Free Speech Eroding?

Last week I wrote about considering getting a puppy.  I did finally decide to get a lab and have put down a deposit to get a little guy later in the year.  I couldn’t be more excited, and am reading plenty of books.  Even though I don’t have a pet right now, I would consider myself someone who likes animals.

I had to get that statement out of the way, because for the life of me, I cannot figure out the uproar of the Super Bowl commercial that GoDaddy was set to show this Sunday.  Budweiser has been teasing having a commercial this year featuring a puppy.  GoDaddy has always been edgy with their commercials.  Including two years ago when Bar Rafaeli passionately kissed a nerdy looking guy.  This year, GoDaddy wanted to poke a little fun at Budweiser and also feature a puppy in their commercial.  Here is the commercial below.


The commercial is obviously a satire making fun of the Budweiser campaign.  The amount of negative feedback online has caused GoDaddy to pull the commercial from their Super Bowl ad spot in which they paid millions upon millions of dollars to reserve.  Now, in no way shape or form do I support the idea of puppy mills breeding dogs in an inhumane manner.  Much has changed in the dog breeding business over the past 10-15 years.  No longer do you see the cute little puppy in the window at the pet store.  I respect that the SPCA wants all animals protected, but to cause so much of a stir online to force a company to not run their commercial seems to be a bit over the top.  In our new era of 24/7 news coverage, and user generated content like Twitter, FaceBook, or even this blog, if anything happens that strays from the status quo, the vilification begins almost immediately.

It worries me that because of the immediate feedback that now exists, if it may hamper new and exciting ideas.  I saw another Super Bowl commercial featuring Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel.  It pokes fun at them showing the pair in 1994 as to how naive they were as to what “the internet was”.

Its a neat commercial, but interesting how closed minded they were back then, and looking at our society today, I’m a bit worried that revolutionary ideas could be shot down because of someone on Twitter saying how terrible the idea is.  Let’s face it, America is the best country in the world.  We are given the right to free speech, and should respect people who may have different opinions from our own.  Humor is also an important part of our daily lives.  What GoDaddy did could be seen as controversial, but that is always the style of their advertisement.  The commercial was obviously done in jest, and to needle Budweiser while they were at it.  Its a shame that there solid attempt at humor was met with such harsh feedback that they had to pull the commercial.


Considering Getting a Puppy

I’ve never had a dog before, but I’m finally at a point in my life where I would like to have someone to jog with, play in the yard, and basically be a buddy.  I’ve been doing some research over the last few months at the various breeds, and since it would be my first dog, I want something not super powerful, but more mellow, happy go lucky.  As of today, I think I’m pretty set on getting a labrador retriever.  In researching, I’ve also found that there are now different colors of labs other than the standard black and yellow labs.

It seems there are now, chocolate, silver, charcoal and champagne.  Below is a good picture showing various colors.


From left to right, the colors of the pups are chocolate, charcoal, black and silver.  From everything I have read, they all have the same labrador type attributes, its simply a cosmetic difference, but something that you don’t see very often.  Obviously bringing a puppy home would be a huge undertaking, and I work plenty of hours at Choice Home Warranty, but I have a great family who can keep an eye on the guy while I am at work.

Even though I haven’t pulled the trigger yet, I’ve spent way too many hours watching episodes of The Dog Whisperer.  If you haven’t seen the show, a Mexican immigrant named Cesar Millan helps out of control dogs.  Well, he actually says, ‘I rehabilitate dogs, I train humans’.  Training humans is right because its taught me how important it is to walk a dog to drain their energy.  A dog with drained energy is much less likely to misbehave around the house.  I’ve also read a few of Cesar’s books, so I think I’m just about ready to make a decision.

When looking for these interesting colors of labrador retrievers, I came across what appears to be a great breeder in rural Ohio.  The place is called Silver Mist Labradors and they have shipped their labs all over the world, so having one sent to New Jersey wouldn’t be the end of the world by any means.  Unfortunately it seems the wait time is pretty long to get a puppy from them right now.  Within the next 30 days, I am going to try to make a decision.  They say that dogs are a man’s best friend.   I am excited to find that out for myself.  I will update on the situation if I’m finally able to to take the plunge into the responsibility of owning a dog.

Updating Music Taste to the Present Millenium

In previous posts, I spoke of how I enjoy listening to older bands, such as Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam.  One thing I like to do on Sunday mornings is watch Saturday Night Live from the night before.  The show is now on its 40th season, and it has been a constant in my life since I was a teenager.  Yes, it has had its ups and downs, but at the same time, even when the sketches don’t work, you have to respect the cast doing everything they can to make it a success.  SNL also seems to introduce new music acts that go on to success each season.  I remember when Nirvana was on the show, I couldn’t wait to see them perform.

