Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why wait another 60 days for another GM restructure plan?

I wrote in a blog a number of months ago that 'GM is dead; long live GM' http://mykalsreport.blogspot.com/2009/03/gm-is-dead-long-live-gm_2909.html. That was my take on the ages-old statement announcing the death of a king and the installation of his replacement. It formalizes the transition process: first grieving for the departed monarch, then celebration for the new regime.

I suggested then and still believe that the sustainable way forward was to replace the existing management (done) then focus on the car and truck brands (Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, etc) and design and build vehicles relevant to the needs of the market.


The first step happened with the departure of Richard Wagner this past week. Unfortunately the announcement of the new regime will not occur for 'another 60 days'. After 30 years of 'restructuring' we need another 60 days to figure out a plan?

The old GM is dead. Everyone knows it. Some of us don't want to admit it. Most of us know that we are delaying the inevitable.

For a point-of-view on why this delay actually doesn't matter, check out this article written by David Brooks and published in the New York Times March 30. I agree with his opinion. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/opinion/31brooks.html?_r=2

All is not lost in the US 'domestic' automotive manufacturing industry however. While we have focused on the declining fortunes of GM and Chrysler, Ford has not been idle. They made their structural changes years ago and seem to be weathering this storm. They have attractive new products ready to launch. I saw the future at the recent Toronto Auto show: the 2010 Taurus. http://www.fordvehicles.com/2010taurus/.

And although it is not a 'domestic-based' company, the new Venza from Toyota hits the mark for me as well http://www.toyota.ca/cgi-bin/WebObjects/WWW.woa/wa/vp?vp=Home&language=english. It is built in Kentucky.

The automotive world is not waiting. GM better get on with it...

I Run in Circles

I run in circles. Short ones, long ones. There is no beginning. Or end. There is only the run

I run in circles

Running is my friend. It is always there. It never complains. It never judges. It accepts me for me

I run in circles

Running solves all the problems of the world. If only I could remember the answers after

I run in circles

I start out running away: Escape, abandon, freedom. I always come back

I run in circles

There is pain just before and right after: dread the first few steps; wish it would never end at the finish

I run in circles


I will never stop

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pictures from our Italian Holiday

Italy was a magical trip for Sally and I. We touched down in Vienna before heading via train on a whirlwind tour of Venice, Florence and Rome.

Vienna was magical. I still can't believe the impracticality of essentially living on water.

Florence brought the Renaissance to life. It helped that I had boned-up on it before I left and read 'The Agony and the Ecstasy'.

Rome was simply too vast to explore properly on one trip. As a Catholic, St. Peter's Square is the centre of my universe. Although, the Jesuit Church across town was a must-see.
I appeared much younger then. Maybe it was the jet lag after a the long flight from Toronto. Probably the beer.
Venice is really a magical city. Who can really explain why they built the city on sand in the bay. It works

The softness of the light even at mid-day echos the simplicity of the decoration.

The Grand Canal on our way back to our hotel...far from the action...affordability was an issue.The hill country outside Florence. We imagined this was what Michelangelo saw.

St. Peter's Square in Rome had a powerful influence.
These pictures were taken with our trusty Pentax Optio (http://pentax.ca/).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tips for Cooking Jamaican Style

Here are some cooking tips that I have picked up along the way. Hopefully they can be helpful to you too.


  • Jamaican nutmeg can be used to spice up various meat dishes, from red meat to poultry

  • Lemon or lime juice can be used to marinate poultry and fish and enhance the flavour

  • Putting water beneath your meat when barbequing or cooking in the oven will keep your meat moist and tender

  • Allspice is a great flavour enhancer for all stews and gravies

  • Your meat should be room temperature before putting on the bbq

  • Marinating your steak in a dark ale or lager makes a tasty steak

  • Boiling ribs with a little salt and a bunch of carrots, before putting them on the bbq, makes them extra tender and greatly reduces bbq cooking time

  • Pouring flour over a greased pan, will ensure your cake or muffin comes out smooth, with no greasy edges

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The real story of a Hero (as told by Mike)

This story was posted by a young man who I am proud to say is part of my world. He started blogging recently. He had a lot of material to get out, he said.

This story is different however. It stopped me dead.

