Monday, December 19, 2005
Once a month at work, we invite our affiliates to join us for some type of interaction. This evening, with the holidays just around the corner, was a more relaxing event and we spent the bulk of the time tasting chocolate thanks to a fair trade-focused group called Chocolate Dividends. The founder guided us through a blind, bracketed, taste-test competition of eight dark chocolates and eight milk chocolates. Two chocolates would compete again each other and slowly but surely, the winner, Organic Swiss Dark Chocolate from Whole Foods, emerged victorious above the rest.
As an added treat, there were also nibs to try out.
Chocolate Dividends is but a month old...but I think they will find many friend here in the Bay Area. If you would like to organize a tasting for your own company/organization, give them a shout!
They have the front end of a 747 outside and you can go inside, sit in first class and watch a movie (we were playing Top Gun during the party). You can also go upstairs and check out the cockpit: sit down and grab the controls, flip the levers, push the pedals and adjust toggles as long as you want. Inside the museum, there were several interactive areas where you could fly a virtual helicopter or a virtual plane or watch how planes take off and land.
The food was buffet-style and we were treated to a chocolate fondue fountain for dessert (I'm told that these are pretty popular at Crate & Barrel this year, which means if you buy one, you'll use it once and then put it in storage for 20 years. From time to time, you'll think about it, wish that you used it more, but it will stay in the same place. Guaranteed!)
We had a raffle drawing and oddly, one family won 43% of the prizes. Note to Alex...you still owe me $20 for fixing the raffle for you! ;-)
All in all...a good evening. I would recommend going to the Museum if you get a chance.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
For those who don't know what they are doing in the sack, this can help as a guide...
From a CanWest News Service article: The more (players) stimulate the bunny, the happier he becomes until eventually he begins flying through the air. But Lapis is also an unpredictable creature who needs a variety of sensations. Sometimes, no amount of stimulation is going to work.
I'll give it a try tonight and report back later. ;-)
[Update: I couldn't get the software to work...wonder what that says about my skills?]
Monday, December 05, 2005
Also, here's a good PSU Sports Blog & not suprisingly, Penn State's is the most popular of all of them!
See ya in Miami!
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Thursday, November 17, 2005
I'm sure some of you are thinking, "That will NEVER happen!" Well, what happens when your Mechanical Death Spider turns on you, huh? Yeah...that's what I thought. Read the book!
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Thursday, November 10, 2005
[Update] Great trip! We saw 6 California Condors perched on top of the Pinnacles during our Saturday hike, with 3 of them soaring above us at one time. The weather could not have been better for November...clear blue skies, highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. As usual, the gang enjoyed themselves...eating/drinking/being merry.
Here are some pics of the trip...thanks Donna & Bryce!
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
The last time I stayed at a beachside resort was for a conference in Huatulco, Mexico, years ago (1998?). It was too hot while there, but an excuse to have the employer at the time pay for my first jungle golf adventure (lost 24 balls in the round), go scuba-diving for the first time and eat tons of octupus cooked in a myriad of ways.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Our activities typically include: visiting an Xmas village to see lights and ride a train, going to one of the big hotels for a big buffet lunch and watching my niece and nephew tire themselves of opening all the presents that they get.
A story from last year. We were on our way to see the Xmas lights and my niece started to tell me a joke:
Her: Uncle Sean, knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
Her: Ambulance. [An ambulance with lights/sirens had just passed by.]
Me: Ambulance who?
Her: Someone died. [Who who...ha ha!!!! she laughed.]
A future in comedy may not be in her career path...
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
One oddity to me in the map is right smack in the middle. People from Sioux Falls are culturally attracted to Omaha. Those in central South Dakota are attracted to Sioux Falls. I guess, for those in Pierre, they would go to Sioux Falls for a good time...and those in in Sioux Falls would go to Omaha. Maybe the map will shift once more people participate.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
UPDATE: We are now ranked #8 in the nation! Nice story here.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
After that, I headed over to another friend's house for some dinner. He lives high up in an apartment that overlooks the Bay/Alcatraz and just as I arrived watched a fireworks performance that was taking place somewhere around Fisherman's Wharf. Not sure what was going on there, but we were all happy for them. Then it was time for some George Foreman grilled lamb and wine...yum yum yum! Not a bad Saturday, huh?
Friday, September 16, 2005
Over the last decade, computing has been rapidly diffusing from our desktops into the wider world around us. It has become embedded in our homes, roads, offices, hospitals, factories, and even clothing. Wireless networks are now ubiquitous, keeping us and our smart devices connected no matter where we roam. Meanwhile, new sensing devices are beginning to act as the eyes and ears of these same networks. Taken together, computing, communication, and sensing technologies are now bringing a new level of sentience to our everyday environments—a new kind of context awareness.
