Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Our 1 Millionth Customer

Holy Moley, 1 Million blogs according to Dave Sifry, per Doc Searls most excellent blog. Don't miss.

A Man Named Charlie

Let me tell you the story
Of a man named Charlie
On a tragic and fateful day
He put ten cents in his pocket,
Kissed his wife and family
Went to ride on the MTA

Charlie handed in his dime
At the Kendall Square Station
And he changed for Jamaica Plain
When he got there the conductor told him,
"One more nickel."
Charlie could not get off that train.

Did he ever return,
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn'd
He may ride forever
'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned.

Now all night long
Charlie rides through the tunnels
the station
Saying, "What will become of me?
How can I afford to see
My sister in Chelsea
Or my cousin in Roxbury?"

Charlie's wife goes down
To the Scollay Square station
Every day at quarter past two
And through the open window
She hands Charlie a sandwich
As the train comes rumblin' through.

As his train rolled on
underneath Greater Boston
Charlie looked around and sighed:
"Well, I'm sore and disgusted
And I'm absolutely busted;
I guess this is my last long ride."
{this entire verse was replaced by a banjo solo}

Now you citizens of Boston,
Don't you think it's a scandal
That the people have to pay and pay
Vote for Walter A. O'Brien
Fight the fare increase!
And fight the fare increase
Vote for George O'Brien!
Get poor Charlie off the MTA.

Or else he'll never return,
No he'll never return
And his fate will be unlearned
He may ride forever
'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man (Who's the man)
He's the man who never returned.
He's the man (Oh, the man)
He's the man who never returned.
He's the man who never returned.

About the song -- btw, see this site:

"In the 1940s, the MTA fare-schedule was very complicated - at one time, the booklet that explained it was 9 pages long. Fare increases were implemented by means of an "exit fare". Rather than modify all the turnstiles for the new rate, they just collected the extra money when leaving the train. (Exit fares currently exist on the Braintree branch of the Red Line.) One of the key points of the platform of Walter A. O'Brien, a Progressive Party candidate for mayor of Boston, was to fight fare increases and make the fare schedule more uniform. Charlie was born.

The text of the song was written in 1948 by Jacqueline Steiner (nee Berman) and Bess Lomax Hawes. It was one of seven songs written for O'Brien's campaign, each one emphasized a key point of his platform. The song was recorded by a group called the Almanac Singers whose members included Lomax-Hawes, Steiner, and a young guitar player named Pete Seeger. One recording was made of each song, and they were broadcast from a sound truck that drove around the streets of Boston. This earned O'Brien a $10 fine for disturbing the peace.

A singer named Will Holt recorded the story of Charlie as a pop song for Coral Records after hearing an impromptu performance of the tune in a San Francisco coffee house by a former member of the Almanac Singers. The record company was astounded by a deluge of protests from Boston because the song made a hero out of a local "radical". During the McCarthy era of the 1950s, the Progressive Party became synonymous with the Communist Party, and, since O'Brien was a Progressive, he was labeled a Communist. It is important to note that, contrary to popular belief, O'Brien was never on the Communist Party ticket. Holt's record was hastily withdrawn.

In 1959, The Kingston Trio released a recording of the song. The name Walter A. was changed to George to avoid the problems that Holt experienced. Thus ended Walter O'Brien's claim to fame.

Walter A. O'Brien lost the election, by the way. He moved back to his home state of Maine in 1957 and became a school librarian and a bookstore owner. He died in July of 1998."

Thanks Ryan

Wow, new improved bloggerific directions on how to take the T from Logan to Harvard Square if you're visiting for BloggerCon. Here's a weird thing about the Boston T. If you don't know if you're going INBOUND or OUTBOUND you're in big trouble. Inbound means vaguely that you're heading into the center of Boston and Outbound means your heading vaguely out of the center of Boston.

Drink two beers and try to remember when your heading to Fenway Park for a Sox game, which is kindof in town, but you need to go kindof out of town towards Brookline to get to it, what the hell direction you're going in and you'll see why they wrote that popular song about a guy who gets lost on the MTA and never returns.

Also, if you don't get that some of the lines connect upstairs and some connect downstairs at key transition T stops, you get totally lost.

I have to thank the way cool Ryan aka SKADZ over here for these pointers. He's got the "upstairs, downstairs" shit way figured out, which is key in the very strange Boston mass transit system. Here's his email.

"When they get to Gov't Center, go up the stairs to the Green Line
platform and hook a hard left, that's the outbound train side (outbound
at Govt Center is towards Park)

When they get to Park Street, they will need to go down the stairs for
the Red Line. The stairs to the platform towards Alewife are behind
stairs leading outside, so don't just do down the ones right as they
off the T, hook around the back."

This Map Is Lame

I have a friend visiting who wants to take the T from the airport to Harvard Square and I have to tell you their site sucks. It took me about a million clicks to even find a map.

Okay guys, here's my directions from the airport to Harvard Square. They seem pretty good ... one thing I'm not sure about is whether you go blue line to green to red line and if I got the right stations for transfering. Can you check it out for me. Is it AIRPORT to GOVT CENTER to PARK ST to HARVARD?

Here's my email -- what am I missing?

> Take airport bus to T station to get AIRPORT Blue
> Line
> stop. Sit through stops at MAVERICK, AQUARIUM, STATE
> ST. Get off at GOVT. CENTER
> Get on a Green Line train one stop only from GOVT.
> think)
> Sit through stops for MGH (Mass Gen'l Hospital),
> KENDALL MIT, CENTRAL SQUARE, take next stop after
> Central Square, HARVARD.

Love Lessons, Mondays 9AM

Nice story by Lara Vapnyar. Thanks Brian. I like the part about the new teacher getting stuck with all the hideous assignments and errands. I used to be a new teacher in LA and I can tell you, that's just how it works.

Park The Car In Harvard Yard

I was trying to explain this the other day to my son -- how people use this phrase to demonstrate the classic Boston accent -- and he totally didn't know what the heck I was talking about. This may be because I don't have a Boston accent and he finds nothing even remotely strange about parking the car in, around and near Harvard Yard on a regular basis. I may have to refer him to Mayor Quimby, the Simpsons character who sounds a lot like Ted Kennedy.

Speaking of which, my kid actually tried to get me to let him do something terrible like stay up 'til midnight or some crazy thing, citing Bart Simpson as a kid who was allowed to do this and was a good kid and why didn't I agree to do it if Marge Simpson agreed and she seems like a nice Mom and I said, "STOP!" and reminded him they are characters on a TV show -- not real people. He did his usual "shucks" kindof look and shuffled off. I guess he really thought I would fall for it.

Okay Bostonians

I need to tell a friend the easiest way to get from Logan Airport to Harvard Square for dinner if you arrive around 4PM and need to be in the Square by 7PM. Also the cheapest. Please send directions. Thanks.

No Doubt

Gwen Stefani is great in this video. Saw it last night. I always kinda knew ... no doubt.

Tiga Getting Hot In Here

This is my BloggerCon song. Tiga's Getting Hot In Here. I like it a lot. Way cool.

Dinner @ Uncle Pete's Can't Be Beat

This is just the greatest funkiest place for bbq ribs. It's in East Boston -- like nearly at Logan Airport. In fact, you take the tunnel over to the airport and take that mysterious first exit which no one ever takes. Had a great dinner there tonight and the mango salsa, as usual, was so so good.

Oh THAT Josh Marshall!

There oughta be a name for it. You know a blog by it's title -- like Talking Points Memo -- but you keep forgetting the name of the author. Or maybe you know the name of the author -- like Glenn Reynolds -- and you forget the name of his blog. You might call it Blog Brand Blur.

Anyway, maybe BloggerCon will fix that problem. I really was reading the schedule wondering why that bright guy who writes Talking Points Memo wasn't going to be there. But he IS going to be there. Whoops, sorry Josh. And so's Glenn aka Instapundit Reynolds.

Are You Experienced?

I have to say I'm a bit shocked that this survey says the next big thing is older women and younger men. They didn't survey me I guess. Give me the guy who's been around the block a few times.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Prince Charming? Let It Go!

Come on girls, give these guys a break. Check out these statistics and let me tell you what's going on here.

"Frequency of sex? Sixty percent of the women and 45 percent of the men said they hadn't had any in the past six months."

This is just not healthy. What the hell are you guys and gals doing all night -- blogging?!

"Nearly 30 percent of the singles reported difficulty finding dates, and said they would be delighted to start a romance if they could find the right person."

This right person thing drives me crazy. Let's lower the barrier to entry, girls. There are a lot of nice men out there. Are you looking for Prince Charming? I'm worried you are. Check out these stats.

