September 22nd, 2011 | Creative Pursuit
Ok. So you know I traveled around the world for three years alone—on a motorcycle. And I really didn’t see everything. There are still plenty of places waiting for my visit. Or at least I’d like to think so. Truth is, there are a lot of places I’m waiting to visit. But that’s besides the point.
I was in Ethiopia on my motorcycle sometimes in the Spring of 2008. On a desolate stretch of a dusty dirt road between Gondar, Ethiopia and the Sudan border, I ran into to bicyclists from Finland. Though our meeting was short, our time was rich. Sometimes connections are made in seconds, sometimes connections take years to be real. Jukka, then a 30 year old bicyclist with nearly 2 years traveling experience around the world, and I connected.
Three years later he finally makes it to the United States and takes me up on my lifelong offer to put him up and share time here in Southern California.
In August he and another world-riding Finnish bicyclist planeed to rendezvous in Southern California: here in Encinitas at my cottage by the ocean.
Our time was rich again. And we shared stories, photos and great food and conversation. Before these two legends returned to their bicycling journey, I pulled them asisde in my studio for a one-of-a-kind podcast. In this hour-plus long interview I ask the hard questions. And I’m surprised, yet comforted by their answers.
Take the time to listen to Jukka and Lukas discuss traveling, motivation, being away from home and loneliness. I think the insight is inspirational.
Check out their websites for further inspiration, too!
What do you do with your old corks?
What do you do with your old corks?
Like many wine drinkers I do have a love-hate relationship with corks. Like so many crafts, there are some beautifully created corks, and there is a slew of mediocrity. Some years ago I showed up late to a personal wine tasting at a tony Napa Valley winery. The winemaker explained that our time would be cut short, because she had to catch a flight to Portugal where she would be inspecting corky bark for the next vintage of her wine.
That’s passion. Like the architect or designer who flies to Italy to examine the marble quarry to choose the exact color and vein symmetry of marble for a new building or home, some winemakers are so incessantly passionate about every detail of their wine, or should we call it art. I think so. That’s the difference. Passion and commitment to quality.
Then there are others who are just happy to mull in mediocrity. Some do this because they can’t see or understand the difference. Others simply because the dollar is driving their decisions.
When it comes to corks there is no question of the controversy. First, because cork is once a living thing thing and then harvested to be used as a closure for wine, it is subject to all those natural things that can happen to a living organism. Some corks unfortunately get tainted due to bacteria or other nasty things that only scientists can truly explain. When this happens the taint finds its way into the wine resting in the bottle that is secured by the tainted cork. This is particularly troublesome and disappointing for those who open a bottle of wine they have been saving for many years, only to have their eager anticipation and excitement suffocated by a corked wine.
Some wineries try to do everything to prevent corked wines, even traveling to Portugal and France where they carefully choose the ideal batch of corky bark. That stats on corked wine are also controversial. Perhaps information and misinformation propagated by cork producers, screw top manufacturers, composite cork companies and plastic and alternative closure companies. But some stats show that 10 percent of all wines secured with real cork are tainted by bacteria. That’s a lot of wine.
Does quality matter in corks?
And that’s why there is such a movement toward screw tops and alternative closures. These alternative solutions get those passionate winemakers, wine collectors and the wine elite into a fervor. Arguing that the porous quality of real cork allows wines to slowly oxidize over time and thereby provide the environment that truly will age and change a wine over its lifespan in the bottle. Others think this is hogwash. Still others are unwilling to change because they feel that a screw cap or other closure takes the romance out of opening a bottle of wine. Perhaps that’s where I fall. But I’m not one to stick to “the way it’s been done for hundreds of years” simply because it has. I guess some people still write real letters and lick stamps and go to the post office. But I’ll bet that they use e-mail too; or text? There’s a time for writing a personal letter and mailing it, for sure. And I still cherish and save in a shoebox stuffed in my closet those letters, old and new. But I don’t get many traditional letters anymore.
I do buy bottles of wine secured by composite corks, screw tops, plastic corks and new-fangled glass stoppers with a plastic or some composite type of o-ring. Virtually every gallon or liter of wine made in New Zealand goes into bottles secured by screw tops. It’s virtually impossible to find one with a cork.
Some will argue that because it takes decades to grow a cork tree, that the environmental consequences of thinning out the cork forests spell doom. I love the redwoods, too. But I believe managed forests and a powerful cork lobby will continue to argue for corks. And I’m sure my friend the winemaker in Napa Valley will find an excuse for a European excursion to examine her corky bark and probably a lot more.
All this is maybe why I have bags of old corks sitting around. I used to save every one. But now I’m picky. I’ll keep the ones that perhaps seem to be of the higher quality, perhaps personally selected by a passionate and committed human being. And that’s something that I admire.
I took the picture used in this post last night. Which corks look like the passionately selected, and which look like they were churned out in a factory?
What do you do with your corks?
For Mac users that have upgraded to Lion and are using any web-based applications such as Basecamp, WordPress, Tungle or just about any webpage with a form, I’ve got a personal pet peeve.
I use the Apple Magic mouse. Essentially the surface of this mouse mimics a touch or track pad (taking advantage of the Apple branded Multi-Touch interface), like on a MacBook or the screen of your iPhone or iPad. You can use simple one, two and even three finger gestures to scroll, swipe, zoom and so on. The problem I have with the mouse is it’s just too sensitive. The Magic Mouse sensitivity makes me feel that if I breathe on the mouse my page is going to scroll or I’m going to swipe backward to a previous webpage that I viewed.
I’ve long had issues with the magic mouse and its hypersensitivity. It’s been annoying and sometimes downright frustrating. But like many things in life, I adapt, move on and occasionally mutter a profane slur at the shiny and well designed mouse with its oh so subtle grey Apple logo.
Now, however, I’m almost at the end of my rope. Frustration has turned to anger, annoyance to serious work interference. But I can’t blame it entirely on the mouse and Lion and the ability to swipe, rather than click, back to previously viewed pages. I’ve always had issues with web-based applications—or, for those feature rich and monthly subscription based tools (Basecamp, Salesforce, etc.) that are referred to SaaS (software as a service) applications. We are relying more and more on using the internet and a browser to get our work done.