This transformation of our environment is proceeding along two very different paths—via top-down design, on one hand, and via bottom–up emergent processes, on the other. Both will create environments that are more proactive in responding to our needs as humans; they will also change the way we function in the world and indeed what we think is humanly possible. Beyond these human-centered trends, the new technologies will mobilize objects, places, and processes into networks of activity and intelligence that have the potential to reshape business practices as well as global economics.
At our Technology Horizons Fall Exchange, we will examine these two paths and their implications for daily lives—and for the creation of value in the form of services, products, and social benefit.
AT THE EXCHANGE YOU WILL …
- Tour a map of the emerging technologies of context awareness, exploring the two paths of top–down design and bottom–up emergence
- Hear from pioneers who are innovating in the realm of context-awareness, from enabling technologies to social frameworks and business applications
- Uncover the special role that pervasive games are playing in the transition to a context-aware future
- Meet some unexpected citizens of this future who have already begun to redefine the limits of the human body and mind as they participate in this emerging environment
- Hear from innovators and your peers in other companies about their strategies for capitalizing on context-aware technologies and applications
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
How long before that rabbit gets hit by a car???
Monday, September 12, 2005
About 2 or 3 minutes later we saw a police cruiser kicking up rocks and dirt on the median as it pulled onto the highway in front of us (and a tanker truck). It drove down the middle of the two-lane highway and gradually slowed us down to a complete stop...we soon saw why. On the Southbound side, there were 3 cruisers parked, in front of us were several more and police officers were out of their vehicles and approaching that aforementioned SUV. There was a bit of confusion and the officers jumped back into their cars, and drove forward, but only for a few feet and then jumped back out again. I remember seeing two officers with handguns drawn on the suspects and one officer with a shotgun pointing in the same direction. Soon they had the driver out and on the ground, next a passenger and then another passenger got tossed into the ditch on the right side. Within two minutes, they were cuffed and stuffed into a police car and we were directed to move forward.
While this was happening, we were parked behind a rather large gasoline tanker (not too smart), while our friends were several yards back in a more protected location (distance-wise). Not sure what those boys did...but the officers didn't seem too fond of them.
Afterwards, I remembered the part of Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink" where he mentions that policemen who are involved in a high speed chase probably should not also apprehend the suspects due to heightened pulse rates and stress that lowers one's ability to think clearly. In this case, the chasers seemed to do the arresting, but nothing bad happened.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
It seems that one of our (America's) biggest problems is lack of education. I think before I would have an intellectual conversation with an ID fanatic, I would want them to read this first.
[Update 1: I love this stamp!] [Update 2: Don't be surprised if some out there think that Intelligent Falling is a serious idea.]
[Update 2: Here's a Dec 19, 2005 New Scientist story with Darwin's fingerprints all over the human genome.]
Monday, August 29, 2005
We left on Friday after work and arrived in the Valley a little after 9pm (delayed at the craptastic Iron Door Saloon in Groveland...see my The Iron Door Saloon Sucks! post) and promptly carbo loaded with some beer at the Curry Village Bar. We made it to our beds in our tent cabin (thanks Stan & Judy for letting us crash with ya!) by 11pm. Our tentmates planned on climbing Half Dome, so were up and out the door by 4:30am. Thinking that we weren't gonna go back to sleep, Michael and I decided to get up and hit the trail.
With lunches packed and headlamps on our heads, we left the Curry Village parking lot by 5:30am. We took the John Muir trail up and made it to the top of Nevada Falls a bit after 8pm. After a bunch of pics, we pushed on meandered our way up at a pretty decent pace. By about 10:30 we found ourselves at the hill before the chains. OUCH...what a killer! Luckily, we were there early enough that there wasn't much of a crowd on the trials. After about 20 minutes, we crested the top of this hill and saw the chains before us.
With gloves on hands we scampered up to the top within about 15 minutes...11:20am. Once there, we took a peek at the Yosemite Valley side and then quickly found a flat place to lay down and nap. By 12:15, our time was up and we headed back down...alongside a 72 year-old woman and her family. 72!!! and on top!
We had planned on jogging down (we had done that 2 years earlier down to the Valley from Glacier Point), but the steepness of a good bit of the trail, the crowds and sore feet put a damper on that idea. Still, we made it back to Curry Village by 3:30pm.
How to celebrate? More carbo loading at the bar: pepperoni pizza and some tall 22 oz beers. Within about an hour, we bumped into Judy & Stan and hung out with them for awhile along with a couple that we (all four of us, but on different parts of the trail) met on the trail.
That marks four big hikes that I've done there: valley floor to Yosemite Lookout, valley floor to Glacier Point, Tenaya Lake to Clouds Rest. I'm thinking the Tenaya Lake to valley floor (via Clouds Rest) may be a fun one to do. And Michael really wants to try out Tenaya Canyon. Looks like quite an adventure!
Here are the pics from the hike...thanks Michael!
We each ordered a burger and thought that we'd be chowing down in a few minutes and then be back on the road. After about 20 minutes, we started to get antsy...where's our food. When asking the bartender, he replied, "I don't know...I'm just the bartender." We turned around and saw our waitress...good she'll be right over. Wrong! She sat there and chatted with her friends for a good 15 minutes.
