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Monday, January 30, 2006

Quality of Experience

"Wealth, status, and power have become in our culture all too powerful symbols of happiness. when we see people who are rich, famous or good looking, we tend to assume that their lives are rewarding, even though all the evidence might point to their being miserable. And we assume that if only we could acquire some of those same symbols, we would be much happier.
If we do actually succeed in becoming richer, or more powerful, we believe, at least for a time, that life as a whole has improved. But symbols can be deceptive: they have a tendency to distract us from the reality they are supposed to represent. And the reality is that the quality of life does not depend directly on what others think of us or on what we own. The bottom line is, rather, how we feel about ourselves and what happens to us. To improve our life one must improve the quality of experience."
What can you do to improve your experience?
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Friday, January 27, 2006

Truth marches on

I love how the flow sometimes just comes together. You sit with an idea and it just takes you some where else. Oprah's show has been all over the news today. She took Frey to task for his lies.
She apologized. He didn't. So what's next?
Will Oprah's next book selection be scrutinized more than previously? (odds on that one, I think are good!)
Will the sales line for Frey's books actually take a dip? or will it continue to rise? (I think time will tell us for sure.)
In the meantime, you can check out a good summary of Oprah's lessons from Ethan Johnson at The Vision Thing as he talks about Truth, Power and Responsibility.
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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Deficit accounting explained

Dave Pollard writing at How to Save the World has this excellent explanation of deficit accounting:
By this analogy, the 'shareholders' of the US are its taxpayers. They should be outraged that their assets are being given away, and their 'investments' (taxes paid) so badly mismanaged. Imagine if Google or Microsoft were to do this: Their shareholders would not be happy to learn that to pay off their huge debts it would be necessary to sell off priceless corporate assets at fire-sale prices to friends of management. If this was tried in the private sector there would be a hastily-convened special general meeting of shareholders and directors, and the managers would be fired and possibly charged with negligence and imprisoned.

But because no one knows what 'y' is (the real, rapidly-increasing value of all public holdings), we can't audit Bush's sell-offs to discover how cheaply these assets are being sold off -- though the discounts will eventually have to be made up by the next generation's taxpayers. And as a result we can't tell either how much is left to "drown in the bathtub". And that means we don't know how necessary it is, and will be, to cancel or privatize all government social services and programs to reduce the need for even more fire-sale sell-offs of taxpayers' property.

Settle in for a few minutes to read the full posting.
It is worth the time!
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Business blogging

The InformationWeek Daily Newsletter has this article on business blogging:
Is it time for your company to begin blogging? We show you how.
Short, concise, some key consideration but not a lot of detail on the how to, do's, don'ts. Fortunately, a Google search will get you ready access to the tips and tricks.
One cool link they did have was the Fortune 500 Business Blog Wiki.
It lists the companies in the Fortune 500 and has active links for access to their blogs (for those that have one).
Time to do some cruising!
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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Quotes & Links

Older women who aren't trawling match.com for a date every night don't need a two-bit psychobabble diagnosis of their state of mind from a celebrity writer with little more to recommoned her than a good publicist. It's patronizing and insulting.
Read the full posting on Sex and the Seasoned Woman.

I have strong faith in marketing, but I've been doing a lot of soul-searching regarding the value of "little m" marketing (aka marketing tactics) in today's highly fragmented and very skeptical marketplace of products, services, entertainment and ideas.  There's certainly no lack of opinion on the subject (expert and otherwise). Today's query on Amazon for "marketing books" returned 199,641 results and Google gave me 1.63 billion hits for the word "marketing." What's a marketer to do?

Read the full posting on Friedrich Nietzsche on skepticism

From Dave Pollard at How to Save the World

Why would OPEC be complicit in this? Many of the non-democratic members, notably Saudi Arabia, need arms, intelligence, and political support to fend off insurrection from their people. There have also been times (even quite recently, believe it or not) when OPEC members have needed support from customers to keep demand high so that the price does not fall significantly -- their economy depends heavily on demand for oil. The US provides huge military and political support to the Saudis and others, and most US administrations have encouraged waste and discouraged conservation. Like the US-China co-dependency for manufactured goods, the US-Saudi co-dependency for oil ensures an artificially low price to US corporations and consumers in return for political support and sustained high demand for producers. Deals with the devil (or perhaps between devils).

