Sunday, October 31, 2010

Odds and Ends 64


WASHINGTON POST -- Obama waiver allows U.S. aid to 4 countries using child soldiers -- Law was signed just before Bush left office and would have penalized six countries.


GREAT SCHOOLS -- Education Nation Scorecard - how do schools stack up on standardized testing?


MASHABLE -- “FarmVille” Interruption Cited in Baby’s Murder


INHABIT -- Reclaimed Pyramid Residence Sits Atop Seattle’s Smith Tower


LIFEHACKER -- How to Opt Out of Yellow Book Delivery


CROSSCUT -- The making of a religious 'None' -- Some might wonder why I'm posting this, or even be upset that *I* would post this. Go read it again.


DISCOVER DIGITAL LIFE -- TNS Digital Life -- In depth look at what's most important online and how they access it (a dashboard of stats) to promote larger package of stats available for sale (still, quite a bit, and covering a lot of countries in the free website - worth taking a look)


MSNBC -- Court: Girl, 4, can be sued for negligence -- Sad in so many ways


CNET NEWS -- Tesla opens doors to electric auto factory (photo gallery)


SETH GODIN -- Pushing back on mediocre professors

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Odds and Ends 63


CNET NEWS -- Amazon wins fight to keep customer records private


INHABIT -- Old Military Planes Repurposed to Drop 900,000 Tree Bombs a Day


MSNBC -- For Ford’s Mulally, big bets are paying off


MASHABLE -- “Peter Rabbit” for iPad Delivers Interactive Twist to Classic Tale -- looks cool


LIFEHACKER -- Press Pound to to Escape Political Robocall Lists


CROSSCUT -- Hill Towns: Seattle Can Learn from Europe


ED LUND ART -- Who's On TV? -- Late Night Talk Show guest race/gender compared to census. Admits it's a small, imprecise survey, but interesting none-the-less.

-8-10- Videos after the break... Star Wars Bieber, a city at high speed and a city at really high speed

A Threat to Myself

So we finally finished the painting of the downstairs and installed the bookcase, secured it to the wall, filled it with books, and then set (almost) all the clutter from around the house right in front of the bookcase. Only two people have seen this. Well, almost all of it. Anyhow, I took a photo of it. I'm giving myself the month of November to make a dent in it. I'm going to post before and after photos. I worked through an entire basket tonight. I put a bunch of stuff in the burn bin, a bunch more in the recycle bin, and consolidated some into an existing to-sort bin. Unfortunately, that bin isn't in the photo, so on the whole of it, tonight's before and after would look the same. But progress will be made.

On a side note... so we just filled the bookcase with books. Interesting to think how the future will look as more books are delivered online. We'll have less need for bookcases or have to find more interesting things to fill them with.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Odds and Ends 62


GOOGLE -- The World is Full of Interesting Things - 120 slides of videos and websites and art and stuff. (Plan some time before visiting this link.)


CNET NEWS -- Empire State Building refaced for savings


MASHABLE -- What Kind of Geek Are You?


INHABIT -- Microbes in the Gulf May Eat More Gas Than Previously Thought


HOLLAND AMERICA -- Sweepstakes for a 7-day Alaska cruise (does mean requesting a copy of the Alaska vacation planner)


CROSSCUT -- Checking in on Seattle's Giving -- Seattle (at 7) is one of 15 cities worldwide with more than 5 charities in Chronicle of Philantropy Top 400.


ENGADGET -- Bus that travels over traffic longs for US embrace, designer seeks stateside collaborators

-8-10- Videos after the break... Bashed bumblebee, mimic robot and lego creation builds lego creations

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Odds and Ends 61


MASHABLE -- Sony Retires the Cassette Walkman After 30 Years


ANDY SERNOVITZ (expanding on **** MY DAD SAYS) -- “Don’t focus on the one guy who hates you. You don’t go to the park and set your picnic down next to the only pile... - yeah, coarse, but a good point


IMHABIT -- Ultra-Compact “Near House” is a Small Space Marvel in Japan


FRANK CHIMERO -- How to Have An Idea - possibly one of the coolest things I've shared.