It is about his reaction to a friend who is heading off to Afghanistan with the Canadian Armed Forces as a proud and confident Canadian soldier. Please check out the full story here: http://lifeofalord.blogspot.com/2009/03/i-met-hero-today.html

His story reminded me that the freedom we enjoy in Canada is earned and defended by the brave actions of young men just like Dan. I don't know Dan, but I owe him a great debt for overcoming his fears and choosing to fight for Canada.

Thanks for sharing Mike.

Pictures of Wasaga Beach, Series 2

I received a tremendous response to the post last week with pictures of our Wasaga Beach. Most wanted to move here right now. While winter limits the access, these pictures taken in the spring show that we still enjoy our Wasaga throughout all the seasons.


The receding ice leaves behind incredibly smooth yet complex 'sandscapes'

Or if you prefer a more 'industrial wasteland' look

Yes, this is the main beach area where the crowds are massive in the summer months.

The early spring sunsets are just as spectacular.
Yes, that is an ice dam about 100 metres off-shore.

This is Tia, our 4 1/2 lb. tiny Yorkie with the huge personality in full stride. She loves Wasaga Beach as well.
These pictures were taken with a Pentax 'Optio' (http://pentax.ca/) at Beach Area 1, the Main Beach Area for sun and sand in the summer. For more information, go to our official web site http://www.wasagabeach.com/

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pictures of our Wasaga Beach

These are pictures of our beach, all 14 kilometres of Wasaga Beach, Ontario at the absolute southern point of Georgian Bay

http://www.mapquest.com/maps?city=Wasaga+Beach&state=ON



Within minutes, I can be running on the hardpack sand for as long as I can stand it.

In the off-season, I usually have the beach to myself.

This is a shot of a sunset, but early morning sunrises are just as spectacular. And, no, it is not Negril, but it is great motivation for the Reggae Marathon, December 5




Strewn along the shore



Some areas of the beach are lovely, soft white sand. Others are more rustic.


The sand fights with the vegitation and vice versa



Almost a full moon ... at 7 pm!



Yes, this is still Wasaga Beach



The secret to our Wasaga Beach is to head west...toward Beach Area 6. These pictures were taken with a Sony DSLR, A200 model http://www.sonystyle.ca/commerce/servlet/ProductDetailDisplay?storeId=10001&langId=-1&catalogId=10001&productId=1004781&navigationPath=n32090n100268).


We took these pictures along the stretch of beach from 50th street to 60th street.


See you this summer...








Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rolling Stone Magazine's take on the Global Financial situation

Rolling Stone Magazine Reporter Matt Taibbi published an article on March 19 entitled, "The Big Takeover". In it he comprehensively details how the world got into the financial mess. He lays the blame squarely on certain specific actions in the US financial markets, and goes on to postulate that a takeover play is underway.



While I do not agree with him on the takeover of the financial markets by the US Federal government, his article is one of the best in explaining the mess. Follow this link directly to the entire article in Rolling Stone Magazine:



http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/26793903/the_big_takeover

Rice and Peas


This is the dish that can be served with every meal, especially ones with gravy. Sometimes I eat just a plate of rice and peas smothered in oxtail gravy.


Ingredients:


  • 2 cups white rice

  • 1 medium can red kidney beans

  • 1 can coconut milk

  • 6 pieces of cooked bacon (optional)

  • 2 green onions, chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped

  • 1 branch of fresh thyme

  • 1 tbsp oil

  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (whole, do not chop up)

  • water

Method:

  • Drain the liquid from the can of beans into a measuring cup and add the can of coconut milk and enough water to make four cups of liquid

  • Add liquid to a pot with beans, onions, garlic, thyme and oil, bring to a boil

  • Add rice and stir for a minute. Reduce heat to Medium-Low

  • Add bacon and scotch bonnet pepper on top of liquid and cover tightly for 30 minutes or until rice is cooked

  • Remove scotch bonnet pepper before and thyme branch before serving

Saturday, March 21, 2009

giraffe marketing blog merges with Mykals Report blog. Please continue to follow me

Thank you very much for following me over the past months on giraffe marketing (http://giraffemarketing.blogspot.com/). I have enjoyed the discussions, debate and comments on various topics. In particular, the post, "GM is dead; long live GM" http://giraffemarketing.blogspot.com/2009/03/gm-is-dead-long-live-gm.html provoked significant debate and discussion.