Problem is, and this is where the mouse comes in, if I’m writing an article, formatting a website page, updating status or messages in my project management app, and my hyper sensitive mouse decides to swipe back a page, I’m screwed. I’ve lose my data. Sometimes I might get luck and the form still contains my content. But that’s an exception, not the norm. WordPress is particularly bothersome to me. Check out the screenshots here. You can see as the page begins to swipe, there are two WordPress page editing forms visible. This happens on a lark. Sure, maybe my lazy finger barely moved to the side, or some other motion. But once the page slides off the page and the previous page is revealed, my content is gone.
Is anyone else experiencing this problem? Used MagicPrefs?
To be sure, I don’t often use the WordPress interface to do my writing. I prefer to use traditional writing tools, or a Blog Editor like Ecto or MarsEdit. And as a side note, it should be mentioned that Ecto development has stopped. The forums are stale and there is no response from the new owner of the software. It is not usable under Lion. Makes me sad, too. Used to be THE best blog editor on the planet. I’ve now resorted back to MarsEdit, and am writing this post in the latest update. At least the developer of MarsEdit is keeping current and committed to the continued development and improvement. And for people who don’t want to get caught losing their precious data due to a Magic Mouse swipe and WordPress (or other blog or compatible CMS), get your hands on a trial of MarsEdit and let me know what you think.
But if you’re involved in web design and development, or use any of the other SaaS tools, the risk of this volatile combination of Safari and Magic Mouse is high. Though perhaps I can disable that swipe feature, I just haven’t checked.
To be fair, Safari warns you in some instances that by moving the page (even accidentally) you will lose data and it gives you the option to stay on that page. Problem is, every time I select Stay On This Page, I just end up with a blank page and the spinning page load icon.
I like the ability to use gestures on my desktop Mac. I don’t particularly like Apple Magic TrackPad, either. The mouse is too sensitive. So until this is ironed out, I’m going to be annoyed and frustrated and likely uttering profanity whenever I must succumb to using a web-based app.
August 17th, 2011 | Inspiration
Does Starbucks Recommend Excessive Amount of Ground Coffee for Brewing?
My love for coffee started at an early age. That is, I loved coffee ice cream. With all the flavors in the world, I was consistent and always chose coffee ice cream.
These days I don’t eat much ice cream, though wandering through the hilltop towns of Tuscany I am easily persuaded to indulge in a scoop or two of gelato. Yum.
It wasn’t until many years later did I acquire the taste for a good cup of coffee. And I mean good. You see, my dad loved coffee. But back then, I learned many years later, he had it all wrong. His morning ritual was instant or freeze dried coffee. Sanka. Or was it Nescafe. I can’t really remember. In just a generation the taste buds and expectations of coffee drinkers have changed dramatically. While my dad’s tastes have evolved he still can’t get over the $2.00 cup of coffee. I don’t know, perhaps that was the cost of a whole jar of instant ‘back in the day.’
The first cup of coffee I ever truly indulged in was poured by one of my first bosses once I graduated college and migrated to California. “Here’s your first cup of coffee,” Glenn, a husky built mid-westerner said as he placed the cup on my desk. He assumed I liked coffee and would start my day with a fresh cup. “And that’s the last cup of coffee,” he quickly chirped, “that I’m every going to make for you.”
So my path to addiction began. I discovered espresso and cappuccino before Starbucks opened a store in Orange County. The french bakery store next to the post office where I retrieved mail from my P.O. Box became a regular stop. It was nice too. On my motorcycle I would be forced to simply enjoy the cup of coffee and slowly ease into the day. Those rushing about and eager to jump into traffic would grab their cup to go and head into the wild. I’d sit and watch and learn.
These days I grind fresh beans and use a french press to brew my morning coffee. After a late Tuesday evening (saw ex-Blasters guitarist and legendary songwriter Dave Alvin play at the Belly Up Tavern in Solano beach last night) I woke to an empty canister of coffee. No beans. Uh oh!
A short drive to my local Starbucks and I picked out a pound of the Caffé Verona, a bold blend inspired by the Italian espresso. With the morning line nearly out the door at the Starbucks and my battery dead on my iPhone, I killed the waiting time by reading the small print on the bag of coffee beans. When I noticed that Starbucks recommends “two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water.” I wondered how much I used in my daily pot of french press. I do prefer a strong cup of coffee and choose bolder beans or blends over those that are more mild.
My french press holds about 30 ounces of water. If I follow Starbucks recommendations, I would need to use 10 tablespoons of ground coffee in order to come up with what Starbuck’s would agree were acceptable results for a brewed cup of coffee.
With new beans loaded in the grinder, I ground up about the amount of coffee I usually do in the morning and then measured the ground coffee. To be sure, I always eyeball and approximate the time for grinding. I use a grinder that stores beans above the grinding mechanism and uses a timer that winds and spins down and shuts off when the cycle is complete.
Guess what? I seem to use about five (5) tablespoons (maybe sometimes six) of coffee to brew my morning french press pot of coffee. That’s 50% less than Starbuck’s recommends. Believe me, my coffee is not weak. My recent guests here at my cottage commented on the strength of my morning coffee.
I understand that Starbucks needs to sell coffee. I’m not sure what percentage of its business comes from the sale of beans (at its stores and in grocery stores), but I can’t help thinking that this is a tad excessive. I wonder if they use this same measure for brewing standard drip coffee at its stores? Does coffee brewed using a french press require the same amount of ground coffee as a drip coffee maker?
What about you? What kind of coffee do you brew at home and how do you measure beans or ground coffee?
July 26th, 2011 | Mac My Day
I jumped in head first. I bought the latest update to Apple’s OS X operating system the day it was released. Though this can be a risky move because OS X 10.7 (aka Lion) is a major upgrade and, as such, incorporates a number of dramatic changes to the code as well as the staple applications that make up Apple’s operating system. Plus, the chances are high that some of the software installed on my computer will not be compatible with the new system.
macm I didn’t have a life jacket either. I reasoned the change was worth the risk. I might have problems, and these problems would take time to solve, time that I need to put toward client work and other projects. I was confident, though, in my gamble.