When another bartender asked Mike how he was doing and he replied, "Hungry!". She quickly "Now now'd" him. Mike is hungrier than me, so walks over to the waitress and asks if our order was lost; to which she replies, "No, there's lots of people ahead of you" and promptly sits down and chats more with her friends. Okay...decision was made...waitress is NOT getting a tip. About 8 mnutes later, the burgers come. We quickly ate, then waited another 5 minutes for the check to come. I think our tip was $0.32.
If you want to make me happy...never go to this place. They have never head of the word service.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
For kicks, I decided to buy a BIG tent.
- 18' x 12' or 198 square feet
- 4 rooms...sleeps 11
- only 45 pounds!!!
[Update: It has arrived! Woohoo!!!!]
Monday, August 22, 2005
Friday, August 12, 2005
A friend sent me a link to a "failed" Fox sitcom pilot called Heat Vision & Jack that stars Jack Black as a former astronaut who flew too close to the sun on a mission and now (during daylight hours) knows everthing. A la Night Rider, his trusty sidekick is Heat Vision, a motorcycle played by Owen Wilson. On the run from NASA (they want his brain), he is being trailed by Ron Silver...you know the actor/NASA fugitive chaser. Anyway...here is the BitTorrent link for the 301 MB download. Don't have BitTorrent? You can download it here. Enjoy!
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
I've loaded up most of the programs I need for work (and play). Looking forward to running it through some hoops over the next few days, but don't anticipate any problems. Earlier in the evening, I was archiving email, playing music on iTunes and flying around on Google Earth and none of the applications seemed to be affected whatsoever. Nice, huh?
Anyone out there get any new toys lately?
Friday, July 22, 2005
On Thursday, I went to a breakfast chat with Wired Magazine's Editor-in-Chief, Chris Anderson about the Long Tail.
He is on a book-writing leave from Wired. The Long Tail manuscript is due in mid-September and the book will be out in May 2006. The Long Tail article is the most cited article in Wired's history. He is writing the book on his blog, so if you like to read from your computer, you can skip on buying it. He is working with Stanford and Harvard Business School students to come up with case studies to *bulk up* the book. For now, he will be keeping non-entertainment examples out of the blog (his publisher is making him do this); though he claims to have many examples.
He mentioned that no economists have taken a strong look at his idea.
He sees a rise in micro-celebrities - not famous for 15 minutes, but famous for 15 people
His blog gets 5000 visits a day and he is using the comments and ideas from visitors for imput into his writings (collecting collective wisdom)
# of times Chris said the word notion: 4
Friday, July 08, 2005
Remember 1997 here in the Valley: the scent of money permeated the air with everyone goo-goo ga-ga over the Internet (My stock is worth $2.3 million! Yippee!!!); companies were hosting free parties left and right (Which dot-com do you work for? Ummmmm, yeah....I just joined my third new one this year, I don't remember the name of the new one. CHEERS!); everyone had a 2-year BMW lease; and there were whisperings of the dreaded "bubble" word.
Flash forward to 2005: the scent of money permeates the air with everyone goo-goo ga-ga over real estate (My house is worth $2.3 million! Yippee!!!); companies are hosting free parties (okay, not left and right, but I went to two free drinkfests this week alone); everyone has a 2-year Cingular/RAZR contract; and there is constant talk of the dreaded "bubble" word.
Now a confession: I didn't move to the Bay Area until the summer of 2001, roughly 15 months after the peak of the bubble (When was the peak? I say it was the day before Microstrategy stock fell something like 65% in one day. Remember them?), so I didn't experience much of the exuberance, though I did travel here much for work and play (lots of my college friends had found there way here by then).
Sad things I do remember from the go-go days:
- a 26-year old Internet marketer traumatized by the quandary of whether to buy the million dollar ski house and make the seismic fixes it needed or tear it down and build anew (her stock tanked before it vested, she never had to make the final decision).
- rental trucks leaving the valley cost 4 times as they did coming in. (I benefited there.)
- there was no parking anywhere in the city
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
At my workplace, its use is rampant..,three times on this morning's team concall alone! (I would bet that at our last conference, it was used well over 50 times during the various lectures.) On NPR, every educated person uses it. At the conference I went to yesterday, it was used four times. I don't seem to recall it being used so much in the past, but like many things, you don't notice them, until you notice them. Enough of my co-workers know this (I've mentioned it to them on numerous occasions) that we have a smile/nod routine whenever we hear it.
The car you are driving, the first week or two that you drove it around, I'll bet you thought that there were hundreds of the same make/model on the road (actually there are, since there really aren't that many different kinds of cars). Something new to us always has a way of heightening our senses of it. "YOU are reading that book, too?"
Different businesses (accounting, consulting, software, etc.) probably all have their "words du jour". What things consistently (annoyingly?) stand out in your life?