SEATTLE TRANSIT BLOG -- On Bicyclist Safety - more bikes = safer roads


CNET NEWS -- Facebook offers one-time passwords


WOOT -- Snohomish-Style Sportsmanship


I, CRINGELY -- License to Print Money


UNCLUTTERER -- A place for everything, and everything in its place


BASIC INSTRUCTIONS -- Something that mocks Oregon or something

Odds and Ends 60


MASHABLE -- “Zoolander” to Make a Comeback as Web-Based Cartoon - really?!?!? Why??!!?


INHABIT -- San Diego to Unveil Nation’s Largest Wind-Powered LED Light Show


ANDY SERNOVITZ -- What if you fired all the average performers? - woah


WEEPLACES -- Cool Foursquare Visualizer - I haven't traveled enough since joining Foursquare.


SETH GODIN -- Change and its constituents (there are two, and both are a problem)


LIFEHACKER -- “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with." - something to think about


WANDERFLY -- Want to get away? Cool site. Plug in a departure location, price range, length of stay and it finds suitable destinations.

-8-10- Videos after the break... All about the quick fun -- color-shifting anime, some fancy tea-work and endless micro-machines.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Presentation Zen

Presentation Zen (Garr Reynolds) is a fantastic book. It's taken me several months to make it all the way through this book, but I have definitely learned a lot from it. Some of the lessons weren't even from the book directly, but just in looking at the examples and making inferences, I came to some realizations about my own presentation style that will be aided by the lessons I'll take away from this book. The biggest is that the book tells us something we already know -- people don't like reading slides full of text. But there's a flip-side "duh" for this -- if there isn't a slide full of text for the audience to read, there also isn't a slide full of text for me to read from. Instead, I must truly know my material. I need to practice it, I need to know what I'm talking about. I have a presentation coming up soon and I'm excited by what I've been able to apply already as far as the slides go (cut the number way back, made them all interesting, and didn't even start them until i had a whole whiteboard of post-its first.)

A few things I want to take away from the book:

* "If your audience can only remember one thing (and you'll be lucky if they do), what do you want it to be?"
* Bumper slides - introduce new sections - distinct enough to stand out and visually clue you into the change
* Some great examples of images that bleed all the way to the edges - much more compelling than images that don't reach the edges or is clip art
* Quotes lend credibility. (Also, a "duh," but still.)

One more thing they didn't mention directly but something that occurred to me from watching The Next Food Network Star with Lori - it's an unforgivable sin to turn your back on the camera. If I think about presenting, if I think about bad presenters, they look at their slides, they look at the screen. They are verbally delivering a report, they are not having an engaging conversation with their audience.

I wonder how long Steve Jobs practices for each presentation. And interesting how he's now handing off to other people. Gives him breaks, helps introduce his eventual replacements and get people comfortable with them for when he eventually leaves.

Anyhow, yeah, so my slides are ready, but I really need to work on my presentation. Need to practice.

Our Popular Flickr

Here's the most popular public Flickr photos. Advantage to early movers, these are all older photos. Also, proves the importance of naming photos (and probably of putting them on the map and tagging them as well.) Click on any photo to enlarge.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Odds and Ends 59


INHABIT -- Skylifter Balloon Can Lift Entire Buildings and Put ‘Em Down Gently - too bad we're going to be completely out of helium soon


CROSSCUT -- Giving time instead of doing time, offenders save the city $65,000 - misleading headline. One project saved was $65k. Overall, program seems to have saved $2mil.


FACEBOOK -- More Ways to Stay Secure


ANTHROPOLOGIE -- Street Scene - Not a site I regularly visit, but one of the blogs I read mentioned the interesting way they're showcasing some clothes and I agree. Kinda neat.


SMITH FAMILY JOURNEY -- A Smack in the Face (In a Good Way)


GOOGLE -- The Wind Cries Transmission - explanation of the offshore mid-Atlantic wind farm that Google's investing in


ENGADGET -- Television networks block Google TV from accessing web-based content - old media still doesn't get it.