Today, after one week of using the new system, I’m happy to report my initial impressions. If you haven’t made the upgrade yet, I share with you some things to look out for as well as some thoughts on the fundamental changes Apple made to the way we will interact with our machines in the future.
— Installation —
1) Download Only. No Install Disk
There is no install disk. You must purchase the system update from the Mac App store. If you never upgraded to OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) you’ll need to purchase and install this first.
I found that after purchase, download and restart that Lion didn’t simply install automatically for me. Perhaps because I have several start-up items and there was a dialog box that waited for my response. No problem. In my applications folder I found the installer titled “Install OS X” and launched that and the installer performed the operation flawlessly and quickly. Total time about 1hour after download.
2) SpamSieve Users Beware
If you are using SpamSieve, the client-side email SPAM filter for Mac OS X and mail.app watch out. SpamSieve works as a plug-in to Mail.app and through the software update had already updated. However, during the install process that plugin is deactivated. The problem with this is that the mail “rule” that SpamSieve uses to filter and then file all mail it rates as “JUNK” or “SPAM” somehow is changed so that the rule reads after install “File All Mail As Spam (or Junk).” Imagine my surprise after OS X 10.7 Lion updated the Mail.app database, that all of a sudden I was receiving no mail. That’s right. All of my mail was marked as SPAM and filed in a SPAM folder.
The fix is easy. Just launch the SpamSieve app from the application folder and restart Mail. For most people this might be a minor inconvenience, but for this user with several mailboxes and a very heavy volume of mail, it took a couple hours to sort through the SPAM folder and find the real mail.
— Operational Changes We Must Get Used To —
3) Scrolling. What’s Up is Down and What’s Down is Up.
If you haven’t already heard, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion has changed the scrollbars and the way we scroll. Taking a cue form iOS (the system running iPhones and iPads) to scroll down a page you must gesture or scroll up. While Apple is quick to note that the metaphor it uses with this logic is that of a piece of paper on your desk if you push it with your fingers up then you’ll see more of the text that is written on the bottom of the page. To those of youwho’ve been using Macs or PCs for years and are accustomed to the opposite, this is really not new. I don’t expect many of your to remember, or even have used in the past, typewriters, But in the old days of typing, when a piece of paper is inserted into the machine (carriage) the move to advance the paper would be a push of the paper advance upward—just like Mac OS X 10.7 and just like your iPad or iPhone apps.
It’s the use of one, two, three and four fingers in various combinations (what Apple calls gestures) that represent the biggest changes to the new operating system. Scrolling is the biggest.
4) Horizontal Moves. Scrolling
I was boggled that the familiar right and left arrows on the Safari browser tool bar were more or less muted, or provided less contrast than in the past. Accustomed to moving back to review web pages previously viewed and forward again to the “current” page, I wondered why Apple dumbed down the interface and stripped out much of the contrast and contour. That is until I realized that a simple swipe right would take me to the previous page, and another and another. Swiping left would bring me back. This is absolutely an incredible advancement to web browsing.
However, if you have been a mouse user and haven’t upgraded to the newer Apple mice (Magic Mouse) or have never used a laptop and Apple’s TouchPads and therefore haven’t had a true experience with Apple’s Multi-touch surface, you have no idea what I’m talking about. Or perhaps you’re like the several friends of mine who I just learned did not realize that sculling and other gestures can be done using this multi-touch surface. It’s time you take a break and understand that things are getting much easier.
I have a Magic Mouse. And I have a MacBook Pro with a Multi-Touch surface. I also have a Magic Trackpad. All of these can be used with Apple’s Multi-Touch Gestures. There’s no reason to use scroll bars anymore. Hasn’t been for a few years. But now with Lion, the gestures (like those we use on the iPhone and iPad) have come to our desktop and portable computers. And the best implementation is this ability to swipe back and forth through webpages.
5) Exposé & Spaces. Gestures & Mission Control
One of the coolest features of Leopard and Snow Leopard is the ability to have multiple desktops. Apple calls this Spaces. It’s a remarkable cure for screen clutter and it helps those of us with multiple monitors manager our ‘screen real estate.’ But like Gestures, many Mac users don’t leverage the productive advantage that Spaces offers. I don’t blame them, because it hasn’t been very well implemented or easily understood. With Lion however, and the use of Gestures, I’m confident those who’ve blown off using Spaces will take another look. More on this in a bit. The other features that perhaps has been more widely used in the previous operating systems is something Apple calls Exposé. This is simply a quick zoomed out view of all the open windows and in-use applications. If you’re like me, I have 10-15 applications open at all times. Navigating through these and finding the right window or application you need can be daunting. In the past tapping the F19 key brought a zoomed out view of everything ‘active’ on your computer. Simply point to the window you want current and the system zooms that window forward.
Exposé became more complicated with users leveraging the previously mentioned Spaces. So Apple, in many ways, blended Exposé and Spaces together and made it easier and more intuitive to interact with both by using Gestures. Now simply use three fingers and push up on your Multi-Touch device. This brings up Mission Control. You can access this through your Applications folder or your Dock as well. Not only will Mission Control show you what current applications and windows are open on your current “Space” it allows you to move them to other spaces and vice-versa.
There is one oddity in Mission Control, however, and that’s the concept of Dashboard. I’m not exactly sure what this Dashboard is, other than in the past where previous Apple systems allowed the use of mini-applets (or Widgets) for common quick tasks such as Weather, Dictionary, Stock Quotes and more. However, I can’t help but think this Dashboard Widgets are old and in the way. Let’s move on.
Not much to really say about this new Lion App other than it brings the look and easy of use to launching applications that we’ve learned from the iPhone and the iPad. Simple layout grid of all your applications. Organized by pages that you can swipe with gestures or click through with your mouse. I haven’t spent much time using it as I have grown comfortable with my Dock, especially since it’s available at any time regardless what Space or App I’m using. This could change. Check with me in a month or two.
7) Full Screen Apps.
