Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Seven Sins


Writing at Chief Executive, Sharon Daniels explores the seven sins of customer experience. An excerpt:

Some well-meaning service providers, hoping to give their customers insights about the product, talk too much about its features rather than the customers’ problems. This can make the customers feel their concerns aren’t being addressed. This is no time to try to up-sell or cross- sell.

Hotels


For the most part, Kurt Harden and I have the same feelings about hotels.

[I love some hotels. Just typing that transports me to pleasant stays in London and Hawaii.]

But consider this excerpt from Cultural Offering:


First, I am a germaphobe.  I imagine the worst sort of infectious disease patient, mouth breather, or sleep drooler occupying every room I acquire, coughing on the remote control and every other surface, stuffing dirty Kleenex back in the box and spitting in the coffeemaker.


[Those CSI-Las Vegas episodes didn't help.]

10 to Learn


Mary Jo Asmus examines 10 leadership competencies your organization doesn't tell you about.

They are great not only for leadership, but for life.

Come and Take It


At The Alamo gift shop.

In Most Cases


In most cases, it is wise to. . .

  • be kinder than necessary
  • keep impatience on a leash
  • listen for what was not said
  • think of time as an investment
  • review what you thought was perfect
  • subdue your worries
  • underpromise
  • go for the base hit
  • expect people to be people.


Quote of the Day

Outside, the street vendors came by, and the cries of the Cairo street vendors are just what you would expect them to be - entertaining and romantic in the evening and merely damnable in the early morning when you are trying to work. There was one man who brought such nameless pain and misery into voice that I was forced to the open window to listen. He was selling bath mats.

- Alan Moorehead

Monday, April 29, 2013

Nearly 10,000 tax codes?

How many tax codes are there nationwide?

The Washington Post
checks the figures.

[I love the comment about "only" having to file a maximum of 47 tax returns.]

First Paragraph

The year 1809 opened auspiciously for Shah Shuja ul-Mulk. It was now March, the very beginning of that brief Afghan spring, and the pulse was slowly returning to the veins of the icy landscape long clotted with drifts of waist-high snow. Now the small, sweet-smelling Istalif irises were pushing their way through the frozen ground, the frosted rime on the trunks of the deodars was running to snowmelt, and the Ghilzai nomads were unlatching their fat-tailed sheep from the winter pens, breaking down their goat-hair tents and readying the flocks for the first of the spring migrations to the new grass of the high pastures. It was just then, at that moment of thaw and sap, that Shah Shuja received two pieces of good news - something of a rarity in his troubled reign.

- From Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42 by William Dalrymple

Blogging's Future


At Althouse: Is the Golden Age of blogging over?

I think it may be just beginning. 

Androids and Law Practice


FutureLawyer points to a great source for android-using lawyers. I'm not surprised at the invaluable site that is the first source on the list.

Cinderella Story

Books and Culture: A 2012 interview with Sergio De La Pava, the author of A Naked Singularity. An excerpt:

When did you initially write A Naked Singularity?
I originally self-published it in late 2008.
How did University of Chicago Press pick it up?
After I self-published it, a couple years went by and nothing really happened. Sometime in, I'm going to say, late 2010, a couple of reviews started appearing, and I gather that an editor at UChicago Press read some of the reviews, then read the book, and then got into contact with us.

I'm not great on the details. My wife handles most of that stuff.

If Directions in the Real World Resembled Some Management Books


"You want to know how to get there? Well, you go some distance from here - you can choose the direction but make sure it's right - and then when the timing is correct and matches your values, make a sharp turn and head up the nearest hill or valley, whichever is appropriate, and while you're doing this be sure to keep a keen eye on the others in the car so they'll know you care about what they have to say. Oh yeah, and enjoy the journey because that's what really matters. Now let me give you the bullet points."

Steps and Snares


If you want to discover the key strengths or weaknesses of an organization, check the caliber of the:

  • People
  • Goals
  • Procedures
  • Design
  • Values
  • Resources
  • Training
  • Execution
  • Culture
  • Opposition

Quote of the Day

The departure point for inspiration is the obstacle.

