Have a Wobbly Toilet? Have I Got a Tip for You

We’ve made our home for the last 11+ years in a house that can best be described as a *&^#ing Money Pit, so it should surprise anyone that our master bathroom toilet has had the wobbles. A few years back we replaced the fixtures in the bathroom, including the toilet, and when I installed the new one I used the existing flange to attach it to the floor. That was a mistake because, as with most things in our house, the previous owners hadn’t really installed it right.

Last week my wife noticed that there was a little water around the base of the toilet so I figured maybe the wax seal needed replacing. Yesterday we were running errands and we stopped into the hardware store to buy a wax seal kit with the assumption that if it wasn’t the seal then I’d probably neeDancoFlanged to try to replace the flange myself or get a plumber out to do it. Wax seal in hand, we were heading down the aisle towards the checkout when we spied the Danco HydroSeat Toilet Flange Repair Kit. I’d never heard of it, but after reading the product description on the box I figured I might as well grab it in case the wax seal wasn’t the culprit.

When we got home I removed the toilet (I know this is bass ackwards, but I’m a ready-shoot-aim kinda guy) and found a perfectly good wax seal. So I took out the kit, followed the instructions, reassembled the toilet and it worked like a charm. Basically, the way it works is it gives you a way to keep the existing flange and put a new flange on top with a wax seal in between. The new flange is secured to the floor with four screws and provides great stability. According to the box you can use this if you’ve installed new flooring and need to seat the toilet without pulling out the old flange as long as the new flooring isn’t more than 3/8 of an inch.

Why You Should Join Me at ConvergeSouth

Let’s just make this short and sweet: you really should make time to attend ConvergeSouth next Friday at Wake Forest University. Why? It’s the best event in the Triad for learning about:

  • The ever evolving online social world and how it can impact your business
  • Content strategy
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Podcasting

That’s just for starters. The afternoon features hands-on DIY labs dedicated to:

  • Podcasting
  • YouTube
  • Tumblr websites
  • SquareSpace websites

This is a fantastic venue for anyone interested in learning how to build their businesses/non-profit organizations or their careers using the tools of the trade in today’s world. If you’d like to attend I can set you up with a special 25% discount so just reach out to me via email or in the comments. Hope to see you there!

What Happens When News Anchors Don’t Listen

Things went awry for Headline News from the very beginning as they put together a piece on Edward Snowden. First, they contacted the wrong person to interview; they thought they were interviewing journalist John Hendren, but instead they were actually interviewing Jon Hendren. A simple mistake, but one that led to an embarrassing on-air interview (see below) that was exacerbated by the anchor’s inability to actually listen to Hendren’s answers. Had she listened she would have quickly figured out that he wasn’t talking about Edward Snowden, rather he was talking about Edward Scissorhands.

Oh, and one clue they might have had that they were interviewing the wrong guy was that his Twitter handle is @fart. Seriously.

The Odds of When You’ll Kick It


Here’s a website that could depress you or elate you depending on your perspective. It calculates your odds for living a certain number of years based on your gender and current age. According to the odds I’m very likely more than halfway through my life (glass half empty) but I’m also more than likely to make it at least another 30 years (glass half full).

Here’s an observation: the older you are the less likely you are to see the glass half full.

Donation As Investment

Sasha Dichter has written a great post about why it is NOT bad for nonprofits to pay decent salaries for talented, hard working people or to invest in new technologies:

…we find ourselves having the same conversation, one that boils down to: is it a wasteful to pay nonprofit professionals to do their jobs well?

I wonder if it is we in the nonprofit space who need more guts when we take on this question. Maybe it’s time to say something along the lines of, “if you want your money to go directly into the hands of very poor people who need it, you should do just that and give to Give Directly.” GiveDirectly is optimized for this, they are efficient and transparent in their operations, they rigorously study their results, and they’ve shown the effectiveness of direct cash transfers for creating both short- and long-term improvements in people’s lives. It’s a completely legitimate way to help others, and it’s a great benchmark against which to measure our work.

“Or,” we should have the courage to continue, “you can have the point of view that the programmatic work that we’re doing is better than giving cash.” “Better” can be because it does different things (fights corruption); “better” can be because the impact of giving a dollar is more than $1 (investing in a scalable social business); “better” can be because of long-term return on investing that’s higher than the social return on giving cash (supporting a child’s education).

“But,” we should be sure to say, “if you believe that the IT that we do matters, if you believe that there is something real that we are bringing to the table that goes above and beyond your money ending up in the hands of someone who will benefit from it, then you’re saying that our judgment, our relationships, our expertise, our capacity for oversight, and our ability to create leverage for each dollar you give is real. This means that you trust this judgement and our expertise. So please give in a way that respects that judgment and expertise, or don’t give at all.”