However after 6 months of managing 3+ separate blogs I am merging the blog, 'giraffe marketing' into this one, my primary blog, 'Mykals Report' (http://mykalsreport.blogspot.com/). You will now be able to see all the posts from all my previous blogs sorted by category by clicking on one of the labels at the top right of the home page. Look for the title, 'Morales Topics'. All the posts and comments from giraffe marketing have been transferred.

I hope you will continue to follow me. To do that, simply look for the 'Followers' icon on this page on the right side of the blog.

Thanks for your support.

Blog merger news: Real Jamaican Recipes merging with Mykals Report

Thank you very much for following Court and I on our Real Jamaican Cooking blog http://realjamaicancooking.blogspot.com/. We have enjoyed the past few months of posting recipes, getting suggestions and hearing comments.

However, it is time for a change. Managing 3 blogs has become too time consuming so we are merging 'Real Jamaican Cooking' into 'Mykals Report'. Don't worry, all the recipes and posts have been imported and are now posted under the heading, 'Real Jamaican Cooking' (you will find them under the heading at the top right side of the blog home page called, 'Morales Topics').

We hope our followers will 'follow' us here.

And look out for the Rice & Peas recipe coming soon.

A golf joke for your Saturday morning chuckle

This joke struck me the right way this morning. Thanks to my sister-in-law, DV.

Happy 2nd day of Spring :)

On a golf tour in Newfoundland , a famous Canadian golf pro drives his new Ford Fusion into a gas station in a remote part of town. The pump attendant, obviously knows nothing about golf, greets him in a typical Newfoundland manner completely unaware of who the golfing pro is.'

'How's she cuttin' bye'' says the attendant. The Pro nods a quick 'hello' and bends forward to pick up the nozzle. As he does so, two tees fall out of his shirt pocket onto the ground.

''What are dose?'' asks the attendant. ''They're called tees'' replies the Pro.'

'Well, what on earth are dey for?'' inquires the attendant.

''They're for resting my balls on when I'm driving'', says the Pro.

"Lard tunderin", says the Newfoundlander, ''Ford tinks of everyting!''

Thursday, March 19, 2009

MSTRKRFT was awesome on Jimmy Kimmel!

We stayed up until 1 am Thursday morning to catch MSTRKRFT on Jimmy Kimmel. This was well past my usual bedtime, but it was worth it. It was the first time we had seen MSTRKRFT perform http://www.mstrkrft.com/. We were blown away: it was really cool to see our nephew, Al P doing his thing on a national late night talk show.

And surprise...we enjoyed the Jimmy Kimmel Show! http://abc.go.com/latenight/jimmykimmel/index. He had a great opening monologue and excellent guests. Jimmy's interaction with them was right on. Even though we tuned specifically in to catch MSTRKRFT, we ended up becoming fans. Since we rarely see 12 midnight during the work week, a PVR is suddenly in our future.

Great show...great performance...early to bed tonight :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My blogging experience continued...

Over the months of my blogging, I have occasionally posted articles documenting my experience as a newbie blogger. I did this as a way to share my learning. This post continues the story and and at the suggestion of Blogger.com, asks for something as well: please follow my blogs. Here is my experience since my last update:

  • About a month ago I decided to stop the emails to friends and family telling them to check out the blog posts. Now I only promote online. I am sure they are relieved :). It was a scary day for me however. And a surprising thing happened: visits to my blogs increased.
  • Promote on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/) in a couple of places: on my 'Status' and in relevant groups. This is a great social network site with more emphasis on the social.
  • Promote on Linkedin (http://www.linkedin.com/) in my 'Status' area and in relevant groups as well. Linkedin is a more business-oriented network. I have received the most response here. The comments on the blogs and the direct communication is generally more well thought out. Plus, I have expanded my network because of the email exchanges. I strongly recommend linkedin.
  • Twitter of course (http://twitter.com/). This is a bit of a 'Push' network, but I always see an increase in blog visits when I tweet a new post.
  • And most recently, I have found Ping (http://ping.fm/). This site is still in beta, but it allows you to update all your networks with one post. I currently use it to post to twitter, facebook and linkedin. I like the one-stop approach and heartily recommend this.
  • I stumbleupon as well (http://www.stumbleupon.com/). This is in my browser toolbar and is an easy way to say 'I like it'.
  • I submit my articles to digg (http://digg.com/). Gives me additional exposure.
  • I submit my posts to Zimbio as well (http://www.zimbio.com/). I used to publish to my own ezines, but now I submit to various others. This seems more effective.
  • I have increased my blog roll on each of my blogs. I ask for a reciprocal link as well.
  • I post comments on various blogs that interest me. I post with my name and blog URL.

