18 Oct 2010 7:00 am   //   Filed under: Hard times, Stray data

Think outside the swan

OK, let’s get started. Chicago, can you hear us on the speakerphone? Fine, fine.

Good morning everybody. I hope you read the file we sent out before this meeting, but in case you didn’t, here are the highlights: Q3 revenues were off 38%. Customer satisfaction is at an all-time low. Frankly, we also expect corporate to implement redundancies before the holidays. I know this is a bitter call to swallow. But it’s also a wakeup pill.

Team, it’s time to think outside the swan.

What does that mean? First, reach for the low-hanging eggs. Seek out the black baskets. For too long, we’ve been putting all our fruit in one box. That changes today.

Second, be nimble. Drive in the fast shoe. Keep lines of communication open. There’s an old saying that goes, a lane can travel halfway around a fact while the world is still putting on its lies. I find it helpful to always keep that in mind.

And finally, adapt. Feed the cloud, and starve the lining. You can’t stop the losers, but you can learn how to ride. And when the surf gets bumpy, remember that every winner has a sugar wave.

I look out at this room and I see a lot of potential. I know we can meet our goals if we all do our best work. But I’m not going to silver-coat the situation. Our chips are to the wall. It’s hard to turn around a table. But we’re going to put our best backs forward. And we’ve put all our bucks on the battleship. I know I speak for all of management when I say, the foot stops here.

Now I’ll open the floor. Any questions?

12 Oct 2010 11:54 pm   //   Filed under: Brooklyn, New York is different

Reader reaction to my post about leaving Brooklyn

I received a lot of feedback on my post this morning, “On leaving Brooklyn.” It turns out I hit upon something a lot of people wanted to talk about—how Park Slope has spiraled downhill. Some of the responses are below.

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12 Oct 2010 7:00 am   //   Filed under: Brooklyn, New York is different, Over!

On leaving Brooklyn (retracted)

A retraction, October 22, 2014: Four years ago I wrote this grouchy blog post about Brooklyn, and got a lot of attention for it. In hindsight, it was mostly just whining. In particular, I’m sorry I fed into the negativity aimed at young people and parents in Park Slope. In about 2 weeks we move back to Brooklyn, because it’s a nice place to live. I’ve left this post published, but I’ve set it in strikethrough type to signify that I don’t stand by it any more.

* * * *

Two Saturday mornings ago, I was shopping at the C-Town on 9th Street in Park Slope. In the snack aisle I walked past a guy intently studying two bags of potato chips. He looked a lot like me, only with a shaggy beard and an untucked flannel work shirt, a popular look here. Next to him, an elderly lady asked for help reaching a box of garbage bags on a high shelf. “Just a second,” said the bearded guy, lost in his potato chip labels. “When you have a chance,” the woman said patiently.

I did the obvious thing. Since the other guy wouldn’t, I got the box for the woman. But I also had a very visceral reaction. I wanted to turn to the bearded potato chip scholar, get up in his face, and hiss, “Dude! What the fuck is wrong with you?!

Fortunately, I didn’t act on that impulse. But the next time I might. And that’s why it’s time to leave Brooklyn.

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11 Oct 2010 8:00 am   //   Filed under: New York is different

Money never sleeps

People often ask me for advice about moving to New York City. This post is long and over-sharey, but I’m writing it as a service piece to explain what it takes to find an apartment in New York in 2010. As some of you know already, I’m making a big move next month from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Here’s the story of how it happened.

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8 Oct 2010 7:00 am   //   Filed under: In the news, Transit

The war on trains

Yesterday the Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, ordered a halt to the most important passenger rail project in the United States. That’s bad, and it gets worse. This is not an isolated local decision. This is part of a nationwide war on trains, of which Christie is the leader.

The project that Christie killed yesterday is a second rail tunnel under the Hudson River. It would add capacity to the badly overcrowded and economically vital Northeast Corridor. I ride this route often and I’m surely not the only one tired of sitting in Secaucus going nowhere while we wait for a train ahead to clear the only existing tunnel—built in 1910. Construction began on the new tunnel earlier this year, with funding by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Port Authority, and the state of New Jersey. Yet Christie determined he had the power to shut it down. “The ARC project will be terminated and staff will immediately begin an expeditious and orderly shutdown of the project,” the governor declared.

What else has the governor been up to?

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3 Oct 2010 7:29 pm   //   Filed under: Bicycles

Today’s bike ride: Bike MS 2010

Today I rode 100 miles in the annual Bike MS NYC ride. This is a very popular ride (as you can see above) and was especially challenging this year.

I ride in honor of my stepmom Joanne, who has MS. Thanks to those of you who gave to the National MS Society in support of this ride! I realize I’ve been doing a lot of charity rides this year, so I didn’t campaign hard for this one. If you didn’t get a chance to give to this one, I’ll hit you up in the spring to donate to the Bike MS Chesapeake Challenge.

This is the same ride I did last October, but this year they changed the course. It got a lot harder! Last year all the riders opened with a fast, flat, traffic-free 30-mile loop around Manhattan; this year (for reasons of scheduling traffic through the Lincoln Tunnel) the 50- and 100-mile riders skipped the Manhattan portion of the ride and rode directly to New Jersey through the tunnel. The 100-mile course then rolled over a lot of hills almost all the way to Bear Mountain. It was also windy and a little brisk. Furthermore, I apparently ran over something sharp and punctured my rear tire around Nyack about 1/3 of the way through the ride. I was able to change the tube without any trouble, but it slowed me down. This was a tough ride, but I finished and I had a good time doing it! Here are a few more photos and a map of the route.


The ride started by the cruise ship terminal.

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30 Sep 2010 8:24 am   //   Filed under: Labeling, Media, Technology

Nobody knows what “social graph” means

For three years, people who write and speak about technology have been using the phrase social graph. It’s sometimes used casually like a synonym for Facebook, the company that popularized the term. But what does social graph really mean, and where did it come from?

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27 Sep 2010 8:00 am   //   Filed under: Media, Technology

Flow chart: Choosing a social network

Social media is too confusing! In an effort to simplify it, I took a stab at creating a chart illustrating when it’s appropriate to post an update on each of the social networks I use.

26 Sep 2010 10:48 am   //   Filed under: Photos, Transit

Travel and transit photos from Denver

I just got back from a short trip to Denver for a conference. Here are a few photos of trains and buses.

Denver Light Rail
RTD Light Rail

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21 Sep 2010 7:21 am   //   Filed under: New York is different, Photos

Photos of the approach to LaGuardia Airport

Before airplanes, people traveling long distances to New York City arrived by ship across the New York harbor, watching the island of Manhattan slowly come into view, unfolding with drama and promise.

Today we have the approach to LaGuardia Airport. On the evening of Labor Day, I flew into LaGuardia on a Dash 8 from Roanoke, descending over the harbor, over Manhattan, over the Bronx, then turning and landing from the northeast on runway 4-22. This approach may provide the most spectacular view of any urban airport landing in the world.

You’re not supposed to use digital cameras on the plane, but I did anyway.


Brooklyn: Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Coney Island

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