Thursday, October 31, 2013

Little-Known Horror Movies That Were Pretty Good

My nominee, from 1973, is "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."

Any other horror films that people seldom see but which are worth consideration?


After asking:

  • "What matters?"
  • "What are my goals?
  • "What needs to be done?"
. . . be sure to ask, "Am I becoming the person I want to be?"

Dick Tracy in Florida


FutureLawyer really likes the Sony SmartWatch 2:

What has really sold me on this product, though, is the ease of installation. Unlike Apple products, Android devices often have an NFC chip in them. (Near Field Communication). All I had to do to install the SmartWatch 2 is touch the devices together, and say Yes. All of my SmartWatch apps came over, and I am already using it. It vibrates everytime I get a text, or an email, or a phone call. It keeps a record of all the calls and texts, and I can actually scroll through email with the watch. $199 at NewEgg and Sony. FutureLawyer Highly Recommended.

Moon River

I'm glad to see that The Hammock Papers has returned.

Take a few minutes and listen to Lisa Hannigan's version of "Moon River." 

Ethics Update: The Health Plan Promise

The Washington Post's fact checker examines the "No one will take away your health plan" promise.


The intro to Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas

Great film. Crank it up.

Quick Management Review

Check out:

  1. Customers.
  2. Team members.
  3. Mission.
  4. Goals.
  5. Values.
  6. Clarity.
  7. Training.
  8. Achievements.
  9. Setbacks.
  10. Timelines.
  11. Culture.
  12. Responsibilities.
  13. Rewards.
  14. Excuses.
  15. Punishments.
  16. Execution of the basics.
  17. Availability of reliable information.
  18. Availability of resources.
  19. Internal and external customer service.
  20. Quality of staff work.
  21. Quality of meetings.
  22. Amount of initiative.
  23. Upward delegation.
  24. The level of fear.
  25. Coordination between departments.
  26. Unwritten policies and practices.
  27. Conflicting values.
  28. The inner circle.
  29. The level of civility.
  30. The amount of groupthink.
  31. Potential crises.
  32. Lessons learned.
  33. The sense of urgency.
  34. The amount of micromanagement.
  35. The positive transformation of people.
  36. The sense of community.
  37. Unexplored opportunities.

Language to Remember and Use

"It was a frequently repeated canard that was often embellished when retold."

Quote of the Day

I wants to make your flesh creep.

- The Fat Boy in Charles Dickens's Pickwick Papers

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pre-Halloween Music Break: Werewolves of London

"His hair was perfect": Warren Zevon with his classic.


"He said that at the end of the day the bottom line will be a game-changer if we just walk the talk and empower the associates. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that we should run it up the flag pole and see who salutes. This isn't brain surgery. After all, it is what it is."

No Excuses

We don't want to hear:

  • "It could have been worse."
  • "We were misunderstood."
  • "The dog ate my homework."
  • "It was harder than we thought it would be."
  • "You're going to like this result even more."
  • "The contractors got it wrong."
  • "We didn't have enough time."
  • "We didn't have enough resources."
  • "We didn't get enough support."
  • "We inherited this mess."
  • "Another department was supposed to handle it."
  • "We came close to the goal."
  • "The maps were off."
  • "We'll do better next time."
  • "My staff screwed up."
  • "We worked really hard."

Language to Remember and Use

"Their diets ended when the chef rolled out a cart filled with bodacious desserts."

Quote of the Day

At the core of every true talent there is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement, and the confidence that by persistence and patience, something worthwhile will be realized.

- Eric Hoffer

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Music Break

Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Suite from "On the Waterfront."

Seems Familiar

A scene from National Lampoon's Vacation that is as current as today's headlines.

Beware of the metallic peat.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Madame Scherzo's blog deserves many visits.
Dennis Prager: Is evil irrational?
Cultural Offering is nostalgic for Sam Donaldson.
The trailer for "Office Tigers."
The Happiness Project: The satisfaction of having done good work.
The trailer for "Something Ventured."
Wally Bock on a community of practice.
The trailer for "The Reluctant Fundamentalist."
Eclecticity Light has a great Halloween costume photo.

