Monthly Archive: August 2009

sitting room

sitting room

Originally uploaded by kaiyen

This post is not really about the photo…of course, I think all of my photos on flickr are great (or at least pretty good, since I only upload those that I like and think are worth showing to others), but something weird happened.

I got my first flickr comment spam on this photo. It has since been deleted, and the flickr account is now gone, too.

It was a fairly well-worded one. My photos show up on facebook eventually, as part of my news feed. Someone apparently got to this photo somehow, and wrote something along the lines of:

“nice photo, very calming. I wish that everyone used their FB name on flickr, too – so much easier to find people! Comment on one of my photos in return or I’ll come and get you!”

kaiyen, which I use on flickr, is kind of an internet alter ego that I have. And of course on FB I am listed as Allan Chen. So that was rather specific. Also, it’s common to expect that if one comments on another’s photo, there should be at least some perusal of the former’s photostream and make comments, if possible. Not a requirement, and failing to do so doesn’t justify retaliation, but it’s not abnormal.

However…the one photo the person had would generally be considered not safe for work (NSFW) unless one worked in a pretty private location. And if you read the caption for the photo there is a reference to some singles site and how to find her on it.

And now the account is gone. I did a quick FB search of something along the lines of her flickr name to see if I found some crazy, in appropriate profile but no dice.

I think…I think I got comment spam on flickr. Weird.

making lemonade

I have to admit – I’m a big fan of the phrase “when the world gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

It’s not that I’m some die-hard optimist, nor that I always see the sunny side.  Actually, I might like that phrase because it helps me get through the day sometimes, when I’m being more pessimistic.  But fundamentally, I think it’s a good way of looking at the world, the curveballs that life tends to throw one’s way, and how to come out of things feeling positive and productive.

I have been thinking more about the phrase, though, and how making lemonade can be very different when put into a different context.  In this case, a business one.

Let’s say that we have various beverage producers out there.  To keep up the analogy, different groups and organizations make different kinds of beverages based on their ability to make better quality lemonade than others.  Perhaps great efficiency or even just staff, stuff like that.  I’m going to split off of the actual lemonade analogy now, but stick to the beverage one.

Some groups out there make wine.  These groups are far from those that must remind themselves to make at least lemonade.  They are not only efficient at dealing with problems, but have the skills and/or resources that allow them to produce a high-quality beverage that requires great skill, lots of equipment, land, etc.  They have the machinery, people, and organizational structure to take, say, sour grapes and make at least decent wine.  That’s pretty impressive.  And such organizations are in a completely different league than those trying to make lemonade.

One step down are those that can make, say, sparkling cider.  Not as much skill is required here – there can be a bit of variation in the flavor, perhaps, as long as it still tastes apple-ish, and one can probably use some artificial flavoring to make up the difference.  Equipment and resources are still needed, though.  Skilled workers must be present to operate the machinery to make the actual juice, convert it to cider, and then carbonate it before bottling.  These people likely won’t have the expert-level knowledge of a winemaker or many of the people that work in a winery.  But they are well-trained, and they can make cider.

So where does that leave people who are just trying to make lemonade?  Well, first of all, while this low rung might not be competing with those that can make wine, those that can make sparking cider present a challenge.  When an organization is surprised by something, or has to work with less-than-ideal tools, if one group has the infrastructure to make cider but the other one can only squeeze lemons, perhaps manually and therefore inefficiently, and throw just sugar in there and mix, then something is amiss.  And if the latter group does not move from lemonade to sparkling cider capability at some point, then that group isn’t growing.  And the leader of that group is not doing his or her job.

It’s rough trying to make lemonade in a market where people only recognize the wine, and may, at times, acknowledge the cider…

airport roof, Bangkok

airport roof, Bangkok

Originally uploaded by kaiyen

I took this photo quite a while ago – back in March of this year, 2009. It is of the airport in Bangkok, which we were in and out of a few times as we traveled through the country for a week. The architecture, as you can see, is pretty interesting, with these big sweeping shapes of what looks like fabric around an overall metal framework.

I am putting this up on my blog because I like the photo, certainly. i was very pleasantly surprised and pleased with it when it came up on the monitor after scanning.

However, I’m also blogging on this because I was invited to a group named something like “Fine Art of Flickr.” The idea that spawned the group is that only the finest of flickr photos would be invited in.

The fact is, there are so many of these “best of” and “the art of” kind of groups that there really is no such thing anymore. If there are 1000 members of the “finest of flickr” group, and there are 5000 photos (and that’s a pretty darn low ratio), for instance, are they really the finest? Would this photo win a juried contest?

why is recycling so hard? oh wait, it isn’t…

We have 3 recycling bins – as big as large rolling trash cans – at our apartment complex.  There are 3 sets of these located next to each dumpster area for about 100 units.  That’s a pretty good ratio.  The bins are clearly labeled:

  • Mixed paper (does not include newspaper, laminated paper, or cardboard)
  • Newspaper (does not include cardboard, laminated paper)
  • Bottles and Cans (PET 1-7, includes glass bottles)

Pretty straightforward, no?  And the fact that it can do PET 1-7 is impressive.  Lots of places can only do PET 1-3 or 1-4.

