As we stood in line at Pappys world-famous BBQ restaurant here in St. Louis, Vanessa, Holden and I were greeted by champion BBQ Pitmaster and co-owner Skip Steele. With his camo hat and BBQ sauce covered apron Skip walked up and down the world-famous line and chatted up us hungry patrons. When he found out that we were from Boston he very slyly asked, “what if I told you that you were about to taste the greatest rib in the world?” I told him that I would enjoy tasting the world’a greatest rib. Then with a huge smile Skip told me that his ribs were so good that it’d make me want to throw a brick through Redbones’ window (Redbones is arguably Boston’s best BBQ). He wasn’t wrong; the ribs at Pappys were, by far, the best we’ve ever eaten, period. Looking forward to try Kansas City rival, Oklahoma Joe’s, tonight!
Smithsonian Museum, a set on Flickr.
I have been a gun owner, and a supporter of gun rights, for a long time. Today I signed the petition to ban assault weapons (http://j.mp/Yd3Pmj).
I’ve been fascinated by guns since I was very young. At an early age I was given a .22 caliber bolt-action rifle and very fondly remember my Dad teaching me how to safely handle and fire it (always under his supervision). As I grew up my interest in guns progressed and extended to all types of firearms, including shotguns, handguns and “assault” rifles. I have never been much of a hunter but I always appreciated the engineering, workmanship and precision that go into any of the guns I owned. I viewed (and a still view) shooting as a precision sport, not as a violent act.
During my time as a gun owner and enthusiast I became passionate about gun owner rights. I was a vocal supporter of the NRA and any other organization that lobbied on behalf of my constitutional rights to own guns. I made the same arguments that you hear being made from the NRA (and others) with regard to gun ownership; that all guns should be legal; that any gun control was a strike against my constitutional rights; that all types of guns were needed to protect me from my own government. The list goes on. I was only concerned about protecting my right to own the guns I wanted.
While I am no longer an NRA member, my position on gun rights – including assault weapons – hadn’t changed significantly. I saw no difference between a menacing looking assault rifle and any other type of gun. Until Friday.
The sheer thought of 20 little babies being shot and killed is simply too much for me. I don’t know why I make a distinction between this massacre and that of high school kids or college kids or mall shoppers, but that’s what’s happened. This one is just too much for me and it can just never happen again. Those little kids, and the teachers that sought to protect them, need to be more than news fodder. The thought of my beautiful little boy being one of those kids makes tears well up in my eyes and it makes my stomach queasy. I can’t stop thinking about it.
If banning assault rifles (or any other gun control measure) has even the slightest chance in making sure that this never happens again than I am okay with it. My guns – and the right to own them – are not more important than my child. Or your child, or our mothers, or our fathers, or our friends. For those that want to argue with me about constitutional rights, feel free. I don’t care. Call me a traitor, I don’t care. Take my guns, I don’t care. I only care about being able to watch my son grow up, free from the fear of being a victim of some senseless, random act of violence. If that means that I sacrifice my guns then so be it. I will make that trade a thousand times over.
I feel like tectonic plates are shifting beneath the IT world. I’ve been struggling to put my finger on what it is this that is making me feel this way, but slowly things have started to come into focus. These are my thoughts on how cloud computing has forever changed the economics of IT by shifting the balance of power.