-8-10- Videos after the break... a parkour dog, a boxing cat and volunteer MP3 drones...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Things I didn't post today.

It's a Handsome Rob kind of day. ("You're not too bright, are you?")

Rant: ZIP is a specific kind of suppression, not a general term for compressing a file or directory. Guh.

Ugh... I need to put a 60 minute item on my calendar to update all my passwords again. Has it really been two months already?

Some woman just talked to me at the coffee machine. Or at me. No idea what she was saying, or if it was English, or what the context was. I smiled politely while watching for sudden movements.

Odds and Ends 58


MASHABLE -- - 65% of people think President Obama is out of touch (and other facts)


INHABIT -- Ancient Italian town completely powered by renewable energy - has allowed it to eliminate local taxes, among other things.


NICE ONE -- Flight and Expulsion - cool interactive guide to citizenship changes - especially the "Connections" tab


LIFEHACKER -- What "Free Public Wi-Fi" is and why you should avoid it


SETH GODIN -- Heroes and Mentors


SEATTLE TIMES -- 'Walking school bus' is on a roll


CNET NEWS -- Amazon launching mini e-book section: Kindle Singles

-8-10- Videos after the break... surfing fail, The Depressions, self-driving car.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Banned by the man named 'Stan

My friend writes to inform me that he is no longer able to read my blog in Kazakhstan where he currently lives. Apparently at his home, it along with every other blog on is banned. At his work, situated in a government building (he doesn't work for the government), many sites are accessible (don't you love that? Power to itself, not the people.) but mine is verboten.

Curses, I cried, that cuts my readership in half.

Of course, he still reads my blog in a method completely legal and above board and approved by the powers that be in the KZ. I won't explain the method lest I ruin it for the entire country.

But it does not bode well for my friend living in France and preparing to move to China.

So, dead readers, I'll pose it to you... why am I blocked in Kazakhstan? My pro-Google stance? My anti-United/Sprint/AOL/Blockbuster stance? I think I've reported favorably on rocket launches from KZ. Or possibly my all-too-infrequent nod to my faith in God and Jesus Christ?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Gift

Some chatter overnight about my wish list on Amazon. Concern that it's not useful. I thought I'd turn my response into a full-fledged blog post since I haven't posted enough lately.

But it could be. Let me explain. But first, a few thoughts on the particular items...

No, I don't want a Model S, a DMC *and* an Avalon. Those are just the cars I wish I could drive. Any one of the three. I like my Intrepid, but it's getting old and its non-rolling windows mean never getting drive-through. And besides, I already know that the car in my future will be the Santa Fe handed down from Lori. I'd put a Lexus on the list, but when I'm realistically looking at what new sedans will be available when it's time for a new car for real, the market will have changed in ways we can't think of today.

No, I don't want an iPad. I mean, I do. The big one with 3G. And a nice case that contains a bluetooth keyboard. But I'm worried that as soon as I get one, they'll come out with out with camera(s) and I'll be disappointed by mine.

No, I don't want to own Worldmark by Wyndham or The Space Needle. I just wish we had a Worldmark membership and the Space Needle one is about as close as I'm going to get to ask for a gift certificate. I hate the idea of asking for gift certificates. It suggests that I don't have any faith in the buyer to get me something. And in that case, just give me cash. And people already know the places I'm most likely to use Gift Certificates - the places I already spend the most - Starbucks, Best Buy, JCPenney, Fred Meyer, Midas, Fred Meyer Fuel, King County Treasury/Property Tax Assessor's Office, iTunes, AT&T, Comcast, Puget Sound Energy, etc.

And that's just the thing.

I don't *need* anything that can be purchased - I need more time in my day. Well, I guess someone could buy us a gift certificate (back to the gift certificate) for a cleaning service, but really, is there any subtext to "I'm paying someone to help you keep your house clean."? :) Besides more time... hmmm... My family's cool, my energy levels are fine, my health is pretty good (I've dropped the weight... some more muscle/tone would be nice, but that's both time and initiative, again, things that can't be bought.)

