February 2013

Month: February 2013

Amtrak Adventure

Rockin an Amtrak hardhat

Today I shot a semi-unofficial video for Amtrak’s Employee Assistance Program. The video will highlight how to relax and move as an employee on the long haul runs. It’s a tough job, so the video will hopefully be a help. The truly cool part of the visit was seeing a lot of the behind-the-scenes aspects of their Ivy City maintenance facility. Some highlights:

  • Homeland Security (aka “GI JOE”) drilling storming the train with blue plastic guns. No joke.
  • Seeing the track equipment pushing and pulling train engines
  • Seeing the clever use of space in the roomettes and other sleeping cars
  • Interacting with the men and women there… really pleasant cool people.

Shooting on a train is challenging – lots of noise from the AC and very, very tight quarters. Overall, a fun experience!

Amtrak shoot

Karmacoda + Sunfields

Do yourself a giant favor and support one of my favorite indie chill-out cool band from the Bay Area, Karmacoda. There’s a new remix album out right now, and it’s great stuff. I’ve gotten the chance to hang out with Heather, Karmacoda’s lead vocalist and we’ve played a lot of their stuff on Kimberly’s podcast. Special shoutout to Anji Bee who makes an appearance on the album too. In addition to being half of Lovespirals, Anji’s also a legend in the chillout podcast world. I doubt she’d admit that, but it’s totally true. Check out Chillcast. Aaaaaand, you’re welcome.


This weekend, I hope to get a chance to hear some cuts from my favorite band you’ve never heard of from Montreal, Sunfields… they’ve got a new album and I happen to be hanging out with their frontman/guitarist Jason. I predict a Juno. OR perhaps a Genie… this came from a prior visit:

and, the sequel

Ok, maybe not a Genie. But he sings good:

Go Orange!

Louis the Pug and I are gearing up for today’s big game against our arch-rival Georgetown Hoyas. If you’re not a sports person, it’s hard to convey the degree and depth of this rivalry. Today marks the final time the Hoyas visit the Syracuse campus as members of the same conference (long story). The Carrier Done will be packed to the brim with 35000+ fans, breaking some record that I’m pretty sure Syracuse owns already.

Louis, as I mentioned, is all geared up:

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He loves wearing that.

My game treat will be some stuffed jalapeños – I’m shaking things up:

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Louis asked me to mention it’s 10:55am and Georgetown still sucks:

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Trolling the trolls

thanks wikimedia
thanks wikimedia
The internets are full of trolls. Trolling has a lot of definitions, but I’ve observed that most trolls exhibit these characteristics:

  • Anonymous commenters
  • Negativity in their comments
  • Generally try to hijack a discussion from one topic to another, sometimes tangentially at best
  • Tend to have a high opinion of their opinion, but get testy when called on it
  • Think of themselves as higher intellectuals than others (especially those with whom they disagree)
  • Never become real members of a community (see anonymity above)
  • Become shocked (shocked!) when they are called out as trolls

I recently had a bit of a run-in with a troll on another blog. I make it a point not to feed the trolls, but this one got under my skin just enough to call out, because the person was anonymous, negative, picked an inhuman time and occasion to troll their trolling, tried to hijack the post with a senseless observation, and cloaked it all in pseudo-intellectual feces. Basically, your perfect troll.

Unfortunately comment streams seem to be full of them – check out your local paper’s comments (and God help you if you live in Syracuse… I swear, that’s the worst of the worst) or any CNN story, or… sadly most places. I used to enjoy the discourse amongst a lot of Internet based communities, but now I find them to be anti-intellectual.

And troll, if you’re reading this… I invite you to actually discuss your point. I really do. Just pick a different forum than a grieving woman. Or write a blog post. Anonymously, of course.

Internets are the future and it’s a series of tubes

Today we hosted the Internet Association’s small business crawl at Tranquil Space. Nice people, and it was fun to share how much we leverage the internets for our businesses. I didn’t use the term “internets” … but I really, really wanted to. I did say “series of tubes” though. Sadly, it was in context. Thank you Sen. Stevens… R.I.P..

I upgraded the templates for a bunch of the blogs I oversee. The buzzword these days is “responsive” – as in, your images resize in response to the size of the screen. No more lame mobile optimized sites! In any event, I made some tweaks on a few blogs to make them “so 2013.” Go ahead… change the size of this blog’s window and look at what happens to the series of tubes below. I’ll wait…

tubes

SEE! Awesome, huh? So, tip: change your blog or website template to one that’s (say it with me now!) responsive!

Standing water on your roof? Build a gravity siphon.

Last night I got a call that we had a roof leak at the studio. It’s been an ongoing problem because the roof to the building is essentially a bowl (long story).

Roof flood

Before siphon

 

Rather than continue to sweep the water up (I know… up) into the gutters, I decided to rock some technical know-how and build a simple gravity siphon.

Ingredients:

  • Hose
  • Zip ties

Take the hose and stick one end on the roof in the deepest part of the water. Zip tie the hose to something fixed to keep it in place. Notice I used the end with the plastic connector because it raises the end just slightly to allow water to flow in:

Flood end of siphon

Then throw the hose over the side of the building. Our studio is one story, so the length of the hose was more than enough. The biggest thing to make sure is that the hose end is below the level of the water.

Then, suck on that hose. I know – can’t we come up with a siphon pump? Sure… if you’re into that kind of thing. I used my lungs. Annnnnd…. boom:

I calculated there was about 15 tons of water on the roof. This took it off.

All hail gravity. All hail science. All hail the surface tension and other related properties of water.

Grind, unpaused: getting strategic

After a few rejuvenating days in San Francisco, I’m ready to hit the ground running. I’m hoping to devote time this week to big picture things, but I’m fully aware I have a list of accumulated “to-do’s” waiting for me as well. Rather than just drop my new project ideas, I’m going to try something new that’s been suggested at more than one conference I’ve attended… making time for strategic thinking.

So, as a way of making it more likely to happen, I’m throwing the proverbial hat over the big garden wall by blogging about it. Every day this week, I intend to spend 1 hour (just one! shouldn’t be hard!) to new or bigger picture strategic projects. At the end of this short week, I’ll assess. This week:

– A statistical analysis project on client retention
– An idea for a new category of offering at the studio

I’m being purposefully vague at the moment, but might be able to fill in some gaps later. Also coming this week, new systems. I’ll be checking out an app called Expensify, which might be just the thing I’ve been looking for without realizing it…

On the biking front,I’m getting excited for the spring after the 24 hour, 50 mile camping ride with MJ last week. Might start planning a few overnights for March. I’m also thinking about seeking more hills in DC. While I was able to keep up in CA, I think the more hillwork I can do this spring will reap dividends for the Big Loop tour this summer.

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