Friday, September 30, 2005

Weird... I saw this advertised in the San Francisco Chronicle today and just thought it was strange. The description of the scent reads like a catalog of stuff that would get caught in the Hummer's tire-treads (assuming your average Hummer owner ever takes it off-road). Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 29, 2005

This is a new product called the Flypen. Although its being marketed as a toy, it does some pretty interesting things. You can write 1 letter commands like "S" for schedule and then write the details and it will remember them for you. You can also draw a keyboard and drums. Clicking on the instruments makes the sounds play from the pen's built-in speaker. It seems at least as sophisticated as the i-Pen or Logitech's IO Pen which require's use of Anoto's special paper. Posted by Picasa

Fillmore St Ski Jump

Just snapped this at the Icer-sponsored ski jump on the Fillmore St. Hill in San Francisco. The delays and public outcry of local residents seems to have only fueled interest in the event. Even though it took place mid-day on a Thursday, attendance seems to be higher than for the SF Grand Prix bike race. Slow snow and a possibly poorly designed take-off area made for some nasty wipe outs at the start of the event. One guy landed an left his skis where he landed and just kept going. This guy was the first to clear the lip where Fillmore meets Vallejo. Definitely made for some exciting moments.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Carneros Inn, Napa

Just got back from an offsite meeting that was held at the Carneros Inn in Napa, CA. Amazing setting... especially this view of the Napa Valley first thing in the morning. Each room is simple, small but well appointed individual cottage. The architecture is a well executed blend of agricultural and industrial... a clear reference to the less chic surroundings of Carneros as compared to central Napa. They don't promote it but much of the inn was built using prefab architecture.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Nintendo's new Revolution Controller

Interesting article on Nintendo's new Revolution controller. It uses gyroscopic control for things like racing games or sword fights. It can also be used as either a vertical remote control or held horizontally in 2 hands as a traditional game controller. It will be interesting to see how the gyroscopic function is received. Its been tried before with limited success but physical gaming is a big trend as Dance Dance Revolution and PlayStation's EyeToy have shown.


In my ongoing series of city views on-the-run... here's Chicago from a taxi stand. You get a bit of Mies in the foreground, followed by a piece of the Chicago Tribune building with just a glimpse of the Hancock building in the distance. I was there for all of 14 hours but I'm hoping to be making longer trips in the future.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Old-school Blog

Just setting my blog up for mobile blogging. I shot this telephone pole in San Francisco the first day I got my Sidekick. I thought the archeology of past messages was kind of cool looking.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bush’s Perfect Storm

I think it is ironic that Hurricane Katrina, a random natural disaster would shed so much light on Bush’s leadership as a president. At first, the problems on the Gulf Coast all seemed to be due to Hurricane Katrina’s wrath. But in many ways, it was careful and deliberate planning that caused the damage and destruction. The writing has been on the wall for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast for this type of event. There have been numerous projections and warnings issued by state, local and federal officials. There was even a simulation, done quite recently and funded by FEMA. The drill predicted almost everything we are now seeing on the ground. Everything except the problems created by FEMA and the current administration.

George Bush stated during his first presidential campaign that Natural Disasters test the mettle of a leader. You would think that having said this that he would have worked hard to avoid any potential problems in dealing with one. But natural disasters of this scale have a way of revealing the impact of decisions made over years, not just those made in the immediate aftermath. Perhaps the most monumental of these was the decision to install Michael Brown as the head of FEMA. George Bush demands loyalty, respects loyalty and rewards loyalty. Hopefully, it was loyalty that got Michael Brown his job because it certainly wasn’t his experience managing natural disasters. Bush’s loyalty priority means that Brown was put in place over many other qualified people. This had little impact as long as the agency wasn’t needed but problems became strikingly clear when the time came for strong and decisive leadership.

FEMA’s response to Katrina is even more of an issue given all the changes George Bush has put in place in the aftermath of 9/11. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security and moving FEMA under it was done under the pretense of making the country safer in the face of natural and man-made disasters. Katrina was the fist big test of the effectiveness of these changes and from most accounts things are not better.

These are possibly the most dramatic examples of Bush’s “mettle” but there are more. Along with the predictions of the Gulf Coast’s vulnerability came numerous requests from the Army Corp of Engineers for a budget to upgrade the levees surrounding New Orleans. But Bush delayed the approvals and cut the budgets for these projects. The former head of the Army Corp of Engineers was forced out by Bush’s administration after he openly criticized the budget cuts. One of the key roles of National Guard troops is to help restore order in times of natural disasters. But many of Louisiana and Mississippi’s National Guard Troops were busy over in Iraq. Some have been recalled but as with almost everything else, it may be too little, too late.

Loyalty can be a double-edged sword. Its an effective weapon in building and keeping a strong team. But if honesty is seen as a lack of loyalty it can have the exact opposite effect. In this scenario, those that are too honest are forced out and replaced by more “loyal” but less experienced candidates. Eventually you end up with an army of yes men. Isn’t this what happened to Colin Powell?

Hurricane Katrina has definitely tested the mettle of President Bush. It is ironic that something so random and “out of our control” could be such a clear indicator of Bush’s careful and deliberate plan. But that is exactly what it has done. I only hope that those most affected by his decisions will keep this in mind the next time they are casting a vote. Blind loyalty can be a fatal flaw in citizens too.