All of that sounds like a lot of work. It is but it actually takes about 15 minutes after I post new material. And with ping.fm, I can update twitter, linkedin and facebook with one post. This is much more efficient.

And now the next step, working to increase my followers. Please check out my three blogs and if you see something you enjoy, follow me. Here are the blogs:

Thanks for your support

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to be a better Blogger using Twitter, Linkedin, facebook

Over the months of my blogging, I have occasionally posted articles documenting my experience as a newbie blogger. I did this as a way to share my learning. This post continues the story and and at the suggestion of Blogger.com, asks for something as well: please follow my blogs.

Here is my experience since my last update:

  • About a month ago I decided to stop the emails to friends and family telling them to check out the blog posts. Now I only promote online. I am sure they are relieved :). It was a scary day for me however. And a surprising thing happened: visits to my blogs increased.
  • Promote on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/) in a couple of places: on my 'Status' and in relevant groups. This is a great social network site with more emphasis on the social.
  • Promote on Linkedin (http://www.linkedin.com/) in my 'Status' area and in relevant groups as well. Linkedin is a more business-oriented network. I have received the most response here. The comments on the blogs and the direct communication is generally more well thought out. Plus, I have expanded my network because of the email exchanges. I strongly recommend linkedin.
  • Twitter of course (http://twitter.com/). This is a bit of a 'Push' network, but I always see an increase in blog visits when I tweet a new post.
  • And most recently, I have found Ping (http://ping.fm/). This site is still in beta, but it allows you to update all your networks with one post. I currently use it to post to twitter, facebook and linkedin. I like the one-stop approach and heartily recommend this.
  • I stumbleupon as well (http://www.stumbleupon.com/). This is in my browser toolbar and is an easy way to say 'I like it'.
  • I submit my articles to digg (http://digg.com/). Gives me additional exposure.
  • I submit my posts to Zimbio as well (http://www.zimbio.com/). I used to publish to my own ezines, but now I submit to various others. This seems more effective.
  • I have increased my blog roll on each of my blogs. I ask for a reciprocal link as well.
  • I post comments on various blogs that interest me. I post with my name and blog URL.

All of that sounds like a lot of work. It is but it actually takes about 15 minutes after I post new material. And with ping.fm, I can update twitter, linkedin and facebook with one post. This is much more efficient.

And now the next step, working to increase my followers. Please check out my three blogs and if you see something you enjoy, follow me. Here are the blogs:

Thanks for your support

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A true Jamaican favourite: Oxtail

Oxtail...a very flavourful favourite that goes well with
Rice and Peas


Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lbs. oxtails, already cut up
  • 1 14 oz. can of broad beans or Lima beans
  • 3 green onions chopped up
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 cube of beef broth
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • water

Method:

  • Season oxtail with salt, pepper and paprika
  • Heat oil over medium heat, in a large, non stick pot and brown oxtails
  • Add garlic, onion, and thyme and sauté for another 2 minutes
  • Lower heat, add enough water to slightly cover the food and let simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes
  • Add all other ingredients, mix well, cover, reduce heat to low allow to cook for another 30 min
  • Serve over rice and peas with lots of gravy and enjoy.




Friday, March 13, 2009

Mstrkrft on Jimmy Kimmel March 18


My wife Sally and I were in our home office this morning with our first cup of coffee. We were settling in for the day when we received a call from her very excited brother, Ed. He was buzzing with excitement; we had to put him on the speaker phone! His news: his son, Al P (http://www.mstrkrft.com/) was going to be on the Jimmy Kimmel Show March 18! Check out this link to the show that notes the appearance next Wednesday: http://abc.go.com/latenight/jimmykimmel/index?pn=upcomingguests#t=0

Sally and I will not miss the show next week! His parents plan to PVR it.

