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Category — ideas

High Roller

High Roller Ferris Wheel
High Roller Ferris Wheel under construction, Las Vegas, 2013. Now the world’s tallest. Opened to the public this week.

April 3, 2014

Water wall

Aria water wall
Las Vegas, 2011.

April 15, 2011

The illusion of motion

Illusion of motion
Goodyear, Arizona, 2010. More swings than hits.

March 26, 2010

Start the year off right

Some years are more difficult than others. To help launch 2010 with the right attitude, I recommend some comedy—there will be plenty of drama without us helping it along.
To that end, I recommend one of my favorite pieces of laugh out loud funny writing: Patton Oswalt’s first person review of the KFC Famous Bowl over at the Onion AV Club.
Enjoy and Happy New Year.

January 1, 2010

Talking with strangers

I spent most of last week at a great conference for networking and naturally stayed in that mode through the weekend where most strangers I encountered reacted to me like I was nuts.
I wasn’t interacting much differently than normal except that I had a slightly higher than normal willingness to engage with strangers in the usual places one encounters them when out and around. They were having none of it–although I did see a few more smiles than usual. My weekend was a little more pleasant too.

September 20, 2009

So who is winning, exactly?

One of the things I’d forgotten since my last trip to Las Vegas a year ago was how most ATMs in the hotels in town alert you to remove your cash from the tray by playing the sound of coins rushing out of a slot machine along with the familiar flurry of notes played for prize winners.
Of course when the ATM plays that sound, the only one really likely to be winning anything is the casino in which it sits.

January 9, 2009


July 23, 2008

No wonder it takes so long to file taxes

IRSIn reviewing the instructions for when a business needs to prepare a 1099-Misc form for payments made, I noted the following complicated exceptions: no need to send a 1099 for payments made to a corporation unless that corporation provided legal services (strange, but ok) or if those payments were for medical and health payments (again, ok) and then they note one more exception:

Fish purchases for cash. [conveniently, the instructions go on to explain that] ‘Fish’ means all fish and other forms of aquatic life. ‘Cash’ means U.S. and foreign coin and currency and a cashier’s check, bank draft, traveler’s check, or money order. Cash does not include a check drawn on your personal or business account.

So make sure to keep track of the cash payments your business is making when buying any form of aquatic life! Something tells me that this odd exception can be traced back to a big case of fraud.

January 21, 2008

Primal urge

illustrationWhile I only recently discovered Hugh McLeod’s fantastically popular ChangeThis Manifesto: How to Be Creative from 2004, the gapingvoid cartoonist captures so many practically useful ideas about living a creative life, I can’t help but recommend it. It’s an eminently readable free PDF with plenty of Hugh’s unique back-of-the-business-card illustrations.

One of my favorite passages comes in the midst of Hugh’s reflection how some have passion to change the world. He traces the roots of that kind of passion to what he calls the “Pissed Off Gene”:

Human beings have this thing I call the “Pissed Off Gene.” It’s that bit of our psyche hat makes us utterly dissatisfied with our lot, no matter how kindly fortune smiles upon us.

It’s there for a reason. Back in our early caveman days being pissed off made us more likely to get off our butt, get out of the cave and into the tundra hunting woolly mammoth, so we’d have something to eat for supper. It’s a survival mechanism. Damn useful then, damn useful now.

. . .

Part of understanding creative urge is understanding that it’s primal. Wanting to change the world is not a noble calling; it’s a primal urge.

We think we’re “providing a superior integrated logistic system” or “helping America to really taste freshness.” In fact, we’re just pissed off and want to get the hell out of the cave and kill the woolly mammoth.

(Emphsis mine.) Go read it. Really. It’s fun too.

January 18, 2008


How does 1-in-75 sound now?
UPDATE: original link died. Found better reference.

December 23, 2007

cbell Corollary

Remember this? I propose the following:

Never ascribe to malice that which can more easily be explained by incompetence.

It’s an effective conspiracy theory killer too. Naturally, this is cbell’s Corollary to Occam’s Razor.

December 18, 2007

Occam’s Razor

Most people who’ve known me for any length of time know my fondness for Occam’s Razor—particularly when trying to decipher possible security problems in software. For many years, I had to explain the reference and its significance. Lately, though, I’m seeing references everywhere (the latest was on Buzz Andersen’s blog via Daring Fireball this morning).

In my own mind, I use it as a test: in the absence of differentiating evidence, the explanation with the fewest unknown dependencies—in other words, the simplest one—is likely correct.

October 28, 2007