Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Gay Marriage? Not Again ...

As we approach November 7th, the GOP is really grasping at straws. The list of issues they can't talk about:

- Iraq (we are no longer staying the course because we are failing)
- Afghanistan (situation turning for the worse)
- Terrorism (Bush de-classifies 3 pages of a report. Those 3 pages say we are not as safe. What did the other pages say that he didn't want to share?)
- Social Security (GOP plans went nowhere)
- Immigration (all we get out of this is a new Berlin wall)
- the Economy (stocks are high, but do poor people own any?)
- Education (still 17th in the world)

So what can we talk about? Gay marriage, again? Come on!!! Look I understand that the major religions in this country are against homosexuality. But marriage isn't strictly Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, or belonging to any one faith. You can get married by Elvis in Vegas, so don't preach to me about the sanctity of marriage.

Look if the question is whether gays should be able to share employee benefits like healthcare, why do you care so much? A friend once told me, "I don't care if a guy wants to marry a trash can." Frankly, neither do I.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Washing Dishes and the Environment

After watching Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth I felt forever changed. What an impactful movie. But while I ALWAYS turn off the lights and AC now, and even say "Thank you, Al Gore" when I do it, not all that much has changed.

Last night I pondered why it is so easy to put the dishes in the dishwasher but so hard to put them away in the cupboard. Well, putting the dishes in is a gradual habit, one meal at a time, while you put all the clean dishes away all at once. Still it takes about the same time. Maybe it is because it is so hard to see the benefit immediately and even in the future. The dishes are either hidden in the washer or the cupboard. I need to conceptually understand the benefit to change my habits, and now.

A new group taking consumer marketing techniques to the environmentalist movement seems to agree that this is the same problem with the environmentalism movement. Here is an outline of a smarter strategy that could begin to affect our habits. A very interesting read.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Big Numbers: Bike-jacking, Car-jacking, and Taxis

In a City Cycling survey from 1992, 839 respondants reported 860 bicycles stolen - more than 1 per bicyclist. Based on various numbers, this article estimates 40-45K bikes stolen each year in NYC. It's virtually an inevitability for any rider. Here is an astonishing video showing people stealing bikes two feet from commuters at rush hour, and even with police driving right by at the WTC. They used bolt cutters, an 8 minute saw job, and even a hammer. No one said a thing. Even the police.

The front page news this morning revealed that even the mayor's car isn't safe in NY. Ok, it was in Hackensack. But the interesting statistic to me is that 121,000 cars are stolen every year in NYC. Considering there are just under 2 million cars in NYC (based on 2000) that's an astonishing rate of 5.1% or almost 1 in 20 cars! Ok, Mom. I won't park the car on the street any more. I swear ...

Just in case you are wondering how many taxis there are, there are about 55,000 livery cars in NYC as of 2000.

From - Wikipedia
A "livery vehicle" remains a legalism in the U.S. for a vehicle for hire, such as a taxicab or chauffered limousine, but excluding a rented vehicle driven by the renter.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

CPR Needed for the NYPD

Late last week I was telling my friend to not let a single disappointment shake her faith in humanity. Now I have to practice what I preach.

Lately I have been biking to work, which has been fantastic. What a great way to wake up in the morning and get the blood pumping. But some worried, like my mom and the president of Narrowstep, Carolyn. I was on my way out of work at 8pm, when Carolyn asked me where I park the bike. And I told her:

“I park opposite the Police Station on 35th St. If someone has the balls to steal it, he deserves it.”

Well, sure enough, I walked to my bike to find it had been stolen. I talked to the building manager of my office to see if they had video and they chuckled sympathetically.

“It’s actually illegal to park your bike there. We used to cut the locks once as a warning and then confiscate them, until we realized we didn’t have to. Thieves do it for us and steal about 30 or more bikes a year.”

50 ft from a police station!!! I did file a police report (insisting its location was clearly spelled out) and outside I engaged a couple cops who were surprised and laughed. When I told them the building manager estimated 30 thefts a year, they were incredulous and mentioned how they had never seen anything. I thought that was my point. They proceeded to ridicule me, and all I could think about was the irony of the situation.

I was flooded with all the moments of police frustration: the J walking ticket, my friend’s $100 fine for riding his bike on the sidewalk right before he parked it, and an acquaintance who was fined $100 for closing his eyes at the park (it’s illegal to sleep in the park). Not surprisingly these were all at the end of the month, where cops try to fill their fine quotas. That’s not to say it’s not a hard job. But as a cop, I would be enraged by thieves right outside my precinct. Maybe the system incents the wrong behavior.

Well, instead of the NYPD “CPR” mantra of “Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect,” perhaps they should first focus on “Competence, Potency and Relevance?”

PS Thanks Arthur for the bike, and the short lived excitement of riding in the city. I may get another next spring ...

Drug Naming Gone Too Far?

As a product marketer, I appreciate embedding messaging in your brand. Celebrex makes me want to celebrate. Viagra makes me feel more vital.

But have we gone too far when we have prostate medicine named FloMax?

5 bucks goes to the person who can suggest the best new drug name ... Post on the blog.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

On Taking Notes

Now that I am back at work at NarrowStep, the TV over the Internet company, I find myself drinking from the firehose, rapidly taking notes while learning a new industry. Here is a tip that makes my notes much more organized and productive.
  1. If an item is particularly important or insightful, I put a star next to it.

  2. If an item requires further research or resolution, I put a question mark next to it.

  3. If an item requires follow-up, I put a ballot box (open square) next to it. When the item is completed, I check it off.

  4. If I have assigned a follow-up item to someone, I put an open circle next to it (similar to the ballot box but a circle rather than a square). In the notes, I indicate who is responsible. When the item is completed, I check it off.

Now you can quickly scan your notes for important points, questions, or tasks to follow-up on. No, I can't believe I am writing on taking notes. Yes, this has made a HUGE difference in my ability to organize my thoughts and not let anything drop through the cracks. Try it. You won't go back.