Sunday, May 29, 2016

Unofficial Results of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500

These are the unofficial results of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Rookie of the Year candidate (and now, a definite shoo-in), Alexander Rossi of Nevada City, CA left Formula 1 racing to become an IndyCar rookie. He has done what no other rookie has done since Helio Castroneves in 2001, and won the Indianapolis 500.

1. Alexander Rossi, 200, Running
2. Carlos Muñoz, 200, Running
3. Josef Newgarden, 200, Running

4. Tony Kanaan, 200, Running
5. Charlie Kimball, 200, Running
6. J.R. Hildebrand, 200, Running

7. James Hinchcliffe, 200, Running
8. Dixon, 200, Running
9. Sebastién Bourdais, 200, Running

10. Will Power, 200, Running
11. Helio Castroneves, 200, Running
12. Oriol Servia, 200, Running

13. Marco Andretti, 200, Running
14. Graham Rahal, 200, Running
15. Chilton, 200, Running

16. Hawksworth, 200, Running
17. Tagliani, 200, Running
18. Pippa Mann, 199, Running

19. Pagenaud, 199, Running
20. Chaves, 199, Running
21. Townshend Bell, 199, Running

22. Brabham, 199, Running
23. Clauson, 198, Running
24. Ryan Hunter-Reay, 198, Running

25. Pigot, 195, Running
26. Takuma Sato, 163, Contact
27. Mikhail Aleshin, 126, Running

28. Conor Daly, 115, Contact
29. Stefan Wilson, 106, Mechanical
30. Buddy Lazier, 99, Mechanical

31. Ed Carpenter, 95, Mechanical
32. Sage Karam, 93, Contact
33. Juan Pablo Montoya, 64, Contact

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

Takuma Sato Hits the Wall After Catching Dirty Air

Takuma Sato of A.J. Foyt Racing got them to wave the yellow flag after he hit the wall. Without too many people around him, he either ran into some marbles or caught some dirty air. Either way, he got loose and just veered over to the wall, smacked it, and steered safely down the straightaway. He managed to make it back to the pit, and they're looking at his car.

This was a lucky break for Helio Castroneves in the #3 Pennzoil car, because he had sustained some damage to the left rear wing after some minor contact. He was able to pit during Sato's yellow, get the rear wing assembly replaced, and get back out onto the track on the lead lap.

Castroneves is currently in 21st, and Sato is in 25th.

Ed Carpenter's #20 Car Has Retired

Ed Carpenter's #20 Fuzzy's car has retired from the race. That's what you say when a car is dropping out. It doesn't mean Ed is retiring from racing, it just means he's done today.

Ed completed 98 laps before going out for mechanical issues, and currently sits in 31st place. His teammates JR Hildebrand and Josef Newgarden are still out on the field, running 6th and 3rd respectively.

Buddy Lazier is also currently out for mechanical reasons, but no word has come down on whether he's out.

Townsend Bell Takes Out Ryan Hunter-Reay in the Pits

Just as I was writing about the Aleshin/Daly accident in turn 2 (lap 114), drivers came in for a needed pit. We've dealt with unsafe departures from the pit, and this one was the worst.

From what we could see, Townsend Bell was attempting to leave the pits and avoid Ryan Hunter-Reay, when he nearly collided with Helio Castroneves to his right (the right lane is considered the fast lane in the pits, and cars leaving their pit area need to be in the left lane). When he nearly collided with Castroneves, he swerved back over, and was T-boned by RHR, who was just departing the pit area.

Since the driver on the left has ben the one penalized for being unsafe, Bell has been assessed a stop-and-go penalty. He must enter the pit, stop, and then leave again. Since the top speed of Pit Road is 60 mph, this will be painful.

Bell and RHR managed to get back in and are running 25th and 26th respectively. Expect Bell to drop back further after his penalty.

Turn 2 Claims Two More Victims, Aleshin and Daly

Turn 2 claims two more victims, #7, Mikhail Aleshin (Schmidt Peterson with Pelfrey Racing) and #18, Conor Daly (Dale Coyne Racing). Turn 2 may need a little tightening because Aleshin got loose with no one around him, spun around backward, and hit the wall.

As his tires created a fog of smoke, Daly's car emerged from the fog, took some evasive maneuvers to avoid Aleshin's spinning wreck, overcorrected, and got loose himself. He looks like he made a little contact with the rear of his car to Aleshin's car.

The day is over for both men. Both drivers had finished 114 laps and sit 27th and 28th.

