Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mind set change: "To get more, want less!" Rich Hand 1999

Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice

Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The 13 Behaviors of Trusted Leaders



Just started reading the book The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey with Rebecca R. Merrill, not surprising there are many points relevant to the situations we are seeing today. From the Wall Street crisis to the credit debacle to the presidential race, trust is a key point that arises time after time. In addition, the rumblings surrounding these seem to be asking the same questions. Those rumblings include "we need strong leadership" and "who can we trust?". This hit home with me as I watched both the panic within the U.S. stock market and the various headlines and sound bites from the two 2008 presidential candidates.

I found a quick reference handout that briefly describes the 13 behaviors. As you read through these, think about how these apply to you and those folks we are hoping are the real leaders in the world.

  1. Talk straight -

    • Be honest.
    • Tell the truth and leave the right impression.
    • Let people know where you stand.
    • Use simple language.
    • Call things what they are.
    • Demonstrate integrity.
    • Don't manipulate people or distort facts.
    • Don't spin the truth.
    • Don't leave false impressions.


  2. Demonstrate respect -

    • Genuinely care for others.
    • Show you care.
    • Respect the dignity of every person and every role.
    • Treat everyone with respect, especially those who can't do anything for you.


  3. Create transparency -

    • Tell the truth in a way people can verify.
    • Get real and be genuine.
    • Be open and authentic.
    • Err on the side of disclosure.
    • Don't have hidden agendas.
    • Don't hide information.


  4. Right wrongs -

    • Make things right when you're wrong.
    • Apologize quickly.
    • Make restitution where possible.
    • Practice "service recoveries".
    • Demonstrate personal humility.
    • Don't cover things up.
    • Don't let pride get in the way of doing the right thing.


  5. Show loyalty -

    • Give credit freely.
    • Acknowledge the contributions of others.
    • Speak about people as if they were present.
    • Represent others who aren't there to speak for themselves.
    • Don't bad mouth others behind their backs.
    • Don't disclose others' private information.


  6. Deliver results -

    • Establish a track record of results.
    • Get the right things done.
    • Make things happen.
    • Accomplish what you're hired to do.
    • Be on time and within budget.
    • Don't over promise and under deliver.
    • Don't make excuses for not delivering.


  7. Get better -

    • Continuously improve.
    • Increase your capabilities.
    • Be a constant learner.
    • Develop feedback systems, both formal and informal.
    • Act on the feedback you receive.
    • Thank people for feedback.
    • Don't consider yourself above feedback.
    • Don't assume today's knowledge and skills will be sufficient for tomorrow's challenges.


  8. Confront reality -

    • Address the tough stuff directly.
    • Acknowledge the unsaid.
    • Lead out courageously in conversation.
    • Remove the "sword from their hands."
    • Don't skirt the real issues.


  9. Clarify expectations -

    • Disclose and reveal expectations.
    • Discuss them.
    • Validate them.
    • Renegotiate them if needed and possible.
    • Don't violate expectations.
    • Don't assume that expectations are clear or shared.


  10. Practice accountability -

    • Hold yourself and others accountable.
    • Take responsibility for results.
    • Be clear on how you'll communicate how you're doing and how others are doing.
    • Don't avoid or shirk responsibility.
    • Don't blame others or point fingers when things go wrong.


  11. Listen first -

    • Listen before you speak.
    • Understand.
    • Diagnose.
    • Listen with your ears and your eyes and heart.
    • find out what the most important behaviors are to the people you're working with.
    • Don't assume you know what matters most to others.
    • Don't presume you have all the answers or all the questions.


  12. Keep commitments -

    • Say what you're going to do. Then do what you say you're going to do.
    • Make commitments carefully and keep them.
    • Make keeping commitments the symbol of your honor.
    • Don't break confidences.
    • Don't attempt to "PR" your way out of a broken commitment.


  13. Extend trust -

    • Demonstrate a propensity to trust.
    • Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust.
    • Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust.
    • Learn how to appropriately extend trust to others based on the situation, risk, and credibility (character and competence) of people involved. But have the propensity to trust.
    • Don't withhold trust when there is risk involved.




More information about this book
Courses are available.

