Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Queen of Practice?

"Deliberate practice is not mechanically repeating tasks that come easily, but rather targeting and attacking specific areas that need improvement..." - Psychology Today article

"I had an inner drive. I think that is the difference between the very good and the best."
- Susan Polgar 4-time World Chess Champion

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Drug Mix-ups

Watch out! Some medicines sold in the U.S. are sold under different names abroad [WSJ]

"In Brazil, for example, the brand name Dilacor refers to verapamil for irregular heart rhythm and hypertension. But in the U.S., Dilacor is a blood-pressure drug known generically as diltiazem. And in Serbia, Dilacor is the brand name for digoxin, used to treat heart failure...

It isn't known how long such name-sharing has been going on, but the problem came to light only recently after a serious mix-up was reported at a hospital in Michigan. Because there is no regulatory body that keeps track of names globally, there is the potential for more and deadlier cases to occur."


A Flying Goat!

Plane Food

Ever wonder what the food will look like on your next flight? Well... this website is devoted to photos of food served on airlines!

Assembling food assembly line style.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Moody Links

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fat Man Walking

Fat man
This 350 pound guy is walking across the United States to lose weight! And chronicling it on his blog... craziness!


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Places to Eat and Dot-Bombs

Flickr Fun and Another Food Battle

Roald Dahl and Your Restaurant Check

Starfish Banner

Gorgeous photo of a starfish by macca.

The Economy as a Food Court

Super interesting essay that compares the economy to a food court:
"Coming into the Food Court each day are consumers, who want meals. At different times of the day, these same consumers work in the Food Court, earning income to pay for meals.

When the Food Court economy was relatively undeveloped, there were only a few recipes. They required a lot of work to prepare, and the meals were monotonous, low in nutrition, and not very tasty. Over time, however, people discover new recipes, which add variety, efficiency, and pleasure to the Food Court. This is the process of economic growth...

Capital markets will have emerged in the food court economy. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, some of the recipes are complicated, requiring many steps and taking several years. Some people are willing to wait, and others are less willing to wait. Those who are willing to defer consumption today in order to enjoy a better meal tomorrow make loans to those who prefer to eat more today.

New recipes do not come free. There is a price of progress. It takes time to invent and test recipes. While entrepreneurs are working on new recipes, they need to borrow from people who are willing to defer consumption.

New recipes are not without risk. Tests may reveal that the recipe fails to achieve the hoped-for combination of taste and nutritional value. Another risk is that while an entrepreneur is developing and testing a recipe, consumer preferences change or new competitors emerge that make the recipe unprofitable even if it produces the expected results in terms of taste and nutrition."

What a simple way to describe something very complicated!

The author continues on to discuss the concept and importance of intellectual property:
"Fifty years ago, economists saw the economy as like the steel industry -- a collection of gigantic factories housing powerful, expensive machinery, producing output measured in tons. The new paradigm sees an economy that looks more like the pharmaceutical industry or the popular music industry. In pharmaceuticals, as in our Food Court economy, the capital needed for production facilities is relatively unimportant. Much more capital is absorbed in the process of searching for new compounds and testing their effectiveness on diseases."

What is the best way to deal with something that costs little in materials to produce but much in development?

This essay is the second in a series.. check it out, it's super interesting!

Just a little break

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Panda Cam

Panda cam!

So cute!!

Wednesday Reading List

  • Man dies after 50 hours of video games
    28-year old "Lee had recently quit his job to spend more time playing games, the daily JoongAng Ilbo reported after interviewing former work colleagues and staff at the Internet cafe."

    Oh no!

  • Some Question 3rd year of law school
    "If so, it could encourage less-indebted new lawyers "to pursue some ideal other than the highest pay," said Harvard Law School graduate William Strauss, who has spoken out against the third year. According to the ABA, the median debt for 2004 graduates of private law schools was $98,000; at public schools it was $67,000. The organization has concluded two-thirds of law graduates cannot afford to take lower-paying public interest jobs."

Linklicious Thursday

  • "Light" summer reading recommended by the Edge

  • Blog about newspaper design
    Interesting.. how can layout be created to make things more easy to read?

