Friday, January 28, 2005

Outsourcing In America: Ya sure, You Betchya!


The McDonald's restaurant in Hermiston, Oregon appears to be "outsaucing" customers drive-thru meals.
The restaurant on Highway 395 has outsourced one of the most important jobs at the drive-through window -- order taking.
When a customer drives through, they'll be patched through to Grand Forks, North Dakota to place the order. Why? Because the minimum wage in North Dakota is $5.15, compared to Oregon's $7.25.
Tim Nesbit is head of Oregon AFLCIO. He says this undercuts Oregon's minimum wage by more than $2 an hour.
A McDonald's media relations person in Illinois, where the corporate headquarters is based, never returned a phone call to the AP.

How Do You Go To The Superbowl For Free?

Easy: You play in it!....from

PHILADELPHIA -- On a typical Thursday morning at Chesterfield Greene, a private housing community near Trenton, N.J., Jeff Thomason would be sitting at his desk, in the trailer that serves as the construction staff's office. He might be analyzing a blueprint for a new house. Or maybe gazing at one of his kids' watercolor masterpieces Scotch-taped to the wall.

But not this Thursday morning. His laptop was still on. And his desk was a mess. But Thomason was nowhere to be found.

His staff, on the other hand, were right outside, already hard at work. Just after 9 a.m., with the temperature hovering around 10 degrees, four of them were outside the main sales office across the street from the trailer, putting up a new sign. The sign was made up of four huge wooden letters that spelled "TOLL", for Toll Brothers, the name of the construction company. But there was something special about the "T". It was actually in the shape of a football player ... arms outstretched ... wearing an Eagles helmet ... with the number 85 painted across the chest.

Ahhh ... Jeff Thomason!

You see, on Monday morning, Jeff Thomason was an assistant project manager with Toll Brothers, who just happened to be a former NFL player. But a few hours later, he was a member of the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, taking a totally unexpected vacation from his construction job at Chesterfield Greene.

And that sent these guys into a tizzy. Hence the sign ... and the snow around the site spray-painted green with things like, "Go Eagles! Good luck Jeff! TD Thomason!" ... and the tailgate party they already held on Tuesday, almost two weeks before the Super Bowl.

But the biggest reason why these blue-collar guys love Jeff Thomason isn't because he's about to stamp a fairy-tale ending on his football career by playing in the Ultimate Game. It's because he's one of them -- so humble that many of the people he works with outside his group at Toll Brothers have no idea he ever played in the NFL. It's because he doesn't have a single piece of football memorabilia in his office -- just pictures of his wife and three children. It's because he's called Chesterfield Greene every day since Monday, leaving messages to thank the guys for their support and to share his experience with them.

"Knowing a guy that gets to play in the Super Bowl -- that's something I'll tell my grandkids about," said one co-worker, Barry Goldstein.

"He already told me he'd visit my daughter's school after the Super Bowl!" said another, Jim Snyder.

Sounds like quite a teammate.
* * *
The call came around 10 a.m. Monday morning. Thomason picked up the phone at his desk, and heard Eagles tight end Chad Lewis' voice on the other end. Thomason had been thrilled to watch his close friend and former teammate catch two touchdown passes in the Eagles' NFC championship game win the day before.

But Lewis had bad news -- he'd injured his foot on that second TD grab against the Falcons, and he wouldn't be able to play in the Super Bowl. Thomason's heart sank.
Then Lewis said, "I want you to take my spot."

"My initial reaction was, 'Come on, dude. You've got to be kidding me,'" Thomason says. But it was no joke -- Lewis had already begun begging the coaching staff to give Thomason a tryout.
The idea wasn't all that far-fetched. Thomason enjoyed a solid 10-season career as a tight end in the NFL. He began with the
Cincinnati Bengals in 1992, moved on to Green Bay between 1995 and 1999, and played for the Eagles between 2000 and 2002. His career numbers? Sixty-seven receptions for 650 yards and 10 touchdowns. But after the 2002 season, the Eagles used a second-round draft pick on Temple tight end L.J. Smith -- and they no longer needed Thomason.

There was no official press conference. No announcement of any kind. But, besides a one-day tryout with the
Carolina Panthers in December of 2003 (in which he was beaten out by Marco Battaglia), Thomason's NFL career was over. He began looking for a "real" job near his Medford, N.J. home, ended up interviewing with a couple of housing developers at Toll Brothers, and eventually was offered a spot in their one-year project manager trainee program. He was about nine months into the program when ...
He got the call.

Around noon, he got another call, from Eagles tight ends coach Tom Melvin. Melvin wanted to hear if Thomason thought he was up to the task. Absolutely. "It's always been a far, far dream of something like this happening," Thomason says. "I never thought it would happen at this point ... but I did little things here and there to keep myself in football shape."