Always keep an open mind but a watchful eye.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pssst! General Mills needs feedback

Just started a General Mills program called Pssst! It lets participants try out products that have been recently introduced. We will document our experiences and reviews of the various products which we receive and try.


First up, is Romano's Macaroni Grill Creamy Basil Parmesan Chicken and Pasta.

What will appear in these posts are:

  • general reviews and comments on both the preparation and consumption of the products
  • specific information for Weight Watchers participants (since my wife and I are using their method)
  • details on where to get the products, along with any special offers

Hopefully, this will provide information and perhaps a little entertainment for those who visit.

Pre-testing details
-
www.fatsecret.com's info on Romano's Macaroni Grill Creamy Basil Parmesan Chicken and Pasta. This is the actual restaurant item and is not be representative of the boxed dinner kit. Nutrition facts are located on this page.


The box dinner kit's nutrition and ingredients side panel is shown to the right(click to enlarge). The information is current as of this writing, October 4th, 2008.

Weight Watchers calculated points are 7 per 1 cup serving.


Included in the reviewed dinner kit
:

  • actual retail dinner kit
  • 8 hardcopy coupons to share with family and friends (there may be e-coupons later)
  • welcome letter which details the program
  • web reference to get blogging media (pictures like the one above)


Review of Romano's Macaroni Grill Creamy Basil Parmesan Chicken and Pasta Dinner Kit

This kit was prepared for a Saturday night dinner for two, so we could have leftovers. Review of the leftovers will be added later.

The kit components were clearly labeled and the instructions simple, easy to follow, accurate and overall "spot on". The only substitution was leaving out the butter for cooking the chicken and replacing it with canola oil. Overall not difficult to prepare.

We questioned how thick the sauce looked in the pan, but the instructions covered that, indicating that it would thicken as it rested. To their credit, this to was accurate. The aroma during preparation filled the kitchen and was delightful. Another question was the amount of noodles, it did not appear to be enough for 5 servings, but again this proved accurate and when combined produced the stated 5 - 1 cup servings. It was served with a tomato salad topped with Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing.

Served this way, the 1 cup portions were adequate. For you Weight Watchers, the points for the dinner are 7 points per serving and the tomato salad added an additional 1 point (actually 1/2 point but we always round up).

The other thing we always like to check is their truth in advertising. Bottom line, does the home prepared dinner look like the picture on the box. Since we didn't add any fresh basil leaves, it wasn't exact, but other than that it was accurate to the pictured dinner.

We have never tried the local Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurant, therefore don't know how this kit compares with their in-restaurant preparation.

So, how did our testers rate this dinner kit? The maximum is 5 stars.

Appearance:

she = 4 stars
he = 4 stars
Why the drop? needed larger sun dried tomatoes and basil bits

Taste:
she = 4 stars
he = 4 stars
Why the drop? not enough basil

Preparation:
she = 5 stars
he = 4 stars
Why the drop? guys like more pictures


Prior to finding the local price for the dinner kit, the testers were asked:

How much would you pay for this product? The response was $5
What price would make you stock up on this product? The response was $3

After the testing, the local price was determined to be approximately $4.99 (UPDATED ON 10/6/2008 local Fred Meyer charging $5.29 regular price. Was on sale for $3.50), so that would appear to be right on target. The $1.25 off coupons included with sample brings the price to near stock up level. The testers indicated they would definitely try the other selections based on the use of the coupons.

A list of various locations to purchase this kit will be included later.

Additional comments from the testers:

I am interested in trying the other 3 dinners now.

Really enjoyed this free sample and will definitely purchased next time grocery shopping.


What was the total cost for this dinner (not counting the pennies for the milk and oil)?

Retail price for Romano's Macaroni Grill Creamy Basil Parmesan Chicken and Pasta dinner kit: $4.99

1 pound of frozen Chicken Breast Tenders from Costco averages $2.50

Total cost was about $7.50


Cost at the restaurant would be great to know, but unfortunately our local restaurant does not offer this on their online menu. The only Romano's Macaroni Grill located near us is
Northgate-Waterloo Romano's Macaroni Grill
401 NE Northgate Way #1103
Seattle, WA 98125
206-838-6009


Given the cost of other items on their menu, we would estimate this dish would range between $12.50 and $13.50

Leftover review update

For the following Sunday dinner, we tested the leftovers. The leftovers were refrigerated for only 24 hours in air tight containers. Several noticeable changes occurred.

