Spring Break Is Here



There is nothing quite like the snow finally melting away, and the thought that there will soon be leaves on the trees and flowers blooming.  Since we aren’t there just yet, I’ve decided to take a trip next week to a bit of a warmer climate.

The destination is somewhere I’ve never been before, but its a quick 90 minute flight from JFK.  I’m heading to Anna Maria Island, Florida.  You actually fly into Sarasota, and from what I’ve heard, have a beautiful 30 minute drive along the Gulf of Mexico before arriving on the island.  Ironically the island is roughly the size of Manhattan, but as you can imagine, quite a few less people.  Since the spot is on the west coast of Florida, or the gulf of Mexico, the water looks incredible.  The island was actually voted the third best island in the United States last year.

From my research, it appears that there is some sort of ordinance on the island in which no property can be built higher than the tallest palm tree.  This leads to absolutely no high rises of condos, and in reality not much commercialization either.  There also is only one chain restaurant on the entire island, a Subway.  Other than that, it appears each and every place simply serves the local seafood in an unpretentious fashion.

On restaurant that I am going to be sure to visit is the Rod & Reel restaurant.  As you can see in the above photo, the water is spectacular and on a clear day, I’m told you can see Tropicana Field, where the Tampa Bay Rays play all the way out in St. Petersberg.

Things are going better than ever at Choice Home Warranty, but everyone needs time away, and I’m looking forward to a little rest and relaxation.  I’ve also done some reading and discovered that there is a free trolley that goes across the entire island.  I love the idea of never having to get in the car.  While this area, like many places in Florida, was hurt by the economic downturn in 2008, there seems to be plenty of construction and updated restaurants.  I’ve been told it is considered a ‘hidden gem’, and what ‘Old Florida’ used to look like.  The weather forecast looks to be just about perfect, and while I’m sure it could be a little annoying to hear about the warm weather right now, while we are sitting in 40 degree rainy weather, I couldn’t be more excited about my trip and look forward to reporting back.

A Treacherous Precedent in Music

I’ve written here before, that music is one of the passions of my life, and waking up this morning to hear the news that Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke are being forced by the courts to pay the estate of Marvin Gaye over $7.4M in damages for their song “Blurred Lines”.  A jury found that Williams and Thicke stole the song from a 1971 hit of Marvin Gay titled “Got to Give it Up” after being sued by Gaye’s children.

There is little to no question that Blurred Lines was the biggest hit of 2013.  Matter of fact, the YouTube video has over 370 million views.  On top of that, you have the supreme hit of “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, and Pharrell’s work on NBC’s the voice, has put him near the top of the list of songwriters who have proven that they can produce one chart topping hit after another.  There is no question that being found guilty will not only take a toll on Pharrell’s wallet, but sadly his reputation as well.

Here are both songs if you would like to see the similarities.

I’m no expert, I can hear some similarities between the two songs, but in my opinion, there isn’t enough there to hand down a judgment in copyright infringement.  Humans have been writing music for hundreds of years.  There are only so many notes on a piano, guitar, etc.  Millions of new songs are created each year, and with a victory in a suit like this, it could be a very bad sign for artists in the future.  When you sit down, let your juices of creativity flow, and construct what you feel is an outstanding piece of music, how are you going to be able to confirm that another artist didn’t already use those combination of chords or notes?

It was just last month that Sam Smith settled out of court after being accused of copyright infringement with his Grammy winning Song of the Year, “Stay With Me” was just about an exact ripoff of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”.  After listening to those two songs, its readily apparent that they are about the same song from verse to bridge to chorus.

Those two occurrences illustrate exactly what makes items like this so difficult to determine as to what was done maliciously and what was not.  We hear music all the times in our day to day life.  Whether it is a commercial on television, the background music in an elevator, or at our own doing.  Our ears and even are subconscious are constantly taking in information, and I have a hard time punishing someone for a creation.  Pharrell has even said, that Marvin Gaye has always been an influence on his writing style.  I share Pharrell’s belief that anything he would have done would have been in homage to Gaye, and not trying to take anything a way from him.  Its just a shame that the courts have to get involved to settle something like this, and sincerely hope it doesn’t curb creativity going forward.


Customer Service Top Priority

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At Choice Home Warranty, our top priority over the last two years has been to improve our customer service experience.  Its no secret that we are in a service industry and are dealing with people when they are upset.  If my furnace goes out, or the dishwasher stops working, I’m not going to be happy either, so our goal is simple.  To meet those customer’s needs, repair their damaged appliance, and get them back to their normal lives in as painless of manners possible.

Last Fall we completed a brand new customer service center which can accommodate over 150 representatives, we now have over 3,000 five star reviews on Consumer Affairs, and were recently given a ‘B’ rating by the Better Business Bureau.  While this is a great start for us, our job is never done.  We have meetings each and every week to better understand our client base, and strategize ways to improve their experience.  At the end of the day, its simple.  If you are not satisfied as a customer of Choice Home Warranty, we wouldn’t expect you to renew your warranty year after year.  It is our job entirely to meet the needs of our customers, and I give you my word that our entire staff is striving to do just that.