Just because every cloud has a silver lining, it doesn't necessarily, logically follow that every silver lining has a cloud.
But if there were a silver lining all by itself in the upper atmosphere, it would probably condense in on itself and fall to Earth at a substantial velocity. Silver is a pretty dense metal. That kind of thing would wipe out a whole village.
15 December 2008
Just because every cloud has a silver lining, it doesn't necessarily, logically follow that every silver lining has a cloud.
12 December 2008
05 December 2008
I've been hunting around for a good Carmenere lately. (Carmenere is grown mostly in Chile as a varietal, although it originated as one of the noble grapes of Bordeaux).
The wine I found today is so good it inspired me to share it and to start tracking wines. My ongoing mission is to find good wines at good prices. Sure, you're probably going to have a great wine at $60 a bottle, but if you can find a great wine for $12 a bottle, then I'll take that! In fact, I'll take 5 of them.
Look up this wine list on your smartphone when you're wandering up and down the aisles at the liquor store wondering how to spend your loot. It's rough, but it works for now.
When you find a wine of good quality and impeccable value add it to the list by clicking here so our list can grow and you'll always know which wine to buy.
-->UPDATE: I have moved the Wine List to DansWineList.blogspot.com
04 December 2008
Dear Stephan Dion:
Screw you. You lost the election fair and square. You, yourself, acknowledged that the people of Canada do not want you to be the Prime Minister. You announced that you would resign as Liberal Party leader.
And then this week you used the financial crisis as an excuse to rouse the NDP and BQ into a shady deal to oust the Conservative Minority Government. Under the guise of "helping Canada face the economic crisis" you have truly put Canadians in a vulnerable position.
You say you want to help Canadians face the financial crisis, but it's just a smoke screen. Now Parliament is suspended for two months. So as the economy of the world marches on, the Canadian Government is absent and idle.
Sit down, Mr. Dion. Your ego and emotions have done enough damage.
And Jack, quit piggy-backing with the more popular kids. You look better as the alpha dog in your hippy clique than as Dion's bitch. Your time is better spent figuring out how to get into power on your own merits and charm than by selling your soul to the Liberals.
The enemy of the economy is political uncertainty. Nothing could be more uncertain than a two or three-way coalition government between rival parties that have agreed to play nice for 18 months. A Liberal agenda would spin its wheels trying to reverse anything that has a Conservative stamp on it and slapping new taxes all around to compensate for it's wayward spending. It would get nowhere, especially with the 'support' of the NDP who would drag their feet the whole way.
Then after 18 months of investors, businesses, and consumers holding their breath and their wallets, we'd go through another sloppy election. Financial crisis indeed.
So go home, Stephan. Maybe a colonic will help free your mind. Then come back and let the big boys get some work done.
I wish I had 2 months of paid holidays at Christmas time... Ah the smell of tax-payer's money roasting on an open fire.
13 October 2008
23 September 2008
Our first child was born last week! A healthy bouncing baby boy. In the time leading up to his birth so many people told us "Having kids is a lot of work, but it's worth it."
Having kids is not a lot of work. Starting a business is a lot of work. Digging your own swimming pool is a lot of work. Having a kid is more of an Herculean Task. There's so much to learn and so many things to do. But I think the pinnacle of it all is that it's a full time job. No wait, working 40 to 80 hours a week is a full time job... having a kid is--what ever 24 x 7 hours a week is--kind of job. Real full time, all the time.
On our first day the nurses told us "rule number 1 is sleep when ever he sleeps." Sounds like fun, I thought. No, it's obligatory. There is no other time.
To understand my current sleep pattern you can try this at home:
- Take a 6-sided die with these numbers on it: 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes, 120 minutes
- Now roll this die and write down the number you rolled. Continue until you have a list that adds up to 24 hours
- Now randomly write down the following activities beside each rolled number: change diaper, stare at how cute he is, visit doctor, feed him, check diaper but there's nothing there, try to feed him but he's not hungry afterall, wonder if he's still sleeping and go check, feed him, wonder why he's still awake, have people visit, wonder why he won't sleep, feed him, feed yourself, do something to remind yourself that you're still normal like brushing your teeth or having a shower, try to sleep before baby wakes up
- repeat constantly day and night and day and night and day and night and...
Labels: pearls of wisdom
15 September 2008
So I've been thinking long and hard for quite some time about how to increase my income. My Landscape Architect Intern salary just isn't cutting it. And the salary of a licenced landscape architect will not cut it either, at least not without another 15 years of experience. And I dont' have 15 years to wait. I really want to kill my student loans long before then, which are currently clinging to me like a cluster of persistent tumors.
