The Logical Philosopher

Friday, December 30, 2005

Which woman should I get upset?

I was out earlier two nights ago to help a friend, Ed, deliver a Christmas present. As usual our plans went sideways once we realized it was midnight and we had already consumed copious amounts of coke slurppee. Hence a 10 minute errand turned into a 1 hour directionless drive involving more slurpees, old Spanish maps and esoteric discussions on which woman it would be easier to upset (and live to talk about it) when deciding which party to attend for the upcoming New Years Eve.

Given the events of the evening I had a request from Ed: "Write about tonight." So please bear with me while I cater to his fantasy of being front & center on the blog...
After discovering the time and realizing our caffeine levels we quickly made plans to hook up with JT, an old physics buddy, in the Tim Hortons parking lot. Once we found out he was out driving randomly through "the hood" as well we knew it was meant to be. It did not seem strange to me that he was aimlessly driving around town by himself awaiting our call, but rather that we chose Tim Hortons of all places, knowing we prefer slurpees to coffee.

We slowed down in the parking lot just long enough for JT to hop in the back seat before peeling out. "Where we going?" he asked, slightly out of breath having made the sprint to our car. "I'm awake and ready to roll...and don't worry about the Pony, maybe it will be gone when we get back" he said, looking at his car in the parking lot as the cashier glanced out at the sudden parking lot commotion.

"I'm thinking some random driving downtown with a slushee stop on the way" was Ed's casual reply as we started towards downtown. "Five-o" JT called from the back seat as a police car came up behind us and cruised by, the officer peering in to check us out. "Be cool, and we won't get busted". I was thinking busted for what? Driving randomly towards downtown? But with a random drive heading downtown I knew there must have been more than old physics marks that Ed wanted to reminisce about.

"Ok JT, got a serious issue I need your advice on. Large potential dilemma may be brewing. I'm not sure where I want to be on New Year's eve...." Ed started, looking over for some manly assurance as the lights of downtown started to flash through our windows. "You know, we've got that party at A's house in the big city we're supposed to go to, as well as C's party over there, but I'm thinking of staying in town and not heading over for New Years."

"Wheeeew" JT started to whistle.

"And, P wants to have a wild party night, no matter the location." he finished, spilling his woes and worries out in one rapid fire shot.

"You're in a bind...but did you hear H wants low key and is staying in town?"

"What? Oh man...somebody isn't going to be happy...oh wait, Noodle box..." he said, shifting his attention to the passing downtown storefronts. "That is such a louh faan place. That reminds me LP, I'm coming over this week to show your wife how to make authentic fried noodles. It should be fun."

"Sweet, she'll be happy. Hey, to get out of the dilemma you could hang with us on New Years." I chimed in. "Early 6:00 dinner with the kids, bath & bed-time stories by 7:30 and we'll be asleep well before midnight! I mean, no woman can be mad at you if you choose to hang with our kids - and besides, you are guaranteed to get to bed early meaning a well rested entrance into the new year."

Thus followed a lively debate as to which party to go to and who would be upset by what.
My stance on the whole issue took a page from William Congreve: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" meaning "if you planned to go to it, you better have a good reason not to."

JT, on the other hand, had a much more balanced approach: "Dude, you gotta do what's best for you....nobody can argue with that." At that point it became brilliantly aware to me that JT was obviously not married. Several years of marriage has taught me when there is women involved there is a glaring difference between "what is good for you" and "what is good for us". To those uninitiated my comment may sound wicked, like a statistics assignment in a research methods class. However, those with experience in it, marriage or statistics, understand and appreciate the fundamental reasoning of my statement.

By the end of the evening Ed was no closer to resolving his dilemma. Three parties, two cities and women vying for his attention at all locations. Concering to some, envious for others but all in a days quandry for Ed.
Good luck buddy, whatever your destination may be, for you go where I cannot help.
Some days I feel fortunate to have the responsibility of staying home to play and stay with my kids, and this was shaping up to be one of those nights.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Callipygian part II

Earlier last week I wrote about my episode of being set up as a personal shopper aide to a friend whose wife just wanted him to "put any semblance of thought" into the gift. I believe her exact words were "tell him no gift cards from Home Depot." Apparently my track record of not giving gift cards and providing thoughtful gifts to my wife has set a standard that other husbands may be measured against.

Now for those husbands out there who I may, just may, make look a little bad I don't apologize. What can I say - to get the saucy wiggle I talked about in the other post I consider every husband for himself.

Translation: you gotta do what you gotta do. In my case that distills down to months of planning to provide the perfect gift that meshes seamlessly with the occasion of the day and hobby of the year.

So, two days before Christmas upon prompting of my wife I place the following call to my friend: "Hey, it's LP. Have you got your Christmas shopping for your wife yet?"

"Nope. Was going to swing by Home Depot tonight though, wanna come? I need to pickup a gift card or two."

At this point it all became crystal clear - if he failed with this Christmas gift I was going to get blamed for this due to my directed involvement. It was like a world leader being blamed for failing to strike a peace accord between two feuding nations - once you get involved you're deemed to be the point of failure no matter how unrelated you are to the actual situation. I had no Camp David, just a Costco and an Old Navy...nothing McGuyver wouldn't have a fix for. It took some coaching but he finally saw the light of "happy wife, happy life" phrase and he finally advanced towards getting clothes at Old Navy instead of a Home Depot gift card.

"Great, then you're set" I responded. Off the hook, another marriage saved by LP, or so I thought. "Yeah...she's probably upset because it's her birthday too and I haven't got anything for that." he casually dropped into the end of the conversation.

"Woah...backup. Birthday? And you don't have anything?" Peace accord has been breached by a rogue birthday assassin and the marriage has again cast off the dock from the island of stability. Fortunately in my advanced state of wisdom I had only agreed to being infused into this situation after my wife called his and asked for a hit of a list to work from. Next stop, themed gift #2. "Remember the scrapbooking things at Costco we saw the other night? Well there is five different things you can pick from. Get at least two with some paper and you're safe for another 365 days of thinking thoughtful gift thoughts."

So the plan was set - he was to get a few of the scrapbooking gifts that he thought she would like the most. I thought nothing of it and thought I was in the clear until I got a frantic phone call later that evening.

"Hey, I'm in Costco in the aisle with all the scrapbooking stuff...but what the heck should I get?"

Obviously oblivious to what is needed to scrapbook I sighed. "Well, probably what she would need to do some pages up in her scrapbook for the kids. The cutouts are a good deal and she'll need paper, so get the slab of colored paper that was there. It is a good deal at that price for what you get."

"What about this other Crayola paper beside it? It's cheaper. Does she really need this whole ream of paper? And how can a few paper cutouts be $20?"

"It's called a slab, not a block." was my calm reply. I continued on "The Crayola paper - that's 8.5" x 11" for kids, you need the 12"x12" scrapbook paper. And how many cutouts for $20? They are about $5 a pop in the scrapbook store." By now you may be asking "how can LP know so much about scrapbooking?" Well, I admit I actually did one last month as a Wedding present for someone. This means I had recently done about 50 full on scrapbooking pages and was completely proficient on using vellum tags, multiple shaped paper trimmers, eyelets, embossing charms and specialty adhesives. I was the scrapbooking guru in my house, at least for a week before I turned the circle cutter back to my wife.

"Slab? 12" x 12"? Is there some international scrapbook standard? Why is it a slab when it's a ream of paper everywhere else? This is like a cult!" he stammered, obviously getting quite flustered by this newly found knowledge. "How can they charge $5 for a punched out piece of paper??? This must be a huge cash cow! Ohhh, wait, there is 12 in the box, that makes it cheap! We should get a few boxes, break them up and sell them on ebay!".

At this point I wondered if shopping for your wife yet doing business cases on the gifts was still considered being thoughtful about the gift. He was obviously getting excited about the business prospects of skimming scrapbooking supplies but I tried to keep him focused on the task at hand. "Ok, next item. There were some scrapbooks beside that which were nice, maybe get one of those to round out the themed package." I suggested.

"I see them. They look big, like 12" x 12" or something." Bingo, another man pulled into the cult of stamping terminology and scrapbooking lore. Slowly but surely it appeared as if this Christmas present was shaping up to be the thoughtful gift she was hoping for. Armed with this new knowledge I was content that he was well on his way to having the necessary life skills to ensure future gifting successes. "Another padawan ready to face the trials" was my final thought.

