in the lazy river, frankly. It's just the absurdity of the concept.
  • This was the first time Ethan ever said, "Oh, man, why'd we go to a water park?" Granted, Ethan is thirteen, so he complains about everything. But that's not something you want to hear from your core target customer demo.
The good:
  • I still like Hurricane Harbor. I do. I like the whole concept. I like the fiberglass trees and the steel drum music, and the smiling toddlers, and the feeling of joy that pervades the place whenever people aren't waiting in a long line. When you're in the water, everything is right with the world.
  • The season passes are a bargain. They're good for both Hurricane Harbor and Six Flags.
  • It ain't Disneyland, where a guy walks behind you and re-paints everything you touch, but Six Flags does a pretty good job with maintenance.
  • Best-kept secret: you can get a thick milkshake for $5. Shhh--don't tell their CFO.
So...we're coming back in 2015. With or without Ethan.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Hello, Child Protective Services?


First of all, and most important, this was all Jennifer's idea.

Samuel has always wanted to stay at a "pod" hotel, which is a tiny room essentially consisting of a bed. They are popular in Japan (but so are seaweed, Hello Kitty, and The Carpenters, so what do they know?).

The closest thing in New York City is a "capsule hotel" called Yotel. It's on 42nd Street, a few blocks from Times Square, in an area that I like to call the Off-Broadway Theater District, or perhaps the Homeless Vomit District.

To cut to the chase, we let the boys spend the night...by themselves.

We left them at 9 pm with strict instructions to stay in their room and call us if they needed us. We expected a panicked call from Ethan at 3 am asking us to come get him, but the only call we got was from Samuel at 9:30 asking for a computer security code sent to my email.

They Skyped with friends and played on their laptops until 2 am, then went to bed. That was that.

So...cross it off Samuel's bucket list.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm a very busy man; please direct all questions and concerns to Jennifer.