Monday, October 7, 2013

Can we look at Worst-first thinking in a constructive way?

Lenore Skenazy over at Free Range Kids talks frequently about Worst-First Thinking and is on a mission to
[Fight] the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape.

To paraphrase, Worst-First Thinking is the idea that when it comes to our children, we think of the worst possible thing that could happen and then demand we fix the world so our snowflake doesn't get hurt.

By being over protective and trying to wrap up every possible danger, we're abstracting life away from our children. We're running their lives instead of teaching our children about risk and preparing them to deal with life's unexpected twists and turns.

We worry about some stupid things. For example:

  • What if  Timmy doesn't eat only the best food?
  • What if Jane is approached by a man on the street?
  • What if Cindy is left alone for 3 minutes?

Anyway, I recently had a thought: maybe we should be doing some Worst-First thinking. Just instead of worrying about the worst that can happen to our children we should be worried about things that can happen to us.

For example:

  • What happens if I'm choking on an organic grape and the only other person around is Timmy? Will Timmy know what to do? Can he find someone who can help?
  • What happens if I have a stroke while out for a walk? Will Jane know how to cross the street to ask someone for help?
  • What happens if I fall down my stairs and am knocked unconsious? Will Cindy be able to pick up the phone, dial 9-1-1, tell the operator about the emergency, and give the operator our address?

In our extensive efforts to make the world safe for our children, are we also removing our responsibility as parents to teach our children how to assess a situation, consider options, and act?

Monday, September 30, 2013

The real C-Level people

We aim not to disappoint so here's a thought delivered oozing with pretentious hot-air filled obviousness.

The only true C-Level people in your organization are your Customers.

I just inserted some wisdom into your brain. Chew on that for a while.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Start every day by doing something creative.

Here's a quick post, I just more or less realised this and I'm sure there are many others out there who spout a similar message or have documented the proof using the scientific method, but here is my possibly unprofound suggestion:

Start every day by doing something creative.

I don't think it matters what you do -- draw a picture, paint something, take some photographs, write some music, whatever. Just do something creative to start your day. If this idea is too free-form for you, add a constraint: spend no more than 30 minutes doing something creative before continuing on with the rest of your day.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Please just let me return this thing.

I like Wal-Mart. I like shopping at Wal-Mart. I like the savings (real or percived) at Wal-Mart. I like their price match policies. As a consumer, I am pro-Wal-Mart.

But this isn't a post about Wal-Mart. This is a post about trying to make a return to a store and getting the fifteenth degree.

First, let's talk about the Wal-Mart experience.

Last Tuesday, I bought something at Wal-Mart. Let's say I bought a neck massager. For $49.97 plus tax. I took it home only to discover my wife already has a neck massager. And her neck massager is better than my $49.97 plus tax neck massager because as well as massaging her neck, her neck massager can be used on her vagina.

So today I bring the unopened neck massager back to Wal-Mart. I enter the customer service line and patienly wait my turn. When finally called on by the customer service associate I explain my situation: "Hi, I would like to make a return. Will you please return this?" I hand them the receipt and my unused neck massager.

Thirty seconds later with no further questions I now have $49.97 plus tax credited back to my credit card. I continue on my day relieved to have $49.97 plus tax plus a vagina massager I didn't know I owned.

Contrast this with other stores. Let's call them out by name: The Home Depot. Rona, Super Store. Food Basics. I'm sure there are others.

Try returning something to these places and you get an interaction that goes more like this:

Me: "Hi, I would like to make a return. Will you please return this?" [hand over receipt and product]
Them: "What's wrong with it?"
Me: "I don't know. Probably nothing, I didn't use it so I can't say for sure. I just changed my mind and would like to return this."
Them: "Changed your mind?"
Me: "Yes."
Them: "I see."

The good news is I can return the product, but as you'll note only after publicly admitting that sometimes my mind does in fact decide the opposite of something it once decided. Q.E.D. I am a damn fool.

I end our interaction thus: "Thank you for the awkward experience, now I will go home and relax with my surprise vagina massager."

[For the record Costco is like Wal-Mart. No questions asked, though the benefit is you can return used meat, vagina massagers, and empty packaging and still get your money back. No joke, Costco's alright in my books.]

Monday, August 12, 2013

Children are little mirrors of your own fucked up brain so get used to surprise fist fights.

Looks like I put the punch line in the title again. Oh well, let's carry on.

When you're out and about with your little ones it becomes quickly apparent that they have been quietly soaking up everything you have ever said to them. You can tell because they are quite good at spewing your diatribe upon the world.

