28 December 2011

Milestones and Changes

200 posts and 20,000+ pageviews in my first 4 1/2 years.  Not overwhelming by any means but still chugging along.

I apologize for any broken links and trouble surfing to and around my blog for the coming weeks.  I have made a decision to realign my online digital presence by creating a new simple homepage to serve as a menu for my online profiles and activity.  This change forced me to commandeer my domain of michaelmakis.com to point to my new landing page instead of my blog.  My blog will retain its original michaelmakis.blogspot.com address for now until I can find a way to claim michaelmichael.com (owned by someone else who is not currently using it and doesn't want to sell it) or michaelmichael.blogspot.com to match my blog's title with the URL.

Thanks for reading!

Putting a new stamp on the Post Office

Here are two ways to fix the out of date floundering United States Postal Service (USPS).

It's disappointing to hear the gloom in the news about the Postal Service, a service that we expect as a right in the United States of America, and how it is failing and making decisions on which local branch offices to close, which days to stop delivering mail on or how much to raise the price of a stamp.  These are not the best options and will only extend their problem and continue to destroy the brand.

Americans have been proud of the Post Office brand for years.  With few exceptions, someone can pay a minimal amount (+/-44¢) and have an envelope or small package delivered in less than 3 days to someone within the 50 states.  With all of the labor and fuel involved this is a good deal relatively speaking.  As most people know, technology advancements like email, blogging, micro-blogging, discussion forums and online bill payment compounded with social media and social networking explosions have made a significant blow to the traditional communication and financial transactions previously reserved for traditional mail.  Regardless of significant changes and improvements, the Post Office's brand is still the same.  They get important messages and packages to recipients quickly (relatively speaking) consistently.

Companies need to change just like people.  Small, medium and large companies change all the time.  They adapt by creating better products and delivering new services every day or end up going out of business when their products and services are no longer needed.  Why should this be any different for the Post Office?  There is no need for the Post Office to die off nor should the great people of the United States let it.

USPS made the necessary changes to stay competitive with shippers like UPS, FedEx and DHL over the past couple of decades.   But USPS has failed to stay competitive now that communication has gone so much more digital.

Here are the answers:  email and file transfer.

If you have the least bit of technically savvy, you are probably thinking, how would this work?  These aren't new products?

The Post Office needs to get into the business of email.  Email is the communication vehicle that people have been choosing and will continue to trend into for at least a few years to come.  The use of blogging, micro-blogging and discussion forums are definitely increasing, but email is something most people need in today's society.  There is money to be made off of the (regulated) advertisements parked on the side of email web based applications.  And who better to provide email security than the government?  People are born everyday that will need new email accounts and if they don't want to wait there are students in public schools that could benefit from their first email accounts.

File Transfer
The second part of the coupled fix is file transfer.  People need to get large digital files to recipients immediately every day in today's business world.  The Post Office's current best option is overnight or express mail, which just doesn't cut it for most.  They need to get into the file transfer business.  The quantity, size and frequency of transferred files is increasing all the time.  Eventually the infrastructure (application servers, server disk space, bandwidth, associated databases, etc...) of existing vendors will not be able to provide free services for transferring files and will either charge outright per file, per license or by term; or trade free file transfer services for advertisement ridden applications.  Again, there are several companies already in this space but this is consistent with the USPS brand, a lot of opportunity remains and would be easy for them to transition in customers as well as convince those advanced in the technology spectrum into digital transactions.

Innovation doesn't always come from brand new ideas as it can also come from a different application of what exists already.  Altering the USPS's product landscape with these new directions would make them drastically more applicable to today's instant communication consumer.  It's time for the Post Office to start acting outside of their proverbial box and instead of making cuts looks to redefine a well known brand.  Good Luck USPS.

22 December 2011

3F’s for U

False Frequent Flyers

Why is it that there are so many airline frequent flyer credit card programs available now?  Road warriors and regular travelers have forged their brand allegiances grinding out weekly cross country commutes and regular airport journeys to ascend in their club’s frequent flyer statuses, only to now be trumped by business owners and heavy spenders beating the original system.  The goal of ascending to the upper medallion tiers or airline clubs to finally have a chance at a seat where you can actually get some rest, be provided with some snacks, check bags for free or imbibe in the provided spirits is diminishing in value.  The definition of an actual frequent flyer is going out the proverbial window as 'status' is now achieved in other ways.
The airlines have stretched their methods to increase revenues far and wide and have embarked upon partnerships with financial institutions to get the less frequent travelers to pay annual banking fees in order to be rewarded with tradeoffs of short domestic tickets for annual fees and jump the true frequent flyers to get the last few upgrade seats available.  This is only going to increase over time as these airline companies continue to penetrate the credit card industry.  If they want to give away free trips that’s up to them and I'm all about companies leveraging new ways to generate revenue, but to count them in the same groups as true frequent flyers is a tough blow to take. Why not rename all of the programs to 'points clubs' as they are no longer frequent flyer programs.

