Monday, February 28, 2011

All I Want is a Couple Days Off

It is truly amazing how quickly the weekend goes.  I thought surely I'd have more time.  I had something for work that I didn't get done on Friday that I thought I'd do this weekend.  I had lots of other things I wanted to do this weekend.  I don't regret how I spent the weekend, I just wish there had been more of it.

To Lori's chagrin, I removed everything from the kitchen.  Well, the kitchen counters.  For a good cause, though, mind you.  I cleared the counters, scrubbed them down, and then only brought back in what really belong there. The problem with these types of operations (I've done them before) is that it leaves behind a lot of stuff that now lacks a home.  (Currently all piled on the dining room table and too much of it within Ben's reach.)

Lori would probably look at my side of the bed and suggest maybe I ought to work there instead.  I don't know why, but when I get a cleaning bug, I must start in the kitchen.  I am unable to start anywhere else.  I've tried.  So usually if I can get the kitchen into good condition, I can move on to other areas, usually on the main level and then spreading out from there.

Problem is, I don't know where the stuff now on the dining room table goes.  And in the process, I may have messed up some of Lori's organization.  I know that if she had more time, she'd probably toss a lot of it, but stuff just comes into this house so quickly (receipts, mail, junk mail, stuff from school, church, small group, etc.) that sometimes it's not possible to keep on top of all of it.  (If it were, my side of the bed or my car wouldn't look like they didi.)

So I may have made the kitchen nicer (the windows still need to be cleaned, the cabinets need to be wiped down) I'm not sure how much I've actually helped.

Which is why despite my deep admiration for Sarah Susanka, I do wish we had a room that just had tables along the walls, a flat screen on one wall, big recycling and trash bins, a shredder and our exercise equipment.  And a big lock on the outside to keep everyone else out.  I wish there was a place where we could take all that stuff, spread it out and sort it out our leisure.  A place where we new it was ok to dump stuff to be dealt with later.  There might be some shelving with bins, but it would be illegal for anything to be on the floor.

If I had a few more days, I could probably help with the dining room table in a more orderly fashion.  But as it is, I think I've been somewhat cruel.  By Friday, it will have to be cleared off for small group (small group is a great motivator for cleaning) but to look at it now, it's a bit overwhelming.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Quiet Night Out

Last night, Lori and I got a rare treat - a dinner out.   It was kind of unplanned, the confluence of a number of random events over the past two days, so with Rachel out of town and Ben fresh from a long nap, we got into the car and headed to Panda tonight.  Ben behaved very well, ate well, allowed us to eat at a leisurely pace.  It was very nice.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

And Then There Were Two

When I arrive home, I park in the garage, come into the house and then ascend the long stairway from the basement to the ground floor.  Most days as I'm coming up the stairs, the door is thrown open and one or both children rush to greet me.  It's a nice way to be greeted.  A few weeks ago, I was immediately struck with the thought "There should be three."

If you asked me at the time what our plans were, I would have told you "We're not sure."

A few weeks before that, it would have been pretty straightforward: "We decided about a month ago that if we're expecting within the next eleven months, then we'll welcome another family member (or more if that's how it goes)."

But after we made that decision, and after a short period of time where we thought we might be expecting, things changed.

Lori grew up in a family with three children and I grew up in a family of two.  We looked at a family we admired in Southern California who had four children (now our age) and how three of them were now married with 1-3 children each as well.  Their family was four generations of really close family, the original family and the family they had inherited when their children married.  We were looking at that and saying "That's where we'd like to go."  We were thinking that a larger family would help us build that kind of legacy ourselves.  Not for ourselves, but to create that kind of really, really tight family.  (We're not as close with our parents or siblings as we'd like, not for a lack of trying on our part, or in some cases distance, and in others, some history that has made it difficult.)

We thought three wasn't beyond what we could handle.  But as we began to weigh the pros and cons (always a dangerous thing) it just became more and more apparent that it wasn't the right thing to do.  There was the sleepless nights again, Lori having to wrangle the three, some stuff we've been dealing with Rachel.  As if that wasn't enough, now there's the stuff going on with Ben (we'll get to that in a post soon enough).

On the other side, we have friends just having their first baby and it would have been awesome to have children their age.  But I guess this just means we're going to have our arms free to hold their babies.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Sift 56-60

The Sift 56: Acquisitions

  • AOL trumps mainstream media with Huffington Post deal (opinion)
  • Google Acquires Telephony Startup SayNow
  • Google to Buy fflick for $10 Million
  • Facebook Acquires Hyperlocal Mobile Advertising Service
  • Twitter Counter Acquires Popular Twitter Stats Provider Twitaholic


The Sift 57: Photography

  • Brisbane Floods Before and After - two pages of photos overlaid so you can move back and forth. Tragic event, great implementation.
  • Ask Unclutterer: Organizing photographs
  • How to Take Better Vacation Photographs
  • Enhance Your Camera and Photos This Weekend
  • Nikon Patents DSLR Camera / Projector, High-End Photographers May Get to Join the Projection Party


The Sift 58: Amazon

  • Kindle Books Now Outselling Paperbacks at Amazon
  • Amazon rolling out Netflix-like unlimited video streaming for Prime subscribers?
  • Amazon celebrates its first '$10 billion quarter' in sales, finds Kindle books overtaking paperbacks
  • Amazon Security Flaw May Make Your Old Password Easy to Crack
  • Kindle Lending Club is a Library of User-Contributed Kindle eBooks


