Because I’m selfish

motorbike riders in Phnom PenhI love free­dom. But when free­dom costs me some­thing that could be eas­ily avoided, I pause.

For peo­ple liv­ing in the US, depend­ing on your state, you can ride a motor­cy­cle with out a hel­met. It’s super enjoy­able to zoom along with the wind in your hair.

But then that dri­ver doesn’t see you, he turns into your lane — and your dreams of motor­cy­cling dis­ap­pear into years of surg­eries, phys­i­cal ther­apy and pain.

This is not the­o­ret­i­cal — a good friend of mine expe­ri­enced that. And he was wear­ing a hel­met.

So here’s the self­ish part of the equa­tion… when the helmet-less rider ends up in the hos­pi­tal with years of med­ical appoint­ments ahead, it costs me. My insur­ance pre­mi­ums rise.

The same holds true for bicy­cle rid­ing.

I have to admit that I am not super rigid on that — some­times when I go for a quick ride to the cor­ner store on my (slow) moun­tain bike, I don’t put on a hel­met. And yes, I know that most acci­dents hap­pen clos­est to home.

So I leave it up to you where you draw the line between your free­dom and your respon­si­bil­ity to soci­ety.

The photo is Cre­ative Com­mons licensed by Sara y Tzunki (Cecilia e Francesco) and was taken in Phnom Penh.


Great app — Prisma

This lit­tle app has given me more fun than the last three photo apps com­bined — Prisma.

Here’s the orig­i­nal photo:

Jay, pre-Prisma app

And here are some of the results (tap the right side of the image to get to the next one):

So if I con­vinced you to try this app, here’s where you can find it: Prisma. Cur­rently, it’s just avail­able for the iPhone, but if you have an Android, you can sign up to get news about the beta ver­sion.

Spe­cial thanks to my son Jay, the model.


airbnb plus hotels mashup

You heard it hear first — my startup idea.

Busi­ness peo­ple who travel a lot often sleep in a large hotel room with two beds — and one is always empty.

What if they used a ser­vice like airbnb to get a room­mate for their two-or-three night stays?

Poten­tial prob­lems and solu­tions:

  • You could get some­one annoy­ing. Solu­tion: the app would allow you to can­cel and pick a dif­fer­ent room.
  • You’re an intro­vert and require your space after a drain­ing day of con­fer­ence activ­ity. Solu­tion: the app allows you to select a room­mate who also val­ues quiet and per­sonal space.
  • Pri­vacy. Solu­tion: the app allows you to pick peo­ple of the gen­der you’re most com­fort­able with.
  • Get­ting the word out that this app exists could be a prob­lem if hotel com­pa­nies use all their neg­a­tive mar­ket­ing tricks to make the app look bad. Solu­tion: have airbnb buy the app idea and han­dle the mar­ket­ing. (Airbnb — are you lis­ten­ing? I’m open for offers.)
  • I’d never use an app like that.” Solu­tion: don’t.

The beer can net

When I was a sopho­more in col­lege, I was coun­sel­ing a very young fresh­man about the ways to dec­o­rate a dorm room.

Some peo­ple hang a net from their ceil­ing and fill it with beer cans. But that’s really tacky.” (I don’t know what word I used to say “tacky.”)

Less than a month later, I passed by his room and saw just such a net hang­ing from his ceil­ing.

Some­how he missed the part about “really tacky.”

Moral of the story — lis­ten to all of what some­one tells you.


But is it good?

weird signage for littleton village, coloradoArt is very sub­jec­tive. One person’s favorite is another’s hated reject.

But when art meets com­merce — what used to be called, “com­mer­cial art,” there is another stan­dard. It must com­mu­ni­cate.

The artists behind the sig­nage of the new Lit­tle­ton Vil­lage, a res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial devel­op­ment near my home, crossed the edge a lit­tle too far:

1. At each edge of the main corner’s sig­nage area, there are two obelisks that look like some­thing from a sci­ence fic­tion movie.

2. Dur­ing the day, shad­ows hin­der read­abil­ity of the development’s name.

signage for littleton village, colorado

3. What’s with those white ver­ti­cal stripes? Before the devel­op­ment name went up, I thought they were giant adhe­sive strips to adhere the development’s name. No. They are not lighted, either. And then there are a bunch of holes that look like ven­ti­la­tion for an under­ground cham­ber.




Why not make things bet­ter than what real life offers?

That’s the idea Andy Hilde­brand applied to sound when he was work­ing for Exxon. His tech­nol­ogy has been applied to alter the sound of a tune so that the pitch is always per­fect. But like many good things, it can be over­done. A tune can be altered to sound like a robot is singing.

Many pop­u­lar musi­cians love this tech­nol­ogy. When applied min­i­mally, it can improve a musician’s abil­ity to hit a note prop­erly. When applied to the max­i­mum, it will pro­duce that robot effect.

And I get to hear robots every day. The build­ing I work in has a Muzak music sub­scrip­tion ser­vice, and they chose the Auto-Tune chan­nel to play all the time — in the halls and in the bath­rooms.

Thank­fully, Auto-Tune does not intrude into my office. Never shall it pass those doors.

(And I’ve writ­ten about this before. It’s a sub­ject that is near and dear to my heart.)


Other people’s lives

hand-written grocery listMy sis­ter and I share gro­cery lists — other people’s. We find them on the pave­ment out­side gro­cery stores, because peo­ple dis­card or lose them.

It’s inter­est­ing to get that tiny glimpse into oth­ers’ lives.

High­lights from this one are Plas­tic Limes and Kick Starts. The other side fea­tured Lay’s Truf­fle Chips.

We enjoy the vari­ety of hand­writ­ing and selec­tions of house­hold items. I have yet to find a computer-printed list.


Appreciating the esoteric

I love spot­ting the shiny bits — the things that pass most peo­ple by — the details.

(And that’s why I love hang­ing out with, liv­ing with and work­ing with those who see the big pic­ture. Con­trast is healthy for our souls.)

In Fort Collins a few weeks ago, I spot­ted the back of this Honda. You’ll note it says “Fit” on the left and “Jazz” on the right.

In Amer­ica, the small­est Honda is the Fit. It’s called the Jazz in the rest of the world. The owner of this car appre­ci­ated that fact enough to find a badge from both places.

I love it!!

(And I love Fits. We have one.)



Write with your hand.

This old post­card is one my dad left me, before he left.

Putting a pen (or pen­cil) to paper is an entirely dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence than typ­ing on a key­board. Feel­ing the pen tip (or graphite) move across paper pro­duces a deeper feel­ing than hit­ting keys. Every char­ac­ter you pro­duce is a small act of cre­ation.

I have a bunch more of my dad’s post­cards. I’d love to write to you on one. Just leave a com­ment on this post. I’ll send you an email to get your address, and then a post­card will mag­i­cally appear in your mail­box, at the speed of snail­mail.

Send­ing one back is com­pletely optional.