  The frequent flyer system has always been tough with annual renewal goals and miles expirations, but it is becoming much more of a mirage at this point.  With the intensity of in-flight, online and tv advertising to subscribe to all of the airlines' credit cards the days of true frequent flyer upgrades are doomed.  The opportunity for upgrades and the perks for frequent travelers is really changing.

Sad days are ahead for the frequent flyer.

Search Keywords:  Delta Airlines, American Airlines, US Airways, Continental Airlines, United Airlines

12 November 2011


This is all you need to know about ROK:BRGR in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.

Good location,
Fully stocked bar,
And great burgers.

Recommendation: Morning Glory.  This hefty sandwich is stacked high with lettuce, tomato, onion, a hand packed, airy, perfectly cooked burger patty, two strips of bacon and a sunny side up fried egg.  An upgrade of sweet potato fries is worth it, too.  Go for the Glory and get extra napkins, you'll need 'em.

looking down

close up

A platter of fried pickles - the only room for improvement, the batter on the pickles.

24 September 2011

Burger Memories

Up until tonight I was tracking all of my burger stops on the right margin of my blog home page.  I'm removing all of them and only plan to retain my 'top' cheeseburgers.  The ones that never had their own blog posts and pictures somewhere else on my blog are listed here.

The Clubhouse Too

My third stop for the best cheeseburger in the Lansdale, PA area was at The Clubhouse Too and has left me thinking:  "Is there a great cheeseburger in this area?" Almost the same as my last two local experiences - mediocre.

This picture was taken after I cut my burger in half.  It is actually served with the burger cap off to the side and whole.

Ray's Malt Shop

Ray's Malt Shop was my second stop on the hunt for the best cheeseburger while I am working in the Lansdale, PA area.  It had all the right signs.
  • A "Malt Shop" sign
  • A diner appearance
  • Old school mini juke box music machines at each table
Unfortunately, it didn't pan out.  The strawberry milkshake was pretty good, but the burger wasn't really that special.  Similar to my last stop in town - nothing wrong, just not really worth going back.

One thing that was stellar was the cheese sauce I asked for for my fries.  They don't kid around in the greater Philly area with cheese whiz cheese sauce.

Marquis Cornwallis

After a long day of sightseeing with my wife and good friend we walked to Marquis Cornwallis while staying at the St. Pancras Renaissance to get something to eat.  We came here a couple of days earlier on a similar hunt to fill our stomachs but since the kitchen was already closed we only enjoyed the beer.  This time the kitchen was open and I ordered a burger.  I was definitely disappointed to learn that all burgers are cooked well done.  Too bad I didn't know this before ordering.  My friend told me that apparently all beef gets cooked well done to avoid mad cow disease.  The lesson learned:  don't order beef in London.

Not bad food.  But not my style burger.

The Sumney

My first of my three stops so far in the Lansdale, PA area for a great cheeseburger was at The Sumney on Sumneytown Pike.  The hunt must continue.  This burger at The Sumney was not bad, but nothing to get the burger fanatics to come out to Lansdale for.  As shown, it came with the standard components.

24 July 2011

Burger Birthday Cake

Check out this fantastic burger cake I was given for my birthday!  A double cheeseburger  and poppy seed bun made of cake accompanied with lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickles, mustard, ketchup, and potato chips made of icing and fondant.

It was completely edible and created by Sabrina of Tutto Dolce.

Tutto Dolce

Other Search Keywords:  cheeseburger, dessert, icing, frosting

Bikes, bikes and more bikes - Europe Summer 2011

Pictures of bicycles in Brussels, Amsterdam and London.

A high wheel on display outside of a restaurant in Brussels.

Bikes locked all along a canal bridge in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam.  Bikers zipping by on each one-way street, rain or shine.  And bike racks always filled everywhere with bikes.

A small Amsterdam street looking at a building wall full of vines with bike after bike locked up along side.

More bikes locked to another canal bridge in Amsterdam.

Another Amsterdam bridge with the same great scene, just different bikes.

Dam Square, Amsterdam.  Pedestrians, tourists, locals, pigeons, and of course, bikes.

This VANMOOF brand of bike was interesting that I saw a few times while in Amsterdam.  The top tube of the frame appear to have open ends with what appeared to be light fixtures.

Another pile of locked up bikes outside of a string of restaurants in Amsterdam.

