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Pre-Depression Picture Goes Global

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in General, Internet | Posted on 18-02-2009


imageThis past weekend I posted an article entitled “Pre-Depression”.  Within that blog post was a picture that inspired me to write the article.  Since the article was published the picture within the article has gone global.  Who knew a picture taken with a Blackjack II Windows Mobile phone would be seen by thousands of people across the Internet.  If you haven’t read the blog article the picture was originally in, I do encourage you to read the back story about the picture.   The picture first got picked up on Digg.Com.  Throughout the day it started to climb and then made the home page of Digg which drove crazy numbers of people to the photo, and then ultimately this blog. 

image Yesterday evening I was contacted by Laura Conaway of NPR’s Planet Money and was asked to be interviewed on the phone about the photo.  You can listen to the interview online at their website.

Since the photo was taken it has been viewed by over 138,000 people at this point, just on Flickr.  That doesn’t count all the web sites that copied the photo and reproduced it on their site. 

The blog article has been read over 12,500 times since Saturday. 

Why all the noise over a photo?  I think it has to do with timing, the economy and also something we are all too scared to hear, the word “depression”.  You know the really crazy thing about the sign in the photo?  It has been up for about a year I learned through one commenter on my blog.  Who knows, maybe the store owner is a prophet.

DevLink Call For Speakers Now Open

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in General | Posted on 17-02-2009


It’s a Major Conference!  That’s right, DevLink is just right around the corner and call for speakers is out. 

The devLink Technical Conference is now soliciting speaking proposals for devLink 2009. The event will take place August 13 – 15, 2009 in Nashville, TN. If you are interested in presenting at devLink 2009, please download the abstract submission form below. We are a platform independent event and welcome a variety of opinions.  All submissions must be received no later than March 13, 2009. Submissions should be sent to conference@devlink.net.  Any submission received after March 13, 2009 will not be considered.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Download Abstract Submission Form


Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in General | Posted on 14-02-2009


This past week I was in Little Rock, AR for a speaking engagement.  It was an interesting trip to Little Rock because I had never driven through this part of America.  I started out in Hattiesburg, MS headed for Jackson and then drove across the Mississippi River on Interstate 20 crossing into Louisiana.  I’ve driven this road numerous times but I had never veered off of Interstate 20 except to stop for an occasional tank of gas.  After about fourteen miles into Louisiana I took HWY 65 north into the heart of America where WIFI and coffee shops are replaced with trucks, tractors and endless miles of farm land.  For those not familiar with this part of the country here is a map and the highlighted route I took. 


As you might decipher from the map above the light green area is farm land fueled by the Mississippi River.  As I drove through the upper portion of Louisiana making my way into the Southern part of Arkansas my only line of communication back to the civilized world was my satellite radio.  News shows were constantly debating the stimulus package.  “Will it pass on time?” one newscaster asked.  “We break down all the pork barrel spending in the stimulus bill next, stay tuned…” another channel exclaimed. 

My attention from the radio was diverted for a few miles as I noticed what appeared to be a never ending amount of steel and iron lined next to the highway.  The cars were of similar shape and the same color with one occasionally painted with some graffiti on it. 

A train track ran parallel to the highway and rails cars were sitting still on the highway as far as the eye could see.  Mile after mile I observed the train cars until I lost count of the miles.  Is this train 10 miles or 20 miles long, I can’t remember.

What were they for I thought to myself.  All of this grain and cotton has to go somewhere and what better way to transport it than rail.  But during the month of February they sat still, idle on the track waiting to be filled and then dispersed throughout the US when the crops came in. 

The fields of farm land were endless, one after another.  Tractors of all shapes and sizes were preparing the land for the up and coming growing season.  Crop dusters could be seen in the distance.  Over the top of trees one minute, and then gone the next. 

As I drove through this part of America there was constant discussion on the radio about the economy.  I couldn’t help but look around and see the impact of the situation.  This is it.  I’m right in the middle of the heartland of America.  This is the place where the rubber meets the road.  This is the place where families get up at the crack of dawn and put in a hard day’s work to make a dollar. 

I arrived in Little Rock later that afternoon and I felt more in my element.  The sad reality of the road had already started to fade.  It was business as usual.  Parking garage here, plug the laptop in there, get the WIFI from here, check email there, charge cell phone over here.  I was surrounded by big buildings, large hotels and businessmen who wore suits to work instead of overalls.  There just seemed to be more going on, more happening, and more hustle and bustle. 

The next day I headed back home through the heartland of America.  I was looking forward to the drive to be honest.  I was looking forward to getting back in touch with America.  I liked being reminded that things are different, I liked being able to see people, good people, trying to make a visible living. 

After a few hours of driving I saw this really big sign ahead in the distance.  At first glance it looked like the word depression was written on it but I thought it was something else.  As I got closer the sign came into focus.  I had just seen a sign welcoming me to Grady, AR, population – small, only a few hundred residents.  When I saw the sign for Grady I took the cruise control off to pass through the town but honestly I could have left it set to 75mph.

The sign was now in full view, “Pre Depression Price Sale” the sign read.  As I read it, I turned back to get a second glance as I slowed my truck down.  Did I just read that?  Looking at the building it was in front of it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to understand this little town was hurting. 

