Archive for the ‘Observations’ Category

Conference Observations

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

I’ve been to a bunch of conferences the last month or so. More than usual and I’m really tired. But I have a few random observations to make.

As the days go on fewer and fewer people are at breakfast. People tend to stay up late eating, drinking, and talking. For many the best part of the conference but it means that getting up in the morning gets harder. You don’t want to present first thing in the morning on the last day of a conference. Actually you probably don’t want to present the last day of the conference at all.

The higher “ranking” people have or think they have the less likely they are to be wearing their name tags. This is not universally true as I was a high ranking VP wearing his the other day. But this feels like an exception. I’m not sure it is because they think that everyone should know who they are though. I had one of these senior people without an ID tag introduce himself to me. So obviously he doesn’t expect everyone to know him. It may be because they are constantly on stage and the ID tag looks dorky when you are on stage. That makes more sense to me.

Conversations are often the best part of a conference. It doesn’t seem to work to say “hey let’s all get together for three days and see what random conversations happen.” though. You need other events/talks to start more conversations. So you should go to some sessions but at that same time if one session or one chance meeting starts a good conversation you have to be a little flexible.

Some people wear their ID tags around their waist or hung from a belt. The upside is that it keeps the tag out of your way if you are working on something. The down side is that people either can’t see your ID or they find themselves looking at you in a way that looks a lot like they are looking at your crotch. Not comfortable. Either way it defeats the purpose of name tags.

People often forget business cards or carry them in places where they are hard to get at. If you are at a conference and taking it seriously you are going to meet new people and you are going to want to exchange contact information. Business cards are still the best way to do that. So get serious and take a bunch of cards and keep them where you can get at them easily. I keep mine in the pouch that holds my conference ID. That way I am always ready and there is no silly hunting around for a pen or a piece of paper.

Lastly some advice for “cocktail parties” and receptions. There are two parts to these events – the food and the conversation. The conversation is the most important part and a lot of people get so wrapped up in that that they forget to eat. Jump in early, get some food first and fast, and then jump into conversations. You’ll get as much talking down and you will not find yourself at midnight looking to find food, any food, after everything good is closed.

Some things are dumb

Friday, June 25th, 2010

So Al Gore is in some hot water because a masseuse says he sexually assaulted her. Now maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. If he did that was really dumb. Famous people don’t get away with that anymore. There is just too much incentive to turn him in and he has way too much to lose. But suppose he didn’t? And I believe it unlikely that he did so there you go. What he did was to pay a woman, not his wife, to come to his room while he was going to be both alone and naked. That’s pretty dumb as well. As rich and famous as he is he should have had someone on his staff around just to prevent false charges.

You think that is paranoid? Nope, just common sense. When I first started teaching it was drummed into me that I was never to be alone in a closed place with a student. Period. All a teacher needs is one accusation of sexual impropriety with a student and their career is pretty much over. Now if there are witnesses and you were never alone you’re pretty much protected. Well mostly. But you want to minimize the opportunity for a false accusation. Doctors are the same. There is always a nurse around who if not in the room can at least hear what is going on. Again, common sense.

So Al Gore was dumb. Naive? Perhaps he just assumed he was above suspicion or he is convinced of the good of people. The latter is pretty dumb for a man who was the victim of lots of political dirty tricks over the years though. So what was he thinking? I have no idea but it makes me question his judgment.

Who are these people?

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

So my Dad is staying with me for a while. It’s always interesting when the phone rings because he and I have the same name. Some people on the other end handle this just fine. Others? Well not so well. Example:

ME: Hello

Them: Can I talk to <our name>?

ME: Can you tell me what it is about? There are two <our name> here.

Them: Oh I’m sorry. I’ll call back later.

Say what? Clearly I went too far off script for them.

The other problem lately seems to be people who don’t understand English very well. I can’t believe how much spelling out of simple things my Dad has been having to do. And his frustration as people seem to fail to grasp that he is actually changing information on them. He was staying at my brother’s home for quite a while but we’ve switched off and he’s staying with me now. Both my brother’s town and my town end in “ville” and some people seem to not hear the first syllable.

Are companies really saving money by hiring people who struggle with the language and/or who have poor listening skills? Somehow I doubt it.


Thursday, November 26th, 2009

I went shopping for belts recently. Some things I saw just don’t make sense though. Stretchable belts for example. Why would I want a belt that stretches? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose or holding things together? Most leather belts stretch over time as it is. This is not an advantage. Although the worst thing about it is that sometimes, if you are not careful, you’ll think you are losing weight or staying the same because of the fit of the belt. Very disappointing to find out that it was just the belt getting bigger as you did.