The phone call this morning reminded me that true personal happiness and success can be found in a simple phrase, "Follow your passion!". As parents of 4 boys and mentors to numerous young people, we have given this advice repeatedly. Sally and I recently retired from the corporate rat and are now following our true passion of living and working together. We wish we had done it sooner.

I wish I had met Al sooner as well. About 8 years ago, when I did meet him, he had his own recording studio in the basement of his parent's home. He recorded some material for me for a pet project (a late night stream-of-consciousness radio show). He even had me record some spoken word material for a musical project he was working on. I could tell then that he was living his passion. I should have gotten his autograph then.

We get so distracted don't we. We let intrusions get in the way of what we truly want to do. Al, thanks for reminding me that it is not too late to get on the right track.

We'll be applauding next Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A really cool marketing promotion from T Mobile

This video is making the rounds on YouTube. It is an excellent example of how to create an event to promote your product and get consumer involvement. I have included the link to the video below as well as the 'how it was made' link.

The actual event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exkfGhz-YsU

The making of video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVFNM8f9WnI

What is the coolest part of this is that I received the video from my sister via email. I was so impressed with it as an innovative marketing activity, that it inspired this blog post. Then I twittered it, posted it on facebook, linkedin and other sites. I helped promote it.

I am sure T Mobile thought through how the event would be spread via the internet. They get it!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mesmerizing F3000 Racing Car footage

WOW!

This 4 minute video of an open-wheel racer will blow you away! Even at the small size on the computer screen, you can feel the rush of air and adrenalin.

Turn up your speakers very loud: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssqs4S4bRGM

Thank you for sending this to me MN.

Mesmerizing.

It made my day :)

Response to the post, "GM is dead; long live GM"

My post from last week was actually about re-birth: the phoenix of a new General Motors rising from the ashes of the organization that died when they lost sight of their customers.

I received a number of comments on that blog post that indicated that people understand that the issue is deeper than just the current crisis. For this week's post, here are a number of those comments:


  • "You are right on. Probably have to reduce the number of brands though. Not enough money to do them all properly", (Anonymous)

  • "I guess you are not worried about working on GM business anymore (lol). You are correct in that the government has to call the GM bluff at some point and tell them that the current senior management team is out! The current senior regime at GM just does not have the balls to make the drastic cuts that are necessary. As an example, why do they insist on keeping Pontiac and Buick! They sell 5 Pontiac’s a year in the US and the last Buick customer is now on life support. They need to get over themselves and the government needs to administer some tough love. If this does not happen, the government might as well invest in penny stocks as the chances of returns on these are far greater than getting a return on GM. With regards to Chrysler, don’t even get me started….". (Anonymous)

  • "Provocative thoughts...the automotive landscape will be very different in short order" (Anonymous)

  • "Great notes and observations Chris. Having being around the track, you know there are a million solutions to the G.M. situation. The complexity of their business compounded by the jurisdictions in which they operate can make your head explode. Here's one more observation for the herd to consider. G.M. was managed by the smartest guys and girls Harvard could through at it, right? Does this say more about G.M. or about our business schools? If business schools today don't offer G.M. and for that matter through in Kodak, Xerox, Citi Bank and American Express as business cases, what are the next generation paying for and what are we teaching them about management?Clearly, we know what business schools taught our august financial engineers and I understand Western is re writing the curriculum as we speak. What are we teaching the new cohort of MBA,s about international business, manufacturing and finance now that the last cohort blew up the workshop?Just a thought." (Tom Mc)

  • "What GM business is there to still be working on? As a consumer, the only business I see them in is Charity and Bailouts---as Recipients." (Anonymous)

  • "I loved the story about your father's Oldsmobile (oops, it was a Chevy!) My mom drove a Buick. OOPS, was it a Chevy?"

