Monday, May 29, 2006

The Greatest Generation

In honor of Memorial Day ( formerly known as Decoration Day) I found an online video from May 2005. Tom Brokaw gives a lecture at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, discussing his chronicling of the men and women who came of age during the Great Depression and WWII in his book, "The Greatest Generation". It's worth watching even if you haven't read the book. He also discusses his career as news anchor for NBC.

Oh, and if you want to learn how to make a sailor's monkey fist, go here.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

My First Time

What is it about first times? Songs have been written about it such as Foreigner's "Feels Like the First Time" or Sade's "Never as Good (as the First Time)" and St. Pauli Girl beer uses it in their tagline, "You Never Forget Your First Girl." I guess what makes first times memorable is not the event itself, but the magic feeling you get when it happens.

Take for instance a first time I had yesterday with the waitress at one of my favorite Indian restaurants (No, it's not what you're thinking). I was off work on holiday and I took my wife out for a lovely lunch at this restaurant's Friday afternoon buffet. While we were finishing our meal and I was relating a workplace incident, our waitress came by with the tab. As she was passing behind me and leaning over my left shoulder to place the bill on the table, she belched. It was a closed-mouth belch thank goodness but her upper GI tract was in close enough proximity to my left ear that I felt every reverberation of her faux pas. She said "Excuse me" as if she had cut in front of me while on line at the bank, not like she had just shared curry tainted stomach gas with me. Fortunately, I was able to continue my story by looking directly into my wife's eyes until the waitress was far enough away for us to act stunned.

I'm not sure if this "first" was magical, but it unfortunately will be "unforgettable."


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Man on the Moon Synchronicity

My son and 3 of his friends had a group project for Social Studies this week. The assignment was to pick an event of historical significance and then produce a video news story covering the event. The group decided to do a story on the first U.S. moon landing in 1969. They videotaped my son as President Kennedy giving the speech in which he throws out the familiar challenge, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth." They went on to film the mission and landing on our trampoline in the back yard. I helped them transfer the tape to VHS last night and sent them off to school this morning to submit their project. The idea was that the class would watch everyone's news clips in class today.

This afternoon at work, I brought up my browser and noticed that my homepage, BBC News (of course) had a link to "This Day in History" next to a photo of JFK. I clicked on the link and discovered that he had delivered the speech that my son had shown in class today, on May 25, 1961. Check it out here.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Hello, Google?

Google SMS (Short Message Service) lets you text message a question to Google and an answer will be sent back faster than you could even get an internet connection on your phone.

Here's how it works:
Simply send a text message to 46645 (googl) in any of the following ways to get the info you're looking for.

Here are some sample search terms:
Local listings: hospital San Jose CA
Phonebook : 2122269817
Driving directions : pasadena CA to santa monica CA
Movies : ice age 94110
Weather : weather dallas tx
Stock quotes : tgt
Q&A : population of Japan
Glossary : define prosimian
Translation : translate coffee in french
Froogle : price mp3 player
Zip code : 94043
Area code : 650
Calculator : 160 pounds * 4000 feet in calories
Currency conversion : 5 usd in yen
Sports: duke, detroit nhl, lakers, sf giants
Help : help
Tips : tips

You can also get driving directions and even ask general questions like "What is Mark Twain's real name?"

Learn more at How to use Google SMS. You can even print out a tip sheet to carry in your wallet.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mini World Cup Stadium

Although we didn't get to visit the Allianz-Arena when we were in Munich last summer, we did drive by at night when it was lit up with its eerie changing colors. With only 23 days left before the start of the World Cup tournament, I offer these photos of a Lego version of the arena.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Google Goes Trendy

Google has announced it's latest offering called Google Trends. With it you can analyze results of how many people were searching for what, when and where. For a simple example, you can see the rising interest in blogs over the past several years. You can even trend multiple items to see if a relationship exists, for example, New Year's Resolutions and Gyms. Or if you're a celebrity stalker, it's easy to see significant times in your favorite celeb's life. Or have your favorite celebs go head-to-head in a popularity deathmatch. (These names were chosen purely at random.)