[Update] One of our former interns found a phrase that irritates him.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Now, I'm reading Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. It contains a series of essays on popular culture. Its a quick read and it shouldn't be too long before I've moved on to my next book.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
DAY 1 - Friday
We left the Bay Area about 9am and headed East through the pass that goes by Kirkwood. On the way down the east side of the Sierras, we stopped at a waterfall and took some digital pics (I'll add some of those later). We made our way over to 395 and then headed south to Bishop to find out about backcountry access to a few locales. We had wanted to get to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and head to the Patriarch Grove, but that road was closed. We ended up setting up camp at the Grandview Campground (oddly named as there is not a grand view from there) and headed to the Schulman Grove to find a good spot to take some sunset pics. Michael seemed to be happy with the results of that night and we returned to the campground for some dinner. We were the only ones on the mountain...had the whole park to ourselves.
DAY 2 - Saturday
Morning temp: 41. We woke a little before 5am and headed for a new vantage point. We found one and I think he was again happy with the results. Getting one good image makes his day.
Back to camp to nap some and then we headed into Bishop to get some sunglasses for me, though we had to take a detour due to the Mule Days celebration. Next stop...Mammouth Mountain for a snowshoe/backpack trek into the woods. Our goal was Garnet Lake, but due to the amount of snow we've had this year we had to start hiking from Mammoth ski area parking lot instead of Agnew Meadows which added about 3 miles to our trip...too much added distance in fact. We didn't make it to Garnet Lake, but did get a good hike and snowshoe trek: ~8.5 miles. The slope from the valley up into the mountains wore us out. By 7pm we decided to call it a day, set up camp and relax (collapsed in the tent is more like it) as the winds started to pick up (40 mph gusts throughout the night). We stayed in the tent while Michael boiled some water under the fly for our dinner. Sleep came around 10pm.
DAY 3 - Sunday
Morning temp: 38. Dawn came fast and Michael was able to sneak in some pics in between the gusts. We broke camp and hit the trail for the return around 9am. The trek down the mountain was much more relaxing this time, even if my boots were soaking wet. We passed a waterfall and some black & white pictures were taken. At the bottom of the hill, we made our way back through the woods and across the meadows and then back up the long windy hill to the summit and then a slight decline back into Mammoth Resort by 1pm. Once our gear was back in the car, we went over to the resort and had a couple of beers and some r&r on a couple of couches.
Next up...a drive up North to see some more lakes off of 395 and then to Mono Lake. We set up camp nearby under the Mono Craters, hung our socks on a tree and my boots under the tree and then went over to Mono Lake and Michael gave me a tour of the tufa. Back to the campsite, only to see that the winds had blown our tent a few dozen feet away. Time for some reading, snaking and napping. The two days of backpacking wore us out and we ended up not having dinner and fell asleep around 8:30pm.
DAY 4 - Memorial Day
Morning temp: 34. At 4:30am, we woke up and headed back to Mono Lake to get some pictures. We were vehicle #2 there and Michael had warned me about the dueling tripods (there were probably 8 or 9 photographers there at the peak that morning). We jigged and jagged and he finally got a few shots off.
Back to camp we went, had breakfast and packed up and headed to the ghost town of Bodie. At its peak in 1879, Bodie had 10,000 people. Goldmining during the day and drinking and gunfighing at night were the norm back then. Today, less than 5% of the buildings remain standing.
By 10:15am, we left and headed back home, up through the Sonora Pass which had opened up a few days earlier. If you have a chance to drive though there, it is a must go...soaring mountains, deep canyons and some stretches of road that are at a 24% incline.
I got home around 5:30, unpacked are realized that my boots are still under that tree at the Mono Craters. Time to do some shopping...next camping trip is two weekends away!
Here is a link to more photos...thanks Michael!
Sunday, May 15, 2005
No sooner had this thought exited my head that I noticed some cars ahead in my lane that were not moving...and another truck in the right breakdown lane in front of them. The little car in front of me slammed on its brakes and came to a stop behind the van and car that had been in (I presumed) a little mishap. I was able to slide towards the left side of the left lane, just behind the little car in front of me. The motorcycle decided to pull over to the far right behind the truck in the breakdown lane. The car driving behind me slide in between everyone and went through the accident scene unharmed.
Now I had the please of watching the action unfold behind me thru my rear-view window. Cars approached around the curve at 60-70 mph, saw us sitting there and had to decide what to do. The first up was an SUV, driving in my lane, it swerved into the right land (phewww!!! missed me!!!), but then saw the motorcycle and swerved farther. BIG MISTAKE!!! To the right was an earthen embankment and the SUV catapaulted up, did a little pirouette at the top and landed (miraculously) on all 4 tires and slowly edged further, around some trees before coming to a stop behind a guardrail facing the accident. The driver seemed okay, though obviously shaken up.
