The Path To a Healthier America (or not)

In spite of all of the government funded studies that show that Americans are becoming more and more obese, the newest transportation bill allots less than 1% of the $300 billion total for sidewalks and bicycle paths. As anyone who has tried to run their errands on foot knows, without better walkways, it will continue to be easier and more pleasant to use a car for daily tasks, and we will continue to get heavier and heavier as a nation. For more information, read the New York Times article, The Path to a Healthier America.

High Tech Porta Pottys

While traveling in San Francisco, we ran into the following high tech porta potty. You put a quarter in the slot, the door opens automatically and you step inside. Inside you hit the door close button and enter the world of high tech bathrooms. To wash your hands, you just hold your hands over the sink. The water and soap start pouring automatically and after a time, they shut off and hot air blows out. When you leave, the whole bathroom cleans itself, including the floor and toilet bowl. There’s a warning sign telling people not to enter as people leave, as the wash cycle happens automatically!

High Tech Porta Potty

Control Panel


The Wall Street Journal has a column today about travel websites. In it the article I discovered this cool tool called SideStep that you can download from the Sidestep website. It installs as a toolbar in your browser, lets you search for flights and takes you to the website with the fare when you pick one.

Last Juror

I really enjoyed listening to the Last Juror by John
Grisham. (I listened to it on my Otis from Audible. Tell them
“storming” sent you if you sign up.) It’s a book about a
young man without much direction in life who moves to a
small Mississippi town and ends up, almost by accident,
buying the town newspaper. We meet the town through him
and hear about many topics affecting small southern
towns in the 1970s such as racial integration, Vietnam,
department stores, etc. All of it chronicled through his
friendships and his ownership of the newspaper. The book
does have a murder mystery in it, so it is more like
some of John Grisham’s legal thrillers than Bleachers
was, however it is really a story about a small town and
the people in it.

Innovator’s Dilemna

I had a chance to hear Clayton M. Christensen, the author of Innovator’s Dilemma and Innovator’s Solution, speak today. I enjoyed his first book, Innovator’s Dilemma, and it was really interesting to hear him apply his ideas to current technologies. Clayton talked not only about distruptive technologies that companies miss, but disruptive technologies that they are not able to take advantage of in the markets they serve. For example, he argued that solar power will not develop into a mature technology in the United States because we will not be forgiving of an immature product – we expect 24/7 uptime from our electricity. On the other hand, people living in Mongolia are excited to have solar technology – they don’t depend on electricity 24/7 and are ok with it going out often. He gave a couple of similar examples and ended up having an interesting conversation with Tim O’Reilly who was in the audience.

Charlie Mike by Leonard Scott

Charlie Mike is a book about the rangers in the Vietnam War. My boyfriend recommended that I read it (and then gave me grief for months as I avoided it.) I enjoyed the book – it was much easier to read a book about the Vietnam War than it was to watch a movie. Without the visual violence I was much more able to relate to the characters. In Charlie Mike, Leonard Scott does a good job of describing the war and the people in it in a way that made it more possible for me to understand some of the awful events and behaviors that came out of the Vietnam War, like why people volunteered, why people were slaughtered in battles that shouldn’t have happened, why people enjoy fighting and he did an especially good job of showing us why people enjoy the military.
I do have to say that his female characters were a bit shallow. We didn’t really get to meet them. The focus of the book was most definitely the rangers. The characterization of the rangers was excellent.


Bleachers is a book about the coach of a small town’s football team. Unlike most of John Grisham’s other books, it is not a legal thriller nor a mystery. It’s about a small town, a coach and a football team. John Grisham does a good job of describing how the lives of many men have been affected by their high school football coach. Whether or not you agree with the coach’s methods, there is no denying that he’s a true leader. He changes the lives of those around him.

This is a good short book, so it’s well worth your time to read it.

Lost in Translation

There is an opinion letter about Lost In Translation in today’s edition of the Asian Wall Street Journal. The author of the letter, Salil Tripathi, argues that critics who say that Lost in Translation mocks the Japanese are wrong. I had to stop and think about it.
Lost In Translation is a movie about two Americans that meet in a hotel in Tokyo. They are both suffering from jet lag and a sense of displacement or alienation from the Japanese culture around them. Anyone who’s been to Japan on business will find the beginning of the movie funny. At one point I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. However, I don’t believe the movie was making fun of the Japanese. I think it was highlighting how foreign it all looks to an American. The movie was making fun of that sense of disorientation you can feel when you’re encountering a new culture for the first time and you’ve only had two hours of sleep. Bill Murray, who’s not even sure what he’s doing in Japan (other than they are paying him lots of money) and he’s having problems at home, just looks lost and that’s a very familiar to feeling to many business visitors to Japan.

Most of us however, do end up sleeping at some point, and begin enjoying the cultural differences. Business trips to Asia are always my favorite.

While I really enjoyed the beginning of the movie, I thought the movie was very slow. However, I’d have to agree with Salil Tripathi, I don’t think the movie was mocking the Japanese culture.

Two issues I did have with the movie:
– The gyms at international business hotels in Asia are NEVER empty in the early morning hours. There is always a large number of jet lagged business travelers waiting for treadmills as soon as the gym opens in the morning.
– While I’ve sometimes had problems being understood or understanding what someone was saying in Japan, I’ve never had them brush me off or continue to repeat the same thing over and over again. In my experience they have always been very helpful and taken great pains to make sure I understood and was understood.

John Kerry, John Edwards & Friendster

Both John Kerry and John Edwards have Friendster accounts. If you belong to Friendster (signing up is free), you can invite them to be your friend and (if they accept your invitation) check out their profile.

Note, there are several John Kerry’s. The one with the picture of himself windsurfing is the one that is running for president. John Edwards is the one in the suit and a tie.

I read this in BusinessWeek.

Market Map

Smart Money has a really cool tool. Go to Smart Money, click on Maps, and select “Market Map”. A window with a lot of different sized squares and rectangles will pop up. Each square or rectangle represents a different stock. The relative size of the square corresponds to the stock’s market share. The color corresponds to the price, green is up. The map is continuously updated to reflect current prices.

This tool allows you to quickly see what the market is doing at a glance and to see how any one particular stock may or may not be acting with the market as a whole.