Cancell the 14th amendment?

The latest and greatest idea coming out of Washington, do away with article one of the 14th amendment.  That would be the part that says if you are born in the USA you are a citizen.  Everyone on both sides of the aisle agrees that there are problems with our borders and immigration.  But in usual hyperbole, some of our esteemed Senators and Representatives are now blaming the desire to have an “anchor baby” as the newest cause of our economic downfall and calling for a Constitutional change.

“We should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally, and you have a child, that child is automatically not a citizen.”  That gem comes from Sen Lindsey Grahm R-SC as does “We can’t just have people swimming across the river having children here”.  It seems that the rest of the Republican party is lining right up besides him calling for a Constitutional overhaul. 

So the new approach to solving problems in Washington is to remove any part of the constitution that supports an issue you disagree with.  Very nice.  Nothing to squirrelly about that.  By that reasoning if enough people want to do away with gun ownership we can just drop off the 2nd amendment.  Don’t like drinking, abstain from the 21st amendment.  Where do we draw the line?  Have we really resorted to becoming a society that instead of debating our problems and making tough compromises to improve situations, we jump to extremist solutions.  Aren’t we fighting a couple of wars against extremist ideals?  Then again if we don’t like that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces we can just remove that little detail from the Constitution as well.

To our duly elected officials who are wasting their and our time and resources on this ridiculous issue, you are our bad nut of the day.

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Shortees – episode 1

While The Squirrelologist covers many topics, one near and dear to my heart is my other company,  Shortees.  Over the next few months here at The Squirrelologist I am going to tell the long, often sad and frustrating tale of how Shortees developed.  I will also report on how things are currently going, what is working, what is going wrong and how much hair I have left.  So without further ado, I present the story of Shortees……

Episode 1:  The 90’s were coming to and end and as we moved into the early years of the noughts, men’s fashion was making a shift.  Shirt tails were coming out all over.  Dress shirts were hanging loose, casual shirts were going crazy with stripes and designed never to be tucked in and the ubiquitous t-shirt was free to flap in the wind.  It was  great time for all of those shirts that longed to live a untucked lifestyle.  All of those shirts except for those that belong to short men.  Those shirts, those poor shirts were doomed to a life of being neatly tucked in.  Never to flow casually and comfortably over the belt.  And why?  because of a conspiracy perpetrated by a secret society consisting of Levi Strauss, Armani and Lacoste?  No.  Simply because no manufacture thought it was necessary to make shirts designed for shorter men.  Their answer, buy a smaller size.  Well if you have ever seen a grown man with a physique larger than a prepubescent girl or god forbid, a beer belly, then you know how ridiculous that solution is for the majority of shorter men.  Yes some can comfortably fit into a small but that is still a tiny percentage of short men.  And even then, the length of those smaller sizes are far to long to be untucked.

Like many men in their late 20’s I had a stack of t-shirts in my closet almost as tall as I am.  They were the main item in my wardrobe.  Go to dinner, put on a nice t-shirt.  Go to lunch, put on a t-shirt.  Run errands, put on a t-shirt.  Have a hot date with the newest Victoria’s Secret lingerie model, put on a clean t-shirt.  That my work consisted of  running fitness departments in health clubs and personal training meant that dressing up for an important day required putting on a polo shirt instead of a t-shirt.  Like so many other men my height (a dynamic 5’51/2″, don’t forget that half-inch, it’s the last half-inch that counts) I longed to be able to wear my shirts untucked.  It was a constant point of frustration.  Shopping was something I avoided as much as possible not just because of a natural Y chromosome based dislike of shopping but because it was next to impossible to find anything that fit.  I was living a life of quiet fashion desperation. 

Flash forward to 2002, 2003 and 2004.  My evenings were filled with classes on accounting, marketing and finance. I was working towards an MBA while holding down my day job.  Every night I was either in class or sitting at my desk at home doing homework.  My friends had come to expect that I would be out of circulation for months at a time and when the semester ended I was ready for the beer to flow, at least until the next semester started.  While in school I sat through a number of courses on entrepreneurship and new venture formation.  As I was constantly inundated with ideas about how to go about creating the next great American company one idea stuck in the back of my head, pain.  Not physical pain but the pain of having a problem without a solution.  Find someone’s pain and figure out how to solve it and maybe, just maybe you may have the basis for a successful business.  Now at the time my thoughts were solely focused on the fitness industry.  I had spent my entire career in either sports medicine or fitness and didn’t see myself doing anything else.  The hours were flexible.  The atmosphere easy-going and pleasant and there was opportunity for the right person with the right idea.  Even the MBA program I choose was one that would allow me to continue to work throughout school without any concern for the reputation of the program and how it would impact my job recruitment chances.  I was sure that I was going to work for myself and I was in school to develop some new tools. Not to get a job. 

August of 2004 came and went and I completed the program and received my degree.  Finally, 9 years after I moved to California to pursue a different masters degree I could add those extra initials after my name (my parents were so happy).  In the fitness world everyone loves listing every degree and professional credential they have after their name.  It’s a non-stop contest over who can have the most initials on their business card.  At the time I was working for a friend of mine, acting as business manager for his physical therapy and fitness company.  We had opened a second clinic and a stand alone fitness center and I had joined the company to provide some structure to their business practices.  At the same time I continued to operate my own small personal training company, Sky Fitness, on the side.  While all was good, I knew that I wanted to earn more and needed to start my own company in some field that had high earning potential.  I had spent almost a decade living in Silicon Valley and watching the technology sector and the web grow into the behemoth it is today.  Every day there were stories in the newspaper about new companies or how someone had hit it rich with their great concept for a web-based business.  It was around this time that I started thinking about how I was going to finally get ahead in the world. 

