Monday, January 31, 2011

Selling It: Estée Lauder

Recently, a devotion talked an early time when Estée Lauder was founding her cosmetics company, waiting all day to meet a potential buyer. The speaker admitted that they weren't even sure if she was still alive. So I pulled up Wikipedia. Nope, she passed away in 2004.

The Wikipedia listed four quotes from her that I just thought were quite brilliant:

"If you have a goal, if you want to be successful, if you really want to do it and become another Estée Lauder, you've got to work hard, you've got to stick to it and you've got to believe in what you're doing."

"Beauty is an attitude. There's no secret. Why are all brides beautiful? Because on their wedding day they care about how they look. There are no ugly women - only women who don't care or who don't believe they're attractive."

"When you stop talking, you've lost a customer. When you turn your back, you've lost her."

"If you don't sell, it's not the product that's wrong, it's you."

I suppose that last one could be considered a little harsh, but if you think about it, we're always selling. Even if it's simply the version of ourselves that we're presenting to everyone else, we're still asking them to buy it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Sift 31-35

The Sift 31: People are People

  • Have You Taken a Moment to Say 'Thank You'?
  • Self-Destructive Instructions
  • Strangers In Our Midst
  • Treat Different Customers Differently
  • Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders (Video - Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook)


The Sift 32: Good to Know

  • Why You Learn More Effectively by Writing than Typing
  • AMBER Alerts Now Available on Facebook
  • Examiners use spectrum analyzers to bust cellphone-packin' cheats
  • Use a Google Voice Number from Outside the U.S.
  • Encrypt, Password-Protect, and Keep Your Phone Out of Pocket to Avoid Warrantless Searches


The Sift 33: Transit and Travel

  • The Burden of the 787
  • Streetcars and the Transit Master Plan
  • Top 8 Ways to Score Free Hotel Upgrades
  • Tesla Confirms Plans to Unveil Electric Model X SUV This Year
  • WSDOT helps guy propose aboard Amtrak


The Sift 34: Turmoil in Egypt

  • YouTube, Flickr Show Escalating Violence in Egyptian Protests
  • Facebook and Twitter Blocked in Egypt
  • Internet Access & SMS Blocked in Egypt as Protests Escalate
  • How Users in Egypt Are Bypassing Twitter & Facebook Blocks
  • Protest Spreads in the Middle East (photos)


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


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Suggestion for Haiti

It's my understanding that some of what Haiti encountered during the earthquake in 2010 was due in part to building codes that were not stringent enough for the types of disasters the tiny island nation could potentially weather, including earthquakes. If that is indeed not true, that this was just so massive a quake that better building codes wouldn't have made sense, then stop reading now as the rest of this post will be invalid.

I don't mean to be crass or up here spouting off in ignorance from the comfort of my comfy chair, this is just something that's been rattling around in my brain and I wanted to commit it to the blog, as it were. Hopefully it comes across in the manner intended.

But, if it's true that Haiti's building codes were (are?) inadequate, I'd like to offer a proposal. I read recently about when Monsanto got serious about safety - they declared that all of their facilities would be built to U.S. standards, or local country standards, whichever were more stringent. If a country had week or non-existent standards, that was fine, they'd just fall back on U.S. standards and be fairly confident that they weren't just getting by on "good enough."

So my thought is that Haiti ought to adopt a similar idea for building codes. Select a city or state (or country) with similar disaster opportunities - an area that has escaped similar disasters through stricter building codes. Maybe it's L.A., San Francisco, Miami. Maybe it's some other country altogether. But take those building codes and announce "Those are now our building codes." Like a country deciding that its official currency is the U.S. dollar, this would be planting a stake in the ground and saying "we are now in lock-step."

I think it makes sense from a number of perspectives. For the purposes of example, I'll just pick Los Angeles.

First, the government would no longer need to worry about people trying to get around the law or exert political pressure to change the laws to their advantage to the detriment of the people. (Well, at least not Haitians.)

Second, it would cost less. Even if they paid a little to that other organization to be kept in the loop, it would still cost less than developing and maintaining your own set of standards, since I imagine those can change from time-to-time as new technologies and learnings become accepted.

Third, cross-certification. If you can build in Los Angeles, then you know what's required to build in Haiti. And in time, it could work the other way... you've established yourself as a reputable company in Haiti, then you already know all the requirements and laws to get contracting jobs in Los Angeles. You could see other countries wanting to jump on board and suddenly you've got a global thing going and in the process, everyone's safer.

Fourth, tourism and compliance. You can invite code compliance officers and those that write the laws to come over from Los Angeles to train and review procedures. And their families can come along for a vacation very inexpensively. And they tell their friends about the lovely time they had and it's a shot in the arm for tourism.

I suppose it's hard to even think of tourism with Haiti still suffering so much, but that, too, will need to come back. If you'd like to learn more about what's currently going on in Haiti, you might check out World Vision's website. Also, check out these amazing photos from The Big Picture.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Life and Death and Cake

It's one of those days etched in my memory. Well, it's a weird sort of day, because it has a bit of a bridge to next week as well.

Today, of course was the day the Challenger exploded. Next week on my birthday, the Columbia disintegrated on its way back from a mission. I was in a Vegas hotel when I learned the news of the second, in my sixth grade class when I learned the news of the first when they wheeled in a TV for us to watch it launch and explode over and over again.

While the details are a little fuzzy in my brain, I'm pretty certain that this was the date my grandfather passed away. He was in a Reno hotel on a gambling trip and just didn't wake up. His funeral was on my birthday. We went to TGI Fridays after the burial. Hated that place for years, even if what little I can remember it was a joyous, happy time for everyone but me where lots of family gathered together at a big long table in the middle of the restaurant. I imagine they were joyful because they were remembering what a great guy he was and happy that he was no longer in the daily pain he endured from a silly thing he did as a teenager. But I just remember looking at the balloons and blinking traffic lights and street signs and stuffed bears and thinking what an awful place this is and how can you all be sitting here laughing and having fun. Perhaps it explains my extreme hatred of and discomfort around clutter and why I don't like making a big deal of my own birthday.

