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Wake up and smell the Starbucks

Wake up and smell the….Starbucks. Sounds odd huh? Well, it may not sound odd in a few years. Product placement is a small example of the marketization of our culture.

In the book Is the American Dream Killing You? How the Markets Rule our Lives Paul Stiles explores how Capitalism and unabated Free Markets have destroyed the American Dream. The market is unrelenting, driving Americans into further spirals of debt, work and detachment.

The book lays bare the issues created in a culture where celebrities rule, financial concerns outweigh morals and the media has more influence than our nation’s greatest minds. The current housing crisis makes this book a very timely read, but don’t expect a feel good ending.

Space Bags

I finally opened a box of Space Bags with the intention of storing bulky winter items.

Holy freaking crap Space Bags are cool! After my first time vacuuming out the air I knew I wanted to do it again….as soon as possible. It was oddly satisfying.

This product should come with a warning on the box: You may find Space Bags addictive. Enjoy responsibly.

Yes We Can (Reagan version)

I believe everyone has seen the Obama “Yes We Can” videos on YouTube. If not, the Obama video is at the bottom of this post.

Today I happened upon a remixed version of the Obama “Yes We Can” video…featuring Ronald Reagan.

I see a lot of similarities in the way Reagan and Obama speak. They are both skilled orators. However, what makes Obama and Reagan special is their ability to inspire others with their vision, optimism and personality (if you’re not inspired by those speeches, you may be dead).

I have read Obama’s “Audacity of Hope“. The lasting impression I took from his book was Obama’s ability to clearly articulate both sides of very complicated issues, then broker a logical and sane solution.

Sane solutions are what we need now.

(music video version, but it gets the same point across)

San Diego Critical Mass – June 2008

Critical Mass is a worldwide event that takes place in most major cities on the last Friday of every month. People gather on their bikes in a public place and ride through the city. Due to the sheer number of riders (sometimes in the thousands) the peloton stops traffic. Impromptu volunteers take turns corking to ensure rider saftey. The route is never pre-determined and there is no official leader. The lack of leadership prevents authorities from shutting down Critical Mass.

I’ve participated in the past two Critical Mass events in San Diego. The rides are generally easy to complete and last a little over 2 hours. Some in the group are very vocal, but overall the entire throng is well behaved. Motorists who become upset at Critical Mass should realize it takes less than 10 minutes for the peloton to pass.

Other related rides include the World Naked Bike Ride and a group of riders in LA called the Criminalz who have taken up the habit of riding bikes on I5 during rush hour.

Videos from the May and June 2008 Critical Mass:

May 2008 part 1:

May 2008 part 2:

June 2008:

Criminalz on I5 in LA:

Remembering Productopia

There used to be a website called Productopia.com  Productopia would review products, like coffee makers for example, and rate their top three picks (according to budget). I loved the site and the convenience.  It was easy to navigate and user friendly. If I was in the market for a coffee maker (or whatever) I could go to this site and have three solid choices.

A few years ago Productopia was bought by MySimon.  Presently www.productopia.com is a redirect to the hideous Consumer Search.

I miss Productopia. Simple sites like Productopia have been replaced by MegaSites that in their effort to speak to everyone, speak to no one. In some ways, the old Internet was more useful.

Interrupt driven

As a technical consultant my work life is interrupt driven.  Long term projects are constantly put on pause to deal with urgent issues that require immediate attention.

Today was different:  I forgot to take my cellphone to work.  Without my cellphone, I was not interrupted by text messages, twitter updates, brightkite posts, automated SMS alerts and phone calls.  A direct result of removing these interrupts, a highly productive morning.  This unintentional experiment has reinforced the value of being less interrupt driven.

Gluttony

Tonights Sushi bill was $150 for two people.  Is that an example of Gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins?

From wikipeida:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluttony  (Continued)

Insanity of the small business

Last week we lost a large chunk of revenue when a client switched to a new services provider.  Today, it appears that client may be coming back into the fold with a big project in tow.  Also, we received a PO from a new client and a surprise opportunity just came our way.

In the span of 24 hours these new opportunities grew to be approximately 1/4 of the revenue we did in all of 2007.

We could not have predicted any of this and none of it is certain.  The swings in potential revenue wreck havoc with the best laid plans of the small business owner.  Navigating through these tough times with opportunities that come and go so quickly requires intestinal fortitude or blissful ignorance.

I’m hoping I can stay blissfully ignorant.  Intestinal fortitude is overrated.

HOA meetings

We just had our annual HOA meeting for my community.  At last year’s meeting we had resident accusations of attempted arson, yelling, tears and an abrupt departure of a board member.  It was one midget-transvestite short of being a full episode of Jerry Springer.

This year we discussed garage doors.  We’re spending $245,000 to replace garage doors.

I enjoyed last year’s meeting more.

Domain names and privacy

The first challenge of starting a blog is picking a domain name.  This is much more difficult than it sounds.  Almost every conceivable word combination is registered.  Mind you, most domain names are not being used, but the fact someone registered the name means it’s not available.  So…brainmower.com it is!

On Privacy:  with the proliferation of Web2.0 social applications there are dozens of ways to keep in touch with people.  Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Brightkite and more.  Friendfeed now offers 41 services you can publish to and aggregate on a single site.  As I shared the idea of a blog with friends one commented that he was not comfortable with the intrusion on his privacy that results from publishing information to various sites.  This made me consider how to integrate a blog with my personal life.  Where does the blog intersect with my life?  What is off-limits?  What is safe to share?  Twitter has made me very aware of my internal filter.  This blog is sure to be a learning experience as well.

Another friend said something about blogging that hit home.  With the Internet, there is “no being anonymous”.  I agree, the Internet is a social medium, not a series of static webpages.

The caveat:  I am a single male with no kids.  This greatly lessens my hesitation in “going public” with my thoughts.  However, if I had kids I would rethink the idea of posting my thoughts in a public forum as it could have an impact on those around me.

Anonymity?  Who needs it!  Not me!

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