  • First, the dinner dried out just a little, making the sauce less smooth.
  • Second, the sun dried tomatoes plumped up quite a bit. Which was not the case with the "first run". This may indicate that the sun dried tomatoes could have been placed in hot tap water for 1 or 2 minutes before adding to the mixture. This would add a little complexity to the instructions, which they may have wished to avoid.
  • Third, the seasonings lightened up in flavor a little, although the basil increased in aroma.


How did our testers rate this dinner as leftovers? The maximum is 5 stars.

Appearance:

she = 4 stars
he = 4 stars
Why the drop? The drier appearance

Taste:
she = 4 stars
he = 4 stars
Why the drop? lightened seasoning taste


Preparation:

she = 5 stars
he = 5 stars
Why no drop? microwaves are great, 2 minutes on high and serve


Hopefully, this review was helpful. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Is AT&T the next Comcast? Wait, they already are!

AT&T is the sole provider of the iPhone, too bad.
I have been with AT&T wireless for quite a few years, too bad.
My latest phone is a Samsung Blackjack with a Family Plan (voice) and A Data plan called MediaMax 200 (unlimited Media Net with 200 messages).
Recently, I noticed I was always going over my 200 message limit. So silly me, I thought I would check out the various plans to see if I could increase my message limit.

On AT&T wireless web site I found the ability to buy a 1500 message plan.

Simple, huh?

Called customer service to upgrade and the rep found the plans I needed and then he tried to apply those to my Blackjack. Unfortunately, the "system" would not let him activate them. Since he could not see the problem, he went off to ask his supervisor why this wouldn't work. The supervisor told him that those options weren't available for the Blackjack and the only bundle available was unlimited data with unlimited messaging. Instead of the small $15 increase, the total cost would be $50.

What a scam! They have the options but refuse to let you buy them, selectively.

Fortunately, there are other carriers with better rates and options. It is sad that a customer can't purchase exactly what they need rather than what they are force fed.
Currently, I am not too happy with AT&T wireless.

I thought that AT&T had gotten better than this, but I guess not. They have the same customer view as Comcast had. Now here is a shock, that I thought I would never utter, Comcast may actually be getting better. Perhaps the Universe abhors a vaccum, so this may be why AT&T wireless is filling the poor customer service "spot" that Comcast seems to be making available.

Wanted an iPhone, but now, not as long as AT&T is the only provider.

Buyer beware!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

a quote passing by on Twitter



As I wandered through the twitter-verse this morning, I came across an exchange between @DovGordon and @jeffpulver where @DovGordon referenced the Theodore Roosevelt quote shown below. It is shared here because of the "well, hell yea!" moment it evoked.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, "Man in the Arena" Speech given April 23, 1910
26th president of US (1858 - 1919)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Just joined CoCoRaHS



This is a volunteer effort to perform precipitation measurements and report those to a common database. The project is U.S. wide and a large number of states are participating. Here is the CoCoRaHS about us page so you can learn more about this effort.

There is a small cost to purchase the "official" 4 inch diameter rain gauge so that the recordings are consistent. It is available from two location and costs about $30 including shipping.

From their website:

CoCoRaHS is an acronym for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. CoCoRaHS is a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow). By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and utilizing an interactive Web-site, our aim is to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications. We currently operate in many states across the country. If we are not in your state please drop us a line and let us know that you have an interest in participating. This helps us know where a desire exists for the network and where to focus our future expansion efforts.

Download the CoCoRaHS brochure as a PDF. (2.2 MB)


Finally, the CoCoRaHS mission statement.

I am headed to the in-person training soon and have already ordered the rain gauge plus I have decided to commit the 5 to 10 minutes per day to capture and record the data. I am interested in seeing how many people participate in Washington State and what the accumulated data looks like when aggregated in a graphical form.

I hope you get a chance to participate. Enjoy.

UPDATE: June 11, 2008 - I decided not to go to the in-person training. The online training brochure was enough information to get me up and running.