Of course, it's also Carol's birthday (the person, not the cat, though the cat was named after her). Happy Birthday, Carol M., wherever you are.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How To: Fix a "TE Error" on an LG-WM2277HW (part 2 of 2)

<<< Back to part 1 of 2 (introduction and step 1)

Step 2 - After they're off, you can slide the entire top of the unit backwards and then lift off.
Step 3 - Remove the soap drawer.  (The basket is on top because I'm still not sure if the ceiling's going to cave in and if it does, I don't want it to fall into the machine.  Crazy, I know.)
Step 4 - I realized there was probably water still in the machine, so I drained it at this point.  You'd probably do it earlier in the process just to be done with it since it takes some time for the water to drain.  This shows the door removed, but that's actually not necessary.  There may have been a screw or two in here that helps hold the front in place.
Step 5 - Back up top, there are a few screws that hold the control panel in place.
Step 6 - With the control panel resting on top -- it's still connected by the wires in the middle -- you have access to a few screws that hold the front panel on.  You have unplugged the machine, right?
Step 7 - Remove the tension ring.  Be careful not to damage the gasket that seals the door.  
Another shot of the ring.  The machine has a metal lip on the front panel and the gasket fits around that and then the ring holds it tightly.
The ring contains a really powerful spring.  I actually needed my wife's help getting the ring back in place afterwards, the coordination of holding it in place while applying pressure (while being careful of the gasket) really benefited from two sets of hands.   The machine occasionally dribbled a little bit before the repair, but now it doesn't.  Hooray.
A shot of the metal rim and gasket.
Step 8 - Disconnect the door sensor from the right side of the machine.  (If your door opens to the right, it might be on the left.)  I can't tell if this picture is oriented correctly.  After this point, turning on the machine will get you the "dE error" (door) instead.
Now, we can see the problem.  The curve at the top of the photo is the southeast corner of the opening.  Here two blue wires go into a plug and that plug plugs in.
Yep, look at that.  Wire's broken.  
Step 9 - You could probably replace the entire plug, or just strip the wire, reattach to the plug and then secure with electrical tape as I did.
Step 10 - Reassemble everything.  I recommend testing as soon as the door sensor plug is reattached, just to be safe.  But here it is - up and running.   And has been running perfectly since then.  (Including no longer occasionally dribbling out the front while running.)

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How To: Fix a "TE Error" on an LG-WM2277HW (part 1 of 2)

Last November, we noticed that the drywall ceiling in our laundry room was bowing, as if there was water pushing down on it. The sky was literally falling. Or at least literally about to fall. As if that wasn't enough, the very next day, the washing machine threw a "tE error."  (So this is about the error, not the stupid ceiling.)
Washing Machine
The LG-WM2277HW is a rather nice front-loading electric washing machine from LG, but it's a fancy computerized deal, so things like this can be kinda scary. When we first got it, it would often throw some other error, but it turned out that it was because I was spinning the drum after emptying a load. When I'd do that, the machine would turn on. Thought that was pretty cool. Well, it wasn't.

So, yeah, turning the thing now would get me a "tE" flashing on the screen. Now, this was a rather expensive washing machine no longer under warranty and we had laundry to do and we didn't know how long until the ceiling was going to collapse. (By that evening we were pretty sure there wasn't several gallons of water up there, but the ceiling was obviously waterlogged.)

I have manuals for all of our appliances saved on the computer, so I went upstairs to look up the error. It said that there was a problem with the thermistor. To this day, I've never bothered to find out what a thermistor is. But, the more I looked on Google, the more cases I came across where someone got the tE error simply by moving the washing machine or by running a really heavy lopsided load. The thermistor wasn't failing, a wire was being knocked loose. Sounds to me like a manufacturing defect.

My wife, who has incredible faith in me -- or hadn't seen the instructions that I'd seen (copied below) encouraged me into trying to repair the thing itself.

The instructions I found:
To be more specific, unplug unit. Behind the machine are two plastic kick plates, remove to slide off the top. Once off, two top self tap metal screws and one screw behind panel wall, remove. Remove two detergent screws. Lift electrical panel and set on top of machine. Remove four top screws. Bottom drain has one screw in front, take out plastic cover and one screw in back. Take off rubber by opening door. With a screw driver, prey and lift up the brass spring ring and remove. Then the front panel should slide up and out. Be careful because electric wire is still connected, move to the side of unit. You will then be able to find the thermostat. Unplug and replace, you will need to use the same rubber bushing. Took me an hour, I’m not an appliance repair guy.
Good enough?  I was able to get the job done, but it left a lot to be desired.   So, I decided to document the job myself, in case that helped.  And due to my own stupidity, I did part of the job twice -- I wanted a photo of the error itself but had forgotten to take one.  I thought I had an easy way to get to the error, but I actually rebroke the broken part.   Also, I didn't take photos until I was reassembling, so I had to rearrange them all.  I think I have them all in order and I captured all of the relevant parts.  And yes, this is the kind of thing that voids warranties, but maybe it will save someone the cost of having some guy come out for what's a pretty dumb little engineering defect.

The dreaded "tE Error"
The tools I used: standard screwdriver, flashlight, utility knife, electrical tape, pliers, small screwdriver
Word of caution: Not only does this void your warranty, the metal edges are very sharp.  I got one tiny cut and I think I was very lucky that this was the only injury I received.  They wear safety gloves, vests, pants and eye protection when assembling these things.
Step 1 - Ok, here we go.  The lid is attached by two plastic "kick plates" on the back.  Each plate has two screws.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Self-Induced Sickness

Shortly after putting the kids to bed last night, the room started spinning. No matter what position I got into, it kept spinning. I finally found that if I lounged on the couch and let my head loll to one side, that was OK. So I lounged there for a long time with my eyes closed not sleeping.

Later, I went upstairs to the bedroom, took a melatonin and laid in bed not sleeping. At one point, I noticed I could see every blood vessel and vein in my arm. They had all come up to the surface. I didn't fall asleep for a long time. When I finally did, I slept very well, but was in no way ready to get up for the day and had to end up calling in sick.