The Sift 59: Transit and Development

  • Students and Teachers Create DIY Guerilla Bike Lanes in Mexico
  • SLU Employers Chip In for More Streetcar Trips
  • Netherlands to Roll Out Energy-Generating SolaRoad Bike Path
  • Seattle "Ride Free" Area To Do List
  • National High Speed Rail


The Sift 60: Apple (1 of 2)

  • Readability: Apple's new subscription policy 'smacks of greed'
  • Apple vs. Publishers: Why Apple Already Won
  • US Justice Department and FTC looking into Apple's new subscription policy
  • Rumor Roundup: The MacBook Pro Edition
  • Attack of the Minis


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Not Helpful, Hals

Dear Hals - I would much rather see "Feel better" and "Sorry you have a cough."  Or even "Share cough drops - they're like candy."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Open Letter to the Seattle Times

Dear Seattle Times,

Please stop calling to tell me you're "going to start delivering the Seattle Times to my house for free Monday through Saturday."

I'm on the Do Not Call List. I've given warnings (and you claim you're not selling something but offering it for free. Ha. Don't care.), but from now on, I'm reporting you every single time I see you on the caller ID, even if I don't pick up the phone.

You call often. Like every day for a few weeks while we dodge your call. And then when I do finally take the call, that maybe buys me a month of peace and quiet before you start calling again.

And your salespeople are so pushy and belligerent and think you have an answer for everything.

My claim: I get my news on the internet.
You ask: Which website?
My response: I list off a bazillion in rapid fire including and all of the local TV and radio websites. (Maybe next time I leave off and mention
Your claim: Only 30% of news is actually published on the internet.
My counterclaim: So much for "only the news that's fit to print" and "I guess is not an authoritative source for news."
Next time: "Who takes the time to come up with statistics like that? Or did you just make it up? Because 74% of statistics are made up on the spot."

My claim: I used to get the paper. I probably didn't read 70% of it. (Callback, holler! I used it later in the call, was pretty proud of it and think it sailed right over the guy's head.)

My claim: The internet is more efficient, better for the environment.
Your claim: Uh... wha... what do you mean? (Not really a claim, more of a stammer.)
My response: You have to cut down the trees, transport them to the press, print the paper, put it on a truck and drive it to my house. That's all kinds of bad for the environment.
Your response: Your computer is worse for the environment than the newspaper.
My response (unspoken): You are truly one world class moron, with amazing tenacity.

Your claim: But you won't get the coupons.
My response: But we do get the coupons. They come in the local newspaper we get for free. And my wife has other (legal) methods of acquiring additional copies of coupons for free.
You: Again, stuttering and stammering.
My response for next time: And besides, aren't the coupons in the Sunday paper, the one you're not delivering?

You didn't mention comics again this time, but if you did, I'd ask - do you have a week's worth of Dilbert in color? Because my Dilbert-a-day calendar at work does. Do you have Garfield minus Garfield? No? Because Google Reader does. Do you have Calvin and Hobbes? No? But that's the only comic I like. Is there big advertisements taking up the places where you used to have comics? Because that's what I remember from the last time i had the newspaper.

My claim: You can't update your stories with new information like the internet can.
Sullen silence.

Journalism needn't die, but the printed newspaper is anachronistic (I think I'll use that word next time and then ask them if they know what it means) and needs to go away. I know that without the tangible some people forget to get news, or they only get it from Jon Stewart, The Onion and The Colbert report, but that's not their problem, that's the media company's problem for not being a product people want.

So Seattle Times, stop calling.

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Courage! To Face Your Fears

So I take notes every Sunday in church. I would always leave church, set them on my nightstand and then never do anything with them. Then finally clean off the nightstand and put them in the recycling bin. That doesn't seem to do any good. So lately I've been taking the notes electronically and uploading them you YouVersion. The sermon yesterday was really good. I thought it was worth posting here, too.

COURAGE! To Face Your Fears
Message #5 of COURAGE! by Pastor Jeff MacLurg, Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash.; February 20, 2011 (I pray my notes are accurate and useful. Those in {braces} indicate my own thoughts.)

-----What's so bad about Fears?-----

When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. -- Max Lucado
If safety becomes our god, we worship a risk-free life.
"Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors." - M.L.

------ People of Fear and Courage -----

The list
Adam, Abram, Sarai, Lot, Abimelech, Hagar, Issac, Jacob, Rachel, Joseph's brothers, Etc. (The PowerPoint moves way too fast to capture them all. 61 people or groups.). So if you live with fear, you're not alone.

Joshua 1:1-18
Took over after Moses' death. Moses had been the leader for 40 years and Joshua was now the leader of millions. God says to get up, pack up the people and cross over into the land. God says he'll always be with him, never leave him, never forsake him. All Joshua need do is be strong and courageous. Repeated 5 times. Even the people speak it back to him in :18.

It was a warning that the only thing that could stop him was fear.

You (Joshua) and you (reader) will face fears. Move forward anyway.

Matthew 14:24-33
Jesus meets the boat on the lake. They see him walking towards them on the water. They were afraid, thinking it was a ghost. He tells them to not be afraid.

125 commands in the gospel. 21 are commands to be courageous, take heart, don't be afraid, be of good cheer. The next most commanded? Love the Lord your God. How many times? Just 8 times.

Jesus has Peter get out of the boat. He's still afraid, but he still does it. But he becomes more fearful and begins to sink. Jesus accuses him of having little faith and asks him why he doubts.