Or...if you're like me, you'll use Google Trends to validate one of your hypotheses, such as confirming my suspicion that the townspeople of Consett in the northwest of County Durham, England, are smitten with monkeys.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Spring Clean your Hard Drive

How many times have you heard someone say, "I'm a picture guy." The fact is, it is much easier for our brains to derive logical conclusions from shapes and colors than it is from numbers. So if your hard drive is pining for some free space, check out SequoiaView from The Netherlands. It lets you see the files on your disk represented by squares proportional to the file size so you can immediately focus on the mega-megabyte hogs. It also color-codes the squares so you can see what kind of files have a monopoly on your platters.

SequoiaView was developed by the computer science division of the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven and you can download and use it totally free.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Learn a Foreign Language in 100 Words

Since I'm on the word economy kick, here's something from Tony Buzan (the father of mind mapping) who states there are 100 words that account for 50% of the words used in most common conversations. Master these in any language and you'll be on your way to being able to manage in a foreign land.

1. A,an 2. After 3. Again 4. All 5. Almost
6. Also 7. Always 8. And 9. Because 10. Before
11. Big 12. But 13. (I) can 14. (I) come 15. Either/or
16. (I) find 17. First 18. For 19. Friend 20. From
21. (I) go 22. Good 23. Good-bye 24. Happy 25. (I) have
26. He 27. Hello 28. Here 29. How 30. I
31. (I) am 32. If 33. In 34. (I) know 35. Last
36. (I) like 37. Little 38. (I) love 39. (I) make 40. Many
41. One 42. More 43. Most 44. Much 45. My
46. New 47. No 48. Not 49. Now 50. Of
51. Often 52. On 53. One 54. Only 55. Or
56. Other 57. Our 58. Out 59. Over 60. People
61. Place 62. Please 63. Same 64. (I) see 65. She
66. So 67. Some 68. Sometimes 69. Still 70. Such
71. (I) tell 72. Thank you 73. That 74. The 75. Their
76. Them 77. Then 78. There is 79. They 80. Thing
81. (I) think 82. This 83. Time 84. To 85. Under
86. Up 87. Us 88. (I) use 89. Very 90. We
91. What 92. When 93. Where 94. Which 95. Who
96. Why 97. With 98. Yes 99. You 100. Your

There are also many other tips on learning a foreign language at Mind Tools.

If you have some spare coin, you can do what I'm doing and try the Rosetta Stone Dynamic Immersion Method of learning a foreign language. (They have free demos on their site if you're short of spare coin.)

Annyeonghi kyeseyo...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Belated Birthday Wishes for The Queen

I know you're thinking that because our beloved Queen's 80th Birthday was April 21, you're in an awkward position not having sent your well wishes in time. Don't worry, because she's decided once again to have an Official Birthday in June. (This time on the 17th.)

To learn more about the woman who would be Queen at age 25, visit the official 80th Birthday site.

If you'd prefer to dash off a quick greeting to HRH, use this.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Very Small Quotes

I've been including motivational quotes in my e-mail sig with the philosophy that if what I'm saying in my note turns out to be useless crap, I ought to offer something of value if possible. The trick has been selecting short quotes that pack effective wisdom but don't lead to people accusing me of wasting everyone's time reading the book excerpts that I'm including on all of my mails.

This lead me to William Frank's list of "The World's Best Quotes in 1-10 Words."

My favorite is number 10 since I have a copy of "The Daily Drucker" on my desk:

Do first things first, and second things not at all.
—Peter Drucker.

It's so easy to do what's familiar, comfortable, or fun. It's so difficult, sometimes, to tackle the highest priority. And sometimes it's difficult to even know your top priorities; hence, the phrase, "I can't see the forest for the trees."

