Thursday, June 30, 2005


I have been earning for a clean, crisp gust of air. It will be here soon - in early September. I was reminded; however, of this snowstorm picture.

Taken in Brooklyn Heights, Dec. 25, 2002.

We do not need no education

Over the last few days I have been brooding over various articles bemoaning low pay for teachers, poor opportunities for high school graduates and drop outs, bleak future for college graduates all tied together to a theme of US economic decline and malaise. The best part, for a contrarian like me, is of course that this is just a lot of food for writing. The bad part, is that of course I never do.

So here is a topic for comments or post submissions: what do you think K12 schools could and should teach. What they should not be teaching, or teaching less is a different topic. For the moment, let us assume that adding extra subjects or classes is feasable.

One of my favorites would have to be "note taking". Not once in all of my years in school (in two countries with radically different educational systems, mind you) did a teacher show me how to take good notes. I was never graded on taking good notes. I got to college, and barely through college, by basically doodling on paper. It is possible that no one method fits all types of people and personalities. But surely 2 or 3 techniques would cover most students. Why is note taking so important? Well, for one this is pretty much all you do in meetings. As everyone knows, meetings take up an inordinate amount of time, and fairly often people actually expect you to know what took place, in detail, and to follow up on tasks that came out of that meeting. One of the biggest, and most common, mistakes young graduates make is to come into a meeting without a pen and paper. Does not go over well with senior executives. Trust me. Good notes pay for themselves 10-fold two weeks or two months after the initial meeting, talk, or lecture. I still keep notes I took in college in various classes. They are a distillation of what I got out of class; and a great resource for quick reviews of various topics. Well-taken meeting notes can help you remember not just the raw data, but the context of the tasks assigned to you and others.

In short, benefits of good note-taking habits:
  • a set of data points relevant to your activities
  • improved productivity due to clear understanding of tasks, their interralationships, and responsibilities for those tasks
  • strong basis for future papers, memos, or documentation if need ever arises
  • makes you an indespensable member of the team
  • clean and readable notes are an aethtetic pleasure to work with
  • less doodling time during lectures and meetings
If one wants to think about universal business skills, effective notes-taking has to be one of the chepest ways to guard against mistakes and improve productivity. I think it is a winner.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Photo: About a portrait

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An excellent journalistic shot. For those not following politics or news - the portrait is of the russian President - V.Putin done up as an 19th century government minister, or emperor.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Photo: Canyons

An image from Southwest USA.

Some more of these images from a 2002 trip here

Friday, June 17, 2005

'cool' make over

from BBC:

A vast Nazi-era air raid shelter too tough to tear down is to be revamped as an art gallery and luxury penthouse.

The seven-storey building in central Berlin was erected on Hitler's orders during Allied bombing of the city.

After the war, its 2.6m thick steel reinforced wall thwarted a series of East German attempts to demolish it.


Monday, June 13, 2005

summer of code

How cool is that?

The Summer of Code is Google's program designed to introduce students to the world of open source software development.

This summer, don't let your programming skills lie fallow. Use them for the greater good of open source software and computer science. Google will provide a $4500 award to each student who successfully completes a project by the end of the summer. (Payment details can be found in the FAQ)

By pairing applicants up with the proven wisdom and experience of established prominent open source organizations (listed below), we hope to make great software happen. If you can't come up with a great idea to submit, a number of our organizations have made idea lists available.

very impressive. [hat tip: sourcelabs' Alex Bosworth]

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Names and choices

In my family it is highly desirable to nname people “in honor of” someone. That someone has to have had passed away, although it does semm ok to name more than one child in the extended family the same way. Thus, two brothers could, theoretically, name their children after their grandfather.

As I am faced with deciding the name of my next child, due sometime today, I am faced with a problem. Names I have had picked out and agreed on with A. have been met without enthusiasm and even some hostility by others. Obviously, it is still our child and our choice, but we do not particularly wish to upset the grandparents...

What kind of soulful posting would this be if I provided closure. No closure for you,dear reader.

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.