  • Interesting post from Cafe Hayek on sweatshop wages

    "The apparel industry, which is often accused of unsafe working conditions and poor wages, actually pays its foreign workers well enough for them to rise above the poverty in their countries. While more than half of the population in most of the countries we studied lived on less than $2 per day, in 90 percent of the countries, working a 10-hour day in the apparel industry would lift a worker above - often far above - that standard. For example, in Honduras, the site of the infamous Kathy Lee Gifford sweatshop scandal, the average apparel worker earns $13.10 per day, yet 44 percent of the country's population lives on less than $2 per day."

    What do you think?

  • Posting on How to Travel Well [Heading East]

    #1 thing to do? "Go someplace that scares you a little"

    And here's a link to his chronicle of a two month trip to Western China

  • Update on the going-ons with Memoirs of a Geisha

  • Link to e.encyclopedia co-created with Google. What is it?

    "e.encyclopedia combines the best of a traditional encyclopedia with an extra digital dimension"

    Not totally sure if I "get" it, but I think you have to buy a book that goes with it?

    Is it fun to go back and forth become computer and book?

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Someone to Applaud

Costco's CEO, Jim Sinegal, is a hero! The NYT had a recent article on the wonder that is Costco.

"Despite Costco's impressive record, Mr. Sinegal's salary is just $350,000, although he also received a $200,000 bonus last year. That puts him at less than 10 percent of many other chief executives, though Costco ranks 29th in revenue among all American companies."

Why does Wall Street think that it's okay for CEO's to make millions and millions and that wages for the employees of the company -- the people who really make the company function -- should be paid low wages?

"Emme Kozloff, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, faulted Mr. Sinegal as being too generous to employees, noting that when analysts complained that Costco's workers were paying just 4 percent toward their health costs, he raised that percentage only to 8 percent, when the retail average is 25 percent."

The Analysts are upset (and short-sighted) since they feel Costco pays workers too much:
"Costco's average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam's Club. And Costco's health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish. One analyst, Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco "it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder."

What does Sinegal have to say?
""I've been very well rewarded," said Mr. Sinegal, who is worth more than $150 million thanks to his Costco stock holdings. "I just think that if you're going to try to run an organization that's very cost-conscious, then you can't have those disparities. Having an individual who is making 100 or 200 or 300 times more than the average person working on the floor is wrong."

And even Mr. Dreher himself admits:
"... so many people love the company. "It's a cult stock," he said.

Is the purpose of a corporation only to make money? Why can't a company also provide useful services and products to customers? Provide a livelihood and purpose for the employees? And make the company a better place, while also making enough money each year to continue along sustainably for many years to come?

More from Stephen Covey

"Most all creative endeavors are somewhat unpredictable. They often seem ambiguous, hit-or-miss, trial and error. And unless people have a high tolerance for ambiguity and get their security from integrity to principles and inner values they find it unnerving and unpleasant to be involved in highly creative enterprises. Their need for structure, certainty and predictability is too high."
- Stephen Covey

Hmm, seems like you could apply this to many things, career choices being one example.

Wouldn't you say that private equity firms require structure, certainty and predictability in their investments?

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Unsatisfied Needs

"Satisfied needs do not motivate. It's only the unsatisfied need that motivates."
- Stephen Covey

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Considering Goals

Some quotes from Flow, which I finally finished very recently:
"Goals can lead into all sorts of trouble, at which point one gets tempted to give them up and find some less demanding script by which to order one's actions. The price one pays for changing goals whenever opposition threatens is that while one may achieve a more pleasant and comfortable life, it is likely that it will end up empty and void of meaning...

Goals justify the effort they demand at the outset, but later it is the effort that justifies the goal...

There are simply too many goals competing for prominence, and who is to say which one is worth the dedication of an entire life? ... The wealth of options we face today has extended personal freedom to an extent that would have been inconceivable even a hundred years ago. But the inevitable consequence of equally attractive choices is uncertainty of purpose; uncertainty, in turn, saps resolution, and lack of resolve ends up devaluing choice."

It is interesting to think about cause and effect relating to the importance of goals. Is the reason for all the effort required because the goal is so important? Or is the goal made important as a result of all the effort required?

Effort therefore valuable goal? Or goal therefore supreme effort?

What makes a goal important?