The Pack

There are days when the small projects resemble a pack of wolves.

Ask for Help

You'd think that it would be easy to persuade people to ask for help, but that is not the case. They may be too proud or independent or perhaps, knowing little of the potential dangers, they believe an amateur can handle the matter unaided.

They don't know what they don't know.

So they wing it. If they're lucky, an experienced hand will grab the wheel before the car veers into the ditch. Unfortunately, such hands aren't always within reach nor are they summoned. The tendency to deny that there's a serious problem is hard to overcome. 

That's why Deny, Deny, Deny is usually not followed by There's a Slight Problem.

It's followed by There's a Big Problem.

Two characteristics of seasoned managers: They don't tell stories to themselves and they know when to ask for help.

Language to Remember and Use

"Throw in a thousand bucks and you'll get the whole kit and caboodle."

Quote of the Day

It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and THEN do your best.

- W. Edwards Deming

Monday, October 28, 2013

Decision Making

A classic scene from "The Princess Bride."

Art Break: Enlarging a Drawing and Squaring Off

Underpaintings examines the technique

[The above painting is Autumn in the Mountains by Adrian Scott Stokes.]

Prehistoric Googling

FutureLawyer has a photo.

Those were the days.

[A pause to wipe a tear.]

IT Pioneer Fred Trotter Looks at Roll-Out

FT: They screwed themselves twice. The first thing they did that was very foolish was to go at scale. Usually when the government understands the problem of that they do things in phases. They didn’t draft everyone for Vietnam all at once. That’s the model they should’ve used. They should’ve said people born in January can now get health insurance. Then it should’ve expanded to everyone born in the first quarter. And so on. But they presumed scale was easy. That was the first mistake. The second was assuming invention was easy. And scaling something that hasn’t been invented yet -- that’s technological suicide.

Read the rest of the
Wonkbook post here.

Despair, Inc.

Its demotivational posters are both clever and insightful. Check all of them here.

Preserving History: The Jobs House

The commission has been eyeballing the property for historic preservation for the past two years. It's not the architecture that makes it special, according to an evaluation prepared by Commissioner Sapna Marfatia. It's what transpired there in the latter half of the 1970s.

With help from Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and his sister Patricia Jobs, Steve Jobs assembled his first 50 Apple 1 computers at the one-story home and sold them to Paul Terrell's Byte Shop in Mountain View for $500 each. Another 50 were built for the Homebrew Computer Club.

Read the rest of the
San Jose Mercury News story here.


A group of managers knew that one gentle soul among them would be eaten alive if he didn't get a less challenging, rather cushy, and rare slot. When the day came to state their preferences for positions, all of the managers were assembled in a large room. The word was quietly passed - "Joe gets it" - and this diverse and ambitious group of personalities who often strongly disagreed on matters knew exactly what was meant. Each gave nothing but a slight nod.

No one else put in for the spot. Joe got it.

Language to Remember and Use

"There was caterwauling from the usual sources, but no serious opposition."

Quote of the Day

Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.

- Steven Wright

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"I Only Want To Be With You"

For the legions of Dusty Springfield fans out there and for those who ask, "Dusty who?"

The Obamacare Roll-Out

A variety of takes from:

A Blessed Routine

As we walk out the kitchen door to the car Henry explains to me that we are going to be late. We drive the four minutes to school, listening to XM Symphony Hall. Henry asks why I listen to "this music"? I explain that it is "great" music. He shakes his head and smiles. We arrive at a tricky intersection where someone invariably ignores the primary rule of stop signs. I shout above the great music that the first person to the stop sign has the right of way "so go already". I then explain the rule to Henry and he smiles. He knows the rule. We arrive at school on time and I tell Henry not to take any prisoners today. Henry shakes his head, smiles and gets out of the car. I drive on to work.

At Cultural Offering, a dad
tells of his commute.

Entertainment Break

The trailer for "Ender's Game." Coming this November.