  • "I guess Steve Jobs should be fired for putting Intel chips in Apple computers then. Oh wait, I just gave a simple answer to a complicated question. My bad" (Anonymous)

  • "Good article. I even knew at a young age they had too many brands producing essentially the same type of cars. Why have the same cars competing against each other under the same company?" (Anonymous)

  • "Wasn't Saturn supposed to be the future of the domestic car industry? Too bad GM couldn't leave well enough alone and "GM'd" it." (TR)

  • "We had a 77 Pontiac wagon with a Chev engine. My dad was actually pleased when he discovered that as he always felt Chevs were reliable. Only problem was that the oil filter was different between Pontiac and Chev engines, so you always had to be sure the mechanic used the correct filter when the oil was changed. It was a great car and a terrific engine and lasted many, many years." (Anonymous)
The current debate about bailing out GM and Chrysler reminded me of an observation my youngest son made once when we had to decide about repairing a vehicle that had already cost us lots of $'s. "Don't throw good money after bad, Dad", he said, "Kill it before it dies".

Good advice. We all agree that GM will not survive in its current form. Why continue to drag out the inevitable?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

How to make Blue Drawers

This recipe was sent in recently from 'EH' who prefers to remain anonymous. Thank you. It is for a recipe that I must confess I have never heard of but it sounds delicious. I can't wait to try it. Before I post the recipe though, here is her cover note with some interesting background:
Blue Drawers, Duckunoo, or Tie Leaf are the names that are given to this
boiled pudding of West African origin. Jamaicans are very fond of this starchy,
green banana-based boiled pudding, which is enjoyed as a snack or dessert.

Many people from different parts of the island use these names
interchangeably when entertaining their guests or family members with this fare,
whenever possible. Since I am from the eastern side of Jamaica, these names are
the only ones that I can remember being used to name this delicious treat. And
although these names were common, we were reluctant to use "blue drawers" in
front of adults, fearing we would be admonished to have manners and respect...
because using the word ‘drawers’ is slang for underwear. How this word became
synonymous with a boiled pudding is still a mystery to me. I could speculate
that ‘drawers’ are the banana leaf ties that are used to tie the prepared batter
before it’s added to the boiling water, but that is just my guessing – honestly
I don’t know why the name ‘blue drawers’ came about and I’ve never checked.

With all that said, the taste is what we’re interested in…not history.
Irie? Cool.

Another very important thing about blue drawers is that it is traditionally
made with the banana leaves as the exclusive binder. However if you live in a
place where banana leaves are not available, what do you do? Or even if you live
somewhere where there is an ample supply of banana leaves but you’re not able to
get any immediately…use aluminum foil.
And that’s how we will make this
‘blue drawers’…yah mon!


Ingredients:
  • 2 cups Green Banana (grated; remove skins before grating)
  • 1 cup Sweet Potatoes (grated; remove skins before grating)
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Flavoring
  • 4 tbsp. Raisins
  • 2 tbsp. Cooking Oil
  • 4” x 6” Aluminum Foil Sheets
  • Twine or Cord.

Method:

  • Use a large mixing bowl and add the grated bananas, sweet potatoes, flour, baking powder, salt, and cooking oil. Use a wooden spoon to mix all the ingredients
  • Warm the coconut milk on low heat. Add the brown sugar and vanilla to the coconut milk
  • Add the sweetened coconut milk to the rest of the ingredients and mix everything together until the batter is formed
  • In the meantime bring water to boil in a saucepot
  • Use the wooden spoon to add four to five spoonfuls of the batter to an aluminum sheet
  • Bring the two long sides of the sheet together to hold the batter in place
  • Fold them together to retain the batter inside
  • Fold the two ends of the sheet and tie the blue drawers with the twine, cut the excess twine. (Note: this takes a little practice, so if you don’t get it at first keep trying
  • Repeat this process for the rest of the batter and then add all the blue drawers to the pot of boiling water
  • Let the pudding cook for about 45 minutes
  • When the blue drawers are ready remove them from the boiling water and let them cool to room temperature
  • Remove them from the aluminum sheets and serve as is or with ice cream. You can also eat them with a little honey and ground cinnamon.

YAH MON!

Friday, March 6, 2009

GM is Dead; Long Live GM

The old General Motors is dead.

Full disclosure. I earned a very good living for a number of years working for various GM advertising agencies. I have owned many good vehicles over the years: Chevrolet Impala, Pontiac 6000, a couple of Saturn models and most recently a number of Saab models including my current vehicle, a 2005 Saab 9-5. Going back even further, my Father worked for the only GM Dealer in Jamaica, United Motors. My first remembrance of GM was from the passenger seat of a really cool Opel 2-door coupe. As a youngster growing up and working for my Dad at his Texaco service station in Trench Town in Kingston we had a couple of Oldsmobile's including my favourite, a 2 door Delta 88.