Fear is a lack of faith. {Fear as a response to doubt?}

----- What We Learn -----

== 1. Everyone FEARS ==
No one escapes it. For some, it's only at a point of urgency. Others live in constant fear, finding reasons to constantly be fearful, constantly worried they're about to fail.

== 2. Feed your FEARS and your FAITH WILL STARVE ==
(drawn from Max Lucado)
When fear goes up, faith goes down.

* CONSTANTLY ASK "WHAT IF..." (Looking to worst-case scenarios, not imagining success. There are some good 'what ifs' but you know what we're talking about here... What if she says no? What if the car breaks down? What if I lose my job? What if I fail?). If you live on the what ifs, you never take the risk to do anything great for God. Satan injects those what ifs into our head.

* LEAVE GOD OUT. The stories of the Bible are great, but that's history, not the present. Don't pray. Keep listening to the fears instead of what God may tell you.

* SURROUND YOURSELF WITH FEARFUL PEOPLE. Hang around people who don't believe you can do anything and you won't do anything.

* LET YOUR EMOTIONS DRIVE YOU. Forget truth. If it's scary, God must not want me to do that. "What is the opposite of fear? For Christians, there can only be one thing - trust." -- Billy Graham

== 3. Feed your FAITH and your FEARS WILL STARVE ==
When faith goes up, fear goes down.

Faith doesn't say fear doesn't exist, it allows us to look past it.

* DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE FROM FEAR. "Hey fear - I'm not going to obey you anymore.". Thomas Jefferson and the colonists - "King George, we are not afraid anymore. We are not afraid of your army or navy, we are willing to take a stand for independence, we will no longer be under your tyranny." When you make that declaration, understand there will be a fight. We will not allow Satan to bully us.

* BRING GOD INTO IT. Give them over to God (prayer). He hears us the first time. Repeating it is for our benefit. God already knows the end. Our job is to focus on God and say "That's your job.". (Man hired another guy to do all his worrying for him. The hired man was to be paid $200k to do it. He wondered how he would be paid. That, he was told, was his first worry.)

* READ GOD'S HISTORY. Many great examples in the Bible (Abraham, Esthet, Ruth, Jonathan, Paul, etc.) and after the Bible (for instance, our missionaries we we support today) people who reached past their fears.

* REHEARSE GOD'S PROMISES. "I will be with you always." That way you can listen to your head instead of your heart. Example: If I listen to my head, the roller coaster will not go off the tracks and kill me. If I listen to my heart I will never get on a roller coaster.

* REMEMBER GOD'S LOVE. He's already made a big investment in you.
See Psalm 62:11-12

* SURRENDER THE RESULTS TO JESUS. You can trust him. Thinking about Abraham... They waited so long for a child and then God turned around and asked him to sacrifice his son. At that moment, knife raised, he was trusting God. We've got nothing to lose and everything to gain when we put all our trust in God.

== 4. Do it AFRAID ==

Don't try to wait until you've overcome your fear.
"Courage is the mastery over fear, not the absence of fear." -- Mark Twain
God may give us peace, calm, assurance, a reminder of His presence or even a creative approach we hadn't considered before.
Do not invite fear in and let it feel at home.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Sift 51-55

The Sift 51: Nokia (2 of 2)

  • RIP: Symbian
  • Stephen Elop: There will be 'substantial reductions in employment' inside Nokia
  • Nokia execs reshuffled in Microsoft-centered Elopcalypse
  • Nokia and Microsoft enter strategic alliance on Windows Phone, Bing, Xbox Live and more
  • Rushing the Net: Nokia's Coming Fight to the Finnish


The Sift 52: Brain Tricks

  • Top 10 Tips and Tricks to Train, Exercise and Better Your Brain
  • Find Time for Your Personal Life and Get a Handle on Your Out-of-Control Work Schedule
  • Why Comfort is a Productivity-Killer
  • New research suggests our brains delete information at an 'extraordinarily high' rate
  • Communicate Better by Pretending People You Know Are Strangers


The Sift 53: Gooooogle

  • Microsoft’s Bing uses Google search results—and denies it
  • Google Wins Access To “Super Wi-Fi” Broadband Spectrum
  • Explore museums and great works of art in the Google Art Project
  • Google Offers $20,000 and a Laptop for a Chrome Hack
  • Google Chrome Cheat Sheet: 10 Tips and Tricks


The Sift 54: Cars

  • Mitsuoka’s Himiko is a Classic Electric Sports Car
  • Obama Will Not Meet His Electric Car Goal by 2015
  • Tesla Motor’s Model X Electric SUV to Hit the Streets by 2013
  • Virginia pilot program halves electricity bill for charging EVs overnight
  • DARPA working with Local Motors to crowdsource next-generation combat vehicles


The Sift 55: Facebook

  • Facebook's Revamped Messaging System Now Rolling Out to All Users
  • What the New Facebook Pages Mean For Users & Owners
  • Facebook Rolling Out Brand New Photos Interface
  • Facebook Launches Group-Buying Prototype
  • Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings Every User Needs to Know


Sunday, February 20, 2011


So, I noticed something on the trip I was just on. I've only been on four business trips in my life - CES in 1997 and then three of the past four Email Evolution Conferences.  When I went to CES, I passed my boss in the hall where he handed me the room key, he headed off to the airport to head home, he'd attended the first two days and then it was my turn to attend the next two days.  At the first EEC in San Diego I connected with my college roommate and we hit up Adalberto's.  But otherwise, besides the other industry participants I barely know, these conferences are lonely experiences.  Lots of good stuff to learn and lots of time to think, but if you know me, you know I'm not super-social, so even the meals can be a little difficult as I struggle through.