We suffer from over-choice: 67 varieties of toothpaste, 487 styles of shoes, 186 brands of cell phones with 137 telephone companies. We demand more variety than we could possibly need or want; and as a result, we get lost in options, opportunities, and choices. There are 87 varieties of lawyers, and 75 specialties inside medicine. The world of work can be a confusing landscape.

When you're flooded with career possibilities, or "swimming up Niagara Falls," it's good to spend time answering questions like, "What is the best and highest use of my talents?" and, "How can I make a bigger impact?"

If you can't establish clear career priorities by yourself, use friends and business acquaintances as a sounding board. They will want to help. Ask them to help you determine your "first things" and "second things." Or seek an outside coach or advisor to help you focus. Because if you don't know what your "first things" are, you simply can't do them FIRST.


Monday, May 08, 2006

It's a Gift to Clean Simple

If you've never gotten in touch with your Fly Lady side, you may be able to pick up a few quick tips to help keep your house looking clean with the help of Real Simple magazine.

My favorite is the "Clean Your House in 19 Minutes" article. (I think this only applies if your house starts off in museum-like condition.)


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Ping-Pong or Table Tennis

This past Christmas we received a gift that is a green table with a net, some wooden paddles with rubber pads, and some round celluloid balls. We thought we were playing the game of Ping-Pong. It turns out we may actually be participating in the sport of Table Tennis. Apparently this is a holy war that has been waged since the late 1800's. I guess the only thing I am really concerned about is that everyone that I play would follow the same rules (laws?) of the game (sport?). So here are the rules I've attempted to enforce in my basement arena (stadium?).


Friday, May 05, 2006

w00t du jour

Here's an interesting business model which borrows from high end gourmet restaurants. Serve up only one main dish for dinner each day. does just that - selling a single different item each day at insane clearance prices. Most items are computer and electronice gadgetry and some are refurbished. The cool thing is that they never tell you what is going to be sold tomorrow or the next day, forcing you to visit their site every day to satisfy your w00t curiosity - brilliant.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Courtroom Movies

Not sure what triggered this one but here are a few of my favorite trial films.

Breaker Morant (1980) is the true story of the trial and execution of three Australian soldiers during the Second Boer War in 1902.
Read more about Harry 'Breaker' Harbord Morant here.

Anatomy of a Murder (1959) directed by Otto Preminger, this story is about an army lieutenant accused of murdering the man who raped his wife. Jimmy Stewart plays the lawyer for the defense.

12 Angry Men (1957) stars Henry Fonda as 1 of 12 jurors who doesn't think the murder trial they are sitting on is as cut and dried as the other 11 think it is and slowly works to win them over.

...And Justice for All (1979) with Al Pacino as the lawyer who is trying to do the right thing and gets blackmailed into defending a judge that he despises. Jack Warden plays a lunatic judge with a death wish.

The Verdict (1982) Paul Newman as an alcoholic ambulance chaser who gets a chance to redeem himself against all odds.

And my favorite courtroom movie of all time...

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) Gregory Peck stars as Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defending a black man against an undeserved rape charge and his kids against prejudice. The Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee about her life was required reading for me in school. She turned 80 last Friday. If you have some extra cash, you might want to pick up a first edition here.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006


No, not the dating site thing, but an electronic view of a unique photography exhibition by Robert Colbert, dealing with the relationship between man and beast. The show is winding down in the Nomadic Museum on the Santa Monica Pier. The museum itself is a work of temporary art constructed from 152 steel cargo containers.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Totally Awesome Prank

There was this guy in high school that I knew that had this bold sense of humor that messed with people's comfort zones. He was the guy that would yell at the girl you told him you thought was cute "Hey he just told me that he thinks you're cute!" "Shut-up, Eric!"

If ever there were 50 or more of his kind in one place, this kind of thing would happen. I know it's only Tuesday, but this gets my vote for funniest story of the week.