Thursday, July 3

Dan's blogging has now entered phase 3

Phase 1: handwritten journal.
Phase 2: this blog.
Phase 3:

As I've (questionably) grown up, I've moved from private burn-before-you'll-ever-see-it journals to a semi-public blog to fear of semi-publicity to, now, recognition that the world needs to fall back in love with the Shakespearean sonnet.

Why should you like the sonnet? It's complicated. The rhyme scheme is ababcdcdefefgg, and the meter (emphasis / rhythm) is regulated as iambic. You're allowed 5 iambic thingies per line. That means ten syllables, fourteen lines, organized into three quatrains and a resolving couplet, with a rhyme scheme, all with the rhythm da DA da DA da DA da DA da DA. It's like a Rubik's cube of language. And yet, English is flexible enough to tell all the stories of the world in it. That's why I like the form: constraint forces creativity.

People enjoy word play--otherwise how would rap have made it quite so big? People enjoy rhythm. People enjoy whimsy and alliteration and assonance and double entendre.

Thus, I'm now going to relocate my three hundred-odd sonnets from their various nooks and crannies onto the Internet, where people can enjoy them. Maybe some day I'll even be able to write sonnets by commission.

That suggests I'll use this site very little in the future. No shocker there, given recent history. Instead, tune into for a constantly evolving chronicle of our little universe.

Friday, June 20

Cleaning my mind, ending with my inbox

I've reduced my alcohol intake, increased my sleep, become mostly vegetarian, bike to work, exercise outside of that, increased how often I see friends, decreased how often I see people who whine, unsubscribed from Netflix, and am still looking for ways to boost my energy.

So today I'm unsubscribing from all promotional emails except Camp Grounded. No more flowers adverts, travel adverts, book publishing adverts, fashion adverts, NGO donation requests, and other useless emails that try to get me to part with my money.

I expect to save 6 minutes a day.

Tuesday, June 17

It's world-changing time

I just downloaded and am installing the Android SDK.

Time to make a dream come true.

Nights and weekends, I am your master.

Email me if you want to be an alpha tester.

Thursday, May 8

A, C, G, T ... X & Y

My brain is sizzling upon reading this morning that we've invented new nucleotides that go into DNA. DNA, as many times as I've learned about it, is about A, C, G, and T. Now there's X. And there's Y. And E.coli can be engineered to reproduce them.

Synthetic biology is going places.

Saturday, April 26

McCovey Cove for the Giants game: sunsets and rainbows

It's been a long few months.

Friday was drizzly and windy. I didn't figure many people would end up at the Giants game. Perfect time to get a dinner on the go and trawl the Cove for splash hits.

I got heckled by some alcoholics, took a picture of a bunch of kids on a huge yacht showboating around for Prom from Orinda Academy and emailed it to them, avoided nasty run-ins with seagulls, raced (and lost) a guy to a splash hit, and was waved at by a bunch of people in the stands. For the night, at least, I became "Kayak Man."

Friday, May 31

People in the workplace: what makes you happy and loyal?

I've spent the better part of this month researching what makes people satisfied in the workplace or, at least, trying to find companies that do things that make people satisfied. The former's much easier than the latter. Of course we all want some level of respect, responsibility, guidance, flexibility and collegiality. How do you scale that up to a hundred thousand people and still get them thinking in the same direction?

Numbers are one way. But they're only useful in large organizations. Deloitte talks about its talent analytics in Forbes here, which I find only slightly less interesting than reading the official Google blog about PiLab, its in-house team of statisticians who sift through HR data.

Startup organizations that can't afford HR departments also have some tricks up their sleeve. The key to the startup is that you have a few people, closely tied to each other, with heavily aligned incentives and the chance for big financial gain if they work themselves to near death and get a few lucky breaks. So how to they avoid burnout? Eighty-eight suggestions are given here, which I found were good food for thought.

For example, would I generate the equivalent of a full week of output in four days if I knew that I had every Friday off? Probably. That would be an extraordinary motivator. Do I think I'd generate amazing content if every year my company or team took a one-month retreat to a crazy location and worked together from there? Absolutely.

An open question for me is what companies can do to remind employees during the bad times (long hours, tight deadlines, weekend work) about the good times (the value proposition of the firm, the reason you go to work in the first place, the deliciousness of the muffins you steal from your colleagues' desks). Organizationally, it's not just about creating the type of place that attracts people to want to work for you, it's also about finding the right time to remind them that, which is probably when they're stressed out.

Tuesday, May 21

Daft Punk gets quote of the day

Once you free your mind about a concept of harmony and music being correct, you can do whatever you want.
So nobody told me what to do and there was no preconception of what to do.

Monday, May 20

Should this make me happy, or sad?

Happy: Time and Google splendidly display thirty years of land use change via satellite imagery. Technology allows us to know more than we otherwise would and communicate it to people who don't understand the science.

Sad: We're gutting nature.

I want to renew my faith that we can R&D our way out of this, but I fear that environmental degradation is fundamentally a social, rather than a technical, problem.

Friday, May 17

I'm considering getting an inflatable kayak

From REII was expecting to use it for the following purposes:
(1) Chilling in the bay during ball games at AT&T park (getting a 2-seater means that you can bring a friend and just veg out. It's enjoying a baseball game without needing to pay for a ticket
(2) Replace my habit of an evening run from the office to the ferry building, and instead just inflate and paddle around the piers
(3) Take it with me when I go visit John and Kira in Santa Cruz
I can store it at the office, which is right at 4th and Townsend so very close to the water.

Here's the best piece of advice I've received yet:
Keep in mind other costs associated: paddle, life jacket, spray jacket, hat, whistle, lights, VHF radio, sails, bigger boat, crew, sandwiches for the crew, onions for the crew who refuse to eat your sandwiches  rum to appease the crew interested in mutiny, rum for the crew after the mutiny, rum to fire your blunderbuss at in order to detonate the ship's powder kegs and free you from the brig, powder kegs, a brig, an inflatable kayak for your escape from your now mutinied ship, a paddle, life jacket, spray jacket, hat, whistle, lights, VHF radio, sails, bigger boat, crew.... it can be a costly adventure you're taking on

When it's obvious your communications department doesn't review things

I was just reading an Aon/Hewitt research report on talent in BRIC countries that had the following quote:
"The small African nation of Botswana is another example of a lowly developed country with a less corrupt and much more effective government than their neighbors." Lesson: don't call countries lowly, even when you're complimenting them.

Saturday, May 4

Is this simplification of the categorical imperative accurate?

Abu did something stupid to save a moth that was trapped in sap. Abu, it turns out, intrinsically largely believes in Kant's categorical imperative, that morality is linked to duty. In his words, Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.

It's important to me that an alternative to the standard capitalist-democratic utilitarian ethic predominantly used today for decision making be introduced in my book. The challenge is boiling down duty-based ethics into fourteen lines.

Comments on the attempt below will be warmly welcomed:

“Repairing tragedy,” reply began,
“is never quite the aim of what I do.”
I’d rather seek to do as every man
would do in every case. It’s not value
that motivates, just knowledge that if each
and every human put in such a spot
would act as if his action would then teach
the masses, well, we’d rapidly be taught
by those who came before us. Following
a rule is easy on the brain: result
is programmed. There’s no space for wallowing
about what’s right and wrong amidst tumult.
No, Stella, what helped make that moth fly free
was zero virtue, just my bound duty.”