This year, a colleague also attended the conference.  She flew up a day earlier for a pre-conference workshop, but we connected the morning after I arrived and pretty much hung-out for much of the conference.  We divided-and-conquered the different sessions to get as much good stuff out of the conference as we could, but we ate together, wandered around the vendor booths as a team, spent several hours talking through our notes and planning for a presentation we were going to make after we got back, stuff like that.

I discovered something really odd.  I kept deferring to her.  Like we'd walk up to a vendor's booth, even if I started the conversation, or did the introductions, before long, I was kind of just turning to her and letting her carry the conversation.  Sometimes it was something like trying to quickly distill the work of our non-profit, a pitch I think I've got down pretty good, but other times, it was points where it was really kind of odd and that's when it started to hit me.

I realized this is something I do with Lori.  I often let her handle the conversations with other people.  It is a weird habit I've gotten into.  Sometimes I do get flustered and all but stammer.  And I know my speech can occasionally seem a little bit slurred due to an annoying thing where apparently my mouth produces more saliva than the average person (according to every dentist and dental hygenist who's ever worked on my mouth).  And sometimes my mind's racing so fast I have trouble staying grounded in the conversation right in front of me, or I come up with something I want to say but it's so complicated I struggle it get it out consisely.

But I think it's more than that.  I think I've just gotten lazy, that it's easier to let Lori handle things.

This also becomes evident like when we go out to eat.  I'm happy to sit with the kids and let her order the food.  I'm even happy to then run up to the counter and grab trays, but I have an unhealthy aversion to talking to people.   (In the case of fast food restaurants, I have this fear that I'm going to forget what I'm supposed to order for other people or come back with the wrong stuff.  And there are cases where she does wait in the car and I run in and grab food.  Although the last time I did that, I did actually mis-order hers.)

But, yeah, apparently that's something else I need to work on.  Being more social and doing a better job of engaging people.  I can do it.  Sometimes I even enjoy it.   It's not the easiest thing in the world, but it's certainly not going to get any easier if I just continue to stand back and let Lori do my talking for me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Vacation That Didn't Reset

See that photo over there? Usually my photos are just representative stuff I grab off of Google Images, but this time, I had to brag a little bit.   This was the view from the living room of my hotel room, nay suite.  I kept wanting to call it an apartment.   If you thought this view was great, you should have seen the view off the balcony.

Normally, when I come back from a trip, I try to find a way to simplify my life.  Of course, this was slightly different.  This was more like a pause from life.   I flew down to Miami Beach for a conference.  My company paid the same discounted (barely) conference rate as everyone else, but for whatever reason, I ended up in a 650 square foot mansion that goes for nearly $800 a night.

It wasn't a vacation, though... so first, there was the conference.  Second, I flew in the night before the conference, I never quite adjusted to the time zone, I kept busy in the evenings working, and then after the conference, headed back out, catching a shuttle back to the airport at 2:45 PST after only a few hours of sleep.  

One night I worked at the desk, the next day I moved to the six person dining room table so I could spread out. But it was still work.  So, even though I had put all my clothes in drawers, I still had papers and computers and stuff spread out, so it was a little messier than normal.  (I did manage to get out one night for a 4 mile walk on A1A Beach Front Avenue. Cool.)

So when I came home, I was expecting to have my usual bit of funk while I mourned the simplicity of the trip and looked at the clutter.  It didn't happen this time, which still puzzles me.   Of course, I have also gotten both the flu and a common cold since returning and work has been insanely busy.

But I take my lack of mourning as a good thing -- the trip went extremely well and I can remember the calm and the surf (the view, the sound, the blustery wind) and just have a nice memory of the trip without the need to try to  find fault with my current life because it's not a classy expensive empty apartment on the water.

I do, however, love the idea of working and living (and going to Starbucks) all in the same building.  So much time saved not driving.  It was awesome just taking shuttles and planes and trains and not having to drive myself.  I used to love driving, but I think I'm over it.  Everything that is fun about driving does not exist in the daily commute, except for the music.

So, yeah, trip good, came home happy, not seeing it as a measuring stick against which my standard life doesn't measure up.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Conflict of Interest

Every year, we have to fill out a "Conflict of Interest" questionnaire to make sure we're not participating in activities that could reflect a conflict for the organization. I never have anything to submit, who has the time to engage in anything else? But I was thinking about it yesterday and thought: Yeah, this job conflicts with my interests, especially my interest to spend the appropriate amount of time with my family. I was, naturally, reading the reminder as I headed towards my car, late again.

It made me think of something I'd read recently where a guy decided to ask his family to fill out 360 Reviews for him. 360 Reviews are a silly tool utilized by employers, but overall a bad idea. You never know how many other people will be submitting 360s. Should you tell the truth? Should you hold back? If you're critical, will it be misinterpreted or overblown by their supervisor? Will they recognize your writing style and out you as the reviewer? What if you interact with them in a completely different manner than everyone else submitting 360s and so your answers don't line up with everyone else's? This last one is a big pet peeve of mine because I'm often asked to fill out lots of 360s where I know that's the case. My work touches a lot of the organization, but it's a position that's abused and mistreated, so if I have to be critical of their time management and ability to complete work on time, I'm almost guaranteed to be rating on a different schedule than everyone else.

