Risk as a downhill ski run, Bode Miller style

I was reading my Wall Street Journal today, page after page of blah, blah, blah and then I came across this story on page B8. It stopped me dead in my tracks.

I am not following the Winter Olympic Games nor am I really a fan of Bode Miller. I didn’t even read the article, but what I did do is stare at the photograph.* Here’s why.

Notice how much of the ski is touching the surface of the snow. Notice how “off center” Miller’s body is. Now, imagine how that feels at 90mph (I don’t know how fast he is going, but pretty dang fast.)

And it strikes me that downhill skiing is a lot like doing something that you are passionate about. You hurl yourself headlong into it without thinking about the risk. Your actions and reactions are instinctive, you trust in yourself and your skills and when you doubt yourself for a split second or become aware of the cheering (and sometimes jeering) fans along the fence, it all unravels quickly.

You may crash, you may win a gold medal, but if you don’t hurl yourself out of the gate, you’ll never know.

*I kinda stole the photo from the WSJ and they may find out about it and not share the same enthusiasm I have for showing it to you… so, until I get that cease and desist letter, posting it up here is my downhill ski run of the day. 🙂

My.Alltop.com is like looking through the world through a paper tube

picture-10I’m a bit torn on whether or not I like the new my.alltop.com feature. On the one hand, it saves me from hunting through the various topics at Alltop.com, trying to find the best blogs. I can gather all of the “must read” blogs on one page and then go through and read the new stuff quickly.

On the other hand, it saves me from hunting through the various topics at Alltop.com! What new find am I missing? I fear that my.alltop.com will keep me from wandering around, sniffing out new stuff and finding some really cool gem I had overlooked before. Moreover, if DogWalkBlog does not make the first cut of someone’s my.alltop.com page, will they ever go to alltop.com and search me out? Probably not. (Guy, Chris, Neenz, please put at least this puppy on your my.alltop.com page!)

My.alltop.com may just be like looking at the world through a paper tube. I can see what I want to look at in clear focus, but I miss everything going around around me. A magazine rack works because it captures your peripheral vision while you are trying to focus on finding a magazine in a particular topic. My.alltop.com is like a coffee table, with all the magazines you subscribe to, fanned out. (Yeah I know I have several metaphors going on at once, but that is kinda the point of a magazine rack, isn’t it?)

For now, I will build and read my.allltop.com/DogWalkBlog because it is a whole lot cleaner than NetVibes. And, it loads faster. But I refuse to walk through the rack, looking at things through a paper tube.

I hope others will as well.

Listen to the groundhog

Punxsutawney Phil being yanked from his comfy home by people who can't wait to know the future.
Punxsutawney Phil being yanked from his comfy home by people who can't wait to know the future.
I love Groundhog’s Day. It is a silly holiday that you can just hype up and people giggle at.

When reading a post from Chris Brogan today, along with my Wall Street Journal, The Waterboy and a healthy dose of Morning Joe, I’ve come to a conclusion about this economic mess. The economy prognosticators have it all right. And all wrong.

Here is why Punxsutawney Phil — that famous groundhog — is relevant to what is going on with this economy prognosticators right now and what we can take away from him. If Phil sees his shadow, gets scared and scurries back to his burrow, there are six, long weeks of Winter left. If he doesn’t see his shadow, there are only six weeks left of Winter. Yeah!

We can learn a lot from this annual holiday in Punxsutawney, PA, but accurately predicting the future is not one of them. The “Inner Circle” of Punxsutawney have figured out how to get thousands of people to visit their little town in a very cold part of the country in the dead of Winter and all the news media talking about them for a whole daily news cycle. They created a legend of a groundhog, dress up in top hats, hold this grand ceremony and declare the future of Old Man Winter!

That is all these economy pundits are doing. Nobody knows the future. The quality of the remaining six weeks of winter is not a function of a skittish groundhog or a proclamation made by a fraud in a top hat, but by the decisions you make with that time. Will you hibernate and wait out winter or go out and play with the snowflakes? The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

As I mentioned in my comment to Chris Brogan’s post:

My take on all this future stuff, however, is to look at future films of the past — even as recent as the 1980s. Nobody got the 16:9 television. Even when screens were larger, wall-sized, the 4:3 format still reigned.

For the astute reader, you may have seen the mention for the movie The Waterboy in my opening paragraph. At one point in the movie, (toward the end, you have to watch the whole thing) Coach Klein envisions his nemesis Coach Beaulieu with the head of a cute puppy, is no longer scared of him and adopts a new-found self-esteem.

The next time you watch Joe, Pat and all these other prognosticators on television predicting gloom and doom, envision them with the head of a groundhog.

Then, go make your own future. It will happen whether you wait it out or not.

How the US Postal Service blows its brand every December

USPS Santa Letter Box at Englewood OH 45322
USPS Santa Letter Box at Englewood OH 45322
Every December, Santa hands the US Postal Service a shiny new opportunity to rebrand itself as a lovable, caring organization that is an integral part of all 43,000+ Zip Codes it services. Every year, the USPS blows it terribly.