I watch my adsense account closely every day, like checking your mailbox in olden times to see if you got that love letter yet. My adsense account has brought in more than zero consistently for three weeks now. But not enough to live off of. Not even in Nairobi.
Clearly I've done something right in gaining enough blog traffic to convert some links into sweet google money. How to do more? Like $50000 a year more. That's $1000 a week, no small amount. At the current level of conversion (less than $1 per 100 pageviews) I'd need 14000 pageviews a day to replace my current salary. And my current salary is below my minimum acceptable ideal salary.
There just isn't enough interest online (or anywhere, really) in Landscape Architecture to generate that kind of traffic. Now if I could transition to gardens and residential garden design, I could get that kind of traffic. But that's a different audience from Landscape Architecture job seekers, interns, and students. Totally different. And a very saturated space. And honestly, I'm much more interested in about 40 decent subjects than in gardening right now: including wine-making, investing, founding businesses, real estate, beer, music, parties, parenting, saving money, paying off debt, clothing, computers, programming, website design, writing, chemisty, history, technology, travel, nutrition, to name a few.
I read a post from Steve Pavlina today, the web guru of self-help articles. He actually has a lot of great stuff, although much of it wreaks of new-age neo-hippy incense. Sorry, you'll have to wade through that.
I like the part near the end where he talks about wealth accumulation as the trade that the world gives you in return for value you've created. It's a very entrepreneurial viewpoint, and one that comes naturally to me. I haven't been capitalizing on it in the last many years because I've been chasing the dream of becoming a designer, but my entrepreneurial instincts are restless and desperately in need of excersice.
It's food for thought, and I am considering re-branding this blog (or basically scrapping it and starting another one in a new vein). It doesn't matter if I re-brand or start over since no one is reading this anyway, so I'll just save the time it takes to re-design it up front and let it evolve. I also need a new name, methinks. I am considering using this blog as a behind the scenes "how I built my other blog" blog. A kind of practical how- to for making a blog that actually gets traffic and creates value (and of course cashes that value out in the form of cold, hard currency). Is this space saturated? Of course. Do I have time for it? Not with my current schedule.
I'm also considering blogging about business ideas. I have shed loads of business ideas. Most people are really scared to talk too loudly at the pub about "their great idea", much less blog about them. But having the idea is the fun easy part that comprises about 0.1% of creating and operating a successful business. So I'm not worried about you steeling my business ideas. On the contrary, if you think any of them are good enough to discuss, let's talk! There's few things I like more than talking about business ideas, strategy, forming a team, and dreaming big.
13 September 2008
It was a few years ago that I was hanging with a friend of mine (basically the only one who reads this blog, props, Edge) and he was introducing me to the blogosphere and related technologies. He said that "because of google adsense, anyone who can write will never have to work another day in their lives", or something like that, and I got starry-eyed. Freedom! I love writing about as much as I love beer. But I had to acquire a taste for beer, whereas playing with words is hard-wired in me. This should illustrate the power of my passion for writng. If not, lets go for pints and I'll
So here I am: a wage-slave, prostitute, employee, worker bee--however you want to say it, it's all the same. I must work because I have massive student debts, and because I must eat, drink, and live. So I need cash. I love to write. Can those two things solve each other some way? Blogging! So I quickly set up 3 different blogs: one on Landscape Architecture (my current profession), one on Stained Glass (my parents profession), and this one on... whatever. So I wrote. I spent saturdays tweaking layouts and colours, and dreaming up ideas for posts. I scoured the blogosphere for articles and advice. I was glued to my rrs reader keeping my finger on the pulse of tech and the web two point oh. And then, like most other blogs, the money did not roll in, I got busy with other interesting webby things, and the blogs sat fallow.
But since then, I've been reading a lot of marketing books (esp. Seth Godin) and blogs, business, SEO, and generally learning about the internet and various web technologies. After many months of doing almost no blogging at all, I suddenly found a renewed interest. I'm still in it for the money, but have come to understand why content is king, and that having a blog is not the same as having a blog that actually gets read.
In the beginning, I naiviely thought family and friends would react with, "he's writing a blog now, cool I can't wait to read it." Ha ha! I dont' know where I got that idea from, but to all you bloggers out there, people don't really care. People generally fall into three categories:
- other bloggers who understand your blogging hobby and share your interests. They might actually visit your site, leave a comment now and then, and even subscribe in a reader
- friends and family who might discover your blog and lurk it once during a slow day at the office
- people who have no idea what a blog is, couldn't care less about the internet except once in a while remembering they can "ask the google", and think RRS feed is something used to fatten cattle
After reading Seth Godin's 'The Dip', I realized that the trouble was lack of focus. A blog about everything is the same as a blog about nothing, but not in a good Seinfeld way. The internet is so vast that what people really need when they arrive at a page is an instantly clear idea of what it is they are looking at (note: this blog is still a dear failure in that respect, which I might address someday). If the subject matter isn't directed right to a reader, or isn't something they can relate too, they don't care. They will click 'back' and regret visiting. It's just the way the web works.