I slept some more (garbage trucks didn't help any... yeah, yeah, doing their job, I know) and then laid in bed and read for awhile. By lunch time, I was starving and had lunch plans, so got ready and went and met friends for lunch.

I thought about it and decided that I was probably dehydrated and also just exhausted. Normally we get to sleep in a little bit on the weekends. But on Friday night, small group went really late (which is fun), but we didn't know what time the contractor was coming on Saturday, so we got up early (he showed at 10:30) and then Sunday got up early again because we've been going to both church services. So I had no time to recuperate. I am going to have to reevaluate my schedule to make sure there's no recurrence and make sure I'm getting enough to drink because that was not fun at all.

Fortunately, there was nothing more to my getting sick, even though I told myself it was ok to throw up if that made things better. But that didn't happen, yay.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Sift 26-30

The Sift 26: Architecturally Speaking

  • Taking down the McGuire, without using explosives
  • Greener SF 49ers Stadium Plan Includes Eco Hotel Where Fans Can Watch from Their Rooms
  • Seattle’s Ballard Library Pairs a Sweeping Green Roof with Natural Light
  • DOE Develops Flexible Glass Material That Is Stronger Than Steel
  • China Builds World's Longest Bridge


The Sift 27: Eats

  • New Recipes for the New Year
  • Food Tips I've Found Helpful
  • Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Photo
  • Cheap Eats: Personal Pizzas for 38 Cents a Pop
  • Seattle Website Knows What You're Eating


The Sift 28: Taking a Seth Day

  • Bigger or Smaller?
  • The First Rule of Doing Work that Matters
  • What Are You Working On?
  • A Culture of Testing
  • Making Meetings More Expensive


The Sift 29: Yet Even More Prognostication

  • 6 Predictions for Social Networks in 2011
  • 6 Web Pioneers on What the Internet of the Future Will Look Like
  • Verizon’s iPhone story isn’t so black and white
  • 40+ Things You Need to Watch in 2011
  • Are We Headed for Yet Another Dot-Com Crash?


The Sift 30: The Dropbox Edition

  • DIY - Netbook-and-Dropbox Powered Stereo Automatically Syncs Music to Your Car
  • Nebulous Notes is a Dropbox-Syncing Text Editor for Writing Code (and More)
  • Dropquest Awards Up to 1 GB of Dropbox Space Through an Online Scavenger Hunt
  • Grab Up to 768 MB Free Dropbox Space Through Social Media Connections
  • Wait.. What? Still Not Yet Using Dropbox? Sign-up here.


Monday, January 24, 2011


I always thought it interesting that you heard a politician so often say "The Great State of California" when I lived there. I decided it wasn't a fluke, that either currently, or at some point in the past, someone had told people to say that, as a subtle part of a marketing campaign.

On the other hand, we've suffered through "The Other Washington" and "Washington. The State" (as opposed to the dead guy or the capital or the more than 80 cities in the U.S. that contain the name). And don't even get anyone started on "Say WA." A candidate running who's run (and lost) for nearly every top state job in the past decade (wow, that money could have fed a lot of hungry children) had a website where people could submit ideas about making the state better and I posted the simple observation of the Great State of California and the marketing sense of injecting some kind of thought about Washington into people's minds and I was roundly dismissed by the other people contributing to the site. Closed minded little dullards. If this was his constituency, no wonder he keeps losing.

And here's why hyperbole works. Say it enough and people believe it. Is California "great"? Not 100%. But they say it is and you buy it. Now, granted, they also have a strong film commission and a lot of other things going for it. (But my non-starter original plan for working for the Washington State Film Commission in the mid-90's when I graduated from college isn't the topic of this post, nor am I suggesting my failure to act in this regard has any impact on anything.)

But yeah, call something magical long enough and people line up, waving fistfuls of cash. I just hope the second unicorn has front *and* back cameras. (Those of you wanting retina display will have to wait a bit longer.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"It's my ministry to them."

My last job was at a church/school - so our work area was a public/private place. There were also congregants, people seeking help, students and school parents, the public. So it wasn't like an office where everyone who's there is there because they work there. I had many opportunities to find myself walking somewhere on the campus with one of my bosses and their boss Jeff. I noticed that whenever Jeff saw a scrap of paper he'd scoop it up and deposit it in the nearest trash can. Same with other little tidying jobs. Now... we had a great janitorial staff and Jeff was the C-level finance guy who suited-up every day. One day I finally had to ask him why he picked up litter when we had such a good team who kept the buildings in great shape.

He answered that it was his ministry to them. At the time, I thought that was a great answer. I started doing likewise, and not just at work, but in other places, too. Not in an unsanitary way, but if I was at a restaurant and I had dried my hands and there was a paper towel on the counter or floor, I could use my paper towel to grab that other paper towel without touching it and drop them both in the trash. I guess it was the Boy Scout in me (leave things better than you find them).

Because it's such an unnatural act, I've been reminded of Jeff every time I do it. And it's occurred to me over the years that there might be other reasons he did it. First, there wasn't really a cost to him to stop and pick up the piece of trash. He was already going somewhere, he could bend down and grab it while barely breaking stride. If he didn't, perhaps someone else might call janitorial to come and take care of it, or if they were moving tables or chairs, or vacuuming, it might be harder for them to stop to take care of, or be more of an interruption. Plus, it was a pride of ownership. As a member of the church and an employee, he was keeping it clean, making it look good for everyone else. And he was also saying "Yeah, I'm a big man on campus and your boss' boss reports to me, but your work is important and not beneath me." without saying a word. Classy.

It's interesting now because my daughter will see trash and want to pick it up and throw it away. I have to quickly assess how safe/sanitary that is and if so, give her the nod to go ahead -- sometimes simultaneously reaching for a baby wipe from her brother's diaper bag. Otherwise, we have to look at the reasons why that in this particular instance we're better off leaving it for someone else. But it's encouraging, I guess I've set a good example.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Restaurant #1: offers free samples.  Has a line snaking through stanchions.  Menu is up high above the workers where you can't read it without getting in line.  Lists items like "Dragon" and "California Roll".