- Gianfranco Contini

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Find Something Beautiful Today



Saturday, April 27, 2013

EEO and "Me Too"

Employment attorney Michael Maslanka on "me too" evidence of discrimination. An excerpt:

Courts continue to confront whether to admit “me, too” evidence in discrimination trials. Me-too evidence is when the plaintiff seeks to parade before the jury a bunch of witnesses who claim that the defendant discriminated against them, as well. The appeal for plaintiff’s lawyers is the ability to argue, "Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

Archy and Mehitabel

In a used bookstore today, an old copy of The Lives & Times of Archy and Mehitabel began to call my name. I had flashbacks to my high school days when I first met them.

There is now a Don Marquis website, of course, which has a nifty description of the protagonists:

THEY ARE THE MOST UNLIKELY OF FRIENDS: Archy is a cockroach with the soul of a poet, and Mehitabel is an alley cat with a celebrated past — she claims she was Cleopatra in a previous life. Together, cockroach and cat are the foundation of one of the most engaging collections of light poetry to come out of the twentieth century.

An Insensitive Animal Logo?

At Althouse, the controversy over a new version of the University of Connecticut's husky dog logo.

Job Interview: Choppin' Broccoli

I understand why they hired him: Dana Carvey's Saturday Night Live audition.

First Paragraph

The pilots were waiting nervously at dispersal. They had been at readiness all day, and the afternoon was wearing on. Nobody had any idea what was happening. Nobody told them anything. They had no commanding officer, and the airfield was a shambles.

- From The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of The Battle of Britain by Stephen Bungay

A Climate for Clarity


Why don't we notice the proverbial elephant in the room?

Because we're too busy with other things and our environment keeps adding other things. It is only later that we see the elephant and wonder how we could have missed it. Creating a workplace that permits a timely and clear view of the elephant is one of the challenges of management.

It has been said that management too often makes it difficult for people to do the job. There is another aspect to that problem. Is management making it difficult for people to see the job?

Quote of the Day

During a trip through Afghanistan we lost our corkscrew and were compelled to live on food and water.

- W. C. Fields in My Little Chickadee

Friday, April 26, 2013

Music Break

Chris Botti, Sting, Yo-Yo Ma, and Dominic Miller with "Fragile."

Return of The Hudson?

Art Contrarian compares the style of the Jaguar XJ with a Hudson.

There were some Hudsons in my neighborhood when I was a kid. I thought they looked like giant cockroaches.

"And It Didn't Even Blow Up"

Andrew Sullivan takes us down memory lane with some old PC tutorials.

Finding Your Spot


Where do you stand in an elevator? [I've always been a "senior man."]

[HT: Instapundit]

George Jones, R.I.P.

The great George Jones has died.

This performance with Dolly Parton is a reflection both of his talent and his wild life.


[Update: I understand the video has been taken down.]

[Update 2: The video is back up now.]

Pollen Day


It's a great day for sneezing.

Better Than a Tablet?

FutureLawyer explores the virtues of the Acer Google Chromebook. I've been thinking of getting a tablet and am considering various options. Decisions, decisions.

Unpacking Memories


Memories can be triggered by odd things. 

A whiff of a Camel cigarette immediately takes me back to a "platoon in the defense" Army exercise. [Other cigarette brands don't do the trick.] A herringbone jacket reminds me of a great professor who taught government classes at the University of Arizona. All Elvis impersonators are shadows of a friend in law school, a fanatical fan who, despite shoulder-length hair and a mustache, insisted that he looked like The King. [He looked nothing like him.]

It's also strange how some memories will be tucked away for years and then will slowly emerge until they can be recalled in vivid detail.

Perhaps our minds resemble the warehouse in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." 

Quote of the Day

The eternal, not the modern, is what I love: the modern will be antiquated and grotesque in ten years, when the fashion passes.