But back to this guy... he made his family submit 360s for him, and then he took the information, worked from it and had them redo them after a quarter. I think he really appreciated it because it gave him feedback and gave him concrete things to work towards.

I'm not sure I could do that. It's too scary. And I suspect that in many ways I already know my failings. But on the other hand, my six year old would probably just write about how much she loves me.

Guess I need to give more thought to this.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Magic Trick: Free Time at Work

This simple magic trick will give you all kinds of additional free time at work for the really important stuff:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Sift 46-50

The Sift 46: Batch of Cars

  • Porsche 918 RSR Hybrid Race Car Unveiled at Detroit Auto Show
  • Volkswagen to Unveil 235MPG Car at 2011 Qatar Motor Show - Ugh. I thought we were done with ugly cars with the back wheels covered?
  • Chevrolet rolling out Volt nationwide by end of year, everybody gets a plug-in
  • Tesla Model S to have 17-inch infotainment console powered by Tegra; BMW using NVIDIA tech too
  • Hyundai Reveals 40mpg Veloster at Detroit Auto Show


The Sift 47: WOW Videos

  • A Day at the Bakery - wow, now I am really hungry. This guy is good.
  • Twilight approach/landing at LAX. Awesome.
  • Real-time Face-Tracking
  • All of NYC in the Blink of an Eye
  • We Are All Cyborgs Now


The Sift 48: Ye Olde TeeVee

  • Internet Surpasses Television as Main News Source for Young Adults
  • 3Dud TV
  • 5 Reasons Connected TV Could Flop in 2011
  • 86% of participants surveyed by Yahoo!/Nielsen Use Mobile Devices While Watching TV
  • "Angry Birds" to Become an Animated Series


The Sift 49: Gmail

  • Email delegation: Granting access to your Gmail account
  • Gmail Adds Unread Count in Favicon to Gmail Labs
  • Google Begins Testing Display Ads in Gmail
  • How to Use Gmail as Your Central, Universal Communications Hub
  • Gmail Labs Search


The Sift 50: Nokia (1 of 2)

  • Nokia CEO Stephen Elop rallies troops in brutally honest 'burning platform' memo - the memo that started the firestorm (except for the part about the fire already happening)
  • Nokia Workers Mourn the Death of Symbian - Thousands Walk Out
  • Nokia Partners with Microsoft, Embraces Windows Phone 7
  • Why Microsift is Nokia's Last Best Hope (opinion)
  • Nokia USA president is out, replaced by Microsoft vet Chris Weber as Elopocalypse continues


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bacon or Ewok

Lori was telling me a dream recently where she had made bacon. I thought that was a pretty cool dream. I mean, the smell of bacon, the taste of bacon, none of the annoying grease or calories. She disagreed. She said my recent dream was cooler.

I was standing on the bridge(?) of an AT-AT, up in the head(?) part. We were just standing still. It was cold and snowy. I guess we were supposed to be guarding some area or something. I was just standing there looking out the window. Bored. Every so often another person would some in to the cockpit(?), or I'd leave the cabin (seriously... what is this called?) to go back into the body of the vehicle to talk to someone. But we were definitely not moving. Oh, and the machine had a much smoother, glass head so when you stood in the front you had an expansive view. Must have been some pretty strong armored material that was transparent.

I was standing there looking out and I could see just in front and below was an Ewok curled up in a tree like a koala, sleeping. And it was annoying me because here we were in this massive beast of a machine and it was just sleeping as if it didn't even know we were there or worse yet, wasn't afraid of us. I knew it would be wrong to shoot it, and besides, I wouldn't be able to maneuver the guns around without moving the entire vehicle, but as I stood there drinking my coffee and looking at the cold terrain, its very presence in the tree was mocking me.

Finally I sat down at the controls, brought the engines online, and lowered the head and then shook it back and forth, shaking the tree and dislodging the Ewok.

Monday, February 14, 2011

No Robots

This post from Seth Godin ticks me off. Well, not so much the post, but the idea of people acting like that.

If a person acting like a machine can do the job, then that person ought to be replaced with a machine. If a machine can't do the job, then maybe the person isn't doing their job well and should be replaced by someone who doesn't see themselves as a machine.

I decided to make a sign (click to enlarge):

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I was sick recently. I used to enjoy great health, never being sick. This one was a nasty one that went around, seems like everyone I know got it, and I got it near the end. I hope it doesn't come around again. On Tuesday night, it started to really hit me. I did not sleep well that night, pretty much just stayed on the couch where we had watched TV. Early Thursday was the worst of it. I brushed my teeth and then felt pretty good. I had a several hour meeting (family-related, details eventually) and felt good but tired. Didn't even feel a little bit queasy -- which was good because last time I drove somewhere while I was sick, I ended up pulling off the road and things were not good and I ended up sending them along while I walked the rest of the way barefoot. But not this time, which I was pretty happy about. When we got home, I worked on a really important project that was due that afternoon for work. But I knew I wasn't doing well because after I finished the project and emailed it in, I had to close the computer. Usually when I'm sick, I can still hang out and do email. But not that day, I pretty much stayed on the couch and slept on and off. I probably consumed about 50 calories total all day. I don't remember being up off the couch too much. I slept much better the next night. I woke up at 5:30 and wondered if I should go to work. I wasn't sure so I went back to sleep. I didn't wake again until 8:30. Lori told me not to go to work. I was more mobile the next day (Friday) and ate, but still took it easy. A good thing, too, I ended up having a bit of a headache for much of the day. But by the end of the day I was feeling pretty normal. Pretty happy about that. Of course, I wasn't completely caught up at home or at work since my trip. I did get a little extra done around the house on Friday, but the email piled up even more (over 400 behind -- after a marathon session of cleaning up post-trip) and I had to miss some important meetings that will just delay stuff. Getting sick is just way too inconvenient.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Sift 41-45

