Category Archives: Thoughts

2014 – Goals and Resolutions

By | The Future, Thoughts | One Comment


Every year it gets closer and closer: the future. And what are you doing to make it a better place? Have you figured out what you really want in life? If not, how do you know if you are moving closer or further away from it?

If you don’t know where you’re going – any direction will do.

~ Lewis Carroll (to paraphrase the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland)

So what are some noble goals for 2014? Let’s take the obvious and most self-centered approach. Like the late great MJ said “If you want to make the world, a better place, take a look at yourself and make that – change.”


Healthier, smarter, stronger, more focused, organized, and disciplined – more prepared to accept any challenge and take advantage of any opportunity.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

~ Seneca (Roman philosopher)

Healthier – To be healthier I plan to continue running – I will most likely miss this year’s Houston Marathon (first time in 5 years) since I have not been training (what with the new baby consuming my life). But I should be able to do the half and perhaps still get in some marathon at some point in the year. Running is, in my opinion, the best sport. Where else can amateurs compete on the same track, in the same event as the world’s best athletes? Football fans NEVER get to play in the SuperBowl, and few soccer fans will ever take the field in the World Cup. But I ran the New York Marathon and competed with the world’s fastest (I came in 32,5523rd). Running every day also helps clear your mind, lowers stress, and helps make you more focused and disciplined throughout the day. In my opinion, it is the best resolution you can make. Do it.

Smarter – Read more. Read more books. Read more books on smart interesting subjects.  Read more books on smart interesting subjects that you would not normally read about. The popular view on the source of creativity and innovation is that it comes most often from people exposed to a wide variety of subjects. Ideas that are mundane in one discipline are breakthrough in another. Read stuff you have no business reading. You’ll find yourself making better, more insightful analogies and metaphors as you relate your cross-department communication challenges to those faced by Napoleon in his war against Austria (don’t use that one – come up with your own).

Organized – I don’t know about you, but 2013 was an information explosion for me. Between my wife and I we took more than 13,000 photos and movies (up from 9,600 in 2012 – yes, I track things like that). I’m working on setting up a workflow that works better than just sync everything to iPhoto – I already backup up to external drives but this amounts to having multiple copies of everything and all these terabytes of files are starting to be a burden on my subconscious. I’ve synced about 20K photos to Flickr (they allow unlimited photos now) but they have a lower resolution. While that works for the web, it doesn’t for later printing. Anyway, I’m still working on this – that’s why this is a post about resolutions not solutions (interesting how those words are so similar but different in meaning. A resolution is not a re-solution…hmm..never mind).

Miscellaneous – I have a lot of projects related to my work at Base22 I’m hoping will really take off in 2014. More about those later. I’ve been writing more and Cody Burleson and have both talked about writing a book forever.

What else…oh…family tree research – I think I got all the easy paths mapped. Mayflower pilgrims, knights, governors, and general’s daughters – those are the well documented, easy to follow paths. Once all the low hanging fruit is gathered, you are left with the hard ones. All those poor farmers and pioneers, soldiers, and illiterate immigrants. I’ve got over 3,000 names filled in so far. Some branches reach back to the 1500s, others I cannot find a path through the fog of the civil war. I’ll keep trying though. Its a fun jigsaw puzzle that really brings history to life. Unlike a jigsaw puzzle however, a genealogy puzzle doubles in size every time you lay down a new piece.


Anyone that says they have their family tree traced back 400 years is probably talking about one or two branches, not the whole tree. Remember – 400 years ago – you had 65,536 great-great-(14 times)-grandparents all alive at the same time. go back 20 more years and you have 130K. Show me an accurate tree traced back 400 years an I’ll send you a crisp $100,000,000,000,000 Zimbabwe Dollar bill.

My main project right now is learning how to get a 4 month old to sleep through the night. All my energy is dedicated to that all consuming problem. Current theory: his naps during the day are too short and by night he is sleep deprived and “wired”.

My final goal this year: blog more (thus this post). It helps me organize my thoughts, I get free stuff in the mail from people that want me to review their books and gadgets, I get unsolicited advice from strangers, and sometimes, I help someone out. The internet is made of random thoughts and the kindness (and arrogance and ignorance) of total strangers – I just want to do my small part.

Happy New Year everyone.



The Power of Words

By | All Blog Posts, Information Visualiation, Thoughts | No Comments

We all know that it is important to choose your words wisely in the business world. Below are a few of the more important word choices you can make. I bookmarked this a few years ago and thought I would share it.

