Buggy Pictures!

At first I thought it was a helicopter – but it’s definitely a spider! From this morning’s KPIX Channel 5 Milpitas web cam!

Sometimes it’s amazing what these cams pick up!

Business Stuff


“Customers have a tendency to become like the kind of customers you treat them.”

So says Dave Martin in a great opinion piece about inspiring customer loyalty that’s posted on

Are your customers smart and loyal? Do you treat them that way? Hmm.

We recently had a telemarketing call from a certain unnamed monoline credit card issuer. This particular card issuer stumbled badly in the first quarter as a bunch of its customers paid down their outstanding credit card balances — probably a direct reflection of how this issuer had been treating them.

Anyway, our newfound friend the “account manager” (give me a break!) was calling to just see how we were doing, whether we might have some excess balances that we’d like to transfer to him or perhaps we’d even like to take out a mortgage on our house. We’ve cancelled our account with this issuer — a reflection of how we felt about “treatment”. Goodbye and good riddens!

San Francisco/California Stuff

First Trimester

San Francisco - May 1, 2005It’s hard to believe that we just finished the first trimester of 2005! Seems like it was just yesterday that we had Christmas and New Years!

In our family, we’ve got a cluster of birthdays in mid-late April and early May — so it’s a busy and happy time of year. This year, the April showers seemed to last forever, bringing some cold blustery March-like days as well.

Onward to spring! Today looks like May is off to a beautiful start.


Slow Down

Kirk McElhearn reviews Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slowness.

But 8 years ago, I made a choice. It was the best career change I ever made, and I don’t think I’ll ever regret it: I became a freelancer. Initially, I worked as a translator, and over the years shifted into writing. Both these activities can be done anywhere, as long as you have a phone line to connect to the Internet, and five years ago I moved to a village in the French Alps, where I can now enjoy the wonderful climate and exhilarating landscapes.


Tomcat’s Final Flight

Jack Dorsey writes in the Virginian-Pilot about what happens to old airplanes, like the F-14 Tomcats the Navy’s taking out of service.

I remember my first airshow experience seeing what, at the time, was the almost brand new F-14 in action – at Patuxent River Naval Airstation in the mid-70’s.

With the wings fully swept, the pilot brought his airplane across show center, quickly rolled into a 90 degree bank to the right as the wings came forward, completed the tightest turn I’d ever seen right in front of the crowd, lit both afterburners and rocketed skyward. Wow!


A Longevity Strategy: Never Retire

New York Times columnist William Safire has penned his final regular Op-Ed column this morning in which he explains why he’s making the change.

Here’s why I’m outta here: In an interview 50 years before, the aging adman Bruce Barton told me something like Watson’s advice about the need to keep trying something new, which I punched up into “When you’re through changing, you’re through.” He gladly adopted the aphorism, which I’ve been attributing to him ever since.

Combine those two bits of counsel – never retire, but plan to change your career to keep your synapses snapping – and you can see the path I’m now taking. Readers, too, may want to think about a longevity strategy.

When you’re through changing, learning, working to stay involved – only then are you through. “Never retire.”


A Bump on the Head

Turns out I had a basal cell carcinoma near the right temple area on my head.

I had first noticed a darker “mole” sometime around Thanksgiving and then, as we often do, started playing with it — which caused it to bleed, etc. When it basically failed to heal, it was time to go see the dermatologist — who took one look at it and said the odds were 90+ percent that it was a basal cell carcinoma.

Even though these are the most common form of skin cancers in humans, the words certainly had an impact! A quick slice off the top for a biopsy confirmed that diagnosis a week later.

On Thursday, I went in for the minor surgery to have it removed, my head sutured up, etc. With the bandage and all, I look like I’ve been in quite a fight! Hopefully, this is the end of it. I’ll find out more in a week when the stitches come out. Another reminder to use SPF30+ skin protection at those airshows!


Sneaking up on Christmas

It’s hard to believe that it’s already Christmastime — and that the year is almost gone. What they say about time passing by faster as you get older certainly rings true to me!

Seasons Greetings!I got home a bit early this afternoon and took a walk around the pond at Sharon Park. A cool, crisp, and delightful northern California winter afternoon indeed!

We’re getting ready for a big family get together at our house tomorrow night. Lots of goodies, comraderie, and a Christmas Eve bingo game to share gifts. Before you know it, they’ll be arriving!

Hope yours is just as much fun as ours. Best Christmas wishes from our house to yours!


Being Downtown

It’s great to see that the Institute for the Future has moved off of Sand Hill Road to a new downtown office at 124 University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto.

I’m a big fan of being “downtown” — but not “Downtown”. Little “d” downtowns are like those in my own backyard: Menlo Park, Palo Alto and the other Peninsula cities. Big “D” downtowns are those like San Francisco. Little “d” downtowns are a few blocks long with lots of neighborhood shops, restaurants, etc.

Our own office is in downtown Menlo Park, walking distance to many great restaurants, California’s best bookstore, a delightful public library, and right across the street from Caltrain! Just a great location vs. being trapped up on Sand Hill Road where hopping in the car is required for almost everything.



San Francisco - November 24, 2004It’s a beautiful crisp fall Thanksgiving Eve morning here in the San Francisco Bay Area. The KPIX webcam shot at the right shows the early morning glow across the City looking at the Transamerica Pyramid and on to the Bay Bridge.

It’s hard to believe we’re just about to Thanksgiving already. I’m happy to not be traveling over the holiday, staying local with friends and family. I’ve certainly got a lot to be thankful for this year.

I remember a long time ago when I was just starting work with IBM, I thought I’d be retired sometime just about now. Somehow 2004 was always in my head as the right year to think about that. And, now, it’s just about over.

Of course, I’m hardly retired — in fact, probably busier than ever — and retirement still feels like it’s just out there another ten or fifteen years. I am especially thankful for the opportunity to continue to feel productive, to continue to learn, and to have fun. The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time, with great friends and family cheering you on.

Special thanks to the men and women of the US armed forces and their families for their sacrifices this year and over the years. Freedom is not free.