Read the full posting on Why Oil Prices Are Jumping Again

Is media creating a market for sex amongst elders like the oil producers collaborating to keep oil prices to their advantage? There is plenty of data available on marketing from the big M to the little m.

What do you make of it?

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Process of writing

“…The process of writing is kind of a trusting to the nowness, to the immediacy of the experience. And if you enter into the artistic endeavor with standards, already arrived-at ideas of what you want to do, you’re not entering creatively into the immediacy of encountering the materials.”
From mytopography - quoting from a book by William Stafford.
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Monday, January 23, 2006

Memoir as fiction?

I liked Steve Almond's article in the Boston Sunday Globe on the James Frey event.

The bottom line is that publishers aren't really that interested in literature anymore. There's just not enough profit there. They like the idea of literature. They like feeling that they are engaged in the pursuit of elevating the human spirit. Like Oprah and many readers, they embrace the convenient, self-congratulatory aspects of literature.

But that's not the same as embracing its deepest virtues: the ability to make us see our world and ourselves anew, to expose our delusions, to engage our most unbearable feelings.

The work of a writer resides, above all, in an effort to divine human truths and to transmit these through the inconvenient medium of language.

But it's the wrong era for truth and inconvenience, and the right era for guys like Frey. He's not paying for his deceptions -- he's getting paid. Riverhead Books has given him an advance for his next two novels. Warner Brothers plans to make ''A Million Little Pieces" into a movie.

Listening to him dodge questions and pound his talking points on ''Larry King," Frey sounded more like George W. Bush than Ernest Hemingway. ''I don't think I'd change anything," he declared.

And why should he? Why bother with humility or honest self-reflection? That's for suckers.

It is an unfortunate world where suckers get to keep the cash.

I hope there is another way to keep score, something along the lines of honesty, authenticity and legitimacy.

Qumana Impressions

As you may have noticed I have found and been using Qumana quite frequently recently. Lektora is next in line for consideration. The possibilities of working with the two together enabling postings directly from a RSS link is enticing.
You may recall that I only do this for up to two hours a day so I need to be efficient about what I do to be as productive as I can be. Slow me down and the thoughts just dance away in to the ether some times never to return.
Qumana makes adding tags to the postings ridiculously easy. The standard formatting, spell check, etc. is there. I can italic and indent and it is similar to the quote marking Blogger uses.
But I miss two things. Or maybe the capability is there but I have not found it yet.
1 - to make a link of the post title. This is a nice feature with blogger that I use a lot but have not found out or figured out here in Qumana. If you know how and let me know, it will be appreciated.
2 - to post a draft to blogger so it can be posted "live" at a later time. There probably is a way to save it off to a file but I'd prefer to go direct into draft mode if I could. Helps my work flow. Any suggestions here are also welcome.
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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Managing with Aloha Jumpstart

Rosa Say, one of my blogging buddies on Team Synergy, has a good thing going in 2006. She is providing a jumpstart to management and how to become a better manager. It is all based upon concepts covered in her book. If you have had the opportunity to read Managing with Aloha, you will recognize some of the terms and naturally want to follow the process.

Even if you haven't I would encourage you to check out the jumpstart.
The process is structured.
It is not overly complicated.
It makes sense.

The January Jumpstart is manager's intent. The activities are focused for us to do them now and review/discuss the results in February. In February, she introduce the next set to work on for discussion in March, and so on.

Cool concept.
Intent full.
Shows leadership.

Hey, isn't this what we as manager's should be doing?

Why not join the group then as we work out this together!

Check out January's jumpstart and dig in!

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hopeful Gospel Quartet Does Bruce Springsteen

Bruce's great song, The Highway Patrolman, is getting a gospel makeover that does the song and story more than justice. This version takes it to a whole 'nurther level.
If you have a chance to visit Prairie Home Companion, or catch it on the local PBS channel, I encourage it.
Bruce, Garrison and company will make you proud!
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Numb & Speechless

Steve numb and speechless?

How is that possible? He always has his 2 cents.

Read this http://37days.typepad.com/37days/2006/01/teach_fear_to_h.html

You'll see...