One of the big features Apple is hawking and the Mac Bloggerati raving about is Full Screen Apps. To be sure, because the new OS X Lion system is so new, many developers haven’t had a chance to implement the advanced features into their Apps. So to truly understand the relevance of such features requires a “wait and see” attitude. But Apple has been working. The Apps included in OS X Lion such as Mail as well as its suite of productivity Apps, iWork, are taking advantage of these new features. At question is just how useful is this “Full Screen” capability? I’m not sure. Yes. In the earlier days of the PC wars when Microsoft Windows was shoveling dirt on the grave of the Apple Mac, I found that the interface among different PC apps were different. There were some full screen Apps. Yes. The menus were in different places and it became difficult to move from one App to the next. The Apple OS has always managed to keep a tight grip on the user interface. As such, menus are comfortable, recognizable and intuitive. With the advent of a fullscreen App capability I only hope that the door doesn’t open to confusing interfaces. The full screen mode has already been available in iWork’s Pages app, but with OS X Lion we now have full screen Mail. Does this help me? Not really. I guess on a single screen system and portables the ability to view only one app and focus is good. But didn’t we have that features with “Hide Others” in many previous OS’s? Let’s wait and see how useful this feature is.
8 ) Resume & Autosave
Two of the features that perhaps have been available as ‘plus-ins’ or 3rd party apps are AutoSave and Resume. I like these. Briefly, these new OS X Lion features mean that those Apps that are leveraging the new features will save versions automatically. You don’t need Time Machine to go back in time and if your system somehow crashes, you won’t be dreaded the angst of lost time. And Resume is simply a great feature that brings your desktop, screen and just about anything you were working on back to life the next time you reboot your computer. Of course, these features are user controllable so if you don’t like autosave or resume, simply set them accordingly.
I’m to going to get into other features like the Lion Server or AirDrop because i haven’t used them. I do want to briefly note some things that I’m not yet comfortable with.
— Outside My Comfort Zone. Things that Aren’t Better in Mac OS X Lion —
Have you tried the search in mail? I was just reading a productivity expert who espoused the fact that there’s no need to organized archived mail into folders or whatever scheme a user is comfortable. Just file it off the server, the expert said. “With the power of search you don’t need to keyword, tag or file mail into specific folders.” I thought that is a great concept. I have dozens of folders and painstakingly try to keep my mailbox (Inbox) clean and file those messages that might be important to me later. So the concept of just moving from server (IMAP) to a generic folder seems great. Then I tried the new search function in Apple OS X Lion. In the previous version I could simply type a search term and the system would give me the option to search for that term in: 1) the subject; 2) the To field; 3) the From field or; 4) Sent Mail; 5) Current Mail box or 6) ALL (the entire message). Cool
Well that seems to have changed as the options I see available are 1) Inbox; 2) Drafts; 3) Sent; 4) Notes or 5) Flagged. Granted I have options to search specific Mailboxes with each of these (I have 4 email addresses and all coming into Mail so it’s nice to have this feature) However, I might want to search only the From field or To etc. What happened Apple? Searching mail has become less useful than before.
- What happened to bounce?
There used to be a menu item user message that would allow you to simply bounce a message back to the sender. This was a great features that I used often when people mistaking sent me a message when they intended to send it to another. Saved me time from saying hey dude, wrong guy. I don’t have time to send heath onto f these guys a personal message. The bounce would at least alert a sender that his email didn’t go through. Sure, some people wouldn’t even bother replying or ‘bouncing’ the mail. But I feel it’s the right thing to do. Especially since some of the messages are often very personal. The new version of Mail in OS X Lion doesn’t have the Bounce option. Not sure why not.
-Contextual Menu – To Do?
One of the great features of the integrated Address Book, Mail application and iCal was the ability to quickly set a To Do item based on an email message. Viewing an email message in Snow Leopard (and Leopard) I could control-click (or with the Magic mouse Right-click) and set a To Do for the Mail Item. This would allow me to set alarms and add notes etc. This was incredibly useful as I didn’t need to go to the iCal app and create a To Do item. Now with the new Mail.app in OS X Lion I cannot set a To Do from a simple contextual menu command on an email message. This is a step backward in my opinion. Apple seems to think “Flagging” and email with multiple colored flags is more important and seems to have sacrificed the To Do feature for the Flag waving feature. Come on Apple! Bring back the To do!
10) Command-Tab Application Selection
Remember, I’m running many applications concurrently when I work on my Mac. The best quick key (or keyboard shortcut) for selecting and chaing the current active application has always been through the keyboard combination of command-shift. And by lifting your finger off the shift key and then selecting the shift key in sequence a user can progressively select the next application. Release the keys and that application comes to front. If you found yourself confused and looking for the desired application and simply lifted your finger off the tab key and then pressed it again and held it there, the selection indicator (an outline around the application icon) would simply continue to move and move and move. On and on. With the new OS X Lion Apple has figured this out and at the end of a sting of many applications the selector indicator just rests at the last application. I think this is a good enhancement, albeit very obscure.
These are just a few of my immediate observations on the new Mac OS X Lion (10.7) operating system. I’m excited about Lion and look forward to seeing how things operate in the next month or two. Check back as I will periodically share further notes and observations.
In the meantime, what have you noticed that is helping you? Or what don’t you like?
Those who know me well have heard me say this time and time and again. The most precious gift you can give anyone is your time. Likewise, time is the most precious thing someone can give you.
Simple, right? Yet sometimes the idea and value of giving and receiving time is forgotten or unrecognized. Think about it.
Of all the things you value in life virtually everything, within reason, is unlimited. You can always make more money, buy more flowers or get more food, wine or followers or friends on Twitter or Facebook. But time? It’s a rare gem that should be coddled and used wisely.
Nobody has a crystal ball. But if you live beyond 80 years old, you’ll have lived about 30,000 days, or abut 700,000 hours. That’s it.
No need to dwell about this, it’s a simple fact. And it’s a reminder that when you’re fretting about finding the right gift for a loved one, or trying to figure out just what to give your team, assistant or staff for a holiday or birthday, think about giving them the most precious gift you have: your time.
Do think they would appreciate your time more than a bouquet of flowers, box of chocolates or, good lord, a gift card? When a friend is down or in need would a phone call or get together over coffee or a drink be better than a sympathy card or an email? Think about it.