The Sift 41: Friday Funny

  • I has a coffee and a grumpy...
  • Our House Is In The Middle of the Street
  • Bag Thief (Mystery Guitarman)
  • He's Back - Just Admit it Old Spice Guy, You Missed Us
  • Awesome Miniature Golf Shot


The Sift 42: Environmental - Energy and Pollution

  • Motorists Wasted 3.9 Billion Gallons of Fuel in 2009
  • Marine Corps Uses Solar Panels to Cut Generator Fuel Consumption by 90 Percent
  • Air Pollution Fighting Road Treatment Breaks Down Auto Emissions
  • US Air Force to Quadruple Their On-Base Solar Power in Four Years
  • 10 EU Countries Pledge to Create North Sea Renewable Energy Grid


The Sift 43: Not All Games Have Angry Birds (but most do)

  • Hot Wheels Video Racer Has a VGA Camera Under Its Hood, Confirms That Kids Have It All
  • Mattel's Mindflex Duel in the works, allows true test of wills
  • The Boardgame Remix Kit Combines Your Old Games Into New Ones
  • Play "Angry Birds" -- The Board Game
  • 45-level "Angry Birds Rio" game dropping in March, movie comes out in April. Also, a Valentines edition will come out before then


The Sift 44: Advertising and Media

  • Al Jazeera Launches Twitter & Meetup Campaigns To Bring Broadcast To U.S.
  • Branding: The Quest for the Perfect Name
  • Why Permission Marketing is the Future of Online Advertising
  • Read "The Daily" Free on the Web
  • YouTube Partners with Curation Startup to Chronicle Protests in Egypt


The Sift 45: Architecture and Design

  • Dubai May Need to Demolish Buildings to Reduce Vacancies
  • China Planning to Construct a Mega-City the Size of Switzerland
  • SOM to Create Amazing Green Tech City for Hanoi, Vietnam
  • How to Boost Employment in Seattle in Two Years
  • 5 Tips for a Green Home Remodel from Eco Architect Sarah Susanka


Friday, February 11, 2011


I saw someone at work who I think is planning to retire this summer. They had gone through a big project last year and I think they realized that they'd had just about enough. So this summer, they'll end their career and start a new life that just means not going to an office anymore.

That seemed a little sad to me. I've seen that a few times from this side - they're just kind of no longer there, their memory fades away.

So it made me start thinking... In the movies, people in retirement have finally found their zen, their peace. The demons are gone. They've reformed. Of course, most of the examples I can think of are people who had criminal careers. But they've just kind of gotten out of the game.

Until they get called back in for one last job.

And then I though of the idea of finishing well. But you never know when you're actually just about to be done. The only person who's positively done everything he set out to do was Jesus. And of course you can't compare to him.

So someday, I will get to retire. For now, the hope is that it will involve me sitting in a house that has views of the water and I'm just reading books. (Hopefully the irony of old age won't make reading difficult. Technology will probably help.). But what of the time just prior to retirement? I hope I will still be working here. But if I am, will I go out with a bang? One last thing gets pulled off. Not so much to leave a legacy, but as a nice end cap to my career.

I guess time will tell. But since it's a ways off, I look forward to all the cool technology stuff we'll see before then. And I'll continue to add to the list of books I want to read.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Social Engineering

When I lived in California, it was easy to get onto movie sets that were filming in public places. All you needed to do was look angry, wear a baseball cap and look like you belonged there. At the time, I also had a Nokia 100 cellphone, which looked like a giant walkie talkie.

Or even the NBC lot. I'd walk towards the gate purposefully, and then right before the gate, pull out my cell phone and pretend I'd just gotten a call. I'd gesture wildly and look a bit annoyed. I'd pause before the gate, continue my call. And then as someone was leaving, I'd end my fake call, grab the closing gate and walk through. The security guards were usually more interested in the cars. Hopefully by now they've firmed up security a little more.

But it's always been said that any security is only as good as the people. You can have a secured network, but if one guy can show up at the front desk, pretending to be from the phone company or exterminator, suggest that they're supposed to take a look at a problem in the security closet, usually that's all it takes. They are often even escorted back by someone trying to be helpful. Once inside, it's easy enough to plug in a small wireless device and tuck it among the cables and walk back out.

On Christmas eve, I got a bunch of emails suggesting I'd requested to reset my password with Facebook. Only I hadn't. And my existing password has continued to operate without fail ever since.

Clever. I think it was a hack attempt. And it almost worked.

Think of it... you could do this for any site. Just send people a bunch of password reset emails. Include a link in every one that says "If you believe you received this in error, or you did not request a password reset, click here."

Click through to a site that looks like the real site, asks people to sign-in to report the problem, and many, many would fall for it.

