Saturday, September 30, 2006

how to create a workforce of indentured servants

First HSA and MedDirect Partner to Provide Line of Credit for Health Savings Accounts - Yahoo! News-- Read on. This is the ultimate perversion of a basically sound idea, the equivalent of giving credit cards to freshman college students or pushing drugs on the playground. It can create a nation of indentured servants, quickly. The medical providers will get paid. The lenders will make money on the interest and the collection fees and will wind up keeping workers in hock for a long time, getting principal and interest payments through automatic payroll deduction. HSAs are supposed to be cash accounts, not credit cards. Who coined the term "debtor nation"? Did they think about using it in this context?

"First HSA and MedDirect have partnered to provide a line of credit for employees, Health Bridge, to use with a health savings account or HSA. The monies are available to all employees regardless of their credit history. The funds provide overdraft protection for the First HSA account to a preset limit -- up to the full HSA plan deductible. Because funds are advanced directly into the HSA, they are tax deductible to the employee. The loan is paid back through payroll deductions over a set period of time with very competitive interest rates. There is no recourse to the employer for bad debts.
Employers that are concerned with the potential that an employee may have healthcare costs that exceed what is in their HSA account, are excited about this new program. Employees have easy access to the funds if needed to pay for qualified healthcare expenses.
First HSA and MedDirect have integrated their systems to automate all processes for this unique line of credit. The line of credit is only available through First HSA and MedDirect.
William West, president and founder of First HSA states: "Most other overdraft protection systems or lines of credit require that the person be credit worthy. Our product is available to all employees regardless of past credit history. Many employers are hesitant to purchase a health savings account program without providing some financial protection for their employees in case of emergency. The First HSA/MedDirect line of credit is the answer to their concerns. MedDirect has pioneered a unique financial product for employers and employees. We are excited to partner with MedDirect to provide this valuable product to our current and future clients."

Friday, September 29, 2006

it's hard not to love Greenspan when he says things like "Dump SarbOx"

Greenspan: Dump SarbOx--If he weren't so ugly, I'd kiss him. Gloria and I will be seeing him speak in Atlanta in a few weeks, and we're really looking forward to it.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Fulton Road Bridge meeting, 09/29/2006

Gloria Ferris, whom I know quite well, alerted me today to a quickie meeting about the Fulton Road Bridge project. In calling the numbers Gloria left for me to use, I found that the Cleveland Mayor's Action Line responded by carrying my request forward to the mayor, and the Cuyahoga County Engineer's office tried to get me to do the heavy lifting myself by calling ODOT, on whom they placed full responsibility, taking none for the Engineer. I did request that the County Engineer be my advocate in the matter and get ODOT to reschedule this important meeting with sufficient public notice and at a time when most of the public could attend.

We need to remind our public employees that they are paid to handle these situations, and we aren't, and that it further costs us when we must take time out of our productive work time to deal with matters that ought to be running smoothly, according to the public process. I sincerely wish I could leave the future in the hands of our government employees, but their actions in the matter of the Fulton Road Bridge show me that they do not hold the public interests foremost, and so I must speak out, at meetings scheduled more considerately of the normal business day and planned with more advance notice, and widespread publicity.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

...don't show, can't tell...

Local Republican candidates seem to have stolen a page from the Bill Clinton tactical manual, and then torqued it a bit, as is their wont.

While Clinton applied the common-sense imprecation "don't ask, don't tell" to the issue of homosexuality juxtaposed with military service, our Ohio Republicans seem to think that if they don't show themselves in public, interactive forums, then the electorate can't tell whether or not they're fit for office, and perhaps will give them the benefit of the doubt and vote for them anyway based on some past fondness for Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan.

It's tough being a Republican in Ohio, when the Republican candidates shy away from public debate and largely avoid public forums--Meet.The.Bloggers*, for instance. Personally, I feel that I know the character of Jim Petro, Mike Dovilla, and Wendell Robinson well enough to make, or have made, an informed decision about each of them prior to going to cast my vote.

