GPN Awards Breakfast

On December 2, 2009 the members and friends of the Grant Professionals Network gathered at the Galloway Room at Rollins College to recognize the significant contributions of the grant writers of Central Florida.


Joe's Birthday Party

Our good friend Joe Brooks had a birthday party.


Birthday at the Beach 2009

Here's a look at our annual celebration for all the guys who have birthdays in October. It's me, Jake, Rich and Nat. Charlotte, Natalie were there. Barbara made a wonderful cake!


Republicans Hate You

Here’s an interesting twist in the healthcare debate.

Last week Brian Williams was reporting from Afghanistan for NBC’s Nightly News program. They did a report called “Offering Healthcare in Hopes of Earning Loyalty” that showed how American troops were making attempts at “winning hearts and minds”.  I would link to the story, possibly driving viewers and new revenue to their website, but NBC does not allow linking. NBC says “no thanks” to more viewers!

So in Afghanistan apparently we have a population of citizens who are distrustful or even hostile to American leaders --citizens who need to be “won over”. What were American leaders doing to win hearts and minds? Providing them with free health care (!) The report showed videos of clinics where people were getting treatment.  How ironic that some of the same Congress members who voted to provide free healthcare to Afghans to win their hearts and minds are fighting tooth and nail to keep their own people from receiving healthcare of any kind.  WTF!

I guess you can muddle around here and maybe you will find the story.


Best Commercial Ever

This is how all commercials should be made. I love it!


Jensen Button World Champion

Jensen Button has just won the 2009 Formula One World Championship.  The Brawn Grand Prix team has won the constructor's championship. Here is a photo of me and Jensen Button at the 2000 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.


Best Of YouTube

Did you just get back from a ten year journey of self discovery to a Tibetan guru?  Been out of touch for a while? Not sure what all the fuss is about this thing called YouTube? 

Best of YouTube.



It's Friday and high time I posted to the Howell Report. Since I'm too lazy to research, compose and edit a new story, I thought I'd just post this video. Which is funny and appropriate for a Friday.


Racing's Holy Place

There is a place in France that has all the prestige and history of Indianapolis. Each year a contest of man and machine is held for 24 hours. It is LeMans.


7 Questions Regarding Nonprofit “Social Media” Presence

Many nonprofit organizations are beginning to participate in social media.

There’s some anecdotal evidence that it’s a good way to communicate with large groups of people but an organization has to expend considerable resources to make connections. There’s no real evidence that there’s a benefit to participation in social media. It’s simply another way to communicate. 

Before your organization takes the plunge into the social media pool I would ask these seven questions.

1. Exactly how does this presence benefit the organization? Explain how participation in social media enhances the mission or benefits the people you serve. Will participation address a problem? What are the goals of this effort?  Is this the best use (or even a good use) of resources?  Is there another, better way to achieve these same goals?

2. Is your organization fully aware of the terms of service of these sites?  How secure is private data on these sites?  Do you give up some (or all) of the control of the information you post? Does the data posted to these sites become the property of the sites?

3. Are you prepared to defend these sites? In light of the recent economic downturn, many non-profits are tightening their belts.  Other organizations or individuals may want to know how you can afford to pay someone to update your Facebook page.   Does it pass the “front page of the newspaper” test?  There are a lot of myths surrounding social media.  For example, some people think Facebook and MySpace are the same, filled with pedophiles.  Remember the first lesson of good public relations: An organization has to not only be pure but also has to appear pure.

4. Are safeguards in place, like a reviewer or editor, to ensure that messages posted/sent are the proper ones, consider all stakeholders and always reflect positively on your organization?

5. Is there a social media plan? Has your management/board approved (either verbally or in writing) of this social media presence campaign?  Who is responsible for the execution of the plan/presence?

6. What are the most effective social media vehicles? If social media is free, do you get what you pay for?

7. Is social media a trend or a fad?  Fads tend to be short acting events while trends are longer lasting with more society-wide impact.  Two years ago MySpace was the hot thing and today it’s a social media ghetto.  Eight years ago blogs were the hot thing.  Is your organization hitching its wagon to a star or a train wreck?

Currently communications companies like Newsweek, CNN and MSNBC are experimenting with social media to see if it works.  Communications companies need to be on the cutting edge to stay ahead of the competition. Otherwise, smaller organizations, particularly those with limited resources should wait to see how the social media landscape plays out. 

Just because “everyone is doing it” is not a well thought out reason.  It’s too early to objectively assess the benefits of this new form of communication and it’s easy to forget that most people don’t read Twitter, Facebook or 20 blogs a day. Social media may be the hot thing right now but what is the real benefit compared to the costs?


Jump Into The Fire

Sometimes a person just has to buck authority and play with fire. If you are a real professional, you won't get burned.


Sarah Palin Deconstructed

Sarah Palin resigning as Alaska's governor is going to be the worst thing that ever happened to the Republican party.

The reason is that she has become a raving lunatic and it's not good to have a lunatic as the head of your party.  She's like a spunky little girl acting all adult.  Everyone is too embarrassed to point out to her that she's a royal pain. We don't want to hurt little Sarah's feelings so we'll just smile and nod.