It’s about time. And it’s about time we all recognize and share our most precious gifts.
Take the time and make the time. You can.
July 16th, 2011 | Mac My Day
I was happy to find that Gizmodo reprinted (posted) an interview from Playboy Magazine with Steve Jobs from sometime in the mid-1980 ‘s. I guess there is some controversy as to the actual date of the interview. Suffice to say this interview took place just before Steve Jobs turned 30 years old. It won’t take long, but you will see that his vision and his idealogical mind was well formed and, I have to admit, outpaced any other company or visionary at the time.
Take a moment and read the interview.
Why is it that so many of us have difficulty in dealing with change? Change comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and flavors. Whether your job has been eliminated, a competitor just outflanked you with a new product, you’ve had a personal loss or rules have evolved as have the way you do things, it’s how you choose to look at and deal with change that matters most.
Fact is, most people feel change will have an immediate negative impact on their life or career.
In communication and language, the word change is often used in a threatening manner. “If things don’t get better, we’re going to make some big changes.’ Or how about, if you don’t change your attitude right now you’re going to your room.” Even when we say, “If he gives up another hit, we’re going to the bullpen and changing pitchers.”
So I beg you to think of change more positively. When we say “This is a game changer,” that connotes something good and positive. And yes, it’s okay to “change” your mind.
Why all this sudden obsession with change? Well, just a few weeks ago I was booked to speak to an industry group. They wanted me to weave a theme about change in the context of my three year around the world motorcycle journey. Our conversation was spirited and my client perhaps was surprised at my passion about this subject. At the time of my journey and through the two years of planning, I was going through an incredible amount of change and transition.
Another reason I thought I should share is about a change a very close friend is going through. Sadly, his marriage is ending in divorce. This wasn’t an abrupt change. He saw it coming over the past couple years. While he tried to pick up the pieces and put it back together, he recently had to face the sobering reality. My friend is a successful businessman, an accomplished athlete and father to three beautiful children and in many ways a wise old sage who is not shy when sharing his opinion or providing the comfort of an old friend or business consultant. But he’s taking this very hard.
Yes divorce and relationship-ending situations are difficult and very emotional. I find that it does take a strong person to weather such change. And I believe he can. He’s just taking it too hard and being too hard on himself. The transition and change in his life may make no sense today, but I am confident that in time he will find himself in a better place—one without pain or regret.
Though it’s often difficult to see when you’re in the middle of it, change is good. So I thought I’d share a few things about how important change is in business and life. And without getting into an entire treatise on change, change management or transition, I opted for a more simple approach. I hope you enjoy Allan’s 20 facts about change you need to understand. =
20 Reasons Change Is Good For You
- Without change, things stay the same and ultimately will stagnate and die.
- Most people are afraid of change because it forces them outside their comfort zone. (go there it’s not that uncomfortable)
- Without change there is no adventure in life.
- It takes much more energy and effort to resist change than it does to accept it.
- It’s much easier to embrace change than to fight it.
- Since most will resist change, successful people will use this fact to their advantage.
- Change is learning. Learning is growing. Growing is living. So live.
- When you complain about change, the energy you’re wasting will turn you into a curmudgeon. (is that what you want to be?)
- Change is opportunity.
- Status quo is boring and gets you nowhere.
- Change is exciting and forces you to move.
- Change can be scary and uncomfortable only when you look at it that way.
- Fear of change is a feeling you can change.
- It’s okay to change your feelings.
- People resist change because it brings feelings of fear of the unknown.
- The unknown will be uncomfortable unless you shift your position.
- Change is a harbinger of possibilities.
- Everything must change.
- When we change we adapt and move forward, when we don’t we move backward.
- The weather will change, so don’t worry about it and stop talking about it!
Take a moment to comment on this post and share your thoughts on change and how you’ve been able to adapt and embrace it and move forward.
Photo note: When I rolled into Damascus Syria in May 2008, it was hot and traffic unbearable. I rounded the corner in the hectic downtown area when suddenly my rear tire went flat. I new I’d have to find some shade and get the energy to change the tire or tube. That’s when the manager of a 4 star hotel spotted me and proceeded to roll up his sleeves and help me change my tire. That was perhaps the tire change of my entire trip and I made a friend forever, as did he. Now I look at what’s happening in Syria and hope that both the people and the government can agree that change must happen. Good change must happen there and I’m hoping for the best.
I can’t remember how I was turned onto the music of Dave Alvin. I liked the rockabilly and catchy music of the Blasters, the band he and and his brother Phil founded while growing up in the eastern Los Angeles community of Downey. I never saw nor bought any of the roots music recorded by the Knitters, an ambitious alt country/folk project Alvin participated with John Doe, Xene and others from the LA punk band “X”.
Dave Alvin performing with the Gene Taylor Blues Band at Casbah in San Diego in December 2010.
But all this doesn’t matter. It’s Alvin’s solo career that has captured my attention and turned me into admirer. Not only for his excellent songwriting prowess, but his fine guitar work. At once driving and rocking, and at other times grooving and contemplated, Alvin commands the electric and acoustic six-string instruments like anyone comfortable in their space. A few years back I saw him play a very intimate venue called Acoustic San Diego and have a few videos posted on YouTube from that show.
This past winter I connected with Dave and saw him play the stale beer reeking downtown grunge bar The Casbah in San Diego. Packed into a tiny space that offers about 100 or so fans standing room views of local bands in an intimate if not claustrophobic space. Dave joined with ex-bandmate Gene Taylor, for a series of shows in California in December and January.
But what truly brings me to this music-reflecting post is the release of Alvin’s latest solo album, Eleven Eleven. According to Alvin’s liner notes on the CD (yes, I actually purchased the physical CD) he named the disk largely due to his brief contemplation of numerology. That is, this is Alvin’s 11th solo release, the disk was released in 2011 and there are 11 songs on the disk. Perhaps most interesting, Dave Alvin was born on November 11th. Though this makes me wonder why he didn’t wait to release the album on his birthday this year: 11/11/11. Ahhhh, but this disk is titled: Eleven Eleven.
