Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why Blogging is Better than Twittering

I may break down and sign up for a Twitter account (a text-message like microblog where you submit 1-2 sentence posts at a time, especially relevant in a time where more and more people have smart-phones). I do like the idea of keeping track with friends via tiny and non-committal pithy comments. But Twitter cannot take the place of the context, color, theme, and nouns verbs and pronouns that you find on a blog.

Fake Twitter example:
Rob posts: “Made it to Shasta. No chains req’d”
Josh responds: “I told you. Next time trust me”
Brian adds: “Ah, you’re both whiners”
Rob responds: “Almost got in accident, I’m okay”
Brian adds: “Ha ha, too funny, probably got a buzz from that nasty mermaid coffee”
Rob responds: “No, seriously, I almost died.”
Josh responds: “Come on guys, why can’t we all get along… We settle this over Halo”

Huh? What happened? Why did Rob go to Shasta? Was bad weather expected? He almost died? Wow! How!? Are other people coming to visit him at Shasta? Some lodge or cabin where you can plug in Halo? I need more info! All of these questions could be answered, with pictures, charts, and context, in a blog. The other day I looked back at a post about some random weekend trip we took to College Station and thought, aww, that was a fun weekend! But I’m sure if I had a Twitter account at the time, my post would have been something like, “In Aggieland, Whoop!” ... Well whoop-dee-doo! What happened?

If only we had a blog during our treks in Romania and China. There are so many stories worth writing about that you will never know:
1) The 14-hour “hunger train” trip to Iasi
2) The trip to Dracula’s Castle
3) Rob gets in a fight with a drunk 60-yr old farmer in a coffee shop
4) Spelunking in a cave
5) Train ride to Vienna just to visit the nearest Starbucks

If we had a blog, you could find out all about each of these crazy adventures. But if we had a Twitter account, our post would have simply been a bullet point, ie “In Vienna, Starbucks… finally!”

Monday, January 26, 2009

Compete or Become Irrelevant

As my younger brothers and sisters know, I’m way on board the education bandwagon. But my educational philosophy is not that, “every young adult, regardless of economic means, should attend college,” but that “education should be the means by which a young adult should do something to better society and their family… not merely their own selfish interests.” That last point is a little hot – but it is true in the context that children can learn to love and be successful in many skills, trades, and careers if given guidance by their parents, family, school, or other outside influence. Success should not be measured by whether or not you graduate from a 4-year college. I know too many 4-yr college graduates who have $80,000 in loans and no skills. Success should be measured by whether your contribution to society is “net positive.” A 4-year education is not the answer. The answer is acquisition of the skills and experiential tools required to compete in a global economy and bring about positive change in your community; whether those skills are learned via college or trade school, or apprenticeship, or service to the country, etc.

“We had more sports exercise majors graduate than electrical engineering grads last year. If you want to be the massage capital of the world you’re well on the way.” (GE CEO Jeff Immelt to the US government)

I imagine the conversations and rationalizations parents must have with their children, “You must go to college because that's the expected thing to do… I don’t care what you do there, as long as you graduate. A BA in Sports Exercise? Fine. BA in Counseling? Fine. As long as you graduate.” But this thought process is the wrong algorithm. It’s not about what the child thinks is fun, it’s about what is going to advance the child’s skills and marketability in 2009 and beyond. Apart from "fun" are things like "gratifying" and "worthwhile."

Here’s an interesting read from Norman Augustine, the retired CEO of Lockheed Martin. It discusses America’s competitiveness, or lack thereof. It’s easy to read and chalked full of great one liners like, “Once upon a time, if you were born in America, you already won the lottery. That’s not the case for my grandchildren.” And, “When I compare our high schools to what I see when I’m traveling abroad, I’m terrified for our workforce of tomorrow.”

My homework assignment for anyone reading this who has kids is to think about the legacy their children will leave behind. What will they contribute? How will you have set them up for success in life? What lessons have you instilled in them. Tell your children, "do your homework because starving children in China want your job."

Fun, relavent articles to read on this subject:
They're Baaaaack!
Rethink the value of college

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Few Firsts

Jude is experiencing new things these days. He tried his first rice cereal a few weeks ago. I think he liked it, but his expression may suggest otherwise. He rolled over from his stomach to his back. He also has his first cold. He has the cutest little cough. Poor little guy has been getting very frustrated about not being able to breathe through his nose.

Jude lovin' the rice cereal

Trying to figure out why we keep putting him on his stomach

Caught him in a smile

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I Have A Voice

Ula-ula-ula, wa wa wa. That's how Jude says "Well hello there mom. You look nice today, as do these other large heads floating around me. Hello to you all. Hi there, you and you and you! I've discovered my tongue, haven't I? Yes I have!"