Little things? Most people wouldn't call triathlons "little things." But those are what Thomason's been competing in the last couple of years to stay in shape. That, coupled with his knowledge of the West Coast offense from his playing days in Green Bay and Philadelphia, gave him the confidence that he could still help the Eagles.

Thomason made his boss at Toll Brothers, Mike Assofsky, aware of the developing situation. And when Thomason's cell phone rang during their customary Monday afternoon sales meeting, Assofsky knew what it was about. "I said, 'Jeff, get out of here!'" Assofsky says. "'Go make us proud.'"

It's been a dizzying few days since. Thomason ran home to find his old cleats. Later Monday afternoon, the Eagles put him through a tryout, he met with Andy Reid, and they gave him a playbook to go home and study. On Tuesday Thomason passed a physical, signed a contract, and gave a 10 minute, 48 second press conference. Wednesday was his first official practice in two years.
And his "vacation" is just getting started.

* * *

To find Jeff Thomason in the flesh on Thursday, you had to drive 40 minutes from Chesterfield Greene, to the City of Brotherly Love -- specifically, the NovaCare Complex, Eagles headquarters, just down the street from Lincoln Financial Field.

But even there, Thomason was hard to find. He wasn't one of the players scheduled to speak at the podium -- he'd already done that on Tuesday. And he didn't show his face in the locker room before practice while the media was allowed in between noon and 12:45 p.m.

You can't blame him. He's got a lot of catching up to do. Because Thomason's not just roster filler. He's going to see some significant playing time in Super Bowl XXXIX. He expects to be in on about 15-20 snaps during the game, plus participate on special teams.

Thomason does already have his name above a locker -- Chad Lewis' locker, which is about as messy as Thomason's desk in Chesterfield, except it's cluttered with shoulder pads and cleats instead of blueprints and a computer. The locker to his right belongs to L.J. Smith, the draft pick who unintentionally ended Thomason's career (till now). The locker to his left belongs to
Mike Bartrum, the team's long snapper and Thomason's other close friend on the Eagles. In fact, the Thomasons, the Bartrums and the Lewises all spend a lot of time together off the field.

Bartrum made an appearance in the locker room around 12:30. And he was happy to talk about his old friend ... and new teammate. "It's so special to have him as a teammate again, even if it's just for one game," Bartrum said. "He looks great, he hasn't missed a step so far. He's got fresh legs - because those triathlons are tough!"

Offensive coordinator Brad Childress echoed Bartrum. "Jeff came in, and knew all the motions," Childress said. "He hasn't forgotten a thing."

The Eagles' practice on Thursday, from 1:30-3 p.m., was off-limits to the print media. But after practice, the locker room was open again, for about 30 minutes. Around 3:25, Thomason finally showed his face, shuffling over to his locker rather stiffly. He'd already had a long day. He had to arrive at the complex around 6:30 a.m., to get some extra study time in with his playbook ... and appear on the "Today" show with Matt Lauer and Katie Couric.

"I love it," Thomason said. "This is all just so funny."

The guy was obviously quite sore. But still grinning from ear to ear. "Yeah, I took my first couple of shots today," he said, after a chuckle. "Saw a few stars. But I'll be ok."

Five minutes later, he had to run ... well, it looked more like a limp ... to a team meeting. But not before helping out an Eagles staffer who stopped by his locker with a bunch of papers that had pictures and descriptions of houses on them. Thomason scanned them one by one carefully, before settling on one in particular.

"Now that's a nice house," Thomason said.
Maybe he's not on vacation after all.

* * *

Back at Chesterfield Greene, you get the feeling not much house-work is going to get done over the next week and a half. There are more banners to put up. More snow to spray-paint. And lots more interviews to give, for sure.

The guys don't mind one bit. They're all psyched for Super Bowl Sunday. But they're even more psyched for when Thomason returns. Not Jeff Thomason, the pro football player. They want back Jeff Thomason, the boss, the co-worker, the friend. Sure, if he plays well, there'll be speculation that he could play a couple more seasons in the NFL. He might even get a contract offer or two. But he has said he's approaching this game like it's his last.

His teammates at Toll Brothers hope so.

"The bottom line is, he's a great guy, and he's really good at what he does here," said another co-worker, Bill Kowski. "We miss him already."

And to make his homecoming a little more special, the guys have taken it upon themselves to finally add a little football material to Thomason's office. When he returns, he'll find a bunch of Eagles balloons by his desk ... and an Eagles blanket keeping his chair warm.
And maybe he'll have a ring to share with them.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Allied Telesyn wins Strategic University IP Triple Play Project

San Jose State University has just submitted a purchase order for their new Campus Village in San Jose, California. The order includes 2,500 RG-613 Residential Gateways and a full contract for ongoing Professional Services.

