My Pants Fell Off!

We’ve been eating "low carb" since Thanksgiving.  The first month or so I lost 10 pounds and then nothing happened even though I continued to be good.  Whenever anybody asked me how it was going, I’d say we’re being good and it’s working really well for Frank (my boyfriend.)  And I’d go on to explain that I’m eating a lot less because I’m not as hungry as I used to be.  I think eating less is a good thing as I used to eat continuously.

Last week I put on a suit in my hotel room getting ready for my keynote presentation and I looked down and thought "who let my pant hems out??"  My pants were so long I was standing on them!  So I grabbed the waist and pulled up and discovered I had a good 4 or 5 extra inches!  With a bit of work and creative use of my belt – on the smallest hole, I managed to come up with a solution that looked decent.  When the guy that put the mic on me suggested I take off my jacket, I looked at him just horrified.  "Well, you see, but, I’ve lost some weight … NO!"

So it’s going good.

P.S.  This post is my entry for a free trip to BlogHer.  It’s also a true story.  The conference was SCALE and my keynote was "Would you do it again for free?"

Should single moms settle?

I have several friends who are single moms "on purpose" – they got pregnant knowing there would be no dad in the picture. We actually used to debate the best way to get pregnant without involving a guy – we came up with some creative and often hilarious ideas. (Hilarious as long as they didn’t apply to me and you didn’t consider the morality and ethics too closely!) My friends that are now single moms all profess to be happy with their decisions but I admit that I often wonder if they are being honest.

Today’s Atlantic Monthly magazine article Marry Him! was written by a single mom who says she regrets it. Her advice to women is to settle and marry the best guy they find without waiting for Mr. Perfect because almost any guy will be better than no husband. 

I think she’s wrong.  While I think it’s possible that some women are too picky, (they aren’t perfect, so why do they expect a guy to be perfect?) I don’t think you should marry a guy because you are looking for a child raising partner. You’ll only have kids at home for 20 years and most people having kids can expect to live another 40-50 years! Having someone to watch the kids for 20 minutes while you eat lunch is not a good reason to marry someone. (If you don’t have someone, it might be a reason not to have a kid, but that’s for another post.)

I think our approach to child rearing needs to change. Very few kids have two parents that are married and living in the same home. Some have one parent, some have two, some have four or more! Some kids have one home, many have two, and some have three or more! Some parents have 80% of the responsibility, some have 20%, some have Mondays and Tuesdays, some have weekends. 

What we need are better ways to connect parents to others like them. We need better daycare options for parents that need to go on dates, more flexible work environments for parents that need to attend a school play or doctor appointment, more daycare options closer to home and work, more work from home options (to save on commutes), etc.

Connecting parents to other parents like them is the one I’d most like to see. Most the Mommy and Me get togethers are for stay at home parents. While I can flex my time and make the meetings, I meet people who don’t have the same interests as me. When I meet parents at games or school events, we don’t really have enough time to connect.

A friend of mine has worked out an agreement where she watches her friend’s kid two mornings a week and the friend watches her kid two mornings a week so they both get some kid free time. I liked that. More of that would be good. Now if I just knew people in my neighborhood with little kids. Think they are on Facebook? (Once your kids are school age, it’s easier to find other families.)

So I think single moms face all the same problems that married moms face, they just don’t have a built-in partner to commiserate with.  But I think we could find ways to connect moms to people that would help them.  It would help both single moms and married moms … and unmarried moms living with boyfriends/dads.

You Can’t Convince an Idiot

You can’t convince an idiot of anything.  If you think someone is an idiot, two things will will work against you as you argue with them.  First off, they’ll know how you feel and they’ll think you’re an idiot for thinking they are an idiot. (And maybe you’re smarter than 90% of the population but that doesn’t really make all of them idiots.)  More importantly, you’ll be framing your arguments for idiots, not for the person standing in front of you.

"If I were you, I’d make the same decision you did."

The way I see it, if I were you, and had been born with the same gifts, lived the same life, had the same values, then at any given moment I’d make the same decision you did.  So the fact that you made the "wrong" decision, means that you are missing some piece of information, some story, some anecdote that would let you see the problem the same way I do.  Maybe you really are an idiot, and I need to dumb down my reasoning – but chances are you are a relatively smart person and you have good reasons for the choices you’ve made whether it’s voting for Obama or supporting the Iraq war.  To change your mind, I have to respect who you are, understand that if I were like you, I’d feel the same way, and then figure out what piece of information or what story I can tell you to make you a little more like me.

Most people try to convince people by stating their side of the argument over and over, but what you really need to do is find out what they are missing (or what they’ve experienced) that makes them see the world that way and give them more information, preferably a new experience or a new story.  Once their experiences match yours, they’ll be more likely to make the same decisions you make.