I found myself in the Englewood OH 45322 Post Office last Friday about 4:00pm. Ironically enough, I had forgotten it was Christmas and there might be a line. There was. But that was a good thing because it gave me an opportunity to look around, read all the signs on the walls, thumb through the FBI wanted sheets, straighten the certified mail postcards and Priority Mail envelopes and stickers. And then, I noticed a wrapped box on top of the glass case.

It was a box so kids can drop in their letters to Santa Claus. In truth, it was a spare box somebody found in the back. Perhaps another employee went to Big Lots and bought the cheapest wrapping paper they could find with Santa faces all over it, wrapped it hastily, punched a hole in the top and wrote “Santa Letters” on a card and glued it to the top.

What it should be is an opportunity that comes once a year that every postal employee is excited to be a part of.

What it should be is a old-tyme mail box, encrusted with candy canes and icicles, covered in snow with reindeer prints leading up to it.

What it should be is a production for every kid in the Zip Code area to go to their local Post Office to drop their one and only Santa letter into the magical mail box that only comes out the Friday after Thanksgiving and goes away when the post office closes the day before Christmas Eve.

What it should be is a tradition that kids mark on their calendar like an Easter egg hunt, their birthday and Santa coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

The US Post Office — in Englewood, Oh anyway — has taken an opportunity to market itself for free and turned the Santa drop into an obligatory wrapped box, stuck on a glass counter, too high for most kids to reach and too nondescript for them to care about.

Don’t worry, Postmaster General John E. Potter, this little pesky holiday will be over in eleven days and all your postal workers can get back to work and quit worrying about kids coming in wanting to mail their letters to Santa Claus.

What are the little brats doing running around a post office anyways. Don’t they know there are lines to stand in, postal standards to adhere to and stupid questions about perishable or hazardous materials to answer?

Bonus Material:
This is some bonus material that was knocking around my brain, was kinda related, too much for a tweet and not enough for another blog post, so here goes.

Other unfriendly stuff I saw while waiting in line: FBI wanted sheets, sign that said: passports by appointment only! Hours: 10am-2pm, no Fridays, sign that said in all caps NO DOGS! (presumably cats are ok), a long list of crap we can’t mail, the rules of standing in line, including no cell phones… and the ever ubiquitous, but entirely unnecessary barking when it is your turn… “NEXT!!!!!!!!!!!!” *sigh*

Artificial time dividers

500 Tweets
500 Tweets
Today, I reached 499 tweets on my Twitter account and wanted my 500th tweet to be something special. It was and it wasn’t, as it was co-opted by Alltop to blast out a new feed page using TwitterFeed.com. That’s ok; Guy and Neenz are good folk and I don’t mind.

Got me thinking about all sorts of other “artificial” time periods we use to trick our minds into stuff. Here are a few of mine:

  • Thanksgiving is the start of the official Holiday Sloth season where I no longer need an excuse to not get something done.
  • 29th birthday to 30th
  • 30th birthday to 40th (we won’t go further)
  • Every New Year. This time, I’ll be more organized, less frivolous, more, blah, blah
  • Oh, well I ate that Snickers bar. I’ll get serious about the diet tomorrow.
  • I can pay bills tomorrow. Today is already shot and the post office is not open anyway.

The truth is, however, that time does not see any of these dividing lines. It keeps marching on and so what we see between age 29 and age 30 is just a fraction of a second — maybe less — to time.

So it is with my 500th tweet. Is the 500th any more or less special to the person who got it? Should it be more special to me? Should I have saved it for that one special tweet to that one special follower?

I dunno. Don’t think it matters much because I’m now working on my 1000th tweet. That one will be really special.

Half the failure Guy is

My dream is to become only half the failure Guy Kawasaki is!

http://www.rivershark.com/x/47

I still have not written the two books banging around in my head. But, I figure if I blog almost every day, that kinda counts?

Love that “big pile of nothing.” To misquote Emily Dickinson very badly, “I’d rather be sitting on my own big pile of nothing than at the bottom of a big pile of Yahoo!”

That “big pile of nothing” gets me traffic and Twitter tweets! Keep on doing nothing, Guy!

 

Posted by email from rufus’s posterous

Being authentic

Guy included me in his Alltop magazine rack early on in the site life (pets.alltop.com) and I’ve been a fan since. Actually, I have always been a fan of Guy. When Neenz sent a Facebook message to the Alltop group about getting some cool Alltop stickers, I was there. Sent my mailing address in and waited eagerly by the mailbox.

Anyway, this is what I received:

The hand-written address, the real postage stamp, the lack of any slick marketing! I feel like FAMILY!

Guy doesn’t know I’m here and doesn’t really need me to feel like I’m part of a family. But it sure makes Alltop one of more favorite sites all over again!