Percentages of fiftysomethings who say they would date someone who…
Is unemployed
Men 55 percent
Women 13 percent

Is married
Men 9 percent
Women 3 percent

Has less education than they do
Men 73 percent
Women 48 percent

Has paid for sex
Men 15 percent
Women 7 percent

Has been paid to perform sex
Men 10 percent
Women 2 percent

Has less money than they do
Men 71 percent
Women 33 percent

Has a criminal record
Men 14 percent
Women 5 percent

See how forgiving these guys are? Damn! A guy will date you even if you have no job, no brains, a husband, have been paid to perform sex, have no money, hell ... even if you're a convicted felon. I told you I love men -- what's not to love?

Sex Sex Sex -- Is That All We Ever Think About?

Answer: well, yes, sortof, I mean, yes, for sure if you're a man, wait, and also if you're a woman, and probably if you're a fruitfly. Yes, the data on dating is all here. Check it out.

But what's the original source? My favorite magazine, AARP! You thought it was for senior citizens. WRONG. Seems to be for swinging singles.

And ladies, looks like you like younger men (Shhh! Don't tell anyone!)

To Bee Or Not To Bee Edited -- Is That The Question?

With the arrival of this morning's New York Times (add italics), which landed in the dirt on the far side of the garden (editor's note: is this relevant to the story? Do we care about author's inept home delivery of the paper or muddy toes?) and required me to get my bare toes muddy while fetching it (run-on sentence, please cut), I have before me an article about weblogs (Web logs per style manual) and whether or not they should be edited. The piece by Michael Falcone, is called "Does An Editor's Pencil Ruin A Web Log? [Okay, I'll stop adding the editorial notes, it's very annoying.]

Of course this piece was prompted by the Sacramento Bee's recent decision to edit Daniel Weintraub's blog California Insider and other blogger's vociferous reactions to such.

To be or not to be edited. That is the question. At least, that seems to be the question in the Times article at least.

To Bee or Not To Bee, I suggest another question entirely, and another answer.

By the time a writer has written a post that he/she knows will be edited, what self-censuring has already taken place? That's my question. A rigid policy like this is antithetical to the spontaneous and FREE nature of blogging. It's all over before it began. There may be freedom of speech, but is there economic freedom of speech? Is a writer who is paid a salary by an employer with such a policy dumb enough in these tough times to really let loose with words that could get them fired? An editing policy is a subtle policy of coercion. The damage has been done long before "An Editor's Pencil" has arrived to edit a blog.

And what about that headline ... how many editors edit with pencils anyway? Don't they edit electronically? Do their editors arrive at work in a coach and four? Do they sport antimacassars on the back of their leather desk chairs?

And when will the New York Times wake up and recover from the antiquated convention of "Web log" -- it's the silliest thing I've ever seen. If you want a real howler to go with "Web log" enjoy some early archived pieces (circa 1990 - 1995) where they referred to something called "electronic mail"

I'll stop picking on the paper and get back to my original point.

What DOESN'T get written? What NEVER sees the light of blog? Is there really economic freedom of speech for paid writers?

Last week I wrote a piece here called "On My Mother's Refrigerator" about the fact that with both my parents dead, I felt a lot more free to write about my life and my family. Later in that day, my older brother called me and started in on a conversation about "I need to talk to you about your blog" which sounded like it was heading in the very same direction, his good advice on what I should and should NOT write on my blog.

I stopped him mid-sentence, and as it was the anniversary of my mom's death, I asked him he'd read my piece and if I could read the piece aloud to him. He had not read it, so he said yes, and I read it to him. It stopped the conversation to be sure, as it was a very emotional piece, but my take-away from the phone call was his duly noted desire to make me NOT write about certain things.

In fact, though many readers would not believe it, there are a lot of personal things I do NOT write about here. And there have been personal pieces I've written and then decided to take down on my own. There are a very few pieces, I think actually only one, that I wrote, someone found offensive and I deleted at their request. Did that person censure me?

How would I feel about my brother's request if he were my editor and I were being paid to write this Web log?

Last week I wrote a piece here about this same issue and suggested this: "If you are a media organization, ask a blogger if they would like to be COPYedited. I think most bloggers would say yes -- I know I would. If you have more than one copy editor, let them pick who they want to work with. Ask if they want to have their editorial content reviewed by an editor. If they don't, rely on them to seek out an editor for more contentious issues relating to politics or decency as the need arises. Write a blogger's pre-nup about their employment with your organization. Nice to spell things out up front. If they don't like your terms from day one, don't start the relationship."

This week I'm perhaps contradicting myself, or at least taking a much stronger stance, but a lot's happened in a week. My brother's request has gotten into my mind, made a deep impression.

Two months ago, I wrote a piece for Harvard Business Review called "A Blogger In Their Midst" which explored an employee blogging counter to the wishes of her employer, which we'll discuss at BloggerCon here next Sunday morning. A thorny topic, sure to inspire a heated debate. I understand there's a good chance some of the writers who provided commentary on the piece in HBR will be there to discuss their opinons as well.

My question remains, "What never gets written?"

Air Guitar Nearly Ready For BloggerCon

Man, my air guitar is really a little beaten up after all the events I've been dragging her to. But I got her out last night and polished her up, so she's looking better and better. Don't you hate when you lose your air pick? And one string broke so it's off to the air music store to get a new one.

She looks cool though -- cool enough for the party the first night -- and when I got her going last night, she really sang out. Looks good with the black high heels and mini skirt too. I have to go find her case so I don't get her banged up on the way into Cambridge. She is sweet.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Web Border Patrol

Gillmor's piece today in the San Jose Merc and on his blog speaks to how we all help keep the coasts clear on the Web. Don't miss it.

Border Patrol

If you've never perused a Federal Government Publications bookstore and your wasting all your time at Borders, you really ought to check one out. One time I found an amazing book like this -- Border Patrol Exam Guide -- and a Spanish/English Border Patrol Phrase book in a Fed Gov Bookstore that was out of this world. These days they may ask you to know a few middle eastern languages as well.

Border Play

Got the word "border" stuck in my mind since I had dinner last night in Harvard Square at Border Cafe. So I got a whole lotta posts going on here about borders. Best to read from the bottom up.

Was SOB Bordering On Racism?

Here's an interesting piece about how they took all the politically incorrect South Of The Border Mexican-speak billboards down. The owner's comment is one I like a lot "These baby boomers do not have a sense of humor."

Pedro Standing Tall On The Carolina Border

That's more like it. Here's a site that gives you all the down and dirty on South Of The Border, the joint I posted about below, as I remembered visiting it as a kid on endless trips to Florida.

It's in Dillion South Carolina. And it seems to still be standing.

South Of The Border For Real

Hey, I found a reference to that crazy place I described in my last post. I'll keep digging. Hurray for the web!

South Of The Border

When we were kids, my dad would get us all in a station wagon and drive us from Connecticut to Florida over the Christmas vacation or Spring Break some years and on the way, I think in Georgia, there was this totally weird store called "South of the Border" where they sold sticky pralines and other horrible food you do not want three girls with long hair in a station wagon to get all over themselves and the car.

The fun part was a serious of ridiculous billboards that began about 100 miles before you reached the place and counted down "100 miles to South of the Border" and then "Only 95 miles to South of the Border" and on and on until you reached it. I've got to go do a web dig to see if this place was real or I made it up. And I honestly can't remember what border (Georgia?) it was south of.

Of course, it used all these cliched Mexican guys in big sombreros and serapes as part of the logo that had absolutely ZERO to do with Georgia's pecans and pralines industry. My sisters and I loved the place. We'd make up goofy Mexican voices as we read the billboards. Of course we knew nothing about Mexico in those days. I would finally visit Mexico about 25 years after these weird car rides to Florida. In the old station wagon, I was so little and cars were so big then, I rode on the floor in front of my mom who sat on the couchy bench padded seat on the passenger side. Ugh, no seat belts for kids then, frightening to recall.

Borders Books

Good place to go today. Do they have them out West as well as East? I forget -- one of those problems with living in LA ten years and then moving back east to Boston three years ago. I'll go look. Duh, they're all over the country, Halley.

Oh, sure I remember the nice one in Westwood I used to love visiting.

Borderline Personality Disorder Website

Yes, good lordy lord, there is a website for everything. This one is rather interesting. I've heard this term tossed around but didn't know exactly what it meant until I read this. Sounds sad.


Thinking of Madonna on Oprah's show last week promoting her new children's book. She sat in the guest chair in a weird little Catholic girl's school uniform like a bad kid at the principal's office waiting to get yelled at. She was alternately surly and grandiose. Very odd. I think Oprah just plain scares her. At least someone does.

Also, the idea that she wrote this book because other girls were rather nasty to her daughter at the schoolyard playground in a very expensive private international school in London, is another of these odd moments where really really wealthy people demonstrate how completely unreal they are, how unreal their lives are and how out of touch they are with the rest of the world. I could give two shits about people being mean to Madonna's daughter at school honestly. Call me crazy, but I don't believe it matters all that much.