I have little knowledge about the makeup of any of the other Republican candidates, having not yet had a chance to observe how they interact with their public in a realistic setting--uncanned, ad lib, up close, and candid. If I don't feel that I know them, how can I vote for them? Should I take the word of the hired advertising flaks, or their own political operatives and campaign handlers? Should I trust the newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations to have been fair and impartial on my behalf, to not take the side of the campaigns spending all the advertising dollars?

Should I trust the local blogs, seeing what they've done with Earl Martin of Ohio's 57th House District, branding the poor fellow a thief without the benefit of a full trial?

I think I'd like to have a serious talk with Bob Bennett about why our Ohio Republicans aren't more forthcoming in interacting with their public. Doesn't he live up here in the Cleveland area?

It's my contention that, if they don't interact, they won't have a chance on the political battlefield of the future. It's time to get with the program now, and let the electorate decide the outcome.

Tuesday marks the official debut of Revision3...

Digg Founders Launch Online Network Designed To Kill Your TV...Sort Of - News by InformationWeek:
"Tuesday marks the official debut of Revision3, a venture-capital funded video site offering original, geek-oriented content with an advertising model reminiscent of 1950s TV programming. "
Those of us perpetually in search of new and exciting revenue models will have to keep an eye on this one.

Friday, September 22, 2006

wearing wool

I just realized that my calendar says it's all right to drag the wool clothes out of the closet, this being the first day of autumn, and I have. There's an article here about a resurgence of interest in wool over synthetics, but for myself, I've never strayed far with much satisfaction. For me, nothing else gives comparable long-term value.

Today, it's as though I've discovered a whole new wardrobe, which I will try to wear to pieces up through Easter and even towards Memorial Day. I'll have to check on what the fashion police say are the actual date demarkation lines, so as not to offend or commit sartorial suicide. I guess it's also time for another viewing of Serial Mom, just to remind myself of how important this all is.

new twists to using the term "fee for service"

Luring Customers From Medicare - New York Times: "The leader by far in private Medicare fee-for-service, with more than half the total members, is Humana. UnitedHealth and WellPoint are also big players.
John M. Bertko, a Humana vice president, says benefits included having nurses stay in touch with discharged hospital patients with chronic diseases to make sure they were following doctors’ orders.
Other selling points for the private insurance plans include predictable out-of-pocket co-payments — typically $5 to $20 for doctor visits. That compares with the uncertainties patients face under traditional federal Medicare, in which they are responsible for 20 percent of whatever the doctor charges. "

There are some good points made here, pro and con. I'm questioning the use of the term "fee for service," though. How can we call something that requires a monthly premium, is subsidized by the government, and has deductibles "fee for service"? What is this newspeak that twists and torques basic, simple concepts until we can barely recognize them?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Akron Canton Chapter of the American Marketing Association Meets.The.Bloggers*

The Akron Canton Chapter of the American Marketing Association* will Meet.The.Bloggers* this evening, and as their fall kick-off event, no less. I repeat their advertisement in toto here:

Internet Marketing: How to Use Blogs in Your Business with 'Meet the Bloggers'

With the recent hype and discussion, you might be curious about starting a blog for your business. Why not?! You've heard blogs are a great, non-conventional tool to reach people, and market your business. What should you do? What shouldn't you do? How do you get started?

Come to our Kick-Off Event September 19, as the Akron/Canton AMA proudly hosts citizen journalists from Cleveland's 'Meet the Bloggers' Tim Ferris, Gloria Ferris, and George Nemeth. They will speak about their experience with blogs, and answer questions about how your company can use blogs to gain a competitive advantage!

WHEN: Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Registration: 5:30-6:00 p.m.
Seated Dinner: 6-7:00 p.m.
Speaker Presentation: 7-8:00 p.m.
Sheraton Suites, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
FEE: $25.00 Members
$30.00 Non Members
$20.00 Students
$15.00 Presentation Only
Additional $5.00 fee will be charged to those registering less than 48 hours in advance.
RSVP: Friday, September 15, 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006

interjunk proliferates?