I don't *want* for anything that is affordable. I have too much stuff. I have books and magazine subscriptions I can't keep up with, movies I haven't had time to watch, video games I don't have time to play with. I have a nice closet full of clothes. I have a fancy espresso machine I haven't used in years and a Mr. Coffee I use every weekend. I have a lot of stuff that I don't know what do to with and no time to seriously go through or the will to build up the courage to get rid of some of it. I have stacks of unopened mail in the bedroom and garage that I haven't even had time to go through.

No, all that leaves:

* expensive gifts. Why are they expensive? They have the potential to be a big part of my life, be they a car, a certain piece of iTechnology or a vacation club membership. While some of those are extreme, some of the less expensive things that appeal to me could be a group gift from people who insist that they must get me a gift.

* gift cards - and I've already said what I think of those. I won't turn them down, but I'm not going to go asking for them.

* clothes - be prepared to come up and pick something out of my closet for me to donate - I'm playing a zero-sum game here. Something comes in, something goes out.

* donate to a charity on my behalf... Union Gospel Mission of Seattle, World Vision, World Vision Micro, Humane Society of King County are a few ideas.

* be my friend and help me to be a better friend. By your good example and by calling me out when I'm doing stuff that doesn't make me a good friend (like neglect or being self-absorbed or all take and no give)

...and I think that's fine. Time really is the big thing I need more of. Beyond that, do what I did for Lori to help me in gift buying for her. I made a list. (I love lists! Yay, Evernote.)

It contains things like this:

Part 1: Things that define or represent her:
- God, family, beauty, cooking, Facebook, etc.

Part 2: Current hobbies:
- Baking, Scrapbooking, Postcrossing

Part 3: Things that are always winners:
- Cherry Jelly Bellys, Bath and Body Works Gift Certificates, iTunes Gift Cards, Lifesavers Storybooks

Part 4: Places she enjoys shopping or shops at regularly

Part 5: Past Gifts

Part 6: Past Gifts that haven't well received or went unused

Part 7: Thing's she's mentioned and/or things Amazon recommends similar to her wish list

Part 8: Things she's given me because it's tradition or they're things she likes receiving

And that has helped me to come up with a picture of her and the things that she would enjoy receiving. And there is a killer item on there. Sadly, it's too expensive but I know she'd love it.

So, there you have a little look into my overly-complicated look at gifts and gift buying. (I should trademark "My overly complicated look..." as a series.) So there you go... I could talk further about all this stuff, start looking into love languages, etc., but once again I'm out of time. And then some.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Oasis

What a fantastic day. It's been a weird week. I was making great headway at work and then Lori and Ben got sick and I ended up staying home Thursday and Friday. I still managed to work, and perhaps it helped me to get even more caught up. But then late Friday I ended up having to go in for a meeting. A meeting that was probably barely 5 minutes. This is the second week in a row where I've got back into the office on a day when I wasn't in the office (the previous week I was on vacation) and the meeting was delayed because of a previous meeting that ran long. Last week, though, I was still given an hour. Yesterday, I was probably barely given five minutes. Because Lori was sick, we didn't have small groups last night.

And because Lori was sick, I took Rachel to her swimming lesson this morning.

That was nice and relaxing just hanging out on the bleachers while Rachel did her thing, but it set in motion a non-standard Saturday. I didn't leap from bed and start doing chores. And by the time we were done at the pool, I had other errands to run. So I set out... I stopped at nine places (I got the Overshare badge on Foursquare.)

At the first stop, I started up RunKeeper. Each time I'd get back in the car, I'd pause it. All told, I didn't walk quite 3 miles, but it was quite a bit of unplanned walking. And I bought shoes, visited two stores I had never been to before (Sportsman's Warehouse and Menchie's), went to Home Depot and that other home decor website. It was a nice afternoon. Menchie's was a pleasant surprise. I've heard them talk about it at work and sure enough, Erin is the mayor (she and I have been battling for mayor of World Vision). When I went in, they greeted me, determined that it was my first visit and told me how it worked and then I mentioned that my coworkers go there all the time and she asked where I worked and when I told her, she said if I had my ID badge, I got 20% off. Score.