A regular site, but one that I wasn't prepared for while trolling the streets of Amsterdam:  One bike, two passengers.  One driving and one sitting side saddle on the back.

A bike lane in London.

What appeared to be a bike lane warning in London.

(Pictures taken by me summer 2011)

06 June 2011

Time: Best Blogs of 2011

reblog:  The Best Blogs of 2011 from Time Magazine

Check it out...lots of good finds here.  I was alerted from my favorite burger blog, AHT.

My personal favorites:
A Hamburger Today
The Everywhereist
Cool Hunting

23 May 2011

Chicago then The Office

I haven’t been on a burger rampage lately for two main reasons.  Mainly because my business travel has been non-existent due to a project that has me working from home and second because I have been try to steer my diet a bit better.  This report is on Wishbone in Chicago and The Office in Delray Beach.

Wishbone.  I recently traveled to Chicago for a friend’s wedding and decided to work from the local office up there to check it out and to try and meet up with a fellow colleague for lunch.  He suggested Wishbone so I tried it out.  Wishbone has a few locations and we dined at the one closest to downtown.  The burger was okay and came all alone (see picture).  The meat appeared to be pattied onsite or very recently, tasty but not an A+ by any means.  The highlight of the lunch outside of my new friend was their cornbread.  

My wife recently planned a dinner and movie date where dinner was at The Office in Delray Beach.  This is a brand new fancy pants place – typically the over top type of place that I like the most, traveling all of the time and being from Boca.  If I had a Michelin, Mobil, or AAA checklist this place would have had me checking all of the boxes upon arrival – they specialize in presentation.  Presentation with an office envelope holding your silverware, very well dressed servers playing the part, down to a branded burger bun, not to mention the thousands of dollars in upgrades to the restaurant property.  But this is where it ended.  After waiting for a really long time for our food, my burger was over cooked and the fries were very disappointing.  For a burger, fries and two beers it was really quite expensive.  I'd sum up the experience as:  Presentation, lack of execution.  That will probably be the last time at The Office for me.

One other dining place worth mentioning was Portillo’s.  I went there twice while I was in Chicago (see above).   The first time I had a classic Chicago style [hot] dog on a poppy seed bun with a pickle spear and the second time I had a steak and cheese.  Both times I had the fries with a side of cheese sauce that I renamed the lava sauce due to it's temperature and a strawberry shake.  Portillo’s is a must when visiting Chicago.

23 March 2011

Bar Codes

Keep an eye out for information on Bar Codes here at Michael Michael.  Quite an interesting way to capture, store, and share information.  more to come...

23 February 2011

Feed me

Exploring Feed Aggregators.

It appears that Feed aggregators fall into three categories:  Desktop, Browser, and Mail client.

Oh yeah, What are Feeds?  Not the type of food one would feed to an animal for nourishment either.  Feeds are a way of subscribing to something such as a website via its URL.  So if you wanted to get updates on a single list from all of your favorite websites, blogs, and news reels you could subsribe to the relevant sites or pull the feed URL and input them into your Feed Aggregator.

Make sense yet?  Maybe not.  Check out the list of Blogs that I follow off to the right margin of this blog site.  Notice how they dynamically change over time and add new items to the top of the list?  This is a Feed Aggregator that Blogger provides as an out of the box widget to add onto this blog.

Using a single Feed Aggregator would allow you to pull all of the recent articles, posts, comments, and so on from all of your favorite sites and put them on a single viewable and clickable page.  This creates an efficient alternative without having to surf to all of your favorite sites everyday.

A couple of the Feed Aggregators to check out are:  FeedDemon & RSS Owl  and then of course your browser most likely has this type of functionality as well.

12 February 2011


Unicycles are not easy to ride.  A healthy combination of balance, bravery, practice, and continued effort is necessary when learning to ride a unicycle.  Be prepared to get hurt along the way.  It's obviously not impossible but it isn't even close to riding a bike.

02 February 2011

Top 25 burgers

My friends, family, and co-workers have recently been sending me more 'intel' since I have become more vocal about my addiction to cheeseburgers.  What I am about to share is late news if you are a cheesebuger fanatic.  Or you can consider it just good food porn re-runs. 

The 25 Best Burgers in the U.S. courtesy of delish which is actually a repost of the more infamous Best Burgers in the U.S. courtesy of Food & Wine.  I received this first from a co-worker who also prefers a reserved seat when traveling via airplane and then a week later from a work mate from my last stop away from home on my consulting journey in Louisville.  And then I saw it again in a different format via A Hamburger Today earlier this week.

I'm happy to say that I have eaten at 5 of these top 25 venues; which are in 4 different states.  The list strays a bit from the classic definition of a cheeseburger, but oh well, that's what makes the food world so much more fun.