Although, I would recommend the in-person training for the opportunity to meet other "CoCoRAHSers". Or are they "CoCoRAHSians"?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Juggling?

The fluid control of this is simply incredible. Nearly an illusion in itself.



Another one with multiple balls

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cube Farm: The Executive Zoo


I have watched Cube Farm for some time now. But the latest video arrives on the near anniversary of my exodus from the corporate world.

No one has ever explained things better. Thank you Kim.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Repost: The Alcove with Mark Molaro

Repost from The Alcove with Mark Molaro: Climate Scientist Dr. Michael Oppenheimer on climate change. Originally aired at The Alcove in late 2007.

In-depth interview with Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, climate change scientist at Princeton University and one of the co-authors of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

TED Talk- Tod Machover & Dan Ellsey: Releasing the music in your head

Tod Machover of MIT's Media Lab is devoted to extending musical expression for everyone -- from virtuosi to amateurs, and in the most diverse forms -- from opera to videogames (Guitar Hero grew out of his group). At this TED he addresses what is coming next.



Speaker Dan Ellsey: Musician
Speaker Tod Machover: Composer, inventor

Friday, May 02, 2008

Economist's View: "The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class"

The Economist's View: "The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class" a talk by Elizabeth Warren.



This is one of those, "of course this is how it is" moments that you never think of until someone places it right before you.

The video runs just short of an hour and contains a mass of data and correlations between various trends. One surprise was that more children go through their parents' bankruptcy than their parents' divorce.

This is an enlightening message.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Comcast troubles - proof that the Direct TV commercials are accurate

So there I was, wanting to upgrade my 2nd Comcast cable set top box from "basic" to High Definition. I analyzed the cost and for a mere $6 increase I could watch HD from either of our TVs. Easy, no brainer, I thought to myself...

This was my first mistake. Never realizing that this simple thought would lead to months of cable hell.

Here's my story of just how Comcast customer service and billing professionals (I use that term very loosely) are helping DirectTV and the Dish Network with every customer phone call.

Back to my story. I called customer service and made arrangements to upgrade to a second HD box. Since I am impatient, I went directly to the local office and picked up the HD box. Brought it home, plugged it in and waited the mandatory 30 minutes for the programming to update as directed by the office representative.

Apparently, that was a false statement. Once connected, you must call the service number to get them to update the programming for the new box so that your "package" becomes active. Minor nit. In seconds after the call, package up and running.

Later that same night while watching an HD broadcast, I noticed that the programming guide wouldn't come on screen when the Guide button was pressed. Thinking this might be a remote to box communication problem I reset the remote and Cable box per the remote's instruction brochure. Unfortunately, this had no affect. The Guide worked when watching non-HD channels, just not when watching HD channels. This was very odd, so a call to customer service was in order for the next day.


Comcast rep of course had never heard of this and questioned my sanity, in a nice way. Eventually, the rep relented and authorized the exchange of the cable box. Back to the local office to pick up the replacement. Upon returning home, I connected everything and immediately called Comcast to get programming updated on the box.

See, he can be taught!

The rep updated the box and immediately the expanded line of channels was active and the guide worked no matter which channel was being viewed. Hurray, successful. My $6 investment was worth it and all was working. Could life be better than this...

Wait, the customer rep noticed something. I was currently paying more for cable and internet than it would cost to have cable, internet and VOIP (internet phone). She suggested we price this out and see if it would help our budget. She took a very long time to figure this out (this should have been a clue for me, but I ignored it). Bottom line was that I could have cable, internet and phone from Comcast for about $20 less than what I was currently paying for just two of them.

Always being the skeptic, I confirmed that I would have all the same channels, same internet speed, they would add internet phone AND my bill would go down! In addition I confirmed that the price drop was not due to a promotion, it was the long term rate. She said yes. So, I agreed. Toward the end of the process, the rep said, okay here is what your next bill will be... $485. This was about triple what I was currently paying, so I questioned why this could be. She rambled through that this was current bill, plus one month advance. Which seemed odd to me since I already paid one month in advance and didn't she say my bill would go down. Confused I asked again for her to detail why the huge amount for the first bill. She proceeded to read off each of the costs for the new set of services and sure enough they total about 1/3 of the first bill. After a number of times where she totaled the monthly costs, adding in the one month in advance which totaled 2/3 of the previously stated huge amount, she would then state, as if by magic, the total increased another 1/3.