So was she happy at the end of Christmas day? Apparently quite so with the scrapbooking theme, however out of the 6 pairs of pants he bought at Old Navy none really fit. To be fair the one I bought for my wife didn't really fit either but at least the thought was there, which was the whole point.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Crackhead Dance

I felt like I was in NY city earlier this week - I swear it was a first for me in this town - seeing someone fence stolen property out of his jacket at a bus stop. One of the local downtown crackheads must have had a good score thivery the night before because he had about 6 new leather Roots wallets he was asking people if they wanted to buy.

"Hey man, looking for a Christmas gift - I got something you need." We all stared silently, watching the impromptu street entertainment of an the feeble attempt at transaction cognition theory, playing out before our seats.

$10 was all he was asking for a wallet that was worth at least 10 times that amount. Seeing his drawn, scabbed face I assumed it was probably the equivalent price for a hit of crack or meth on the street. A few steps down another crackhead was doing a dance to the music of the traffic, like a black cherry - stoned and ready to drop from the tree of life.

Last week Waiter Rant was pondering of homeless people actually blogged - after all there is internet for free is most libraries in town. He linked to The Homeless Guy, who for the 7th time became unhomeless this past April. What was interesting, which is usual for the A-list bloggers, is to not so much read what the blogger posts but the comments on the post. There were some other blogs that were offered up, such as Unconventional Ideas and Survival Guide to Homeless.

Two caught my eye I thought I would share:

True story time: Homeless guy outside my building, and I would often buy a takeout meal from a local restaurant and split each of the items in half and share with him. He knew not to ask me for money, but I did tell him that if he really was desperate he could ask me to buy him a soda or something, which he sometimes did on a hot day.

One day he asks me to get him something to drink. He really needs it he says. Well, I said to him, you got me at the wrong time. I am actually flat broke right now. That evening when I came home he was waiting outside my door with a bag holding the same meal we usually split. "I did good bumming money today" he says.

and
Just yesterday, I was driving my oldest son to get his bowling ball redrilled. My youngest son was in the back seat. As we pulled off of I74 onto Montana Avenue, a homeless woman stood on the corner by the exit ramp holding a cardboard sign. "Cold and Hungry". I have a policy that if the light is red, I have cash, and a homeless person shivers on the side of the road, I will make a contribution to that person's well being. I pulled out a five, rolled down my window and handed her the money. She was red faced and cold. She thanked me, peering into the windows of my car to get a better look at my handsome sons. She smiled at the boys and said, "I hope I'm not taking your allowance." I smiled at her and assured her she wasn't.

The light turned green and I sped away. My oldest son (age 17) commented, "Jeez, Mom, I think she was drunk. Are you sure you should have given her money?" I debated my answer. "Perhaps she was, son, but I'd rather err on the side of humanity. A very cold person slurrs their speech, too. Besides, who are we to judge? She obviously needed help. I provided her with a tiny respite. What she does with it is now her business, not ours."

He nodded his head and looked out the window.



Interesting stories, but my day's episodes did make me think that next year I'm going shopping for the Gap and some Prada accessories on the street before heading into the mall.

A street panhandler walked by shortly after Mr. Fenced Goods moved on and given the recent performance, nobody offered change. Hard crowd, or have we become immune to the constant stream of "spare some change"? Sometimes it is hard to tell...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Del.icio.us links

I'm trying to get my links moved over to Del.icio.us, which you can see on the bottom of the right hand side. I think this will make it easier to add things on the fly, once I get the formatting right.

I also made the columns wider so my posts won't look as long, but it screwed up the graphics for the curved corners. So, look for it to change back, or I will find another blog template.

Let me know if anyone out there has a good one I should use...

LP.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Two opposites

This is my third post in almost as many days...I seem to be full of ideas now that Christmas is here and more people keep coming downtown doing their crazy things...I hope you enjoy.

I took the bus a few times today, and I came to realize that like snowflakes, good or bad there is never the same ride twice. Some are soft and delicate, giving a beautiful glow to the day while others are harsh and cold, making you wish for warmer seasons.

Ride #1 - Ride to the University: This was, by far, the sweetest bus ride I have ever had. The bus was 5 minutes early to my stop for some reason, and arrived at my stop completely empty. Not a sole, except for the cheery driver, who must have just started his shift. Considering it was 10:30 in the afternoon, I though this odd but then realized I should enjoy this moment while it lasts. Like being the first one up Christmas morning to see Santa had come...I had my own bus and didn't have to share it with my big brother. I took a seat in the very back, legs stretched out and arms taking all the space in - as opposed to my usual search for a seat that wasn't near some young punk on a cell phone, aloof to the noise pollution they create whey gabbing incessiently about the party they were at last night. Hey buddy - if you were that cool you would't be on the bus...

For a brief moment in time I had my own two tonne limo...complete with 30 seats for my closest friends. The only drawback - no wetbar.
I, and I can say "I" because there was no "we" on this particular bus, managed to hit every single green light and made a total of ZERO stops. Nearing my destination I pressed the "next stop" button and my personal transportation machine slowed down, just for me. I thought to myself sometimes things just line up, and today is going to be that kind of day...
Boy, was I wrong...
Bus Ride #3 - Ride from Downtown back to University: This was, by far, the crappiest bus ride I have ever had. The bus was pretty full but I managed to scoop my own seat half way down. My seat was right before the bus rises up a 1/2 level, meaning I was sitting where the rows behind me were about 3 feet above me. I was just at the edge of downtown, heading back to the University when he boarded.

He was dressed in a grubby jacket, trailing a tattered, yellow duffel bag that looked so old it was almost back in style again. I normally don't pay attention to people on the bus, but this was different - as soon as he glanced at my K2 bike bag I was holding he made a beeline for the seat behind me, perching himself directly behind and above me and leering down at my bag. Now I typically ride wearing my ipod, as I find it blocks out the noise and seems to make my destination go faster. Not today....

"What was that about?" I started to wonder, but was stopped short in my thoughts because as he sat down behind me I was hit with an overpowering smell of bad weed and alcohol. It rapidly turned into one of those "need to breath through your mouth so you don't get sick from the smell" moments... shit. How the hell could he smell like that and still walk a straight line to the seat? Now that is an engineering drinking game I failed while in my undergrad, but I digress...

I turned my headphones up and was staring blankly ahead but it was no use . "Sir, sir"...he stammered, tugging on my jacket to get my attention "K2...K2....your bag is K2." Great, now I'm sitting in front of a drunk who likes my branding image.

"Yep, sure is". Oh man, this was going to be a loooong bus ride back today. Quick scope, no other seats to move to and people standing as well. I was boxed in.

"My name starts with K too. Get it? K too? K2" he slurred.

"Yep" was my slightly terse reply. Normally I'd be friendly if someone wants to talk but I usually draw the line when their body odor is reminiscent of the black plague. By now my eyes were starting to water, but he persisted again. "Sir, sir" he said with a sloppy grin, still tugging on my jacket. "K2...the numbers are K seven".

By this point I was breathing completely through my mouth, looking around for another spare seat. A quick scope of the bus location put me about 1/2 way to my destination, and it was raining. This was one of those times where the prospect of being sick on the bus was going to be played out if I didn't act.

*PING* The bus slowed down to pickup the next set of passengers and I saw my exit. My fight or flight response kicked into autopilot and I was GONNE, out the door and into the downpour. The bus pulled away and I breathed in the sweet, damp fresh air. It took an extra 30 minutes to walk back to my next appointment, but it was well worth it. I was free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, I was free at last.
Although my first ride of the day was the best I've ever had, have I mentioned I can't wait until I can drive again???

And next time I'll write about the drunk guy who passed out next to me in the Library at the computer terminal and the transvestite on the other side doing her makeup in the computer screen reflection...It was an eventful day.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Callipygian doesn't fit into gift certificate envelopes

"So I was talking to J earlier tonight and her husband is going to get a gift card for a clothing store for Christmas" my wife says to me. "I think she was hinting to me to talk to you to talk her husband into getting something from the store that she can actually wear."

Within 2 sentences I knew I was going to be pulled somewhere I shouldn't be....
I'm sitting there thinking just because I have time to kill this season, has that made me a personal shopper? "I'm supposed to get involved in this? I don't think I have time..." I cautiously respond, looking for some visual cues of where not to venture next. What I am really thinking of saying is "I have one appointment tomorrow - between getting downtown, wandering around and watching people be busy, visiting Starbucks, having my appointment, visiting another Starbucks, thinking of what to blog and window shopping at the local strip club, how can you possibly expect me to have time to get involved?". This was one of those 'keep your inside voice inside you' moments I opted to go with.

"You should take him shopping for her, you've got the time." In retrospect I realized keeping my inside voice inside was probably a good choice at this point.