My first thought was, how do I explain this to people.  How do I capture this moment?  At first I was speechless.  My mind was full of stimulus packages, politicians that lack integrity, down turn economy, pork barrel spending, some mouse in California that was getting millions of dollars, housing crisis and more.  Yet here was proof.  Here was proof that America is hurting, proof the heartland is calling out for help.  


I had to take a picture so I wouldn’t later forget.  I wanted this digital reminder.  I brought my 5,000lb truck down to a manageable turning speed and whipped around right in the middle of the road.  A few moments later I pulled up next to the sign in the gas station parking lot.  After a quick ching-ching of the cell phone camera I turned around and headed back down the highway.  Every now and then I’d glance over at the cell phone and stare at the picture.  Then another mile, another field, another tractor, another small town would go by and then another quick glance at the photo.  Each of them reminding me that yes, America is hurting right now. 

“The bill has passed in the house!” came over the radio.  The newscaster said this as if I should be excited.  I couldn’t help but look around and know that very little if anything in the stimulus package was going to make a difference in this area.  Lower taxes and good weather go a long way in this part of America, let’s just hope the stimulus bill has $100,000,000.00 for a rain making machine in it.

Goals for 2009

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in General | Posted on 19-01-2009


Jeff Blankenburg tagged me on his “goals for 2009” list and by some weird force of the Internets I feel compelled to write my goals for 2009 down publically.  Don’t expect anything earth shattering, let me just forewarn you. 

1.  Lose Weight

The first thing on my list is to lose weight like 97% of America.  Because of my height, most people that know me today, have no idea just how skinny I used to be.  My height is 6 feet and 2.5 inches tall.  That height isn’t a world record, but I am taller than the majority of the people I run into.

Would you believe it if I told you though, that I was the same height today that I was when I was a senior in high school, yet i weighed in at 129lbs?  That’s right, I was a walking stick.  A bean pole as they say.    The reason was I so active in my younger years.  I used to ride my bike 10-20 miles /  day, worked on the farm, etc.  I may have been skinny but I was as stout as an ox and could easily throw around 150LB sacks of feed at the barn with no problem. 

Fast forward to today and let’s face it, I’m not active.  My job requires zero physical activity, zilch, nada.  As long as my brain and fingers work, I’m good.  I have to change something, get more active and also watch what I eat.

Earlier today I put a sign on my fridge that read this, in hopes that it would serve as a reminder: 


What I am not going to do is set some ridiculous two digit weight loss goal only to disappoint myself.  My first goal is to lose 10lbs.  After I reach that goal, I’ll set another goal.

2.  Pay off Debt

image Every few weeks I get paid only to turn around and send it to people we owe.  As I get older it bothers me more and more that I’m not building more wealth.  At the start of the year I started reading a lot of material on debt, managing finances, retirement, etc.  The one book that really made sense to me was The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. 

I’ve listened to Dave’s radio show in passing and he always made sense to me.  Thus starting in January we put the Total Money Makeover in action.  This plan takes both people in the relationship to buy into so it isn’t something you can go out on your own and do if you are married. 

Since I started reading more about managing money lately, it is funny how many people I have talked to about money who have said, “I don’t have any debt, all we owe is our car and our house.”.  Well, guess what, YOU HAVE DEBT! 

If you owe someone anything, it doesn’t matter what it is for, you have debt.  If you didn’t pay cash for it, you have debt.  If you are in this mindset of thinking, read Dave’s book.  He can help.

It is going to take some serious life altering changes to accomplish this but I am already seeing positive results.  It is going to take time to get to $0.00 of debt but it will be worth it.  There is a famous quote in the book that really drives home the point of living debt free.

Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else.

The point is that if you live like no one else right now (cut corners, drive an old car, slash costs, etc), later you can live like no one else because you’ll have built wealth and be debt free.  Honestly, it is a small price to pay.

3.  Fix Things Around The House

As if the first two things weren’t enough for the year, my last goal is to fix things around the house.  I have a lot of projects that I want to do and I think I can make them happen this year.  I won’t bore you with the details but here are a few things on the list:  do some re-landscaping in the yard, treat the deck, stain the front door, re-do my closet. 

It is stuff that needs to get done and while I may not get all of it done due to budgets, I am sure I can get a lot of it knocked off.

Who’s Next?

If you read this far great! Now guess what?  You are officially tagged/called out to write about your goals if you meet one of the following criteria: 

  • A) you follow me on twitter
  • B) I follow you on twitter
  • C) we’ve met face to face
  • D) you listen to our podcast
  • E) you are bored and need something to blog about.

Happy 2009!

My Home Now in Street View of Google Maps

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in General | Posted on 31-12-2008


I’m not sure when it happened officially but I have never noticed until today.  I was looking a business up that I needed to go to during lunch and saw a street view on Google Maps.  I then checked a few other places and it seems most of Hattiesburg, MS is now covered on Street View.  I pulled up my house on street view and it appears they came by last fall, about a year ago.  I know this because the palm trees at the end of my driveway are now much bigger and have since been trimmed back.  I did that this summer. 

If you are coming to visit, now you know which house I am. 


View Map

The accuracy isn’t that good because we live at 1116 Poplar and this shows us as 1126, very wrong. 

I wished they would have come by a few months later when things were in bloom, the yard would have looked so much better.  Oh well.