Side note: I clearly don't understand how the Comcast billing cycle works, because if they were going to save me money and I pay one month in advance already, why would the first bill be 3 times my normal rate. Wouldn't you expect to pay the same or less on that next bill.... hmmmm, clearly I am naive to the world of billing and cable charges.


Unfortunately, we could never come to agreement on the total and my budget could not really afford the huge initial hit at this time.

So, I said I don't want this offer. I can't afford this right now.

This was my second mistake.

After an eternity, the rep came back on the line and indicated that she had already canceled my existing service and would need to re-establish it. Surprised, I asked if everything would be restored today and was there anything I needed to do on my end. She indicated that they would handle it from their side. No problem. She placed me on hold and went off to do her Comcast magic. I use the term magic, because clearly this is NOT science. As I waited, I tried both cable and internet and as expected neither was working. Patiently I waited and waited and waited.

Eventually, she returned to the line and said the cable had been restored, but that she would need to transfer me to an internet customer rep to get that piece functional. I agreed to be placed on hold yet again. The wait wasn't long and the internet rep had to reset the modem. I needed to reset my router and lastly, I needed to reset the network settings on my laptop. Finally, all was right with the world. I was back in the realm of the connected.

This was my third mistake, thinking that everything was fine.

The next morning, no one received any email, all of our Comcast hosted web sites did not exist. Things did not look so fine.

I called customer service again, this time I went directly to the internet rep. He said everything looked okay on their end. All of our web site files were still there. However, it did appear that all the secondary accounts were disabled. He asked if our service had been shut off for some reason.

Side note: I figure he was being nice asking in that way. I think he was implying that maybe my access was turned off due to non-payment. Which of course, was not the case.


We worked together to get the accounts re-enabled and he did some magic to get all the web site files back in the correct location. {again, with the "magic" phrase}.

Once again, I believed all was right with the world. We had internet access, we could see our web sites, we were getting email and the cable TV was working with all the correct channels per our premium package.

This was my fourth mistake!!!!!!!

Time passed. Over a month. On 4/21/2008 at 0730 Pacific Time, the premium channels stopped working, internet access shutdown. I thought that perhaps we were having a cable outage. This is not unusual and given the fact that street work had been happening over the past several weeks, it seemed like a real possibility.

Since my AT&T cell phone has internet access, I decided to check my email on Comcast via my phone until the service outage was restored. To my surprise, I found an email from Comcast advising me that my request for cancellation of service was received and service would be terminated on 4/29/2008. But wait this was only the 21st and oh yea I hadn't requested any cancellation.

Soooooo, I called Comcast. However, at 7:30 AM PT their offices are not open, but they suggested that I use the automated function to check my account. Cool, I thought. I will go there a check the status of my account. The billing route said that I had an outstanding balance of over $400. This seemed unusual since we have automated payments where they just bill my credit card each month. Since this didn't feel right and our service was now dead, I decided to go ahead and pay the outstanding balance via the automated system. All worked fine. It accepted my credit card and then indicated it would transfer me to a customer rep to complete the transaction. Now, I knew that the billing office was closed, but thought perhaps this was one of those cases where they had 24 hour operations to handle these kind of situations. I was wrong. The automated system simply said it could not complete my call and hung up. So I waited until the business office opened at 8 AM and gave them a call.

This is where the actions of the sales rep from over a month ago come full circle.

In speaking with the customer rep I now had on the phone, she indicated that my account was 2 months overdue. After checking she noticed that we had automated payment and could not figure out why the account would be overdue. I told her about my prior experience and after checking she said that this may have been the cause.
Her advice was to go over to the automated system and pay my outstanding balance then the service would be restored.

Side note: At this point I was angry.