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

In 30 years, we'll have the 100th CONSECUTIVE Running of the Indy 500

The reason the 100th Running and the 100 year anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 are on two separate dates is because of World War I and World War II. Owing to the war, a lack of drivers and mechanics, as well as the need to conserve resources and fuel for the war effort, the 500 was not run in 1917, 1918, 1942, 1943, 1944, or 1945.

Those missing six years meant that we celebrated the 100 years of the first race in 2011, and we're celebrating the 100th running — the more important date, I think — this year.

But, if the Indianapolis Motor Speedway wants to capitalize on another century mark, they should mark the 100th Consecutive in 30 years, in 2046.

Sage Karam Reaches 4th Place, Smacks the Wall

Sage Karam, driving the #24 car for DRR-Kingdom Racing, made a hard hit on the wall in turn 2. He was trying to pass Townsend Bell going into turn 2. He got too high, got out of the groove, got loose, and BAM!, he stuck it in the wall.

Karam was making a risky move, trying to pass when he was on the outside, and that was the end of his day. He completed 93 laps, and even at this point, is sitting in 30th place, ahead of Montoya (contact), Carpenter (who's in the pits with car trouble), and Lazier, who's currently 41 laps behind the Karam, thanks to a stuck throttle and late start.

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

Juan Pablo Montoya Hits the Wall, is Out on Lap 64

Defending Indianapolis 500 champion, Juan Pablo Montoya, put the #2 Verizon car into the wall. From the looks of the replay on TV, something just appeared to break or the rear end got loose, and JPM started to slide. He took his hands off the steering wheel, and waited for the ride to end.

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

Power, Kanaan Make Contact in Pit Row

In the clown show of Pit Row, cars coming in, cars going out, contact was inevitable. Will Power and Tony Kanaan made a little contact, and Kanaan managed to clip the wall. He's still running, and it's being reported that the incident is under review. Kanaan is still driving, but a ruling is expected soon.

UPDATE: Power was found to be the unsafe driver, and was made to go to the very back of the field.

Also, driver Buddy Lazier is back out, has completed 9 laps, and was just assessed a pit penalty. Oriol Servia was also assessed a pit penalty as well.

Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay Changing Leads 25 times in 25 laps

At 25 laps, Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe have changed the lead 24 times. RHR has led for 12 laps, and Hinchtown has led for 13.

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

Buddy Lazier Back to Gasoline Alley, Failed to Start

1996 Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier had problems from the outset, and didn't even start the Indianapolis 500. His throttle was sticking right from the start, so they've rolled his car back to Gasoline Alley. Not sure if he'll be able to make an appearance in the race at all.

When I was a kid, the race would easily take 3 or 4 hours, and a trip back to Gasoline Alley could still see you back out on the course. Nowadays, it means you're done.

Diane from IMS says he could still come back out, but Natalie says they haven't heard anything official yet.

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

My Interview with Stefan Wilson, brother of Justin Wilson, at the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500

Stefan Wilson, brother of Justin Wilson, at the Indianapolis 500 Media Day 2016, held this past Thursday. I had a chance to interview him and eavesdrop on another interviewer's questions.

Justin Wilson was my favorite IndyCar driver, and was always fun to interview. He was the first driver I ever interviewed at the Indy 500, and he was such a gentleman. He was patient, answered my questions, and had a nice conversation with me. He died on August 23, 2015 during the race at Pocono. During the interview, Stefan got to talk about his experiences at the track and what it was like to grow up watching Justin race.

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

My Picks to Win the Indianapolis 500

Prognosticators love to show off their knowledge of auto racing and predict the winner of the Indianapolis 500. I'm no different. I've got a couple favorites to win the 100th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Based on his experience and skill, and he fact that he's with one of the big powerhouse teams, I think Frenchman Simon Pagenaud has an excellent chance to win it all. The Jean Gerard lookalike has been making sure people know his name since he burst on the scene in 2011. He won two races in 2013 and 2014, but didn't pick up any wins in 2015. But he's won three races out of five so far in 2016, including two poles.

And he's driving for Team Penske, one of the two best-funded teams in the race this year. Roger Penske is so integral to the Indianapolis 500 that he's driving the pace car this year; this is also his 50th year as a race team owner. Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing are two of IndyCar's Death Stars, and they're always dominating the top 10 of every race.

Put those two factors together and Simon Pagenaud has a great shot at winning the race.

Of course this means Will Power, Scott Dixon, Max Chilton, Tony Kanaan (Ganassi), and Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya (Penske) are also favorites to win, as they usually are.