Moving from the Americana folk-inispired releases of West of the West, King of California and his 2009 disk Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women , Eleven Eleven is a rocking driving and blues-inspired journey into Alvin’s life on the road. From the saucy blues guitar licks of Harlan County to the feedback intro and rhythmic Bo Diddley-esque pounding of percussion that forms the bed for Alvin’s deep resonating vocals and classic story telling on Run Conejo Run, Eleven Eleven doesn’t fail to inspire or satisfy. Sure he pulls back for a few acoustical diversions with Manzanita and No Worries Mija with its heart-felt and whimpering accordion and pedal steel guitar, but the spirit of this release is the driving energy that once help define the Blasters. And for the sake of Nostalgia, Alvin recruits brother Phil to join him on the aptly titled What’s Up With Your Brother.
If you haven’t heard of Dave Alvin or checked into his music lately, take a moment and check out his music. I’m sure there’s something there to satisfy most musical tastes. And if he happens to roll into your area and you have a chance to see him at a dive bar or small venue, you should take advantage of the opportunity to see a true professional whose passion and commitment to his art and craft is evident in every minute of the more than two-hour sweat-building performance he’ll deliver. Maybe I’ll see you there!
If you’re a Bob Dylan fan you’ll be blown away by his version of Highway 61 Revisited, the cut he chose to record for the Uncut Presents Highway 61 Revisited – Revisited songs of Bob Dylan. Check it out.
April 29th, 2011 | Good Juice
It hit me some years ago when while tasting and reading a bottle of Turley Zinfandel. I nearly dropped the bottle when I realized the alcohol level recorded on the label indicated 17%. That’s nearly port, I thought. Since then the alcohol levels of wines beyond zinfandel have been steadily climbing. So much so that some restaurants and collectors are refusing to offer or consider tasting wines with alcohol levels higher than 15%.
To be sure, some wines at 15 to 16% are very balanced and where I would never guess the alcohol percentage to be so high. Others scream at me “hot”. And that’s offensive. I found a California cabernet sauvignon recently to be listed at 16%. The actual alcohol percentage could be much higher. Ask any winemaker. It’s an ongoing joke that the alcohol level, which must be reported to the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) authorities is often random and nary close to reality.
Call the fire department, Denner Vineyard’s Dirt Worshipper clocks in at 15.6% alcohol, it’s actually probably closer to 17%!
Why? Because for wines over 14% the authorities permit a tolerance of 1% over or under what’s actually printed on the label. For wines under 14% an even greater latitude is allowed—1.5%. That’s why you’ll see many wines labeled “alcohol 12.5% by volume”— that wine could actually be 14%! To be sure, it is virtually impossible to accurately pinpoint the final alcohol content before bottling, and wine labels are printed well in advance of bottling. Most wines are stored months, or even years before release. During this “aging” period evaporation is likely to occur. So what is the alcohol level of the wine you’re drinking tonight? Don’t rely on the label. It’s likely 1-1.5% or more higher. Most wineries use equipment that is either imprecise (vinometer) or expensive (ebulliometer) to measure wine.
As climate change (or global warming) wreaks havoc on farming, the hot climates of Paso Robles, Australia and southern Spain (Priorat) and elsewhere bring about extremely ripe fruit and with it, high levels of sugar. This in turn translates to high alcohol. In the past, winemakers eager to charm and seduce the critics, especially Robert Parker who tends to lean toward heavy, extracted and high alcohol wines, keep pushing sugar levels and use other techniques in an effort to get a high rating. High rating means higher prices and quick turnover in inventory.
So it was interesting to note that the anti-alcohol movement now has publications such as Decanter Magazine and The San Francisco Chronicle now making policy to include alcohol level in critical wine reviews.
“It’s not just a question of the alcohol’s impact on the taste of the wine,” writes Adam Lechmere in Decanter Magazine, “There are also health issues at stake, drink-driving limits to consider, and the simple issue of intoxication.”
Check out the photos of a couple random bottles I pulled from my cellar at home. The bottle of 1994 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon (I know, the cork on this one should be pulled soon) sits at 13.5%. The bottle of the 2008 Denner Vineyards Dirt Worshipper sits at a whopping 15.6%. Even more interesting is that my bottle of Denner received a stellar 97 out of 100 points from the Wine Spectator late last year.
Check out this play-by-play panle discussion at the Word of Pinot Noir wine event held last earlier this year on California’s Central Coast about alcohol levels and balance in Pinot Noir.
April 19th, 2011 | Good Juice
While on a recent trip to the central California coast, I stopped in to visit my good friends Curt and Martha. Prior to a day of decadent tasting of the great Rhone varietal wines of Paso Robles’ west side, we stopped into the Templeton Farmers Market. Though we were committed to a dinner of roast beef, root vegetables and a spring salad, we were inspired by the lovely artichokes that were just harvested early that morning. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out the recipe I posted on my companion website, Tasting Adventure. It’s a nice fresh spring Artichoke Risotto, easy to prepare and takes the best flavors of the artichoke and plants them from your table to your palate.
When in Paso Robles I tend to gravitate to the westside wineries, not only because they are closer to Curt and Martha’s home, but for the most part, I find the wines more interesting and the environment more aesthetically pleasing, to my taste
anyway. I was happy to see that the people behind Bill Armstrong and his fairly new Epoch Estate Wines purchased the old York Mountain Winery which Martin-Weyrich drove into bankruptcy along with all of their other over leveraged properties and projects. Best of all, they took the sterile and ugly “trailer” that Martin-Weyrcih used for a tasting room and made it into a warm, inviting environment that resembles more a lounge than a tasting room. I do look forward to the renovation of the historic York Mountain Winery building and hope they ultimately move the tasting room back in there.
While on the trail we visited Denner Vineyards which just released their 2010 Denner Vineyards Viognier, light and golden and perfume on the nose and viscous and dances in your mouth with tropical fruit flavors and a hint of butterscotch. We slipped by Tablas Creek Vineyards where we indulged in what I believe is perhaps the best rosé in California, made primarily of Mouvédre the 2010 Tablas Creek Vineyard Rosé with its color of rich cranberry, and flavors of spice, apricot and sour cherry, it’s the perfect summer wine. Stock up now.
