August 29, 2009

3 Sites That Caught My Eye

Here's a quick recap of additions to my "I Don't Believe It" bookmarks:

BE PREPARED > Tac Bac - Tactical Canned Bacon. You have to love bacon in a can with a shelf life of 10 years.

The folks at Woofer have created a wonderful parody of the Twitter microblogging with their macroblogging site the requires posts at least 1,400 characters in length.

Mini Cooper Coupe. Take something that's small and make it even smaller. Take something that's cool and make it even cooler.

August 24, 2009

The Impact of Speed

Okay, one more quote from John Freeeman's Not So Fast:
Continuing in this strobe-lit techno-rave communication environment as it stands will be destructive for businesses. Employees communicating at breakneck speed make mistakes. They forget, cross boundaries that exist for a reason, make sloppy errors, offend clients, spread rumors and gossip that would never travel through offline channels, work well past the point where their contributions are helpful, burn out and break down and then have trouble shutting down and recuperating. The churn produced by this communication lifestyle cannot be sustained. "To perfect things, speed is a unifying force," the race-car driver Michael Schumacher has said. "To imperfect things, speed is a destructive force." No company is perfect, nor is any individual.

August 23, 2009

That's Progress

Here's a quote from John Freeman's article, Not So Fast, in the Wall Street Journal this weekend that I just had to share:
Our society does not often tell us this. Progress, since the dawn of the Industrial Age, is supposed to be a linear upward progression; graphs with upward slopes are a good sign. Process­ing speeds are always getting faster; broadband now makes dial-­up seem like traveling by horse and buggy. Growth is eternal. But only two things grow indefinitely or have indefinite growth firmly ensconced at the heart of their being: cancer and the cor­poration. For everything else, especially in nature, the consum­ing fires eventually come and force a starting over.

August 19, 2009

Don't Create Peas on the Cob

Father Guido Sarducci did a great bit several years ago about monk who through genetic engineering developed peas on the cob. The punchline was, "Now, to me, 'dis makes a no sense at all. You take something that taste bad, and you make it a difficult to eat."

Last night, I experienced peas on the cob at Godfather's Pizza. Tuesday night is buffet night so it was busy. As we walked in, a women and two children were walking out and she warned us, "Good luck finding a place to sit. They've got all these tables reserved."

So as we walked up to the counter, I noticed that every table that wasn't occupied had a "Reserved" sign on it. I naturally felt concerned. There was no line, so I stepped right up and ordered three buffets with my coupon for a dollar each and asked, "If we can't find a place to sit, can I have my money back?"

The girl at the register looked at another girl, who shouted over to us, "The reserved seats are for PAYING customers. So once you go through the buffet just take a reserved table." I relaxed about finding a place to sit, but I became anxious about why all these non-paying people were at Godfather's on a Tuesday night.

I sent my sons through the buffet while I went off to hunt us down a table. I secured one close to the endless stream of pizzas and clearly claimed the "Reserved" table with my plate and the boys two drink cups. Then treated myself by filling my cup with ice-cold Dr. Pepper.

When I returned to our table, two people were starting to sit down there. I said, "Excuse me, but that's our table."

"No," they replied. "It has a 'Reserved' sign on it so we can sit there."

"And my plate and two cups." The woman was quite large and honestly, quite scary. Plus there were plenty of "Reserved" tables, so I continued, "Let me get my stuff, and I'll move to another table."

The rest of the evening, we made sure that at least one of us served as a table sentry guarding are precious booth while the rest of us refilled our plates again and again. When one of the roaming table monitors came within our vicinity, I asked, "Excuse me, but I'm just curious, what problem are you trying to solve with these 'Reserved' signs?"

"Well," she explained, "Tuesday nights are buffet nights, so they are our busiest nights. When people come in they often have to stand in line, and so some people would go and reserve tables, while their friends or family would go order. We had people who had paid, but couldn't find a spot to sit, while those who hadn't even paid yet already had tables. So now, the 'Reserved' signs are only for people who have already paid."

"So did that fix the problem?"

"Oh, yes. Now only people who have paid can sit down."

In the meantime, they walked at least one family, created tension for me twice, and in the process convinced me never to return to buffet night. "Now, to me, 'dis makes a no sense at all. You take seats that are hard to find, and you make it a difficult to understand."

August 15, 2009

2 More Noticeably Different Signs

My family and I volunteered to serve on the "clean up" crew at the Topeka Dog Show this week. Events like this always provide at least a couple of examples of signs trying to dictate behavior. These two signs posted at the Topeka Expo Center caught my eye, so I added them to the collection of noticeably different signs.

THE BIG NO > there was an entire room dedicated to crating and grooming animals, so in the main arena they had these signs posted about every 10-15 feet. I love when the signs so clearly get ignored.

CAUSE AND EFFECT > I'm very curious about what problems they were having in this room. Taped on this very plain, not inviting door was this sign of three "no"s. I can figure out the "no admittance" and "no knocking," but what are they trying to prevent with "no change." Do they not want to give change for a dollar? Or do they want to stop people from changing their outfits? Or are they just adamant about things staying the same?

August 9, 2009

12 of My Favorite Mad Men Quotes

What's your favorite Mad Man quote?

August 3, 2009

3 CAREER LESSONS | Are you a Lynx or a Grizzly?

The Crown of the Continent, named by George Bird Grinnell, has maintained a vibrant ecosystem that has adapted and thrived quite well. Remarkably, this wilderness area has maintained the same vertebrate species for hundreds of years. Well, at least that's what I learned from reading "The Case of the Disappearing Rabbit" in Newsweek where Lily Huang details the rapid climate changes impacting this backcountry and the plight it's creating for the wild Canada lynx.

This extraordinary example provided by mother nature is loaded with real-life metaphors about the need to adapt within changing work environments. Here are a few lessons from Huang's excellent article that can apply to any of our careers.


A lynx, if it could, would eat nothing but snowshoe hares its whole life, and pretty much does. An animal so specialized that it only eats one kind of food has a tenuous place in the world.
When you rely too heavily on others, your survival is totally dependent on their survival.


As the largest perennial food prize in the ecosystem, snowshoe hares have just one good trick - turning white in winter, brown the rest of the year - cued by the changing length of days. Now winter snow melts nearly a month earlier in the Crown that it did just a century ago, causing, says Dan Fagre, a "decoupling" between two cycles that used to be synchronized: light and temperature. This means that a snow-white hare will end up sitting on brown earth - and have no idea.
Sometimes our work environments change so fast it doesn't feel like we have time to adapt. The key is to see the small changes early, so you know where things are headed. Remember Wayne Gretzy's adage: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Biodiversity happens when an ecosystem brings competing species to a stalemate: all have their niche, all get by, none can completely suppress another. Global warming doesn't so much tip this finely wrought balance in the Crown one way or another as knock it all down: no niche wins out; the real winners are the species that don't have a niche. These are the ones who don't have to change their genes. Grizzly bears may be the world's least choosy eaters, omnivores par excellence that can live on anything and learn what they need to survive.
It's important to learn everyday, and I guess to not be a picky eater. Maybe mom was right; I should taste everything on my plate.