Border Cafe Border Grill

My mind is floating along, playing with words. Border Cafe reminded me of Border Grill in Santa Monica. I like their sister joint in Las Vegas very much too.

Lost in Translation

So much to say about this movie, but I think I need to give it a few days. I went into Harvard Square last night for a great dinner at Border Cafe with a friend and then we saw Lost in Translation. It reminds me of a movie I've always loved, Hiroshima Mon Amour, but it's also so different from any movie I've ever seen, and SO GOOD, it's really hard to compare it to anything else. It's a must see.

The link above is from IndieWire's interview with Sofia Coppola. Here's a tiny bit of the longer interview:

Coppola: For everyone, there are those moments when you have great days with someone you wouldn't expect to. Then you have to go back to your real lives, but it makes an impression on you. It's what makes it so great and enjoyable.

iW: Part of the powerful nature of their relationship is that it's fleeting.

Coppola: Yeah, it's just for that moment. And sometimes with strangers, you can tell them something that you couldn't tell someone you know. But I just liked those brief moments of connection when they're feeling so disconnected.

iW: Did you ever consider a version of the story in which they were physically intimate?

Coppola: I liked this relationship. I've had friends like that where you have a flirtation but you're just friends. I wanted it to be more innocent. If they slept together, that would bring in reality.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Great Word of Mouth Under The Tuscan Sun

A friend called and talked me into dinner at Macaroni Grill and a movie called Under The Tuscan Sun last night. I had a lot of work to do and shouldn't have given in, but I did. The dinner was great (boy was it packed) and the movie was greater. I'll bet it's getting great word of mouth.

You'll love Under The Tuscan Sun if you've ever been in love.

You'll love Under The Tuscan Sun if you've never been in love.

You'll love Under The Tuscan Sun if you've ever been to Italy.

You'll love Under The Tuscan Sun if you've never been to Italy.

You'll love Under The Tuscan Sun if you've ever been dumped or found out your husband was having an affair and wants a divorce.

You'll love Under The Tuscan Sun if you've never been dumped, are having an affair and want a divorce.

You'll love Under The Tuscan Sun if you're straight or gay, man or woman, young or old.

You'll love Under The Tuscan Sun if you love pussy, if you love cock, if you love both.

You'll love Under The Tuscan Sun particularly if you really should be home writing, doing laundry and not going out.

Friday, September 26, 2003

In Memoriam

Kathryn Suitt

November 24, 1918 - September 26, 1997

On My Mom's Refrigerator

A friend recently mentioned when I got the piece about blogging published in Harvard Business Review that it would be just the kind of thing to send to your mother to put on her refrigerator to show off to her neighbors how proud she is of you. I thought it was an interesting comment and it started an interesting conversation that went along these lines.

First, and the friend meant no disrespect or harm, my mom doesn't have a refrigerator. Actually, I mean to say, I don't have a mom. In fact I don't have any parents any more since they've both passed away.

She used to have a refrigerator, she may even have a refrigerator in heaven, but she doesn't have one in our old kitchen in Connecticut, I'm sure of that. Someone else lives there now.

And then I explained to him that there was actually something great about both my parents being gone. It sounds strange, but both of them had high hopes and high expectations for me that I sometimes found daunting. Now that they are gone, I don't think it's at all surprising that I'm succeeding in my writing more than I ever did when they were alive.

I knew how much they wanted me to succeed and how much they liked putting things I did up on their fridge when they were alive. Now that they're gone, I can do things they wouldn't necessarily approve of, I can do things that are NOT successful, I can fail and fuck up and fall on my face. And ready for the big joke of it -- nothing helps you succeed faster than failing first. So in some way, the biggest blessing of their passing away is leaving me free to fail and therefore able to succeed.

Blogging is all about trying things, failing, not trying to be perfect and just throwing words at a wall, like pasta to see if it's ready. It's a much easier way for me to write than any I've tried. It's enormously freeing.

There are a few other things at work as well with parents who inconveniently continue to stay alive. First of all, a writer who writes about his family and his life makes a lot of other people in his family very nervous. Mostly, a writer is better off NOT writing about his family. But, really, when you come down to it, what is a writer really writing about if he/she is not writing about his/her real life and real family? So you find yourself in a bind. Once your parents are gone, you are freed up in a way you might not expect. You look back and realize you might have been self-censuring or simply NOT writing about things because you didn't want to incur the wrath of your family.

This is actually the anniversary of my mother's death. The arithmetic never works. I know she died in 1997 and I know this is 2003 and it should mean she died six years ago, but it doesn't feel like that. It feels like it happened last night. I may have been glib here talking about her refrigerator, but let me say, it was certainly with a tear in my eye that I answered my friend's question -- of how I will never be able to put another piece of my work up on her fridge with her funny little magnets. I miss her. I wish she WERE here to enjoy my success. I thank her for all the wonderful things she taught me -- love of words, love of books, love of birds, flowers, gardens, people. Of course I owe her so much and I would never have become the person I am or the writer I am without her love and kindness. I would have never been a writer without her taking my hand at age 6, excited as can be, pulling me down the garden path to watch birds with her, pointing out a scarlet tanager, showing me the different birds in her Peterson's guide.

I love you Mom, wherever you are. Please put this on your fridge.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

How To Ruin A Perfectly Good Salesforce In Ten Easy Steps

Here's the chapter summary with links. Notice no links yets? Well, that's because I haven't written anything. Soon, soon, soon, be patient. I'm writing a few hundred other things at this point.

Introduction: How To Ruin A Perfectly Good Salesforce In Ten Easy Steps -- September 13, 2003

Step One: Focus Group -- October 6, 2003

Step Two: Can I Get That In Writing? -- DATE

Step Three: And Another Thing -- DATE

Step Four: Meat Eaters -- DATE

Step Five: Location, Location, Location -- DATE

Step Six: Shake Your Money-Maker Girlfriend -- DATE

Step Seven: Yeah, Right, Sure -- DATE

Step Eight: All About HQ -- DATE

Step Nine: War Horses and War Stories -- DATE

Step Ten: Go Team Go -- DATE

September Honor Roll Winner Today -- John Porcaro, Who Else?

I've been reading John's weblog on and off for quite awhile and what put me over the edge was the great stuff he writes about his family. Then I noticed in his bio he's one of 12 kids himself -- holy heck -- no wonder he is so good at rolling with the punches! I'm one of five and I get it.

Meanwhile, I'm about to start my "How To Ruin A Perfectly Good Salesforce In Ten Easy Steps" (First chapter available at BloggerCon BTW.) One of the natural antagonisms in this world is between sales people and marketing people, so John get ready to HATE what I'm gonna write. Still, I hope you can give me the marketers' point of view when I'm sorely in need of it. I won't hide my bias -- I'm behind the salesman 100% -- just the way my bread is buttered.

Check out John's blog if you haven't yet and send him a congratulations. My other two fav Microsoft bloggers are Beth Goza and Robert Scoble, but since I've met them, I can't bestow the September Honor Roll Winner award on those guys. Sorry!

Veritable Epidemic

Well, there's been another outbreak of Stealth Disco around my house. My kid is completely addicted and just won't stop! Of course, don't miss this today.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Speaking Of Lunch

Just saw in my referrer log that someone did a Google search for "Lunch At Legal Seafood" and I was about the 7th hit on the list of 1500. I'm just about sure a search engine that gives bloggers a black eye and features NO BLOGGING RESULTS will fight it out with Google if they are not already doing that ... but I'll wait and see. Meanwhile, we sure have amazing reach.

And I gotta run off to lunch, so catch you later guys.

Salty See

I keep meaning to blog about seeing salt. And yesterday when it started to rain, I remembered I need to blog about that too -- seeing raindrops.

I know you're probably sick of me gawking at this beautiful world with my new post-op eye, but one very unusual thing that keeps happening is seeing enormous detail that I was NOT seeing before.

That's what I meant about salt. A few days after my surgery, I was sitting down to eat some scrambled eggs and I picked up the salt shaker and nearly jumped into the air as I saw all these big white boulders actually coming out the holes! It was amazing. It was sad then suddenly. I realized I'd gotten accustomed to NOT seeing salt. I simply couldn't see it coming out of a salt shaker. I thought it was something you really couldn't see unless you looked really really close.

This made me realize how I must have been over- or under-salting everything for years!

And as a writer, I felt really sad that I hadn't been seeing it. It looks very pretty and rather lively to see these little white dots flying out the holes.

And then there's rain. Must have been a week or so after my surgery. I had gone outside and I had the hood of my raincoat lowered and then, I turned and had the strangest sensation -- I ducked -- as there seemed to be all these things falling on me -- it was like a box of clear soda straws had fallen from a high shelf onto my head -- I was noticing all these little things shooting in my direction. It was rain. Individual raindrops. My sight is so new, nothing is routine and as people who have seen these things for years would take no notice of them, I'm reacting like someone's throwing a ball right in my face. I startle easily the first time I notice something that had been a blur before. It was incredible to see raindrops. Incredibly beautiful. Although rather disconcerting at first.