With each visit to Curt and Martha’s Casa de las Vistas, I find myself leaving the area before I really settled in, where the comaraderie, good food, wine and endless brainstorming of ideas and dreams quickly fades as the 101 freeway beckons me to head south—until the next trip.
A trip to Paso Robles Wine Country isn’t complete without a picnic lunch from the veritable and fresh Farmstand 46.
The Behaug, a roast beef sandwich with aged cheddar, red pepper, sweet onion and horseradish on toasted rye!
Raisins, beets and greens. Nothing like eye food at the Templeton Farmers Market.
March 22nd, 2011 | Mac My Day
It’s no secret I love my iPhone. My friends, clients and associates will all attest for my relentless efforts to help them take advantage of this powerful tool and help them be more productive—and successful.
However, most iPhone users who purchase and download apps rarely use them the day after they bought them. In fact, only 10% of iPhone applications retain its audience over time, according to Greg Yardley, VP of Flurry, a smartphone analytics and monetization platform that tracks over three billion end user application sessions monthly.
As of today there are 367, 232 active apps available for download in the App store, accoring to 148apps.biz. So what apps are people really using? How do you make sense of the wild landscape of iPhone apps? Whether you’re a self-professed techno-geek or simply a blossoming iPhone user, I’ve put together a short list of iPhone Apps I simply cannot do without. But more than just “using” these apps, the key to success and is mastering these apps. Ideally, an app should, more or less, work the way you want to work and not force you into working the way it wants you to work. I think this is why we have such high app abandonment rates among users.
So I’ve provided a quick summary of why I think YOU shouldn’t be without these apps, and offer a tip or two on how to jump start your journey on the road to success. Sorry, there are absolutely no games I can’t do without, though I’m a closet Scrabble junkie, but I’ll save that for another post.
Here are the 5 iPhone Apps every productive and successful person should use:
1) Dragon Dictation – Free
I hate the iPhone and iPad keyboard. As advanced as a species as we humans are, we shouldn’t be pecking away and tiny keys on a phone or tablet. Dragon Dictation frees us from the burden and hassle of tapping away. And lets us use our iPhone as we should: hands free.
Using incredible voice recognition, you simply speak clearly into your phone, using normal language for punctuation or line returns, and when done Dragon Dictation does its magic and translates your voice into text. Simply press one button and the text is automatically pasted into Facebook, e-mail, SMS text message, Twitter or copies to the clipboard for easy pasting into your favorite social media app or other of your choice.
Dragon Dictation Tips:
1) Use punctuation: say period, question mark, comma, exclamation point.
2) Make paragraphs and line returns: say next line, new paragraph
3) Rather than choosing SMS/Text from the Dragon action menu, have a text conversation thread open and choose copy. Double click (fast app-switching) the iPhone button and choose the open SMS app and simply double tap to paste the text into your message. Same goes for email. Faster and less pointing to address the text or email.
2) Google – Free
While the Google App is perhaps a tad bloated, it’s single most useful feature is voice search. You see, I truly am averse to tapping the
keyboard. Simply launch Google, click the microphone icon in the search page and speak your search. The results are spit back at you instantly. If you really want to get tricky, you can take a photograph of something and submit the image as a search, Google will use its advance recognition to determine possible results. Great with bar codes, too. Not sure who the artist is of that painting, take a picture and submit.
Google Search Tips:
1) If you want to navigate and look through many of the results, choose “Open in Safari” as Google will return to the search box after clicking a results link.
2) Be sure to adjust your settings to allow orientation change so you can view your results vertically and horizontally. And set your default to launch the search box.
3) Evernote – Free
Let’s face it, we all live in a world where we use multiple devices that access the internet, to do our work and to communicate. Any app available for the iPhone that is used to log or capture data that doesn’t provide a Mac OS X equivalent and some method to sync is ultimately useless, in my opinion. Evernote changes that. With Apps designed for Mac OS X, iPad and the iPhone (and Windows 7, Windows Mobile and Android) Evernote syncs your data so that it’s with you wherever you go.
You can categorize your notes by creating different notebooks. I have one for my keynote speaking business, each of my marketing/branding clients, recipes, creative writing and more. No matter where I am, I can capture my writing, rambling, photos or scribbles directly into the appropriate notebook. If I’m using my iPhone or iPad, the note is tagged with my location and searchable accordingly. Now I know where my best (and worst) ideas come from!
Evernote lets you capture information any way you want. Clip web pages,text, photographs and audio. Take a photograph of something that contains text: a menu, billboard, brochure, road sign etc., and it will convert that photo into a pdf and convert words into text. This makes the text from that photograph searchable within Evernote. I took a photograph of some hand scribbled notes I had from a conference and when I search, I get results from my poor, but recognizable by Evernote, handwriting.
1) Take pictures of napkin brainstorms, scribbles and more. Get rid of the paper. The note is archived forever and is converted into text searchable by Evernote.
2) Use Voice Notes for capturing ideas. Forget the iPhone Voice Memos app, use Evernote and record your ideas, conversations and more. Then apply tags that make it instantly searchable.
4) WorldCard Mobile Lite – Free (full version available for $5.99)
In keeping with my theme of avoiding any keyboard entry into you iPhone or iPad, WorldCard is the most amazing tool for capturing contact information from business cards I’ve ever used. It recognizes e-mail addresses, the difference between mobile, office and fax numbers and enters them in the appropriate fields in the iPhone Contacts app. And if you’re good and using MobileMe, these contacts are automatically sync’d with all your computers, tablets and mobile devices.
No longer do business cards bulge from my wallet or are scattered on my desk waiting for me to enter into my contact list. I simply take a photograph of the card with my iPhone and 98% of the time the information is translated into text correctly and in the appropriate fields. I can then toss the business card. If I’m really good, I’ll take a photo of my new contact and assign it to the new record in my Contacts file on my iPhone.
I’m using the free app and it’s fast, accurate and saves me an incredible amount of time.
1) After you’ve entered a contact, be sure to toss the card. You’ll still accumulate cards, but make a point at end of day or first thing in ther morning to convert your cards to contacts so that the cards don’t pile up.