So I had healthy non-fat cappucino frozen yogurt with a few vanilla wafers on top as a reward for myself for getting to "normal" for the first time ever on the Wii Fit.

Then back home, lots of lawn mowing. Realized that I can either mow the lawn or work on the yard. Since the yard needs work, obviously, need less lawn. I made a mistake - I sprayed Round-Up all over a bunch of lawn, but then never put weedblock on top, so weeds all grew back, means I gotta do it again. And that stuff is expensive.

Anyhow, yeah, then tonight, despite the cold (48), I did end up going running.

While I was seeing a few emails come and go for work, I mostly didn't think about work today. And I completely forgot about something interesting that's going on at work that's been keeping me preoccuped lately. Which just seems weird - means that I really did manage to disconnect and find an oasis.

And the nice thing -- there's still another day this weekend.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Looking at Isaiah

So we read the Bible with our children. With Rachel we've read all the way through and then we moved onto some devotional books. At the end of the school year, she was given a Bible at church, so we started over and have read that, a little each night, alongside the current devotional book. We're in Exodus with her.

With Ben, we're into Isaiah. I think we're going at a little slower pace than we did with Rachel, because too many nights when we're getting Ben ready for bed, he's too distraught, too "done with the day" to really be read to. I know he can't exactly understand what we're reading about, but when he gets like that, even trying to just sit there and read to him would be tough on the reader and not really even be enjoyable for him.

But for whatever reason, with this read-through, I'm finding myself a little more intrigued by Isaiah. At work, our new year has started, which means it's time to come up with new SMART Goals and one of them will undoubtedly be spiritually focused. Not sure if I can turn it into one or not, but I think it's time I study Isaiah, even if it's not a work-related goal.

So, today I read Wikipedia's accounts of Isaiah and over the coming weeks, I'm going to dive in and read Isaiah and study other commentaries and maybe even get a few books on the book.

Isaiah 1 starts with a strong admonishment by the prophet* Isaiah after a brief introduction that says Isaiah is the son of Amoz and served as a prophet during the time of the kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. (* Judaism, Christianity and Islam all recognize Isaiah as a prophet, though he is not mentioned in the Qu'ran.)

Isaiah 1 (NIV), Isaiah (wikipedia) and Isaiah in Rabbinic Literature (wikipedia)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Odds and Ends 57


MASHABLE -- Analysis of Dating Site Profiles Reveals Interests of Different Races - fascinating photo gallery


INHABIT -- Volvo's Tomorrow Car Has Battery Powered By Its Own Body


ENGADGET -- MIT Medical Lab Mirror tells your pulse with a webcam


SEATTLESCAPE -- Ok, Build Your Tunnel


MSNBC -- A day in the life of the trapped Chilean miners


CNET -- Philly subway to capture energy from braking trains


MASHABLE -- The Tangled Web of Lawsuits in Mobile - includes an infographic of who's suing who. Slightly amusing.


UNCLUTTERER -- Ask Unclutterer: Design ideas for odd space above kitchen cabinets - I liked people's suggestions better - like how to keep it clean (laying down newspapers or towels) or make it interesting (lights, small candles)


GOOGLE -- What We're Driving At - apparently Google's also making cars that drive by themselves


SEATTLE TRANSIT BLOG -- The Lewis-McChord Conundrum - some great discussion in the comments.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Hard To Believe

Suspect that they hired blind people to do this years' esthetics review. (No, do not know why they insist on using that spelling of the word, either.  Surely when they fire up Word or Publisher, it must highlight it and suggest the more common "aesthetic" spelling.)

I can hang this in the garage next to the much more deserved Christmas award I got the year before last.  I should have received one last year as well and am a little annoyed by that.  I'll show them.

Related, tomorrow I think I'm going to permanently add white lights to a big branchy tree in the front yard.  A neighbor down the block did it a few Christmases ago and never took it down and apparently never got yelled at for it.  I think it looks really classy and upscale, so I'm going to do it, too.