Think about these two words: spend and invest. Would you like your bank to spend your money or invest it? Since spending implies the money is gone, you probably want a bank that invests. Now apply these same words to corporate budgets and see how that influences thinking. Early in my career, I saw budgets as allocated company money I had permission to spend. And I did spend it. I never thought of budgets as investing in the company’s future until I was given profit and loss accountability for a new department and discovered my flawed thinking. I learned that in order to grow the department, I needed to budget with an investment mentality. Shifting words shifted my thinking and my results.

Try these words: problem and challenge. Would you rather a boss see your mistake as a problem or as a challenge? It’s more than semantics. Problems are fixed; challenges are met. Different words evoke different feelings. I have a more positive frame of mind meeting a challenge than fixing a problem. But a word of caution. I’m not suggesting you play the buzz-word game like a colleague of mine who walked into my office saying, “Do I have an opportunity for you.” We both knew differently.

Here are two favorites: bodies and people. As a young manager, I was jolted every time I heard another manager talking about how many “bodies” they needed, or putting “butts in seats.” Later, I learned many of those managers struggled with departmental morale problems. I could understand why if they saw people as interchangeable pieces to a puzzle rather than individuals playing an important role in their departments.

I realized the words I use to think and talk about my workload, my goals, my projects and the people I worked with influenced my thoughts and actions about them. So, I changed my words. If I say I work “for” someone I have a different vision about my work-life than if I work “with” them; same with my staff working with, not for me.

Poorly chosen words can kill enthusiasm, impact self-esteem, lower expectations and hold people back. Well chosen ones can motivate, offer hope, create vision, impact thinking and alter results. I learned in twenty years in management my words have power over my thoughts and actions. They also impact and influence people I speak them to.

via The Power of Words.

Robert Gates is at least realistic about WikiLeaks

By | All Blog Posts, Politics, Thoughts | No Comments

Robert Gates is the Defense Secretary. He was appointed under Bush and retained by Obama. Perhaps because he is not an elected official, and does not have to worry about re-election, he can offer honest assessment of the real threat wikileaks represents – not much.

From Daniel W. Drezner:

I’ve expressed skepticism about whether WikiLeaks will actually lead to greater foreign-policy transparency. That said, l’affaire WikiLeaks has generated just a smidgen of greater candor from at least one U.S. policy principal. Here’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the fallout from the cable dump:

Let me just offer some perspective as somebody who’s been at this a long time. Every other government in the world knows the United States government leaks like a sieve, and it has for a long time. And I dragged this up the other day when I was looking at some of these prospective releases. And this is a quote from John Adams: “How can a government go on, publishing all of their negotiations with foreign nations, I know not. To me, it appears as dangerous and pernicious as it is novel.” …

Now, I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think — I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought. The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets.

Many governments — some governments deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation. So other nations will continue to deal with us. They will continue to work with us. We will continue to share sensitive information with one another. Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.

I couldn’t agree more. The United States began as the world’s modern experiment with Democracy. That means that “we the people” need information about what our representatives are doing in our name. The only leaks that are a real problem are those that never happen.

It’s time for celebrity teachers?

By | All Blog Posts, Imagination, Philosophy, Thoughts, Web Design | 3 Comments

In the US we have celebrity trainers, celebrity cooks, athletes, song writers, scientists, CEOs, politicians, zoo keepers, mechanics, comedians, and ballon-boy. But where are the celebrity teachers? When a preacher is really good they build a mega-church and broadcast to millions of people. But the best 7 grade math teacher IN THE WORLD can only have 30 students. Why?

Why can’t we celebrate exceptional educators with a nationwide platform to let them reach as many students as possible? Pay them the mega-salary and give them the rockstar treatment. Why can’t the guy in first class sitting next to Vanna White be Mr. Smith – celebrity Algebra 2 teacher one his way to his next Opera appearance?

Just wondering…

Einstein never said that…

By | All Blog Posts, Imagination, Science, Thoughts | 70 Comments

Einstein quoteI was testing BlogJet today as a possible desktop blogging tool. Strangely, what caught my eye first was not the tool, but the quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, that they used in the sample post… I found it a little hard to believe that Einstein who died in 1955 would have a quote about computers…especially about computers being fast. Here is the quote:

“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination.” — Albert Einstein (or was it Leo Cherne?…read on)

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