"...And just for the record you wouldn't buy me a gift card for Christmas...would you?" she says as she looks over, the beginning of "the look" starting to form. I'm sensing a trap at this point. My woman spider sense is starting to tingle...not a good sign.

"I don't think..." I started to say before she cut me off: "Because if you did...I'd be pissed."
At this point I realize I am at rubicon of this conversation....
This has the potential to go one of two ways - either I'm going to say something that, no matter how logically right will be so horribly wrong, or it will be the complete opposite. It's like playing blackjack in Vegas and standing after 2 cards - either the dealer will bust and I win, or the odds say I will probably loose. You would think I should know better, but oblivious to the dismal odds I decide a little knowledge for my gender is a good thing for all of us and I'm going for it...: "Wait", I protested, "I never get you gift cards...and besides, just so I know why would you be pissed?"

"Because, I'd buy the same things I always buy me - and when you shop for me you get me different things....that I normally wouldn't buy."

"Like what? The low cut, cleavage enhancing one-size-too-small shirts that you always complain brings attention to you chest? Ed and I think they make you look trendy and hot - are you saying you don't like them?" At this point time seems to slow down and the room goes deathly silent. There is no "sorry, not the right answer but I love you anyhow" optional ending to this discussion, it's all or nothing baby. If this fails I hope the rest of the guys realize I'm taking one for the team, and I'll need an immediate MediVac out of a hot LZ.

She tilted her head and thought for a moment. "No comment" she responded, giving a wink and walking out of the room with a slightly saucy wiggle.

Dealer goes bust! I think I'm going shopping tomorrow...and not for a gift card.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Thanks for stopping by...

I noticed, after 3 short months of this blog, I have reached over 1000 hits. Considering I sent the link to only 9 people to start, I'm personally quite surprised. I haven't hit the blogging A list yet, and no book deal in the works but I'm sure I'm on my way somewhere in that general direction.

And how do I know those 9 people aren't just pinging like crazy? Well, when I mentioned to one the other day my hit count he said "who the heck is reading it? I've only looked once!".

Mental note: don't cater any posts to my brother-in-law to ensure readership. I'll let the both brother-in-laws fight out which one said it, assuming the one reads this post ;)

So, to the remaining 8 that read as well as new people that have joined on - thanks for taking the time to read and passing it on to others if you enjoy it! If nobody did read it I would still post, I just probably wouldn't spell check as much....

LP.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Corporate Christmas

* Maybe it's just my abundance of time to watch life move around me this year; * Maybe it's my altered perspective on life as a quasi-maturing parent of a 3 year old who has made the link between presents and Christmas time; * Maybe it's the fact that I've started to read No Logo and The Corporation;

... But doesn't Christmas seem very corporate this year ... ?
I was downtown today to pickup a few last Christmas presents and, even on a Monday afternoon, it was as busy as a typical Saturday is. In the mall people seem to be escaping from the cold, cheeks flushed from the winter wind yet their fingers warm from swiping debit cards and signing on the dotted line.

"Where's the travel books" blurted a short lady to the bookstore clerk, "...and I'm in a hurry" she hissed, her flushed red cheeks adding to the 'don't fuck with me' look to her face. I personally would have sent her to the New Age section to see if she could go find herself, but I suppose the clerk didn't have that luxury...

In the electronics store it wasn't much better "I need an Ipod shuffle - and make it quick!" an elderly man snapped at the young clerk. "And what's this extra warranty thing? Don't YOU warranty the products you sell?" I honestly thought he was going to have a coronary and was hoping to leave in case I had to perform mouth to mouth on him. "Why do I have to pay extra for that?", he seethed.

It went downhill once his card was denied after reaching his limit for the day. "I'm sorry sir," the clerk said, wincing as if to know what was coming next. "Christ almighty! What a crock! Run it again...no wait" he stammered, reaching for another card out of his wallet. He threw another one down and impatiently tapped his fingers "Try this one, and make it quick, I've got somewhere to be!". At least he remembered to say 'Christ' in the spirit of the season.

These individuals were pretty representative of what I saw today. The bustling masses, spending more in one day than an entire individual needs to live on in most other parts of the world. Giving for the sake of giving, or was it giving for the reciprocal sake of getting - I got the impression most people were succumbing to the corporate logos and marketing because it was that time of year. I hope nobody gets me anything this year if that's the attitude they have.
Does joining the masses make us all pawns to the corporations and lemmings in the marketing of life?

Or maybe I'm just realizing the world without my typical, neatly packaged-by-semester academic views for what it really is...

If that's the case: Shit. I think I want to go back to school...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Off the short bus, onto the long bus

I tell you the honest truth - if I didn't take the bus so much now a days then I would have any good stories to write about...

Like the group of mentally challenged adults that got on last week, obviously after just having visited the local Fire Station for an outing. They were stoked, and they made sure everyone knew about it. Imagine half a bus full of Down's syndrome and other associated mental health issues discussing the "neat-o" stuff they just got to see. I can still her the "whoo whoo's" when I close my eyes....

It was almost like I was watching American Pie... "and then...." "and then...." "and then...". Fortunatly there was no talk of band camp and a flute.

I'm not sure if I was afraid or not...but mental note: in the future, stay off the short bus if I can help it.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sorry, didn't want to get Dooced

Sorry for the lack of posts in the past few days. I had 3 or 4 written out during my travels but haven't had time to get any typed in...the one I did spend awhile on I decided yesterday at the last minute not to post it. I have a few work related stories I was typing out for a combination of personal venting and blog readership entertainment value.

Translation: I work for a good company but it has the standard percentage of wankers, hard-asses and stupid people that shouldn't be working anywhere and still get paid for showing up and putting the rest of us through crap.

Hence a conundrum of the highest proportion:

:: Entertaining? Yes. Readers will flock from afar.
:: Will they be pissed if they find out - Probably.
:: Will I get fired? Not sure I want to find out yet.

Last week Clublife went off the air - Rob the Bouncer thought his anonymity was being cut short so his plan: "pull the blog down and deny, deny, deny..." But hey, with a book deal signed I'm not sure he should be worried about it. Of course there is the infamous Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com or Mark Jen, the short-lived Google employee.

However, in the spirit of getting fired for blogging I added The Phantom Professor to my bloglist. A few months ago her contract as an adjunct professor wasn't renewed where she taught when the school found out he was blogging about her students & fellow professors, even in anonymity. There is also a dental student at Marquette who was suspended for a year and made to repeat a year for blogging (even in anonymity) about fellow students in a not so nice way. I think referring to your classmates as "having the intellectual/maturity of a 3 year old" is a good example of his flowing prose that set him back $14,000 in tuition. That makes me wonder if he's worked out how much it cost him per comment??? Ohh, calling Sue the class ho was $840 a shot. I should have called her an expensive class ho while I was at it...

Suffice to say I will mostly steer clear of the work stuff that may cause issues (for now). While I don't exactly go out of my way to hide who the Logical Philosopher really is, I'm not announcing it either. Besides, a few well placed Google searches on my posts will do that anyhow. Regardless A few of the techno-geeks at my company would probably find me in some RSS aggregator or search and post it to the public bulletin board...Then I would have to explain to the Obsessive Compulsive guy why I wrote about his hand washing episodes, or to the VP of X why I wrote about his/her wet spot on the chair after the big Christmast party in 1998... That'd be a tough meeting, even at the best of times.

But then again, I may be apt to change my mind if coaxed enough...after all, it's only my career we're talking about. Of course that still leaves things open for some guest posting if you have anything...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Managing Intellectual Property & Business

I was asked to write a short summary of an article with some commentary, so I thought I would post it as well. I based the summary on an article entitled Intellectual Property - from Management to Litigation, as published in The Deal on April 25th, 2005. A PDF of the article can be found here on the Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione website.

Several months ago the Grokster case was argued in the US Supreme Court. This 2005 case was to our digital generation to what the Betamax case was to 1984. The Betamax case answered for the affirmative when looking at if Betamax could be used for substantial noninfringing uses and thus legal for Sony Corporation to sell. Now we have new digital music and video files capable of being transmitted over any remote digital network. This means the issue, albeit more technical, appears to have come up again but in reality the peer to peer based Grokster case needs to be viewed from a different perspective than Betamax was. The content owners, who claim their intellectual property is being given away for free with these file-sharing sites, realize they can't stop technology and thus are simply trying to limit their use.