One day GM died.

I remember the day well. I was about 8. Dad had just taken delivery of an absolutely huge Olds 98. We were at the Texaco station where he was showing the new car off to a couple of his friends. As usual, he popped the hood and as the men stood around looking at the engine, one of his friends casually mentioned that he had actually bought a Chevrolet.

The conversation died. They all looked carefully at the "engine made by Chevrolet" markings on the valve cover. Dad was not amused.

There was much animated conversation (and lots of swearing) for the next few minutes as they debated the reality of an 'Oldsmobile' having a 'Chevrolet' engine. The conversation ended when my godfather, 'Uncle Donovan' popped the hood on his brand new ride, a Ford Torino and proudly showed the blue 'Ford' oval on his engine.

Dad never spoke about that car after that. In fact it dawned on us that driving a left-hand-drive behemoth on the right side of the narrow Jamaican roads was completely ridiculous. And even at that young age, what struck me was that GM jad chosen to export American-made cars to Jamaica when British Vauxhall's and German Opel's would have made more sense. Bad choice: Toyota is now the dominant brand in Jamaica. We did not keep the Oldsmobile very long after that.

So 40 years later, here we are in 2009 debating the pros and cons of keeping General Motors alive. I chuckle when I think about that.

The company of my youth and of my Father is dead. It is time to bury the old GM so that a new company can begin again the task of building business one car and one customer at a time. Here are my suggestions, completely un-solicited of course:
  • The current, old management must be dismissed immediately. It is not acceptable to allow people to run the company who grew up in a culture where Chevrolet engines in an Oldsmobile were OK.
  • Scrap General Motors itself. Delete all reference and identification from all the vehicles. I want to drive a 'Chevrolet'; I don't drive a 'General Motors'.
  • Divide the company into brands: Chevrolet, GMC, Corvette, Opel, Vauxhall, Buick, Saturn, Saab. Define each brand clearly and stick to it.

With my Saab 9-5 lease coming to an end this November, I will be watching with great interest how the story plays out. What happens over the next few months will determine what new vehicle I select next. It should be an interesting summer.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How we conquered Jacob’s Ladder, Jamaica

This story took place nearly 40 years ago. I am inspired to share it to day because of my recent decision to finish the Reggae Marathon in Negril, Jamaica organized by the Jamdammers Club http://www.jamdammers.com/.

The event goes on December 5, 2009 and starts at 5:15 am. If all goes well, I will floating in the clear warm Caribbean water by 10 am.

If you are motivated to finish your personal marathon, join us in Negril. You can check us out in the following groups:

Here is the story of a group of boys from Form 2A at Campion College http://www.campioncollege.com/college/ who made the trek up over 7,000 feet to the peak of Blue Mountain:

It involved running. All downhill. Mostly though it was a hard slog up the side of the tallest mountain in Jamaica carrying a backpack. Our guide and only adult Mr. Binns, our History teacher billed it as a team-building hike. ‘Hike’ was a misnomer. It was actually a rugged climb on narrow dirt trails up the side of the Blue Mountain Peak, in the east central part of the island of Jamaica.

Jamaica is well known for its laid-back style, sandy beaches, coffee and reggae. Less well known, and certainly off the beaten path, is the the incredibly dense and mountainous interior. In particular the area north east of Kingston called the Blue Mountains. It is now famous as well for the fantastic coffee http://www.bluemountaincoffee.com/.


We were going to conquer the Blue Mountain Peak.

Preparation took weeks. Each of us could only take what we could carry on our backs. There was no logistical support. That meant one backpack stuffed with our clothes, sleeping bag and food. We would learn too late the advice to pack lightly!

The trip began in a small town outside of Kingston called Mavis Pen. We gathered before dawn on the edge of town. Our parents gave us the usual anxious last-minute advice. We were giddy with expectation so most of it fell on deaf ears. We were anxious to head out onto the dirt trail and got under way as the sun peaked over the horizon.