And then there are reversible belts. I’m sure it sounds like a great idea for people who don’t really need belts. In practice though using a belt tends to make the holes different. The holes you use that is.  This can become a problem when you turn the belt the other way – things may not look right. But the other thing is that making a belt reversible makes them a) more complicated and b) more expensive. The complications adds weak spots and belts become more likely to fail there. Trust me on that – reversible belts do not last as long and belts that are not reversible. So you have added expense and a shorter lifespan. It is better just to buy two different belts. That’s what I try to do of course. But sometimes all you can find are belts that stretch or belts that are reversible. I have to wonder if the people who make an sell belts really use them.


Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Every so often, usually when we know things are going to get real busy, my wife and I will cook up a lot of food all at once. Several kinds of food and in large amounts. This gets packaged as individual meals and frozen for use later. Invariably when I tell people about this someone says “I could never do that because I hate leftovers.” What? These are not leftovers but precooked meals. So the first thing I don’t get is why people see this as “leftovers.” Lots of people prepare foods in advance. My wife started cooking yesterday, we made a huge amount of stuffing for example, for Thanksgiving today. Are those foods leftovers? Of course not. How is that different from what we do? The freezing?

And what is the problem with leftovers anyway? Most things reheat very well. And a great many things just plain taste better the next day. Anything with a sauce for example will usually taste better because the flavors have gotten deeper into the food. Sure some things dry out or otherwise as not as good but we don’t cook those things for later use. Rather we pick things that store well, reheat well, and taste as good or better when eaten later. Am I to believe that just because they were not cooked that day they are no good? Bah! What’s with those people?

Well I’m going to grab some left over Chinese food and enjoy myself. Later.

Would Be Experts

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

So I get followed by all sorts of people on Twitter. Fairly often these random followers claim to be search engine optimization experts. They also often have lots of Twitter followers. Today when one such follower showed up I decided to search for his name using my search engine of choiceBing. He didn’t even show up on the first page. I did use the other big search engine and he did show up near the bottom of the first page of that search.

But it seems to me that an expert in SEO should appear at least in the top half of the page in both search engines. Am I wrong?


Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

The problem with being an adult is that you can afford all the great toys you couldn’t afford as a child but you can’t really enjoy playing with them as much. Take this Nerf gun for example. Boy I would have loved that as a kid. but I’d have had games to play with it and friends with their own Nerf guns. But we likely would not have been able to afford it. Now I could afford it but just shooting it around the house alone would be boring.  I think this is what they mean by youth is wasted on the young.

Sports Fans

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

I saw a license plate last week that said NYYSTNK which I interpret as “New York Yankees Stink” based on sounding it out and the Red Sox stickers that were also on the car. I think that is just so very sad. Someone went a long way not to raise up their own team but to put down another team.

I feel the same way about those stickers in cars that show a nasty little boy urinating on product logs of cars or other companies. That’s just immature. What sort of message are people who do that sending? What are they saying about themselves? Are they bringing favorable impressions of the teams/products they like or unfavorable impressions? To me the latter. It just offends me. It is so different from what we say we try to teach children.

Praise and promote your team all you want. Wear their logos. Fly their flags. Cheer when they do well and cry when they do poorly. But avoid putting the other teams down. It’s about sportsmanship people.

Full disclosure: Having been born in NY and raised in Brooklyn I am a long time Yankees fan. But I’d have been just as disappointed in a plate that said RDSXSTNK. Probably more so because I expect better behavior from Yankee’s fans than Red Sox fans after living in New England so long.

Signs of the Times

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

I’ve been spending some time working from my “East Hampton office.” That is to say that I brought my Dad down to his place in East Hampton Village and I am working from the guest room upstairs. At the end of the work day I generally take a walk. Our place is just off Newtown Lane and down from Main Street. These are the two big (relatively speaking) shopping streets and I like to look in the stores. And at the people – East Hampton in the summer is outstanding for people watching. But that is another blog perhaps. One of the things I notice is the signs in the stores asking people to behave. Cell phones seems to be a big issue. For example:

  • Please no eating, drinking or talking on your cell phone
  • There are places where it is not polite to talk on your cell phone – this is one of them

Interesting to lump cell phone usage to eating or drinking in a store. And the second one is clearly a plea for civility and courtesy.

An other sign I found interesting said “Sadly, this shop is under video surveillance” Clearly the proprietor is disappointed that someone would actually steal from them and that they have had to resort to such measures.

The most fun sign I have seen, and I have seen it other places as well, read “Unattended children will be given a cup of espresso and a free puppy.” Now there is a threat parents can relate to. Seems a bit harsh though.