This past November 22, Bruno Mars performed with Mark Ronson (Ronson was announced first).  At the time, I didn’t quite understand it, as Bruno Mars recently hosted the show himself, and now he is back performing with someone I had never even heard of.  Well, they played a song called “Uptown Funk”, and it was one of the more original things I had seen in a while.  Mars danced and sang as if he was transported back to Motown, while Ronson stood to the side and beat on his guitar.  It was such a odd pairing, but the performance was electric.

After watching it, I wanted to figure out who this Ronson guy was.  He didn’t look like the standard 22 year old boy band type kid.  Turns out Ronson is pushing 40, was from the UK and has been a DJ, music producer and produced the late Amy Winehouse’s break through album “Back to Black“.  The guy has really worked his way up the ladder, the song, Uptown Funk is now #1 on the Billboard Music Chart.  He is on quite a roll, and the album that “Upton Funk” appears on, came out this week and is called “Uptown Special“.  I’m not one for new music, but I downloaded it on iTunes, and have listened to it at least five times since.  It contains a harmonica piece from legend Stevie Wonder, as well as many other artists and is overall a great listen.  What is even stranger to me is that this is not the type of music I listen to at all.  However, its encouraging to see someone a little later in life, at least in the music industry, break through and be recognized for creating something amazing.

It makes me wonder, with so many choices out there, whether music, movies, or any other form of entertainment, if we sometimes pigeonhole ourselves too much based on previous things we have enjoyed?  I certainly wasn’t seeking out music like this, but it struck a nerve with me and I think it is going to cause me to wipe the dust off of my old guitar this weekend, and see if I can figure out some of Marc Ronson’s great new songs.


Holiday Season & The Boss

The holiday season is now in full swing. It seems as if it really snuck up on my this year. Last week we had our annual holiday party for Choice Home Warranty.  Its always refreshing to see our team outside of their normal environment at work. Let’s face it, work can be hectic, stressful, and while it can be rewarding, its also great to see people let their guard down. I also love hearing what people are up to when they are not in the office, and learning about their families. It was a great time, and already looking forward to planning next year.

There is one situation that I wanted to discuss. I’m not sure how many people watched the RED concert in Times Square on the first of the month, where U2 (minus Bono) came out and they had Chris Martin from Coldplay, and Bruce Springsteen front the band due to Bono being injured in a bicycle accident. I love music and and big fans of both U2 and The Boss, but I have to say, I wasn’t uber impressed with the results.

I’m not sure what to make of the performances.  You would think it would be a huge deal to have two of the biggest singer songwriters of the last 30 years come out and sing for the band that has probably had the most world wide appeal since the Beatles.  All that said, I think I probably have more respect for Bono after this.  While Bruce has a very distinctive voice, it just didn’t seem to mesh with the songs they picked for him.  Bono is an amazing performer, and was interesting to see both Martin and Springsteen not quite live up to Bono’s stage presence.  I can’t exactly remember seeing anything quite like this before.  I know at the Grammys they often put stars together to play a medley of sorts, but a full set of someone singing another band’s music, is rather unprecedented.  I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a larger deal, but hopefully we will see more experiments like this in the future.

Happy Holidays to everyone and their families!!

Fun New Project

As we go through life, we have our jobs, our family, as well as everything else, and sometimes things pass you by.  I thought it would be fun and rewarding to create a blog of sorts where I could write about present activities and look back years from now to see where I was at that time in my life.

To give a little background, I am Victor Mandalawi, and am the President of Choice Home Warranty, here is Edison, New Jersey.  It has an exciting last few years for CHW as we have been listed by Inc Magazine as part of their Inc 5000 over each of the last three years as one of the fastest growing small businesses in the country.  We recently just expanded our call center, and are quickly approaching 100 employees.  I can say with complete certainty that we wouldn’t have even been in consideration for for Inc. Magazine list if it wasn’t for the unbelievable staff we have put together.  I can’t thank them enough for their tireless work day in and day out.

Besides putting time in at work (of which I unfortunately put too much), I love rooting for my favorite hockey team, our New Jersey Devils.  After winning the Stanley Cup in 2000 & 2003, we are ready for another one.  We are having a rough go of it this year, but it is something special to go see a game this year.  The look on the face of everyone on the new introductions before the puck drops is amazing.  They are able to use imagery in a way where it appears as if the ice breaks apart, turns into flames, and many other things.  Its worth even looking at a video of it.

New Jersey Devils: 2014 Pre-Game Projections from Quince Imaging on Vimeo.

I know they are working hard to put a team in place to relive those glory days of ten years past.

I also enjoy cheering for the Rutgers football team.  Its going to take some getting used to watching the Scarlett Knights in the Big 10, but I know its a good home for them.

I’m also a big music fan, but prefer older bands, such as the Rolling Stones, Metallica and Pearl Jam.  I was fortunate enough to see Pearl Jam this year at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and it was an incredible night with the boys playing for over three hours.

Over the next weeks, months and hopefully years, I will continue to add to this blog with my thoughts on any subjects that I have interest in, and hope you come back for the ride.