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Quotes & Links

From Evelyn Rodriguez at Crossroads Dspatches comes this:
I love blogging....but I'm beginning to think that absolutely nothing beats travel if your aim truly is letting yourself be changed.

Read the full posting here.

From Mark Hurst at the Good Experience Blog comes this good word:

I guess what I'm saying is that good experience isn't so much a particular method, or set of heuristics to follow, as it is a process of continually becoming broader and deeper in our outlook. It's not a judgement of one particular project but a challenge of what direction to take as we continue to improve.
Read the full posting here.

Leave it to Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By to find a good piece on kids and elders where she writes:

Forty-five percent of grandparents live more than 200 miles from their grandchildren. Fifty-five percent of mothers of infants work outside the home. Neither the grandparents nor the infants have much opportunity to know and appreciate one another. With the burgeoning growth in the number of elders, these programs seem poised to benefit everyone – kids, elders and working parents.
You can read the full posting here.

Can you make a connection on these three quotes from three writers on three different posts?

Think about it.

I think one underlying connection amongst these is found in my comment on Ronni's posting.

But don't go peak until you have decided for yourself!

Let us know what you think.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Take the Technorati Survey

Please join me in providing input, feedback, direction... From Niall Kennedy at the Technorati Weblog

We'd like your input! Please take a few minutes to answer all or part of our 33-question survey to contribute to the future of Technorati.


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Into the void for blogging reasons

Hugh always has some good cartoons. Catching up with him today I find two sets of ten reasons on blogging. Wow, what a jackpot!
and of course take a peak at Newsome.org for a different spin on making it as new blogger.
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Everybody can be great

Click here for the audio version
"Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's "Theory of Relativity" to serve. You don't have to know the Second Theory of Thermal Dynamics in Physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love, and you can be that servant."


Excerpted from "The Drum Major Instinct", a sermon by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968. Available on CD and print in A Knock At Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Deer insights

From Shelley Powers at Burningbird comes this insight on approaching deer accompanied by some glorious pictures:

I have found if you wear sunglasses, deer will approach you more closely than if wearing clear lenses or no glasses at all. I think it’s because they can’t see your eyes, and they translate this into not seeing them. I have had deer, wild deer, approach within feet of me when wearing sunglasses.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

But far away is only so far away if you don't go there

From Patti Digh at 37 Days comes another gem this weekend. She retells the story her friend Gay tells of growing up and passing the time driving on long car trips which leads into the story of the Green Book.
Well worth the time to read!
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Friday, January 13, 2006

What the monkey needs

From Rich at Hello World comes this gem:

The banana concept is a very good one, but web designers would do well to remember that it's the monkey's needs that are important, not the tree's...!

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Why do you try?

From Wil at ThroughTh3Wall comes this:
Victory is heavy in the scales, but so is ease, so is my life with all of these demands of time, energy and stamina, it would be easy to stop here. Or would it? I am ten people for what seems like ten-thousand people, and this is exhausting enough on most days. But I can’t give in or let up or things will spin loose, and I’ve worked too hard to build this world. I’ve worked too hard for the impossible, and it’s mine for as long as I can keep the reins.

That’s what Ironman is for me. It is the culmination of my statement to this world that no matter what comes for me, though I don’t invite it, I will survive it. I will beat the odds and surmount all obstacles, and I will have it all be damned what the magazines say, what the news says, this is my life. And it is what I make it.

I think athletes have it easier to set a goal and reach it than most working folk. The time or distance of a performance is out there for all to see and compare to whomever has ever competed in that event.

But the office worker, the knowledge worker... crafting a spreadsheet, or preparing a memo, or marketing campaign...

I'm sure there are dozens of examples, how are they comparable?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Gratitude & Grace

Rocky Noe has a good posting on What is Passion? and concludes that the two key attributes are gratitude and grace.

What do you think?

What do you think passion is for you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

you were watching words

From Evelyn Rodriguez writing at Crossroads Dispatches I pick up this:

I remember the Zen story Richard the rebel monk from Penang told me on Phi Phi. It goes something like this:

A novice monk pleads with the master to accompany him to the mountain.

As the sun is setting, the monk exclaims, "It's a beautiful sunset!"

The master remains quiet.

Next time the monk asks to go to the mountain, the master replies, "You were not watching the sun set, you were watching words. In a single moment, you can only be fully attentive to one thing."

