Book review: The Long Tail

The Long Tail is a must read for anyone wondering how the Internet works or how it’s changing the world as we know it.  In the book, Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired Magazine, explains how one simple principle is behind so many of the social and economic changes we are seeing with the internet.  The Internet makes it possible for many people to produce and publish cheaply and for many other people to find those "amateur" works easily.  For example, until the Internet, the only music you had access to was the top 40 on the radio or maybe the top 500 albums at the music store and maybe a local band at the bar on weekends.  Now you have access to hundreds of thousands of songs written and produced by anybody and everybody in the world.  Not only that but they are easily searchable in many different ways.  So a you don’t have to listen to just hits anymore and you don’t have to be a world wide hit to be successful.  That’s what is changing the world.  Niche markets are growing (around all of these non-hit works) and at the same time the way we share and find these niche products is becoming easier and easier – creating new communities online.

Chris Anderson explains it much better than me and I highly recommend the book if you’ve noticed that the Internet is changing the world and wondered why.


We watched a show on Spearfishing last night and I was curious enough to look up some more info on the web today.   Since it’s done in the middle of the ocean with just a snorkel, mask and fins, I was curious how long they were holding their breath:

The very best free-diving spearfishers can hold their breath for
durations of 2-4 minutes and dive to depths of 40 or even 60 meters
(about 130 to 200 feet). However, dives of approximately 1 minute and
15 or 20 meters (about 50 to 70 feet) are more common for the average
experienced spearfisher.

The woman we watched caught and reeled in a fish that was bigger than her!  All while in the water just wearing a wetsuit, snorkel, mask and fins.  She also had a spear gun and a couple of floats that held the extra line.  She was of course followed by a boat.  Speardivers can swim for several kilometers in the middle of the ocean hunting fish.

What do you want on your tombstone?

What do you want to be remembered by?  James Gray is currently missing at sea and the article in the New York Times (which reads like an obituary!) talks all about what a great researcher he is at Microsoft.  While I’m sure he’d like to be recognized for his work at Microsoft, I’m sure that’s not all he is – the article briefly mentions a wife just to say that she’s the one that called him in missing.

While I’m proud of my career and hope my work is recognized I hope my obituary (and not my missing at sea notice!) recognizes me for more than just that.

If I am missing at sea, I hope the authorities and media are all focused on information to help find me as opposed to my accomplishments in life!

I hope they find James Gray alive and well soon and he can tell us personally what he’s proud of.

No candy bar for me …

I wasn’t meant to have a candy bar today …

  • I started with a trip to the break room with one dollar bill and two dimes,
  • The machine was no longer taking dollar bills so even though I have free cokes at work, I decided to buy a 50 cent coke,
  • Now I had a diet coke, two quarters and two dimes,
  • According to the machine a Twix was 70 cents,
  • I put in my change, hit the code for a Twix and was informed that the Twix was really 85 cents,
  • So I changed my mind and hit the code for Reeces Peanut Butter Cups,
  • The peanut butter cups started to come out but got hung up on metal hook,
  • I banged the machine with my hip (much more effective than hitting it with your hand) and they came out from under the hook but got stuck on the M&Ms next to them,
  • A trip back upstairs proved I had no more change anywhere,
  • So I went for a walk instead!

Have you had a similar experience?

New family vocabulary

In my last post I said we need new vocabulary for in vitro kids for:

  • my mom that carried me for 9 months
  • my mom who donated an egg
  • my dad who donated sperm
  • etc

Well, we also need new vocabulary terms for all the new extended families out there:

  • my husband’s ex (how are you supposed to introduce her?)
  • my step-grandmother (is that your stepmom’s mother or your grandfather’s new wife?)
  • my half brother’s cousin
  • my half brother’s stepbrother

What other terms can you think of?  How do you deal with them?

Choosing your child

The oldest woman to ever give birth got to pick her child’s genes, or at least the donors, and then she gave birth to them:

a Spaniard, sold her home in Spain to raise 30,000 pounds ($60,000) to
pay for the treatment in the United States. She chose donor eggs from a
"pretty, brown-haired 18-year-old" and sperm from a blond, blue-eyed
Italian American.
"I picked them from photos in a catalog. It was a bit like studying an
estate agent’s brochure and choosing a house," the paper quoted her as

Amazing technology … three people came together to create these children.  Plus all the doctors that helped.

I keep thinking that the English language needs a lot more new words.  It needs a word for "my biological mom who donated an egg", "my biological mom who gave birth to me", etc.

Free ride in space?

This guy turned down a free ride to space because he realized he’d have to pay $25,000 in taxes on it.   My SO suggested that he could sell his space clothes for $25K on eBay afterwards!

Small businesses: More Generation Y, Women and Baby Boomers

Intuit published an interesting study about small business trends.  According to the study more small businesses will be owned by Generation Y (1981-2001), baby boomers, women, and immigrants.  Generation Y because they don’t believe in trusting a company to take care of them and they are quite comfortable with all of the new technologies and able to easily start not just one business but multiple ones at once.  Many high schools have now started small businesses.  I personally interviewed a Generation Yer who had started his own company in college – a website for trading video games online.  Baby boomers, according to the study, are more likely to start business with social causes in "retirement."  Women owned business will grow – maybe as they become more disillutioned with the glass ceiling.  Immigrant owned businesses will grow as the number of immigrants continue to grow.

It’s an interesting study, an easy read and well worth reading.

Woman fights off mountain lion

This woman fought off a mountain lion with a small log – a mountain lion that was attacking her husband.  It took persistence and multiple tries – at one point she tried to stab it in the eye with a pen.  The husband has had surgery and lots of stitches to repair the damage but the couple still plans to celebrate their 50th wedding anninversy in New Zealand this year!

Mountain lion attacks hiker in Calif.

Book review: Social Intelligence

I realized I never told you about one of the best books I read last year!  Social Intelligence.  Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, has written a new book that focuses on how humans beings connect to each other and how those connections are learned or formed.  He does a good job of balancing very interesting anecdotes with descriptions of how all of this works at the biological level.

He spends a lot of time explaining how these social connections are learned as a child and how what we do or don’t learn when we are young affects us later.  As a mom with a new baby, some of the experiments were actually scary!  He talked about how some moms can naturally tell when their babies need a break and leave them alone for a while and how others continue to "get in their face" and how this changes how the baby interacts with people as an adult!

If you’ve ever wondered how you knew someone was annoyed when they didn’t say anything (or how someone else did and you didn’t) or why you seem to connect so well with some people and not others, or how you could tell if someone is lying, or how much of our behavior is nurture versus nature, … well then you should definitely read this book.  It’s much more of a "why" book than a "how-to" book and it makes for some fascinating reading.

I just found out last week that Daniel Goleman used to teach at the massage school I’m studying at, Boulder College of Massage Therapy.  I wish I’d had a chance to take a class from him! (He now writes books and writes for the New York Times.)