 Here's the analysis to prove it:

Sarah Palin's Gradual Descent Into Incoherency

Referring to her second resignation speech is the money quote.



I'm not much of a "words of wisdom" or "quote of the day" type of guy.  But every once in a while I run into a phrase that strikes me as incredibly meaningful to my life RIGHT NOW.

Merlin Mann is smart and funny. Two of the best things a person can be. I can only hope to be like him some day and come up with stuff like this.


Stop Talking and Driving

I have to agree with this article that calls for a complete ban on phoning while driving.  What is so damn important that you almost plowed into me?

Driving While Interrogated

Conservatism Is Failing

Conservatism is failing because it inherently looks back and embraces the past.

Conservatives think doing things the way we did 20 years ago is the best way.  We've reached a point in history where we really need to do things a new way.  The mess our country is in right now proves that we can't do things the same old way.

Conservatives bray "why go so fast on heath care". They also wondered why the Obama Administration was "going so fast" on the bank bailout, the auto bailout, and the Sotomayor confirmation. Obama has momentum and any slowdown might give the naysayers time to block important initiatives.

Republicans had 8 years to deal with these pressing issues and fiddled while Rome burned. Health care reform has been needed for the last 25 years. Hell yeah it needs to be done right away. Fer Christ's sake, people are literally dying for heath care reform.


Tragic Pine Lakes Fire

An aging mobile home burst into flames in the small Lake County Florida community of Pine Lakes Wednesday June 24, 2009. Two 18-month-old twin boys, Austin and Jonathan Kerr died.


Innocent Neda Dies for Freedom

Hey, Iran. You can stop now.


Another GM Misstep

It’s true that GM is between a rock and a hard place in this economy and there’s no easy fix for the mess they’ve gotten into.  There will be some unintended consequences to the decision to reduce dealers from 5,969 dealers to 3,600 by the end of 2010 - Some not so good.

Automotive experts say the big reasons behind the dealer cuts are to reduce inter-brand competition that drives down prices.  That’s fine if GM were just competing against itself, but it’s not.

In Orlando, Roger Holler Chevrolet was notified that two of its dealership agreements with GM will not be renewed at the end of October 2010. The Holler family has been selling GM cars in Orlando since 1938. They have been so successful that they also operate dealerships that sell Hondas, Hyundais, Audis, and Mazdas.

If GM thinks that competing against itself was bad, just wait until they start competing against other car makes.  Here is a quote from the Orlando Sentinel:
Roger Holler said he intends to pursue "a Plan B, because those are very good locations, with excellent potential," which could mean seeking another brand to sell.
GM is telling Holler he can’t sell Chevys, so he will have no choice but to sell something else at his prime locations.

I’ll bet Honda, Hyundai, Audi or Mazda would love to have Holler sell hundreds of their cars.


Sandhill Cranes Visit

Let's look at some Sandhill Cranes!

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

In this visit to Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo we take a look at a wide variety of animals.

Sandhill Crane Takes a Walk

This Crane took a long walk. What a goofy bird!


Motorcycles I've Owned

 Bike/Years Owned

  1. 1977 Kawasaki KZ650 1979-1985
  2. 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000 1985-1999
  3. 2000 Kawasaki Concours 2007-present


Today's Google Prank

I wanted to share some of Google's April Fools jokes from the past. I'm not sure given the economic recession whether Google will produce a prank this year or not.  They might not want to be seen wasting company resources on frivolous stuff... or, maybe this is the perfect time to pull a prank ... when spirits are down.

Anyway, here's some of the best.

Google's "MentalPlex" search technology scanned your brainwave activity, browser history, current weather conditions, and mouse movement speed to figure out what Web site you were trying to get to. https://archive.google.com/mentalplex/

Google unveils the real way its pages are ranked: "the superior trainability of the domestic pigeon." Google says it gets its pigeons the old fashioned way -- off the street -- and insists that it's not cruel to animals. Like Google's famous employee perks -- meals and snacks of all varieties -- its pigeons get "delectable seeds and grains and feature the finest in European statuary for roosting." https://archive.google.com/pigeonrank/

Google advertises fictitious job openings on the moon at the Google Copernicus Hosting Environment and Experiment in Search Engineering (G.C.H.E.E.S.E.) https://www.april-fools-day.net/news/google-copernicus-center-is-hiring

Google Glup helps your search engine experience by making you think faster. https://archive.google.com/googlegulp/

Google Romance offered a "soulmate search" to send you on a "contextual date." You could also "Post multiple profiles with a bulk upload file, you sleaze. https://archive.google.com/romance/

Google introduced two pranks on April 1, 2007: Google TiSP (toilet Internet service provider) and Gmail Paper, which would allow Gmail users to add emails to a "Paper Archive." http://archive.google.com/tisp/index.html

And here is today's: https://www.gmail.com/mail/help/autopilot/


Chrysler and Fiat

I think the notion that a Chrysler/Fiat merger is absurd. It's like a drowning man reaching for a concrete block.