How true!

Do you find yourself watching words? or being there?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Cheap Gnomes

The Boston Sunday Globe Magazine profile this week is of George Church.

wants to dramatically scale down the technology—from a national effort on the order of a moon landing to something as routine as a cholesterol check. Church's goal: to be able to decode an individual's DNA for about the cost of a personal computer, $1,000. And to do it by 2008.
I hope he can do so. One more piece of info to help make life better.

Read the full article!

Relationship Integrity

There was a heart warming story in the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine this Sunday.

Laurie Edwards writes:

I met John at the coat check of a downtown bar where I was hosting a New Year's Eve party. We chatted briefly, just long enough for him to notice my smile and for me to notice his startling blue eyes. Hours later, we found each other again, just in time for the midnight kiss. Sound too good to be true? Of course. It all happened, but the real story is always more complicated.


"None of this is ever going away, John. Wouldn't you rather be with someone healthy?" I asked one cold winter day. I spoke with the halting confidence of someone who knew the answer but needed to hear it anyway.

"No, because then it wouldn't be you," he said without hesitation.

Yes, it is a love story. Yes, it has a happy ending.

Truth in the relationship is the key!

I won't say more than that to spoil your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Million Little Lies

Well, lying seems still seems to be all the rage these days. Corporate folks (Enron, et al), politicians (Delay, Abramoff, et al), scientists (Korea's cloning guy), and now James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces.

When will it stop?

I recall the saying, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is"...

Where was the due diligence on the publishers part?

Clearly, it had been rejected by many before being finally accepted, but that in and of itself is not unusual. Did the prior rejecters smell something wrong, or were they just too busy to take this one? They may not have foreseen that Oprah would pick it up as a book of the month selection and make it a runaway bestseller.

Check out the story at A Million Little Lies and start to decide for yourself... likely this will be a court case before the story runs its course.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Shopping peeve #2

Our local grocery store, Stop and Shop, has a members program; you know the kind, you get a card, using the card, you get a discounted price. The register receipt gives you a summary of your saving for this visit and year to date. Based upon our purchases, we get coupons at the checkout counter, in the mail, you know the routine...

On the receipt today, on the bottom, after the totals, this statement reads:

"The year-to-date savings summary will be reset to zero on January 1, 2006".

This is understandable. The year ends. A new total should start. Truth in advertising. Year to date should be only 2006.

Ah, but the totals have not reset yet.

Did someone realize that it is January 7th?

Or are we on a different calendar?

Hello? What's up?

Shopping peeve #1

Why do the electronic devices need to be packaged in these sealed plastic containers that are almost impossible to open once you get them home?

Yes, I understand the need for packaging to be secure so that someone can't lift the items and walk out the door with them in their pockets. Part of that problem is that there are no shopping helpers patrolling the aisles to assist you with your purchase (and oh, by the way, keep an eye on things).

But the plastic is not positioned in such a way as to make it easy to undo the package when the legitimate purchase has been consummated and the product is now to be used without a struggle and multiple opportunities for the equivalent of paper cuts or worse.

Why? Why can't they be designed to accomplish both ends?

Any one else feel this way?

Friday, January 06, 2006

On the Health Care path

Ronni Bennett writing at As Time Goes by has a wonderful series underway on universal health care.

If you have not heard,

if you have not read,

you must follow the link (be sure to include the discussion in the comments)

Be informed. Take some action!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Another opportunity to encourage simplicity

Check out Trevor's posting on the email he received from Dan Ward.

Dan has a proposal for a manifesto at ChangeThis that is looking for votes.

If you are interested in simplicity, your vote would be appreciated.

Crash Course in Learning Theory

Kathy Sierra writing at Creating Passionate Users has created a wonderful LONG posting on learning theory. She says in her intro:

One formula (of many) for a successful blog is to create a "learning blog". A blog that shares what you know, to help others. Even--or especially--if that means giving away your "secrets". Teaching people to do what you do is one of the best ways we know to grow an audience--an audience of users you want to help.

It's what I try to do here because--let's face it--you're just not that into me ; ) But I assume (since you're reading this blog) that you ARE into helping your users kick ass. So to make content that's worth your time and attention, I try to make this a learning blog. I reckon y'all could not care less what I had for dinner, who I ate with, or what I think about the latest headlines.

