Welcome to “The Blog”!

Mike HarlessUncategorized

The posts herein may be about Web Design, or anything else that is on my mind, so please excuse my ramblings. While you’re here, relax, stay as long as you like, and read all that you wish. As you leave, go in peace, take a little with you and please spread it to others. Peace!

Global Separatism – In This Day and Age?

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“The consequence of Global Separatism is not the U.S. pulling away from other countries, but other countries pulling away from the U.S.”

President Trump has promised to put “America First” in all of his “deals” as he likes to call them. While the idea behind this is a noble one, and an idea that I’m not totally against (within reason), actually following through with President Trump’s version of it, which amounts to Global Separatism, is a very dangerous thing in this modern age of Globalization.
The economy always was, is, and will be a global economy.  Denying this fact will set our country back decades, with at least some of the damage done being irreparable. As evidenced in this humorous, but very pointed video from the Dutch program “Zondag met Lubach,” countries around the globe hear what our new President is saying and they are concerned, scared and, most importantly, angry. It is especially insulting since the U.S. has been insistent, for so long, that globalization is the way to go, and when your economy is one of the largest on earth, countries with smaller economies generally feel they have no choice but to follow your lead.
For decades, the United States has been a leader and driving force behind globalization and for President Trump to now look at the rest of the world and essentially say “We’ll take care of ourselves first, and get back to you,” is an insult, indeed, a slap in the face! Many countries are so dependent on the U.S. and our global economic and financial dealings, that for us to turn away from them now will mean great economic and financial hardship for them (as alluded to in the previously mentioned video.) In some instances, it could mean total economic and financial collapse. The risks are just too great for the U.S. to proceed in this direction.
In short, in our efforts to put “America First,” we must be careful not to irreparably damage the economies of other countries, turning long time friends into angry enemies, thus, in a global sense, putting “America Last”.

Colin Kaepernick Fails to Stand Up When it Really Counts

Mike HarlessThe Blog

In a recent post on the San Francisco quarterback, Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest during the national anthem, I asked “What is all of this really going to accomplish?  I am concerned that the whole thing will merely be a ‘Pop Fad’ and then disappear without really accomplishing anything at all.”

Now, it appears that Kaepernick, himself, is determined to scuttle his own efforts and the efforts of all who followed his lead, by not voting in what is likely one of the most important elections of our lifetime.  In an article published by Sports Illustrated, titled “By neglecting to vote, Colin Kaepernick undermines his own movement,” author, Melissa Jacobs writes “Of the 231,556,662 eligible voters in Tuesday’s pivotal election, 25.6% voted for Hillary Clinton, while 25.5% opted for Donald Trump. Among the sobering 46.9% who neglected to exhibit their Constitutional right to vote was social activist Colin Kaepernick.  What a huge miss as both an American and potential change agent.”

Jacobs adds; “As an American, Kaepernick has the right to make his own choices, but to be the figurehead of such a serious, cultural movement and not vote in one of the most critical elections of our lifetime is baffling at best and deeply disturbing at worst. “

In voting in this election, Kaepernick had the chance to lend so much credence to his “kneeling protest” movement by voting for a president who would have some sympathy for his cause and be more likely to implement some of the changes that he claims to want.  Instead, he practiced crushing apathy by “kneeling on the sidelines” while the election played out in front of him, and having zero impact on the “game”.  It seems that Mr. Kaepernick is answering my question “What is all of this really going to accomplish?” with a resounding “Nothing.”

Post Election – What Now?

Mike HarlessThe Blog

The election is now over and Donald Trump will be the 45th President of these United States. Some will be happy with this and some will not. I’ve already heard enough complaining, both before and after the election, to last the rest of my days. The fact is, come January, we will have a new president and since the birth of our constitution, we have only had one at any given time. That does not mean that we should just fall in line and praise the newly appointed “king of the free world” (and I would say the same if it were “queen”). I’ve heard so many say “give him a chance,” “come together behind the newly elected President,” and the old chestnut “now is a time for healing.” I don’t buy it… and neither should you.

