Monthly Archives: December 2005

2005 is the year of no bank failures

The Wall Street Journal reports today that:
“this [year] marks the first year since 1962 without a bank failure”

that is outstanding and pretty remarkable. a lot of that has to do with riding the mortgage boom of the last few years. however, with housing prices starting to fall in the last few months, i expect 2006 will be a much more difficult year for some banks — especially those that are not diversified. we can confidently assume that there will, unfortunately, be at least one bank failure in 2006.

Book: Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership

TroljpgpaperTheodore Roosevelt on Leadership : Executive Lessons from the Bully Pulpit by James Strock

Jim Strock writes a great book on Teddy Roosevelt and how his leadership style can be mimicked by today’s leaders. I’ve been on a Teddy Roosevelt kick this year (also reading Theodore Rex) and I highly recommend both books. Get acclimated with one of America’s greatest historical figures.

John McCain’s hero is Teddy Roosevelt. Bush is reading about him this holiday season. And others are commenting about his leadership styles.

book: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Full_image_5The Pleasure of Finding Things Out by Richard Feynman

This is a splendid audiobook. And while maybe not as compelling as Surely You are Joking Mr. Feynman! it was a wonderful book nevertheless filled with great anecdotes.

If you are an audible listener, this is a great audiobook read by a terrific actor. I’m so glad I was turned onto Feynman by friends like Christian Bailey this year.

book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

this is obviously a very famous book but i always pooh-poohed it and never read it. when is finally came available on Audible i decided to take the plunge and check it out.

this is a great book. really. it is. i am really impressed with it. in many ways it is the sequel to one of my favorite all time books: The Effective Executive by the late Peter Drucker.

read the reviews of this book and you’ll find people raving about how it changed their life. i would go so far but i would bet that anyone who followed the 7 habits described would become a much better and happier person. and when you think of the happy people you know, they tend to follow most of the habits (though probably not all as most people aren’t perfect).

summation: for those of you like me who have skipped this book over the years, i highly recommend you read or listen to it (in fact, i really recommend the audio book).

Bill Simon is a stand-up guy

Bill Simon is a great guy

i’ve known Bill since 2001 and am a huge fan of his as he is a man of incredibly integrity and talent. last year he decided he was going to run for Treasurer of California. right when i heard this I immediately write him a check to contribute to his campaign since i strongly felt that Bill would make a great public servant and is also perfect for the Treasurer position.

a few months ago, Bill decided not to run and pulled out of the race. i thought it was really unfortunate because i strongly believed in Bill Simon and because, especially now, we need people of high integrity in government. and he had a good chance of winning. but i respected his decision.

then today, out of no-where, i get a check in the mail. my campaign contribution has been returned in full. Bill Simon returned the campaign contribution of every one of his donors. this is extremely rare in politics. often candidates will use that money as influence and donate it somewhere to gain special favors. of course, this action is another piece evidence pointing to Bill’s high sense of ethics.

summation: Bill Simon is a stand-up guy

Why does it rain more at night?

It seems from my experience that it tends to rain more at night. why is that? sure it is colder at night — but what does that have to do with rain?

I searched and found an answer on Ask a Scientist by that I am not sure I agree with:

Some types of precipitation are diurnally affected, such as thunderstorms that result from surface heating. These storms usually form in the afternoon, and may extend well into the nighttime, before dissipating in the early morning. Other thunderstorms associated with frontal movements may occur at any time, when conditions are favorable.

The heavy rains you mention usually occur in California as a result of
storms moving onshore from the Pacific ocean. But time of day usually is not a factor in these precipitation events. These storms may seem to occur during the evening and night, because people tend to be at home more at those times, and are more aware of adverse weather conditions. During the daytime, when they are at work, these rain storms may be less noticed.

It seems it really does rain more at right (at least in California) and that I’d actually notice it more in the day (because I am awake and sit by a window).


Canada on the Rise

the last issue on the Economist had a great special report on Canada.

125pxflag_of_canadasvgsome interesting stats:
– canada now has the second largest proven oil reserves (after saudi arabia). this is good news for the world
– canada has a really strong economy and is basically the only G8 country with no debt. it had had the highest growth of any G8 country in the last five years and it has tons of natural resources

but more importantly, Canada is very immigrant friendly. i think that is one of the most important criteria for future economic growth. i was in Toronto in August and i was amazed at the city’s diversity. Vancouver is also one of the most diverse cities in the world. the Pew Center did a polls of people in different countries and asked “Are immigrants a good or bad influence on your country?” — almost 80% of Canadians said they were a good influence (as compared to about 50% in the U.S. and only 35% in Germany).

forget China … if i was looking to move to a new land to strike it rich i’d choose Canada …

Teaching old dogs new tricks

My favorite story about new technology is about my mom. And yes, she’s a Luddite.

Just a few years ago, my mom was far away from the technology revolution. Though living in cosmopolitan new york, she still had many old-school sensibilities. I remember growing up when she needed help using the microwave. Or that she hated watching TV … partly because there is nothing good on TV but also because she did not know how to change the channel or control the volume.

My mom’s an artist and I guess it was her good fortune that both her sons became computer engineers.

My mom’s very smart and an entrepreneur … and she quickly realized the power of the internet. It could potentially save her hours of time. In the past, if she wanted to draw a dolphin, she’d go to the library to get a book on dolphins. But now, one can easily go to the Internet and get pictures. But my mom didn’t know how to use a computer so she’d rely on friends to print out pictures for her.

Then one day my mom got a cell phone and her world slowly started to change. She realized she could even make calls in the car. Both my brother and I had been trying to get her to get a mobile phone for a long time (with the repeated promises of telling her we’d call more often if she got one). But it wasn’t until she got one that she really realized the power of mobility.

Getting a computer was a bit harder.

Though she had a computer and internet connection in the house for a long time, my mother stayed away from the computer — completely scared of it. But after her sons nagged her for years, my mother finally decided to put her toe in the water and become a user. That was about a year ago.

I remember her first phone call to me:

“Auren … why aren’t the keys in alphabetical order?”

Good question! I realized that not only was she unfamiliar with the keyboard … she did not even know how to use a typewriter. She is an artist who likes to make things with her hands.

After explaining the history of QWERTY keyboards and the like, my mother finally settled into hunt and peck mode and me her first email. Success. Today she emails me all the time (realizing it is a much better medium to get a hold of me then the phone). And she’ll probably be the first one to emailing me about this blog post.

So a year ago (in 2004), my mother finally entered the 1980s.

Then, this summer (about 9 months later), my mom calls me … on Skype. That’s right, she skyped me. Some of her friends in Europe and her sister (who lives overseas) told my mom about it. Free is a great motivator.

So, no, my mom is still not a technology genius. But she is now a heavy user of mobile phones, email, and Skype and has moved decades in just a few short years.

Even in the scary world of technology, you can tech old dogs new tricks.

Book: The Search

GoogleThe Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Cultureby John Battelle

This is a great book. John was kind enough to send it to me when it came out and I only got to read it now. My main regret was that I was not able to read it sooner.

The Search is a quick read about the history of Internet search … especially the story of Google. It is particularly illuminating and gets you thinking about the future of search.

I highly encourage you to check out this book.