Restaurant #2: No free samples.  No line.  Several different places where you can order.  Menu up high above the workers, and down low in front of the registers.  As you look at it, they also offer you a menu you can hold in your hand.

Restaurant #1 made me realize that some teriyaki and sushi sounded good.

Restaurant #2 crafted this delicious plate for me:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Christmas Time

At work, we're always introducing new opportunities. They get built, and then we have to support them. One of my co-workers likes to suggest a Jenga tower, but I'm not sure that's accurate, because we don't remove pegs from the bottom, we just continue to add more pegs to the top. The tower gets taller and taller. We feel busy constantly, maintaining the stuff that's been built and then trying to figure out how to get anything new done.

And that makes me think of the Christmas season we just went through. We had made a mindmap the year before of everything that "meant" Christmas - buying presents, attending holiday parties, special stuff at church, etc., etc., etc. One of the things on the list was to watch a bunch of movies... Holiday Inn and White Christmas for Lori, Family Man for me. But we didn't get to them. And we didn't get to some other stuff, either.

Even our lights got put up late and haven't been taken down. The tree's still up, too, because there's still presents underneath it for family we haven't had a chance to connect with.

Like Christmas cards. I made sure we got our yearly portrait done early -- by reminding Lori. She's the one who made the reservation, picked out all our clothes, got the kids ready, even picked up the photos when they were done. And then I didn't even help with sending out the photo cards we bought.

And I felt bad about that. I tried to think why there was so many things I didn't get to this year and yet why it still felt so stressful.

And then I realized... I didn't stop doing anything. I tried to add it on top of everything else I was doing. I took a week off in early December, but didn't have much time to do stuff. And then around Christmas and New Years, I didn't take any time.

Next year, I really need to not just look at everything that I want to do, but what I will cease doing for the holiday period.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Sift 21-25

The Sift 21: Picture This - Data as Pictures (aka Infographics)

  • Guide to House Cat Coat Color and Patterns
  • How WordPress Themes Actually Work
  • The 2010 Mashable Awards Winners
  • Metro Unveils Monthly Performance Website
  • The Illusion of Diversity: Visuallizing Ownership in the Soft Drink Industry


The Sift 22: Future of Driving

  • Sneak Peek: Tesla Model S Electric Sedan
  • A look at BPG Motors amazing, transforming, self-balancing Uno
  • Porsche unveils 918 RSR, the 767hp hybrid
  • Detroit 2011: Inizio Electric Supercar Now Available for Pre-Order!
  • Charge Your Electric Vehicle Wirelessly with Fulton Innovation’s eCoupled Technology


The Sift 23: Health, Medicine, Disability

  • Vitality GlowCaps smart pill bottle toppers now available on Amazon
  • Self-sterilizing door handle looks perfect for hypochondriacs, is as real as their ailments
  • 'Skin Printer' Could Help Heal Battlefield Wounds
  • Thimble concept translates real-world input into real-time Braille
  • VerbalVictor App Gives Voice to Disabled


The Sift 24: Music Notes

  • Skunk Juice earbuds and their magnetic connectors might just save your ear drums
  • Library of Congress receives 200,000 vintage master recordings from Universal, will stream them online
  • Bohemian Rhapsody + (4 x one violin) + (4 x one guy) = awesome (video)
  • It's like Big without the piano - Bobby Ferrin plays the audience (video)
  • Music from my favorite movie played with ping pong balls (video)


The Sift 25: Bad Moves

  • Stuck with the Status Quo
  • Italy rules YouTube and other video sites are like TV stations, are liable for content
  • Designed to Deceive
  • It Would Have Been So Much Easier to Make Us Happy
  • Raising Expectations (and then Dashing Them)


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Home Team Pride

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not well versed in sports, I don't have the time/patience to sit through games on TV and with kids (and again, the patience thing), rarely get to a live game.

However... if you've ever talked sports with me, you already know that I believe that where you live is your home and that you must cheer for the home teams.  (Exception: If you don't have a local team - like L.A. football or Seattle basketball - then you can cheer for whoever you want, except a team that recently left. And you can cheer former teams. Brooklyn may cheer for the Dodgers, L.A. may cheer for the Raiders.  Seattle may not yet cheer for the Oklahoma City Blunder.  It's too soon.)  

And I don't care what you say... The Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles?  I don't think so.

So, anyhow, I absolutely love to see a home team giving another home team love.  Two posts that recently appeared on my Facebook News Feed...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Are We Listening To? (Christmas Music)

I last looked at this in July. Since the list is now closed until next year, there's no sense in re-visiting this next July when I look at the others.

iTunes lists 1,057 songs in classified as Christmas. This year, e deleted some, we added some, we must have also had some that wasn't classified correctly earlier this year. My regular list pulled in Christmas as we added them. It attempts to balance newer and less listened to stuff with new stuff. So there is some movement in the list. This will be interesting to watch over time.

1. Jingle Bells - Barenaked Ladies (1)

2. Christmas at Hogwarts - John Williams (new to list)

3. Here With Us - Joy Williams (11)

4. Preiset Dem Konig! (Praise the King) - Amy Grant (2)

5. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings - Barenaked Ladies Feat. Sarah McLachlan (7)

6. Christmas Hymn - Amy Grant (4)

7. Emanuel, God With Us - Amy Grant (6)

8. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Mariah Carey (3)

9. Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) - Amy Grant (9)

10. The Holly and the Ivy - Hannheim Steamroller (5)

11. All I Want for Christmas is You - Mariah Carey (20)

12. When Love Came Down - Point of Grace (13)

13. Angels We Have Heard on High - Sara Groves (25)

14. Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys (14)

15. Jingle Bells - Bing Crosby (15)

16. Home for the Holidays - Perry Como (24)

17. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Sara Groves (new to list)

18. Little Town - Amy Grant (8)

19. The Night Before Christmas - Amy Grant (10)

20. White Christmas - Bing Crosby (new to list)

21. Joy to the World - Bing Crosby (16)

22. A Holly, Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives (17)

23. Jingle Bells - Frank Sinatra (18)

24. Still, Still, Still - Mannheim Steamroller (new to list)

25. O Holy Night - Martina McBride (23)

Monday, January 17, 2011

What Are We Listening To? (Christian Music)

iTunes lists 1,264 Christian songs in our catalog. We've added some, removed some, declassified some of the Veggie Tales Silly Songs since we last looked at the list in July. First-mover advantage seems to be the key here... the older the music, the higher it is up on the list. Our Sunday morning tries to blend in a better fix and favor newer additions to the catalog, but it also makes sure the bigger names in Christian music are always in rotation as well.

