What's The Diff?

The things Quicken Loans team members care about and want to share with the world

Chris Kaufman

Wake up and smell the Woot!

Wake up and smell the Woot!Everyone has morning rituals. Some people get up, stretch, have a cup of coffee, hop in the shower, brush their teeth, let the dogs out, etc. The first thing I do in the morning is check Woot.com.

My friend and former Quicken Loans team member Jarrett “Spiderman” Knyal introduced me to Woot about four years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. Maybe it’s an uber-geek personality that drives people like Jarrett and me to get so excited about a cult-like “deal-a-day” website or maybe it’s an online shopping addiction – who knows. Call it what you want, but you really can’t have too many Roombas (those nifty robotic vacuums that clean your floors, Jetsons-style).

Since my first Woot purchase (a Roomba, of course), I’ve amassed nearly 50 Woots (that’s what us in the “in crowd” call the daily Woot products), ranging from over a dozen t-shirts, countless screaming monkeys, a “bag of crap” (the most coveted of all Woot deals), two Dyson vacuum cleaners, a color laser printer, the greatest oven mitts I’ve ever owned, and of course, a marshmallow gun. There’s a special feeling when you arrive home from a long day at the office to discover a Woot box on your porch. It’s like one more little slice of happiness to round out the day.

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Be careful what you wish for, Audi

I came across this image yesterday and thought it was a great example of "be careful what you wish for". Pay close attention to the Audi billboard at the left of the photo, and the several-story-high response BMW erected afterward. Audi's got game, but BMW's the Grandmaster in this head-to-head match-up.

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A New Anthem for Detroit

Check out this new music video about Detroit featuring Michigan native Brian Vander Ark (lead singer of Verve Pipe). The video is the cornerstone of a new promotional campaign developed by the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, and pays tribute to the perseverance of southeast Michigan during these tough economic times. The video is very well done and does a great job of capturing the spirit of Detroit and its people.

“The concept came directly from the hundreds of people we spoke
to across metro Detroit while developing this campaign,” said Dave
Hunke, CEO of Detroit Media Partnership and publisher of the Detroit
Free Press. “It is time to show the world the spirit of Detroit. We
will persevere and come together to make this region great again.”

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The Day the Music Died

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Tonight marks the 50th anniversary of the evening that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were all killed in a tragic plane crash over Iowa. Shortly after 1 a.m. on February 3, 1959 the three-passenger Beechcraft Bonanza plane they were traveling in crashed about five miles northwest of the Mason City Municipal Airport near Clear Lake, Iowa. The pilot was killed along with Holly, 22; Valens, 17; and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, 28.

The tragedy has been emblazoned in music history in Don McLean’s “American Pie” in the verse, “the day the music died.” We have no way to know how rock and roll would have continued to be shaped by the trio had they survived—but we can be certain music was changed forever by their loss. For 50 years, the crash has marked the end of an era—the roots of innovation and anarchy in American rock and roll.

Holly, Valens and Richardson’s last show was the Winter Dance Party, a tour that had started in Milwaukee, and was set to travel to small towns in Minnesota and Iowa. The promoter decided to continue with the show, despite the deaths. The trio was replaced by local bands, which incidentally led to stardom for other acts. Bobby Vee, one of the replacement acts was an unknown musician from Fargo. At the time, he was only 15-years-old, but went on to create hits like 1961’s “Take Good Care of My Baby” and 1967’s “Come Back When You Grow Up.”

The deaths of the musicians was not a major national news story at the time. News of their deaths was buried in papers—the New York Times placed the story on page 66. Rock and roll was not well-respected at the time. It was a threat to the status quo, and the musicians were virtual unknowns to the older generation. Even in Holly’s hometown of Lubbock, Texas, it’s said the people were embarrassed by him.

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The Bob Closson Effect

Robertjamesclosson2First, let me preface this post. It deals with two tightly intertwined concepts: Cause and effect, or in this case, effect, then cause.

On this Thanksgiving night, we are reading headlines about the second consecutive evening of terrorist attacks in Mumbai; over 125 are already dead, with hundreds of others wounded. Over ten million people in our own country are jobless, and at least 3.5 million more are homeless. We’ve undoubtedly entered a recession; banks and large corporations are plunging like dominoes, and global economies are in peril. Things are largely expected to become worse before they get better. This Thanksgiving, it may seem there is little to be thankful for.

This is where the “effect” part comes in. Even in our darkest, most dismal hours, we are able to see light and find hope—if we’re willing to look hard enough. No, I’m not talking about that bright spot you may have in your day tomorrow if you’re so fortunate (and daring) to score a 50-inch-television for $700 at the Super Jumbo Mart (that’s determination and a bit of naivety—that same TV will probably crop up for $650 the weekend before Christmas, so hold your horses for now). I’m talking about that peculiar little seed inside each of us that gives us the ability to find something positive in every person, in every day, no matter how dark the clouds hovering above. Even during our darkest moments, there is some light to be found, it’s just ours for the finding. Maybe it’s as simple as a glimmer of sunshine peeking through the clouds on a winter morning—maybe it’s even less obvious than that, but it’s there…keep looking.