For this win, estimated at around $700,000, Allied Telesyn competed in a blind bid against some of the top industry players (which included home town favorite Cisco). We expect the strength of this win to put us in a good position for success in upcoming SJSU bids. In addition, it will serve as a model for additional Allied Telesyn opportunities throughout the California State University system, and other universities nationwide who are considering the benefits of IP Triple Play.

We won the project not only through the quality of our technical solution, but through the high caliber of our sales and support offering. SJSU had originally planned to install a combination of CAT 5 and coaxial cable into the new construction. By working with them for more than a year, our sales and engineering team were able to make them true believers in a complete Ethernet/IP over Fiber solution for data, voice-over-IP, and video.

The Campus Village ( will serve as a showcase for the university and also for Allied Telesyn, as we show other schools how both revenue and new student applications can be increased by installing IP Triple Play.

The Campus Village is a 15-story building with two 7-story wings. In SJSU's words: “Campus Village is a cutting-edge residential community with world-class amenities, including high-speed Internet access, video on-demand, computer lab, convenience store and an interactive gaming center.”

With 933 three- or four-bedroom apartment suites, it will house more than 2,279 students and staff. Product will begin shipping in March, and our Pro Services group will install 3-5 RGs into each suite in time for students to begin moving in on July 15.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Senator Has Two Homes

Keep in mind as you read this that this guy is on a Senate Committee overseeing CHILD WELFARE. I thnk he may be OVER qualified for this position...

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) -- A state lawmaker who heads a committee on child welfare has acknowledged that he lives in separate homes with two women whose children he fathered.

(Democratic) Sen. John Ford ... has tried to make use of a law he authored that keeps court-ordered support lower when a father is financially responsible for other children.

In the hearing, Ford said he lives some days with ex-wife Tamara Mitchell-Ford and the three children they had together. On others, he said, he stays with his longtime girlfriend, Connie Mathews, and their two children.

Ford and Mitchell-Ford went through a bitter divorce in 2002 that led to Mitchell-Ford's jailing after she plowed her car through Mathews' home.

Ford said he pays nearly all bills for both families. They stay in houses he owns and where he also lives, though neither home is in his south Memphis Senate district.

"You have two homes?" court Referee Felicia Hogan asks during the tape recorded hearing. "Well, that's unusual."
"Not necessarily," Ford shot back. "I know people who got five."
Hogan responded: "For child support purposes that's unusual, let me put it that way then."

Ford is battling a lawsuit filed by Dana Smith, who is trying to increase his court-ordered support of their 10-year-old daughter. Smith, a former employee under Ford, won a 1996 sexual harassment verdict against him.

Ford contends that any increase for Smith should be tempered by his financial obligations to his five other minor children. None of those children is subject to child support orders.

In the hearing, Ford argued that all five children live in his household -- a household that encompasses two homes -- and because of that he is exempt from rules requiring strict proof of his financial support of them.

Hogan rejected Ford's request, saying he must produce evidence of bills paid if he wants credit to lessen any modification of Smith's child support.

Mitchell-Ford told The Commercial Appeal last week that she can verify at least some of Ford's contentions. She said she is six months pregnant, and the father, she said, is John Ford, now 62.

"John is over here every single day, if not staying here," she said.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Snow in Marysville, 2005

My wife & son got to enjoy the snow a couple day sago. It's all just about gone now, but it was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Not Every "FWD" Is a Hoax

Call me skeptical. Call me a pessimist. Whatever you want to call me, go ahead. Just don't call me heartless. In one of the "feelgood" stories of the season this one got to me. In part because I am one of those people who harps on people for continuously forwarding those e-mails saying we'll all get money from Microsoft if we just forward this message. Or how about the one's where you will win a trip to Disneyland? I always check it out at tell people when they are forwarding hoax's. All that being said, this is just a reminder that every once in a while, it's not a hoax. Every once in a while a little effort can go a long way...