89 things to pack in your carry-on

I travel with two bags: a Keen Oswego messenger bag and a Dakota Rollaboard. 

During my last week long business trip, I packed, carried and wore the following 89 plus items on board in my carry-ons:


  • Keen Oswego messenger bag
  • Dakota Rollaboard
  • Laptop (6 pounds)
  • Power cord for the laptop
  • Logitech IO2 Digital Pen
  • Logitech IO2 Travel Cradle*
  • Paper notebook for my IO2
  • Index cards for notes and lists
  • Books – at least one book (On my most recent trip to Australia I had six.)
  • 1 ballpoint pen
  • 1 mechanical pencil
  • My wallet – 2 credit cards, debit card, drivers license, health insurance card, cash
  • Cell phone
  • Cell phone charger
  • iPod nano
  • iPod usb cable
  • Shure E2c-n Sound Isolating Earphones
  • Business card holder with business cards
  • Travel cards – frequent flier cards, hotel cards, parking punch card
  • Polar Bear Coolers 6 Pack Soft Side Cooler* (for the hotel)
  • Eagle Creek Pack-It 2-Sided Half Cube
  • Eagle Creek – Pack It Half Cube
  • Eagle Creek Pack-It® Cube
  • Eagle Creek Pack-It® Folder 15"
  • Toiletry case
  • Toothbrush
  • Comb
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine products
  • Lipstick
  • Plastic bag (for security)
  • Hair gel
  • Toothpaste
  • Anti-zit cream
  • Under-eye concealer cream
  • Passport (on every trip – an alternate form of ID)
  • Plastic folder with printed itinerary and other papers
  • Sunglasses
  • Digital Camera
  • USB converter for camera's sd card
  • Camera battery recharger*
  • Keyspan PR-US2 Presentation Remote
  • Snacks: nuts, salami, jerky*
  • 1 USB thumb drive
  • Ibuprofen
  • Benadryl
  • Immodium
  • Pseudophed
  • Bandaids
  • Wireless headset*
  • Wireless headset "docking station"*
  • Charger for wireless headset*
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 suit
  • 1 pair sandals (or tennis shoes)
  • 1 pair of comfy shoes that will work with suits
  • 2 sets of pjs
  • 2 bras
  • 8 pairs of socks and underwear
  • 4 tshirts
  • 2 blouses
  • 3 pairs of pants
  • 1 belt
  • Eagle Creek Comfort Travel Pillow*
  • Bottle carrier – in case I buy any duty free*
  • 3 power adapters for Australia*
  • wireless router (for hotel room)

*Indicates things I might not carry on a shorter trip or a non-international trip.

Air New Zealand over United any day

Last week I flew down to Australia on Air New Zealand and back on United. I’d fly Air New Zealand over United any day for two reasons: seat comfort and entertainment.

  1. Seat Comfort. After four hours in the United seat, my bottom was sore – that seat was hard!  In contrast, I had no issues with the Air New Zealand seat.  (I flew in economy on both flights.)
  2. Entertainment. Air New Zealand has screens on the back of every seat. Not only I was able to pick from 20+ movies and lots of games, but I could start, pause and change them at will. I felt in control of my life! As much as you can feel in control while strapped to seat at 15,000 feet. The United flight not only didn’t have personal tv screens, but the three tv’s I could see were all out of focus and had poor color.  Not to mention that the magazine that listed movies was from the previous month and so the only way to find out what movie was coming on next was to wait and see.

So even though I fly over 50,000 miles on United every year and they are pretty good to me,  I’d fly Air New Zealand over United any day for long flights.

9 Things Amazon Needs to do to Make Book Readers’ Lives Perfect

Here are the top nine things that Amazon could do to expand their business model and make book readers’ lives perfect.