2) It works with both horizontal and vertically designed cards. Some company names that are merely logos may not convert to text, so you may still have minor keyboard entry. But WorldCard makes it easy.
3) I use the free version, though associates tell me the paid version is a bit snappier and packed with additional features. Start with free and use it. You’ll be blown away.
5) My AT&T – Free
Okay. This is a no-brainer. With the free myAT&T app I can monitor my call, text message and data usage. None of this worries me too much because I’ve been grandfathered on the unlimited data plan. However, because I travel outside the states often, I like the ability to turn on and off features such as data roaming, international text messaging plans and more. Rather than waiting on hold with AT&T customer care, I can turn on and off services on the fly. And because data can be incredibly expensive abroad, I am sure to rest my data to zero before take off at the airport, this way I can be sure to monitor my data usage and avoid excess charges like the $3,000 bill I ended up with in South America. Never again.
My AT&T Tips:
1) Use this app when you travel outside the country. If you don’t have an unlimted plan domestically, you can easily watch your data usage and adjust accordingly.
Tell Us About Your Most Useful Apps.
Remember, an App is only useful if you use it at least once every day or two. How many apps do you have on your iPhone? Which Apps can you live without?
Which Apps have changed your life and made you more productive and successful. Please share so we can follow up with the best of the best.
And, while the five apps I profiled here are my most useful, it’s worth mentioning a few other notable apps that might make your life easier. Check them out, too!
Most Useful iPhone Apps: Runners Up:
1) 1Password – the most useful App on my desktop and laptop PC and very useful on my iPhone
2) Skype – I’ve got a lot of friends outside the US who can call me from the computer and it actually rings on my phone if my Skype App is active. It’s amazing
3) Google Voice – I can access Google Voice messages and receive and send SMS messages easily
4) MailChimp – perhaps the best e-mail marketing service available, this iPhone App allows me to access report for my clients, add names on the fly to email campaign lists and manage my campaigns.
5) Remote – I do have AppleTV and yet I hate the slickly designed but clumsily operated gum stick remote. With this app I have much more fluid operations when navigating my AppleTV.
6) Seesmic – There are so many good Apps that let you access and post to your various Social Media Networks. While I like HootSuite and Tweetdeck, I find Seesmic to be more a more clever interface, though unlike Hootsuite, it’s not integrated with FourSquare, which it really should.
March 21st, 2011 | Good Juice
1992 Ferrari-Carano Reserve Tresor Cabernet Sauvignon
1992 Ferrari-Carano Reserve Tresor surprises me for a19 year-old Sonoma Cab
This bottle has been kicking around my cellar for more than ten years. I must admit, I wasn’t excited about opening this wine. But as the adage goes, it’s not going to get any younger, so with apprehension and low expectations I pulled the cork on this nearly 20 year old Sonoma cabernet from Ferrari – Carano Vineyards.
When I think of Ferrari-Carano, I usually think of the over oaked Chardonnay that for a time was a popular wine by the glass in many restaurants. The Tresor, a bordeaux style wine that blends all five of the bordeaux varietals, is a very limited production reserve wine. Perhaps I thought of opening it because I actually saw a current release on the top shelf in the Von’s grocery wine section in nearby Carlsbad. It was selling for about $80, though currently Von’s is selling its entire wine inventory at 30% off. Buy six bottles or more and they’ll knock another 10 percent. So the Ferrari-Carano Tresor was selling for about $60.
But a 1992? I did a quick scan through CellarTracker. Nobody has one in their cellar. There were no tasting notes, at all. Then I went over to WineSearcher. Same thing. None for sale. Perhaps my 1992 Ferrari-Carano Tresor Reserve was the only remaining bottles, save the wineries library.
I pulled the cork.
Storage is everything when it comes to drinking older wines. And by the look of the cork, this bottle was stored impeccably. In the glass it barely showed signs of age. A little tinge of browning on the edge, but mostly a rich opaque ruby red color. And on the nose? Showing dried cherry, slightly earthy with some straw and hints of cedar, mushroom and coffee grounds. On the palate this wine showed amazing balance with ripe plum, olive and dried cherry and pomegranate. It’s only flaw, and this would be for a new bottle, was a slight drying on the finish. But the finish lasted for a good 30+ seconds. Wow. This wine was made at a time that California and new world winemakers were NOT pushing extraction, alcohol and ripeness. This tasted like bordeaux with a California pedigree. The odd bottle that had been pushed around for months—years—in my cellar surprised and amazed me. Too bad there’s not another bottle—anywhere. Good job Ferrari-Carano, you do know how to make good—great—wine.
1992 Ferrari-Carano Reserve Tresor – 93 points (tasted 3/19/11)
Sunday afternoon is an excellent day to stroll along Cedros Street in Sonana Beach’s design district where local farmers, chefs and street vendors set up shop for one of the nicer farmer’s markets in North County San Diego.
Open from 1-5pm the small market meanders up a narrow pathway on the east side of the street a few blocks south of Birmingham. From organic produce to grass fed meats and artisinal bakeries and gourmet products, it’s what you expect from a farmer’s market—people with passion about food and sharing. And it’s always good to support local farmers and entrepreneurs.
I’d never seen a lemon like the “Citron Buddha Hand Lemons” one farmer was hawking for three bucks a piece. Three elderly ladies were fondling its arthritic looking fingers before they yielded to the lens of my camera. A quick google search revealed that the Chinese and Japanese use it, not for cooking but, for perfuming rooms and clothing. In Western cooking it’s often used for zest or for a tart candy when made into a chewy succade.
I opted out of the purchases, but with my newfound knowledege, I look forward to a return to the Solana Beach Farmer’s Market for more tasty fresh organic treats and a citron buddha’s hand lemon. I’ll be sure to share the adventure and discovery on the pages at Tasting Adventure—a new project that is in development and related to my upcoming book.
Low tide in the late afternoon in Solana Beach makes for a perfect time to walk on the beach. As the sun makes its descent and the glowing orb paints the bluffs orange and yellow and the shadows of beachcombers stretch and dance across the damp sand. Good thing I made the time today to wander and wonder.