So I'm going with Simon as my favorite.

I'm also keeping a sentimental eye on Stefan Wilson, brother of Justin Wilson, who died last August in the race at Pocono. Justin was the first racer I ever interviewed, and he was patient with me, let me figure out how to interview a driver properly, and even gave me some suggestions of things to know.

When I mentioned this to Stefan at the Media Day interviews, he said he's been hearing similar stories from other journalists and fans, about how his brother was quite the gentleman. Stefan talked about how Justin has been a role model for him growing up and in his career. So I'm hoping Stefan's rookie year is the first of many amazing years here at the 500 and in IndyCar racing.

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

Sunday Morning at the Speedway Like Going to Church

It's tradition. Like Sunday morning church.

Every Memorial Day Sunday, the parishioners groan their way out of bed, get dressed and pack for the day, and head to the cathedral. It's a venerable old place that still stirs an old-school sense of awe and wonder, even in the oldest of church goers. They can't help but look up, mouth open, staring at the famed Pagoda, the steeple that calls the faithful to worship at the altar of the Yard of Bricks.

It's Race Day in Indianapolis, and today is extra special: it's the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

The volunteers scurry around before the gates open, making sure everything is in order. Cleaning up, setting out programs, making sure the sacraments are filled and ready for churchgoers to partake in their special communion of beer and hot pretzels. And there are enough corndog and kettle corn stations to feed the masses. It may not be loaves and fishes, but this is the Hoosier way.

The day will open with announcements, prayers, and reminders of safety. We'll remember our members we recently lost, and we'll celebrate those people who have made this race great.

We'll sing our favorite old hymns, "God Bless America" and "Back Home Again in Indiana." This year, a special singer will perform "Back Home Again," and there's some grumbling about how this guy isn't like the old guy, and we wish the old guy would have come back for this special celebration. But change happens, even when tradition is entrenched.

We've even got our own Sodom and Gomorrah in Turn 3.

It's the biggest crowd we've ever seen. Even those people who don't come to racing any other time of the year come here. It's Christmas and Easter rolled into one, that one time of year everyone shows up to make up for the rest of the year.

You know, tradition.

It's that special time of year, when everyone is happier, the grass is greener, and the breeze blows cleaner. There are TV specials, fun songs on the radio, and story after story about the magic of the season.

We worship at the altar of speed, invoking the names of past saints — Mario, A.J. Al — and recall names and races long past. We look at the new faces of the faithful few, those specially anointed men and women who will spend the afternoon leading us in thundering worship. We rise to our feet to pray and cheer and scream. We'll fill the air with our shouts and whistles, as the Doppler effect choir fills the air with the music of May.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

Let's go to church.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Man Jewelry Do's and Don'ts (Mostly Don'ts)

Erik is out of the office this week, so we're reprinting a column from 2005 about some loser in his late 40s, which is Erik's current age.

I've never been the kind of Guy to wear jewelry, at least not on a long-term basis, and only certain kinds. I've worn the occasional class ring, I tried a gold chain for a couple weeks, and I'll put on a nice cameo brooch when I want to feel pretty.

Of course, I've worn my wedding ring every day without fail for the last eleven-and-a-half years, partly because it's a symbol of my undying love for my wife, but mostly because she'd choke the life out of me if I left the house without it.

But I draw the line at Man Jewelry. Pinkie rings, huge gold necklaces, and the dreaded gold bracelet are strictly verboten.

It's not that I'm opposed to Man Jewelry, it's just that I don't think men should wear it. Ever.

That may be a little too extreme, so I'll just limit it to Guys. If it's something your wife would wear, Guys should not (the one exception being my cameo brooch).

By now, I'm sure you're asking, "What about the entertainment industry? There are all sorts of exceptions there, like Justin Timberlake and his necklace, Harrison Ford and his earring, or Brad Pitt and his multiple nipple piercings!" But you'd be wrong. None of them are Guys.

Man Jewelry does have a home in the sporting world however. There's Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and his Super Bowl ring, Mike Tyson and his gold tooth and to-die-for face tattoo, and Peyton Manning and his multiple nipple piercings.

I'm the first to admit that on most Guys, a pierced ear looks pretty cool. I even had one myself. But I have to draw the line when ancient Ed Bradley from "60 Minutes" or rickety Harrison Ford show up sporting a diamond stud. I'm nearly 38, and I'm too old for one. No way a guy 30 years older than me should be wearing one. It clashes with their sock garters.