This makes sense I suppose. In your head you have your filters and in most cases you make it a point to use those filters and make sure no one outside of your warm and safe living room walls knows your views and opinions of sensitive topics.

But see, your children think what you say is the gospel of man and they are extremely happy to express your convoluted theories upon the world because what interests you must interest everyone else. They look up to you in more than just the literal sense after all.

How embarrassing for you that your little ones will ask a complete stranger if their mommy was a walrus because walruses have big moustaches and tusks too.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Standing Desk 1 year+

It's been over a year and I still use my standing desk. Every (working) day.

I don't keep specific metrics, but I would say I stand about 80% of the time and sit the remaining 25% of the time (you see, I work 105% long days).

Some days my feet are sore at the end of the day, but a good walk will erase these pains.

I think my mouse is at the wrong level -- for the first time in my life my mousing wrist is occasionally sore, to the point where I can't put a load on it. I suppose this is "RTS" or "corporal's tunnel" but it's nothing some good heavy lifting hasn't fixed.

As for my health, I have no idea if this has worked for me. My legs are indeed stronger than they were before, and it's effortless to have to stand all day in other scenarios outside of work. i.e. I no longer need to find a place to sit down because my legs are sore or tired. This is good for outoor activities where sitting isn't an (immediate) option.

I wonder what will happen in a decade to my feet and knees.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Writing emails to myself

At work I have Outlook set to delay sending my mail for 1 minute. I do this for a number of reasons:

  1. I have enabled send on CTRL+ENTER and sometimes my fingers get greedy, sending a half-formed thought out into the world.
  2. Despite my years of keyboarding excercises, to this day I still make many more typos than I would like.
  3. I have a propensity to come across as rude, arrogant, angry, annoyed, uncooperative, mean, insulting, and condescending. i.e. I am an asshole. Of course, I never mean what I said to come across the way I said it, so I will often spend many more minutes of my time re-factoring my words after I have hit Send.
  4. On every single email I send I make a joke. 99% of my jokes are bad, horrible, in poor taste, insulting, mean, condescending, aggressive, insensitive. After hitting Send is when my brain does that 'WHY IN TARNATION DID YOU THINK SAYING THAT HORRIBLE FILTH WAS FUNNY? YOU BETTER MARCH ON OVER TO THAT PERSON'S DESK AND APOLOGIZE FASTER THAN A VIRGIN IN A TIJUANA WHORE HOUSE." But then I remember the delay and I open the mail, delete my comments, and send just the required information. Note that my blog posts do not have this feature so perhaps this joke is inappropriate. I honestly won't know until I hit publish and my brain reminds me again how stupid I am.
  5. I had 5 points but now I'm concerned about what I said in the previous point that I cannot recall this enlightening argument. I guess it's lost to the ages.
So originally when thought this would be a good idea, I wanted to list the reasons and then afterwards describe why this is a super good idea. But I think I managed to convey that though within the ordered list above.
So on that note, delay your mail.

How to delay your mail in Outlook (most versions released in this millennium):
  1. Create a new rule - Start with a blank rule and select Apply rule on messages I send
  2. Don't provide any conditions (i.e. apply this rule to all outgoing email). When you get a message box asking if you want to apply to every email, reply in the affirmative. Don't let Outlook talk you out of doing what you intend.
  3. In the actions list, select defer delivery by a number of minutes, and select the number of minutes you want to delay. I like 1 minute so I'm not sitting around forever waiting for my mail to send.
  4. Don't select any exceptions.
  5. Give the rule a name. I like "Delay my fucking email because I'm a goddamned asshole." You may opt for something less profane. Name it something that matters to you.
  6. Turn the rule on, and wait.
  7. Keep waiting
  8. Eventually you'll need to send an email. Compose your mail and hit Send. The mail will appear in your Outbox folder. You can open the mail like any other (double click) and when you do, you're back to editing the email. Censor yourself and hit send again.
  9. Repeat step 8 until you are satisfied that you have offended no one and let your professionally worded, positive, encouraging mail slowly exit your Outbox off to the greater outdoors where it will inevitably offend everyone it touches, especially those who receive your mail as a forward with the single line of explanatory text: "look @ dis fukking jack ass..."
  10. Zen.
Update: Yup, that joke was bad.

Oh hi

Still alive, just neglectful. Every time I write one of these I promise myself to never have to write one of these. Oh, well, promises broken carry on with your lives.