People need filters and guides. In other media these filters and guides are the radio dj, the newspaper editor, the waiter, the purchaser of fashions for a clothing store, the journalist, etc. It's actually very rare that we are ever confronted with an un-filtered array of choice.
So, I re-focused my Landscape Architecture blog. And with a better understanding of SEO, linking, and pagerank, it worked. At least it's starting to work! I now get an average of almost 100 pageviews a day at The Landscape Architecture Resource. It's not much, but a good start.
The other obstacle to your blog being appreciated, is that many people find it hard to comprehend what a blog really is. We have historically been so immersed in a one-way, non-interactive, push media, that most people have trouble grasping the concept that a blog is a conversation. "You mean the editor would allow me to publish a comment on his writing? I'm not a 'writer'. Why would they listen to me?" Dudes. That's so 1996 that I get nostalgic for Curt Cobain interviews on television. It's not just a bunch of drunken rambling typed into a laptop. It's a manuscript posted globally for all to see, use, and reply to. It usually feels like screaming silently from a mountain top. But every now and then... it screams back.
10 September 2008
I love talking about money. It was not something that was ever appreciated at my house growing up. For a long time I was angry at my parents for not teaching me the value of money and how to handle it. Especially since they run their own business, it would seem like fertile grounds for learning about finances. But my current theory is that they've basically taught me all they know, it's just not that much. I don't think my parents have ever been comfortable talking about money, so it was never a subject that came up unless it really, really had to. And even then the basic premise of the conversation was always: "things are tough all over, what can you do? Life is tough and money is hard to find. That's just the way it is."
It's a strange and complex subject, similar to talking about sex I suppose. It's deeply personal but also universal and important. I'm endlessly intrigued by how people react when the subject of money comes up. The most common reaction is a blank stare into the distance and no comment.
The trouble with talking about money, is that unless the other person shares a stake in your situation (room-mates, spouse, business partner, co-investor) it's really hard to relate. People who are worse off, or think they are worse off, can only react with "what are you complaining about, you've got it good" and those who are in a better financial situation can't understand why you would sweat over $100. Not that I complain about money a lot, it's just a subject that intrigues me and often comes up, as a related subject of investing, real estate, and business. And there are a few people who share my scarred-for-life student-debt situation, so every now and then we do commiserate over a beer.
11 June 2008
Electric Six, performers of Fire in the Disco have a pretty funny post on their site that I want to share entitled: Retirement by 40??? Electricsix.com Has 5 Hot Tips To Make It Happen. My favourite is a toss-up between
3) Find that Canadian 5-dollar bill you saved because you thought it was funny that it had hockey players on itand
Remember that Canadian 5-dollar bill you kept because you thought it was funny that they put hockey players on their money? At today's exchange rate, that Canadian 5-dollar bill is worth 67,000 US dollars. Find that thing.
4) Steal David Beckham's identityelectricsix.com
If you have a free afternoon, go to Los Angeles and rummage through David Beckham's garbage until you find a few of his credit card statements and computer passwords. Then get a hold of an encryption scrambler and an electromagnetic pulse that[...]
22 May 2008
Perhaps someday everyone will have their own website. Geeks who are reading this are saying, "what do you mean, we all have for 12 years now!" I mean 'everyone' as in a significant proportion of the population. Of all ages. It will happen. At the latest it will be when today's 15 year-olds are 70 and anyone born before the Internet is long gone or at least out to pasture.
But it will probably happen much sooner than that. New tools are popping up every day that make it easier and easier for people with no programming or graphic design or even computer aptitude to build a site of their own. Mostly for fun or curiosity (like this blog), some for business purposes, and some because there was a need (WeGoWeGo.com and
GreenLid The Landscape Architecture Resource for example). If you're reading this blog then chances are you already know what I mean. Blogger, facebook, Ning, Google Pages, etc.
I've been dinking around with this blog for a year now. Mostly to try stuff out, experiment with widgets, dream of earning money from google adsense... Don't we all? When musing on personal websites I thought it would be really cool if I had a site that kept track of and shared all the books I've read (if I can remember them all). I found the astore at Amazon to actually work well: I can find almost any book and have its picture and some info about it posted, in categories, and online. I'd rather it was more of a chat group, sharing, discussion thing, as it lacks any interaction tools, but it works for now. So here's my reading list (in progress): Have you read these books?
