Hatching Free Range Ideas

Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

Perfect convertible surprise

In Uncategorized on May 28, 2013 at 8:52 pm

On Sunday my niece and I went for a drive in the little blue convertible. Yes, of course the top was down. Saturday and early Sunday morning we had gotten about 7 inches of glorious rain but Sunday afternoon was merely overcast, making it perfect convertible weather.

We drove on back roads to Wimberley (you can’t really get there any other way), winding our way through the little hills. We stopped in Wimberley to drink a beer and have a snack at Cypress Creek Cafe so that it seemed as if we had a destination for our drive. We were about 10 minutes from home when the rain began. It was perfect. If we had stopped to put the top up and be responsible, we would have gotten really wet. But, at 60 mph it went completely over the top of us. Even the cop that we passed knew that if he stopped us for a  minimum amount over the speed limit, everyone was going to get wet. There were no stops between us on the road in the rain and home. Glorious! Not something you could plan without guilt.Image


Energize your commitments with sunk costs

In How we learn and think on May 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Lewis_Carroll_-_Henry_Holiday_-_Hunting_of_the_Snark_-_Plate_9_unrestored (1)I just read an interesting article on how to increase your follow through with things that you believe you “ought” to do but aren’t in your normal makeup. The premise is that we honor sunk costs, that the money we spend on things in the future influences our behavior. See what you think. I wonder what my sunk cost threshold is? I would throw away $20 but would I throw away $30. Maybe my level is $50. Then if I paid $50 for, say a month long gym membership, I can already hear myself rationalizing. “I won’t go today or tomorrow but I still have 3 weeks left in the month and that’s only a cost of less than $2.50 a day. I can afford to spend out a few more days.”

So would I wait until the remaining days upped the cost to $25 a day or even the final day $50? I can see two things in this. Why gym memberships might be expensive (in addition to making the gym greater profits) and that I’m going to have to be a lot trickier to outsmart myself.

What’s your level?

The danger of the single story

In Africa stories, Books, How we learn and think on May 22, 2013 at 3:32 pm

In this powerful TED video, Chimamanda Adichie describes the way that our innocent telling and choosing of stories contributes to our continuance of stereotypes that separate us. It’s very worth watching.

What she does really well is to share her personal experiences both of being the stereotyper and of the stereotyped.

Her language is elegant and precise, which makes me want to read one of her novels. I just bought Half of a Yellow Sun.

I don’t always do what Mark Bittman says.

In Let's eat, Make something, Uncategorized on May 16, 2013 at 1:15 pm

I’ve told you about growing artichokes, right? That artichokes don’t really like South Texas. That they went into the garden last year and I babied them throughout the hot and dry August, watering even though they didn’t produce a single artichoke. That I babied them through the weird winter, hoping, hoping. That I finally, carefully uncovered them under the mulch to find the core of the plant, only to have another frost that nipped their leaves enough so I feared I’d lost them. That finally in the warm Spring, I composted their roots and watered. And each day, I’d go out and see ladybugs covering their leaves in March and April. Then in May, the ladybugs were replaced by stink bugs, madly making more stink bugs. I thumped them off and generally made their lives a bit chaotic. There are still so many, it’s not funny, all clustered together on the buds and in the dark spaces between the leaves and the stalks. Creepy! But that’s not the Mark Bittman part yet.

I have been collecting the artichoke buds for about a week now, cutting each one when I think that if I leave it any longer, it will open and become inedible. I had about 10 in the refrigerator, ready for last night’s dinner. So I went looking for a way to cook them that wasn’t a simple steam or saute. And I found a Mark Bittman video.

Baby artichokes braised with grape tomatoes, whole garlic cloves and oil-cured olives. He said eat with a half a loaf of crusty bread. He said eat for lunch. We had them for dinner, with nothing more than a half a loaf of crusty bread. Man, oh man!!!! Clean them up, cut in half and brown in olive oil. Dump in the rest of the stuff, add about 1/2 cup of water and put the lid on and walk away. 25 minutes later. Man, oh MAN!!!!

I’m going to try this same method will full grown artichokes and we’ll pull off and eat the leaves rather than eating them whole like the babies.

P.S., I don’t think he grew his.