Miscellaneous and Fast

View From the Ledge visits DogEars Books in Hoosick, New York.
The trailer for "Battle of Britain."
Wally Bock: Stories and strategies from real life.
Flashmob with bagpipes and drums.
Der Spiegel: President Obama's non-personal diplomacy.
Tanmay Vora: Leveraging social media.
Video: Dust storm in Phoenix.
Tevi Troy: Popular culture at The White House.
Unchained: Ryanair CEO on Twitter.
The trailer for "Foreign Correspondent."

Language to Remember and Use

"He asked the boys if they were casing the joint and they gave him blank stares in return."

[HT: Lou Rodarte]

Quote of the Day

I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest to make money they don't want to buy things they don't need to impress people they don't like.

- Emile Henry Gauvreau

Friday, October 25, 2013

Girl From The North Country

Back by popular demand: Waylon Jennings.

Film Recommendation

If you have never seen "Nowhere in Africa," give it a try. If you have seen it, watch it again.

It will be just as good the second time.

McKay's Take

FutureLawyer has some memorable observations by football coach John McKay

My favorite is "If you have everyone back from a team that lost most of its games, experience isn't too important."

Smoke Detector

An executive once told me that he believed the most important quality for his job was to know enough about the subject area to be able to spot when people were blowing smoke. [He didn't phrase it that politely but you get the picture.] He noted that people without the necessary education and experience might be able to fake it for a while but eventually the gaps would tell and the problems would mount.

When an executive or manager goes into the excuse business, be sure to consider if the person brought the right background to the job. If the acceptance of their qualifications was a stretch, they may be missing the smoke blown by others . . . and by themselves.

Plastic Propaganda

From the USA Today article on the characters in The Lego Movie:

President Business is an uptight CEO who wants the world to fit into his well-organized plan. Secretly, he's also Lord Business, who oversees a robot militia and attempts to take over the Lego world.

News You Can Use

At Anderson Layman's Blog, the proper way to carve a pumpkin with a gun.

Art Break: Pino

Art Contrarian looks at the favorite models of Pino Danae.

First Paragraph

It is now closing in on a half-century since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on the streets of Dallas on November 22, 1963. No other event in the postwar era, not even the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has cast such a long shadow over our national life. The murder of the handsome and vigorous president shocked the nation to its core and shook the faith of many Americans in their institutions and way of life. The repercussions from that event continue to be felt down to the present day. Looking back through the decades, it seems clear that Kennedy's death marked an important turning point in American life, after which time events began to move in strange and unexpected directions. This was the moment, if there was a particular moment, when the cultural consensus of the 1950s began to give way to the oppositional and experimental culture that we associate with the 1960s.

- From Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism by James Piereson

Learning from Failure

Put a team together in a formal setting and there can be a tendency to play it safe and discuss successes. 

We might learn more if the assignment for a retreat session was: "Bring in your juiciest failure from the past 12 months and be prepared to discuss what you learned from it." 

Language to Remember and Use

"They may claim to have won but we suspect it was a Pyrrhic victory."

[HT: Andrew Munro]

Quote of the Day

I haven't got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out. 

- David Sedaris

Thursday, October 24, 2013

First Paragraph

I bet none of it would have happened if I wasn't so eloquent. That's always been my problem, eloquence, though some might claim my problem was something else again. But life's a gamble, is what I say, and not all the eloquent people in the world are in Congress.

- From Somebody Owes Me Money by Donald E. Westlake

Fencing Class

This morning, I'm teaching a workshop on ethical decision making. It is an unusual class, one prone to sparking a great deal of introspection. You can tell the participants are reviewing their own conduct as we go over various points and unless there are some saints present, the memories aren't always comforting.

That's good. The subject requires humility and a willingness to confront the convenient rationalizations we can so easily construct. Near the end of the workshop is a challenging case study and its Right versus Right scenario permits some fencing over which "Right" shall prevail.

Always interesting.


As near-sighted as I am, you'd think I would know that it is not wise to bend over to pick up anything in a strange hotel room while near furnishings with sharp edges.

