Thursday, June 10, 2010

Manly men in a manly manner!

Thanks go to Sonya Reasor for pointing out this yummy website on The Art of Manliness

There was one piece in particular that Sonya liked: it's the Weasels Ripped My Flesh section. No, that's not referring to the name of the classic Mothers of Invention album; in fact, the album gets its name from one of the cheesy men's magazine covers featured in the link.


There's a reason we're geeks!


Dumb joke du jour

Thanks to NephirNuit on Twitter for this one:

Q: What do zombie cows eat?

{scroll down}

A: Grrrrraaaaiiiiinnnnsssss!

Thought for the morning

I have coffee. Casualties may decrease soon.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Chinese food and architecture

Back in 2002, we went to the reception for Brian and Fong Chinn's wedding. It was an amazing reception, with food that I never expect to have again. I wished I was able to eat two or three times as much as I was able to. Stunning stuff! Shark fin, bird's nest soup, prawn things... damn, it was good! Many of these dishes were in a fine, thin, velvety stock. The Babe observed at the time that all Chinese dishes are based on mucus. An interesting hypothesis and hard to refute given our incredible menu.

Okay, fast forward: National Geographic reports that the Chinese used sticky rice for building, specifically, for mortar. Apparently, mixing lime and sticky rice result in a mortar that has much smaller calcium carbonate crystals, making it much tougher and more water-resistant. There's no reason this technique can't be used again, so restorations can be done using this to make a nice, tight mortar. And it's a good way to make use of basic resources to achieve superior results. 

Those Chinese are very sneaky!  :)


Monday, June 07, 2010

Quote du jour

Rush Limbaugh got married this weekend. For the fourth time. I shudder to think of the woman who'd marry a bloated fascist windbag like that. A good friend of mine, Seumas Gagne, who is not able to get married to his fiancé, Doug, because of assholes like Rush Limbaugh, said the following:
So that creature gets his fourth sacred traditional marriage to a woman 26 years his junior but I'm undermining marriage?


More sun!

I guess the sacrifices worked, because there's all kinds of sun and blue skies today. There're still lots of clouds and the potential for rain, but sun is making the plants in the garden very happy. 

"Delivering Happiness" - a review

A few months ago, I attended South by Southwest for the first time. When I was there, I heard about Tony Hsieh, who had a book coming out shortly called Delivering Happiness. There was a deal for bloggers and writers: if you promised to post a review of the book on June 7, you could get an advance copy. I received two advance copies in April and this is my promised review.  



"I mean, like, WOW!"   

Okay, okay, I've got more to say than that. :)

Delivering Happiness is first about Tony's personal history and his successes in the early part of the dot-com boom. He built up a company called LinkExchange, which he sold to Yahoo in 1999 for $265 million (he didn't get all of that but he got a sizeable piece of it).

You and I would probably call his chunk (um, $40M or so? maybe 'only' $20M?) fuck-you money and maybe even bordering on fuck-everybody money, but Tony didn't feel like sitting back and doing nothing. Money was not The Thing for him. He invested in a lot of dot-com companies that looked worth investing in (and did marginally okay, though he says that his ultimate take was no big deal for doing this), but one company in particular,, looked like a real deal.

Zappos, if you're not already familiar with it, started out as an online shoe store. You could buy many different brands and types of shoes through them. It was a novel idea and it worked. As Delivering Happiness shows, it was hardly an overnight succes; it took 10 years of work to bring it to the point where it was sold to Amazon. During the journey from then to now, Tony (who signed on as CEO) and the rest of the company realized that the company wasn't running the way most software companies do... and that's why it was working so well. They realized they were (chord of organ music here) delivering happiness, and that's what they needed to do. 

The bulk of the book describes how Tony and the rest of the company brought Zappos to success and made it such an amazing place to work. It sounds like a place that I'd love to work because it's so radically different from the many Theory X high tech companies I've been at in the past (read "standard Microsoft-model software companies by people who want nothing more than to get rich/powerful on the backs of a bunch of other people"). At Zappos, people are valued for being people and are actively encouraged to "have fun and be a little weird." The proof is in the pudding: when Amazon bought Zappos recently for $1.25B, they also made a point of setting things up so that the corporate culture that has made the company so successful would not be affected.

Anyone in high tech, anyone in management, and anyone who wants to work in corporate environments should read Delivering Happiness as much as they should read Robert Townsend's Up the Organization and De Marco and Lister's Peopleware, and for the same reason: all describe the right way to run a company for maximum effectiveness and minimal abuse. For more information, take a look at the book's website,

And while I'm at it, if you need to buy shoes, bags, accessories, or a number of other items, you ought to look at Zappos. There's free shipping both ways and a very generous return policy. I'll be buying my next pair of shoes through them.


Sunday, June 06, 2010

Adding labels to the blog

I've added labels to about half the blog posts. There are 750 blog posts, though, so this is taking a while. I'm also experimenting with the blog label display format. I can sort alphabetically or by frequency of usage and list things hierarchically or in a cloud. Anyone care to venture an opinion on what's most useful? 

I'd thought there was some change in the focus of the blog but I'm not sure that there has been, at least not as much as I'd thought. I've done the first hundred blog posts and the most recent couple hundred blog posts and they're not as different as I'd been recalling. The more recent ones are occasionally more political, but it's not like there's a huge delta in the types of posts.

I have been able to fix a few broken links and some typos here and there. And I've re-read a lot of things and missed my cat Bernie.

It's a good blog. I like what I've posted.