Moral of the story: Be careful. Be suspicious. Delete unknown emails with prejudice.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Paying For It

"If you're not paying for it, you are the product." 
-- blue_beetle on MetaFilter

I love this quote. It's so true.  Facebook is no different than Google or Twitter or broadcast TV or radio - you are there so that someone else can sell advertising.  Everything else is just to keep your attention between the ads.  (So when The New York Times decides to start charging for its website, that's because it's not doing a good enough job differentiating itself and drawing a large enough crowd, or it's not doing a good enough job with its ad sales or a good enough job monetizing its website.)

And then there are games like CityVille where lots of people can play for free because a small number of people have more money than time and are willing to pay to advance in the game quicker.

A few months ago I listened to the audio version of Free: The Future of a Radical Price. It was a really fascinating book. At the time, the book was available free in a number of formats. Oddly, now $10.80 on Still, a really great book that makes a lot of good points about how large amounts of money can be made by free.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Seriously, @Target?

Lori spotted this and posted it to Facebook.  I suggested she blog it, but she wondered what the point was, that she'd get far more response from her friends on Facebook.  But I suggested that maybe Target would see it if she put it on her blog.  She said "Eh."  So I figured I would.

Because, like, for real, Target?

She suggests this is the kind of thing that would drive her to Wal*Mart.  And no one wants that.

Monday, February 07, 2011

...28 Days

I try to avoid commercials... But we were watching something OnDemand on Kabletown tonight and it was NBC, so naturally, it was full of commercials that are less easy to skip. There were two commercials for movies I've never heard of them. Both of them ended with "Available on Blu-Ray and OnDemand 28 days before Redbox and Netflix."

I'm sorry, but what are they smoking? First, they point out their own jackarsery in penalizing poor Netflix and Redbox by withholding the movies because obviously Netflix and Redbox wouldn't delay release of movies on their own accord.

Second, they end every commercial giving free advertising to Redbox and Netflix by ending the commercial with Redbox and Netflix being the last thing people hear.

Lastly, they tell us exactly when we should expect to find the movie at Redbox and Netflix.

The studios are dinosaurs.

(Disclaimer: Lamb Family, LLP is a current Redbox customer and future Netflix customer. Also, two members of LF,LLP were formerly employed by Warner Bros.)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Sift 36-40

The Sift 35: Hey, It's Facebook

  • Netflix Working on Deep Facebook Integration
  • Facebook may be developing, testing VoIP calls straight through its website
  • Facebook Increases Security by Allowing HTTPS Usage Everywhere
  • Facebook phone rumors resurface: cloud-based, HTC-built?
  • Facebook Experimenting with "Social Captchas" for Authentication


The Sift 36: Picture This, Too - More Infographics

  • Which Brands Got the Most Social Media Buzz in '10?
  • Starbucks Trenta, Illustrated: How The New Size Compares To The Human Stomach
  • If you lived in... - comparisons between any two countries.
  • The Twitterverse - a great graphic showing all the websites/companies orbiting (relying on) Twitter
  • The Staggering Size of the Internet


The Sift 37: The Speed of Business

  • Wearing Glasses Will Get You a Better Job
  • LinkedIn Identifies Your Contacts in "Fortunes Best Companies To Work For"
  • Three Ways to Help People Get Things Done
  • Are You Paying Attention? How Things Change Suddenly and Radically
  • Clay Shirky on institutions vs. collaboration (July 2005; 20:49)


The Sift 38: Let's Go Google

  • Easter Egg in Google Books Ngram Viewer
  • Google Translate's Beatbox Easter Egg
  • Google Voice Number Porting Now Available
  • Why Google Needs Its Own Steve Jobs
  • Google to Make 2011 Biggest Hiring Year Ever


The Sift 39: Advertising

  • LinkedIn Now Allows Advertising to Target Users by Job Title & More
  • 6 Predictions for Digital Advertising in 2011
  • Apple Opens Up iAd Creation to the Masses
  • YouTube's Most Viewed Ads of 2010
  • Top 10 Digital Advertising Innovations of 2010


The Sift 40: Future Car

  • Toyota Developing New Type of Electric Motor in an Effort to Escape Dependency on Rare Earth Metals
  • Tesla Unveils Model S 'Alpha Build' Prototype at Detroit Auto Show
  • Silver Tesla Model S Alpha Hits the Road, Carves Some Corners
  • Volvo's platooning SARTRE cars drive themselves (video)
  • New Materials Could Double Chevy Volt Battery Capacity


Saturday, February 05, 2011

Review -- Stone's Fall (Partial)

I hate criticizing books.  Books seem so important.  Someone believed in the work enough to print it.  Many times.  And sell it.  Someone figured out a story enough to put all the pieces together in a way that convinced someone else that it was a sellable product.  And there's a high rate of books that never get published.  I've never had anything longer than a letter to the editor printed in a real newspaper.  (Sure, I got real articles printed in the high school and college papers, but still, just reporting.)

So, yeah, I hate to say I didn't like something.  Or worse yet, didn't even finish something.  But I guess not everything I read I'm going to like.  However, I will often see it through to the end in some sort of stubborn doggedness or at least mild curiousity.  I guess the 76% rating on Visual Bookshelf on Facebook should have been a bit of a warning, I usually treat anything less than an 80% as highly suspect and often a reason to drop it from my reading list.

I was looking at the book last night -- a massive brick of a thing -- and wondering, if I was on page 137 and it appeared to be such a small sliver of the overall tome, just how big was this thing?  By the time I woke up this morning, I realized I didn't care to keep reading.  It would take me forever, and in the meantime, there were lots of other, shorter books that I could read and I really wasn't that engaged with the story.   So I looked: 594.