Not in the Real World Anymore - New York Times--judge for yourselves...good line wrapping up the article:
Visiting Virtual Laguna Beach requires registering at the Web site,, and downloading a piece of software. The first step is designing your avatar — which can be made to look as much like or unlike your actual self as you wish. During a demonstration last week at MTV, Mr. Bostwick played the role of an avatar named Violet Jade whom he configured — scrolling through an extensive menu of eye shapes, hair colors, skin tones and so on — to look like a typical character on the show: blond, tan and scantily clad.
Ms. McGrath said the company’s push into virtual worlds based on its brands was part of a strategy to move a generation ahead of what media rivals were doing online. (Part of Mr. Redstone’s concern was that the company had been regarded as slow to establish itself in areas like online video and social networking.) While many movies and TV shows have video games built around them, these are the first attempts at 3-D online communities.
“MTV speaks uniquely to a group of people who are endlessly fascinated with watching themselves,” she said.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

if I ran the city...the series, #1

I'm not going to keep it all inside any longer; I'm not going to pester my wife with it; I'm not going to announce my latest revelation or pithy epiphany at the next social gathering; I'm going to dump it on the blog, and hope the process has a salutary effect, and for all. I'm going to tell you what I would do, if I ran the city, and the county, and the state.

Today, I would do away with the gas or electric blower as a maintenance tool for all government workers, and replace it with a broom and a shovel. I would then auction the collected blowers to some benighted, less progressive government entity as far away from here as possible--perhaps another third-world country.

The blower costs a lot and merely moves trash from one location to another, sort of like other cost shifting and responsibility shifting and wiping off the booger that goes on at all levels of government today. Nothing is ever really resolved, trash never gets picked up, containerized, and transported to a centrally located place where people deal with the issue of what is the highest and best use of trash. Trash "blowerized" becomes the neighbors' problem, and a blower, despite the costs, doesn't have a whole lot of alternative uses.

Brooms and shovels, on the other hand, are inexpensive, have no serial number, can be used any number of ways both indoors and out, and seem to sharpen eye-hand coordination while providing a modest aerobic workout.

To those efficiency experts who might talk of productivity and man-hours and such, using a blower may be more efficient in concept, but the practical executions I have seen allow the marginally supervised to run around, look busy for a brief moment, and then have more leisure time to smoke and joke.

Am I missing anything, as I run the city?

Hey, at least I'm doing something.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Toronto looms in our consciousness

Tomorrow is Software Freedom Day... here's how this is celebrated in Toronto... what about Cleveland? REALNEO for all--Here's a post from Norm about Toronto and how it's progressing in areas where I have a great interest. Just this past week, our friend Roger the Equanimous came back from the same place, giving it rave reviews. I recall now how, in the 1950s and 1960s, my grandfather and his wife used to toodle on up to Toronto all the time to get together with his Scots-Irish homeboy network and visit the restaurants.

Toronto's coming to the fore in our consciousness lately. I think it's time for a road trip--can't take the ferry, yet.

Interjunk and MySpace

The Story Behind MySpace - New York Times:

Interesting story.

"This week, Valleywag, a Silicon Valley gossip blog, published Mr. Lapinski’s long, critical examination of MySpace. According to Mr. Lapinski and Nick Douglas, Valleywag’s editor, an unidentified “online publisher” that had contracted Mr. Lapinski to write the article balked based on “groundless legal implications” after News Corporation complained ( Mr. Lapinski said the News Corporation declined to comment on his article.
But News Corporation is not the focus. It is the tale of MySpace’s founders, who, according to Mr. Lapinski’s report, came from companies involved with spam, spyware and adware."

Judging from my recent adware and spam experiences with MySpace, I'd say they still are involved heavily with this internet junk--MySpace, for my money, is an interjunk magnet, to be consciously avoided.

Friday, September 15, 2006

KeyCorp: Creating value, but for whom?