Balance between intellectual property protection and innovation can best be viewed through a blending of economic, intellectual and legal issues.
First, one must consider the fundamental reason for intellectual property protection was created to ensure the protection for innovators - through legal avenues inventors are given economic incentive to continue to invent. But at what point does old protected innovation stifle new innovation? Open competition is also required to prevent unhealthy economic monopolies and stimulate more business. It is this perspective of "fair use" that most proponents of technology over intellectual property state their cases on. As the global economy is starting to shift to more of a knowledge base economy, the there is a need for proactively managing a company's intellectual property protection and exploitation, instead of reactively managing within the marketplace.

To add a third dimension of complexity to the issue of protection & innovation the growth and change of a company's structure in today's working global environment should be considered. This suggests for mergers and acquisitions the intellectual property (IP) of a company is becoming more important to consider. One reason is due to the increased knowledge economy of software and other intangible literature. The second is some firms that are up for acquisition may not realize the potential of their IP, instead being too focused on their tangible products and their markets. IP also extends beyond the traditional business merger and can be used for two competitors to create a larger user base and thus a potential standard to which they can both benefit instead of fighting for the existing customer base. A third is the realization that global business is a necessity to stay competitive. Global outsourcing mixed with differing intellectual property legal protection across country jurisdictions can create a complex environment to structure an acquisition. Having IP enforced or protected differently in multiple jurisdictions where certain portions of a company's operations reside may impact the way product or services can be handled.

But with the cost associated with acquiring IP, one must be willing to enforce it.

One obvious component in enforcement is litigation, which has showed no signs of weakness in the past few years. While new technology cases such as Grokster are expanding into unchartered legal territory, many of the recent cases have honed current law. Recent casts have been clarifying more mundane, but necessary, portions of IP law, such as claim construction and willful infringement.

The most recent willful infringement case, the Festo case, deals with the issue of treble damages when a corporation is held to have willfully infringed a patent. Historically part of a successful defence to treble damages was to produce a good faith non-infringement opinion of counsel. This caused an issue of adverse inference for defendants if they chose to not use counsel for an opinion, or reveal the opinion in court. This means the judge or jury could assume an opinunfavorablevourable and award treble damages. With Festo eliminating this adverse inference rule, companies have larger legal latitude in their handling of potentially infringing patents at the time an opinion is drafted.

The recent Phillips case relates to the issue of claim construction. Presently claim construction is taken as a matter of law and defined by the judge and dictated to the jury. But with this being a point of law it resulted in over 50% of the patent cases tried in district court being overturned by the court of appeals. With a $2 to $5 million cost to take a case through litigation, it posed huge financial uncertainties for parties of the court as it moved to appeals. After accepting amicus briefs the Federal Circuit panel issues it's en banc ruling giving a detailed recitation of claim construction principles, but it did not address the differences applied to the district courts over the federal courts. This infers the issue of large amount of reversals in the federal courts may still stand for the time being.

So where does this leave us?

There are two common ways to manage a firm's intellectual property - from the business perspective of products and markets, and from the focused legal perspective of asset protection.


Within both views the goal is to ensure any existing IP is being utilized to its full potential. In either case IP is a complex issue to deal with and should not be considered as an afterthought or add on to corporate growth and strategy. Strict interpretation and enforcement of IP law is becoming more fluid as technology continues to evolve and mature, leaving many IP issues such as open-source software and peer-to-peer programs unguided by the courts.

As the courts and legal field have typically move slower than the technology growth of our generation, I suggest it will provide an interesting wild west type free for all at least for the next few years of IP business.

I think I'm gonna get me one of them there patent six shooters when I get back to work.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I have a new hero

Kyle MacDonald, you are my hero.

Kyle MacDonald is working the barter system to turn a paper clip into a new house for him, all within 1 year. Realizing he didn't have enough money for a down payment for a house he turned to the next best thing - a red paperclip. Posting his paperclip for trade up on craigslist.org in Vancouver for barter brought two fast responses - trade for a fish shaped pen or an old fridge in Seattle; He wisely went with the pen and then moved on to a ceramic hand made door-knob, then to a Coleman stove, a 1,000 watt Honda generator, and finally an instant party kit. Today he is trading his instant party kit, complete with a Budweiser neon sign and an IOU for a keg of beer, for a 1991 Mach 1 Bombardier snowmobile.

As his trades have taken him to both coasts he is able to keep his bartering costs down by coordinating travel to pickup items with his current job of attending tradeshows. As fame is beginning to march him towards his goal this seemingly simple idea has turned his endeavors into almost a full time job once taking into account the time needed to field media interest. He maintains his list and quest on a blog (oneredpaperclip.blogspot.com) and hopes to eventually land a publisher to let him write about his experience. So, all it takes is a red paperclip to hit the A list on the blogosphere...I've been doing it wrong all these years...

The really funny part on his website is the comments people are leaving for what they would trade the snowmobile for. So far there are several cars, a box of paperclips, a motorcycle and a vintage 1971 girlfriend that comes "well equipped with low mileage. She's very economical and cheap to run."

I looked around and have one left over tatertot from my 3 year old's dinner to trade. It even comes with ketchup on the side. Any offers? I would like to think I can trade this fine piece of machined potato into at least a new car...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Two parallel Christmas Views

This week 1.4 million of President Bush's closes friends seem pretty upset that his Christmas cards sent to them removed the notion of Christmas, instead wishing them a good "holiday season". Two websites that I was sent this week showed similar views on the fact that the real reason for Christmas seems to be getting lost.

** WARNING on the first link - not for work safe, some profanity on the audio but totally worth listening to the rant ***

"Neo-yuppie-scumbags are hellbent from removing Christmas from the Christmas Season"
- Squirrelly Wrath, Neurotically Yours "No Christmas for You" 12/1/2005

I could just envision see Steve Buscemi doing this role in real person.

"We only hear from the whiners!"
- Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family radio program 12/2/2005


Interesting how two similar views can be so different... What I really like is how the Alliance Defense Fund has Trademarked "Merry Christmas. It’s okay to say it(TM)"... given their purpose you'd think they would want people to steal their line...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Hula Girl

I didn't notice her at first when I looked over, but the second glance was noticeably longer as my eyes fixated on her. There she stood, her hips swaying rhythmically to the motion of her stage. The makeup was thick, as if panted on, so anyone could see it from a distance identifying her profession. It was hard to tell in the dim light, but I am sure she was cute once. I say once because the years in the sun seemed to have produced a body of faded, crackled and peeling skin. As we surged forward she kept pace, her gaze remaining fixed as she undulated to and fro under the green and amber lights of the movement around her.

Then, before I could start to hula on my own, it all suddenly came startling stop with a simple ding. Another passenger wanted to depart the bus. As we pulled over to the side of the road at the next stop, the miniature hula dancer faded into the distance, her legs firmly planted on the dashboard but her body continuing to move to the rhythm of the road. Although the car and it's owner kept on driving, the hula girl moving quickly out of view, a little pre-schooler sitting beside me was still quick enough to wave it goodbye.

Sometimes watching the plastic hula girls on the bus can take one's mind off the stoned - and making that "I think I'm gonna be sick" face and sound - Friday night university crowd heading out during exam time...

Although taking the bus gives me time to watch the world move by, I can't wait until I'm allowed to drive again.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Election time is here

I saw my first election sign today put up by the side of the road. I guess living on the west coast we've taken longer than Ottawa in getting things moving...Mostly because the election is usually decided before the polls close here anyhow. I suspect this is probably why we have a large Green Party base, so the islanders on Saltspring can "stick it to them" by putting the Greens in the commons just after the east coast has finished clinching the majority of the votes - all before we get a chance to weigh in.

It has been interesting watching the election kickoff unfolding in the news - the reports keep hashing up the same points:

--> Anytime something good by the Liberals is done everyone else cries "but the sponsorship scandal! Remember the scandal! And the thieves even got the CAW on their side, this will combine to create the English version of the scandal!"

--> Anytime something good is announced by the NDP everyone cries "but they won't support the minority to make a majority government! And where are the specifics?" You have to admit, it's hard to believe they are doing to do some of the environmental reductions they say they are without a detailed plan longer than 1 press release.

--> Anytime something good is said by the Conservatives everyone cries "but Harper isn't PM material!... What good will an extra $100 per family in tax cuts do anyways?"

I'm probably voting for the **actual party name removed until further notice** but in actual fact I don't really care who wins as long as it forms a majority government. If it's a minority government everyone can bitch they didn't do a good job and couldn't govern in step with everyone else, whereas the minority government can bitch they couldn't get anything done because everyone was against them. It really is a no-win situation that only makes the commons a huge discussion of why the government isn't working - as opposed to having a majority government moving us somewhere. Even if that somewhere isn't where we want to be, at least we know who to blame and can oust them in the next election...