130,000 wishes come true
All the the teen wanted for Christmas

CANTON, Georgia (AP) -- Christmas is still going strong for 14-year-old Nick Waters.
When the boy's church asked what he wanted for Christmas, Nick, who cannot talk and was born with no arms, slowly typed his reply with his feet: Lots of Christmas cards. Ten thousand of them.
More than two weeks after Christmas, he has more than 130,000 cards -- and they are still coming. They line the halls at his home, along with the living room, and the kitchen, and every other room in the house.
"To see him the month of December, it was like a different child. His color looks good. It was the best Christmas ever," said Nick's mother, Penny Waters.
Nick has Holt-Oram syndrome, a rare, inherited disorder that causes heart abnormalities and birth defects of the hands and arms. This was the first Christmas in several years that Nick
did not spend in a hospital, and no one in his family wants the season to end.
As the cards poured in, Nick's family -- including father, Charles, and sisters Tabitha, 19, and Kasey, 13 -- filled in a map, marking each state where a card had been mailed from. South Dakota and Alaska were the last postmarks to pass through the door.
Cards also have come from Ethiopia, Israel, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Ireland, Australia and Canada.
Nick also received a package from the Secret Service, with photos of President Bush, Air Force One and White House pets Barney and Willie. He has cards from the Wake Forest basketball team, the NBA's Orlando Magic, the University of Georgia, Miss Utah and Elvis, who confided to Nick he is still alive and in hiding.

Speaking of the Tsunami

Check out these before & After pictures of the land devestated by the disaster. If this doesn't make you want to go out and get that haircut (see previous post) nothing will!


Monday, January 10, 2005

Get a Haircut For Tsunami Relief

Hey All,
As a season ticketholder of the Everett Silvertips I received this message today. It's a great cause, so if you need a haircut...head on out and shell out the $ sure to tip your styleist!

----- Original Message -----
From: Keith Armstrong
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2005 9:27 AM
Subject: Get your hair cut for a great cause!
The Northwest Hair Academy and the Everett Silvertips are teaming up to support the Tsunami relief efforts.

On January 13th from 9:30 AM -8:30 PM you can go to any Northwest Hair Academy locations and get your hair cut for only $5.00. 100 % of the proceeds will go directly to the relief efforts in the Regions devastated by the Tsunami. NWHA will match 100 % of all donations made. Everett Silvertips players will also be on hand from 5:30-6:30 at the Everett School signing autographs. There are 2 Puget Sound locations. The Everett school is located on 128th Street in South Everett, 1/4 mile west of Interstate 5 in the Puget Park Center. They are adjacent to the Starbuck's store on the East end of the Center. The Phone number is 425-710-0888. The Mount Vernon school is located in downtown Mount Vernon at 615 South First Street. From I-5, take the Kincaid Street exit, Exit #226, and turn west. Go to First Street and turn right. The school is 1-1/2 blocks on the left.

The Northwest Hair Academy and the Everett Silvertips thanks you for your support!

Keith W. Armstrong
Director of Ticket Sales
Everett Silvertips Hockey Club
P. 425-609-2809
F. 425-257-0700

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Warning: Do not touch chain saw blade while it is running

I've always said they wouldn;t put these warnings on products unless someone was stupid enough to have done it. that being said, here's some of the wackiest product warnings as determined by The Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch, M-LAW:

5. A scooter with the warning "This product moves when used."
4. A digital thermometer with the advice "Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally."
3. An electric blender used for chopping and dicing that reminds users to "Never remove food or other items from the blades while the product is operating."
2. A three-inch bag of air used for packaging that read "Do not use this product as a toy, pillow, or flotation device."
...and the No. 1 wacky warning label of the year:
1. A toilet brush with a tag that says "Do not use for personal hygiene"

Win Lotto? Be sure to Get a Divorce first!

Hey Joe you just won the 60 million dollar Lotto prize, what are you going to do next?
I'm going to divorce my wife before I claim my prize!

Robert Swofford took more than a month to claim his $60 million prize...reason? He needed to divorce his wife first. Actually it was his wife that filed the papers...and if you read the story below I think you'll agree she should have got nothing!

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) -- It took Robert G. Swofford Jr. more than a month to come forward and claim his $60 million Lotto prize, but he had to take care of some unfinished business -- divorcing his wife.
Swofford, a postal worker from Seminole County, claimed his prize Tuesday in a $34.7 million lump sum payout, ending weeks of mystery about who won the November 24 drawing.

Swofford, 53, and his wife separated three years ago. But two weeks after the winning numbers were announced, Ann Swofford served him with divorce papers and claimed a share of the prize.
Just before Christmas, the Swoffords and their lawyers hammered out an agreement. His wife will get $5.25 million and $1 million will be set aside to support their 11-year-old son. In return, she agreed not to seek any more of Swofford's winnings.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

No Race Track, So Here's Wal-mart

Just as I predicted in previous posts, now that the Racetrack in Arlington/Marysville has been shot down, here comes the first of what is going to be a few big box stores. I hope those people who complained of the traffic a race track would bring on those few weekends a year there are big races are happy now that they will have thousands of exta vehicles a day travelling those roads!

SMOKEY POINT - Wal-Mart confirmed Monday that it wants to place one of its supercenter stores along 172nd Street NE, ending weeks of local speculation about who was behind plans submitted to the city last month.
The store, planned for a 25-acre site along the south side of the street, would be just under 204,000 square feet.