The initial truck in the brakedown lane decided to put itself into reverse and drive backwards up the hill (to alert others of the accident, I think). Meanwhile, I continue to watch behind me as cars slam on their brakes and guide themselves through the one available lane. I keep hoping for a break in traffic long enough for the little car in front of me (I can't get around it) to make a move and get the hell out of bulls-eye land. Finally it moves forward, though I have to wait as another barrage of autos panic, swerve and slide around us.
Finally, I make it around and drive past the accident. Ahead I see flares...first of the left, then on the right...more slalom driving! A Mustang was smashed up in front of a police car and was about to be towed away. What did it hit? In about a mile I found out...there were two more magled cars that drove off the highway into the local Safeway parking lot and the drivers were speaking with a police officer.
Boy, did I feel lucky! The whole time, all I wanted to do was get around those two cars. I've read too many stories about 40 or 50 car pileups on California highways...and I'd prefer not to be part of the story.
So...now it's time for a little PSA, courtesy of the California DMV:
DRIVING IN THE FOG
The best advice for driving in the fog is DON’T. You should consider postponing your trip until the fog clears. However, if you must drive, then drive slowly and use your low beam headlights. The light from high beams will reflect back and cause glare. Never drive with just your parking or fog lights.
Increase your following distance and be prepared to stop within the space you can see ahead. Avoid crossing or passing lanes of traffic unless absolutely necessary. Listen for traffic you cannot see. Use your wipers and defroster as necessary for best vision.
If the fog becomes so thick that you can barely see, pull completely off the road. Do not continue driving until you can see better. Turn off your lights or someone may see your taillights and drive into you.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
My first pass...I thought frisbee and it need 19 questions to get it correct.
My secon pass...I thought stamp...and in 15 questions, it guessed "sticker". Not too bad!
Try your luck at it!
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Friday, April 15, 2005
It was mentioned that Netflix has approached the Discovery Channel and other sources of documentaries to feed the hunger for nonfiction cinema. I'm very happy with this trend. Will this new interest be popular enough to overtake the drivel (Survivor, American Idol, and the rest of the reality crap) that permeates the airwaves? I do hope so...
Monday, April 11, 2005
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Note...our request made it to the BoingBoing blog.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Sunday, April 03, 2005
The sad thing is that even though it was made 37 years ago...people are still hateful, prejudiced and bigots. I know of parents who still think it there place to dictate what their children should and should not do. I think my favorite quote in the movie was when Mr. Poittier tells his father, that he doesn't owe him anything. "You brought me into this world. You are responsible for me. I owe you nothing. And just like you, I will be responsible for my own children."
Children are a parent's responsibility. True. Do your best for them, teach them well and then once they are adults, let them be free to do WHATEVER they want. Your responsibility ends when they leave the nest. It boggles my mind why, to this day, this is still not understood...
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
This morning, while putting on my socks, I notice a scratch. Upon closer examination, it has all the signs/symptoms of poison oak. Where did that come from??? Skiing at Heavenly? Walking around downtown Palo Alto. Dammit!!! The only thing I detest about the wilds here is how those oils just seem to jump onto my skin without me knowing it. Okay...done venting.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Luckily, we have people like Barry Sternlicht of Starwood to bring us the wondrous Heavenly Bed. This week, while at the Innovations in Marketing Strategy in SF, Scott Williams, Starwood's Chief Creative Officer, enlighted me with a talk on the Bed Wars and Innovation and Design in a commodity market.
Hotels...all the same, right? We typically choose hotels because of cost (cheap!!!), preferred status (points!!!) or location (the conference is there!!!). Then Barry came along and said, "Hey, I sleep in a nice bed, why can't all of our guests?" And voila, the Heavenly Bed was created: white comforters; high threadcount sheets and big, fluffy pillows. Now when you walk into a Westin, you think: clean, comfortable, HOME!!! Marriott and others quickly said "me too" and the bed wars were launched. Not to be complacent, Starwood asked themselves where else can they look to innovate (with a strong leaning towards design). Answer: Heavenly shower...with a curved shower curtain, protecting raised elbows from touching icky curtains; Heavenly cribs...so your child doesn't have to sleep through a Romanian orphanage experience; and Heavenly Dog Beds...so 27 million travelers with pets can pamper Fido.
So...now it's checkout time and as you close the door you give a fleeting look to your newfound flame. You mention it offhandedly at checkout, "boy, I would sure love to have one of those beds in my home." Well guess what...you CAN! The Heavenly Store sold over 5,000 beds last year. You can buy the whole damn Heavenly line if you desire!
Scott's message: innovation and design are hand-in-hand partners now. We can't escape it. His favorite design and innovation trendsetters: Starbucks, Apple (each new product release = AWESOME!) and Masterlock (a nice segue where we learn that new products positioned Masterlock as a security company, not a lock company, radically altering the size of their potential market from $300MM to Billions). We can have cool, nice things for low prices too...think Target. Design doesn't have to mean expensive.
So, if you are locked into a commodity business with a product that hasn't changed in years...you better start innovating/designing now, cause your competitor is gonna sooner or later.