As for GM. They should make two cars - the Chevrolet and the Cadillac, and that's it. I never thought I'd say this but Ford looks like the smartest company of them all right now.  Ford should take the Jeeps and let the rest of Chrysler to rot.


Arthur Howell

These are pictures my father, Arthur Howell. A truly great man. You are missed and I will remember you always.

Dad in his chair (that's my older brother's gut in the way)

Dad with a model boat

My dad, my brother Brian and my sister, Dee Dee

Dad laughs


Helio Castroneves- The Whole Story

This ESPN article is the most comprehensive and easy to understand account of the tax evasion case two-time Indy 500 champ Helio Castroneves finds himself in today.
On the afternoon of Nov. 4, 1999, the four-document deal was signed. Helio and Kati Castroneves focused purely on the bottom line ($1 million over three years plus a percentage of prize money won on the track, with a $5 million deferred bonus payment) and chose not to go point-by-point through the deal, merely turning to the last page and signing.
Had they read through the agreement, and perhaps had Miller's office not been in such a hurry to have the deal done, they would have seen that Helio was listed as the owner of Seven Promotions. The defense claims that it was all merely a clerical error, a misunderstanding. The U.S. says that it is evidence of the truth -- that Helio Castroneves owned and managed Seven, and thus is responsible for what the government believes was the company's role as a tax shelter.
Thanks to Ryan McGee and ESPN.


Support Jeff Jarvis

Jeff Jarvis writes a weblog called BuzzMachine.

It's smart, packed with information, and sometimes witty. Please go read Jarvis on the ongoing Howard Stern/free speech issue

Here's a copy of an email I just sent to Jarvis:

Mr. Jarvis:

I have been reading your blog off-and-on for a couple of years now and found you through Matt Welch. Thanks very much for your coverage of the Howard Stern/free speech issue. I live in Orlando, Florida, where Clear Channel has pulled Stern from the air. 

The Internet, and specifically BuzzMachine, provides my only information source on this important issue. The day Stern was taken off the air, a handful of protesters appeared outside the local Clear Channel studios (WTKS-FM). Local TV news gave the protest about 30 seconds worth of coverage. Other than that all Central Florida media outlets have been silent. Of course, all the other show hosts on WTKS have been quiet. I would like to have heard what the station manager told them after Stern was taken off the air!

Why has the mainstream media been so quiet on this issue? There are a number of media-centric reasons. Newspapers see radio as a competitor. They secretly wish radio to be hobbled. From the TV news perspective, if there are no pictures, there is no news. You can't send a TV camera out and take pictures of Howard Stern being off the air.  It's a good thing a picture is worth a thousand words, because TV reporters don't know a thousand words.

Other radio personalities, and radio station managers, are going to keep quiet too, because they're afraid they will be next. Those are just some of the reasons why I think the mainstream media has ignored this issue. Anyway, thanks for posting The Daily Stern. I be checking in every day.

Chris Howell


I Saw This Coming

Read this story from The Detroit News about this traffic-light-changing gadget.

For as little as $300 you can drive up to a red light and change it to green. Pretty cool and it seems to be all legal … at least so far. It’s the same thing used by fire trucks and ambulances to change the lights so they can get on to an emergency.

I knew it was only a matter of time before this type of thing made it to everyday drivers. By the time a thing like this is noticed and written up in the newspaper there are probably thousands of them out there already in use. Of course, the potential for chaos is high.

Thanks to Hit and Run.


Another Fine Idea

So I've been thinking this horse program over. I envision this: Program Name = Basic Horse. This will be a series of 5-10 minute how-tos on basic horse care. Like how to get your horse's coat shiny or how to detangle your horse's mane.

I'm going to steal some program ideas from the major horse magazines. I'm ready to script one out. I wonder if I can get Charlotte to present these?


A Hearty Endorsement

This article is the best thing I've seen in a long time. The 50 Most Loathsome People of 2008 is a list I can really get behind. This article is filled with succinct, accurate descriptions of all the people we love to hate. Especially delicious is number 43 --
You think it’s your patriotic duty to spend money you don’t have on crap you don’t need. You think Hillary lost because of sexism, when it’s actually because she’s just a bad liar. You think Iraq is better off now than before we invaded, and don’t understand why they’re so ungrateful.
You think Tim Russert was a great journalist. You’re hopping mad about an auto industry bailout that cost a squirt of piss compared to a Wall Street heist of galactic dimensions, due to a housing crash you somehow have blamed on minorities. It took you six years to figure out what a tool Bush is, but you think Obama will make it all better.
You deem it hunky dory that we conduct national policy debates via 8-second clips from “The View.” You think God zapped humans into existence a few thousand years ago, although your appendix and wisdom teeth disagree. You like watching vicious assholes insult each other on TV.
You support gun rights, because firing one gives you a chubby. You cuddle falsehoods and resent enlightenment. You think the fact that 43% of whites could stomach voting for an incredibly charismatic and eloquent light-skinned black guy who was raised by white people means racism is over. You think progressive taxation is socialism. 1 in 100 of you are in jail, and you think it should be more. You are shallow, inconsiderate, afraid, brand-conscious, sedentary, and totally self-obsessed. You are American.