The Enquirer - KeyCorp selling Gradison parent: "KeyCorp has agreed to sell the McDonald Investments brokerage network, including its Gradison McDonald operations in Cincinnati, to UBS Financial Services for $280 million.
The Cleveland-based parent of Key Bank said Wednesday that its other operations, which include retail banking, KeyBanc Capital Markets investment banking and other businesses, aren't part of the deal. It's expected to close in the first quarter of 2007.
McDonald has 51 offices in 14 states, and 25 of the offices and about 70 percent of its clients are in Ohio. Key paid $580 million for McDonald, including the investment banking business it's keeping, in 1998. McDonald acquired Cincinnati-based Gradison Securities in 1991."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

we've come a long way from buying Eight O' Clock at Fisher Foods

Espresso’s New Wave Hits Town - New York Times--good article here, chock full of the terminologies and techniques of the coffee geek.

City Wheels and University Circle

Here's part of a note we got today from Marla Komocki over at University Circle, Inc., about City Wheels rolling inexorably on in its mission to make us all urban sophisticates who plan their vehicle usage. As Martha used to say, "It's a good thing."

"...I hope you are all doing well. I wanted to get in touch with you to invite you to a press conference tomorrow announcing the debut of CityWheels in University Circle. We are working side by side with them to bring eco-friendly car sharing to this area. I thought the topic might be of interest to you. Let me know if you have any questions or if you would like to talk with CityWheels president, Ryan McKenzie. Below are the details....Thanks again,

Marla Komocki
Public Relations Manager

University Circle Inc.
(216) 707-5034"


Attention Students, Workers, and Residents: You Don’t Need Your Cars In University Circle Anymore

University Circle Inc. Partners with CityWheels to Bring Car Sharing to the Circle

WHAT:More than 30,000 people live, work, and study in University Circle, the majority of whom rely on their cars as their primary method of transportation. Owning a car can mean facing the burdens of gas prices, rush-hour traffic, high insurance rates, and finding a parking spot. In fact, studies show that American cars are parked more than 90 percent of the time. In partnership with CityWheels, UCI will help solve theses problems by unveiling a new car sharing program in University Circle that will change the face of public transportation.

WHO: Chris Ronayne, president of UCI Ryan McKenzie, president of City Wheels

WHEN: Thursday, September 14, 11 a.m.

WHERE: Parking Lot 419 located at the corner of Ford Drive, Mayfield Road, and Euclid Avenue

CONTACT: Marla Komocki Public Relations Manager (216) 707-5034 (440) 724-9683 cell

About University Circle Inc. (UCI)University Circle Inc. (UCI) is the development, service, and advocacy organization responsible for the growth of University Circle as a premier urban district and world class center of innovation in health care, education, and arts and culture.

About City WheelsCityWheels is an environmentally focused company that offers its members affordable access to efficient vehicles for short-term, round-trip use in order to supplement the public transit network as well as walking, biking and other alternative means of transportation.

Monday, September 11, 2006

So, when do we start retaining phone conversations?

E-Mail Retention: The High Cost of Digging Up Data--This to me is a fascinating story of the need for a clearcut policy and procedure for the retention of email in all businesses at all levels. The bigger businesses are, the harder it is to get a handle on it. Think of the ramifications--the opportunities, the liabilities, the potential cost, and the potential cost savings. I'm just hoping that we don't start keeping voice messages, and then voice conversations, any time in the near future. The upshot of it all is that I, personally, am making a concerted effort to talk face to face as much as possible. All my internet capabilities have taken me back to up close and personal communication for all the important things.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Dave Perkowski gets what he deserves

Filmmakers Say Hooray for Cleveland - New York Times--Quite appropriately, we were at Bill & Mary Denihan's ice-cream social yesterday when we first heard that David Perkowski was receiving his just deserts. Gloria and I are thrilled for him, and for what Karen and he bring to the table around here--they do rehab, restoration, and adaptive reuse right. Waste not, want not. They restore what's valuable in this town, and we have more of it than just about anybody else, anywhere. I'm glad they're beginning to notice, in New York.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Key Magazine debuts at The NY TIMES

New York Times--New Magazine on Real Estate--In the debut issue of Key magazine, find how to invest in property without owning any.

Looks interesting.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Working With Words & Wendell Berry

John Ettorre at Working With Words has a marvelous snippet of poetry from Wendell Berry. Make sure you click through to the interview.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

tonight's the night

Gloria had me send this email around yesterday, and I also wanted to post it here. It's an invitation, open to all who have an interest and who might want to have some fun or watch the convergence of the communities.