I started developing a list of different business ideas.  Every crazy concept that I could come up with.  For almost two years I thought about different business.  Analyzing how successful the idea could be.  Could I afford to start it?  Could I run it?  Was it scalable?  Did it stand up to the analysis I head learned to put new venture ideas through?  On that list of ideas was one that was undecidedly low tech, t-shirts.  T-shirts for short guys.  I had thought about my pain.  The desire I had to wear a shirt untucked and the problems I had when shopping for anything other than underwear or socks.  As other ideas fell to the wayside one after another, there was this one idea that wouldn’t go away.  This one idea for a business that stood up to every criteria a successful venture needed to stand up to.  The idea for Shortees.

In January of 2006 I made the decision to try to start Shortees.  Would I just buy shirts from a distributor and hire a seamstress to cut and hem them?  It seemed like an easy and logical solution.  I started looking for help on Craigslist.  Replying to posts for seamstresses and getting prices.  It soon became clear that it would either be too expensive to do things this way or it would be logistically next to impossible to find the right people who could handle the necessary volumes.  The answer was going to be manufacturing my own shirts.  Not knowing anything about the apparel manufacturing industry I was a little lost.  Somewhere along the way I had learned about American Apparel.  A little basic research on their website showed that they could do custom manufacturing.  I quickly sent off an email asking about this service and a few days later I learned that they required a minimum of 5000 units to fulfill an order and the cost was far more than I could come up with at the time.  Before my idea even had a chance to get off the ground, we were dead in the water. 

Keep checking back for the next installment of the Shortees story.

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Even baby chipmunks love The Squirrelologist

Yes chipmuks are part of the squirrel family and they love The Squirrelologist

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Something is amiss at HP.

Jodie Fisher

By now you’ve probably heard the news.  Hewlett-Packard CEO, Mark Hurd has resigned over a sexual harassment scandal.  That sounds pretty cut and dry, and that is just the problem.  Something about this entire situation reeks of cover-up.

HP claims that Hurd’s departure is not because of an impropriety with his accuser, Jodie Fisher.  His departure is due to false expense reports and his failure to live up to HP’s ethical expectations.  Anyone buy that?  Fisher has retained the services of the always non-squirrelly Gloria Allred, has already accepted a private offer from Hurd and fervently denied any sexual relations took place.  Sounds like someone took a page from the Tiger Wood’s playbook of how not to deal with a sex scandal.  Pay big, pay fast and require total silence. 

When is the last time someone hired Gloria Allred and they weren’t looking for a payoff, book deal or movie of the week?  Have we forgotten that it was only in 2006 that the HP board was embroiled in a scandal involving spying on  reporters and directors phone records, forcing the resignation of then board chairwoman Patricia Dunn.  Does HP really have ethical standards that would force out a CEO who has overseen a $41 billion increase in the market value of the company.  A 38% increase in market value since Hurd took the reigns to $108 billion, making HP the worlds largest technology company.  In just the last day the value of HP has dropped 8%, almost $10 billion.  That makes the truth behind the Hurd/Fisher/HP scandal a  matter of public interest. 

Now don’t feel bad for Mark Hurd.  In addition to the tens of millions of dollars Hurd has already earned at HP, he is in line for $12.2 million cash in severance payments and another $25 million worth of stock, at today’s prices.  Maybe this was just an exit strategy for Hurd.  Maybe the truth about his actions was so damming that it was worth it to everyone to pay off Fisher and distance Hurd as fast and far as possible from HP?  Maybe we will never know but of this we can be sure, something is rotten at HP.

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Your site for all things squirrelly.

Welcome to The Squirrelologist, your site for all things squirrelly.  Not quite sure what that means?  Don’t worry, you soon will.  There seems to be an endless supply of squirrelly behavior going on.  You find it in business, in politics, in sports, everywhere.  And now you have a place to read about it and report it.

Originally the vision for this site was a consumer action forum.  A location to report on and discuss what passes for customer service these days with the hope that the collective force of the public could motivate those large corporations that we have to deal with every day into improving how they do things.  I soon realized that squirrelly behavior was far more widespread than just that and a full examination of the topic required looking at different subjects.

Now not all squirrelly behavior is bad.  Some is quite entertaining and just plain fun.  Our little furry friends are actually quite smart and resourceful.  So in that spirit we will also explore and discuss some of the more positive actions and behaviors that are occurring around us.

In the end I hope that you will find this site interesting and engaging.  One that will motivate you to return and possibly even share some of your stories and thoughts with the rest of us.

And now for our gratuitous commercial pitch.  On this site you will also find the ongoing story of Shortees (www.originalshortees.com), the venture behind The Squirrelologist.  The horrible horrible story of how it took years to launch a tiny little t-shirt site along with how things are progressing and how I dream of world domination of the apparel industry for men under 5’8″. 

So sit back and relax.  Have some fun and drop us a note about whatever squirrelly behavior you have come across.

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