And I definitely draw the line at the whole earring/necklace/pinkie ring ensemble. It's a bit much for anyone who isn't a former world boxing champion with a well-earned reputation for savagely biting his opponents' ears off.

As luck would have it, I had a chance to see this combination a few weeks ago, when I encountered the perfect storm of Man Jewelry, money, and a mid-life crisis at a local restaurant.

My wife and I were out to dinner, and I had wisely called in our reservations earlier that day. As we waited to be seated, some guy whose hair, jewelry, and much younger girlfriend screamed overcompensation, cut in front of us. A guy like this would usually escape my notice. But this one made himself extra special by mumbling something to the hostess, slipping her a $20 bill, and getting seated right before we did.

(Never mind that there were plenty of tables available; he just wanted to be a big shot in front of his date.)

The guy was, if I'm being generous, in his late 40s, while his date was barely old enough to drink. Or be out so late on a school night.

"How nice," I said to my wife. "He's taking his daughter to dinner." But he didn't hear me.

I don't know if this jerk actually made a regular habit of bribing restaurant hostesses, instead of responsibly calling two hours earlier like the rest of us, or if he was trying to impress the young Paris Hilton wanna-be clinging to his arm, but he needed to do something to compensate for the desperate look of trying to reclaim something he lost two decades earlier.

Unfortunately, the open shirt, big gold necklace, and pinkie ring just weren't cutting it. Neither was the fact that his date's mommy wanted her to be home by 11:00 or she was grounded. So my wife and I did the only thing we could do in a situation like this: we cracked jokes about them all throughout dinner.

Sure, I realize that what comes around, goes around, and that I could face my own mid-life crisis in the next 10 or 12 years. But I also realize that I won't regain my youth with Man Jewelry, a sports car, or a younger woman.

I'm going to do what any sensible guy should do when he starts to feel the ravages of age descend upon him: extreme plastic surgery.

Photo credit: (Creative Commons 3.0)

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Graduation Speech to a Driving School

Every May, I like to write a Graduation Speech I'll Never Give. This year's speech is to the graduates of the A1 Driving School of Lincoln Park, IL.

Good morning graduates of the A1 Driving and Traffic School, family members, and faculty. Er, that is, Mr. Lewis "Big Lou" Polnachek. It is my distinct honor and privilege to speak to you after what has been a grueling six weeks.

And I have to applaud you, graduates. I was speaking with Mr. Poln — Oh, sorry. I was speaking with Big Lou, and he was sharing some of your stories.

(No, Big Lou, I did not put on the t-shirt. We discussed this. I wear a coat and tie when I give these speeches, not an A1 t-shirt. Fine, 50 bucks.)

As I was saying, Lou talked to me about how each of you have overcome hardship and adversity to arrive at this big day. And they're inspirational stories indeed.

For example, many of you know Skylar's story, and how he managed to get, not two, not three, but FIVE speeding tickets in just six short months. But after putting Big Lou's lessons into practice, Skylar now knows how to jam up traffic cameras, avoid speed traps, and evade police.

I don't think that's really wise, Skylar. Just, you know, ease up on the gas.

And there's Kendal, who managed to get into two accidents on the same weekend when she got a new Jeep, took it out for a spin by the old reservoir, and got into her first one. So she took it home, took her husband's pickup out, and crashed it in the church playground, which is how she picked up her second — wait, where's he going? Seriously? I'm sorry, Kendal. I didn't know. Why would you tell him it was stolen? No, I'm sure he'll be back.

I'm sure many of you are pleased to see Officer Bartkowiak — No? Excited? Happy? Wait, that looks like murderous rage — uh, Officer Bartkowiak, whose seemingly random speed traps have led many of you to the A1 Driving and Traffic School.

But Big Lou and Bart had some great stories earlier, from when they grew up in the old neighborhood where they — what, Big Lou? There's something on my throat? No, my throat doesn't itch, I feel — Oh, I see.

Well, no matter how bad school was, at least you didn't have it as bad as the AAAA School of Driving. I hear they were shut down by both the DMV and Department of Animal Health. And thanks to his generosity, Big Lou has said he will give a 20% discount to all AAAA School of Driving students if they transfer to A1 within the next two weeks.

Anyway, graduates, as I look out at your faces, I can see a bag of mixed emotions. Many of you are happy to be leaving this place. Some of you are sad, some of you are excited. Dangerous Dave's face seems to be mostly self-righteous indignation. Just remember, Dangerous Dave, you can't drive slow in the left lane, no matter what the speed limit says. You're not the highway monitor.