1. My Savior My God - Aaron Shust (1)

2. Ancient Words - Michael W. Smith (4)

3. Keep the Candle Burning - Point of Grace (2)

4. In Christ Alone - Adrienne Lieschine with Geoff Moore (3)
(a second copy of the song would clock in at #9 but it's not shown here)

5. You Are Holy (Prince of Peace) - Michael W. Smith (5)

6. Secret Ambition - Michael W. Smith (6)

7. Wonderful, Merciful Savior - Selah (7)

8. In Christ Alone - Newsboys (9)

9. We Humble Ourselves - Paul Baloche (12)

10. Dive - Stephen Curtist Chapman (10)

11. Saved By Love - Amy Grant (11)

12. In The Light - dc Talk (15)

13. Here With Us - Joy Williams (new to the list)

14. The River - Brian Doerksen (new to the list)

15. Better Is One Day - Charlie Hall (13)

16. Say the Words (Now) - dc Talk (14)

17. Who I Am Hates Who I've Been - Relient K (22)

18. The Heart of Worship - Sonicflood (16)

19. What Do I Know of Holy - Addison Road (19)

20. Everywhere I Go - Amy Grant (23)

21. Lead Me On - Amy Grant (24)

22. We - Joy Williams (new to the list)

23. You Are My All In All - Nichole Nordeman (20)

24. Alive - Rebecca St. James (21)

25. Open the Eyes of my Heart - Sonicflood (25)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What Are We Listening To? (The New Stuff)

In the past twelve months, we've added 480 new items to iTunes. Mostly Lori and I, but also the children, whose music gets heavy rotation. A lot of the new stuff I've added is faster paced stuff I'll listen to as I run. I expect as the weather gets better that those songs will rise quicker. Since this is a 12-month list, it would contain some of the music that we also covered in July.

Here are the top 25 most listened to:

1. Bye, Bye, Bye - *NSYNC (No Strings Attached)
Ben asks for this song constantly

2. Happy, Happy Birthday - Bear in the Big Blue House (Bear in the Big Blue House Greatest Hits)
A household favorite.

3. Canon in D - Stuttgarter Kammerorchester & Karl Munchinger (50 More Essential Pieces of Classic Music)

4. Good Morning - Bear in the Big Blue House (Bear in the Big Blue House Greatest Hits)

5. Another Postcard - Barenaked Ladies (single)

6. Exalted (Yahweh) - Chris Tomlin (Hello Love)

7. Gives You Hell - Glee Cast (Glee: The Music, Vol. 3 - Showstoppers)

8. Let It Rise - Maranatha! Praise Band (Best of Worship, Vol. 3 - Grace Alone)

9. Welcome to the Blue House - Bear in the Big Blue House (Bear in the Big Blue House Greatest Hits)

10. All the Way My Savior Leads Me - Chris Tomlin (Hello Love)

11. Dust On the Bottle - David Lee Murphy (Out With A Bang)

12. Lord Reign In Me - Joel Engle (Best of Worship, Vol. 3 - Grace Alone)

13. Bad Romance - Lady GaGa (The Fame Monster)

14. That's Why We Praise Him - Lisa Bevill (Best of Worship, Vol. 3 - Grace Alone)

15. Prayin' for Daylight - Rascal Flatts (self-titled)

16. It's a Great Day to Be Alive - Travis Triff (Down the Road I Go)

17. Hands Clean - Alanis Morissette (Alanis Morissette: The Collection)

18. Look At You Now - Bear in the Big Blue House (Bear in the Big Blue House Greatest Hits)

19. Imagine That - Bear in the Big Blue House (Bear in the Big Blue House Greatest Hits)

20. Everyday - Buddy Holly (Buddy Holly: Greatest Hits)

21. Crash Into Me - Dave Matthews Band (Crash)

22. Don't Stop - Fleetwood Mac (Rumours)

23. Somebody To Love - Glee Cast (single)

24. Defying Gravity - Idina Menzel & Kristen Chenoweth (Wicked: Original Broadway Cast Recording)

25. My Freeze Ray - Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Sift 16-20

The Sift 16: Going Offline (or in-line)

  • Disney Tackles Major Theme Park Problem: Lines
  • Library of Congress Adds 25 Film Classics to Preservation Project
  • Three Ways TV Changed Everything (And What's Next)
  • Angry Birds gets real
  • Citibank Launches “Bank of the Future” in New York


The Sift 17: The Rest of Cringley's Predictions

  • Yahoo! Barfs
  • Microsoft is the New IBM
  • Cloudburst
  • Apple’s Carolina strategy
  • Apple Buys Time Warner Cable


The Sift 18: More Predictions

  • Five Predictions for Startups in 2011
  • 5 Predictions for the Public Relations Industry in 2011
  • 4 Predictions for the Future of Politics and Social Media
  • 4 Predictions for Web Design in 2011
  • Eco-Fashion Predictions for 2011


The Sift 19: Let's Take an Inhabit Day

  • Renewable Energy Now Neck and Neck with Nuclear in the US
  • World’s Largest Parabolic Trough Solar Plant Gets $1.5 Billion DOE Loan
  • China Finds Way to Extend Life of Nuclear Fuel
  • First Solar and China to Begin Construction of World’s Largest Solar Plant
  • Texas Wins Appeal to Block EPA Emissions Regulations Temporarily


The Sift 20: Friday Fun

  • Sledding with Your Dog Fail
  • First Groupon Marriage Proposal Results in a “Yes”
  • British Comedians Making Fun of Technology
  • Baby and Cat Playing
  • Parallel Parking a Donkey


Friday, January 14, 2011

Literacy is Dead

Or at least proofreading is. Apparently neither Reuters nor MSNBC employs copy editors or proofreaders?  (My best guess is that this was written out by hand and then scanned in, but this just proves again how wrong an idea it is for Oregon to allow students to use spell-checkers during writing tests.)