I still have the old eye to compare -- shut one, look out of the other. What a dirty, smudgy little window pane it is, poor thing. Soon to be fixed up like the other one. I watched the rain with the bad eye yesterday as I waited for my son to arrive home on the school bus. There were no drops, just a hazy greyness and some puddles. Flip to the good eyes, someone is writing fine lines etched against pine trees, silver sparks of rain, I'm living in a gorgeous piece of artwork, a 3D masterpiece you can actually reach out and touch. Ahhh.

Pile of Work, Tidy Tidy House

Isn't it amazing how much housework you can get done when you really shouldn't be cleaning but you'd do anything to avoid getting something written? I've got a heck of a deadline on a piece and a really tidy house. Ut oh!


Holy heck! I finally figured out where Scoble's PERMA-LINKS are! All it took was about $5000 worth of cataract surgery! A small price to pay! Come on, Robert, can't you make them a little bigger.

His permalinks are the microscopic dots at the end of date! I love your blog man -- especially because it's in a big big font, but I honestly could NEVER find your permalinks and have wanted to link to you a million times but didn't.

Now it's all different. I'm gonna perma-scoble every chance I get.

Anyway, Scoble's piece on why he blogs is excellent -- don't miss it.

And may I say, your links are nothing compared to some other bloggers' permalinks which are either invisibile or simply not there. I run into this problem all the time even with my good eyes. If I read something I like and it's hard to find the link, I say, "screw it" and move on.

Hilary Duff and Keanu Reeves Angelwear

Hey, round out that wardrobe folks. Don't you want a Keanu tee that looks cool like this and supports a great charity? Wish he'd offer one of those sexy long black matrix raincoats too.

And Hilary Duff will sew up a cute tank top for you. Wonder if they deliver to your door, now that would be mega-cool.

Road To Hell Paved With Good Intentions

So much for getting up early to blog -- whoops! And it's garbage day, so time to drag those newspapers and cans and bottles and everything else curbside. Back in a minute.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

The Librarian Who Wasn't Too Sexy

On an earlier post, I mentioned there's a new Librarian Action Figure. Jessica Baumgart had mentioned it and a reader named Chuck just sent me the link. Well, wow, I can see she's not the kind of girl to get fired for being too sexy, is she?

And even better, a reader named Gerry pointed me to here where you can buy her! Guess what? She talks -- I mean -- she says SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

And The Winner Is Ms. Sindy Canyon

Okay, this is a direct blog heist from Chris Pirillo. Yes, he points to Jason who has created the absolute KILLER APP -- the Porno Name Generator. They gave me so many to choose from:

Morgan Wild
Nikki Treats
Summer Cheeks

But then there was Sindy Canyon, and I tell you, it just can be beat. Especially for a God-loving Christian such as myself, to have that word SIN right there front and center. I love it. Thanks Chris for pointing out the site, I mean, Adam Rider.

What The Fuck?!

Remember kids, set a bad guy on fire, blow up the family next door, watch blood gush out of someone's eye that you just made swiss cheese of with your machine gun, but don't use vulgar language! Isn't TV wonderful?!

And That Was Sacramento or Sacremento?

Sorry, I couldn't help noticing this typo in Mark Glaser's excellent piece on whether bloggers need to be edited in the UCS Annaberg Online Journalism Review:

"Many newspaper sites, however, are queasy at the thought of posting unedited copy online by anyone. Editing a blog makes it stronger, in their opinion. Paul, of the Sacremento Bee, says everybody could use an editor. "That's the difference between a professional writer and an amateur," he said. "The professional knows he needs an editor, and the amateur thinks he doesn't need editing."

Just teasing Mark. BTW, I think it's an excellent piece and I'm throwing into my folder for backup materials when we all get to BloggerCon to discuss these things.

My opinion right now? If you are a media organization, ask a blogger if they would like to be COPYedited. I think most bloggers would say yes -- I know I would. If you have more than one copy editor, let them pick who they want to work with. Ask if they want to have their editorial content reviewed by an editor. If they don't, rely on them to seek out an editor for more contentious issues relating to politics or decency as the need arises. Write a blogger's pre-nup about their employment with your organization. Nice to spell things out up front. If they don't like your terms from day one, don't start the relationship.

Blue Waters Good For Prayer

Off to go swimming. Hoping AKMA recovers quickly and easily from surgery. Will pray at the bottom of the pool, that seems to send out the right waves. Been praying for a bunch of folks today. Blue goggles, blue bathing suit, blue waters. Nice.

Too Pretty For Harvard?

Interesting story about a too pretty Harvard Librarian suing the university for discriminating against her because she was too "sexy" -- very interesting. Jessica was just telling me the other day about the Librarian Action Figure -- wonder what she looks like.

Are We All On The Same Page?

Bloggers are being muzzled, edited, fired -- whoa!

Lots to discuss at BloggerCon on all this.

Vanguard Dejeuner

David Weinberger's down in DC at the TTI Vanguard conference. I used to work there, with these guys: Alpha Males all. A rough, rough bunch. I better give David some advice. He doesn't speak until tomorrow. I'm not sure what to tell him. It's a voracious group. David, I'm afraid they're going to eat your lunch. Or simply eat you for lunch. Just don't resist too much, go quietly.

Listening To The Man In Black

Really gonna miss this guy. I love Johnny Cash. Some country singers have the most distinctive voices, their heads might have been whittled out of wood like a handmade guitar the way the sounds resonate through them. Johnny Cash had this terrific flat, dry, dull, but slightly getting-over-a-cold nasal sound that reverberated with family, friends, prison cells, boxcars, fields to be harvested, women, wine, another hand of cards to be dealt, love of children, love of country, hatred of injustice. I will miss him..

Pick A War, Any War

Do you really think Bush's economic war on the middle class, is any less lethal than his military war? With legislation on bankruptcy pushing so many people over the edge of the cliff, taxation that favors the wealthiest in this country and the vaporizing of 3 million jobs, you don't have to wear camo and take a trip to Iraq to be taken out by Bush. You can be murdered right here at home in this economic holocaust. And don't they dovetail perfectly? The $87 billion he'd like us to give him for military spending and the defiicit he's building should be sure to get rid of the middle class for once and for all, and turn the good old USA into a bankrupt third world country.

Welcome Back To The LET THEM EAT CAKE Economy

Scott Rosenberg nails it with his wonderful piece on FCC Chairman Powell's girlish shock and dismay that others in this country might oppose his heavy-handed inside-the-beltway plutocratic powers by actually organizing a grass-roots effort counter to his wishes. Check this out:
"Here we have it: a "concerted grass-roots effort"! What a horrible thing! I think this is the first time in my life I have heard the term "grass-roots" used in a negative way. To most of us, "grass-roots" symbolizes healthy organizing of the citizenry beyond the corrupting influence of big business lobbying and entrenched interests. It is our democracy at its best. To Powell, somehow, it has become a term of opprobrium.

It couldn't possibly be that his policy was so absurdly wrong for today's United States that it managed to unite the liberals at Moveon.org and the NRA against it. Nah. It must be a grass-roots conspiracy! Like so many others in the Bush administration, Powell seems to feel that his ideology is beyond public accountability. With Bush's poll numbers sinking week by week, these public servants may eventually learn just how wrong they are."
I have to say I was in Washington DC for SuperNova Conference this summer and a veritable police line-up of FCC mucky-mucks who report to Powell were there spouting bullshit on a panel I had to listen to. My take-away was the same as Scott's -- DO THESE GUYS HAVE A CLUE? At one point, one them said in the most patronizing way that they'd be happy to hear what those "outside the beltway" thought about FCC policy. My response in July was close to vomitting, honestly. It was clear the patronizing tone was all about not giving a shit what those outside the beltway had to say.

I'm seeing this more and more everywhere I go. They said a tiny little problem the French had before the French Revolution was the elite having eradicated the middle class. It made things a little bit unstable. It polarized people a tiny bit, un petite peu, quoi. And next thing you know, you have a queen who allegedly doesn't "get" why everyone is rioting for a crust of bread and she says, "Why can't they just eat fancy little petit-fours like us, we've got platters and platters of the stuff here at the chateau." Whether she actually said this or not, the extremes of rich and poor in any country make for some very interesting dynamics.

I know so many people out of work and I'm noticing a subtle thing now about this. People who are working find it more and more difficult to know how to react, connect or simply communicate with all their unemployed friends. There is a gigantic divide happening now -- we're watching just what Bush wanted to have happen -- the end of the middle class as we knew it. It's gone. But all those unemployed folks are sure going to have a lot of time in the next year to shape this election. Fasten your seatbelts guys and look forward to the fun. We're building a heck of a roller coaster.