My take on the Conservatives GST reduction to 5%. Whatever. Unless I plan on buying a new house in the future, why are you wasting my time with that? If you're serious about actually impacting something then just eliminate it. I'd rather keep paying 7% and have a slurplus to do something useful with like increase payments for the social programs they are announcing to make actual financial impact. Waving $400 GST rebates or $1200 child-care funds is wooing the voters be penny-wise and pound foolish. In reality I don't think for most voters it will be an impact felt enough to dent family finances, except in the psyche, but maybe that is their plan.

I can't wait until after Christmas when the real election tactics begin. It will make for much better media coverage - watching them serve up more softball questions to the Liberals while the Green Party complains they didn't get a pitch, the Conservatives complain they had a harder soft question and the Quebecois complaining they didn't know about the serve due to lack of sponsorship in their province.

I think post christmas election media questions should be tabled by someone like Don Cherry - at least he would support a bench clearing brawl which would make it worth watching.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I've organized my life with the LifeDrive

I got a new toy!!! and it's sexy




I confess, part of the reason I was lax in posting was, in addition to the flu, is the new techno-gagdet toy I just got... It's the new Palm LifeDrive, which is Palm's version of a Mobile Manager - basically a normal Palm but with built in wi-fi, Bluetooth and, my personal favorite, 4Gb of memory complements of a mini-drive.

After being late for an appointment last week as I forgot what time it was, I am hoping this will remove my need for the 5000 post-it notes I have spread around my house reminding me to do things. With the gargantuan memory it will also allow me to put my work files on it, which will be a more gargantuan help (I watched Kill Bill II last week and have been itching to fit that gargantuan word in ever since seeing the black mamba do his thing on Buddy...if you've seen it you'll get it.)

What can I say - I'm such an early adopter.

I'm having problems getting the Bluetooth running so if anyone has any tips let me know. Back to my toy...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Life Changes

First – let me apologize for the tardy posting. I have hand-written a few postings but was in bed with the flu this weekend but didn’t get much typed out...

Earlier this week I stopped into the local music store to pickup some small things for my guitar. It has literally been 6 or 7 years since I was in the store – they have since moved to a larger and much nicer place. The atmosphere was no longer the early 1990 Kurt Cobain-ish “kick your ass if you can’t grunge out a power chord” style of store, but the contemporary western open loft style with the baraistra in the corner making espressos for everyone. Drums? Guitars? Espresso? Sheet music? It had essentially progressed from the a hole-in-the-wall store with music equipment stacked haphazardly in the corners to one with multiple rooms for each instrument type with several soundproof rooms to try out instruments in…it actually made me want to know how to play something apart from Stairway to Heaven on the guitar when showing off my latest licks.

In my misspent youth I used to play a lot of music – I had came home with a drum kit one day, much to my parents dismay (I brought them earplugs as well). I owned a few guitars, a bass, a few amplifiers and the rest of the obligatory music paraphernalia, such as a glass guitar slide and a plethora of effects pedals. Suffice to say I could hold my own when the time for talking stopped and the moment for bustin’ a groove began. I played in a few bands, and I use the word played and bands very very loosely…but sold most of my equipment to pay for the last year of my undergrad. In retrospect I think my mom was happy the drum kit went.

Several years ago if you had of asked me what I would have bought if I was suddenly independently wealthy I would have responded without hesitation a rack full of music equipment and associated electronics. Back then I lusted endlessly for a Dunlop Cry-Baby Wah-Wah pedal like there was no tomorrow. Oh it made sweet sweet sounds, and I was in musical heaven when I could take one for a wah-ride. This week while wandering around the store I saw one…and I stopped and wistfully peered into the glass case for quite awhile. It was, relative to my financial means now, easily purchasable now compared to back then but after mulling it over I moved on dismissing my thoughts of the past. Most of my music equipment is loaned out to those who play it or packed away, my one acoustic Martin guitar notwithstanding

There are several reasons I moved on from music, none of which I will get into today, but it’s safe to say my current passion in place of music is bikes and triathalon racing. I don’t own a car, just four or five bikes which are worth more than my wife’s car (and she has a fairly nice car). I say four or five because I’m always swapping parts around to build up the best bike for the upcoming race…that’s part of the journey of the ride…. With Ironman racing on my list of passions, going out for a 5 or 6 hour ride makes one of those ‘perfect’ days for me…and having a cool, sexy, light bike makes it that much better. Who says running a marathon after biking 180km isn't fun?


There was a 3 or 4 year gap between music & biking, that latter stemming from a drunken bet “Oh yeah? *hic* I can do that race and whip your ass…wanna bet on it?” Watch out because you never know where or what bottle of tequila your next passion is going to blindside you from.

As I walked out of the store I pondered the changes of passions (of the moment) in one’s life. Does our moving from one to another subconsciously move us towards being a renaissance man in understanding a multitude of topics? Or does it remove the need for an official the liberal arts degree?


“Some things change, and some things never do”
Morphous in Matrix Revolutions

Since my first illegal sole propritership blueberry business in grade 2, if I had to start to describe myself to people I would say I am or have been: a husband and father, an engineer, a knowledge worker, a swoon-ee (just for you Sandritia), an entrepreneur, an artist, a carpenter, a musician, a teacher, a student, an Ironman, and a logical philosopher. Many on this list have come, gone, matured and mellowed over time, but there are some that have been constant. I guess music has mostly gone for me, so I didn’t really feel like I missed out when I saw the Wah-Wah perched behind the glass case glaring silently at me.


I guess the music store experience made me really ponder what will be constant in everyone’s life, and what will be temporary.

My advice: Remind yourself to constantly to fix my attention on the things which will never change, so you won’t feel you miss out on the things that do. That said I think I may go play a little guitar before bed...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Accession of Knowledge: Part I

The growth pattern of the knowledge economy is staggering. I recall a quote by Dr. Nick Bontis (Associate Professor at DeGroote in Strategy) that when we were in grade 2 the amount of knowledge in the world had doubled since our birth - now it is something like every 10 minutes. With the exponential growth of citizen journalism, blogs and readily accessible google based knowledge I can see his point... I subscribe to several RSS feeds in my field of work and I could honestly spend all day pouring over new posts & legal opinions which would, in theory, help me make better informed decisions in my workplace....and I don't subscribe to that many, less than 10.

An interesting article on how RSS is evolving in the knowledge based environment is Feedburner's "Burning Questions" Feed for Thought post on how RSS and Blogs have changed in the past 3 years. At inception they RSS was mainly a blogger tool but now has expanded to web services, commercial publications and even news articles for major news networks - this shift is important to note because it allows users and publishers to keep updated on new knowledge articles as they are posted to the web. It's almost like the subversive Naomi Klein-esque No-Logo backdoor version of the information age's marketing. It will be interesting to see how corporations begin to capitalize on this, for example in a few years I can just see the local RSS feed for McDonald's when their menu changes... But I digress...

Now, in another breath, take the decentralized power of the internet. With services such as Cafe Press' Self Publish Books I can do things like type a book, upload the PDF and *poof* anyone can buy my purchase and it is printed, bound and shipped on a 1 of basis...I suspect this is a sure fire way to make some money on my thesis, but I digress... again.

You know what this really means: There is an abundant pile of "knowledge-crap" out there.

My thoughts on this really came to culmination when I read an article in today's Financial Post. It brought to light how several (or most) of the well-to-do hedge fund managers actually ignore and avoid most of the available broker research (Nov 28th - Broker research a Tough Sell on the Street). Why? Too much crappy information out there. If a hedge fund manager making $1 Million a year has figured this out, I'm looking for a raise in my life salary...

Now consider these two topics - the continual exponential growth of the knowledge base (supported and accessible via the internet) and the fact that anyone, anywhere can offer services that 20 years ago would have required a small mortgage and publishing army I am starting to get to the point where I am actually getting too much information to filter out. There are days when I feel like all I do is field work emails for press releases people think I am interested in along with reading up on new technologies or progress in my field that happened that day - no forward progression of my corporate goals are done.

One can work all day moving the company forward, but doesn't actually offer any corporate progress towards its end goals.

So what's the balance between knowledge & forward progress? I have a theory, but it's going to take considerable more thought to get it down in a coherent fashion for commentary. I thought I would use today's post to set the stage. Suffice to say academia will be proud as it is a 2x2x2 matrix with some charts and statistics. In the mean time if you are interested in seeing Part II be posted or have any thoughts drop them in the comments box and I'll see if they are addressable in my theory.