  1. Electronic copies of the books in your library. One of the things that’s keeping me from buying a Kindle is the fact that I have two shelves of books that I haven’t read yet. If I bought a Kindle, I would want to read those books on my Kindle. Amazon should allow Kindle users to scan all their books ISBN numbers and get an electronic copy of the book in their Kindle library. Unfortunately, there’s no information in the barcode that uniquely identifies that book, so it would be too easy for people to scan their library and all their friends’ libraries, somewhat like they do with music CDs today. An alternative would be to have kiosks where you could take your books, they would note which ones you had, give you electronic copies in your Kindle and stamp the inside of the book noting that it had been electronic copied once.
  2. Acquire Paperbackswap. I hate to mention this one because I love Paperbackswap just the way it is. However, it is the one non-Amazon place where I do significant book related things. I used to sell all my used books on Amazon but now I use Paperbackswap almost exclusively. Why? Because selling used books on Amazon is not easy. Just telling the buyer that I shipped the books takes six clicks plus typing a short message, and that’s if I know where to go.
  3. Automatic postage. If Amazon doesn’t acquire Paperbackswap, they should at least figure out how to do postage for used books as well as Paperbackswap.  When I sell a book on Paperbackswap they use the fact that they know how much the book weighs, where’s it going and what my address is to print out a very nice label that includes postage! It takes two clicks and all I have to do is tape the label to the envelope. With Amazon I have to print their shipping label (multiple clicks since it’s not direct linked from the email notification), weigh the book, figure out postage, tape on the buyer’s address, put my address sticker on and then put real stamps on. Real stamps on any book weighing over 13 ounces means I can’t drop the book in the mailbox but now I have to go to my local post office, walk inside and hand it to a post office employee. If Paperbackswap can do it, Amazon should be able to!
  4. Manage my own data. Amazon has a lot of data about my books. They have ratings, reviews, books I own, books I’ve looked at, etc. I’d love to be able to look at those lists, edit them, export them, save them, and so on. Because Amazon doesn’t allow me to do this, I double enter a lot of information into LibraryThing. What a pain! I’d love to spend that time on Amazon.
  5. Publish my data easily. I’d like to keep a recently read list on my blog with my ratings and reviews. Ideally with my associate-id embedded in it. Right now I have to create a widget and manually enter each book. (After I enter my rating and review into Amazon central.) There’s no way to sort chronologically and it adds new books to the end, so if I want to show the most recently read books at the top I have to manually drag the book up the list a few steps at a time. It’s too much of a pain so the widget at the right is now randomly sorted – not exactly the information I wanted to share but as close as I could (somewhat) easily provide.
  6. Spell checking in the search box! When I use Google search, I know if I
    misspell a word or don’t know an author’s name, it will say "Did you
    really mean …" and in one click I can fix it. In Amazon it just doesn’t find what you are looking for. Surely they can figure out that when
    I type "lois mcmaster bujould" I really meant "lois mcmaster bujold."
    Google figured it out.  Amazon told me "Your search "lois mcmaster
    bujould" did not match any products." The problem for Amazon (and me)
    is that if you use Google, Amazon is not even in the top 5 results.
    They are in the business of connecting customers to books and they are
    losing business.
  7. Navigation. In addition to their website being visually cluttered, I find it really hard to find things like: "who just bought that book they said I sold?" and "when is my next shipment of diapers coming?" I can find those now but I had to learn where to look – it wasn’t intuitive.
  8. Related books. Amazon does a really good job of pointing me at similar books that I might also enjoy. However, if I’m looking at a book in a series, if the book itself isn’t numbered, the only way I’ve found to figure out which book is first is to either compare all the published dates (assuming they went in order) or look for a user generated Listmania that lists them in order. Either Amazon needs to make those lists easier to find or they need to provide the data themselves. That would make it easier for customers to buy the next book in the series.
  9. User-weighted recommendations. I love Amazon’s recommendation feature – I use it a lot to find books that I really enjoy. It would be even better if I could remove or change the weighting of some topics. Once I’ve looked for barbecue and smoking books for Frank for Christmas, I’m done with that topic. Unless he really enjoys them and asks for more, I’m never going to look at cooking books again. Now I have to manually tell Amazon that I’m not interested in cooking books – again and again for each cooking book they recommend to me.

I like Amazon. I love books and they make it easy for me to find and buy books I enjoy. If they did all the things on this list, not only would I love them more, but their business would get even better!

Why in person, verbal talks are still better than email

From Mission Minded Management:

This sentence is interesting in that if you say the sentence seven
times, each time placing the emphasis on a different word, the meaning
of the sentence shifts.

Try it…

  1. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.
  2. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.
  3. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.
  4. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.
  5. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.
  6. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.
  7. I Didn’t Say You Stole My Money.

Bad leaders need unquestioning obedience

Bad leaders need unquestioning obedience. They don’t just want obedience – they actually need unquestioning obedience in order to maintain their power. From A Just Determination:

A good leader doesn’t need unquestioning obedience. People follow that leader because they choose to, because that leader has their trust. A poor leader requires unquestioning obedience, because without that, a poor leader will lose all meaningful ability to exercise command.

Think about that the next time you feel yourself becoming defensive.

The same passage (it’s a fiction book, BTW) talks about how poor leaders need better followers.

How to Negotiate Without Trying

I went down to Melbourne’s Queen Victoria market to buy a (toy) boomerang for Jacob.  The first place was selling them for $15, the next for $18.   The third place had the best selection but no price, so I asked how much.  They said $14 and I thought ok.  Luckily I only thought ok because as I stood there deciding which one was the best, the price dropped to $12 and then to $10!

And if you think $10 AUS ($8.90 US) is a lot to pay for a painted wood piece of wood, I agree.  And then I’d point out that a 20 ounce coke at the convenience store cost $3.50 AUS ($3 US)!