Monday, March 07, 2005
I heard a rumor that the city of Monterey pays you $1 for each gym visit...you just sign in and they tally it up at the end of the month and send you a check. I spent a few minutes googling this, but couldn't verify it. But...a good rumor nonetheless.
Next idea: you know those VIP cards that gamblers get in Vegas to track gambling activity? They should put those readers on exercise machines so that you can track your workouts: calories burned, heartrate, progress in matching your exercise plan, etc. Make it interactive, make it fun!
C'mon Kaiser, get proactive!!!
Friday, March 04, 2005
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
*btafg1* [on speaker phone] Yeah...how much do your memberships cost? I'm with an ad firm and we want to give away your memberships?
*me* Could we back up? Who am I talking to?
*btafg1* Look, we are a BIG-TIME New York ad firm, working for a BIG-TIME global telco, working on a promotion to give away predictions about the future.
*btafg2* Yeah [indecipherable mumbling on speaker phone], we want to know how much a thousand memberships costs.
*btafg1* How much are memberships to your website?
*me* I'm sorry...I need to know more about who you are and who you work for. And, who is your client? A telco or the top 1000 Forune companies?
*btafg1* I am not at liberty to disclose who I am or my firm's name. We are a BIG-TIME ad firm, though.
*btafg2* The telco is our client...who we want to be our client. We want to give about a thousand memberships to the Fortune 1000 companies.
*me* You mean get memberships for all of the Fortune 1000?
*btafg1* Yes...how much will that cost?
*me* [I take this time to explain that we are not just a website, how we work, how we market our services and how much our services cost.]
*btafg2* So we can't give away trials to your memberhips?
*me* No, we don't work that way, we don't do trials and we don't give discounts.
*btafg2* Oh...well, we can't afford that.
*btafg1* Yeah...we can't afford that.
*me* Have a great day.
Interesting, no? I'm picturing these two clowns sitting in a 40th floor office scheming about how to pitch their client. What cracked me up most was their usage of the term: BIG-TIME. Now c'mon...if they were really BIG-TIME New York ad guys, what the hell are they doing at 7pm on a Wednesday calling me up. Wouldn't one of their lackeys be doing that? Wouldn't they be chasing some tail at the hip, new bar-of-the-moment in the Village?
By the way:
btafg1 = BIG-TIME ad firm guy 1
btafg2 = BIG-TIME ad firm guy 2
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Nowadays, innovation paranoia isn't as prevalent, though it does exist here and there (Verizon's recent attempts to thwart the city of Philadelphia's efforts to deploy broadband via Wi-Fi is a good example).
The movie leads to thoughts about existent and nascent technologies/services, allowing serious changes to business/profit models:
- VOIP...sorry telcos
- File sharing...sorry movie companies
- Wi-Max...sorry mobile providers
- stain-resistent clothing...sorry detergent and washing machine makers
- stem-cell therapies...sorry drug manufacturers
Monday, February 21, 2005
obsession: an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone [syn fixation].Sound familiar? Ah yes...we've all had them.
It being a being a cloudy/ugly holiday, I thought I would reflect on obsessions and my experiences with them.
Let us begin by dividing them up into various categories: self, collecting, digital. And then let us delve into the various precursors for obsession: genetic, boredom (sorry...couldn't find a decent link for this) and culture (yeah, yeah, yeah...this link was gratuitous...what of it?).
Let's walk through a few of my life's obsessions:
- Baseball cards (collecting...culture) - In 1978, I collected baseball cards. Not Fleer. Not Donruss. My cards were Topps. I lived and breathed these things. As soon as I had some loose change, or a dollar or two...up the street to the Candy Store I would go to get more. In the end, it all came down to Duane Kuiper...I sent word out that anyone who had Duane would get ALL of my duplicates, triplicates, etc. Meaning...one card was worth another three or four hundred to the lucky finder of Duane's card. I look back now and think: WHAT AN IDIOT. All those cards for Kuiper? At the time...it was the only thing to do. It ended my obsession. I got Kuiper and could rest easy. The cards now rest in my room in my mom's house. Not sure what condition they are in or when I'll ever see them again. Perhaps it is time to send them back into the collecting world for others to obsess over. (Note: I will never forget Duane's name...impossible to do so. Upon moving to the Bay Area, a smile was formed when I found out that he is the local color commentator for Giants broadcasts.)
- Exercise/Food (self...culture) - In high school, I was pretty good at the 110-high hurdles. (Thanks for all that coaching Max, wherever you are!) When senior year rolled around, I got off to a lousy start, my times were not as good as I thought that they should be, and I blamed it all on my weight: a whopping 5 pound increase from the year before. I would train at practice, and then come home and stretch and do plyometrics and have a very meager meal. I NEEDED to get better. I was TOO heavy. Luckily, the French Club interrupted the season and while living large in Montreal and Quebec City with my classmates, I gained 7 pounds. Upon my return, the new weight changed everything: the records started to fall again, and I finished the season on a high note. And...I learned that food is fuel, not a foe.