###

Monday, November 28, 2005

The soundtrack of life

Last week I was on the sitting having a coffee downtown on the sidewalk cafĂ© while listening to some Axwell on my ipod. I was, as Axwell would turn the tables to, “feeling the groove baby”. Watching conversations and actions to a soundtrack gives a total movie experience to the moment. It entertains the mind – like in the movies where you see the actors talking in the next room but the auditory score swelling in the background leading to the scene where Luke discovers his father is actually a sith lord. Sometimes it can be a sweet moment in time.

I watched Kill Bill Vol. 1 this week – it was, to say mildly, a visual and amazing cinematic assault on one’s senses. True to Quentin Tarantino's style it was over the top in blood scenes (almost monty-python-esque when the Black Knight gets his arms chopped off - "tis but a scratch!" x 100). I was fairly disappointed with Pulp Fiction but in his 4th movie the directing and filming was considerably more artistic and fluid than I was expecting. An almost sublime juxtaposition of amine, sub-titles and action.

Translation: It was sweet.

Between my ipod and people watching of late I figured I could make the same Tarantino style of movie (sans blood) by just taking my camera downtown and having a starbucks on the sidewalk. The anxious drivers, talking to themselves; the business men, animatedly engaged with their cell phones; the wandering tourists that get in everyone’s way while not really noticing; the crackhead on the corner doing his dance (to no music) - oh the experience. I could just see Uma Therman doing her thing to the music.

[insert Chariots of fire soundtrack here]

So I sat and pondered my epiphany that maybe, just maybe we all are destined to be directors of our own personal films when we are just people watching. For the price of a song on your ipod and a starbucks on the streetcorner you to can become the director of the show….the soundtrack of life.

Friday, November 25, 2005

No more melancholy moments for you

I was introspective on the bus riding home the other day, so if you want to take the ride with me read on...


Due to a bike accident I was in several months ago, I am still hanging out with physiotherapists, specialists and acupuncturists a few times a week. I unfortunately have to pay them to hang out with them, but it's good company anyways. Every time I go I have to describe how I am and how I have improved since the last visit. Have you ever tried to describe how you are, beyond the usual thinly veiled "how are you" that most people tend to ask? It's frickin' hard! But, the requirement to know has started to help me consciously break my day up and thus, focus on the subtle (or not so subtle) changes in my body. Since my accident I figure I have been asked to describe in detail "how I am" at least 100 times...tedious but necessary.

So I sit and think for a few minutes before each appointment and make my mental list, because I know I''ll be asked. I find that having to answer the question really is like describing a color... you really have to be there to experience it...but with practice you can pick out the visual hues and tones of your emotions and prepare an auditory Picasso for the doctor. How can one do this? Prior to my accident I used to describe the days mood or physical feelings as defined by a few main parts, perhaps morning, afternoon & evening...only a particularly good or bad experience would overshadow the whole day. And people that know will all agree that give me a good coke slurpee and I'd be in a good mood for the day.

But now, forced to actually have to describe "how I am" few times a week to health professionals that really need to know, I've turned to the teachings of my 1 year old daughter to help out. Watching her act in the game of life always provides at least one moment of unbridled laughter at her antics and sounds. She is constantly fluctuating between happy and "pissed off because you took my Arrowroot cookie" moods, both with and equal portion of unabashed wonderment about things like lights in the ceiling, leaves on a tree and dried up pea from last night's dinner stuck in the crack on the floor. To her, almost everything someone does is pure thaumaturgy.

Her aspect of the "perfect day" is segregated into mere minutes (or seconds) as her attention span moves from trying to turn on the nightlight in her room to making a "whoop whoop" sound into a straw that she found somewhere. I've noticed by having such a short attention span an effectively segmenting the day into 1440 minute units (minus 870 for sleep) she is always in a happy mood. I noted the same of our 3 year old, but he is starting to grow out of it as his tolerance for good or bad "experiences" lasts longer in his working memory.

So what's the take-away? What is the 'perfect day' that would keep us all completely ignoring the melancholy moments? It's all in how we narrowly (or broadly) define the segment of time between them.

What makes us respond to "how are you?" in a positive fashion? It's not the perfect bike ride, sunny weather during your lunch break or favorite slurpee but rather the feeling of every experience in the "1 year old child" moment that defines and sets the mood for the rest of the day or week.

Perhaps one should consider (or experiment) on breaking their days up more when considering their experiences. It would be an interesting to see if one found they had more of that unabashed 1 year old happy-about-the-day feeling than the normal stressed out professional worker had. That is, of course, until someone took your Arrowroot cookie. And from a work perspective I wonder of job satisfaction would increase, or managers could use it as more of a motivational tool for your workers. Hmmm, something to try for the staff when I'm back to work....

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The quagmire of the 598

In a perfect world I would be a student forever. Yes, the pay isn’t great but I love the hours, the freedom of choosing my knowledge intake for the semester, compounded by the reality that I get to learn and create cool stuff almost every day. In fact every time, almost without fail, when I go onto campus I get that feeling like it’s Christmas day and there’s a boat load of presents under the tree just waiting for me. I was on campus last week and got that very feeling…tingly all over.

Why are there people like me that actually enjoy grad school? Well consider this - the utopian academic environment is neatly sliced into 13 week segments with at least 3 weeks of holiday before starting all over again. This gives ample free time to hang with friends and other students while consistently indulging in Starbucks in a bohemian style fashion. How cool is that.

However, as we move from student life to professional life, things change. We move to the realization of being gainfully employed by “the man” and actually having to be at work from 9 to 5 every day. No more “cutting work” if we are up too late having a good time and, my personal disappointment, no more hypothetical and esoteric discussions in a clean, quasi-orgasmic intellectual environment on how we would solve the world’s problem of the day. I always enjoyed solving a complex business problem and presenting it in four neat slides to the class – without actually having to implement the plan. In real life the plan’s good, but those details will kill you. Yes, there is a reason I took 18 months longer than the rest of my class to graduate.

And just so you didn’t think I’m the only person dragging out things, I give you with a story of my friend Sandrita. Starting another graduate program similar to mine Sandrita was also required to do a final thesis – but the catch here is that I stated my program 2 years after her and Sandrita had all her coursework done by the time I started, leaving only her thesis to complete.

“Do you know how much your paper is stressing me out?” her father used to say as she would come home on the weekends where a considerable effort was put into her moving her research forward. "Stressing you out? What about me!" was the usual reply.

Yes, she worked full time, but so did I so there was no excuse she could have on me. Four long years later I stand graduated whereas Sandrita, still is no closer to her goal. I also had 2 kids while doing my school, and her none.

So far Logical Philosopher = 2, Sandrita= big fat zero.

The somewhat funny part is that her research paper was (is?) a study on a school program and a few months ago we were discussing that she was in the perfect position to do a longitudinal study on her topic and hit the deadline to defend. “Great,” was her reply “the only issue is that the program has actually closed down!”. Whoops…I guess researching the effectiveness of a program that you know closes down kinda kills the punch-line at your defense. And despite the fact that her advisor actually published an ENTIRE BOOK in the time she has been working on her topic, she still says she will finish it.

So where does this leave me? I graduated this month, after prolonging my thesis 18 months past the finish date of the rest of my classmates. Although I had the excuse of working full time, there were other ulterior motives such as more tax deductions, a free bus pass and the ability to keep doing research on my topic, which I actually enjoyed. However, right now I am on a leave from work for at least another 4 months, and having graduated I find myself caught between the semi-professional and student lifestyle – like the freedom do continue my research but without the financial tenure and prestige of an endowment chair.

So what will I do? Well, blog of course. This is my once in a lifetime sabbatical so I hope you enjoy it. Maybe if I blog enough coherent and innovative thoughts, Sandrita can compile it and do an analysis of them for her thesis.

What do you say Sandrita?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Rotman's beautiful minds


Over the past month the National Post has been profiling several 'beautiful minds' in their search for " Canada's most important public intellectual . They have some interesting people on the list from several aspects of our Canadian roots. Nominated to the list are well known authors such as Naomi Klein, Peter C. Newman, Malcolm Gladwell & Margaret Atwood. Our potential next Prime Minister, Michael Ignatieff, is listed alongside Conrad Black and Preston Manning. And of course what Canadian list would be complete without Don Cherry and Lorne Michaels. I'm honestly surprised with the list given they just didn't throw in Mike Meyers and Wayne Gretzky while they were at it - but that's not the point of my post.