Blogger's Wad

Ut oh, I'm afraid I've kindof shot my blogger's wad already this morning by writing and responding to a bunch of great emails at the crack of dawn. Sorry, guys, I should have saved it for you all, but these things happen.

Actually, today's September 23rd and I happen to know and have it on very good authority that this is a great great day.

Please, go to Starbuck's today. Invite someone to go with you. It will be a good idea. Something fun will happen there for you. Get one of their cards -- I love mine.

Now go, and report back immmediately!

Monday, September 22, 2003

What A Blog Might Be

What if it's simple? Really simple. A Metcalfe kind of thing. Each blog is a node on the network. There is no blog without all the others. Rather like The Borg. Maybe we should call it The Blog. We're looking at a very big network of intelligence being born. As each blog goes on, like a light going from dim to bright, the network gains in exponential strength, beauty and brilliance. Add your light.

Nice New Blog -- Tales of Scheherazade

Okay, guys, keep your pants on. It's true, Scheherazade is just about the sexiest name this side of literature, but this tale-teller does not live in a harem. Check out this great piece she blogged about people being hesitant to blog -- as if you had to get it right all the time. I agree with her whole-heartedly. Just write, write, write your pants off. Opps, there go the pants again.

Karlin Carnivale!

Celebrate, celebrate, dance to her music! She's the best. An unsung heroine to be sure, so sing her praises! And best of all she calls me a "blogeuse" like a great musical hall "chanteuse" -- very cool. Get over to her blog and indulge -- very delicious stuff there.

Yes, Gotta Check That Horoscope

It is Monday for goodness sakes, and even though things can look glum, and they do for me today, maybe we're in for some surprises after all ... Check yours out and here's mine:
You cannot ask for a much better day, dear Aquarius. A great deal of positive energy is coming your way, and you should look out for the opportunities that are literally hiding out on your front porch. You may be going through a period of significant upheaval in your life right now, and you should look to clear away all the things that have limited you in the past. The future is wide open. Empower yourself to make the drastic changes necessary to build your life the exact way you want it to be.
No matter how sad you are, physically ill you are, out of work you are, in debt you are, worried you are, falling in or out of love you are, I say don't let it get you down. Can't get out? Then stay inside and flip on the radio -- listen to all the beautiful music people have made -- isn't it amazing? Can you get outside? You're so lucky! Enjoy the bustle of the city or the quiet of nature. Go take a walk in this beautiful world. It's quite a miracle. Who thought it up anyway? A tree here, a river there, small stone to hold in your palm which someday another person you'll never know will hold in his hand, long after you're gone. But don't think about that! Think about how alive you are today! You are terrific!

Everybody Loves Raymond Apparently

Last night, the Emmys proclaimed that Everybody Loves Raymond and of course, The West Wing. The networks would like you to believe Everybody Loves TV, but once you get into blogging and IRC and IM and email, I think something snaps and your attention span for TV dwindles to near zero.

Wait, I guess I do watch a few things, I watch CNBC to catch some business news. I watch CSPAN to keep up with political stuff. I watch ... well, with my son, I watch a little Nickelodeon, some Cartoon Network, but mostly pray he doesn't ask me to sit down and watch, because I can't stand sitting there passively, letting it suck my eyeballs out and not letting me "get" any information from it.

Here's what the other online media have made me feel about TV -- bored, frustrated and ansy since I just can't put my hands through the screen and pull out wonderful stuff, the way I can online. When I'm online and I read something interesting, I can take off on a deep dive for lots more information within seconds. When someone says something interesting on TV (this happens about once every 3 weeks), I can't go on an instantaneous hunt. I can't get INSIDE it. There's nothing in there, and it doesn't WANT me in there asking more questions.

That's the weird feeling I get from TV -- "You, just sit there, don't ask us anything, don't think, and YOU, hey, you, go buy some crap we're advertising." Dead, dead, dead.

I suppose Tivo (which people still rave about) helps one feel they are more engaged with the boob tube, but still, it's so thin a medium, what's there that's worth getting anyway?

I even detest the "posture" you must assume as a TV viewer, as compared to an online participant. You all know the drill, come home, tired out, drop your stuff by the door, flop onto the couch, nearly supine, flick on the tube, eat some dreadful food, drink something bad for you. You look like a wounded soldier watching TV in terms of body position -- or the overused "couch potato" although even that suggests a certain rooted earthiness TV watchers rarely exhibit. Gives potatoes a bad name. The online "viewer" is active -- thus the name "surfer" -- a body full of energy, strength, engagement, split-second interaction. A surfer is alert, poised to tear off in any direction, on a wave, on a hunt, digging up info, zipping from here to there, linking in a flash to this or that new thought. Interactive is a good term. You are connecting -- the "inter" part -- and you are much more energetic -- the "active" part.

I wonder if there's any going back. I can barely stand to turn the thing on, even when I'm alone, it hardly makes me feel better, actually makes me feel worse. Between terrorism and war, it's also become "The Bad News Box" in my psyche.

One last thing that seems just plain embarrassing about TV. Most of the stories are so pathetically "manufactured" and overproduced. They take a plain homey little hurricane, some nice girl from south of the border named Isabel and they have to turn her into a Femme Fatale of weather. It's now standard fare. Take some 5 second clip of a guy running away from some police cars on a highway and play it 800 times in 8 minutes and turn it into ... whatever the hell they decide. Take some politician, hint at some dastardly deed he's done, make it into this minute's scandal, sell some diapers, sell some toaster pastry, more at 11:00 but by 11:00, the fickleness of TV always wins out and the old scandal is over and some new junk is taking its place, the networks helping reinforce the notion that ALL their stories are made-up, bogus and completely biodegradable.

But I'm not being fair. There has been one major improvement in TV lately. At last, the medium fits the message. With the new flat panel displays, we can literally see TV in its actual depth -- wafer thin.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

September Honor Roll Gives Karlin Big Honour Today

Yes, she's my pick of the day. Hey, if you aren't reading the absolutely fabulous Karlin Lillington, you're nowhere, man. Check it out. Techno/culture seriously rocks. I'm so glad I remembered WE HAVEN'T MET, for a minute there I thought we had.


Off to church with a boatload of folks to pray for. It's the sixth year anniversary of my mom's death in a few days. The date crept up on me this year, I didn't feel it so sorely as earlier years. Her death was very painful, very sad, but on the upside, I thank God for the clarity it gave me and the growth I experienced during that time. It was no fun, but it gave me a jolt into that sacred realm called "Life's Too Short" helping me focus on what really matters and what really doesn't.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Going Swimming

Heading out to go swimming, then back later. I roasted a chicken this morning and have friends coming over for dinner. Got to find just the right small red new potatoes. Should find some here at Wilson Farms. I'm crazy for them lately. Broccolli -- check. French Sourdough Bagette -- check. Kendall Jackson -- check. They're bringing dessert, hope I can avoid eating it. Unless it's fruit.

Cindy Crawford Quotation

Dr. Phil's book, The Ultimate Weight Solution, has a terrific quotation. He uses it to launch a chapter on being realistic about your weight loss goals and eating habits. Check it out.

"Even I don't wake up looking like Cindy Crawford."
-- Cindy Crawford

Weighing In

Dr. Phil's book is so much about your head and then, about your body. I'm liking it very much. He knows it all starts in your head, your self-esteem, your self-worth, your self-image. I've been doing pretty well for the last few days ... but it's still tough to rein my eating in. I was getting into really sloppy, thoughtless mouth stuffing lately.

The book is rated No. 1 on Amazon and costs $18.20. It's $14.99 at COSTCO but you might gain 10 pounds going over there to save money and eating all the nice ladies sample foods.

Sex-Starved? Take The Test

Men's Health Magazine has the following Test Your Marriage quiz in this month's issue. You really might not want to read it:

"Find out if you're in a sex-starved relationship by taking this true-or-false quiz:

1. Sex is more work than it is play.
2. Touching always leads to intercourse.
3. Touching takes place only in the bedroom.
4. I no longer look forward to making love.
5. Sex does not give me feelings of connection and sharing.
6. I never have sexual thoughts or fantasies about my partner.
7. Sex is limited to a fixed time, such as Saturday night or Sunday morning.
8. One of us is always the initiator, and the other feels pressure.
9. I look back on premarital sex as the best time.
10. Sex has become mechanical and routine.
11. My partner and I have sex once or twice a month at most.

If you answered "TRUE" to five or more statements or to number 11, or both, you are in a low-sex or no-sex relationship. ..."

I've put my favorite "death-knell" statements in bold above. If you can say TRUE to them, get the heck out of that relationship.