It should leave a nice scar.

Language to Remember and Use

"The G-man listened intently to his story and didn't believe a word."

Quote of the Day

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

- Mark Twain

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Door Mat

Found at Izola.

Instant Charm

At Eclecticity Light: Where does he find this stuff?

Not Your Usual Marching Band

At Anderson Layman's Blog you can see The Ohio State Marching Band moonwalk.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Wally Bock: By and about leaders.
Aquarium of the Pacific: Tropical reef cam.
The trailer for "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit."
John Dickerson on the Obamacare roll-out.
Monty Python: Dead parrot.
The trailer for "About Time."
The Paris Review interviews author David Mitchell.
Greg Lukianoff on the campus surveillance state.

Customer Service: A Key Lesson

One of toughest lessons to teach new employees in the workforce is a simple guiding service principle: They don’t care about you.

The lesson goes like this: The person on the other end of the line or across from you doesn’t care about you or your problems; they just want to be taken care of. They want what they paid for. They don’t care that you are having a rough day. They don’t care that you don’t feel well. They don’t care that your mother is in the hospital and you are worried about her. They don’t care that you are running late UNLESS it affects how you deliver what they paid for.

It goes even further. They don’t care that the weather is horrible. They don’t care that your car broke down and you had a bad call or experience just before you talked to them. They usually don’t even care when they seem as though they do.

Read the rest at Cultural Offering.

Language to Remember and Use

"They crossed the Rubicon the day their report went to the board of directors."

[HT: Andrew Munro]

[Any other nominees for language to remember and use?]

Quote of the Day

Whining crept into the American memoir in the mid-1990s. Until then the world of letters adhered to an agreed-upon code of civility, drawing a veil over emotions and events too private or shameful to reveal. Then talk shows were born and shame went out to the window.

- William Zinsser

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Release The Tennyson!

Where are the Zombies and Vampires?

At The New Republic, Noreen Malone has three idiot-proof formulas for a best-seller.

7 Workplace Failures

Failure to:

  1. Care
  2. Call
  3. Confirm
  4. Coordinate
  5. Consult
  6. Confront
  7. Conclude

Art Break: Reid

Art Contrarian on the work of Robert Lewis Reid.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Outside: What would Survivorman do?
Maureen Dowd on the anti-Lyndon Johnson.
The trailer for "Hereafter."
Mollie Hemingway on hatred of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The trailer for "The Man in the White Suit."
Spiegel on how Denmark saved Jews from the Nazis.
In the Air: Naked thief breaks into museum.
The trailer for "Marriage Italian Style."
The Onion: New improved Obamacare program released on 35 floppy disks.
CoolTools has a book for creating stage effects.
Richard Branson on asking for advice.
The trailer for "Second Hand Lions."
Sonny Bunch on presidents at leisure.
Noreen Malone on the new king of trash publishing.

Language to Remember and Use

"He was proud of his leonine mane and scoffed at barbers."

Quote of the Day

You should paint like a man coming over the top of the hill singing.

- Robert Henri

Monday, October 21, 2013


Possibly the American answer to those art films where the hero stares at a wall and mutters.

Humor, Sometimes Brutal

Fast Company has a map of what each country leads the world in.

SpongeBob Squarepants Headstones

Professor Althouse comments on the story.

That Dr. Who lunchbox looks better all the time.

Knight Moves

Reka is not distracted by any fires in Australia but instead has chess trivia.

Pretty neat.

Dr. Who Lunch Box

I saw one of these carried by a man in a business suit the other day and immediately thought, "Now that is an interesting person. A bit strange, perhaps, but interesting."

The Housing Boom and Bust

Once bedtime has arrived, I usually try to read something mild before falling sleep. Last night, I figured that The Housing Boom and Bust by Thomas Sowell would do the trick.

Not so. Truly fascinating. Beautifully written and clearly explained. When land use restrictions are interesting, you know you are reading something exceptional.