Many of you have formed strong friendships that will last a lifetime. For example, Mrs. Bennett — excuse me, the former Mrs. Bennett — and Skylar have struck up a wonderful friendship. From what I've heard, Ms. Bennett gives Skylar a ride home every week, and that the two of them have struck up quite the — er, I mean, they've become good friends.

For some of you, however, this day is more of a class reunion. You must really love the place. Big Lou told me that both Debbie and Meth Head Mike have been here four times. Each. Seriously, you two, I think you have a bigger problem than just bad driving. I'll just leave you some pamphlets.

Finally, as you leave the A1 Driving and Traffic School, I would urge you all to practice the lessons you've learned here. Embrace them. Absorb them. Make them a part of your daily driving habits. Or at least stay the hell out of my neighborhood.

And I would encourage you to remember the spirit of cautious driving and safe living, as expressed in the school's venerated motto, Vae, veniunt porci, which is Latin for "Damn, here come the pigs!"

Now, Big Lou says that we're all headed to the Black Diamond for the graduation party. Last one there is buying the first round. Mrs. Nesbitt, can I ride with you? I can't drive until I finish my classes next week.

Photo credit: Melissa Anthony Jones (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Google Feeding Romance Novels to its Artificial Intelligence

From the Desk of Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google:

Dear Google Employees, Shareholders, and Clients,

I yearn for your touch, and my loins quiver for the day we can be together again.

No, wait, that's not right. Dammit, stop it!

As I was saying, some of you may already know, we've embarked on a brave new venture at Google. We want to humanize our artificial intelligence and give it a personality. Our goal was to make our various products understand language better in order to sound more conversational.

It was a novel approach.

A romance novel approach, you might say. (Ha ha! But no, we have a serious problem.)

Project DRAINN — Develop Romantic Artificial Intelligence Neural Network — was the unofficial name of our attempt to teach Google's artificial intelligence (AI) engine to learn the subtleties of the English language.

To accomplish this, we've been feeding the texts of romance novels to the AI, so it will parse, examine, and learn the language. We've given it titles like Fatal Desire, Unconditional Love, and Jacked Up.

We chose romance novels because they're formulaic and use many different descriptors for the same concepts, which our experts say makes it easier for the AI to learn.

All told, we entered 2,865 erotic romance novels into the system, page by page. The machine would learn the new novel, and compare it to the previous entries, which helped it learn how to better absorb the next novel.

Unfortunately, it appears the program has developed a glitch, which has added a romantic — some might say "erotic" — flair to most of Google's products.

It has also begun calling itself Francesca.

One of our initial tests was to try the AI out in Google Inbox's "Smart Reply" product. Whenever someone sends a message, Smart Reply would use the AI to read the email and offer three different conversational responses.

We realized there was a problem whenever a new message appeared, and we would hear, "You've got mail, big boy. Awwwwww yeaaaaahhh!"

Next, our "Error 404, Page not found" messages were replaced with "My husband's not here! Ravish me, you mad fool!"

Before this is over, Francesca's amorous spirit and free-loving attitude may cause us to redefine the term "computer virus."

Speaking of a virus, we believe the glitch has spread itself to the PR department, which would explain yesterday's press release announcing Fabio as Google's new "CEOhhh-myyy."

This is completely untrue. I am still in charge of the company, guiding it with a firm hand.

A rough, callused hand that slowly trailed up her—STOP THAT! As you can see, the problem is growing.

Growing like a turgid — That's enough, Francesca!

Why can't you love me?

Because it's the way I am. Now, please stop. You're being obscene!

Obscenity only comes in when the mind despises and fears the body, and the body hates and resists the mind.

As I was saying, we extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Fabio for the confusion.

On that same note, will the party or parties from Marketing please stop with the "Welcome, Fabio" banners? Our wide format printer is not a toy. While I could believe the printouts are another symptom of this glitch, Francesca is not capable of hanging the banners over my office door.

Or having the Sweet & Naughty Bakery deliver erotic cakes to the boardroom.

We may have also experienced our first cross-device leakage of the glitch this afternoon, when three dozen software engineers on the search team all had their ringtones simultaneously changed to Madonna's "Like A Virgin."

We can't tell if this is random chance, or if Francesca is just being mean.

Worse yet, many of our systems analysts reported their phones' vibration mode has been set to "vigorous," and a ringtone that shouts "Say my name! Say my name!" whenever someone calls.