- Games (self/digital...boredom) - The summer of '92, I spent at college, working part-time at the HUB and hanging out with friends. Most people were taking classes, so while they were busy studying, I was busy mastering Minesweeper. I HAD to have the best score on all the levels...and once I did, I had to beat that score. I think my records were: 6 seconds, 28 seconds and 62 seconds for the three different levels. It was INSANE how much time I spent playing that idiotic game. Luckily, a project came up that soon became my new compulsion (history project for a club I was in). To this day, I detest playing video games since I see them as such a waste of my time.
- Reading (self...boredom) - Sometime, after college, I REALLY began reading for pleasure. I typically jump around from genre to genre, but sometimes, I get hooked on a certain writer and immerse myself in her/his works. The last immersion was Vonnegut. I think I covered about 12 of his books in about three weeks. This isn't necessarily bad, but I have seen it impact my work in the past...staying up really late to finish a book and then being dead tired the next day. These days, I actually wish I had more time to read.
- Social Networks (digital...culture) - This is a relatively new phenomena...last 5 years or so. The Bay Area seems to be the hotbed for these networks (either founded or highly popular here): Ryze, Friendster, MySpace, Orkut, Mixermixer, LinkedIn; and now a few new destinations to steal time from my soul: Flickr, Blogger & Bloglines. I have a profile on every social site known to man. It probably didn't hurt knowing some of the founders (helping out their cause), but I definitely went WAY overboard in my dealings with those sites. The upshot...I made tons of friends, so the time can't be seen as a complete waste.
Back in the mid-90s the Children's Miracle Network knew a good thing when they saw it and took the idea and have franchised it to several campuses around the country. A few weeks back, while returning to work from lunch, I passed by a couple of canners (kids collecting money) for Stanford's Dance Marathon...their first Marathon. It brought back a wave of memories and money quicly flowed into their can.
Kudos to the kids at Penn State...JOB WELL DONE, again!!!!!!!
Saturday, February 19, 2005
I have to admit, I had a great time at the game. To describe it quickly...imagine regular outdoor lacrosse played like hockey: it had the back-and-forth quickness of tennis, the in-your-face agressiveness of hockey, the light-up-the-scoreboard scoring of basketball (well...peewee basketball). Perhaps this is why it is the fastest growing high school sport in America.
Based on what I saw last night and what I have read today...this sport is going to grow in popularity over the years. If you get a chance...check it out!
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
- If you want your kid to stand out, have her/his name start with an F
- Vowels...very popular these days
- No one names their kid Claribel, Madonna or Mortimer anymore
- Mercedes has been around longer than I thought
- Boys dominate Q, U, W & X
- Girls dominate K & Y
- Pascual has come and gone a couple of times
- There is only one Cher
To my surprise, they shipped the day before they were released and arrived the same day that they could be purchased or rented at Blockbuster. Isn't that nice service!!! Too bad I had plans tonight and didn't have time to watch one of them. Netflix...you got an A for effort today!
- The 300 Degree Club - when temps dip below 100 below, they pump the sauna up to 200 degrees, then jump outside for a quick pic in their shorts (with icicles instantly forming on their bodies) next to the YOU ARE AT THE SOUTH POLE sign. He cl
- During the summer, when temps reach a balmy 20 below, they race clockwise around the pole for 3 laps...passing time zone to time zone, they quickly go back in time 72 hours...
- Food is just about the only luxury they have, so late night kitchen snacks include leftover lobster and chocolate eclairs
- The postman comes just once during the winter...and he just delivers...no outbound mail
- He was there before that Internet thingy...so he had to pass time by actually *talking* to people....the SAME people...day after day after day. Well...not true exactly, cause winter was just one LONG night.
- Sleep rhythms adjust to the body's norm: two 4 hour naps separated by 3 hours of wake time.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
It reminded me of my college and just-after-college days, when magazines, books, and music were my major possessions. Furniture and kitchen/laundry appliances were not needed; or if owned, were secondhand. My fraternity had dozens of rooms...some singles, and doubles and a handful of larger group rooms (the Penthouse and Cook's Room). Creativity and sweat equity were constants during each semester's shift in rooms: painting, ripping up/replacing carpets, constructing/deconstructing wet-bars, hanging tapestries. Hours and hours were spent fixing up my room to be just *right*.
In my first move to DC after college, my possessions equaled one carload. Two months later, en route to my new home of Boston, my material wealth had evolved to two carloads. In DC, I slept on the mattress removed from a foldout couch. In Boston, I slept on the floor for a few weeks and then on a doubled-over waffle mattress cover. That soon turned into a futon and then a real-life double mattress. By age 25, I came of age upon purchase of a real-life wooden bed frame.
