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Turning things on end to achieve results!

Archive for July 2015

Ant-Man, A Movie Review

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This Is Not Ant Man

This Is Not Ant Man

I am not qualified to review movies but I know what I like and I can share my brief thoughts. I will not keep you waiting – Ant-Man was good and I recommend you see it or rent/stream it. I saw it at the Saturday matinee with my 2 nephews who are 11 and 13 and they also liked it. In case you don’t know or can’t figure out by the title; it is a superhero movie based on some obscure Marvel comic book.

The title is a little misleading because the super hero is not an Ant-Man. He is a normal guy that has stolen a special suit that allows him to shrink to a small size.  A very small size – shall we say the size of an ant? He does eventually use ants as cohorts for fighting evil but he needs a new, cooler more accurate superhero name. That is not a big deal but for some reason it bothers me.

Now back to the movie review. It had a good blend of action, funny moments and a little flirtatious romance in a PG-13 sort of way. Since I was watching this with my 2 nephews I would have cringed if it was pushing the limits of the PG-13 rating and I did not even wince. I don’t think there was much bad language and the romantic parts were tame. I think I have seen worse in animated movies. The rating was probably earned by the superhero action violence. A couple of times people and test animals were zapped into a messy blob by the evil villain who was trying to make his own shrinking technology.

The movie is an hour and fifty-seven minutes long and kept my interest the whole time and on the edge of my seat for a good part of the time. Michael Douglas plays a supporting role as the original inventor of the suit and most of the supporting characters seem real rather than over the top. Even the boyfriend of Ant-Man’s ex-wife is not a total jerk which is refreshing. In real life people do manage to get along most of the time.

This is not a perfect movie but I enjoyed it and it is worth the price of admission – and at today’s movie prices that says a lot. I would give it a letter grade of an A.  If you want to get out of the heat and enjoy yourself for two hours try Ant-Man I think you will be glad you did.

Have a great week.

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Written by pacelinebiz

July 27, 2015 at 9:19 am

Pennsylvania Top 10 List

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I am not a State, I am a Commonwealth

I am not a State, I am a Commonwealth

It has been 6 weeks since I wrote my last blog and I am writing this at the last-minute since I have none in reserve to publish. Fortunately, some blogs write themselves and this one fits in that category. Here is the story about how this one blog sprung to life.

I was riding my bike today and wanted to try out a freshly paved section of road. I had in my mind that I wanted to do a 30 mile ride despite the hot and humid temperatures.  I set out without thinking my route through very well and was unsure how I could incorporate the new pavement in with my plan of 30 miles. In the end I did not get any mileage on the new road and I ended up doing 33 miles while finishing on a very rough section of road that was very annoying especially when my under-seat wedge pack storage bag came loose and began to swing like a pendulum behind me hitting the back of my leg with every pedal stroke. This all began happening at about mile 31 when I was hot, tired and in no mood to stop and properly re-attach the storage bag. So I didn’t and waited until I came to a stop sign about a half a mile down the road.

While all this was going on I kept my sanity by reminding myself why I was glad I no longer had to ride my bike on beat up, pot-hole scarred roads in Ohio and Pennsylvania anymore. I forgot to mention I was up north for this particular ride that straddled the Pennsylvania-Ohio border. The only good thing that came from this ride was the idea that I would make a top 10 list of things I don’t miss about the place where I grew up. I figured a top 10 list is needed since Letterman hung it up a couple of months ago. So, here it is the top 10 list that you are craving:

10 things I don’t miss about Pennsylvania

      10) Duh, the roads. Despite raising the state gasoline tax recently by 9 cents, the roads are still horrible and now truckers simply fill up in New Jersey (which has very low state gas taxes) going west or in Ohio (when going east) which is also lower. An eighteen wheeler can easily travel the length of Pennsylvania on a tank of fuel. I heard from an industry insider that the amounts of gas tax revenues collected in Pennsylvania actually went down in the first reporting period compared to the prior year period. When will the politicians learn? Sorry about the length of that item but I am upset if you can’t tell.

     9) The weather. It was miserably hot and humid on my ride – as bad as any recent day in Georgia but they make up for with a lack of sunshine, bitter cold winters and plenty of rain right at the outset of growing season.

     8) Their ridiculously complex method for municipal wage tax withholding. Several years ago they changed from a very simple system of having to pay taxes based on where you live to a complex system based on where you live, where you work and how many push ups you can do in 60 seconds.