- Miguel de Unamuno

Thursday, April 25, 2013

E-Commerce Meets Physical Commerce


ByteLight’s smart LED lightbulbs flash hundreds of times per second, sending signals too fast for the human eye to see, but easy for a mobile phone camera to decode. Retailers are excited about the technology because they can use it to pinpoint a shopper’s location to within a meter and send offers, suggestions, and other data to customers in real time. We sat down with Dan Ryan, ByteLight’s founder and CEO, to hear his vision of the future of retail.

The rest of the Fast Company article is here. Hmm. Is this neat or troubling?

The World of Google Bikes


“Google is certainly unique in their commitment to bicycling,” says Colin Heyne, deputy director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. More than seven percent of Googlers bike into work each day at the company’s main campus. There, Google has on-site showers with lockers and a towel service, secure parking areas (complete with repair tools), an on-site bike repair service, and bike-friendly shuttle buses for employees who want to bike just the last few miles of their commute.
And then there are the famous Google bikes.

Read the rest of the Wired story here.

Miscellaneous and Fast

From 1957: "What's My Line?"
The Onion's American Voices on report that fame may shorten lifespan.
General Montgomery addresses the Eighth Army in North Africa.
Spiegel: A new breed of terrorist?
Ron Fournier: Forgetting the presidents are human.
The trailer for "Khartoum."
Angela Merkel: Austerity = Balancing the budget.
BBC: Unemployment in Spain hits record high.
The trailer for "The Conversation."
James Lileks on the strange resignation of Minnesotans.

Art Break: Sotheby's


Muddy Colors looks at an upcoming art sale.

Signal and Noise


The title of Silver’s book refers to a contrast that engineers draw between a transmitted signal and the background “noise” that interferes with the audience’s reception of that signal. “The signal is the truth,” Silver writes in his opening pages. “The noise is what distracts us from the truth.” Built as a series of case studies—some “hopeful examples”—rather than as a ground-up theoretical work, The Signal and the Noise seeks to show how we can improve at forecasting future events.

From City Journal: Read the rest of Adam White's article on the recent books by Nate Silver and Nassim Taleb..

Quote of the Day

You need to market even the most beneficial service.

- Peter Drucker

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Recovering Consultant


Cultural Offering points to an article which I quickly read, then printed off, and will be revisiting. See if it resonates with you.

How Does This Place Work?


That's a very important but often unanswered question. Tucked within it are other questions such as:

  • Where does the money come from?
  • What are our assumptions?
  • Which products or services sell the most?
  • Which ones are the most profitable?
  • Which ones are "dogs?"
  • What are the short and long term goals?
  • How well known are those goals?
  • How much discord is there in the executive team?
  • What is the real organization chart?
  • How are skills developed?
  • Is conflict handled professionally or does it go underground?
  • Why do people leave?
  • What do we do well?
  • What do we fumble?
  • How would our customers describe us?
  • How happy are our employees?
  • Are we rewarding the wrong thing?
  • Are there any problems that are not being effectively addressed?
  • Where do the great ideas come from?
  • When was the last time there was an exciting project?
  • What are the organization's biases?
  • Can all of the management practices be revealed without embarrassment?
  • Is everyone pulling in the same direction?

Committee Considerations


I was recently asked to serve on a committee for a community organization; an invitation that usually plunges me into full "escape and evade" mode. This was a pleasant exception and here are the reasons:

  • The cause is a good one.
  • I highly respect the person who contacted me.
  • He's chairing the committee.
  • The committee will be small.
  • I know, like, and respect all of its members.
  • I know that no one on that committee will permit it to fail.
  • There is a clear and focused mission.
  • We'll have enough time, but not too much time, to complete the mission.
  • I believe I can make a positive difference.
  • If we don't do this, it won't get done.
Oh yes, I'll also probably learn a lot.

Quote of the Day

Don't confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.

- Erma Bombeck

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Waiting Until You "Feel Like It"


Postponing work until you feel like it is a formula for failure. That feeling may never come or its arrival may be so late that the subsequent action is diluted or worthless. There is often a selfishness in that attitude - an idea that the world must adjust to one's personal whims - but there can also be a belief in a certain magic moment that will bring brilliance, insight, and unicorns.