(click to enlarge)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review -- Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is HardSwitch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard is a great book that I'd really recommend.  It clocks in at 11 chapters, 259 pages.  Each chapter is broken into smaller sections that either introduce a concept or reinforce an idea through real-life examples.  Also scattered throughout the book are "clinics" where a problem is laid out, and then you are challenged to apply what you've learned to the problem, followed by the answer - what really happened.

I would really recommend this book to anyone who has anything in their work or personal lives they'd like to change, either within themselves or their environment or the people they interact with.  The authors themselves make it clear that this isn't their brand new invention, highlighting a number of books in the "Recommendations for Additional Reading" at the end, explaining how each provides further example or insight into one of the principles they've covered.

But what makes this book unique and compelling is that they've packaged up the ideas into a simple, easy to use, easy to understand set of concepts that you can apply and see results with, even if you didn't read all the other books they recommend.  So how is this new enough that I would praise it instead of accusing them of just stealing other people's ideas?  It's the way it's packaged, made easy to relate to and brought together.  The aggregation and synthesis is what makes it so compelling.

The book starts by asking you to think of the problem or situation as an elephant with a rider on a path.  The rider is logical and thinking.  But he's much smaller than the elephant and it takes a lot of work for him to control the elephant.  And the path is the way to get from point a (current reality) to point b (the change you want to see).  And the elephant is, well, the elephant - a large, emotional, less-intelligent creature -- and then points out that every situation will have these three elements.  The book talks you through how to convince both the rider and the elephant that the journey must be taken and how to increase the likelihood that the journey will be taken by clearly identifying the right path and making sure it's clear of obstacles.

Nurses wearing construction vests have fewer prescription errors?  Check.  The size of the free popcorn you're given at a theater determines how much of a glutton you'll be?  Check.  Giving government employees credit cards will lead to tax savings on purchases?  Check and check.

You will find this book difficult to put down and will finish it quickly.  I think this is a book that I will want to re-read from time to time to re-inspire me and to help these concepts sink in even better.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What Are We Listening To?

iTunes reports 7,350 songs in our catalog. I last did this survey in July. It's not a straight-across comparison. In addition to leaving off the nursery/lullabye music as it plays for hours sometimes. This is unfair to Jim Brickman, but what can you do? Also eliminated from the list - the audio clips. Since there are fewer of them and there's always some in my collection, they, too, will rise up to dominate the most listened to. Because of these changes, it's hard to compare the last update with this one, so I won't this time around.

The stuff that has been in iTunes the longest continues to hold on to the top spot. My lists avoid playing the top items too often (a bit socialist, really), it will be interesting to see if new blood does start to show up. Or if my children continue to request the same songs over and over again (like "Who Says You Can't Go Home" and "Girl You Know It's True" and "Bye Bye Bye") and keeps them at the top.

1. Who Says You Can't Go Home - Bon Jovi feat. Jennifer Nettles

2. Trashin' the Camp - Phil Collis (Tarzan)

3. My Savior My God - Aaron Shust

4. I Want to Hold Your Hand - The Beatles

5. Jingle Bells - Barenaked Ladies

6. Ancient Words - Michael W. Smith

7. Girl You Know It's True - Milli Vanilli

8. Can't Stop This Thing We've Started - Bryan Adams

9. Strangers Like Me - Phil Collins (Tarzan)

10. Keep The Candle Burning - Point of Grace

11. The Cheap Seats - Alabama

12. I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

13. In Christ Alone - Adrienne Liesching with Geoff Moore

14. You Might Think - The Cars

15. I Can't Be Your Friend - D.H.T. feat. Edmee

16. Heaven - Live

17. Deliver Us - Ofra Haza feat. Eden Riegel

18. You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi

19. You Are Holy (Prince of Peace) - Michael W. Smith

20. Trashin' the Camp - Phil Collins feat. *NSYNC (Tarzan)

21. Free Your Mind - En Vogue

22. Secret Ambition - Michael W. Smith

23. Closer to Fine - Indigo Girls

24. You'll Be In My Heart - Phil Collins (Tarzan)

25. Two Worlds - Phil Collins (Tarzan)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Resolved: I Will Write More (Consistently)

I was inconsistent in writing this past year.  I did quite a bit of creative writing, but I could have done more, I could have worked harder at writing more regularly.

I looked back over the year and I started off a lot more prolific than I did at the end. I'll need to figure out a way to be consistent. Because I feel like I didn't write a lot, but I went back and looked and yeah, I guess I did. So I guess I need to work more at being consistent. On one hand, I guess I wrote when it occurred to me. On the other hand, why write at all? I think it stretches me, pulls me away from the reality. I also write a lot of solitary or observant stories.

I also think I have an overused conceit - often ending with a twist or a surprise or some kind of hint at something beyond my story. I need to work on that in the future.

Last year:

Any suggestions on something I should attempt in the new year? (If you're reading this in Facebook, please click through the blog and post your suggestions there. That'll make more sense later.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

120: Prep

Chef Gregor looked over the stock in the walk-in freezer. Again, too much chicken and too much cabbage. Why did they keep ordering so much. He sighed, shook his head and began to think how he might get rid of this stuff. Looked like another "asian-inspired" Crispy Honey-Vanilla Chicken salad. This was not what he had in mind when he agreed to help his friend's floundering restaurant. This was not why he had returned to school to become a chef, to make garbage like this because someone had over-ordered a product that no one wanted.