     7) Since I seem to be ranting a bit about roads. How about this gem of an idea? Several years ago the state decided to change the number system of a road that goes north and south from West Middlesex to Pittsburgh. It was called route 60 north and south. Now it is called route 376 east and west. I suddenly must travel west to go due north from the Pittsburgh airport to West Middlesex.

     6) Bugs – mosquitoes specifically. I suppose it has to do with the long periods of rain that leads to lots of standing water.  Over 9 inches of rain fell in June. Not too far from where I grew up is a state park called Mosquito Lake. I am not kidding you about the name; you could look it up. That really isn’t a great job of branding. To be fair this is actually located in Ohio

     5) Sales tax methodology. This can probably be said about any state that has sales tax but I was upset that my Gatorade that was on sale for 2 for $3 actually cost $3.18 with sales tax. To be fair, it should be noted that most of Pennsylvania’s sales tax rate is still just 6% except for the larger metro areas around Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

     4) The state capital is Harrisburg and they tried to file for bankruptcy because they were in debt due to some bad choices related to an incinerator. Yes, really an incinerator.  The problem with the bankruptcy idea is they can’t do that by Pennsylvania law. They are trying to manage their debt load with some restructuring and more taxes.

     3) They don’t allow a deduction for retirement contributions like a 401k. It is not taxable when you collect it when you are retired for state tax purposes – but who would want to retire in Pennsylvania?

     2) The City of Philadelphia. They booed Santa Claus and that just isn’t right.

     1) Did I mention the roads…?

I hope you enjoyed my bitter rant or found some humor that can make you feel better today. Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

July 20, 2015 at 8:45 am

The Truth Revealed – What Goes On When Writing A Blog

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The Secret Sauce To Great Blogs

The Secret Sauce To Great Blogs

Today I am going to let you look know what goes on when I am writing a blog.  I have depicted the activities labeled as A through G in the pie chart above to give you a visual which may help you understand the importance of each to the process.  Below I will define items A through G which are listed in order of smallest activity to largest activity.

  • Item A – This represents the amount of time actually thinking rational, coherent thoughts when I write a blog.  That is depressing, I know.
  • Item B – This represents the amount of time I am in the fetal position, quivering in a corner in panic mode thinking I will never have another original idea.
  • Item C – Time spent wishing I had better keyboard skills.
  • Item D – Approximate amount of the time I spend wondering how long it is before lunch or dinner.
  • Item E – The amount of time I spend trying to manipulate a story so I can write about baseball, bicycling or pizza.
  • Item F – This is the amount of time when writing a blog that is devoted to drinking coffee, making coffee, daydreaming about coffee, eating coffee ice cream or cleaning up or blogging about coffee spills.
  • Item G – This is what I spend most of my time doing when I am trying to write a blog.  It is the time I spend chasing Jimmy sad Eyes or rubbing his tummy to see if I can make his leg twitch. Read about Jimmy here, here and here.

Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

July 13, 2015 at 8:01 am

Know Your Enemy

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Is This What You Want To Hit?

Is This What You Want To Hit?

A few weeks ago I was at an event where a small business owner was talking about challenges and successes faced by their business.  One item that stood out for me among many interesting stories was the owner recognizing the threat that the employees spouse was for retaining employees.  The business was in the service industry and the employees were faced with working overtime, weekends and sometimes holidays.  This obviously takes a toll on the family.  It also is a concern since the labor market for this type of technician is very tight.  I felt that this was an astute observation by the owner.

The tactics to overcome this problem were also very interesting.  The owner decided that to keep her employees she would have to target the reason they would leave for greener pastures.  The spouse would complain and push them to find another job.  To combat the assault she decided that when rewards were given to employees for a good job or by getting a good customer review, she would send a gift card to the spouse with a thank you for allowing the company to have the employee on nights, weekends and holidays.  The gift card was always for something the spouse liked.  She also sent flowers on occasion to the spouse at specific events like upon hire, work anniversary or birthdays.

The lesson we need to take from this story is to know our enemy.  It might not always be the competition or rising costs or even a slow economy.   Chances are you will hit what you are aiming at so aim at the right thing.  It is not always the most obvious choice so keep that in mind when you assess risk to your company.

Have a great week aiming at the right target.

Written by pacelinebiz

July 6, 2015 at 8:01 am