I am not suggesting that we go on complaining and point fingers, nor am I advocating the hatred and vitriol that has been so much in evidence throughout this elective process, and I am most certainly not espousing violence, in any way, shape, or form. The shear amount of negativity that has been in evidence over the last few years has sickened me to my core and, make no mistake, there is no place for it in the American elective process. It has to stop… period.

What I am suggesting is simply this; Be ever vigilant!  Hold the new President accountable each and every day he is in office. In fact, hold all of our elected officials to the highest level of accountability. When (not if) they mess up, call them on it!  Make sure that they are doing things for our country and the people who put them there. If they don’t, VOTE for change.

According to all of the talking heads on television, this election was won by Donald Trump because “we, the people” wanted change. Apparently, we’re sick and tired of a corrupt and dysfunctional political system that is no longer for the people, but for big business and the politicians them selves. This has resulted in a supposed “political outsider” being swept into office in the hopes that he will follow through on his promise to “drain the swamp’ that is our Nation’s Capital. Well, if this is what “we, the people” have accomplished, don’t stop now!

Keep shouting, keep complaining, keep calling your representatives and senators, keep doing everything that you can to affect more of the kind of change that was just accomplished yesterday. Educate yourself on our government, the elective process, the issues, and the methods available to you to affect change in our government.  Most importantly, keep VOTING. Vote your conscience, Vote your heart. Vote for the best person for the job. Vote for someone who will affect the type of change that will move us forward. JUST VOTE!!!

Now, I know that a lot of you will say “We can’t really do anything.  There is too much corruption, too many powerful corporate lobbyists.  Besides, they make the laws!”  Yesterday’s outcome ought to remind you that not only can you do something… it is imperative that you do!

“Ignorance is the enemy of democracy.” ― Thomas Jefferson

“The most certain way to kill our democracy is through apathy.” – Michael Harless

Will the Real Colin Kaepernick Please Stand Up?

Mike HarlessThe Blog

By now, I’m sure that most of you have seen the various new reports and stories regarding Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest during the national anthem.  You have, no doubt, also heard of other athletes joining Kaepernick in similar protests.  If not, here is a recent SBNation article detailing the timeline of the whole protest.

Freedom of speech is a deeply cherished right in our country, and I respect Kaepernick’s right to protest in whatever legal way he chooses. Although my personal opinion is that these protests disrespect the National Anthem and all that it represents, and I find such disrespect rather distasteful, he and his supporters are drawing attention to the cause and starting conversations all over this land.  Are these conversations about the cause, though, or are they just another part of the normal “Did you see that?” pop culture banter?

My prevailing thought upon watching the early news reports on Kaepernick’s protest, and the cause behind it, was “What is all of this really going to accomplish?”  I am concerned that the whole thing will merely be a “Pop Fad” and then disappear without really accomplishing anything at all.  If Kaepernick and his supporters truly want to impact change, they should organize.

Rather than a rag-tag collection of various protests in stadiums and athletic fields all over the country that will eventually fade away and culminate in little or no actual change, I suggest that Kaepernick and the entire cast of athletes join together, putting their considerable wealth and celebrity behind one huge coalition.  Then, perhaps, they could also gain the backing and support of various existing like minded groups, civic leaders, celebrities, and maybe even some of their various professional teams.  As a well funded coalition, they could develop a plan, purchase media coverage, and meet with various leaders at both state and national levels, maybe even gain an audience with Congress and/or the President. There is strength in numbers, and numbers are what our lawmakers listen to… numbers that can affect their own ability to remain in office. Maybe then, Kaepernick would see the real change that he claims to be after.