As many of you know, Tim and I are involved with a new venture, a new medium called Meet.The.Bloggers* (MTB). The website is at We want to invite you to an after-work open house tomorrow, the first social event to be held in our new space in the Tower Press Building at 19th and Superior. The building is truly awesome--a sight to behold--and suite 105 will give you a good idea of the spaciousness and quality available in this adaptive-reuse historic property.

Owners Karen and David Perkowski have been good enough to allow us to use the suite 105 space for our MTB interviews since early August. The event tomorrow will be a combination poetry reading and silent auction of artwork and other items of value. We've been exceptionally fortunate to have some awesome poets volunteer to read at our benefit and some fantastic art pieces donated for the auction.
So, please stop by to say hello, have a glass of wine, and sample light appetizer fare from Karen Perkowski's creative catering staff at Artefino Cafe.

Poetry Reading and Silent Auction/Open House
Thursday, September 7th
5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
Tower Press Building--Suite 105
1900 Superior Avenue
Enter parking lot off East 20th.

More details about the poets and the auction items are available at

Directions to the venue can be found at

If you're free, come down and acquaint yourselves with Meet.The.Bloggers*. This is an open house, so invite your friends. Use the invitation function at

Good wishes,

Gloria and Tim Ferris

they're doin' it in Dayton

City, state among tops in Wi-Fi investment: "A new report by an information technology products provider, which tracks state and local government technology investment, places Ohio second in the nation in wireless or Wi-Fi investment.
Dayton's announcement Tuesday that it is close to providing free Internet access in all 55 square miles of the city and airport places the city in the lead in Ohio."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

They just...don't...listen!!!

I ran up on a comment from another registered Republican anent MeetTheBloggers (MTB), and it had to do with the paucity of Republican candidates being interviewed on MTB this past year or so. Our source attributes it to certain Republican candidates' collective perception that the MTBers are a gang of flaming liberals whose intent it is to "make Republicans look bad, " or words to that effect. To me, this is an indication that these Republicans aren't listening to the podcasts at all, and, to paraphrase an older, cruder joke, the reason some people get beaten is because they just...don't...listen.

Roldo nails it, a couple of times... - Roldo Link: No!!!! To Cigarette Tax For The Arts
Strong language from Roldo in the face of rampant stupidity. I couldn't agree more, today. It's good he's pointing out the way our town has come to specialize in the abuse and compromising of the nonprofit concept, as well, with $150,000 going to a cheerleader, or, to be a little less charitable, a pimp. As for Eric Fingerhut, when are we going to put an end to buying influence so shamelessly?

Tibetan Studies Travel Journal, by Jackie

Tibetan Studies Travel Journal--One of our young neighbors, Jackie Reasor, is traveling and using a blog to chronicle her adventure. It makes for some good reading; feel free to track her progress and wish her well. She's a good kid with a good heart, as you will discover.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

John Coyne was right

driving under the influence- Network Computing: John Coyne and the City of Brooklyn, Ohio, have long been sticklers on paying attention to detail while driving. They fancy themselves the home of the seatbelt law, and you just don't want to be caught yakking on a cellphone while passin' through. Turns out they're vindicated, in this article from Network Computing, 07/20/2006 edition:

"People who talk on cell phones while driving are just as impaired as drunk drivers, according to a new study from the University of Utah. And hands-free sets don't reduce distraction.

Forty volunteers participated in four test scenarios using a driving simulation device: driving undistracted, driving with a handheld cell phone, with a hands-free cell phone and without a cell phone but with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 (thanks to vodka and orange juice).

While the study showed that intoxicated drivers drove more aggressively, the only ones that actually collided with other cars in the simulation were three drivers on cell phones. Cell phone users were 9 percent slower to brake and were more likely to vary their speeds unnecessarily than sober, undistracted drivers.

OK, so no more cell phone calls from behind the wheel. But I can still check e-mail on my BlackBerry while I drive, right?"