Friday, January 09, 2009

Vanilla Rooibos

A tasty new treat at the 'bux: vanilla rooibos tazo tea latte. They use whole leaf teas and a fancy silk satchel, topped by a healthy dose of steamed milk. I give 2 thumbs up. A great alternative to coffee :-)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Seattle Boxed In

We can now chalk up one more extreme weather phenomenon to our life experiences: flooding. At the moment, Seattle is completely isolated from the rest of the country. I don't know if that is a good thing or not to the rest of the country, but on this side of the mountains, it is a strange feeling. I-5 to the south is closed due to floodwater flowing over it, and I-90 to the east is closed due to avalanche hazards. Every route east over the cascades is closed, as is the coastal route. In the meantime, Jeanne drove up to drop Andy and Joanne off at the Seattle airport a couple of days ago, and now she's stuck at our place. We're trying to make her stay as enjoyable as possible, but I'm sure she's homesick. It's a good thing Rachel and I don't need to go anywhere, because it isn't an option! This whole situation reminds me of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" where everyone gets snowed in until the passes clear...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Trans-Texas Corridor Killed

I'm thrilled to hear that as of today, the unnecessary, $200 billion dollar, private, foreign controlled, tolled, countryside eating, 50 year construction project that is the Trans-Texas Corridor has been killed. I wrote previously about this project a couple years ago (link here). The universally maligned boondoggle was a centerpiece of the universally maligned Governor Rick Perry. He must be smarting today that his own transportation department unilaterally killed the project.

The project would have spewed 4,000 miles of concrete onto the beautiful Texas countryside (ie, not widening the existing freeways, but building new ones in the countryside). It would have measured up to 4 football fields of concrete in width (visualize that). It would have been funded by tolling - ostensibly in perpetuity - with proceeds sent oversees to Cintra, a Spanish engineering firm.

If this sounds bad to you, you can see why no one wanted it built in the first place. Yes, expand roads. Yes, infrustructure improvement is needed. But not a new freeway system that rivals that of Brazil's, on top of the huge whopper of a freeway system Texas already has.

Political side note: In 2006, Rick Perry won a plurality of votes, not a majority. Texans from Brownsville to Amarillo had 4 viable candidates to chose from, not the typical 2. Kinky Friedman, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, some Democrat guy, and Rick Perry. All of the other 3 candidates ran as anti TTC and anti-Rick Perry. But in the end they beat up on each other and Rick Perry grinned his way back to the governor's mansion. For anyone who cares, I'm endorsing Kay Bailey Hutchison for governor in 2010.

Friday, January 02, 2009

My Chai Syrups

I'm writing from Bend, Oregon, where Andy, Chris and I just took a tour of My Chai's small, nascent production facility.

A few months ago, we visited Satellite Coffee in Tacoma. Pat (the owner of Satellite) is almost aggressively passionate about his coffee, syrups, and products. He told us about his syrup provider down in Bend, OR. We were interested and we bought a half-gallon of vanilla and split it with Chris and Jeanne. Fast forward to this weekend. We're in Bend, and Jeanne wants to find the syrup to buy more, but we forget the name. Plus we know it is a very small company and most likely isn't open to the public. Andy and Jeanne researched and called some local coffee shops to find My Chai's name and contact info. Andy gives them a call, and talks with Bapi himself (owner). Bapi is a pleasant fellow who asks, "how did you get this number? You're not a coffee shop? You just want to buy a couple bottles? Well, okay, I happen to be in the office today, but I'm only going to be here for another hour, so hurry over. We're not open to the public, so give me a call and I'll let you in the front door."
We met Bapi - he showed us the original 5 gallon pot where he started crafting his chai and flavored syrups. Then he showed us the 20 gallon pot he used when production was in his apartment, then he showed us the industrial-size sink he wielded together to turn into a pot because 25 gallons was becoming too small. "I couldn't keep up. Once people discovered the syrup, they wanted more and more. I still can't keep up with demand. I sell to 400 stores and more every day, but look around - I have no inventory. Also, I refuse to take anyone's money, so all of this equipment and supplies are paid for in cash." He showed us the big 1000 (2000?) gallon drum that he's using now, and explains that he's moving into a bigger facility in Salem, OR where he can hopefully impress some bigger customers to start producing under their brand.

What a great little shop. My Chai is definitely going places, we're excited to have gotten a behind-the-scenes warehouse tour before it gets too popular. Bapi is a great guy. He's a former software engineer who, one day, decided he wanted to do something different. He's very excited about his product. He laughed when I told him where I work, but was very gracious!