Still, it was a Friday night. Crowds would be decent. If nothing else, the location near the theater would draw pre-show crowds early in the evening, then there'd be a lull, and then the late night crowds would pack in for simpler fare and nice fat checks racking up a lot of alcohol. The theater nights were staff favorites. It could be busy, but tips were generous from the out-of-towners who came in on the train for the rare date. The lack of parking in the area meant there wouldn't be a lot of children running around, spilling drinks. And even if Gregor had to push leftovers as yet another soul-crushing "Chef's Special" that was definitely far beneath him, the customers would be steady.

The locals hadn't yet discovered the place since his friend took over, but they weren't sure if that was a good thing or not. Locals could provide some regularity and predictability in traffic, but they often had a sense of entitlement and pushiness.

Gregor assembled the staff, went down the list of things to suggest to indecisive customers, noted which items were running low, and then unveiled tonight's special. It was met with groans. Gregor extended his hands, palms down in a gesture that was equal parts acceptance and reminder that he still was the head chef. Also always, Tiffany quickly got to work on the welcome board, noting the special and adding flourishes. She thought they made it look fancy, but she was alone in that thought. Still, no one else had any interest in making up the board each night, so for now, she'd do.

The team, scattered, wait staff to light candles and straighten napkins, the kitchen staff to check in on the prep work they'd begun before the meeting. As they were dispersing, the rear door opened.

"Gregor!" Jeff called cheerfully. His face fell as he looked around. "Did I miss it again?"

"You know you did," Gregor replied curtly. You know roll call is at precisely 4:30 pm.

"I'm sorry man, I had trouble getting away. There was this thing at work --" Jeff cut himself off to grab a ringing phone. "Marcos," he answered. He listened and then began looking around the desk. He began snapping his fingers frantically and Eric ran over with the reservation book. "Let me see what I can do," Jeff answered calmly, frantically flipping through the book. Finding the page, he slid his finger down the page. "Absolutely, he said cheerfully. We can do that. Great! See you at 10:30! Thank you."

Jeff placed the phone back on the hook, scribbled something in the book and handed it back to Eric wordlessly. Eric quickly retreated before Jeff had a chance to ask him why he hadn't taken the call in the first place.

"Good news, Gregor. The entire symphony will be dining here tonight after their performance. What do we have on tap as a special?"

Gregor muttered but didn't answer, concentrating on the salad plates he was laying out on the prep table, muttering and counting, and moving slightly, trying to ignore Jeff.

Jeff sighed and left the kitchen, returning before the door had stopped swinging. "Again?" he asked.

"Hey, man, I don't do the ordering. I told you what I needed, but I keep ending up with the same old, same old. This is not what I had in mind when you asked me to come here."

"I know, I know, this isn't what I had in mind, either. It's not quite 5 yet. Maybe there's still something I can do. What do you need?"

"I doubt it, but whatever." Gregor quickly began listing off ingredients. Jeff began looking around again and before he could start snapping impatiently, a member of the wait staff quickly ran up and handed him a pen and a pad, making sure her name tag was clearly visible, then backing away before he could ask why she was in the kitchen and not out making sure none of the table cloths had any folds.

"I'm on it," Jeff said, never sure if Gregor was truly mad at him or if it was just his way of reminding Jeff that even though he was the boss, in the kitchen Gregor was the boss and things only worked if everyone else believed that.

Gregor checked the clock. Three minutes to go. The phone was again ringing and he could see over the video monitor people beginning to queue up outside the front door. One of the kitchen staff began arranging salad on the plates and another began pulling items from the refrigerator.

Gregor turned the heat up on a large pot of water and said "Showtime" to everyone or no one in particular.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Sift 11-15

The Sift 11

  • Detect Liars by Offering Them Two Choices
  • Detect Liars by Forcing Them to Think
  • Overcome Fear and Anxiety by Making it Your Only Option
  • Avoid Added Stress by Just Deciding and Moving Forward
  • Measuring Busy-Ness


The Sift 12

  • Porsche promises to unveil 'new model' in Detroit, could it be the 918 Spyder plug-in?
  • Beijing to Eliminate Gridlock by Cutting Vehicle Registrations by 2/3
  • How Much Commuting Actually Costs in 90 Cities
  • McDonald’s Opens With Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
  • Tesla Says Electric Car Battery Plan Means Profit at Low Volume


The Sift 13

  • Your Cellphone Is Subject to Warrantless Searches in California
  • All European Cell Phones to Have USB Chargers By 2012
  • AT&T Cuts iPhone 3GS Price to $49
  • 5 E-Book Trends That Will Change the Future of Publishing
  • You Can Now Lend Your Kindle Books to Friends for 14 Days


The Sift 14

  • One word: Bufferbloat (or is that two?)
  • The White iPhone IS the Verizon iPhone
  • 1.8-inch and 3.5-inch disk drives will die
  • Bufferbloat may be terrible, but your cable ISP won't fix it
  • Facebook Forks


The Sift 15

  • Prioritize Your Time Instead of Budgeting It
  • Take More Daydreaming Breaks to Improve Your Focus
  • Weasel Words are More Difficult to Get Away With
  • Emphasize What’s Different
  • That's Not the Way We Do Things Around Here


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Resolved: I Will Read (and Learn) More

I like reading. It's calming, I learn stuff, and I feel like it's something I ought to do with my limited time on this earth. Sadly, my list continues to grow longer and the notion that someday I'll retire and have time to read all these books seems a bit silly.

So, I'm going to be more intentional this year with my reading, both in getting caught up with my magazines (Reader's Digest, Architectural Digest*, Consumer Reports, Fast Company, Inc., Entertainment Weekly**) as well as my books list.

*Not currently subscribed, I have a few unread from the last time I subscribed that I still need to read. But, they keep sending me these incredible offers, so I think I will resubscribe once I'm caught up.