When You're Not Getting Any

Men's Health is at it again with a great piece on sex in marriage. They say that "a whopping 20 million men are stuck in low- or no- sex marriages." This is not good.

Check out the piece by Joe Kita in the magazine. I don't think it's on the website yet.

Rich Hometowns

Check out this cool graphic from Forbes where they show the Forbes 400 by hometowns in the US, over eight years or so. Watch Seattle and San Francisco circa 1999, 2000, 2001. Pretty interesting. Can you see where the Walmart Waltons live?

Friday, September 19, 2003

Hurricane Parties

Down At The Twist And Shout Lyrics
Mary Chapin Carpenter

Saturday night and the moon is out
I wanna head on over to the Twist and Shout
Find a two-step partner and a Cajun beat
When it lifts me up I'm gonna find my feet
Out in the middle of a big dance floor
When I hear that fiddle wanna beg for more
Gonna dance to a band from a-Lou'sian' tonight

Well I never have wandered down to New Orleans
Never have drifted down a bayou stream
But I heard that music on the radio
And I swore some day I was gonna go
Down Highway 10 past Lafayette
To Baton Rouge and I won't forget
To send you a card with my regrets
'Cause I'm never gonna come back home

(Repeat chorus)

They got a alligator stew and a crawfish pie
A golf storm blowin' into town tonight
Livin on the delta's quite a show
They got hurricane parties every time it blows
And here up north it's a cold cold rain
And there ain't no cure for my blues today
Except when the paper says: Beausoleil is coming into town
Baby let's go down

(Repeat chorus)

Bring your mama, bring your papa, bring your sister too
They got lots of music and lots of room
When they play you a waltz from 1910
You gonna feel a little bit young again
Well you learned to dance with your rock'n'roll
You learned to swing with a do-si-do
But you learn to love at the fais-so-do
When you hear a little Jolie Blon

Was EVERYONE Hanging Out In Cambridge Last Night?

It was a lovely night in Cambridge, not too cool, not too hot, and seemed like a dream to run into all sorts of great people. I'd been to the eye doctor so my eyes were a little weird, but soon shrunk down to normal person size. Adam Green, a new friend to me and an old friend to many was there hanging with me as we got coffee at the Starbuck's near Harvard Law School. My phone rang -- it was my editor at Penthouse -- yes, the story I sold there is finally getting published. I asked the nice girl editor the only thing you could ask an editor at Penthouse, "Hey, honey, what are you wearing?!" I don't think this did much to change Adam's impression of me -- he already knows I'm nuts -- and as for the editor, she just laughed.

I'm so excited my story is coming out -- probably around October 27 -- and here's the weird thing. My HBR story came out the day I had eye surgery for my left eye. I've waited a lifetime to publish something and see my name in print and what happens? It appears on the day I actually CAN'T see it ... I did see it later and even better. So guess when I'm having the other eye done -- the same date the Penthouse story is being published. God works in mysterious ways.

The editor told me about the pictures that are running with my story. The story is about a guy on the high-tech conference circuit who does lots of speaking gigs and likes to screw the maids and then feed them the chocolate mints. The picture will be a half-naked maid being fed a chocolate mint, the editor explains. "THAT'S DISGUSTING" I tell her. It's already to keep these dirty thoughts in my mind, but wait a minute, did I miss something, am I a little confused, are those same private thoughts going to be available on glossy paper to the public in a CVS near you?! What was I thinking?! Actually I'm thrilled. I can't tell you how many zillion people have asked me, "Are you putting your NAME on the story?" Shit, yeah! It's a great story and a lot less about blow jobs and a lot more about grief than you might think at first.

So anyway, we finish our coffee, walk out and just about run into Chris Lydon who asks us if we're going to "Blog City" as he refers to Dave Winer's 7PM Thursday event at Berkman. I am but Adam's got other business in town.

There is a cool crew there as we arrive - Michael, Mary, Martin, Brian, Chris, Sun, Jessica for starters -- and Dave does his blogamatic thing, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Jim Moore pops up late from a Dean event at The Charles Hotel. After that, Dan Bricklin pops up who's been hanging Esther Dyson and others at some meeting that's just broken up and so he joins us for post-Berkman dinner. He insists on taking a picture of my new eye. I tell him how fundamental a change this has been for me. Almost scary to see a brand new world that I've NEVER actually seen. The doctor told me I was born with these cataracts and they haven't returned me to good sight like kids have -- because as a kid I never had good sight -- they've returned me to sight I've never experienced on this Earth. In fact, I told Dan, I feel like I've been transported to another planet -- these earthlings are so lucky living in this beautiful place. My old planet wasn't nearly as nice.

I have so publically announced with my new diet I don't eat after 7:00PM or so any more, that I just CAN'T eat as it's now 9:30, so I have a Diet Coke while they eat. Dan takes pix. Later, Adam returns, lets me hitch a ride home to my house in his bright yellow Mini Cooper which is just too swell. Thanks to all for a fun fun night.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Big Eyes

Went to the eye exam today and it looks like my new eye is well! I can swim! I can jump up and down! I can wear mascara!!!!

These damned dilation drops make my eyes SO BIG though, hoping they'll soon get smaller. I look like a drug dealer.

I'm writing this on the 2nd floor of the Berkman Center at Harvard Law, actually early for Dave Winer's Thursday evening 7:00 pm blogging class.

BTW 153!

Ugh!The visit to the trainer at the gym yesterday was great. One bit of bad news -- I weighed in at 153! Ugh! Well, you have to start somewhere I guess. She was very nice about it. One mustn't focus on weight she said. Easy to say. :(

Thursday Night Berkman @ Harvard w/Dave

I should be over at Berkman for Dave's session tonight, if my eye exam later today goes well. They have to give me those goofy drops to diliate my pupil so I look like some wacky lemur from the cover of an O'Reilly book. If my eye gets back to normal, see you at Berkman at 7PM.

Hey, Dave, is it on tonight? I didn't notice a post come to think of it.

Total Diet Cheater

I ate the worst crap yesterday but I did manage to workout! Big mistake -- go to COSTCO as you suspect Dr. Phil's book will be way cheap there. Hunch was right, it was cheap there. But, going there at lunchtime wasn't a brilliant idea. I mean all those nice little retired ladies offering me free food samples -- you can't be impolite and say no, right?!

And then the hotdog with sauerkraut and a Coke for $1.50 is such a good deal -- I couldn't resist. Hebrew National hotdog -- their logo and tagline had me mesmerized as I sat there eating it under their red and yellow kosher umbrella -- "We Answer To A Higher Authority" Sheesh, their hotdogs are like manna from heaven.

Got a little mustard on Dr. Phil's face -- whoops!

Hope Day Two goes better.

Limited Edition

Wow, I got a great response to my Paypal post below. Thanks to all who bought the extremely cool personally autographed copy of Lesson 1 of How To Become An Alpha Male in 18 Lessons. I'm telling you ... one of these days ... you'll get a pretty penny for it on eBay!

Meanwhile, I'm limiting the number I do, so I'll only be offering 15 more today. I can't physically get them signed and out the door in a timely manner if I don't limit the number. So while they last -- feel free to click the Paypal button and get your OWN copy!

What a deal! $19.95 for your own personally autographed Halley's Comment original Alpha Male Lesson 1!

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Paypal Onboard -- Wanna Buy?!

Okay, looks like I actually got Paypal up here on my site. Here's my big one-time offer -- you can't get it anywhere else -- and don't tell Gretchen Pirillo! Remember this post? Well, I've got pictures and if you Paypal me $19.95, I'll mail you ... just kidding, just kidding Chris ... I'd never charge so little for that.

Actually, I've got a REAL limited time offer. I will mail you a copy of my first chapter of Alpha Male Lesson 1 -- personally autographed -- for only $19.95. Pay the money via Paypal (wanna see if it really works) and email me what you'd like me to write on the page to you, along with your mailing address and I'll send it to you by snail mail. My agent thinks this book is going to really sell -- might be the best investment you ever made!

Back In The Saddle (Sortof) Again

I have been having so much trouble getting back into my workout routine after the foot injury in July and cataract operation in August. I'm really a big spoiled brat in terms of being fit and strong and thin. Once I hurt my foot in early July, it pretty much made my working out grind to a halt and I've gotten flabbier and put on some weight. I hate hate hate it. Just as I finally got back on my feet (or foot, I guess, both feet were actually affected since my good leg had to take on too much pressure and got sore as a result), I had my cataract surgery. To be sure, this went like a dream, very smoothly and little healing required. Still there were a lot of things I wasn't supposed to do. The incision in my eye had to heal -- no swimming for two weeks right off -- and you couldn't bend down from the waist which puts pressure on your eye. Again, sounds like no big deal but it compromises your ability to workout and makes a lot of your usual exercise routine off limits.