He references a TED talk on the same subject that’s an essential watch for anyone interested in how we can make sure the nonprofit sector can deliver the goods and services that are increasingly in demand. Here’s a link to it and I highly recommend you watch it.

While I do work for a nonprofit, it’s a trade association so it truly feels much more like a business. Our members pay dues and we provide services and products to help their companies and industry at large succeed. Basically our members see us as more of a business and while we do sometimes have to defend our compensation it isn’t viewed as morally wrong for our staff members to be paid a decent wage. On the other hand the “feel good” nonprofits that are addressing a social need, like the food bank I often volunteer with, often are judged harshly if they pay a competitive wage because every dollar they spend on compensation is seen as a dollar not spent on food.

As Dichter points out this is faulty logic. If you pay a competitive wage and invest in good tools then you can attract and retain talented, dedicated people who, properly armed, can work magic with those dollars and generate a return that is many times greater than the dollar given. Take the food bank example – would you rather go to the store and spend a dollar that would buy one can of soup on sale, or donate it to an organization that could turn it into seven full meals? That’s the kind of thing that well run nonprofits can do.

This isn’t to say that nonprofits shouldn’t be monitored and evaluated to make sure they’re providing the best possible service for the communities they serve. It is to say that if a nonprofit is delivering the goods, so to speak, that there is nothing inherently wrong with the people doing the good work making a decent living or with them being provided adequate tools to do their jobs.

Anyone who has spent time volunteering with a social nonprofit has likely seen the effects that poor pay and lack of capital investment can have on an organization. People who spend 80 hours a week doing something they truly believe in, but are hamstrung because they’re using outdated technology that was likely donated, and barely make enough money to keep food on their own tables, much less save money for retirement or their kids’ college education, tend to burnout and that leads to turnover. Turnover leads to increased hiring expenses and a loss of expertise that puts even more pressure on the staff and volunteers who are left to do the work, which leads to more turnover, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Please, the next time you hear someone criticize the pay of a nonprofit staff, or question the wisdom of buying a new computer, tablet, truck, etc. please try put it in perspective by looking at the big picture. If the organization is barely serving anyone while the senior executive is tooling around in a new Mercedes leased by the organization, then by all means ask a lot of hard questions. But if the organization is meeting a community’s needs, if it’s returning multiple dollars of service for every dollar donated, then support their efforts and find a way to help them do even more.

9/11 Memorial Stair Climb – First Leg of Pentathlon of Pain

My buddy Bert Wray was kind enough to set me up to participate in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb that he helps put on at Proehlific Park in Greensboro. 110 sets of stairs (up and down = 1) and if you’re so inclined you can carry a fire hose while doing it. I did the 110, the last 10 with the hose. Great time and a great way to commemorate 9/11, raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project and for me to start my campaign for Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC. FYI, Bert and his crew raised hundreds of dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project!

Here’s a link to the GoFundMe page I set up for the Pentathlon of Pain:
Donate Here!

Here’s a few videos that Bert shot while I was torturing myself:

Cool Recognition for Some Greensboro Folks

The excerpt below is from a press release from Gov. McCrory’s office announcing the 2016 North Carolina Heritage Award winners. Many folks in Greensboro are familiar with the Montagnard community, but it’s probably a safe bet that folks outside of Greensboro would be surprised to learn about how large the community actually is. I need to make a note to myself to try and see some of the work of the award recipients – it really looks stunning.

H Jue Nie and H Ngach Rahlan

Calling themselves Dega, more Vietnamese Montagnards settled in North Carolina than in any other state, due to their fellowship with Special Forces units during the Vietnam War. Dega weavers H Jue Nie and H Ngach Rahlan of Greensboro mastered the ancient spinning, dying and weaving traditions of their people while growing up in the central highlands of Vietnam. Once a part of every highland woman’s knowledge and practice, women wove to clothe their families, decorate homes and altars, and to keep everyone warm at night. Originally Montagnard weavers grew their own cotton, spun their thread by hand, and used dyes from the indigo plant and other natural sources. Decorative elements such as beads were once made from plant materials that grew in their rice fields. War and displacement has reduced the numbers of skilled weavers remaining in Vietnam. H Jue Nie and H Ngach Rahlan moved to Greensboro 20 years ago, bringing their backstrap looms and an immeasurable knowledge of the designs and techniques that make their weaving traditions unique.

Explore the work:

Montagnard Weaving: The Women
Backstrap Weavers

Montagnard Weaving: Overview
Backstrap Weavers

Montagnard Weaving: BacksStrap Loom
Backstrap Weavers