** I used to regularly read this. Now I skim looking for movie and book recommendations.

My problem is that my backlog of reading is spread across a number of places... my nightstand, my bookcase, my car, my computer back and my desk at work. I started by clearing off my nightstand. Only the stuff I'm currently working on is now on the nightstand. About six books and a few back issues of Fast Company and Inc. I put all that stuff into Remember the Milk in a "Nightstand" list. For the books, I put a different task item for each chapter. This is allowing me to currently be reading three different books at once. This helps with two problems I often encounter:
(1) Keeping track of what I'm reading (every magazine on my nightstand is partially read)
(2) Sometimes when I'm reading non-fiction I don't feel like reading. Seeing the list, and reading several at once, both will keep me on track. Fiction, on the other hand, I devour.

I hope to later inventory my computer bag and desk and car -- those are the ones I read while walking at work. The bookcase will keep the backlog of magazines. I won't inventory them until I read the ones on my nightstand and move new magazines to the nightstand. Yes, a complicated system. But I think it will work.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Resolved: I Will Learn the Books of the Bible

Also sad, but I've never memorized the books of the Bible. I suspect my six-year-old may have a better grasp of this than I. This year, I will learn them all. There's not that many. I will learn them and I will learn their order. Let's say by July if you mention a book and I can't name what comes after it, I'll owe you $1. And by September, I'll need to be able to tell you the book that comes before and the book that comes after any book you name. If not, I'll pay you $1. (Payable Dec. 31, 2011 as a lump sum. Three attempts to stump me per day may. Must be in person and cannot repeat the same challenge on the same day.)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Resolved: Snow Chains

I've tempted fate to date being unable to successfully properly put snow chains on the car. I've relied on luck, good driving, a heavy car, etc. But truth be told, we live on a hill on top of another hill and that snowplow sighting last snowfall sugests only that the driver was lost. We bought chains during the move up, and then squeaked through after a snow plow during the short few hours that the mountain pass was open.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Resolved: I Will Learn to Tie a Tie

This is sad, but I don't know how to tie a tie. I've tied a few, but most of the ties I own have been tied by other people. When I take them off, I just hang them up, still tied. It's convenient, but it's a pain when I receive a new tie and then I have to wait to wear it until I can temporarily re-learn.

So I will learn it well this time so that it sticks.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Sift 6-10

The Sift 6

  • Amazon patents procedure to let recipients avoid undesirable gifts
  • Why Your Child's School Bus Has No Seat Belts
  • Want to Change Behavior? Make it Easier.
  • Website advertising pilot project begins at ferries
  • Lennart Green does close-up card magic (video)


The Sift 7

  • Working Out Before Breakfast Is Better for Weight Loss
  • RunKeeper Pro FREE through the end of January
  • Improving your odds at keeping New Year’s resolutions
  • Maybe Next Year
  • Predictions for Google's 2011


The Sift 8

  • Nissan Leaf rates you against other drivers, creates a high score list for hypermilers
  • Russia Constructing High Speed Rail System for 2018 World Cup
  • New Jersey Mayor Uses Twitter to Help Residents Through Blizzard
  • An Orlando Theme Park of Biblical Proportions
  • 2011 Sound Transit Budget Approved


The Sift 9

  • Social Networks Are Not Killing Our Social Lives
  • 10 Reasons Every TV Exec Needs to Start Tweeting
  • Should You Accept Mom & Dad's Facebook Friend Request?
  • How To: Explain Twitter to Your Parents
  • MySpace to Make Major Layoffs?


The Sift 10

  • Happy New Year!
  • Sharing Trends in 2010
  • For a happier new year, Seattle and the state need to think big
  • 10 Predictions for Web Development in 2011
  • 7 Predictions for the Gaming Industry in 2011


Monday, January 03, 2011

Resolved: I'm Going to Be a Better Shape

In 2010, I arrived at a smaller shape, thanks to this great website/iPhone app Lose-It, support and encouragement of friends and family.  I give a lot of credit to my wife.  She also started the program this year and because she was on it, it made it much easier for me to get calorie counts for meals and helped a lot with portion control.    Now, I've stopped using the program because I've reached my goal weight, but I intend to stay at this new goal weight (am toying with losing 5 more, actually) with the tricks I learned from that program, such as portion control and healthier choices (and if I go 2.5 over my goal weight, I automatically have to start tracking again until I drop back to my goal weight - my rule).

Thanks to Lose-It!, I was able to 22.5 pounds.  My wife is working towards a more ambitious goal, as is my friend Corey.  This year, I want to continue to be an encouragement to them.  But also, now that my shape is smaller, I'm starting to look at where the me is that is left.  And am starting to realize that there ought to be more muscle me and less fat me.  So in 2011, I am going to work to get stuff rearranged, more toned.  I've got another new iPhone app that will help with that, but I've only been using it for a very short time, so it's too soon to tell.  I am also going a small number of push-ups, jumping jacks and sit-ups with the intent to slowly increase over time.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Resolved: I Will Take More Photos

We have a picture frame in our foyer that holds four photos.  The goal has always been to pick our favorite non-people photo each month and put it in the frame, moving the others up.  We were successful for a year or two, but then we stopped and for a year and a half, the same photos appeared in the frame.  Kind of sad, really.

I recently decided to update the frame and went to look at the photos we'd taken.  For all of December, there wasn't a single photo that wasn't of people.   I grabbed the camera, set it to manual, turned off the flash, set it to a slow shutter speed, aimed in at the tree, zoomed in and then moved the camera around as I took the photo.  Had some interesting shots.

And then nothing for November and some simple photos of flowers for September.

So, for the new year, I resolve to take more photos, to try to be more artistic, more creative, looking at the world in new ways through the lens.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Resolved: I will Dress for Success.

Last year, I complained about our new dress code.   More accurately, the dress code hasn't changed, our department's director has just encouraged us to disobey the dress code.   I was unhappy about that... I like dressing nice, I think I look good, I like the way I'm treated when I make the effort and I subscribe to the idea that if you hold someone to a higher standard in one area, like "dress professionally" it leads to them thinking about those words and applying them to other parts of their work.

So, this year, more ties.  More professional.  More class.  You can wear your jeans and your tennis shoes. It'll just make me stand out more.