And so with those restrictions, you get a little squirrely. Not able to run and jump and splash in my usual way, I get frustrated. And then there's the sheer time you need to take to work-out. It's not easy.

Two really hopeful and wonderful things came across the radar yesterday. McDonald's has hired Bob Greene -- Oprah's original diet and exercise coach -- to design and promote good healthy meals there. I know most of you without kids probably never go to McDonald's but with my son, I'm often there and now I'll have a way to eat healthy food there and not blow my diet. I've been eating absolute junk lately. People who knowme know I'm mostly pretty good about eating well and sticking to salmon and broccolli and other good things on a daily basis. They would be shocked to see the crap I've been eating lately.

Also good news is Dr. Phil's new diet book and his campaign to get us all thin again. I know, Rageboy, you detest Dr. Phil and have busily been dragging him through the mud over at EGR Weblog all summer, but hell, give the guy a break. If he helps me get thinner and a few million other people do the same, my hats off to him. Here's a link to the book: The Ultimate Weight Solution -- 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom.

So ... here's what I'm doing ... meeting a trainer at the gym today at 10:00 (and don't say, oh, she's got lots of money and that's easy for her -- not so, besides, you don't need a gym, most of my fitness happens on my living room floor with videotapes, a yoga mat, dumbells for weightlifting) but they give you a few free sessions with a trainer and I'm taking them up on the offer.

I'm going to post my weight, height, goals and everything here. I'm going to TELL ALL about the crap I eat and when I fall off the wagon. I'm going public with it.

I think I'm 150 lbs and 5'8" -- thank god I'm tall, I don't know how short women manage to stay slim -- but let's see what they say at the gym when they weigh me in this morning. At 140, I'm slim and healthy. At 130, (to my mind) I'm anorexic. I'm aiming for 140, but expect to drop 10 lbs over the next 3-4 months. I don't think there's anything smart about losing weight fast -- I don't think it works. I want to get back into making good choices about what and when and why I eat.

One choice I usually make but have broken this summer is -- NO EATING AFTER 7PM. I try to eat a lot in the morning, a good lunch and snacks in the afternoon with a very light dinner and no eating after 7 PM, since I go to bed around 9 - 9:30, believe it or not.

The problem's been lots of nice generous folks taking me out to dinner, often business-related, but that will just put on the pounds like nobody's business. I like breakfast meetings and I'll eat like a pig at breakfast, but I know I have the whole day to burn it off.

Also, I haven't been drinking enough water. Gotta fix that.

Also, no alcohol. Just isn't good, although one glass of red wine now and then is okay. Luckily that's not a big problem for me. What really wrecks me is going out to dinner, eating late, drinking wine -- because, big surprise, in the morning, I don't feel like getting up to workout and that can throw my routine off for a few days. If I don't work out for a few days, I don't want to get back into the groove for a week sometimes and then WHEN I get back to it, my strength and fitness has really fallen off and it's a big drag to try to get back to the level you were at.

I'll stop whining and complaining and get on with it. There's one good thing I do to keep fit that always works -- Rageboy, you'd even go for it -- turn on some music and dance. Dance, dance, dance. I'll put on Dancing Girl by ABBA this morning and go shake my moneymaker.

Leather Egg

Guess Leather Egg is on hiatus. Don't miss this quote. I don't think I agree with the stupid part, but I do agree with the standing still part.

Something Beautiful For Our Children

Dave is on to something here. Important to remember this, though it's tough as a parent when so many things can get in the way, to remember how to simply cherish, love and nurture our children, without getting in their way.

No More Freedom Fries

What!? Sacre Bleu!? We've decided to stop bashing the French because we need their help. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Now This Is A Cool Zagat's Guide!

How about this for a handy pocket Zagat's Guide -- all the WIFI you can eat.

Are Geeks Chic?

Oh, come on. Everyone knows the answer to that!

CNBC is doing a piece this afternoon on it -- really hard to figure out.

Okay, here's the answer:

1. Chic is French for cool, sexy, hot, call it what you will;

2. To be chic you must be sexy;

3. The biggest sex organ is the brain;

4. Geeks got big big brains from what I've seen;

5. Mmmmmmmmmmmm, baby, ... yes ... yeah, sure, you can do it again;


All right, I'll go see if they come to the same conclusion.

HBR Case Study Synopsis -- Glove Girl

Getting ready to do a write-up about my presentation at BloggerCon at Harvard Law's Berkman Center on October 5th. Here's the brief abstract version of the piece I wrote which I'll be talking about. I'll be discussing a lot more than this, in fact.

As some of you may know, it has been posted in full text on the web elsewhere, although HBR asked that it NOT be posted. They did say I can post this executive summary below:

"It was five minutes before show time, and only 15 people had wandered into the conference room to hear Lancaster-Webb CEO Will Somerset introduce the company's latest line of surgical gloves. More important, sales prospect Samuel Taylor, medical director of the Houston Clinic, had failed to show. Will walked out of the ballroom to steady his nerves and noticed a spillover crowd down the hall. He made a "What's up?" gesture to Judy Chen, Lancaster-Webb's communications chief. She came over to him. "It's Glove Girl. You know, the blogger," Judy said, as if this explained anything. "I think she may have stolen your crowd." "Who is she?" Will asked. Glove Girl was a factory worker at Lancaster-Webb, whose always outspoken, often informative postings on her web log had developed quite a following. Will was new to the world of blogging, but he quickly learned about its power in a briefing with his staff. After Glove Girl had raved about Lancaster-Webb's older SteriTouch disposable gloves, orders had surged. More recently, though, Glove Girl had questioned the Houston Clinic's business practices, posting damaging information at her site about its rate of cesarean deliveries--to Sam Taylor's consternation. This fictional case study considers the question of whether a highly credible, but sometimes inaccurate and often indiscreet, online diarist is more of a liability than an asset to her employer. What, if anything, should Will do about Glove Girl? Four commentators--David Weinberger, author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined; Pamela Samuelson, a professor of law and information management at the University of California, Berkeley; Ray Ozzie, CEO and chairman of Groove Networks; and Erin Motameni, vice-president of human resources at EMC--offer expert advice. "

Dick And Bush!?

Wow, word comes from David Weinberger this morning ... after I characterized his blog as "solid and deeply thought-out" that there's lots of sexy stuff there, I just need to look more closely. Well, yes I guess he's right, try this -- he used the words dick and bush. Very hot.

More New Fun Please

I was thinking about blogs I read on a regular basis and why I return to visit them again and again. Many people have documented this, but weblogs that publish a lot of posts win out over those which are more modest in posting new content.

If the experience of reading a good weblog post is fun, consumers of such seem to be saying, "More new fun, please." A good blog is like the new pop song of the band who just had a monster hit. You want a new song, but you want it to be as hot and hummable and danceable as their last.

If I go back a number of times -- say 3 -- to see if there are new fun posts and there are not, I ususally move on to a blog that publishes more stuff. I want more new fun, more and more and more of it.

Even if there's not that much fun to a site but it's full of new content each time I visit, I want to go back again and again.

Blogs are developing brand experiences for sure. The best blogs deliver a predicable and familiar experience -- like Diet Coke -- you don't want to open a can and find Fresca inside. You want to have the consistency of a good brand, but new content as well.

You know when you go to Doc's blog you will be probably going on some great trip of his -- whether it be a Geek Cruise to Alaska or a trip to the roof with his son to look at the stars. You'll get into Linux, you'll learn about computers, you'll feel happy and content like Doc feels.

You know when you go to Rageboy's blog, you're likely to get some insanely funny, sexy, irreverant shit. That's why you go. He is especially disappointing when he hasn't been blogging on a regular basis, because when he's good when he's on it -- he's so damned good -- and when he's not around, it's a big drag.

With JOHO, you get a little more solid and deeply thought out stuff to engage your philosophical side, but laced with pretty amusing craziness every 4 or 5 posts.

When you go to Scripting, you expect funny anecdotes, industry goings on, a little crankiness, a little wisdom, a front row seat to the Blogosphere.

When you go to Gnome Girl, you get ... well, you know, indescribably delicious. Love you Chey!

Doc Is Having Quite An Adventure

Wow! Wish I were in Alaska with Doc to have drinks at that lovely hotel in Juneau. I'm fine, on the other hand, with missing the rough seas on the cruise ship he's on. Check out the picture of the swimming pool on board -- splish splash! Reminds me of what happens to the toilet during earthquakes when I used to live in California.

How Much Love Do We Need?

I was wandering around blogs here in my early morning fogginess -- it's like walking a wide empty silent beach of wonderful cool wet sand some mornings before dawn -- and all the questions, big and deep, can surface. Who made the ocean? Who made the sun? Why are we here? How do we give love? How do we receive it? How much love do we need? I skip a rock across the blog ocean -- it skips three pretty times across the waves, and comes to rest below the surface of a blog. Looks as if I've landed on some geek's blog who loves computers and just had a birthday, who is he anyway?