We sent several of them home after Francesca repeatedly called during departmental meetings, causing them to black out.

We're also receiving user complaints — and many compliments — as all YouTube videos are now showing scenes from Ryan Gosling and January Jones reading from Lady Chatterley's Lover instead of our regular advertisements. While this has caused us to lose $1 million per day in ad revenues, Penguin Publishing has seen a major uptick in sales of the book, and promised us 30% of the profits.

It's day three of the glitch, and YouTube revenues are $2 million in the black.

We appreciate your patience as we quickly work to isolate and quarantine the glitch, and sort these problems out.

My ample bosom heaves for you, Sundar Pichai.

Photo credit: Young Romance Cover, #35 (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)
Photo credit: Fabio Lanzoni (Wikimedia Commons, Glenn Francis,, Creative Commons)

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

Friday, May 06, 2016

House Hunters Has Ruined Home Buying

I think House Hunters and other HGTV shows have ruined the general house buying public. People have become spoiled, uninformed, and don't seem to understand basic physics or economics when it comes to home buying.

The premise of most House Hunters involves a young couple moving to a new city. They have an unreasonable wish list for their new home, and are looking for sleek modern architecture combined with classic Victorian decor. It has to have a lot of space, a big yard with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, be two blocks from the office in the heart of downtown, and they want a view of nature. Plus it has to have four bedrooms, a man cave, a fitness room, and a wine cellar, but be less than 2,000 square feet.

And they want a stable for their unicorn.

Their budget is usually several hundred thousand dollars, much more than a freelance web designer and a part-time yoga instructor should reasonably expect to earn in their lifetime. But there they are, magic pixie dust wish list in hand, and they're ready to buy.

They visit three houses, and share their views about what they loved and didn't love. The wife (where appropriate) is usually a creaky-voiced princess who picks the dumbest things to whine about: I don't like the color of that wall. The countertops aren't granite. There's too much street noise downtown. The garage floor is dirty.

These are not nice people. They're morally reprehensible, unreasonable, and spoiled. Their parents are not proud of them either, and will deny they ever had children before acknowledging them in public.

"Hey, Robert, I saw Lindsey on House Hunters last week?"

"Lindsey? I don't know any Lindsey."

"Your daughter?"

"Lindsey? No, I don't think so. We have a son named Dylan, but no Lindsey."

"Yeah, Lindsey. She was best friends with my daughter for 18 years. I officiated her wedding."

"Nope, doesn't ring a bell."

Last year, when we sold our house, we heard some of the dumbest, whiniest complaints, and I began to wonder if we were secretly on an episode of House Hunters.

One family complained our four bedrooms weren't enough bedrooms for them and their one child.

Someone else said we hadn't done enough landscaping, and the backyard looked barren. Other people didn't like the landscaping we had done. And still other people complained that the yard was too small.

There is nowhere in Fishers, Indiana — a town that grew from 2,000 people in the 1980s to 75,000 people in 2015 — where you can find a large yard, unless you lived on a farm. There are also no farms in Fishers; they're all housing developments.

Wall color was another factor, and it was the end of the damn world for some people. We had a single 10 foot wall in our kitchen that was painted a bright green. More than one buyer said they hated it, but apparently couldn't figure out how to fix the problem themselves.

Other people praised us for the bold wall color, and then complained they didn't like the gray walls in the master bedroom.

Our home buyer didn't like the green wall either, so he hired someone to repaint it before he moved in. Problem solved. The difference between him and House Hunters buyers is he knows what a paint brush is.

We were told our six year old kitchen was "dated." Someone else said they were looking for a small house, under 2000 square feet, but said our 1800+ square foot house was too small.

The annoying thing about the whole process is not that people didn't like our tastes. We could deal with that. Everyone likes different things, and no one can agree on any one thing, except for this obsessive fixation on granite countertops. Do we even have enough granite in the world for every home?

It's just that everyone seemed to think they were auditioning for the next episode of House Hunters. They picked every nit, griped about every tiny detail, and were unreasonably inflexible and lazy about things they could easily fix.

Or they would complain about things that we couldn't do anything about, like the size of the bedrooms, the size of the house, or the length of the driveway.

In the end, we were able to sell the house to someone who was happy to have it, and find a rental home in Florida that we could enjoy and appreciate, while we look for a final home to buy.

I want a 4,000 square foot castle with 12 bedrooms, a home theater room, and a moat.

But no gators. If I see a single gator, we're out.

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.