I relayed my earlier experience with the automated system and eventually she agreed to handle the transaction without charging the normal handling fee for paying via a real live person. She also removed the various late fees, since it was clear the automated payment was still established, the credit card was valid and the reason for all this automation not working was not apparent. As a last check, I asked whether or not there was anything I needed to do to make sure things were back to full operation. Did I need to call either the internet rep or the cable rep to reset anything. I was assured that this would not be the case. I requested that she have a supervisor call me since after I requested to speak with her supervisor she indicated that they were not available. So I went away, a bit pissed off, but at least the service would be back and I could continue with my "connected" life.

This was my fifth mistake!!!!!!!

The cable was working. All the channels in our package were working. But the internet was dead. SO, yes you guessed it, I called the Comcast internet rep. He checked my account and once again indicated that the modem needed to be reset and I would need to reset my router and yadda, yadda, yadda. We checked to see if any of the secondary account were disabled and they were not. So after a short 10 minute call I was connected again. BTW, I politely suggested that they update their procedures for the billing department so that they were aware of this final step. He indicated that the billing folks aren't well trained, but would pass along my suggestion. {yea, right!}

Once again connected, feeling grumpy, pissed off and a bit annoyed by having to endure this multi-month ordeal, I proceeded with my activities for the day. None of which were Comcast related. Satisfied in my ignorance that yet another challenge had been resolved and it was time to move on.

Right again, you guessed it.... number six on the hit parade of mistaken assumptions.

Later that afternoon, I got a phone call from Comcast (via our answering machine) indicating that I should call the following number about a service interruption. I wondered if this was related to my earlier discussion or yet another, different challenge. I got onto the internet, checked my email and found another message from Comcast. This one was sent at about 8:30 AM. This was after my morning conversation with the customer rep about the billing issues. This message indicated that they were confirming my request for cancellation of service.

Warning: This is when I got really, really, really angry. About time, don't you think?


Called the number on the answering machine and spoke with a Comcast rep that I assume deals with folks who are delinquent. After several minutes, a few angry words and a review of the several months of interactions, she indicated that they would not be calling again since I was paid in full. And she indicated that since I had automated payment turned on that there should not be a problem in the future.

Side note: I forgot to mention that during my early morning call with a real live person, I had requested that auto-pay be turned off, since it would appear that it was not working. This clearly did not happen. Which as you can imagine, did not improve my mood.


Back to the current phone exchange. I requested that auto-pay be turned off. She said she would do that. I asked whether or not my call log indicated that I wanted a supervisor call-back. She said it did not but she would add that. {once again, this didn't improve my mood}. I finished the phone call with some unkind words about Comcast and their customer reps.

Now, sitting here writing this entry, I am reflecting on my 10 plus years with Comcast service at this location. All the times when there were cable outages and was assured that they would credit my bill (which never once happened) and on each rate hike without any service improvement and on the many times I called customer support and received "the dial-a-dud of the day".

Why have I put up with this?
Why have we become so accustomed to crappy service, horrible support and incompetence?

At this writing, I have not received a supervisor callback and really don't expect to ever get one.
The internet is working.
The cable TV is working.
And, this all started because I wanted to upgrade a single set top box to HD, which would increase my bill by $6.00.

What was I thinking?

You know I heard that if I subscribe to the triple play package (internet, cable, VOIP) I can save some money each month.



I really, really, really hate my Comcast dependency, in addition to not being very happy with Comcast itself!

If anyone has any suggestions on the best way to get TV and Internet to your house, short of moving to another country, I am listening.

Comcast clearly doesn't care, they don't have to.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Late Hail Storm up Nor'West

This was one of the more interesting hail storms I have seen in the Pacific Northwest. It lasted for about 10 minutes and the hail ranged from rather soft cone shaped miniature snowballs to hard chunks about 3/4 inch in size. Added bonus was the lightning and thunder. Although stated in the video, it wasn't "the world's biggest hail", but it was pretty good size for our area.

Monday, March 31, 2008

April 1st needs to be more about the serious side of life.

Every year April 1st rolls around and countless people play practical jokes on others. Of course this means that countless people have these, sometimes less than funny, jokes played ON them.

My proposal is that starting this year, in the spirit of international relations and a kind heart towards all of human-kind, we refrain from all these childish acts and spread the word of togetherness.

Roll on over to join the movement and sign-up.

One world, one heart, one song sung together!

Enjoy!