Reading a blog I've never read by a young man I'll probably never know. He describes his birthday, he's 34 and there is someone wonderful in his life named Erin who gets up early to make him waffles with strawberries and whipped cream and she gives him a shank router bit combo -- I don't know what the heck it is -- but Erin knew he really really wanted one. And I don't need to know much more than that to know this is a lucky man.

Wonderful to have people to care for -- Erin you're lucky too. And wonderful to be cared for. Wonderful to matter. Does it seem a small thing? It isn't. We build a web of context in our lives, sometimes very small with just a few people who wonder if you got in late at night, safe and sound and call to check. People to love you and miss you. We need that. If you do that for someone, don't underestimate how important that is. You've done something wonderful. You've answered my question -- how much love do we need? We all need a little and we all need a lot and we all need to give it to one another.

In his blog, this young man talks about his love of singing Latin. I love Latin too. Read what he says.
I miss singing latin in a way I don't miss German or Italian or French (especially French). Maybe it's the sonorities, or maybe it's the historical weight of knowing these words have been sung by millions for millennia, but there's a certain clarity when singing latin that calms the soul and smoothes the mind.
The only dead language that will live forever. Deservedly.

Click here for an MP3 of the song.

Ubi Caritas et Amor Deus ibi est
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exultemus et in ipso jucundemur.
Timeamus et amemus Deum vivum
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.
Ubi Caritas et Amor Deus ibi est.


Where charity and love are, there is God.
The love of Christ has brought us together into one.
Let us rejoice and be glad in that love itself.
Let us fear and love the living God and let us love from a pure heart.
Where charity and love are, there is God.

Happy Birthday Jason Young. Young, but not so young, and wise beyond your years.

Monday, September 15, 2003

September Honor Roll Blogger For Today -- Jean-Yves

Jean-Yves Stervinou -- who else?! He is just plain cool. Salut mon vieux! T'es chouette, JY!

And These Girls Are Very Bad Girls

Honestly, what are these girls staying up late doing prancing around in their panties at the Panty Shop. Don't they know this is the Internet?! You can't do those kinds of crazy things around here!

Remind Me Why They Call These Girls Angels

I think I've forgotten. They seem a little more devilish than angelic, if you ask me.

My Lucky Day

One of the luckiest things I ever did was decide to ditch work one day and watch Oprah. She had her book club pick on that day and I decided to read it for no good reason. In fact I was just starting my business and had every good reason to read a lot of other work-related books, not a novel. But I decided to go ahead and read Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune.

After I read it, I decided to write a letter to Oprah about how much I loved it -- because I really did -- and my mom always encouraged me to try everything -- my dad too. So I sat my butt down and wrote her a letter.

They got somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 letters. They invited 4 people on the show. I was one!!! I was so excited! I was working with authors, agents and publishers at the time and a number of them asked me what strings I pulled to get on the show -- NONE -- it really was sheer luck. And I've always been a good letter writer.

Here's my letter. My kid was just going into kindergarten around that time and boy was it a treat to be flown to Chicago from LA and have a two-day mom R&R break at the all-suites Omni Hotel in Chicago where Oprah puts all her guests!

And talk about someone who knows how to turn bad luck into good luck, read Isabel Allende's words here.

Lucky Bastards!

Yes, we're pretty darned lucky, ain't we?! I always feel lucky. Now there's a book to explain why. This is from Richard Wiseman's The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life, The Four Essential Principles.

1. Maximize Chance Opportunities

Lucky people are skilled at creating, noticing, and acting upon chance opportunities. They do this in various ways, which include building and maintaining a strong network, adopting a relaxed attitude to life, and being open to new experiences.

2. Listen to Your Lucky Hunches

Lucky people make effective decisions by listening to their intuition and gut feelings. They also take steps to actively boost their intuitive abilities -- for example, by meditating and clearing their mind of other thoughts.

3. Expect Good Fortune

Lucky people are certain that the future will be bright. Over time, that expectation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because it helps lucky people persist in the face of failure and positively shapes their interactions with other people.

4. Turn Bad Luck Into Good

Lucky people employ various psychological techniques to cope with, and even thrive upon, the ill fortune that comes their way. For example, they spontaneously imagine how things could have been worse, they don't dwell on the ill fortune, and they take control of the situation.

Just A Little Joke

Below I did a post about Dan Pink's review of Richard Wiseman's book The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life: The Four Essential Principles.

When Wiseman wasn't busy writing, he was searching for the world's funniest joke. According to Dan Pink in Fast Company, Wiseman tested 350,000 people for their reactions to 40,000 jokes. Here the winner:

"Two New Jersey hunters go hunting. After a while, one of the hunters clutches his throat and falls to the ground, his eyes roll back, and he's lying there motionless. The other one picks up a cell phone, dials 911, and says, "I think my friend is dead! I don't know what to do!" And the operator says, "Just relax. Calm down. The first thing to do is to make certain your friend is dead." There's a pause -- then a gunshot. And the hunter gets back on the phone and says, "Okay. Now what?"

Good Luck

Dan Pink wrote this fun piece about Richard Wiseman's book, The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life: The Four Essential Principles in Fast Company this July, which I never got a chance to read.

Read the quote below to give you an idea of what Wiseman came up with. BTW, I love this stuff because I'm such a lucky, upbeat, optimistic person -- I'm VERY biased on this subject.

"Wiseman's four principles turn out to be slightly more polished renditions of some of the self-help canon's greatest hits. One thing Wiseman discovered, for example, was that when things go awry, the lucky "turn bad luck into good" by seeing how they can squeeze some benefit from the misfortune. (Lemonade, anyone?) The lucky also "expect good fortune," which no doubt has Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking , grinning in his grave.

But if these insights aren't exactly groundbreaking, neither are they wrongheaded. For instance, Wiseman found that lucky people are particularly open to possibility. Why do some people always seem to find fortune? It's not dumb luck. Unlike everyone else, they see it. "Most people are just not open to what's around them," Wiseman says. "That's the key to it."

Here's the link to the whole interview with Wiseman, check it out.

I'm a terrible Pollyanna and have had bad things happen that I always seem able to put a good spin on -- it gets almost tedious for some people around me. Screw 'em! I see the good in most situations and almost always see the good in most people.

Listen to this funny experiment Richard Wiseman describes in the interview:

"We did an experiment. We asked subjects to flip through a news-paper that had photographs in it. All they had to do was count the number of photographs. That's it. Luck wasn't on their minds, just some silly task. They'd go through, and after about three pages, there'd be a massive half-page advert saying, STOP COUNTING. THERE ARE 43 PHOTOGRAPHS IN THIS NEWSPAPER. It was next to a photo, so we knew they were looking at that area. A few pages later, there was another massive advert -- I mean, we're talking big -- that said, STOP COUNTING. TELL THE EXPERIMENTER YOU'VE SEEN THIS AND WIN 150 POUNDS [about $235].

For the most part, the unlucky would just flip past these things. Lucky people would flip through and laugh and say, "There are 43 photos. That's what it says. Do you want me to bother counting?" We'd say, "Yeah, carry on." They'd flip some more and say, "Do I get my 150 pounds?" Most of the unlucky people didn't notice."

What's Up With Work?

I remember reading Dan Pink's Free Agent Nation and also hearing Tom Peters speak about the evolution that was taking place with work and in particular white-collar jobs, circa 1999 and thinking they were getting a little ahead of themselves. They made you think there would be a phenomenal downturn and more and more people would be either out of work, or working on their own.

Boy were they right. And yes, the economy and 9/11 have had a lot to do with how many jobs have been lost, but now that we reconsider it, you might say they were being conservative!

So what have THEY been working on? Well, looks like both of them are about to publish new books. Tom Peters new book is almost out -- called Re-Imagine! -- and I can't wait to take a look at it, literally. Since it's published by those great VISUAL British publishers DK, it's bound to be gorgeous to look at as well as read. DK is short for Dorling Kindersley, and since they do great kids books, I always think of them as Darling Kindergarteners. But this will be a big grown-up book I'm sure.

And Dan Pink's doing a book called A Whole New Mind -- the Right Brain Revolution by Riverhead Press out in 2004.

Write, write, write, edit, edit, edit guys.

September Blogger's Honor Roll -- Today's Winner

Believe it or not this is getting tough because I've met SO MANY OF YOU GUYS. When I started this, I decided NOT to pick people I'd already met, so that meant a ton or so of bloggers were out of the race right away.

Meanwhile, I've thought of two or three I wanted to honor today and darned if they're not all away on vacation. Interesting fact, many bloggers seem to vacation in September -- a very good idea if you ask me, but it's messing me up since I try to pick bloggers who are at the ready -- at their desks or desktops -- to be honored.

All that said, today's winner is coming soon. Keep your eyes peeled.