The cloud has fundamentally changed business models; it has shifted time-to-market, entry points and who can do what. These byproducts of massive elasticity are wrapped up in an even greater evolutionary change that is occurring right now: The cloud is having a pronounced impact on the supply chain, which will amount to a tidal wave of changes in the near-term that will cause huge pain for some and spawn incredible innovation and wealth for others. As I see it, the cloud has started a chain of events that will change our industry forever:
Today I had the fortune to learn about the folks at Mattapan Mobile Farm Stand and their plans to deliver locally grown fresh food into areas that are in need of freshly grown food. They’re also planning on on doing it on bike. How cool is that? What a good thing to have happening around us. But, as you can imagine, they need cash and are trying to raise $7k to get the project started. This isn’t a massive sum but it’s not trivial either so there is an active social campaign underway to gather this initial seed money. Again, all cool stuff and the kind of thing I’m generally happy to support so I did. But it wasn’t easy. Not that parting with my money wasn’t easy but actually getting my money to them wasn’t easy and here’s why:
As I suspect a lot of people did, I saw a tweet about the Mattapan Mobile Farm Stand on my phone. I thought it was great and wanted to help. I clicked the link to take me to the contribution page and selected the contribution amount and clicked next. From here I was taken to the payment page where I saw that Paypal was one of my options which was great as I’m a fan/user of their service. When I selected Paypal however the authentication process of Paypal was loaded inside a modal box as was the final confirmation screen of Paypal. Have you tried interacting with any type of nested box on any mobile browser on any type of phone? Painful.
At this point I had to really want to contribute to the project because the incentive was there to bail. Too many boxes, too many hidden navigation buttons and way too many questions. I’m not blaming the site developers at all (but I wish they’d think mobile) but it did make me wonder why the process was so tedious. There were over 5 steps involved in me making a very small donation which just feels like a lot of friction for a simply task. If there aren’t already better systems then there should be. I can imagine something more like Eventbrite that already has my Paypal info (or LevelUp, Square, etc.) and the link I click from Twitter on my iPhone takes me directly to this page (or app) and I simply selected the amount and hit submit. 2 steps.
Maybe this already exists and I’m just not seeing it but the last few times I’ve run into cases where I’ve wanted to donate money I’ve run into this exact same scenario so if better software does exist the people looking for money aren’t using it. So there’s a software problem or a marketing problem but either way trying to give money away shouldn’t be a difficult task.
A while ago I read a post by James Altucher [http://j.mp/yDbkL3] where he described what he called appropriately called the “Daily Practice.” The Daily Practice is, as the name implies, a system addressing four life areas where, if practiced daily, will lead to a better life (in his opinion). Those 4 areas are: 1) Physical, 2) Emotional, 3) Mental, 4) Spiritual. One of James’ Twitter followers was kind enough to create a very handy visual of the Daily Practice which I now hang on my office wall. You can download the PDF here: http://j.mp/yxkKuh.
There’s a lot to take in from the Daily Practice and trying to diligently adhere to the system seems a bit overwhelming at first so I decided to ease into the system by addressing the first and probably easiest of the areas; the physical. One of the main tenets of the aspect of the Daily Practice is to get up early and get 8 hours of sleep so this means getting up at 5am and getting to bed at 9pm… no exceptions.
I have now done this for the past couple of months –getting up at 5am and getting to bed at 9pm (UPDATE: Getting to bed at 9am has proven to be very hard for me)– and guess what, it really works..for me. The first day/week was hell of course and I had to drag myself through the day but since then it’s been great. Here’s how it works. I get up @5am, shower (at least weekly), dress (not well), eat breakfast (Paleo) and then catch the 6:02am commuter train. I get in the city at 6:20am and at my desk at 6:45am consistently. One of the interesting things about being this early is that the mass transit system actually works much better when there aren’t a lot of people using it! Who woulda thunk?
So now I’m at my desk at 6:45am which is roughly TWO HOURS before anyone else gets in. It’s a software company so early mornings are not traditionally our “thing” which means that I have ~2 hours to answer email, work on important things that require my fully attention, plan my day, and the list goes on. One of the other great side effects of getting into the city early is that on nice days I have the time to walk from North Station to the Back Bay which is approximately 2.4 miles and takes me through Government Center, through the Boston Common, around the Duck Pond and past Copley Square. Not a bad way to start a day.
Getting into work early also means that I leave early, usually right at 4pm. Again, if I am walking to North Station this means that I catch the 5:10pm train home and if I take the subway it means that I can generally catch the 4:40pm. In either case it allows me to get home in time to see my wife and play with my Son,and eat dinner as a family. Yeah, I might continue working after dinner but by then the wee-one is asleep and the day is wrapping up.