The Landfill Harmonic

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Thanks again to Tim for sending on. I’m not going to describe it. Just watch.

Write clearly. Read deeply. Think better. Together.

In Business, How we learn and think, Jumpstart thinking on May 14, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Tim just sent me a short article on Amazon banning PowerPoint in meetings, which happened in 2003. The article was written in November of last year, just after a Charlie Rose interview with Jeff Bezos. As a purveyor of the written word, the beauty of his approach to meetings spoke directly to me.

Bezos requires that the person presenting an idea, first write a 6 page “narrative.”  (I assume that a BIG idea justifies the kind of work that a 6 page description/argument/idea history represents.) The paper is distributed in the meeting. Then for the first 1/2 hour of the meeting, everyone reads the paper, making notes and writing questions. After the silent reading period, the discussion begins with everyone prepared to contribute. It distributes the control of the presentation content to the group. I really like this idea!!!!

Really BIG ideas are often mushy when they are first released. Depending on the level of the organizational hierarchy, the thinker can get away with more or less mush. Higher = mushier. Writing complete sentences in a structured argument means you have to think through the details with a greater degree of discipline. BIG ideas, ideas that transform experiences, deserve discipline.

When the group has a clear presentation of your thinking/thought process, each member can contribute meaningfully. I’ve been in too many meetings for too many years where someone stands up (or not), and says, “I think we ought to do X.” That’s bringing the entire meeting audience in at the final scene. The only thing we need to do at that point is applaud, I suppose. Then for the rest of the meeting, it’s all flashbacks but with no meaningful sequence. Think about stories you’ve heard that ramble their way from one thread to the next and back again.

Even worse, if the group likes the idea, they try all sorts of questions in order to uncover the rationale behind it. If they don’t like it, they come up with a million reasons why it won’t work.

It’s a HUGE time waster that rarely leads to tactical action beyond handing it off to a sub-group to perform feasibility studies. . .or worse, to develop prototypes. Idea owners are the best people to study feasibility! Dammit! It’s a lot like Steve Blank saying, “Owners have to get out of the building; not researchers.” Those who are invested in an idea should develop it before handing it off. Dammit!

I learn as I write. I think on the screen or on paper.

I read most deeply on paper where I can make notes and jump back and forth to supporting points that came before. I can see an argument or a case unfold in front of me.

Jeff (because I’ve adopted him on my team for this ONE reason alone, I’m going to refer to him as if he were my friend, by his first name) agrees. “When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences, complete paragraphs it forces a deeper clarity.”

According to an ex-Amazon employee, the structure is:

1. the context or question
2. what was done before to answer the question
3. how your attempt at answering the question is different or the same from previous approaches
4. The benefits of the approach (what’s in it for the customer, the company, and
5. how the answer to the question enables innovation on behalf of the customer? (I’m not sure I understand this one)

Andy Grove said, “Writing the report is important; reading it often is not.” I think he’s half right. Maybe it’s ’cause he doesn’t read stuff that is very good. Or maybe he can’t find the time to read all the stuff that comes across his desk. Hence, study hall.

Some people don’t think in words, so what about them?

Garden and Hope

In Garden on May 1, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Artichoke budsI’ve written before about the incredible hope that gardens represent. Where you plant tender babies and expose them to heat and cold and a million ravenous critters and still believe with all your heart that those grasses that reseeded themselves prolifically last year in the hellish August sun will be overrun by tomato plants and peppers bearing heavily.

This photo represents the realization of hope. Artichokes love cool weather and water and loads of compost. I had none of that last year and consequently no artichoke buds either. However, I bundled them up through the winter we didn’t really have and now in the Spring they are rewarding me. . . with something. Not in great profusion but still. . . They also provided a haven for ladybugs, who have turned a million ravenous aphids into hollow corpses. Woo-hoo!!!


I have six artichoke plants, now all starting to bud out. So, there you have it. Artichokes in South Texas. Now if I can only stop the stink bugs from covering them as well, I’ll be a happy gardener. Oh. And I’m hoping that I managed to protect the butternut squash from squash borers. I’ll let you know about those nasty destroyers of hope but you see how it works? I had squash borers last year and the year before that and they destroyed my squash plants right when they were at their most beautiful. Hope. Insidious Hope. What would we do without it?