Zen Habits - Leo Babauta


Recently, I discovered a site that hit a chord with me. It is called Zen Habits. Now, at first I thought here comes yet another self help site harboring good advice with no way to accomplish.

WRONG!

This site somehow displays just the right words on the days when they are most useful (well, at least for me).

Wisdom, advice and life tips pour from Leo Babauta. In his short bio, Leo describes himself -

My name is Leo Babauta, I’m married with six kids, I live on Guam, I’m a writer and a runner and a vegetarian and I love writing Zen Habits.


The quote in the "about" page demonstrates the purpose of the site and makes all things possible.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Aristotle


I have enjoyed a majority of his posts and his ideas on simplification are both effective and {surprise} SIMPLE.

Enjoy!

P.S. He is also a writer and has written the following ebooks:



  • Buy Now Zen Habits for Life Handbook

    Zen Habits Handbook for Life is a series of Leo's best articles on making your life simpler, on becoming happier, and on getting more productive.


  • Buy Now Zen to Done

    Zen To Done takes some of the best aspects of a few popular productivity systems (GTD, Stephen Covey and others) and combines them with the mandate of simplicity. It makes things as simple as possible, and no more.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Circe Link - Armageddon {one of my favorites}

Just thought I would share.

Armageddon

Note: the link above will take you to the the www.rhapsody.com site and generate a pop-up player so you can listen to the song. If this runs counter to your browsing philosophy or your browser's setup than I am sorry to have teased you with this posting.

However, in addition to being available on Rhapsody it is also available at Amazon.com and can be found on her album Let's Go Together

Monday, March 03, 2008

politics versus inspiration

Have you ever wonder why something inspires?
Well I have. Up until this point in the 2008 election campaigns I really haven't been inspired by any of the candidates.

It is true that the "Yes we can" music video for Obama provided an emotional response.
However, it wasn't until I listened to the latest music video "The We Are The Ones Song" once again by will.i.am that I became inspired. Within this video is the a phase spoken by Obama -
"We are the ones we’ve been waiting for."

This comes from a Super Tuesday speech he gave and the entire context was -
"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for."

Now, before anyone says that he plagiarized some more stuff, it is true that he borrowed it from Maria Shriver, who borrowed it from the Hopi Indians

And its sentiment is similar to Mahatma Ghandi's quote -
"Be the change you want to see in the world."

For me this quote and sentiment was the thing that inspired. Regardless of the source, now is the time that this particular notion needs to be the new reality.

{BTW, maybe we should all look into what the original residents have been saying for so long.)

The video which is over at DipDive is embedded below.



More links: The Wisdom of the Native Americans at Amazon.com

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Green Children Foundation

I came across this "foundation" recently but know little about it. However, it appears to have some connection with Professor Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

From their "About Us" :


Milla Sunde and Tom Bevan established The Green Children Foundation to support microcredit, education and healthcare. In 2006, The Green Children shot a music video in Bangladesh to celebrate the work of Professor Muhammad Yunus, the father of microcredit and founder of The Grameen Bank.




More videos at their YouTube location.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Think of a song, now play it with Songerize


Yes, that's right, just think of your favorite song or perhaps an obscure one, there is a good chance that Songerize will play it. Of course you also need to known the artist, but that shouldn't be too difficult. However, if you really don't know the artist AND the song title, then just enter what you do know. You aren't guarantee to get the song you were thinking about, but then what the heck, you just found a new song.

Songerize is powered by seeqpod.com, but without the hassle. You can sign up for seeqpod.com and expand your experience, but for me Songerize works well enough and is as simple as type title and play.

BTW, Songerize doesn't just do music. It also can access podcasts.

Enjoy!

P.S. an update on finding obscure songs. Well, it looks like my taste in music is a bit left field. A couple of my favorite artists were not found. Mark Thunderwolf and the groups Maske and Outback did not return any results. So, I guess I will need to be a bit more "main stream". There are probably worse things I could do.

Update: Looks like Songerize does not implement seeqpod correctly, since when I went directly there I was able to find the songs by Outback. The others? Well, still out in left field.

Links:



Saturday, February 02, 2008

Rock The Vote in 2008

Democrats, Republicans, Independents and all who have yet to decide,let your voice be heard.