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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Ways to foster serendipity in your life

Serendipity is defined as "Faculty of making discoveries by accident."

I find that some of my best discoveries -- whether they be books, restaurants, friends, places -- tend to arise out of serendipity.

As I was doing my errands today (I am on my own, as R & J are away on their own projects) 2 great ideas for increasing your chances of serendipity came to mind.

  1. Library Sorting Shelves - The next time you are in the library, (you DO go to the library regularly, don’t you?), find the sorting shelves. This is the area where books are pre-sorted before being returned to their rightful place on the shelf. The chances are, if someone else found the book interesting, you might, too. I almost always find 1 or 2 books to add to my check out for that day.
  2. Bookstore Lower Shelves - After lunch and the library, I headed over to the local Border's to poke around. You may have noticed that it is always the bestselling books that appear at eye-level in a bookstore. The same holds true for products in the supermarket and other stores. The truth is, many companies PAY for the best placement on the shelves. If you want to find something new and interesting, start looking at the lower shelves in the store. Get down on your hands and knees and you might be surprised what you find. Don't let the marketing departments of the big publishers dictate what you read. Explore a little.
  3. Randomly pick a listening station - The same also goes for music stores, of course. Pick a random music listening station, then pick a random CD and a random track. Did you dig it? Try again!
There are other ways to help serendipity strike, of course. Drive a different way to work. Visit a neighborhood you have never seen. Even here in the Valley where I have lived for 18 years, there are some streets I have never driven. Some days, when the mood strikes me, I take a little tour of one of these streets. Who knows what you might find? Garage sales are another great way of dragging you down streets you might never have noticed before.

Finally, be open to serendipity in your life. It is always those chance encounters that spur your thoughts and enrich your life.

Friday, August 13, 2004

LABlogs.com Weekly Insight #2

LABlogs.com is a collection of posts from a wide variety of LA Bloggers which deal with the city we all live in. Jonah, the proprietor, has started a weekly “Insight” series, where he questions the local bloggers about their LA thoughts, likes, dislikes and more. These are my answers to this week's questions. You can check out other bloggers on LABlogs.com.

1. Where is the last place you ate out?

Oh God. With all the great places to eat in LA, I tend to choose by convenience. Today’s lunch was Cousin’s Subs at Burbank and Van Nuys. I like them better than Subway and they are, at least, moderately more healthy than Wendy’s burgers.

2. How often do you eat out?

When I am doing a lot of computer consulting, I tend to be out and about, so I eat out more. Even at home, though, we eat out 3-4 times a week. Does Starbuck’s and other coffee places count? I frequent them more than any other food location. I stop in before a consulting call, stop in after, walk up on the weekends to drink and read….but enough about that. (SMILE)

3. Where is the place you eat most?

Lately, this has been Cousin’s, (I feel so dirty admitting my fast food cravings here in front of everyone, though) For “sit down” meals, our regular places are Four ‘N 20 on Van Nuys, Nat’s Early Bite (a great mid-western-style diner that remind me of the diner in my small town) on Burbank and Antonio’s Pizza on Ventura Blvd. (yet another place that reminds me of one of my favorite places in Ohio.

4. Where do you tell your friends that they "have to try"?

My wife really likes Café Bizou on Ventura. I like the food there, as well, as it has both regular and “fru-fru” food so we can both get what something we like. I usually leave the “dining outr” recommendations to her. As a TV writer, she has had the opportunity to eat at some of the finest restaurants in town, usually on someone else’s dime.

5. What dish do they have to order when they get there?

It has been a while since we were there, so I don’t honestly remember. I do recall a great garlic mashed potatoes, though.

6. Where do you eat when money is not a concern?

As I don’t really have any fancy dining aspirations, my dining diversions usually contain themselves to the lower end of the price spectrum. I don’t have any “great restaurant” that I would like to frequent. Since I am the main cook here at the house, mainly due to my picky food choice issues, I tend to cook the fancy stuff here, rather than go out for it. Tonight, Rosanne made one of our favorites, Risotto Milanese. She even made the chicken stock that went into it and added some chicken into the risotto to change it a bit. I make all sorts of (relatively fancy) pasta dishes. Rosanne is 2nd generation Sicilian, so Italian food makes up a large part of my repertoire. I even make homemade Gnoochi and pasta, on occasion.