The "feel like it" excuse misses the fact that life's accomplishments tend to come from plodding and not from the sudden dashes. Genius joins us along the way and seldom visits when we're in an easy chair. The journey also has its own attractions and although starting can be difficult, the further along we get, the more we'll start to "feel like it."

The Moral Component


There can be such reluctance to discuss ethics and morals in the workplace, to reduce everything to sterile aspects of management, that much power can be lost.

No one ever charged up a hill with any real commitment because doing so was in a performance plan or part of a total quality management program.

Quote of the Day

You say you are a nameless man. You are not to your wife and to your child. You will not long remain so to your immediate colleagues if you can answer their simple questions when they come into your office. You are not nameless to me.. Do not remain nameless to yourself - it is too sad a way to be. Know your place in the world and evaluate yourself fairly, not in terms of the naive ideals of your own youth, nor in the terms of what you erroneously imagine our teacher's ideals are. Best of luck and happiness.

- From a letter by Richard P. Feynman to a former student

Monday, April 22, 2013

Music Break

The Ink Spots: "If I Didn't Care."

Three for the Ambitious

Three excellent films with special value and meaning for those just starting their careers:
  • "The Pursuit of Happyness" - A reminder of the importance of hard work, courage, and persistence.
  • "Moneyball" - What can happen when someone looks past the way it's always been done.
  • "Topsy-Turvy" - Gilbert and Sullivan and the creative process.

Let's Re-Think "Smart"

"This one isn't dumb, by the way. She went to Stanford."

That's Althouse on one of those rare "celebrity versus cop" stories. The comment and the story sparked some thoughts on what we mean when we say someone is smart. We know that even the brightest among us are capable of dumb behavior, especially when outside of main skill areas. 

Einstein may have been a complete bumbler if asked to fix a transmission, write a poem or bake lasagna. When we say that someone is smart, there are always some unspoken qualifiers. They are not spoken because inserting them would dilute the description. "Jack is usually very smart" would not strike anyone as high praise. People would immediately wonder about those times when Jack is not that smart.

But what about the Stanford remark? Consider the qualifiers we'd have to add to that. Stanford is a great university and yet does Professor Althouse really believe that no one who went to Stanford is dumb? Probably not. My guess is she meant to say that the odds are in favor of a Stanford grad being smart.

And this leads to a translation divide: 


"Stanford grads are smart."

Person A: "You're saying all Stanford grads are smart."
Person B: "You're saying most Stanford grads are smart."

No wonder we have problems communicating.

Art Break: Rose


Art Contrarian looks at the paintings of Guy Rose.

Bate on Customers


I read Nicholas Bate's blog every morning and often find myself going back to a point to ponder it some more. For example, when I read this brief post about dealing with customers, my initial thought was "Of course, you should do that."

My second thought was, "Why aren't I always doing that?"

The Stuff Abides


It rarely arrives in great bunches, but slips in the door, one quiet delivery at a time. The decision as to whether you want or need it for any period longer than a day is never forced. Once the stuff arrives, your attention is soon turned elsewhere and you move on, not realizing that the stuff hasn't.

And so it grows. A stack here, a knickknack there, a souvenir from a conference you've already forgotten, and articles you've been meaning to read. The stuff is not on your shoulders but it may as well be for its presence weighs you down. You look for things you need and instead find stuff . . . and groan. The common message of the diverse piles is that you have failed to complete at least one project: the project of cleaning out the stuff.

All of the stuff becomes a silent reproach and you know it will not be handled until you block out time for that task only. When it comes to stuff, there is no gray area. It is either gone or it's here. 

Quote of the Day

I don't like money, but it quiets my nerves.

- Joe Louis

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Turn Right at the Walrus

We were talking about marathons tonight. Were you aware of the Antarctica Marathon?

[HT: Jonathan Wade]

From General to Novelist: Lew Wallace

At Slate, the extraordinary story of the author of Ben-Hur.

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily]

Over The Pole


From Anchorage to Frankfurt. Despite many years of living in airports, I still find air travel to be miraculous. 

Find Something Beautiful Today



Saturday, April 20, 2013

Science in Space


What happens when you wring out a wet cloth in outer space?

Here's the video and the results might not be what you expect.

The Power of Words


A reading of "The Song of Hiawatha" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. If you don't have time to hear the entire poem, which is lengthy, scan to a portion and listen for a few minutes.

Extraordinary.

Fighting Tips


Michael P. Maslanka on what lawyers can learn from martial arts trainers.

Entertainment Break

The trailers for:

Scars


You can learn a lot from scars.

After acquiring them for decades, it is possible - if you have been alert - to spot empty promises and schemes that are a tad too clever. You can sense the "all hat, no cattle" types and those who will never "get back to you."

You're aware of how today's witty line can become tomorrow's snare and there is no reluctance to pause and consider what is really going on.

Scars can teach you to pay attention to the intangible as well as the tangible and to listen for the values behind the words.

For those of us who like to dream, they are reminders of reality.

Mark Helprin

Mark Helprin is one of the most extraordinary combinations of talent in the world today. His books will be read centuries from now and his ability to write astute political commentary as well as fiction is unmatched.

His fiction is best read slowly in order to savor the flavor. Here's an excerpt from Winter's Tale:

The main door of the French Mill opened, let in some glassy snow, and shut. At first, Peter Lake thought that the wind had done this, but then he looked down and saw two small men walking to a table on the opposite side of the room. Not only were they no more than five feet tall, but they both wore bowler hats, and ragged jackets that, before they were trimmed in the back, had once been tails. Their eyes were sunken, their faces had a leathery look, and they had bony cheeks and mouths that would have been large and toothy on men twice their size. Their hands were fat little balls of flesh with flat infantile thumbs, as delicate and strange as the paws of a tree frog. Their voices matched the rest of them in that they were small and sounded like the supplicating chirp of men who are married to female lumberjacks or prison matrons.

Quote of the Day

The trees in their raggedness and imperfect perfection are far more beautiful than the precise columns of a temple.

- Mark Helprin

Friday, April 19, 2013

25 Blogs to Make You Smarter: The Site


Many thanks to Matthew Lang and Cultural Offering for this marvelous site.

I've fallen in with great companions.

Strange Dancing Exhibition

From 1966: The Bobby Fuller Four with "I Fought the Law." I think this was choreographed by Walter Brennan.

The Public Safety Exception

With the arrest of the younger brother, some interesting legal arguments have surfaced about Miranda rights.

Check out this one at The Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

Poetry Break: Kipling

Back by popular demand: Rudyard Kipling's "Dane-Geld."

Happiness and Contentment


Heidi Grant Halvorson is interviewed at The Happiness Project. A key observation:

As we grow older, we find that happiness becomes more and more about being content in our current circumstances, and hanging on to what we’ve already got – working things out with your spouse, staying healthy, and being able to make your mortgage payments.

Losing Great Generals

Writing in Commentary, Max Boot on how America lost four great generals. An excerpt:

The quasi-official ideology of the U.S. armed forces holds that generals are virtually interchangeable, that individual personalities don’t matter much, that ordinary grunts are in any case more important than their leaders, and that what really counts are larger systems that make a complex bureaucracy function. There is some truth to all of this. But for all of the bureaucratic heft of the services and the heroism of ordinary soldiers, it is hard to imagine the Civil War having been won without Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan—or World War II without Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, Arnold, LeMay, Nimitz, Halsey, and all the other senior generals and admirals.

The Manhunt

One of the two young men suspected in the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon was reported to be dead after a gun exchange early Friday with police in Watertown, Mass. Authorities said the other suspect was at large and were warning nearly people in the area to stay inside as officers conduct a door-to-door search of the area. The two suspects, authorities tell NPR and other news outlets, were brothers from Chechnya.

More from NPR here.

Miscellaneous and Fast

The New Republic: Excel error research.
Eclecticity: A clean, well-lighted place to blog.
Wally Bock: Bosses don't get do-overs.
George Will on "The Central Park Five."
CoolTools: A multipurpose pry bar.
Mark Helprin weighs in on Benghazi.
Steven Pressfield: Stories we tell ourselves.
The polygamy shoe starts to drop.
The Telegraph: England's great pubs.
Sports Illustrated: Memories of Yankee Stadium.
Spiegel: A German family's tangled WWII history.
Emily Rhodes on reading tedious books.

Quote of the Day

It is one of the peculiar ironies of history that the people most eager to hang the priests are those most eager to replace them.

- Jonah Goldberg

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Walking Among Us

The FBI has released video and still pictures of the Boston Marathon murder suspects.

A Forest


15 months in a three minute time-lapse. Beautiful.

Sriracha: Word of Mouth

Cultural Offering and The Hammock Papers have a great immigrant success story. The line that jumped out at me? The company has never spent a dollar on advertising. 

I sense a hot sauce purchase in the near future. 

Art Break


Underpaintings looks at a Bonhams auction of California and Western paintings. The above is by Edgar Payne.

Style

The question of young Aaron Hern.

The Books



  • There are several by the bed and stacks in the office. One is on the front seat of the car and one on the back. 
  • Many are being read on Kindle but over 95 percent of them are of old and new paper. A few invite a sniff of their fine aroma. 
  • A surprising number have sat unopened on the shelves for years before being read and loved. There is no guilt in buying a book and then not reading it until much later.
  • A serious reader always has plenty of unread books.
  • I always keep book covers and have never understood people who discard them. 
  • The first hardcover book that I ever bought new - Barry Goldwater's "Why Not Victory?" - is still with me as are some text books from high school and college. 
  • A glance at the bookcases can be a trip through time. Many of us recall the 25 and 35 cent paperbacks and how a 75 or 95 cent paperback was a real splurge. 
  • When "The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich" came out in paperback at $1.25 its price raised some eyebrows. [I read it during the summer before starting high school and thought it worth every penny.]
  • I don't abuse books but do regard many of them as tools. As a result, notes can be scribbled in margins and key points underlined. 
  • Many are old friends - think "The Wind in the Willows" - and a few are regularly re-read.
  • I no longer feel compelled to finish books that don't interest me. If the magic's not happening within the first 60 pages, I'm not going back.
  • Most are bought from used bookstores. My best buy was of "Remembrance of Things Past" from a Prescott, Arizona antique shop. 
  • Despite rumors of fortunes hidden in books, I've never found a dollar but have encountered some interesting bookmarks. Wild flowers were pressed inside my great aunt's old novels along with notes for her studies. 
  • There are few discoveries that yield as much wealth as a great book. With little cost, we can be surrounded by brilliance.

Quote of the Day

A man's character is his fate.

- Heraclitus

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Information Security Stories


CSO has a "What were they thinking?" slideshow.

First Paragraph

All my life I have been a nomad. I have wandered, rootless. Every place I have settled in, I have been forced to flee; every certainty I have been taught, I have cast aside.

- From Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Vora: What is Management?


Tanmay Vora has a story by Tom Demarco and Timothy Lister on the nature of management. It is about something most of us know and yet we require occasional reminders so the lesson doesn't get lost in the rush.

Two Executives and the "Stroke of the Eye"


I recently read an account of two executives. Both of them were quite capable and yet one achieved far better results than the other.

The reason?

One assumed that certain things could not be achieved and planned accordingly. He operated quite well within those limitations but only within them.


The other executive brought new eyes to the same situation. Because of that, he explored ways to operate beyond the self-imposed boundaries of his peer. What the other regarded strictly as problems, the other saw as opportunities. Long ago, von Clausewitz ascribed that ability, which he called coup d'oeil, to Napoleon.

What opportunities within problems can you spot today?

Quote of the Day

Most schemes of political improvement are very laughable things.

- Samuel Johnson

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Music Break

Nana Mouskouri with "Plaisir d'Amour."

Pressure Cooker Bombs

In the law enforcement warning, the Homeland Security Department said that the innocuous appearance of pressure cooker bombs helped their deployment overseas. Instead of registering the bomb as a potential threat, bystanders and law enforcement were tricked into thinking of them as a harmless piece of trash. Potential warnings of a pressure cooker bomb, the agency says, include “wetness or unusual stains” on a container or abandonment of kitchen equipment in high-traffic locations.

Read the rest of the Fast Company article here.

Too What?

If you are going to have a problem in life . . . .

But What If It's Caused by Job Stress?


Fortune: Will your workplace have fines for being fat?

Stateswoman (retired)

The death certificate of Margaret Thatcher.

The Human Factor


I once attended an extended workshop on political campaigns. One of the speakers spoke about campaign commercials and publications. One of his lines about bumper stickers stayed with me. He said, "They're only good if they can be read through a splatter of mud while passing you at 65 miles an hour."

Which brings me to management. The brilliant plan will only work if it can be executed by tired, overworked people who are of average/above average intelligence with a limited attention span and goals of their own. Don't count on the appearance of wizards, angels, sunny days, happy team mates or photographic memories. If you expect various stages to operate like clock work, go home now and take any reliance on luck with you.

In short, the plan has to be able to survive the human factor. That's complicated enough.



Quote of the Day

There is no evil in the atom; only in men's souls.

- Adlai Stevenson

Monday, April 15, 2013

Modern Life: Catching a Thief at a Church

Last Monday, during preschool hours at the church, a man walked in with his preschool age daughter. He immediately noticed a Samsung Galaxy II tablet unattended and untethered (huge mistake) to his left, just showing a slideshow of pictures.  He approached the counter to discuss reversing his earlier decision to enroll his daughter in the preschool and get a refund since she had not yet started.  During the first break in the conversation, he stepped over to the table with the tablet, casually removed it from its stand, and laid it flat on the table.  He returned to the counter.  During the second break in the conversation, he again stepped over to the table, this time casually placing papers over the top of the tablet to conceal it. Again, he returned to the counter. Finally, he took another opportunity during another conversation break to reach up and hand-turn the main camera view.  He and his daughter left, and the preschool later reported the tablet missing.

Read the rest of the report by Rick Knowles.

After the Explosion

The news reports come in. So far, there is no definitive word on who was responsible for the murders and whether it was a domestic or foreign evil.

But we know it was evil.

Explosions at Boston Marathon

The Boston Herald reports that the police have found more devices. It sounds horrific.

The Story of The Jolly Roger


This always comes to mind on April 15.

10 for Your Market


At Entrepreneur, Alina Dizik has 10 questions to ask before determining your target market.

One thing I'd emphasize would be to beware of situations where a group that is among those who would benefit from your product or service the most is also the group that will resist it the most.

Sometimes, regardless of price, buyers will prefer an old Chevy to a new Cadillac simply because they are comfortable with it.

Light and Shadow

Art Contrarian looks at Girl with a Pearl Earring, before and after restoration. I like both looks.

Lao Tzu and the Navy SEALS


Michael P. Maslanka discusses the importance of being a humble opponent.

Facebook Comments Lead to Teacher's Termination

On March 28, 2011, O’Brien posted two comments on Facebook. One post stated, “I’m not a teacher―I’m a warden for future criminals!” The second post stated, “They had a scared[-]straight program in school―why couldn’t [I] bring [first] graders?”

Read the rest of the HRHero report here.

Quote of the Day

My parents didn't want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty, and it was the law.

- Jerry Seinfeld

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Crank It Up

The Isley Brothers: "Twist and Shout."

A Game Played

The thermometer reads 42 degrees but the handy Weather app reminds us that the gale force winds make it feel like -62 degrees.  Okay, maybe it feels like 36 degrees.  Three coaches and ten 11- and 12-year old baseball players arrive for the Friday 8:00 game under the lights.  First base is an island in the middle of standing muddy water - motivation for Katie and Alex to dig out everything thrown to them.  The game starts with a beautiful catch in center field by Parker.  We lose Friday evening but we did get to play.  The only thing worse than losing a baseball game is not playing a baseball game.

Scenes of American life and much more at Cultural Offering.

Find Something Beautiful Today


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Music Break

Modern Life

Part of my afternoon was spent:

  1. Catching the latest exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum.
  2. Watching a dirt-bike motorcycle race.
  3. Listening to a slam poetry contest.
  4. Watching a Harry Potter film marathon.
  5. Learning how to make pasta.
  6. Doing as little as possible.
The answer, of course, is obvious, but it will be posted later.
Update: The answer is 2. It was quite impressive. My heart went out to the rider in last place who was lapped by the others but still finished the race. Surprisingly, no one crashed or spun out and I sat there wondering what combination of skill and luck produced the difference between the winner and the biker in a very close fourth place. My guess is, given the slopes and tight turns, if you aren't well positioned within the first few seconds, your chances of winning are nil as opposed to a marathon where runners in the back can make a burst of speed in the last lap. So often we think of careers as races. If so, a good question is, "What type of race?"

The Magic of Paper


At Instapundit: Do we retain more from paper?

I've noticed that I will spot things while editing a hard copy that I miss on screen.

"Know Where You Stand": Chilling and Fascinating

Bored Panda has an extraordinary group of photographs by Seth Taras that blend modern day scenes with historical events.

It is well worth a look. Instant time travel.

[HT: Kelly Corsette]

Location's Influence on Doctrine


I've just ordered Stephen Bungay's book on the Battle of Britain. Although I mentioned it earlier, here's another excerpt from his book, Alamein:

The British Army was used to fighting small colonial wars in big countries with primitive infrastructures. As a result, its doctrine emphasized logistics. The German Army expected to fight wars in Europe, where roads and railways would take care of all the problems, and its doctrine therefore emphasized operations. The skills of the two armies developed accordingly.

May The Force Be With Du

Law Latte has a brief video of a Star Wars Flash Mob in Germany. 

You will smile.

Lines to Question



  • "If we do it for you, we'll have to do it for everyone."
  • "Studies show . . . ."
  • "It's for the children."
  • "I'm not selling anything."
  • "We're the only advanced nation that doesn't have . . . ."
  • "There is a consensus that  . . . "
  • "It's a temporary program."

Quote of the Day

I'm the voice of spring. I bring you little goodies from the forest.

- Jonathan Winters

Friday, April 12, 2013

Modern Life


Portlandia: Battle of the Gentle Bands.

Jonathan Winters, R.I.P.

Jonathan Winters, comedic genius as shown here, has passed away.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Wally Bock: Stories and strategies from real life.
The trailer for "42."
A Yugo in a Midas commercial.
The trailer for "Unstrung Heroes."
The trailer for "Cobb."
Cyndi Lauper: "Time After Time"
CoolTools: How to cut up a whole chicken.
The trailer for "Elysium."
Anderson Layman's Blog: A cartoon for our times.
The trailer for "Syrup."
Tanmay Vora on quality and the duty towards self.
Graeme Archer: An idea for Trafalgar Square.

Beneath the Surface on Employment

The O'Neills use a rich source of data from the Current Population Survey and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to measure these factors, as well as scores from the Armed Forces Qualification Test. In 2008, when schooling, work experience, scores on the AFQT, age, region, hours worked and type of employer were accounted for, black men ages 35 to 43 earned 100 percent of the wages of similar white males. Hispanic males in the same category earned 97 percent of what non-Hispanic white males earned, and those between the ages of 43 and 51 earned 100 percent when these factors, along with the ability to speak English, were taken into account.

Read the rest of Linda Chavez's review of "The Declining Importance of Race and Gender in the Labor Market" here.

Modern Justice

Eclecticity has the video. Short. Sweet.

By The Window Seat


Art Contrarian looks at the design of airline cockpit windows.