Next, I tried reading the last page, but it didn't offer any clues.  So I skimmed a few previous pages, still no luck.  I began working backwards (ironic) to no luck, encountering new characters.

I'm glad I stopped.  While I haven't found any spoilers online, I don't think I would have liked the book if I had kept reading.  The book starts at the death of a character and then quickly jumps back in time to when a reporter first meets that character, shortly after her husband's death and the revelation -- via the will -- that he had a child unbeknownst to his wife.

Reading the reviews online, the book would later move backwards in time, forgetting about the reporter, but continuing to follow the woman as well as man who's only been mentioned a few times by name so far.  And then there's one more jump backwards and the man who's just recently died (fell out of a window) becomes a central character and it looks at the time when he and his wife first met.

Since so far I had related to the young, broke reporter, I think I would have been annoyed when he was no longer central to the story.  Now, he was starting to act stupid with his infatuation of this woman 20 years older than him and she was seemingly insane (I don't think badly written, just off-kilter as a character).   So I would have been annoyed if he'd been dropped and I realized that it was just more of this woman I don't like.

So I'm glad I dropped this.  And as much as I hate to say it, I can't finish "Stone's Fall" by Iain Pears and I can't recommend it.

Friday, February 04, 2011

You Are Here

This is a cool new feature on Linked In. (Read more about it on Lifehacker.)

Takes your networks and shows how they are interconnected. I like this because it gives you distinct groupings, as you'd expect, but also a few surprises when clouds connect. Shows you who some of the real power brokers are.

Much more interesting than a similar feature that I've had on my Facebook account for years that puts me at the center of the universe with everyone orbiting me equally...  Of course, I have a lot of friends on Facebook that don't interconnect with anyone else due to the great purge of a few years ago when I stopped being an indiscriminate friend-collector.   In some ways, this is more of a pain in the neck, because you have to explore each person individually to see how they connect to your other friends.  But it also puts the emphasis on the individual.  That's nice, but it does make it more difficult to see patterns or interesting relationships.  I guess that's the power of good presentation.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Review -- And Here's the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on their Craft

And Here's the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on their Craft"And Here's the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on their Craft" was the opportunity for comedic writer Mike Sacks to interview other comedic writers. In his introduction he notes that he didn't get everyone on his wish list, some declining for a lack of interest or because they were too busy and presumably other un-funny reasons, but he never reveals who turned him down.

He does, however, still assemble a collection of 21 interviews from Dave Barry to Dick Cavett, Larry Gelbart to Bob Odenkirk. In some ways, conversations might be a better word than interviews, with Sacks laying out things out in a way that really flow. But, you see a lot less from him, often just enough to establish a topic or join two ideas, the spotlight really is on the comics themselves. And it works well.

I also came to learn that Jack Handey is a real person, not just a name made up for SNL's "Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey." The material might have been put together with a target audience of aspiring comic writers, but even if you're just an entertainment consumer like me, you'll enjoy this book. Between interviews Sacks also includes short bits/advice on writing from other comics, as well as tips on getting work published in magazines and how to submit for television from people who receive and review such submissions.

If you enjoy comedic television or movies, you will enjoy reading this book and seeing a little more behind the scenes -- good and bad -- of the industry, not to mention some glimpses into why these people are funny.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

What Is This, Boy Scouts?

I'm slightly amused by all these sites now offering badges. I've gotten badges on at least three sites now. I think the only one that I'm really happy about is "The 25 Club" from LoseIt, signifying that I've lost 25 pounds. Although I also got my red Swingline stapler one, that's cool. There are a couple of Foursquare ones I'm hoping to get soon, but overall, it's pretty silly, all these badges. (I stopped two below Eagle Scout, by the way.)
Lose It badges.  I like the look of these.

Foursquare, the grand-daddy of badges

YouVersion - I hope they get smaller as you get more
because if these were on chains, the size
would kill your neck.
I do want to get these ones from Foursquare:
Fixer Upper
Baggage Handler
Jet Setter
And since I've not quoted The Treasure of Sierra Madre or Blazing Saddles in this post, feel free to do so in the comments.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Dear @DairyQueen - you might be confused

click to enlarge

So... yeah... @DairyQueen... buddy... friend... two things... first, I think you might be mistaken.  I do think one million dollars and an all-inclusive trip to Tahiti might be better than a Blizzard.  Please send my wife and I one million dollars, two Blizzards and send us on an all-inclusive trip to Tahiti.  We'll carefully research and compare and let you know our findings.

Secondly, "buy one, get one free" isn't exactly free.  Shouldn't you send this to my friends instead and let them know that it's my birthday and that they can get me a cheap gift by driving me to Dairy Queen and buying themselves a Blizzard on my birthday and you'll throw one in for me for free?  Yeah, a little more snarky than we're used to from the DQ, eh?

Just don't start calling yourself "the deek" and we'll be fine.  As soon as I typed that, I had a bad feeling and went to Google.  Et tu, DQ?  Deeqs?  Really?

But seriously, get back to me so we can work out travel dates for the trip to Tahiti and what flavor Blizzards we'd like.  We'd like the million in hundreds in wrapped stacks in a briefcase, just because that would be awesome.  (if it doesn't fit, put the rest in a duffel bag or a cashier's check.  And don't forget to pay taxes.  Don't want to go to jail, you know.)