And BTW...Le Tub is still the king of the hill on my list.

Scheduling Horse Racing

The Live Horse Racing schedule is back in full swing at Gulfstream Park.  The track has been open for a few weeks and one can only find limited information about the Florida Derby.  It's such a surprise that most locals don't even know what the Florida Derby is and that some of the top finishers in that $1 Million dollar race will later compete in the heralded Kentucky Derby a few weeks later.

The race this year has been moved from a Saturday to a Sunday.  Most likely to stop competing against the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament games.  Incidentally the race falls this year on the same weekend as the Final Four.  No wonder why it was pinched in between the last 3 games.

The actual Derby race is normally the 10th of 12 races around 6 in the afternoon - see you there.

Please note I have no facts about the day switch, just pure speculation about a gambling facility trying not to compete with another large gambling event.

01 February 2011

using your math degree without doing the math

Are you trying to figure out how to apply your skills as a Mathematician?  Do you have a math degree and are not sure what to do next?  Not sure if you want to keep doing proofs the rest of your life, become an actuary, or a math teacher?

Then what are you good at? 

If you have made it to at least the 3rd or 4th year of an undergraduate Mathematics program one of your top 3 answers is surely:  Solving Problems.  Right?

Well, where in the real world can you solve problems as a career?  The answer is everywhere.  Of course there are the 9 to 5ers and operational staff whose jobs are to push the pencil and do routine work.  But seriously, the world goes round and round because we are continually solving new and more complex problems.

If you are some form of capitalist and have at least an inkling of figuring out how to make money doing this then you may be wondering where do the premium problem solvers work?  There are of course the James Bond type positions one would see in a Hollywood movie - who knows how to land those jobs, probably networking at its best.  And then there are the droves of consultants.  You'll have to pick the angle you'd prefer:  working with organizations to only set strategies, working with groups to execute a plan and show tangible results, coming in after the last consultant left to fix things, or the premiere firms that do all of the above.

Just figure out how to employ your skills with solving problems...at least explore Consulting.  Good Luck!

27 January 2011

Burger for dinner

Burger pic from dinner.  Two small smashed and blackened Steak 'n Shake style personally ground Chuck patties blanketed with American cheese.  Topped with a fried egg plus 3 mini slices of bacon and a few pieces of fresh spinach.  Sandwiched between a toasted sesame seed bun.

26 January 2011

Me, Myself, and I

I have been failing my self challenge to not mention myself in my recent blog posts.    

After reading a post by Geoff Livingston on 26 December about 'not talking about myself' I agreed and thought, how obvious, but yet I still am floundering.  I guess I need to put a sticky note on my computer screen with instructions.

Back to the drawing board.  No, or at least less, references to myself.

HERE is a link to the article.  You'll probably enjoy it too.

Honeymoon Pics

I printed out a few snapshots of my wife from our honeymoon this past weekend and have posted them next to my desk.  It's turning out that it may have not been the best idea as I continue to reminisce about the wonderful places that we traveled to.  I miss those honeymoon destinations and want to go back.  After leaving from Detroit last June where we got married we traveled to San Diego and Santa Monica in California, then flew to French Polynesia and hopped from Bora Bora, to Moorea, to Tahiti.  And then we finally ended up going home through Hawaii too - story below.

I quickly picked a few images to share.  Each has a note below to help identify them.

Bora Bora from the air

Headed to our over water bungalow hotel room via boat shuttle - the Bora Bora Airport is on an island a few miles away from where we stayed.

We rented bikes to get around in Bora Bora - go figure

The over water bungalows at our hotel in Bora Bora

The floor in our room in Moorea

My wife taking a picture of me through our glass floor in Moorea

Looking out from our lunch table in Moorea

A snapshot of the infinity pool at our hotel in Moorea - you can see Tahiti in the background

A pic from the ferry ride from Moorea to Tahiti

Downtown Tahiti - one wouldn't even know they are out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

The local beer, Hinano, which was good

A little bay adjacent to our over water bungalow room in Tahiti

A picture in meat department at a grocery store in Tahiti - note that it was mostly Tuna and Marlin

Teahupoo Mile Marker 0 - Home of the big surf competition

We also had a crazy experience towards the end.  The Tahiti Airport Union workers went on strike the day we were supposed to fly back to the U.S.  So we ended up getting stranded in Tahiti five extra days.  It sounds glamorous but French Polynesia is probably one of the most expensive places to be and each day was a new episode of trying to find more information about when the airport was going to open back up.  All in all it made a great story and we figured out how to handle ourselves really quick, by checking into a cheaper hotel, keeping our rental car, heading to the grocery store, and finding the airport ticket office downtown.