11 April 2008
Our mythology, expectations, and theories form such a thick blanket of perception that I don't know if it's possible to see the world in any way except through this subjective lens. It's not necessarily a bad thing, though I'd argue that it usually is, especially when concerns religion versus open-minded inquiry.
One example of perspective having a positive outcome was when a baby was born with two faces in India this week. The medical term is craniofacial duplication, which of course just means more than one head or face (aren't medical terms tricky?). But that's the western scientific perspective: abnormality, deformity.
To the villagers in India, she's the reincarnation of the Hindu goddess of valor, Durga. Rather than being feared and ostracized she is being worshiped as a blessing. Not too shabby.
A contrasting example of perspective's influence happened when the Spanish Conquistadors (which I think is the medical term for rapist) landed in S. America for the first time. The Inca's ancient history told them of a deity called Viracocha who wore shiny armour, had pale skin, and dark beards and would one day return to bring the gifts of civilization to the Incas. Well, apparently it wasn't Incan civilization that they were bringing. But these expectations are one of the big reasons why it was so easy for the Spanish to basically show up and conquer the continent. A few boats full of men on horses was able to take over a race of millions. Of course the Spanish believed they were chosen by the Christian God to rule the world and save it, so that was helping drive their end. Perspective.
What do you expect from the Gods?
10 April 2008
Matt Maroon posted a nice piece on Facebook and why it's crap. I was moved to write a comment which morphed into a full-blown blog post. So I've shamelessly copied it here. Partly to compensate for a lack of posting lately, and party because, well.. I was moved.
A year ago when Facebook launched their SDK I was excited that they were turning it into a platform. And then the junk apps started to fly like so many winged monkeys.
So what if they create a search, stock-market simulators, movie listings, games, photo-sharing aps, etc. until the cows come home? At some point all they've done is create a smaller, crappier version of the www. So why bother? So everyone I've ever kinda sorta met can tell how much time I waste?
It burns me just a little more every time I log in to FB to check all the useless spam that my 100 friends have generated and there's one more jackass selling me some pepsi or real estate tips or concert tickets I don't want because he's ripped my info off of someone's app. Or essentially cold calling me because I'm a "friend" of a "friend".
Great innovations are things that solve problems. Google solved the problem of how to find info. Facebook creates at least as many problems as it will ever solve. There will be a tipping point of spaminess where just enough people will say "fuck this" and Facebook will just disintegrate like wet toilet paper. Let's just hope the next friendster/myspace/beebo/orkut will be... well what? more of the same? A talking phone book? An implanted chip that vibrates every time someone whose name I know changes their socks? Do we really need to all belong to one big social network? Maybe the future will be more about services that actually solve problems. When the novelty honeymoon of everyone being online (not just your other 2 geek friends) wears off, everyone will come back to the basic question: what do I need this for?
08 February 2008
As any avid blog reader knows, the information age is already behind us. Let's say it was basically 1985 to 2001 give or take. Intrinsically we all know it: life is no longer linear. Our transition out of the information age reaches into every corner of our lives. We are now in the recommendation age according to Chris Anderson author of the Long Tail. Distributed intelligence and the probabilistic truth model of Wikipedia and the likes has taken our Post Modern world view and stretched it until it has given birth to a new paradigm. Information is everywhere, ubiquitous, always on. It's a matter now of organizing the infinite cornucopia of information into meaningful systems, networks, and experiences.
Life is no longer linear, in fact linearity seems funny in some ways now.
If you are old enough, you'll remember a time when businesses would name themselves silly things like "AAA Pools" just so they would show up first in the phone book (a paper anthology of businesses that people used to read to find information before Google and keyword search).
Back when music was stored on physical media such as records, tapes, and cd's you used to have to buy a whole album just to get one or two songs you liked. What a rip-off.
There was even a time when people watched television for the news! Imagine having to sit and wait for half an hour (and through commercials) just to get to the 10 second story you were interested in. How pompous of the newscasters to decide what I want to know about. Who did they think they were?!(Incidentally, for those of you who don't use tv anymore, fyi they still broadcast news shows. You should see one someday, what a laugh! There's no substance, no context. It's all fear-mongering and shocking images. I watch the cbc news when I eat breakfast because it's so geriatric and funny it makes my day.)
As a kid I remember listening to the radio for hours hoping that they would eventually play a song that I liked (please don't laugh, it still hurts). Nope, sorry kids, there was nothing to click on that would make it go. I had to wait in line like everyone else. Now, thank God, we can all have our own personal radio station (sorry, this link only works in -gasp- Internet Explorer.
We are going through such a huge evolution of culture right now that in 100 years or less the twentieth century will be lumped in with the Enlightenment as the historical period between the Medieval Ages (before the printing press) and the current epoch (after the internet).
Welcome to the future.