To Kaepernick’s credit, and that of the San Francisco 49ers, they are trying to “put their money where their mouths are”.  According to an article in Slate, Kaepernick and the 49ers have each pledged 1 million dollars to “the cause of improving racial and economic inequality and fostering communication and collaboration between law enforcement and the communities they serve here in the Bay Area.”  It’s a start, but so much more can be done if only they can get it all together. Don’t look for it to happen any time soon, though. Remember, Kaepernick and his fellow athletes all have “day jobs” requiring them to spend considerable time playing games for ridiculous amounts of money, and something tells me these “day jobs” will eventually win out.

Better Days VW Show – Website

Mike HarlessThe Blog

To my great privilege & pleasure, I have been asked to create a website for the second annual “Dogs & Dubs VW Show” to benefit the Better Days Animal League. This a great way to raise funds to support the good work done by the folks at the BDAL. As my own personal way of helping out, I have chosen to donate the time involved in creating this new website, which features a Pre-Registration option for those planning on showing their vehicles. Here is a link to the site:

Better Days VW Show

Christmas 2015 – Traditions

Mike HarlessThe Blog

Traditions, specifically Christmas traditions, are interesting things. Everyone has at least one, even if it’s just bypassing Christmas every year… that IS a tradition.

In America, as in other countries, we have those general traditions that most everyone keeps; listening to Christmas music, decorating the house inside and out, giving gifts, sharing meals together, putting up the Christmas tree, going to Church services, but what really makes the Christmas holiday for me aren’t the general traditions, but the varied and wonderfully simple traditions that are unique to me and my families. Don’t get me wrong, the general traditions are definitely an important part of the holiday and Christmas wouldn’t be the same without them but Christmas, for me, is truly brought to life by my families and how we celebrate the day every year.

In my immediate family, Mary and I, along with our five “fur kids”, celebrate our Christmas on Christmas Eve, so that on Christmas Day, we can go and celebrate with my family and then hers. It makes for a harried day, to be sure, but it is a big part of what makes Christmas for me. In among the three family celebrations are a host of traditions that, while similar to what other families do, are made unique by the way that we do them in our families. It may be how I have always let Mary pick our Christmas Eve dinner, which I then prepare, or how we always open gifts with the “kids” then watch “It’s A Wonderful Life”. It may be the way that my parents always used to have lunch prepared to just set out on the table, which they started doing when we four kids were little so that they could be in the living room celebrating with us (many times, right down on the floor, playing games with us). It may be how Mary’s family always has a big Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings. There are many, many more traditions, some big, some tiny, but all a part of Christmas for me.

Of course, as time rolls on and our lives change, so too do our traditions. It’s funny that we think of traditions as “something we’ve always done and always will do”, while the reality is that traditions change and evolve just like everything else in this world. When I was single, it was important to me to have a real live Christmas tree… until I had to clean up the mess from the street up to, and inside of my second floor apartment for the first two years that I lived there. Lesson learned and tradition changed from a live tree to an artificial one.

Whatever your traditions are, I’d like to suggest adding one more. If you don’t do so already, every Christmas, starting now, make sure to tell your loved ones how very important they are to you and that you love them all very much. You cannot give a better gift than that.

Christmas 2015

A Client’s Trust

Mike HarlessThe Blog

As a business owner, the one thing that I desire most from my clients is not their business, but their trust.  Trust that I will do what they want, how they want it, when they want it and maybe with a little style that they didn’t even know they wanted.  Trust that I am consistent, reliable and honest.  Trust is something that is sparked by reputation and earned with time and good, honest work.  Everything else; continued business, payment for services, referrals and recommendations, and good will is all predicated on earning a client’s trust.

As a consumer, I know that trust in any business is an extremely fragile thing.  It takes only a tiny slip up by a business to cause us to loose trust and make no mistake, once lost, it is all but irretrievable. Even if we try to give a business a second chance, we’re now wary and always looking at every transaction with a magnifying glass, expecting to see a problem and never quite able to restore that lost trust that everything will be alright.  It takes a very, very long time to restore lost trust, if it ever can be fully restored at all.