Breathtaking Libraries

The Daily Mail on the world's extraordinary libraries. Some are impressive for their size but others combine size with charm. Too often, modern libraries lack charm. They may be entirely functional but they do not captivate. Some of the libraries shown are places you would want to be even if you didn't pick up a book.

[HT: Althouse]

First Paragraph

Americans have been dreaming since our national birth. We dreamed of liberty, equality, and happiness. We dreamed of prosperity for ourselves and our children. We dreamed we would save our souls and save the world. We didn't all dream the same dream, or at the same time, for the American dream included the right of the individual dreamers to design their own. The dreams weren't always sunny and hopeful; some were darkly forbidding. But they drew America consistently forward, enticing us toward the horizon of the future.

- From American Dreams: The United States Since 1945 by H. W. Brands

What Did You Do at Work Today?

I doubt that you tickled rats.

When Taxes Spur a Brain Drain

Today, one out of four French university graduates wants to emigrate, “and this rises to 80 per cent or 90 per cent in the case of marketable degrees”, says economics professor Jacques R├ęgniez, who teaches at both the Sorbonne and the University of New York in Prague. “In one of my finance seminars, every single French student intends to go abroad.”

Read the rest of The Telegraph article here.

Language to Remember and Use

"His failure to achieve widespread support guaranteed that there would be a logjam."

[Any other nominees for language to remember and use?]

Quote of the Day

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.

- Seneca

Saturday, October 19, 2013

100 Greatest Country Songs

Cultural Offering has the essential mix.

Five Minute University

Back by popular demand: Father Guido Sarducci with a brilliant idea .

Miscellaneous and Fast

Nicholas Bate on three books for the weekend.
The trailer for "Safety Not Guaranteed."
Wally Bock: Stories and strategies from real life.
Sippican Cottage wrote the "feed the monkey" joke.
CoolTools has snake tongs.
David Kanigan on the diet of William Howard Taft.
Shikha Dalmia wonders if Obamacare is imploding.
FutureLawyer on the new tablet from Dell.
Matthew Lang on New Year's resolutions.
The trailer for "Baaria."
David Carr on the gerrymandered media.
Anderson Layman's Blog has Frank L. Visco on how to write.
Politico: Yale professor, a science, and tea partiers.
BBC: A violin from the Titanic has been sold at auction.
The trailer for "The Monuments Men."

Haunted House Cookies

Halloween House Cookies
The Pioneer Woman shows how to make them.

Always In Demand

There are hot topics in the field of management consulting. You can tell they will peak and then be off the screen in a couple of years.

On the other hand, there are some wildly popular subjects that never ebb and which can bring great wealth to their practitioners. Among these hits are mumbo jumbo, hocus pocus, snake oil, and smoke-and-mirrors.

Dangerous Assumptions

Do not assume that:
  • A deadline can be extended.
  • They want the job done properly.
  • Regulations will be enforced.
  • The lawyer was consulted.
  • Resources will be available.
  • Everyone has the same goal.
  • Everyone knows the goal.
  • What is evident to you is evident to others.
  • You know the entire story.
  • The other side will play fair.
  • People share the same work ethic.
  • This will be like the last time.
  • Someone else is handling it.

Language to Remember and Use

"You could tell the teachers could hardly bear the thought that the rapscallion was correct."

Quote of the Day

Some of our most creative work gets done in downtime - waking from a nap, taking a walk, daydreaming in the shower. (Writers are particularly clean.) Downtime is when breakthrough ideas are delivered to us, unsummoned, when yesterday's blockages somehow come unblocked. That's because we treated ourselves to a little boredom and cleared our brains of the sludge of information. Try it.

- William Zinsser

Friday, October 18, 2013

Iconic Foods of States

Althouse points to the article and adds commentary. My favorite comment:

The belief that Chicago pizza is better than New York pizza has been scientifically shown to be wrong.

Seriously. There have been, like, studies and stuff.

Art Break

Art Contrarian looks at Maxwell Parrish illustrations used for calendars.

Film Break

The trailers for:

Genius Within

The trailer for "Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould."