Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Let's Surprise Paul!

Hi, this is Heather, Paul's wife, secretly letting you know it's his birthday today! I know it would make his day to hear from his readers. Join me in wishing him a great day!

Free fall

dow jones drop"The biggest single drop in Dow Jones history" - or something like that.

Yes, it's a crisis. There are tons of unknown effects that bad decisions on the part of bank CEOs, CIOs, CFOs and CQOs will have upon us all.

I guess I agree with those who said that our government should not bail out the mistakes of those guys. (Yes, those bad guys were predominantly men.) I hate the idea of our national debt increasing even more. And I'm ashamed, as an American, how this will negatively affect the rest of the world.

But I take comfort in the fact that God knows what's happening... "All governments have been placed in power by God." (Romans 13:1b, NLT.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's a diverse place

state magnetsHeather and I watched the presidential debates on Friday evening, the 26th.

My biggest thought is that it's not a job I'd want.

As to the state magnets - I shot them in a shop window at Disneyland. (I was in Orlando for a conference in April. One evening, my buddy and I went over to the free Main Street USA area.) They reminded me of the state decals I collected as a kid. The collection resided in the back window of my family's old VW van. If I had a digital camera back then, I would have taken a picture of the collection to share with you.

Friday, September 26, 2008

NOT another post about blogging

voicesSince my job involves social media, I read a lot of posts about blogging. Most of them say the same thing: "Ten ways to make your blog better!" And at least seven of those points are the same in each post.

Enough already.

Maybe someone out there can find the definitive list and the rest of the bloggers who post on that can just link to that post and not make their own new list.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


bluetoothMost new Volvos come with built-in bluetooth. Why? So one can talk on their cell phone hands-free through the car stereo.

My guess is that anyone with a bluetooth cell phone has a bluetooth earpiece mic/headphone unit. My question is, does anyone out there hassle with getting their bluetooth cell phone hooked up to their car when it's already hooked up to their earpiece? My guess is that the earpiece wins and the car technology is wasted.

(FYI, I'm a follower of tech - but not necessarily a user; my laptop has bluetooth but it goes unused. I don't even have my own cell phone.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A great quote

self promotionEd Schipul, founder and CEO of Schipul, a Web marketing firm said:

"You should promote other people's stuff four times more than you promote your own, because self-promotion is unattractive..."

I dare you

tourist brochuresI dare you to come up with a country that publishes its tourist brochures in more languages than the U.S does.

Having lived eight years of my adult life overseas has taught me a lot about the failings of the United States. I'm certainly not a rah-rah nationalist. But that overseas living also showed me many of our triumphs. One of those is reflected in our credo, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses..." at the base of the Statue of Liberty. That may no longer be as true as it once was, but much of the spirit behind that lives on.

I remember one period of living overseas when we got a lump in our throat every time we got anywhere near the U.S. Embassy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Worth subscribing

I rarely mix work with pleasure. (Hopefully work is pleasure.) But I thought this was worth sharing.

If you go here, you can now subscribe to updates from The Seed Company by RSS feed.

Excess, part 372

watch winderThis is another culling from the amazing Skymall catalog.

This particular treasure is for people who have so many expensive self-winding watches that they can't keep them wound. The machine does it for you. It gently simulates the motions of your wrist.

My point is, if you buy one, you should wear it! Oh, let's see, today, should I wear the platinum Rolex, the leather strap Breitling, the Chopard dual-dial, or the IWC Spitfire?

I dunno. Maybe that guy needs to have the rarely-used IWC ready at a moment's notice to make just the right impression on that important client. But if he were really secure in himself, he'd be OK wearing a decent Casio. If Steve Jobs wore a Casio instead of a Breitling, would he sell fewer Macs? No.

An analogue might be the person who hires a dog walker because he doesn't want to walk the dog himself. Poor doggie. (Me, I just have the kids walk the dog.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

It was a great Saturday (but now it's Monday)

Finally, we had a Saturday where we were at home. Most of our Saturdays for the last two months have been spent helping Heather's parents prepare their home for sale, going out of town, etc. So it was great to get some little things done that had been piling up. (One of those things was to ride my bicycle to our nearby Ace Hardware store to buy this drill attachment.)

I hope you had a good weekend too.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


smileSo, it's after midnight and I couldn't get to sleep, because I went to pick up my son after his homecoming event. (His phone call happened after I had drifted nicely off to sleep. But I was very happy to pick him up and hear of his evening.)

So I'm up reading some stuff on the internet. I came across this. Highly worth your time.

One quote: "We make progress when we wrestle- with God, with our friends (and enemies) and with ourselves."

And here's another great post.

A sample of other stuff from that guy's blog:

"Since we arrived, our staples of life have consisted of:
- peanut butter and banana sandwiches
- plain yogurt with Smuckers blueberry preserves
- Sabrett hot dogs with mustard on slices of white bread
- pasta with melted pieces of cheese
- store-bought chocolate cookies of some sort"

Finally, go here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"If you watch the news..."

"If you watch the news, you'd think that Sarah Palin is running for president."


(The perspective of a Scottish-American talk show host - nice. Thanks to Barb for the link.)

Warning - the language is a little rough for the kiddies.

- - -

And finally, here's my comment: "We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive." -C. S. Lewis

Friday, September 19, 2008

Think bigger

biggerSeth Godin has a great post here.

What are some ways you can do that today?

Maybe I won't smoke

german cigarettesThis one's from my buddy Rob in Germany.

I am amazed at how seriously the German government takes the hazards of cigarette smoking. (Translation: "Cigarette smoke contains benzene, nitrosamines, formaldehyde and lead. Mmmm, makes you want to try one, huh?!) And notice that the warning takes about half of one side of the package.

You can see more of his photos here.

Update: check the comments.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Sometimes the best blog posts aren't mine. (OK, let me be realistic - most of the time.)

So I point you here for some great thoughts on what community is and should be.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More spam amusement

multiple spamI rarely look in the Spam folder. I usually just hit delete all without even scanning the list.

But this set amused me. They really wanted us to work on our lower regions.

The most bizarre spam yet

I got this message in my inbox. It bypassed the gmail spam filter, as it was somehow sent from the same account as mine!

This is a bit scary. If I marked it as spam, my emails might start getting blocked by everyone who has a gmail account!

The weird thing is that the message was the predictable "July is the time to get that special Bv1gari w4tch," etc. - but it appeared blank in my email client (Apple Mail). It also had no links for me to follow, if I was the kind of person inclined to throw away money to spammers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The election - disillusionment

sad faceI have to say that my biggest problem with this presidential campaign is the childishness of both sides. It seems like a race to see who can throw the most mud at the other.

I don't have a solution. The alternative might be for them to focus on the positive instead. But that would lead to promises of delivering the moon without raising any taxes.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The French shampoo

french shampooI bought this bottle of shampoo in France around 1998. We needed to have clean hair while we were there, and I guess it was the cheapest thing that little town's shop ofered.

So I hung onto that bottle until about a month ago. I finally realized that (as you have heard me say about five times over the last five months) - I can't take it with me. So into the recycle bin it went.

I was infatuated with how not a single word of English was on the package. And how French was the only thing on the package. (Does that monolingualism remind you of the US? Well, at least we have the excuse of not being as close to our neighbors as France is.)

Free historical clipart

free clipartYes, you can get many lovely images like the one here, from this site.

This site gave me the tip.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Without comment

anonymous twitter personThat's part of what my job these days involves.

If you recognize that icon, you know what I mean.

(The title of this post is "without comment" - but you can comment & ironically make it "with comment".)

Self expression

bumper stickersI have always wondered why liberals are more liberal with their bumper stickers than conservatives are.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The new iPod Nanos

new ipod nanoWell, Apple introduced some new iPods, earlier this week.

I thought I'd take my lunch break yesterday to go to the nearby Apple Store to see them. Nope. They didn't have them yet. Sad.

Not that I'm in the market for a new iPod or anything. My ancient second-generation model is still working fine (bought in 2002). I bought it on eBay, used, four or five years ago. The battery is down to lasting maybe an hour and a half on a charge. (I even have a new battery to replace the old one with - but I have been too lazy to change it out.) The remote broke about a year ago. The case broke a few months before that. But I can easily carry it in my pocket.

So from what I've seen, the new Touch and Nanos both have built in accelerometers - you can tilt them to play games better or shake them to skip songs. Also, they have a "Genius" feature - where Apple will pick similar songs for a playlist, based on one song you choose. You'll have to view Apple's videos to see what I'm talking about.

Conclusion? No new iPod for this boy. Not in the budget.


9/11Just a reminder of what today is.

And further, on this same date a few years later, I met my buddy Mark at a concert that evening.

So good does come of bad. Sometimes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Starbucks - great customer service

starbucks cardYes, it's true. I like that multi-national corporation that is - in some people's eyes - as bad as WalMart.

You see, my Starbucks card went missing. (It's the card that you load up with credit from another account. The reason for me to have it is getting free refills.) So I called, talked to a human - after listening to maybe only two non-human menu entries - and they sent me out a new card with the credit I had on the old card - about $8. They spent more than that to keep my loyalty.

I go there to have a cup with a buddy only about once a week. But that free refill of mighty fine coffee is worth it!

(It turned out that I had put the missing card in a backpack that I rarely use. Sigh.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The coolest map tool

rocky mountain peaks maprocky mountain peaks maprocky mountain peaks mapAnd you thought the coolest map tool was one of those GPS units.


This puppy is at the top of one of the minor peaks that is only a ten-minute hike from Trail Ridge Road, in Rocky Mountain National Park. If you line up your eye with a notch above the words along the edge - and the knob in the center, you will see that peak. The map tells both elevation of the peak and its distance from you.


Monday, September 08, 2008

The world's largest key collection

key collectioncruse liner room keysThe Baldpate Inn, near Estes Park, boasts the world's largest key collection. It's worth the 7-mile trip, if you happen to be in Estes.

They have keys from Edgar Allen Poe's college dorm room, keys to almost uncountable numbers of cities - and more. Most of the keys are from at least 30 years ago. (If it was the world's largest collection then, why add more?) And besides, the room is pretty full.

Interestingly, the Inn is only open from May through October. The snow just gets too deep.

What's with the hairdo?

sarah palinSarah Palin.

I thought that sort of hairdo went out about 20 years ago.

Now don't get upset. I'm just commenting on a public image. And saying she should simply let her hair down more often. (The latest Time magazine has a few pictures of her with the hair down. Trust me; she looks much better that way.)

Photo from here. I dunno where they got it.

Friday, September 05, 2008

A new social media tool

chris broganChris Brogan - always on the cutting edge - showed me a new social media tool: Seesmic.

It allows you to do a video conversation, like twitter with your webcam. In other words, it's not like video-chatting - where you talk with each other with the video component added - but rather the conversation is out there for the world to see. And add to. (Like a blog.)

The site is kind of unpolished, like how the header is your browser's name and the logo does not link back to the home page. But it will be interesting to see where it goes!

Best I could figure, Seesmic has been around for about 9 months.

Update: Viddler is another site like Seesmic. See my trial here. Its improvement over Seesmic is that you can comment along the video's timeline.

Saying good-bye again

espresso potAs Heather has been clearing out her parents' house, we have been striving to prevent our kids from having the same struggles like: "What do I do with this?" In other words, we have been going through some of our stuff too.

I bought this lovely espresso pot at a thrift shop in our former hometown of Thame, Oxfordshire, England. At the time, I was enamored of all things coffee. So I tried cooking espresso. It's nice. But it's just too much hassle to do it very often. And it was taking up cupboard space. I thought that if the last time I cooked a pot was more than five years ago, I could not justify keeping the thing.

So it's gone. Sold via Amazon - and hopefully will be loved by its new owner in California.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The contest

contest cardMy sister didn't win. But she entered a few times.

Each possible winner needed to get their card stamped something like ten times from participating retailers.

I just love those kinds of contests. It seems like everything is on-line these days - and involves the user less. So somehow I feel less like entering a "new" contest.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Colorado waterfalls

colorado waterfallThis post is dedicated to my buddy Rob, in Germany, who has seen a few waterfalls of late.

Anyhow, Heather and I managed to get away for one night to celebrate our anniversary (about three weeks late). We stayed near Estes Park. Since we love hiking, we sent for a four-hour hike in Rocky Mountain National Park - the Ouzel Falls Hike. It was excellent - offering more waterfalls than I have ever seen in one hike in Colorado. And we got to talk about life in a way that normal life does not allow. Priceless.

By the way, "Ouzel" is not some ancient explorer, but rather the name of a bird that has been spotted in that area.

This photo is not even Ouzel Falls... it is just one of the waterfalls on the way up to Ouzel.

So if you're ever in Colorado with a few hours to spare...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Laboring on Labor Day

napkin ringWe spent the best part of Labor Day at Heather's parents' house. You see, they're getting ready to move into what I call a mature couples' dorm. It's not what you would call a retirement home, but everyone there is retired. And they are served all three meals each day. I'm jealous, in a way.

Anyhow, as we were cleaning out the house today, this little napkin ring ended up in the trash bin. I rescued it for a few hours - just to share it with you. (It's back in the trash now.) Napkin rings have played a starring role at Heather's family's table forever. But they won't be, at the dorm.

This cleaning out of the house has been a huge part of Heather's summer. Lots of emotions have gone with the house purging. Lots of treasures have met their demise. It's just impossible to take them all to the dorm.

Moving day is Wednesday.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The end of summer

rusted mailboxSummer ended a few weeks ago, for my kids. (They have been back in school since then.) Our oldest, at least, was very excited about beginning high school.

But today, Labor Day, normally signals the end of summer for most Americans.

Enjoy your holiday - if you're in the USA. If you're not, enjoy your Monday!

I took the photo in the hills of West Virginia. The flowers, at least, were very summery.