Sunday, September 03, 2006

earnin' the name, but not learnin'

Eyesore of the Month by James Howard Kunstler
The Kunstler link here shows us a picture, in a photograph, of the tackiness, the vacuity that gambling brings. He then paints a word picture of how we as a nation have earned a reputation. This is a reputation we need to live down. Prostrating ourselves before the false promise of deliverance by gambling is not the way to do it. Here's Kunstler:
Looking North on Las Vegas Boulevard, the "Strip." The
educated coastal public thinks that evangelical Christianity is America's number
one religion. They are wrong. It is the Worship of Unearned Riches, and Las
Vegas is its holy city. The belief that it is possible to get something for
nothing is more potent in our land than the belief that the Son of God will
return to rescue mankind. The Religion of Unearned Riches was established here
in the desert by organized crime. It has turned us into a nation of slobs,
clowns, patsies, and cravens. Las Vegas is what we have become. Is it any wonder
that the rest of the world despises us?

they're freezing this guy out..

Peirce for Ohio Governor 2006
Take a quick run through Peirce's blog, note the phrase "The Collusive Twins," see how they want to keep his comments out of the public dialogue. His criticisms of the sappy medical proposals of both Strickland and Blackwell are fairly to the point, and he offers the most workable solution, starting right now from where we are. I am amazed how everyone wants to avoid the issues that this candidate Peirce brings. He's speaking the truth, and nobody wants to pay any attention to it, in this nation of sheep--drugged sheep, heading for the slaughter.

some sorry stuff from the Youngstown Vindicator and WFMJ-TV Have a beer with Bill at Cedars Lounge (Tuesday, September 5, 2006)
Below I've quoted a sad entry I found on Isn't it funny how the names of the sorriest newpapers are just so laden with irony nowadays: Plain Dealer, Vindicator, dealing plainly and openly with whom, vindicating what? Anyway, here's the recounting of another attempt to limit the public dialogue on an important issue, the election of our governor, and I encourage you to either support Bill Peirce in his side-forum or make it so he can be in the main debate.
Tuesday, September 5, 2006
12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Category: Social
Bill Peirce, an independent candidate for Governor in November’s election, was recently denied a spot in the gubernatorial candidates debate taking place in Youngstown, Ohio on Tuesday, September 5, 2006. The debate sponsors, WFMJ-TV and the Youngstown Vindicator, have refused to allow any independent candidates to participate in the debate.

When asked why he should be included in the debate, Peirce (pronounced "purse") had this to say: "I have spent the last year campaigning full time. I secured the endorsement of Ohio's third largest political party and submitted a nominating petition containing over 13,000 signatures from all 88 counties in Ohio. I have a Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton University, taught economics at Case Western Reserve University for more than 35 years, and have published books on bureaucratic failure, energy economics, and technological change. The people of Ohio deserve to hear from an economic specialist who can lead them out of problems that career politicians of both major parties have caused."

Peirce and his campaign, practiced in the art of making lemonade from lemons, invite you to join Bill for a drink after the debate at Cedar's Lounge & Restaurant (23 N. Hazel St., a brief walk from the debate), where Bill will be available from noon until 4:00 p.m. Bill will be answering the same questions posed to Ted Strickland and Ken Blackwell during the debate, along with any other questions from the media. We hope to see you Tuesday!
More information:

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ohio 2006: Ohio Secretary of State set to flip over

Ohio 2006: "The results were an overwhelming return of 81% for Brunner compared to 19% for her opponent, Hamilton County Clerk Greg Hartmann (R-Cincinnati)."

Well, here's some good news, posted for us on Ohio 2006. We had a MeetTheBloggers talk yesterday at Cafe Momus in Akron with Judy Hanna, and that podcast will be posted soon, but in our conversation, voting irregularities and irresponsibilities were hot topics, and now here we have YellowDogSammy posting this news about Jennifer Brunner's ascendancy toward winning in the general election. I'm encouraged to see that the voters of Ohio have noticed how having Ken Blackwell as Secretary of State compromised their election processes and set everything up for big changes in that office. See Brunner's interview from her primary campaign at, where we happen to have both podcast and text (click on "an excerpt" to get the entire transcript). We need to take our state and our country back, and it all starts in Ohio, right now.