Secret Packet of Phenomena

To have to face the fact of being oneself – one self, this self and none other, this secret packet of phenomena, this singular bubble of consciousness. Press up against each other as we may, and the bubbles remain essentially inviolate.  Share the same body even, be joined like Siamese twins, and there still remain two quite separate consciousnesses.

Nicholas Humphrey


The Best of 2010

A few of my favorites from 2010

  • New movies: Inception, Ghost Writer, 500 Days of Summer, Fantastic Mr. Fox

  • Re-watched movies: About a Boy, Groundhog Day

  • Artist: Feist

  • Once in a lifetime event: Grandpa Ray's funeral

  • Favorite person: Becky (for the 15th consecutive year)

  • Coolest event: Jason winning an Emmy

  • Best personal finance decisions: switching from Dish to Netflix, from Qwest to Ooma, buying rental property

  • Favorite stocks: Netflix, Apple, Amazon

  • Favorite device: iPhone
  • Favorite new services: Netflix, Amazon Prime

  • Most visited websites: Wikipedia, Yahoo Finance, Mint, Pandora, Facebook, Google Reader, Gmail, Amazon, Bing Weather
  • Best vacation: Caribbean cruise

  • Most interesting overheard words: solipsism, consanguinity, automagically, vituperative, pickwickean
  • Best work decisions:

    1. Changing Outlook to open to my calendar instead of my inbox (starting my day with my agenda instead of other people's)
    2. Using automatic Rules in Outlook and Gmail to reduce email burden
    3. Signing out of MS Communicator (incoming interruptions outnumbered outgoing messages 10:1)
    4. Bringing in a mini fridge

  • Most thought provoking ideas: 
    1. Fowler's Stages of Faith
    2. Chapter 9 of The Happiness Hypothesis
    3. Guns, Germs, & Steel: the troubling lack of large herbivorous domesticated mammals in pre-Columbian North and South America

  • Most memorable TED Talks:
    1. Hans Rosling on Asia's rise (I changed my entire investment strategy based on this presentation)

    1. Elizabeth Gilbert on creativity

    1. Tim Ferris on swimming

    • Favorite new productivity tools:
      1. RescueTime
      2. MeetingTimer


      Currently Reading: Googled

      Currently Reading: Googled

      Very interesting...


      Americans' Top Political Priorities

      Play around with this fascinating infographic:

      Click the "Democrats" and "Republicans" buttons in the bottom left corner.  Which party do you tend to agree with more on the issues?  I'm about 50/50...


      Vote for Austin

      Can I ask a small favor?  My internet famous brother-in-law Austin (>15,000,000 views on his Orabrush commercials) is in a competition for a job with Logitech and Google to introduce their new product, the "Logitech Revue with Google TV".

      The competition ends tomorrow, so he needs your votes TODAY.  Click here to vote for him.


      Pulse of the Nation

      What the analysis of 300 million tweets over a 3 year period tells us about the mood of our nation.  Click here to explore.

      1. We're in the best mood early in the morning.  
      2. Our moods decline from morning until early afternoon, when it starts to pick up again.
      3. We're significantly happier on the weekends than on the weekdays.
      4. On weekdays, we're in the best mood on Fridays.
      5. The West coast is consistently in a better mood than the East coast.


      Currently Reading: What the Dog Saw

      I very much wish that Malcolm Gladwell wanted to be my new best friend.  I love everything he has written.


      Currently Reading: The Lost Symbol

      Continuing the rare departure from non-fiction:

      Currently Reading: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

      Taking a rare break for some fiction.  Becky, Maddie, and Savanna have already read it (in fact I think the girls have each read it twice).  I figured I needed to keep up.  

      I finished this yesterday.  Definitely adolescent lit.  I need to see the movie now to see how it compares.  The story seems very derivative of Harry Potter.  Percy is an awkward, famous boy about the same age as Harry who is sent to a magical school/camp, the pervasive use of the term "halfblood", he is effectively an orphan (although not really), Percy+Grover+Annabeth = Harry+Ron+Hermione, etc.


      I want to be more like Bill Murray...an enigma...impossible to get a hold of

      A couple of weeks ago I had an incident where I had 15 minutes to finalize a presentation before an important meeting, my office phone was ringing, my cell phone was ringing, I had email messages marked “urgent” piling up in my inbox, several instant message windows blinking at the bottom of my screen asking “Can you IM?”, and a person standing in my office doorway saying “Do you have a minute?”.  The situation was completely ridiculous.  

      I want to be like Bill Murray: That same weekend I read this article while having my car’s oil changed.  Spectacular.  Read it.  Seriously.  It may infect your brain with possibilities like it has infected mine. 


      Rules for Email

      Seth Godin has a great list of email rules here.  I especially like rules 4, 5, & 6. 

