What’s safe to you? Are you as brainwashed as I am?

I’m not a big "safety" fan. I let my stepson ride his bike without a helmet. And if you haven’t heard my anti car seat tirade, here it is: I think car seat manufacturers lobby to get car seat laws passed so that they can get rich. I think your kid might be safer – but odds of them getting hurt to start with were so small that it doesn’t matter.

So when my dad stopped by to grab Caleb and asked if it was ok if he rode in the front seat of a pick up truck without a carseat … and I said no … well, I really had to stop and think. (I mean, did I just really say no? To just riding in a truck?)

I’ve decided I’m brainwashed. Even though I think the risk of Caleb getting hurt by riding in the front seat of the pickup are too small to worry about, I’ve been taught that he isn’t safe – and I’m not a good mom – if he’s not in a car seat.

Pretty soon we’re going to be bad people if our dogs aren’t wearing seat belts. And you’ll even feel guilty when your dog isn’t wearing a seat belt.

Trade a ride

We need a trade-a-ride program for people needing a ride like Paperbackswap does for books. To be honest, I wasn’t thinking of commuters when I thought of this. I was listening to a Science Friday program on brewing beer while sitting in traffic and thought, we don’t have good public transportation so people often don’t drink responsibility – what if people took turns being the designated driver. And not going to the party and drinking coke but just showing up at the end of the evening to give a ride home. If you made a good social networking application with good tools, people could send a text message when they needed a ride and people that said they were available would get a text message. A potential driver could then accept the ride, key in when they would be there and go give someone a ride. You’d get points for miles. Then you could use your miles to request a ride from someone else. (On a different night of course.) It’d be useful for nights on the town, rides to the airport, times when your car is in the shop … and maybe just plain old carpooling.

There’d be some security problems. You might want to make everyone show up somewhere and show their driver’s license so you could verify who they were if there were any issues. And you’d want to only give addresses to people actually giving rides. Maybe you could start with a known "safe" pool of people like a university where you know everyone’s identity.

Beat jetlag … by not eating for 12 hours before breakfast

Beat jetlag by not eating for 12-16 hours before breakfast (in the time zone you want to be in). According to ParentingSquad, this works because most mammals need to forage for food during daylight hours. So your body will quickly adjust to sleeping when there’s no food so that it can search for food during the day.

I wonder if this is why I never have much trouble with jetlag … Let me know if you try it and it works for you. (Skipping airplane food doesn’t sound like such a bad idea anyway …)

[UPDATE] Science Friday had a good segment on this, Circadian Clock Sets at Lunchtime. They explain that your body has two clocks, one based on external light and one based on food. While the external light one can only shift about two hours a day, the food one will override it in times of necessity. So starve yourself for 16 hours and then eat breakfast and your food clock will take over to make sure you are awake when there’s food.

To keep or to share: how much do you love your books?

I admit, I like to keep books. Even those I’ll never reread. They have information, fun stories, excitement and knowledge. It’s hard to give that away. (Plus I love book stores and libraries – what could be cooler than having one in my house?) But as Seth Godin says:

Hoarding books makes them worth less, not more.

Paperbackswap and Amazon have made it much easier for me to give away books. When I list my book with Paperbackswap I know it’s going to to someone who’s going to read it – someone who really wants to read it. And with Amazon around, I know I can get a copy of the book again tomorrow if I need it.

OLPC: new laptop/ebook for kids has touch screen

One Laptop Per Child just announced a new version. It will be half the size of the first version and look like an e-book. However, turn it sideways and one of the touch screen will become a keyboard. The new device will cost $79 and will be marketed as a text book replacement.

You can see a whole photo gallery on Gizmodo or read more about the device.

This device is really exciting and I hope that OLPC:

  • continues to use open source software,
  • learns how to effectively work with the large group of volunteers that would love to help them in their mission,
  • gets their supply chain issues worked out.

They’ve got an awesome vision and a great product and I hope they succeed!

(This is also starting to look a lot like Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer. How cool is that?)

Justify why you work in an office

Usually I hear people justifying why they should work from home. Seth Godin argues that companies should justify why you should work in the office:

If you’re a knowledge worker, your boss shouldn’t make you come to
the (expensive) office every day unless there’s something there that
makes it worth your trip. She needs to provide you with resources or
interactions or energy you can’t find at home or at Starbucks. And if
she does invite you in, don’t bother showing up if you’re just going to
sit quietly.

I’ve worked in three companies that had lots of people and lots of
cubes, and I spent the entire day walking around. I figured that was my
job. The days where I sat down and did what looked like work were my
least effective days. It’s hard for me to see why you’d bother having
someone come all the way to an office just to sit in a cube and type.

While there are some people that just need work to provide a quiet place to work as they can’t do that from home, I’m more in the "what’s in it for me?" – usually it’s the in person interactions, more effective meetings, etc that draw me in.

What about you? Why do you go into the office?

Book Review: Career Distinction

Personal branding is very important in today’s web 2.0 world. In a world where anyone can google you and people change jobs multiple times in a decade, your reputation and brand are essential to your career. If you’ve never thought about personal branding or you’ve wondered how to go about it, then you should read Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand. It offers some concrete advise and metrics for setting up your personal brand and measuring how well you are doing. For example, they recommend you google your name and check the number of accurate results you have.  They make recommendations like you should have 5,000-50,000 if you are "a vice president, acknowledged thought leader, highly regarded consultant or subject-matter expert." (I did well on that one, a search for "Stormy Peters" returns 161,000 results where 98 of the first 100 are me.) Their suggestions ranged from creating home pages to public speaking to what type of clothes to wear.

All that said, if you are already an expert in career branding, you might be disappointed. The book is only 192 pages and it’s full of white space and quotes. (24 of the pages are either blank or title pages.) And in a lot of places where more detail would have been helpful, they refer you to a workbook that’s not included with the book.

In summary, Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand is a great introduction and overview of personal career branding but should be combined with the workbook or they should come out with a Career Distinctions 201.

Why do you travel?

I like Dustin Wax’s reason:

I think traveling should be about something more than doing what the locals do.

I mean, don’t even think about doing what the tourists do.
I’m not advocating that horror. But traveling is about experiencing
things new and fresh — something the locals simply can’t do. After all,
you are a local, when you’re at home. How exciting is that?

And really, going well beyond what the locals do is not only
valuable for you, the traveler, it’s valuable for the locals
themselves. Travelers — real travelers, travelers with a sense of
derring-do and adventure, and a bit of the Tao of Travel about them —
give people a chance to show off, to experience their everyday
surroundings as if they were fresh and new. You can easily
take that old ruin on the side of the hill for granted — it is, after
all, just a place where teenagers go to drink and make out — until some
traveler passing through asks you what it is. Ah, there’s a story to be told…

Traveling is about discovering how delightful something different is. And you can share that. (That said, as a teenager in Barcelona, there is only so many times you can show off the Picasso museum.)

Fun with branding

Brand tags
shows you a company logo and asks you "what’s the first word or phrase that comes to mind?" Then you get to see what other people said. I saw Pepsi and said "not coke" – turns out "coke" was the most common response. I hope the Pepsi brand people see that! For Pizza Hut, I said greasy – it  was the second most common response. (Pizza was first.)

It was kind of fun if you have some time to kill: brand tags. I wanted to put in our company name but I’m guessing not enough people have heard of it yet for it to be meaningful.

Can you guess what the brand at the left was?

(Pabst Blue Ribbon.)