Falling Off a Cliff (in a good way)

In 2006 after we first moved to Seattle and I started my new job, I walked obsessively.  Before work, lunch breaks, after work.  I dropped about 27 pounds, decided I'd had enough, stopped, and put it all back on.  And then some.  I came to conclude that I had a resting weight of around 190 or so.  I even used that phrase with a doctor during a physical and he rolled right along like that was a legitimate term.  (He did tell me I needed to lose weight.)

We got the Wii in April 2008 and I thought it would help.  But over time, I began only doing Free Step.  I can do it while watching TV or using the computer (doing it right now) but even though I was doing (and still do) 90 minutes a day of Free Step, I wasn't seeing much in the way of results.

Earlier this year, I decided I wanted a Blizzard, and I wasn't going to get it until I had lost 10 pounds.  And I would tweet every day how close to the goal I was.  I had my ups and downs, but I progressed towards the goal.  I had said Blizzard and then I decided on a new goal.  I hadn't picked a prize yet, but I knew the next level I wanted to reach.

Only I wasn't reaching it.  The numbers were going back up slightly.

I finally installed an app on my iPhone that my friends had told me about. Lose-It.  In order to use it, you enter in your calfories for all your food and then all of your exercise.  You have a daily budget of calories and you can also see your weekly progress (I guess the idea is that one bad day needn't wreak you).  

I also started running on occasion.  This might have helped with the angle of decline on the chart, or it might just allow me to eat unhealthy food with more frequency -- and that is the real reason I took up running - so I could lose weight while continuing to eat the kinds of food I liked.

Things really took off when Lori had her iPhone upgraded to the latest software and it had to be completely wiped out.  It ended up downloading all of my apps off our computer and now that Lose-It was on her computer, she decided to check it out.  Now she was less annoyed when I insisted on knowing calorie counts for food she was preparing -- she found a great website Spark Recipes that lets you enter in a recipe and it calculates health info. And she herself began seeing that some of the stuff she thought was healthy really wasn't and how she had been sabotaging her own efforts.

So despite myself, I find myself looking for the lower calorie items, opting for a salad, limiting salad dressing, stuff like that.  In some ways, it had become a game to top the previous week in unused calories.  I had over 3,000 of 11,000 calories "unspent" last week because I had done so much exercising. I don't think I'll be able to top that any time soon.

But yeah, I think I'm going to get great ratings on next spring's health assessment at work.  And, I'm only a few pounds away from my next reward: a trip to Zoopa. (It's like Souplanation or Fresh Tomatoes.)  And the reward after that when I reach my new resting weight (even if it takes work to rest there) is not too far after that: A trip to Men's Wearhouse to get a new pair of tailored dress pants and The Gap (or equivalent) for a new belt or two.  (My current one I bought at The Gap at The Aladdin during PBP'00 because I realized I'd forgotten to pack one for church.  That must have been 2000... I think The Aladdin is now another Hard Rock Hotel or something.)

I know, I haven't really fallen off a cliff in terms of weight loss.  More like steep "as you wish" hills.

Monday, October 04, 2010

...That Would Be Great

At work, everyone is saying "Happy New Year." I think it all a little silly to offer around that greeting, even if it is the start of our new fiscal year. But there might be some value in that greeting. I watched a video earlier today from the lead of our division and she talked about some of the important things of the new year. It made me think back to a video I watched this weekend (see below) and how I realized that the phrase "Yeah, if you could just put a cover sheet on your TPS report, that would be great." is a really bad thing to say.

Now... I did realize that in the past, I mean, if nothing else, that quote and everything about "Office Space" is a case study in what not to do. And so I had worked to curb it and I'm pretty sure I hadn't used it in awhile, that idea of "if you could...". But the video I watched over the weekend talked about what the particular phrase does. While it should be pretty obvious to both the manager (put a cover on your TPS report) and the employee (I have failed to follow the rules and it's been pointed out to me) what's being asked for, the manner in which it's being asked for isn't, as I once thought, soft, or even passive, it's much worse. It leaves the relationship undefined. It allows the manager to make a request without asserting authority or without identifying their position, and it allows the employee to be an equal, or to be more pals-y than it should. In the end, it undermines the bestowed authority, which makes it much more difficult to actually reprimand when the offense is far worse than a missing cover sheet. Or, worse yet, it makes the correction seem to come out of nowhere.