So, as promised in an earlier post, here's a crash course on some of our favorite learning techniques gleaned from cognitive science, learning theory, neuroscience, psychology, and entertainment (including game design). Much of it is based around courses I designed and taught at UCLA Extension's New Media/Entertainment Studies department. This is the long version, and my next post will be just the bullet points with the pictures--as a kind of quick visual summary.

Read the full length of the post, it is well worth it!

She also has a PDF short version with space to write in your own notes.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Clear your own ground

Patti Digh writing at 37Days celebrates her blogversary, provides some good advice on writing and summarizes with:
Examine your occasion for speech.
Situate yourself in time and place.
Clear your own ground.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Snow Shoveling Advice

As mentioned in an earlier post, there are different kinds of snow and a variety of snow shovels should be used to deal with each opportunity.

When the snow is light and fluffy, you can push it out of the way more than actually lift and shovel it. I have two similar shovels that I put side by side and use in tandem to push the snow in front of me towards the side of the driveway.

<- This kind of shovel I would classify as the "push" type. It has a small scoop to it that allows the snow to build up and fall forward as you push the snow in front of you. Whether the snow is light or heavy (but certainly more so when it is heavy), you should consider shoveling when there is 1-3 inches. Don't wait until there is 6 or more. You may go out more frequently but each time you do, it will be for less effort and less overall time shoveling.

When the snow is heavy, pushing it does not work as well. You can push it a little but then it becomes too heavy to push any more without a real struggle. For these times, you need to lift the snow to toss it along the side of the walk or driveway you are clearing. For the heavy snow, I recommend the "back saver" or ergonomic handle model.

<- The bend in the handle makes a significant difference in lifting the snow. It is so much easier this way to get the proper leverage without straining yourself. You still need to consider taking only a full load on the shovel, not one that is too much.

If you do wait to go out until the snow fall has completed, dealing with a foot or more will require taking it a little at a time. By this I mean, don't go to the bottom and try to lift it all on one shovel. Hit the shovel point into the vertical middle of the snow, lift the top half and move it before going back for the bottom half.

Develop a rhythm to your work. Step, shovel, toss, etc. Include a rest in there. Use your breath to tell you when you need to take a break. These tips assume you are in good healthy condition. Of course, if you are not in good health, consider hiring some one to do this for you.

These tips have been developed over my years living and shoveling primarily in New England (RI & MA). If you have other tips to add, please feel free to do so.

PS - the shovel images were borrowed from Suncast, a snow shovel manufacturer.

Snow today - updated

The almost four inches of fluffy wet snow shoveled this morning was lighter than the almost one inch of slush that I cleared (with Carolyn's help - thank you!) at lunch time.

It is still snowing but little or no accumulation is expected while the temperature will drop into the 20's over night.

So we dodged this one...

I'll post pictures of the various snow shovels and which to use under what conditions later. I need to find some good pictures, or as a last resort, take the camera to the garage.

Snow today

Yes, the wintery mix is upon us. Some forecasts call for 4-7, others 8-10... stay tuned and we'll let you know how much we really end up with.

I completed the 1st pass at shoveling the driveway and moved 3-4" already. It is coming down steadily. A heavy wet snow that shovelers have to really be careful with but kids will love to play in. School has been called off for Franklin today.

The scoop shovel or the backsaver shovel would be good ones to use today. The push shovel will be challenging as the snow is too heavy to push far. You can start in the middle of the driveway and work from the center out to each edge. Toss the snow a good way from the edge. This will start building the pile away from the edge and save some energy for moving more snow when you come back out later.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Learning adds resolution

From Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users:

Learning adds resolution to what you offer. And the change happens not within the product, but between the user's ears. The more you help your users learn and improve, the greater the chance that they'll become passionate.

This sounds like a good new year's resolution.

What do you think?

Consider the flea

from Patti Digh writing at 37Days comes this gem of a posting to start the new year!

Consider the flea.

Reserve as much awe for the intricate human beings around you as you have for whales and bald eagles and panda babies and iPod Nanos. Focus your attention. Look more closely. See deeply, inside. Just see. Don’t not know. Stop not seeing.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2006!

Check back often, there will be a lot to write about this year.