Bringing ourselves to overcome the negative (and there seems to be a lot of it these days) is not a solo mission. The strongest, most influential people have values instilled in them by strong and influential parents, teachers and mentors—good leaders make other people into good leaders. This is where that “cause” part of this post comes in. Just short of two weeks ago, my good friend Clayton (THE DIFF M.C.) lost his father, Bob, to cancer. Prior to his passing, I had only met and spoke with Bob once. I was always pretty sure Clayton was the most passionate human being I would ever meet in my life—that was until I met Clayton’s dad. Our first and only encounter was following a performance of “Smokey Joe’s Café” by The Park Players in Detroit (Bob was a 30+ year veteran of community theatre).

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Brenden Foster’s Last Wish

Someday, when it’s my time to depart from this world I hope I will
have the same strength and positive attitude that Brenden Foster has
about his last week or so of life. He really is an inspiration to us
all. The video and article below from KOMO says it all about this
courageous little guy:

From KOMO News Seattle:
LYNNWOOD, Wash. — Doctors gave 11-year-old Brenden Foster two weeks to live.Those two weeks were up on Wednesday. On Friday, he shared his last wish.Not yet a teenager, Brenden’s time to die has come.

“I should be gone in a week or so,” he said.

Brenden
was the kid who ran the fastest, climbed the highest and dreamed of
becoming a marine photographer. Leukemia took away all those things,
but not his dying wish to help others.

“He’s always thought about others. Never complained about having to go through this, ever,” said his mother, Wendy Foster.

When Brenden was first diagnosed with leukemia, he and his mom began
a new tradition. Every night they list three positive things that
happened during the day, and they have to share a laugh. A chuckle will
do, Brenden said, but a fake laugh will never do.

In the last days of his life, it was a homeless camp, namely Nickelsville, that captured the boy’s heart.

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Sheila Taormina – the stuff legends are made of

I first heard of Sheila Taormina when I was a freshman at Stevenson High School in Livonia, Michigan. A few years prior, she had walked the same halls of the same high school as I, but Sheila wasn’t just any alumnus, she was an Olympic champion—a legend. Sheila won a gold medal in swimming in the 1996 Atlanta games—her and her teammates finished first in the 4×200 relay. This would be the only time Sheila would appear on the medals stand during an Olympic games, but it was far from the end of Sheila’s Olympic career.

In 2000 and 2004 Sheila returned to the Olympics to compete in the triathlon, and yesterday, at the age of 39, she became the first woman in history to compete in three different Olympic events, completing the pentathlon with a 19th place finish—not bad. Not bad considering Sheila will soon be 40-years-old. Not bad considering this is the first time she has competed in the event. Not bad considering the pentathlon is considered, by many, to be the most challenging of all Olympic events—a series of swimming, horseback riding, pistol shooting, fencing and running. Equally as impressive, she was the first to do what she did—ever. The first in 112 years of the modern Olympic games. The first of over 100,000 athletes to compete in the Olympics. The first and only. That’s epic.

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The Multi-Purpose Guest Check Tray

MongoOne of the core philosophies we live by at Quicken Loans is “simplicity is genius”—the simplest things are often times the cleverest ideas.

An ordinary guest check tray serves a simple purpose: To hold your restaurant bill, money and change. While dining at BD’s Mongolian Barbecue last weekend, I discovered that their guest check tray is a clever little gadget that not only holds your change, it also has a built in customer satisfaction survey and a calculator for determining the tip. It’s a simple idea, and it probably doesn’t cost much to make, but it begs the question: Why didn’t someone else think of this before now?

It’s doesn’t exactly take a degree in quantum mechanics to mentally figure out a 15 or 20 percent tip on a bill, but for those of us who are more mathematically challenged than others, it’s a nice tool to have on the table. Nice thinking, BD’s!

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Malcolm McLean’s Shipping Container Changed the World

ShippingcontainerAt Quicken Loans, we believe finding simpler, and better ways to do things can make a big difference in our lives and the world around us. One person who discovered that simplicity can make is big difference was Malcolm McLean.

In 1956, McLean had a great idea that ended up revolutionizing the global economy: Instead of loading and unloading a ship crate by crate, he thought it would be a lot more efficient if dock cranes were to pick up the entire trailer of a truck and place it on the ship. The idea to eliminate the previously expensive and time-consuming loading task, led to McLean’s invention of the standardized shipping container.

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J.R. goes green

Solarpanel_2Larry Hagman’s career has spanned decades. He’s starred in countless television shows and movies, but he’s probably best known for two roles: The ruthless oil baron, J.R. Ewing from Dallas; and Major Nelson from I Dream of Jeanie.

You probably wouldn’t expect a former television oil baron to be an advocate for the environment, and user of clean, environmentally friendly energy, but Larry Hagman is nearly completely off the electricity grid. His electricity bill was a mere $13 for all of last year—that’s about $1.08 a month to power a 10,000 square foot home.

Hagman is generating so much alternative energy that he decided to run lines from his solar power sources to five low income homes near his ranch, all of which are now completely powered by his solar energy. In addition to his solar efforts, Hagman has recently installed wind turbines, drives a Toyota Prius Hybrid and an electric Dodge Gem.

This year the 75-year-old actor started a campaign, refundsforgood.org, directing people how to claim telephone tax refunds and turn that money over to environmental funds like the Solar Electric Light Fund, which helps developing nations build solar energy infrastructures.

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Today's Date:
Tuesday, October 17, 2017