I have risen quickly to a decent level of middle management. I once again am overseeing a team as large as the team I was overseeing at Warner Bros. Online ten years ago. However, this place is far more serious. Money has a value, career development is intentional, the work is more complicated and the stakes are higher. Mistakes here have a bigger impact, failure to do ones' job (or to do it correctly) has a bigger impact on the organization and our group. In two words, this is a much "tighter ship" being run here than at any place I've been at in the past.

And for as much as I've been self-identified as a pessimist, when it comes to people, I am an incredible optimist. I want to believe the best in everyone. I want to believe they all want to give 100%. They all want to work hard, they all want to learn and grow. They are all ambitious and committed. They all see it more than just punching a time-clock. I should know that's not true. On two separate occassions working fast food during high school and college I made someone cry and quit after suggesting they weren't doing a good job and why were they even there if they didn't care.

But that may not always be the case. I don't want to go the other way and start assuming the worst, or looking for the cracks. But I don't want to turn a blind eye or assume that no one's looking for ways to get ahead (or stay below the radar) that aren't the best or might be at the expense of the greater good. Like everything, a balancing act, I guess. (Anyone else tired of realizing everything is balancing act?)

So, yeah, it's a new year. New development and SMART goals. Annual reviews just around the corner. And if it's a new year, perhaps time for resolutions or examination. So perhaps it's time for the next evolution of myself as a manager. I think this is the year I get more serious about telling it like it is, saying what I think. No more avoiding conflict or letting things slide because I don't want to deal with them. Some people will say that I run a tight ship and they admire how well my team works and heap praise on me. I prefer to deflect onto my awesome team. But there may be some cases where I've avoided saying things either to avoid hurting feelings or because I don't want to be the big bad boss man.

Well, you know what? I am the big bad boss man. I needn't be big bad, but I can make sure that I'm acting like what I'm paid to do... lead and manage. Right now I probably prefer leading over managing, but if I were a sheep-herder, I'd probably be doing both - not just leading the flock from one grazing area to another, but also circling around to make sure any that were wandering off the wrong way were redirected back to the right path. If I think about my own times of reprimand or coaching, they may have smarted a little, or made me upset for awhile. But, if I think about it, I've been counselled, reprimanded, coached, dressed down, shouted at, guided, nitpicked, henpecked and gently prodded over the course of my career by my supervisors. Some have done it excellently, some have done it rather poorly. But at the end of the day, it's either been a course correction that I needed to get back on track, or in a case or two, irreconcilable differences that suggested now was the right time to change course dramatically.

And in the case of the good managers, I've been able to respect and grow as a result of their help, even in the course corrections.

So, for the new year, I am not going to shirk from my responsibilities, especially the ones involving conflict and course correction. No more shrinking away from the painful, because it won't do my subordinates any good and it won't help me to grow and be prepared for whatever my next steps here hold.

Steven Pinker on language and thought... (July 2005, 17:33)

Odds and Ends 55


MASHABLE -- 11 Astounding Sci-Fi Predictions That Came True


INHABIT -- Google Invests in Shweeb’s Peddle-Powered Bike Monorail


ENGADGET -- Jaguar C-X75 is the 780bhp electric supercar we've all been waiting for, likely to keep us waiting


CROSSCUT -- Why is transportation in the driver's seat?


THE HIGHER CALLING -- At Least - two very pointless words


MASHABLE -- Our Favorite YouTube Videos This Week: The Cinema Edition - Wow - a treasure trove - card tricks, cell phone movie trailers (one with Jack Black), some of the earliest color movie tests from 1922, an awesome "making of" short from Goonies, Charlie Chaplin in a lion's cage, Lord of the Rings Bloopers and more.


INHABIT -- NYC Mayor Bloomberg Announces Green Roof Initiative

-8-10- Videos after the break. Pizza!Pizza! (and pizza and pizza and pizza and pizza and pizza), a curvy escalator and a hillarious Power Rangers fail that you'll watch multiple times...