      Email checklist

      Before you hit send on that next email, perhaps you should run down this list, just to be sure:
      1. Is it going to just one person? (If yes, jump to #10)
      2. Since it's going to a group, have I thought about who is on my list?
      3. Are they blind copied?
      4. Did every person on the list really and truly opt in? Not like sort of, but really ask for it?
      5. So that means that if I didn't send it to them, they'd complain about not getting it?
      6. See #5. If they wouldn't complain, take them off!
      7. That means, for example, that sending bulk email to a list of bloggers just cause they have blogs is not okay.
      8. Aside: the definition of permission marketing: Anticipated, personal and relevant messages delivered to people who actually want to get them. Nowhere does it say anything about you and your needs as a sender. Probably none of my business, but I'm just letting you know how I feel. (And how your prospects feel).
      9. Is the email from a real person? If it is, will hitting reply get a note back to that person? (if not, change it please).
      10. Have I corresponded with this person before?
      11. Really? They've written back? (if no, reconsider email).
      12. If it is a cold-call email, and I'm sure it's welcome, and I'm sure it's not spam, then don't apologize. If I need to apologize, then yes, it's spam, and I'll get the brand-hurt I deserve.
      13. Am I angry? (If so, save as draft and come back to the note in one hour).
      14. Could I do this note better with a phone call?
      15. Am I blind-ccing my boss? If so, what will happen if the recipient finds out?
      16. Is there anything in this email I don't want the attorney general, the media or my boss seeing? (If so, hit delete).
      17. Is any portion of the email in all caps? (If so, consider changing it.)
      18. Is it in black type at a normal size?
      19. Do I have my contact info at the bottom? (If not, consider adding it).
      20. Have I included the line, "Please save the planet. Don't print this email"? (If so, please delete the line and consider a job as a forest ranger or flight attendant).
      21. Could this email be shorter?
      22. Is there anyone copied on this email who could be left off the list?
      23. Have I attached any files that are very big? (If so, google something like 'send big files' and consider your options.)
      24. Have I attached any files that would work better in PDF format?
      25. Are there any :-) or other emoticons involved? (If so, reconsider).
      26. Am I forwarding someone else's mail? (If so, will they be happy when they find out?)
      27. Am I forwarding something about religion (mine or someone else's)? (If so, delete).
      28. Am I forwarding something about a virus or worldwide charity effort or other potential hoax? (If so, visit snopes and check to see if it's 'actually true).
      29. Did I hit 'reply all'? If so, am I glad I did? Does every person on the list need to see it?
      30. Am I quoting back the original text in a helpful way? (Sending an email that says, in its entirety, "yes," is not helpful).
      31. If this email is to someone like Seth, did I check to make sure I know the difference between its and it's? Just wondering.
      32. If this is a press release, am I really sure that the recipient is going to be delighted to get it? Or am I taking advantage of the asymmetrical nature of email--free to send, expensive investment of time to read or delete?
      33. Are there any little animated creatures in the footer of this email? Adorable kittens? Endangered species of any kind?
      34. Bonus: Is there a long legal disclaimer at the bottom of my email? Why?
      35. Bonus: Does the subject line make it easy to understand what's to come and likely it will get filed properly?
      36. If I had to pay 42 cents to send this email, would I?

      Reply All

      Reply All is a curse.  

      I’m told that Ram Charam did a productivity study for GE…and the result was that they disabled the Reply All functionality from all the computers.  



      The Idea Man

      This guy looks funny.  This guy is really smart.


      Portland: The Screen Door

      Portland: The Screen Door. Modern soul food. Famous for delicious local organic veggies.
      Great dinner with Jason, Jill, Katie, & Ben. 

      Thanks all!

      Long lost friends: Marissa

      I met my old MBA friend Marissa for lunch and a tour of Microsoft's Bellevue campus.

      Super yummy Thai curry! Very cool office.

      {Guess what: The grass really is greener on the other side.}

      Thanks Marissa!
      Posted by Picasa

      Long lost friends: Condie's

      Our old NJ friends, the Condie's, graciously hosted me for dinner on Wednesday night. Yummy homemade pizza! Great to catch up.

      Bryant, thanks for the tour of Amazon!
      Posted by Picasa

      Caught in the wild: 787

      Went on the Boeing Everett plant tour on Friday. Ventured inside the largest buidling in the world (you could fit Disneyland inside; over 1,000,000 light bulbs). It is where all the 747's, 777's, and 787's are produced. Saw the very first 747-800 passenger version being assembled.

      I don't think there is another factory in the world where you could see billions and billions of dollars worth of work-in-process inventory just by turning your head. Very cool.
      Posted by Picasa


      In the drink...

      Question: There's a tiny fruit fly floating on the surface of the 32 oz. soda you just purchased. Do you scoop it out and keep drinking OR do you discard the whole thing?



      I look forward with anxious anticipation for the time when an entire day lapses without anyone in my house crying.

      Jack Johnson :-(

      How many times do I have to tell Pandora that I don't like Jack Johnson before it believes me?



      Should I be proud that my family aggressively recycles or should I be ashamed at the tremendous volume of trash that we create?

      You don't have to answer that question...
      Posted by Picasa


      Do Good Anyway

      "People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway. Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway."
      Mother Teresa


      How people use their time

      This is fascinating:

      Play with the interactive version here. Change the settings to Men, Women, People with Kids, or Without, etc.

      A few observations:

      1. 7:00 AM and 10:30 PM appear to be the most common "wake up"' and "go to sleep" times.
      2. Lunch is the most concentrated meal of the day, generally at 12:00 noon. Dinner is much more spread out, but most commonly occurs right after 6:00 PM. Breakfast is much harder to figure out.
      3. People are getting more sleep than you would think (everyone seems to claim they don't get enough sleep, but in total, we are averaging over 8 hours per night).
      4. People watch a lot of TV and movies.
      5. The amount of "computer" time doesn't seem high enough to me.

      (thanks Dan!)