Day 1 saw us progress up the more gentle slopes through numerous small towns not on any map. We got to see the real country and the people. The people in particular were fantastic: all with a friendly smile and encouraging word as we made our way up the slopes. We had lots of conversation and friendly banter on that first day.

We stopped for a quick lunch of sandwiches before pressing on to our first overnight stop at Whitfield Hall near the base of Jacob’s Ladder, the serious assent to the Peak.

Jacobs Ladder. This was the transition point of journey. The terrain changed suddenly and dramatically and indicated the final ascent to the peak. The Jacob’s Ladder section was not long, but was extremely steep and covered in large boulders. It was the only way to get to the final 4 miles of switchback, narrow dirt trails to get to the Peak.

We started before dawn on the second day. Most of us had sore feet after the first day of hiking that got worse very quickly that morning. And the folly of not packing lightly grew as the morning progressed. Carrying cans of tinned meat was not a good idea.

By mid-morning the friendly banter had stopped. Sore feet, aching leg and back muscles combined to deaden the experience. Our speaking exchanges turned to helping out our friends take 'one more step'. There was no turning back for any of us. We all had to make it to the top.

We grew quieter and more determined as the cool morning turned into hot afternoon and we seemed no closer to the Peak. We started to count the individual steps to keep motivated.

But we made it. All of us.

And the instant we crested the peak, all pain vanished as we scrambled to stand on the marker that indicated that we were standing on the highest point of our island, Jamaica. I know there were pictures taken, but unfortunately none of mine have survived. Fortunately the memory is seared into my memory.

In hindsight, we had learned how to set goals and work together as a team to overcome the challenges. We learned that determination and perseverance will overcome all obstacles. We grew on that trip. We learned to trust our friends.

I understand that now.

Oh, and the running? We did that on day 3 as we ran down the Peak and back over Jacob’s Ladder with all the hurt and pain vanquished.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Run the Reggae Marathon Trip expanding

I am planning to run in the Reggae Marathon in Negril, Jamaica December 5, 2009. I have some unfinished business and this marathon will finish it off once and for all. We plan to stay in Negril of course (thinking of a small hotel called Foote Prints).

Our original plan was to fly into Montego Bay and drive to Negril. Probably for about 4 days. That plan may now be modified after seeing the video that my cousin in Kinston, Karin posted on her blog http://www.yardedge.net/worth-a-visit/kanopi-house-portland. When I forwarded this video on to others, the response was fantastic. I want to own this place!

Simply fantastic! Both the video and her blog where she covers cultural going-ons in Jamaica.

So, after the race in Negril, we may now have to head over to the Port Antonio area of the island for some more R&R. And to check out this fantastic house.

How Dunkin Donuts used facebook to market bagels

Ever wonder how to use social marketing to its maximum advantage? Although this is a US story, Dunkin Donuts in America used facebook very effectively to promote new products, multi-grain bagels and flatbreads. It is a good example: http://www.radioink.com/cw/article.asp?id=1188570&spid=25999

As you will know if you have been following me over the past few months, I primarily use Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. Linkedin http://www.linkedin.com/ I use primarily for business; facebook http://www.facebook.com/ for social and Twitter http://twitter.com/home to promote my blog activities. I have found them very effective when used together.

Twitter in particular has come alive for me in the past couple of weeks. I have passed some kind of threshold and am now attracting followers by the dozens each day. You can follow me on twitter at 'Chris_Morales'.

I am having a great time learning how to use the Internet to improve my personal marketing. Within the next couple of months I am going to leverage the things I have learned to another business opportunity. Stay tuned for that story.

How to make Sweet Potato Pudding

This Jamaican favourite is more of a cake than a pudding.
It's not-too-sweet taste will have everyone asking for seconds

Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds sweet potato
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups dried fruits
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon margarine

Method:

  • Wash and pare off the skin of the potatoes
  • Wash again then grate
  • Also grate coconut, add water and squeeze juice through a strainer
  • Blend flour, mixed spice (raisins etc) ,salt, and nutmeg
  • Combine this mixture with the grated potatoes and mix well
  • Add sugar, fruits and coconut milk. Mix well.
  • Grease pan, pour in batter, bake at 350 degrees F for 40-60 minutes or until done
  • Allow to cool and enjoy.