In 2001, my move across the country forced me to rent a 17' truck to transport my *wealth*: living room/dining room/bedroom furniture, pots/pans, books, shelves, artwork, kitchen items, stereo/TVs/DVDs, sporting gear and lots and lots of clothes and shoes. I quickly moved to a flat in the city with enough closet and storage space to easily (and cleanly) store everything. Three point five years later, I have downsized to renting a room in a house, with several of my possessions either on loan to friends (thanks for helping out!), stored in boxes in the garage, or hastily stowed away (shoved) in the closet or under my bed.
The next move will again require me to rethink what I want and what I don't want. My gut tells me: those who have taken in my goods will end up inheriting what they are sheltering. What I have learned is that I can easily get by in life with much less than I thought I needed years ago. As long as I have some space to sprawl out on the floor, room to entertain a handful of friends, and quick access to what is important to me then life is good.
TMITHC takes place in 1962. FDR's assassination led to a serious change of events: the US doesn't enter WWII, allowing the Germans to whoop the Allies and the Japanese to whoop the US; and now America has been divied up by the conquerers. Along the way, those oh-so-lovable Nazis emptied the Mediterranean for farmland, wiped out the blacks and the Jews of the lands they controlled, sent astronauts to the moon and Mars, and take control of the world economy.
In the US, marijuana cigarettes are smoked for pleasure (legally...remember, he's from SF and he wrote this in 1962...wishful thinking on his part), Americana (antique Zippo lighters and Mickey Mouse watches) is desired by rich Japanese collectors, and people are starting to read a book that tells of an alternative world...one where England and the US were the victors of WWII. The book is banned in German controlled areas, but freely read in the Middle West of America and the Pacific States of America.
I am now inspired to add Dick to my writers-I-should-read-more-of list. What do you think...which of his works should I read next?
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Flickr is a web-based photo-sharing/social website that is growing at about 30% a month. I'm way too knew to the service to fawn over all of the features...but the ones the I like so far:
- You and others can comment on your photos
- I can set up groups and watch them in a slideshow (though it seems that the show will only run once, and then prompt you to start it again)
- In the "Everyone's" section, I can "play" by looking what other people have done with their public photos
- From the Home page, you are welcomed with various international greetings: Hello, Ni Hao, G'Day, Salut, Ahoy, Namaste, etc.
Monday, February 07, 2005
So, looks like someone/somewhere went through my wallet and copied numbers down from my cards. Very cool!!!! Now I am wracking my brain, trying to figure out what happened. So...who *borrowed* my wallet?
Friday, February 04, 2005
My (limited) thoughts:
* An actor friend of mine is getting married soon as well. Thank God (wait, I'm agnostic...) he's loyal and honorable, or I'd have to kick his ass.
[NOTE TO THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN SIDEWAYS...DO NOT READ BEYOND HERE]
* Thomas Haden Church (Miles)...when I detest someone in a movie...I know they did well.
* There is a scene where Paul Giamatti (Jack) and Virginia Madsen (Maya) are discussing why they like wine late at night on a porch. As Jack describes his love of pinot, you realize how lonely and sad he is. Lost in life and loved by none. Though as Maya describes why she loves wine, Jack sorta wakes up and gets a glimmer in life in him.
* Usually, I am mostly disappointed in endings. Not here folks (knock knock, fade to black...)...and I called it! Love when I do that!
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Since about ten years Theo Jansen is occupied with the making of a new nature. Not pollen or seeds but plastic yellow tubes are used as the basic matierial of this new nature. He makes skeletons which are able to walk on the wind. Eventualy he wants to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives.Can you picture these walking around the playa at BM?
Update - here's an article on Theo.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
While coming back from lunch, some kids accidentally bump into my boss, apologize and move on. She arrives on our floor and states very quickly, "my wallet was stolen...I think someone stole my wallet." She checks her backpack and sure enough...the wallet is missing. We ask if she remembers what they look like and where they ran off to...her response...they are right around the corner.
Three of us jump to action (okay...we put on coats and one of us had to slip some shoes back on) and head down the back steps in search of the culprits. We circle the block...no hoodlums in sight. Next, we decided to check out Blockbuster (hey...where else would they run to, right?). While walking in, this annoying girl shoves something in our face, spouting off about "top 20 this or that" and is very loud and obnoxious. We move past her look around, exit and go up the alley behind our office and still nothing...no hoodlums. Oddly enough, loud girl circled around the other way and is back this time yelling more and with her friends. I mention that we went looking for hoodlums and all we find are stupid gypsies (they looked like, dressed like, and sounded like them).
While heading back up the stairs, gypsy-girl mentions to my co-worker that he has a nice shirt...where can she get one for her boyfriend? Reply: in the Haight in SF. Response: that's too far for me to go. We continue back up the stairs. In the office, we see that the cops have arrived and our interviewing my boss; and within 5 minutes, they apprehend the 3 that did the deed...yep, you guessed it...the gypsies.
Unfortunately, her wallet was not recovered. What we learned today: be careful in the *big* city and stay away from gypsies...