Yet, this is what I saw this morning:

  • Cardboard in both newspaper and especially in mixed paper (note that none of these allow cardboard)
  • Plastic and glass bottles in plastic and paper bags in the bottles and cans bin (not sure if that’s allowed, but I at least bother to empty the bag out)
  • Newspaper in the mixed paper bin

And I often see even worse dumping of the wrong types into the wrong containers.

Now, I’m sure that in all reality the recycling centers know this will happen and sort everything that comes in accordingly.  They just hope that we stick to some kind of system.  But it never ceases to amaze me how wildly off the placement of all that stuff is.  I try to breakdown cardboard to go by the dumpsters (where it says “Cardboard here, please breakdown any boxes”) but even when I’m lazy I at least put it there.

The mindset of the Class of 2013 « Feral Librarian

The mindset of the Class of 2013 « Feral Librarian.

I worked with Chris, the “owner” of Feral Librarian, for a number of years.  Closely for perhaps the last 2 years at Stanford.  She is a very intelligent person with great insights on a number of topics.  Yes, she’s a librarian, but she sees the bigger picture quite well.  That’s a rare combination – specialization and competency in one focused discipline and the ability to look at a much broader scope.

This post is notable for a lot of reasons.  First, check out the full list from Beloit College.  Second, note that even I was surprised with #34 – [Today’s students] have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.

Always?  That’s a long ways from “usually” or “often.”  Wow.

Circus Ponies NoteBook 3.0 Review

Circus Ponies NoteBook 3.0 Review.

Mac Law Students, started up by an SCU Law alum, is a great resource for all things related to technology and law school.  Yes, it is targeted at mac users, but the ideas and concepts presented are very relevant nonetheless.

Notebook, from Circus Ponies, truly is an interesting product.  For notes, I still like OneNote (which is a PC app so is not relevant to their blog, of course).  But the project management stuff looks intriguing…

“I support downsizing”

While walking to work, I have noticed this one car with a license plate that says something like “dwnsizyn.”  Obviously that’s “license-plate-ese” for the word downsizing.

Today, the woman that owns the car drove off as I walked by, and it made me wonder…so there really is a person that for some reason promotes the concept of downsizing via her vanity plate.  Maybe it’s an inside joke but, to the outside viewer, it really seems like this person is a proponent of downsizing.

Now, downsizing for the sake of greater efficiency makes sense.  But then maybe the plate should say “6sigma” or something like that.

the career (life?) journey

  1. Birth (you gotta start somewhere)
  2. Go to elementary school, spend the afternoons running around like idiots.  Do things only idiots would do.
  3. Go to middle school, be mean to each other
  4. Spend high school first feeling lost, then concentrating on getting into a good college
  5. If you’re luck enough to get an admissions officer to take pity on you, you head off to that good college, and learn about life
  6. Start a career.  It need not be high up, it need not be the career for the rest of your life.  But hopefully get into a job that could lead somewhere.
  7. Move up the ladder.  Challenge yourself.  Get noticed
  8. Perhaps pick up an advanced degree to really let them know that you’re serious
  9. Achieve a management level position (or whatever it is that you “want” to do in life – maybe it’s being a top-level consultant)
  10. Keep moving around, be more successful, transition from a mode of ambitious drive to a calmer mode when you’ve reached the first of hopefully several major career points
  11. Retire, die happy.

This is a pretty basic sequence of events, of course.  But it’s also roughly what I want to do in life.

My question is:  are there ages that are associated with these various waypoints?  Can one not move from one step to another, or perhaps gain respect at particular steps, if one is too young?

We all hope that the answer is “no.”  That we live or at least work in a meritocracy and we will be rewarded for our hard work and achievements.

But lately it seems that I can’t get respect from others.  Lately I feel like just a kid being treated as such.

Tons of fun.  And it sure does feel unfair.

Hoop Fountain

Hoop Fountain

Originally uploaded by kaiyen

The Hoop Fountain is located between Meyer and Green Libraries at Stanford. During the day, it can be little more than an interesting shape, painted with a nice red color. It gleams, but it doesn’t overwhelm, like the Claw in White Plaza.

However, at night, they light up the streams of water, and the glow around the fountain can be really impressive.

I took this photo during my first photography class. My wife had a night photography assignment and I took her materials and went out for a stroll around campus. I eventually settled myself down low on the steps that drop down towards the actual water level, managed to step on quite a few slugs (yuck), and got a few pictures that I really liked. This is my favorite of the black and white ones.

I still have faith in e-mail

In the age of 140 character tweets, super-bloggers that post just a few paragraphs at a time (hey, Paul Krugman – for a Nobel Prize winner, I really wish I could get more from you than a link to someone else’s article and a few nuggets of commentary), and facebook status updates that are at most 2 sentences, the power of e-mail seems to have lost its luster.

E-mail has never had a very good rap.  Between viral forwards, the fact that its a transport mechanism for viruses themselves, and its quick reputation as “merely” an electronic replacement for written letters, and you don’t get very far.  Plus, there has always been this issue of “tone.”  Yeah yeah, we have all written an e-mail where we meant one thing, and the reader has gotten something completely different at the other end.  Often, that misread has been a big one – you write what felt like a nice, diplomatic missive with a simple question, and the recipient takes offense and all hell breaks loose.

Twitter and Facebook status messages don’t have to deal with this, for the most part, because they are so darn short.  How can someone take “feeling down today” the wrong way?  There isn’t even enough text there to misread.

Obviously, this is leading to a personal situation, so read on…