7. Where do you eat when money is tight?

When I am tired, usually the local places mentioned above. When not, I would rather cook for myself. Then the food is just how I like it.

8. What restaurant have you wanted to try but haven't been to yet?

I am severely unadventurous when it comes to dining out, so I don’t really have an answer for this question. When we travel, I am much more adventurous, but around town, I fall into my old ruts again.

Fast Company: Jerk Bosses: To Coach or Can?

Interesting post over at Fast Company regarding the nature and occurence of "Jerk Bosses". There is comments section for your own response, as well.

One interesting statistic is that, "...42% of US workers reported incidents of yelling and verbal abuse in their workplaces. And, it said that 30% of workers admitted to yelling at their co-workers themselves."

It seems that the issue of workplace abuse has only gotten worse over the years. Can bad bosses be "coached" out of their behaviors or is simply a lost cause.

Here are some past columns I have written about office abuse.

Is it really that bad?

Computer (Career) Nightmares

A Little Crazy

Career-Op: Making a list
by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

No matter the focus of your high-tech career, there is always too much to be done. This computer is broken, the network is down, several pieces of software are already out of date. When there is so much pressing business, though, you can easily lose sight of exactly what needs to be done. You spend your time racing from crisis to crisis and never get a sense of the big wave that is about to crash over you.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

CLASS: Intro to Mac OS X

Deborah Shadovitz is holding an Intro to Mac OS X class at USC on Saturday, August 28, 2004.

A seminar for upgraders, new Mac users, switchers, and potential switchers. This class is designed to provide a solid Mac OS X foundation. If you're upgrading from any previous MacOS, you should regain and perhaps surpass your former comfort level. If you're a Windows user you'll leave confident that you can work well in OS X. But while the basics are well covered, my focus is always Mac Efficiency. You'll learn a lot of productivity power tips. Clarity and understanding for new-comers will not be at the cost of upgraders.

Full Information Available Here

Getty Center Family Room Re-Opens

It looks like the Family Room at the Getty Center has re-opened with a completely different design. It has been closed since May for remodeling.

This LA Times article gives an overview of the new attractions.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

New Ad-Aware Anti-Spyware progam released

According to this posting on WebAttack.com, Lavasoft has released their latest version of Ad-Aware, their anti-spyware detection and cleanup tool. If you currently use Ad-Aware, download this new release. The installer will seemlessly remove the old version and install the new one in its place.

Update - Freeware - Ad-Aware v SE Personal 1.02
AdAware is a privacy tool, that scans your memory, registry, hard, removable and optical drives for known data-mining, aggressive advertising, and tracking components. It then lists the results and o.... [WebAttack.com latest software]

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

USA Today: Fewer college students choose computer majors

Interesting article from USA Today

Fewer college students choose computer majors

Hmmm...Despite all the people who jumped into the computer industry during the boom, this looks like a prescription for a shortage within the next few years. Good for some, bad for others.

Creative Spaces 3: Daniel Silva's Spy Den

All Things Considered posts the next installment in their Creative Spaces series, talking with spy novelist Daniel Silva.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Apple Mac OS X Software Updates

Apple released 2 updates today, including a overall update to Mac OS X 10.3.5. According to the included notes, this update includes the following:

The 10.3.5 Update delivers enhanced functionality and improved reliability for Mac OS X v10.3 "Panther" and is recommended for all users.

Key enhancements include:

  • improved support for NTFS formatted volumes
  • improves reliability for user logins and mounting of home directories in a networked environment
  • updated ATI and NVIDIA graphics drivers
  • improved Bluetooth compatibility for Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mouse and Bluetooth phones
  • additional FireWire and USB device compatibility
  • improved font management
  • updated Mail and Image Capture applications
  • improved compatibility for third party applications
  • previous standalone security updates

For detailed information on this Update, please visit this website: http://www.info.apple.com/kbnum/n25791