Last year I read an article on Roger Martin, the current Dean of U of T's Rotman School of Management. He was profiled in Toronto Life on his goal of taking Rotman from a directionless school "hemorrhaging cash and staff" that probably wouldn't make a top 50 MBA school list, to be ranked within the top 10 business school worldwide. (See article here). When you think about most business schools it is quite ironic - they aren't run like businesses, even though they supposed to teach business. I remember hearing about the business planning session at the MBA school I attended and it sounded like all the professors were bickering about the direction of the school and how it had to align to their specific research focus. It made it sound like building the school name in the business community and educating the students were unfortunate and necessary by-products of their tenure. But not at U of T - here was Martin, ready to run it like a business which would propel it into the top 10 rankings - and he is half way there. In the past 5 years Rotman has moved from 46th to 21st place in the Financial Times Global MBA Rankings (first in Canada), while other notable Canadian Schools such as Ivey have dropped steadily from 19th to 34th place since 2000. (Source FT.com)

While I have never met him my personal insight on why Martin has been and will continue to be successful can be found in the aforementioned Toronto Life article. Jim Fisher, co-founder of the Canadian Consulting Group where Martin started, noted:

"He did not have a lot of time for people with low aspirations." He sums up his younger counterpart: "Roger has a tremendous impatience with people who aspire to satisfy, rather than beat, the world."

How cool is that.

I have heard from students at Rotman that Martin is a great professor, not because he's taking the school places for everyone but because he is so involved in teaching and in the academic direction of the institution. A core part of the program he helped start is the "integrative thinking" model. The model deconstructs the business decisions of accomplished individuals in various industries, and then turns it into a mental model process:

Integrative Thinking is an approach to problem-solving that views often-imperceptible features as significant to resolution; considers complex cause-and-effect relationships; keeps the 'big picture' in mind, while concentrating on all the elements individually; and refuses to accept trade-offs in the problem's resolution, turning obstacles into opportunities....Instead of taking the world as it is presented to them, integrative thinkers work to shape their context and design creative business solutions.
So where does this leave us? On one hand we've got the National Post's list of beautiful minds which somehow include Cherry and Black, and on the other we've got someone who's noticeably missing from the list. Roger Martin - a Dean poised to be taking Rotman from where most business schools sit to a top 10 international ranking. In doing so he is helping shape the next generation of business students to be equally successful intellects and business "integrative thinkers".

Makes me wonder where the National Post was looking when they picked their candidates.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

No job for you!

Yesterday opinionistas posted a scathing, yet witty, posting entitled "perception", which outlines a story that happened when a sr. partner at her law firm mistook her for the secretary & asks her to make copies and keep the coffee coming. Her witty paraphrased response:

"I would be happy to arrange for a secretary to handle all of this for you, I'm sure one has been assigned to assist you today....in fact, I'll ask my favorite secretary to handle it, who should have some free time today. His name is Richard, I'll be sure to bring him by and introduce you later this afternoon."
I must say O showed restraint beyond what I probably would have done.... While it has (almost) never happened to me it reminds me that you've got to treat everyone the same, no matter their perceived place in life. It amazes me how some people can be aloof and only start to clue in when they realize they just lost out.

I'm sure this guy I met a few months ago still hasn't realized it: I was working on my thesis earlier this year and while I didn't know any of the grad students in the computer lab, I got to know the faces while I pulled a huge long-weekend "write as much as I can" session. One of the students I saw almost every day was in to check email and the job postings as he was obviously very keen to get placed after the program. While sitting there, researching away, I couldn't help overhear him talk excitedly to his friend about this new job posting.

"This is totally up my technical alley...I did this before coming to this town and if I can nail this job, I can stay here. Very good. Very good." he nodded to his friend as he was pointing at the screen and printing off the job posting.

"What's the job requirements?" the other asked. I noticed they were being quiet as not to "disturb" others in the lab. In real life they were hoping nobody else heard there was a new job up. As well I was the only other one in the lab, which made it funnier.

He responded "Well, it's pretty well the same technical field, but they use the technology from Company Z - their XXX product line at the installations. They want someone with who can use these, and it should be easy to do some research on it, figure out how they implement them and put that in my resume".

I looked over and saw, to my amusement, him starting to do considerable research on this XXX product line. Why was this funny? Well because 5 years prior I worked for Company Z and was the main design engineer on the project and received several patents from it. It was safe to say I know how it worked, what features it had and where it was used at the job site he wanted to get in at.

I let him do some reading for a few minutes and then leaned over "What's the new job posting for?". He totally ignored me, even shifted away at the sight of me peering at his "dream" job.

No response so I tried again "Is there a new job posting up?". While keeping his head concentrated on the computer screen I saw his eyes flicker over to me and he mumbled something totally incomprehensible. I guess he didn't want me to get anywhere near his potential job.

This should be fun...A third try sealed the deal when I persisted "Is that Company Z's XXX product?". He shot me one of those "keep your mouth shut" looks and said "yep, kinda busy here if you don't mind." and he went back to his reading.

At this point I was working pretty hard not to start laughing as all I could keep thinking was "what a wanker!". He was looking for information that, within 10 minutes, I could have shared with him to nail his job but he was "kinda busy here" and didn't want to share his potential job posting (which ironically was public for everyone to see). He sat there for 2 or 3 more hours looking over the technical notes for the XXX product, trying to figure out how it worked in the industry and how he could work it into his resume. I noticed he was also looking at the WRONG datasheets for the industry he needed, so anything he found wasn't that applicable to the job...what a wanker.

The really funny part was that for the next 3 or 4 weeks I saw him in the computer lab almost every day looking for a job...about 5 months later I ran into the Co-op coordinator at the university and told him the story. He asked who it was and I described him...his response "yep, some people never learn. In fact, he's one of them and is still looking for a job...".

So, No job for you because you never know who's sitting next to you...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sex, Blogs & RSS Feeds

A few months Back Mimi in New York wrote an article in Journalism.co.uk on how to promote & sell your blog. As usual she was insightful and offered a well written piece. Her main points included:

  1. Controversy - having some for people to comment on. You want controversy from me? Wait until you hear about my 'noodle experiment' story...
  2. Fain Mail - Reply to your it (good and bad) so they keep coming back. After reading this I will try to avoid using logicalphilosopher@papernapkin.net for all further correspondence. Send me an email and you'll figure it out.
  3. Links - Send out links to both people you may know (or hardly know), while linking to many other blogs. I been thinking of linking to Microsoft and maybe they will do the same.
  4. Anonymity - works for some (Waiterrant, Opionistia, Grumpy Teacher and Clublife) and works well as opposite for others. Not sure where I fit into yet...
  5. Good Writing - That obviously never stopped many a hollywood script writer....Rocky 6 here we come. I have serendipitously come across many well written blogs, but for every good one, there's probably 1000 more that suck. Tucker Max, while funny, fits into that category.
  6. Perseverance - "Is it really a job if it counts as therapy?" I ask.
  7. Do it for the love - yep, you loyal readers can sense writing fear like a fat kid on a smartie. All over it and then *poof*, you're gone.

Mimi has hit on the tops for sure, but a few things she forgot to mention, particularly given the guerilla marketing tactics the new blogging generation is know for.

  1. Suck up to the geek sites - Get mentioned in Gawker or some other syndicated print paper, and *wham*, hits away. Of course, this may lead to the next point:
  2. Get Dooced - yep, sure fire way to get the attention you deserve...as you leave the company with an escort. I'm sure Mark Jen and Ellen Simonetti would probably agree. While I haven't been dooced yet, I came close to it one day but that was before blogs, so not sure what it was called then...
  3. Do some celebrity Hacking - You have to admit, hacking Ashton's Kutcher's phone or Paris Hiltons sidekick probably caused some attention...wanted or not.
  4. Get groupies - This is important to ponder on because bloggers are poised to be the next American Idol pop-stars of the digital generation. Unlike music and the news industry, bloggers trade not in information value, but in thought value. If one can promote thought then discussion and broadcasting just happens.

So, the question is much deeper than you thought - It's not

"Will I sell sex, blogs or rock and roll?", but rather

"How can I sell sex, blogs and RSS Feeds without selling out to the geek sites, getting dooced or put in jail for hacking. Of course, groupies are cool no matter way you look at it."

I hope you didn't notice the logo...oh well, 1 out of 3 ain't bad.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Blink: Book review

As I noted 2 weeks ago I was reading reading Blink: The power of thinking without thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. Overall it was worth the read and it gave some interesting concepts to consider in the area of "rapid cognition".






Intelligence - Did I learn anything?9/10
Content - Well Researched? Well Written?8/10
Context - Can I apply this after reading it?5/10
Overall Rating7.5/10


I would recommend it to anyone that is interested in understanding perceptual biases, how you make decisions and how rapid cognition can work (or not work) to your advantage. Be forewarned that it is a little shallow beyond the stories so it will take some leaps of intellect for the *blink* application of rapid cognition to be used to your benefit.