So when I say that I want nothing more than your trust in my business, I mean that I will do whatever it takes to earn and keep it.  If ever your trust in my business is shaken, talk to me frankly about  it and I will go out of my way to restore it.  But I am realistic, so if you loose trust in my business and it cannot be restored, I want nothing more than for you to work with a business that you can trust and I will hold no ill will if you choose to go elsewhere.

The only way that I know how to run a business is with honesty and integrity.  Those are the cornerstones of my business and your trust is the foundation.

A Tragic Day in Paris

Mike HarlessThe Blog

Reports are still coming in regarding at least 6 separate terrorist attacks in Paris, France today, and the death toll continues to rise.  Such senseless violence and killing causes my soul to ache and instills in me deep fear about the state of our world and the fate of mankind.  Please pray for Paris and all of the innocent victims, as well as those in the various forces sent in to deal with the situation.  In the coming days, as opportunities begin to present themselves, please do what you can to help.  I know I won’t hesitate to do what I can.  Finally, pray for peace NOW!

Pray for Paris

‘Tis the Season

Mike HarlessThe Blog

The holiday season is upon us once again.  Wow, that was fast!

On today’s trip to the grocery store, I noticed a tractor-trailer parked at the entrance and as I got a bit closer, it became obvious that the cargo was a delivery of Christmas trees.  Well, as I left my car and approached the entrance, I was greeted by the wonderful fragrance of all those freshly unloaded trees.  I joked later that it made the parking lot smell like a giant can of air freshener, but it also kick-started my holiday spirit and with Thanksgiving only two weeks away, I’d say it’s about time.  The holidays hold so many special memories for me, as I’m sure they do for many of you, and it’s wonderful how the memories keep accumulating as the years go by.  I am looking forward to creating more memories with my family and friends this holiday season.

Speaking of memories, some of my favorites through the years are the occasional trips through town on Christmas night.  Christmas is about the only day of the year that everything, except for the 7-11 and a few other convenience stores, is closed and it always seems so blissfully peaceful and quiet.  With so many stores now opening on Thanksgiving day, opening very early on Black Friday, and squeezing every ounce of open time into their schedule to try and grab the holiday dollar, I have to wonder how many more years it will be before they assault the Christmas holiday in the same callous way.  I hope that day doesn’t come.

There is some hope in the form of a number of stores that refuse to open on Thanksgiving day and one even closing on Black Friday.  Chains like Costco have stated that they will remain closed on Thanksgiving day to give their employees a chance to be with their families.  Additional stores remaining closed are Crate and Barrel, TJ Maxx, Barnes and Noble, Bed Bath and Beyond, BJ’s, Dillards, Home Depot, Home Goods, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Lowe’s, Marshall’s, Nordstrom, P.C. Richard and Son, Pier 1 Imports, Publix, Radio Shack, Sur La Table, Sam’s Club, DSW, Gamestop, Staples, Neiman Marcus, Burlington Coat Factory and others.  Recreational gear retailer REI is not only remaining closed on Thanksgiving, but they will be closed on Black Friday too!

Of course, the simple truth is that if we, as consumers, do not shop on Thanksgiving day, the retailers will have no reason to be open.  I urge you to do exactly that; speak with your dollars and abstain from shopping on Thanksgiving day all together.  While you’re at it, please frequent those stores that still remained closed on Thanksgiving to let them know you appreciate their policies.  If you really want to make a statement… boycott shopping on Black Friday too!  O.K., it doesn’t hurt to ask…

Whatever you choose to do, it is my fervent hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.  Peace!

Website – New Look!

Mike HarlessThe Blog

I have been hard at work redesigning the mlharless.com website to provide a cleaner, more professional experience for my clients & visitors, and I am pleased to announce that the new, redesigned site has launched today!  In addition to updating the content from the previous site, I have also added a new Blog, which will be mostly business related with a bit of fun added for good measure!  Please visit the site and have a look around.  Your comments and suggestions are always welcome!