Overall I thought the book was fairly well done and an easy read. I found his concepts of 'thin slicing' and 'rapid cognition' interesting, mostly due to his story-telling and example based presentation of his research. They made me think (and understand) about some of the decisions I've made or may make based on certain perceptions I may have. It is a definite concept to use when problem solving or digesting complex issues in short periods of time.

The content was well researched and Gladwell tied it together at the end of each chapter (and between some chapters). However, I was fairly disappointed by the lack of context - I was left with the feeling that now aware of my potential to 'thin slice', where *do* I actually apply it? This point comes up because he does note that thin slicing must be done in context, but he doesn't give much depth on how to determine the context. On that point my biggest take-away is you have to be an expert in something to be able to 'thin slice' efficiently and effectively, or you'll probably screw it up or do it out of context (A few of the examples he gave of errors in rapid cognition related to immaturity in the field).

Gladwell inferred that if we want we can control the environment that we 'thin slice' in, thereby we can control the rapid cognition. A step towards application, but it still fell short of the *how*.

Maybe he's just setting himself up for his next
best-seller?

***

A few random notes that I considered (with page numbers). These jumped out as the "should ponder this for awhile" when I read them.

p 124 - there are patters in chaos and thin slicing will help us see that. I inferred that this will work if you are an expert in that particular chaotic environment.

p 122 - explains that becoming reflective of insight type problems undermines the ability to solve them. Why? You lose the 'cognitive flow' that you need to solve them in the first place. So next time you have to stop & think about the problem, you're probably not going to solve it.

p 136 - less is more. Information age gives us sensory overload and as a result we don't make any better decisions.

p 166 - thin slicing must be done in context (but he didn't really expand on that!)

p 250 - 'listen with your eyes' - perception bias is very strong. Next time you make a decision based on having to look at something, your preconceived notions will probably make the decision for you, not the content of the presented decision.

p 252 - if we are aware of the 'blink' and if we are not resigned to taking the first impression we can control rapid cognition's environment and thus control rapid cognition.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Strategic Patenting Decisions and their Influence on Firm Patent Valuation

I'm supposed to convocate next week which means two things:

  1. I get to start thinking about my next degree.
  2. I can tick something semi-monumental off my 43 things listing.
My favorite part of the program was, belive it or not, my thesis research. Most people told me that when I got sick of my topic I would wrap it up and graduate. That never happend, rather my family & friends got sick of me taking so long to finish the program I had to wrap it up. That, combined with the promise that if I finished it on-time I could do a guilt-free race at Ironman Canada this year. If you want to know how that went, you'll have to ask...

For those interested, here's my abstract. Happy reading. If you want a full copy to read, you'll have to convice me that it really interestes you. If not, I do say, you are missing out...

Title: Strategic Patenting Decisions and their Influence on Firm Patent Valuation

ABSTRACT


The economic rents associated with patent portfolios are highly skewed with only a small portion having value. This leads researchers and industry to ask what early strategic patenting decisions around the patent itself will impact the future value of the patent, specifically within the context of small firms. To address this question the paper modeled these ex-ante strategic patenting decisions by using a common measurement of forward citations as a proxy for patent value. The six indicators of family size, breadth, claim count, jurisdiction count, provisional basis and priority claim were modeled using a sample of 386 patents granted in the Mechanical and Electrical field. A focus on the small firm as well as the two strategic patent decision indicators provisional basis and priority claim are areas that have not been explicitly investigated in previous research. Controlling for industry and firm patenting experience resulted in differences of predictors between small and large firms, with a higher likelihood of strategic patenting decisions influencing small firms over large firms. A stronger relationship was found for small firms with indicators of breadth and priority claims, as compared to a weaker relationship of only claim counts for large firms. Research also indicated that from a small firm management perspective the most potential valuable patent is one that covers a broad scope of technology is a new filing and does not claim priority to other applications.

Interestingly one of the questions that my advisor asked was "Does this make you want to do your PhD?". "Why yes, of course" was my quick reply. Onwards and upwards I say.

So, any ideas for the next degree? Business (PhD), Law (LLM) or Econimics (MA) all tie into the basis of my research interests- HOW and WHY does business I am doing work and what else can I do to be successful? The root is understanding both the content and context of decisions and their impacts.

Any suggestions on where to go next?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Gladwell's *Blink* and rapid cognition


I always have 4 or 5 books on the go - and this week I've been reading Blink: The power of thinking without thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. It's premise is the thin slice, or ability to process information quickly at almost a sub-conscious level. Essentially it's our instincts at the first few moments of encountering something, or someone, may be right on target. Remember the last job interview you did where you decided in the first few seconds as to hire or not? That is what thin slice is based on.

The premise is interesting, and writing style is engaging enough that you can read it in one sitting. What's going for this book is that Gladwell actually points to examples (speed dating, gambling) where academic based field research has been done that offers support for the rapid cognition or intuition responses. At the current pace of the book I'm not sure if he will get to theories on how to notice your body's emotional or physical cues to capitalize on your thin slice skills more, but I could be wrong.

I'll post a more detailed review later but what I really am interested in is:

In your first 2 *blink* seconds on this blog - what were your impressions?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Children at play






What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson



Earlier I was watching a group of young children play, all ages 1-3. Over the hour of uninterrupted play I saw them form into several types of groups:

  1. Fearless vs. Fearfull: some cried unless their parents came back to the room, and the played contently anyways.
  2. Leaders vs. Followers: who got the toys first and moved to the next toy.
  3. Sharing vs. Hoarding: some hung back to see how things were going while hanging onto what they had, and others just kept on trucking, sharing all they could.
And all through the morning several of the parents were trying to confort the fearfull into staying without them, coax the follwers into the group and talk the hoarders into sharing.

The thing that struck me was it was the same scene I saw several years ago during an orientation of grad-students, just with a bunch of 25-35 year olds instead. As I contemplated Emerson's quote about the weeds, all I could think of was the fact that 25 years later, these kids will be in the same situation, just no partents to socially bail them out on the fly. I always thought with time you could teach children things, turn their weeds into plans or stamp out the ones that really didn't below. My point - weeds or no weeds and all virtue discovery aside - these kids have alot of life to live and 25 years later they'll be in the same room doing the same things with the same group of personalities.

If only someone had warned me...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Where do you want to go today?

Like Calvin & Hobbs venturing into the unknown, I make time to explore the wild wild west of the internet. Here's what I tend to look into...there are quite a few blogs I read & follow. Some funny, others more fascinating, and a few pretty real-world. But in aggregate they keep me thinking of real-world events and our small little place in society.

Waiter rant is written quite well, and the stories usually have me coming back. I've been reading it for several months now and it still reminds me to tip well when I have good service.

Opinionista is somewhat humours but delves into the world of an overworked associate at an anonymous NY law firm. The stories have gotten away from her initial blogging roots lately but should get more exciting now that she thinks' she's been outed from her anonymonity. On that note Opinionista (the lawyer), Rob the Bouncer and Mimi the Stripper hide in their anonymonity hoping not to be outed and get fired (or arrested in the case of Mimi).

Damaris's Blog is quite the technical marvel on the spaceships and their inner-workings. She's got pretty cool close-up pictures of the shuttle, and the coverage of the recent space mission was very interesting.

Banksy is also another irregular search of mine. Although not pulled from the linked website, his pictures do pop up elsewhere. One of my favorites is the "another crap advert" is simple, but I love it. It's a british visual spin on Adbusters. Next time I'm in London I get extra bonus points if I can get a picture of me beside one of his outdoor postings.

Wikipedia is a great source for information on most anything you would find in an encyclopedia, but it's the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Not just for the l33t anymore it demonstrates the fluid information gathering online. Being dynamic you can watch the pages being edited as world current events unfold. The encylopeida form of citizen journalism.

I am bored - A good source of links to melt away a few hours. This has provided me with classic links, such as when Baker Smurf got Smurfed, the real-life truffle shuffle, and my personal favorite, the Chris Farley Motivational Speaker (in English and Spanish)

While the daily print version of the National Post and digital CNN.com provide an ok outlook on the world situations, I also make an effort to check out independent news stories such as Crisis Pictures which provides a less filtered look at the news (warning - some graphic pictures in spots). The Newsmap is also pretty cool as it turns the news titles into graphical figures representative of their reporting volume - you can also filter out the US news which nice as they tend to bias the reporting volume.



As Calvin always said to Hobbs "It's a magical world out there".

So, where does this make you want to go today?