Picture of a "Slinky" toy captioned with: "Some people are like Slinkies. Not really good for much, but bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs."

We all have a Slinky or two in our lives.

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“Spring Cleaning” post #6: Work!

by Joey deVilla on April 23, 2014

joey devilla hard at work

spring cleaningHere’s another post for my Spring Cleaning series, the set of articles that I’m taking out of my Drafts folder, finishing, and posting at long last. In case you missed the earlier ones, here they are:

This post is filled with stuff I’d been meaning to point to on a topic that takes up anywhere from one to two thirds of our weekdays (one tenth if you’re from Portland): work!

your job makes you sick

This is just part of the infographic. Click it to read the full infographic and matching article.

This one’s from two years ago, but it still holds true: an infographic featured on Mashable saying that work is killing you slowly. It’s not that you should quit working, but that you need to work around today’s most common work style (especially for readers of this blog): sedentary, desk-bound, and often in front of a computer for hours. If you can find a way to work some kind of activity into your workday — think of it as interval training — you’re likely to see some benefits.

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Time. Sink. Get it? Click it to read the matching article.

Jason Friedman, on his blog HumbledMBA, talks about things that take up precious work time at startups and do nothing to delight customers: launch parties, office food, team-building activities, meetings, meetups, agile processes, business cards, PowerPoint, and many more. “Of course, much of this stuff still needs to get done,” he writes, “At some point. And some of it really is important to the process that eventually creates delight for users. But none of it directly delights users. They’re all inputs. None of it is product.” He’s writing for people in startups, but it could just as easily apply to people in the non-startup world.

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Running a current through your brain can help generate ideas. Click it to read the matching article.

Want to get ahead in your workplace? This Harvard Business Review article points to some research with disturbing findings: be disagreeable, get someone to wish you luck, look at a dead cat, “live in sin” before getting married, jokingly ask for a ridiculously high salary, and run an electric current through your brain.

The “Always Be Closing” scene from Glengarry Glen Ross. Be advised: there’s swearing aplenty.

Here’s another HBR article: How to Close a Sales Call. Here’s how the article itself closes:

If you are a senior salesperson, you’ve already closed your share of business and know many different closing techniques. You also understand that your closing strategy must vary depending upon the customer’s background, your competitive position, and the circumstances that are unique to the sales cycle. Sometimes, you need a commanding hard close for your meeting. For example, if the sales cycle for the products you sell involves only one or two customer interactions. With experienced buyers, consider a softer close because how many times do you think they have heard “this is our best and final offer” and every other type of hard close before?

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Be sure to check out more of Drew’s comics on his site, Toothpaste for Dinner.

Blogging isn’t for everyone, but it’s been nothing but great for me and my career. You might want to check out Why Every Professional Should Consider Blogging and The Secret Formula To Never Being Unemployed for more details why.

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The flight deck of an Airbus A380. Click the photo to see the source.

And finally, some advice from a Cessna pilot’s emergency checklist: FLY THE AIRPLANE.

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Good morning, Carrollwood!

by Joey deVilla on April 22, 2014

As I write this — 10:36 a.m. on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 — it’s 72º F (22º C) in Carrollwood, the suburb of Tampa where I live and telecommute. For my Toronto friends, the drive from home to downtown Tampa takes about the same time as the drive from my place in High Park to downtown Toronto.

Here’s what the start of my bike ride looked like this morning. That’s home, with my car, Rhonda the Honda, in the outdoor parking spot. She doesn’t look it, but she turns 16 this year:

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Click the photo to see it at full size.

I got greeted by this fella on the way out. While while peacocks are nothing new in this neighbourhood, they usually hang out a couple of blocks south. This is the second time in a couple of weeks that one of them has shown up in our complex:

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Click the photo to see it at full size.

The morning started off without a cloud in the sky:

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Click the photo to see it at full size.

So I hopped on the bike and made my way down to the road:

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Click the photo to see it at full size.

Time to put on some miles!

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Click the photo to see it at full size.

And there are many miles of quiet streets on which to lay rubber:

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Click the photo to see it at full size.

After a quick ride, it’s time to get back to work. Here’s the interim home office, currently set up in the dining room. The second bedroom will become an office in a couple of weeks:

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Click the photo to see it at full size.

And now it’s time to make mobile tech sing and customers happy:

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Proof that I am a direct descendant of an American: look at all that ice in my glass, the way God and the Founding Fathers intended.

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spring cleaningHere’s another post for my Spring Cleaning series, the set of articles that I’m taking out of my Drafts folder, finishing, and posting at long last. In case you missed the earlier ones, here they are:

never ends well

How bored do you have to be to decide to combine fireworks and sensitive body parts? These guys thought it might be amusing to insert a firework into one of their derrieres and light it:

These bright lads give new meaning to the term “crotch rocket”:

The granddaddy of all these, although not the first, is the funniest, and dates back to 2007. I’ve seen it dozens of times, and I have never failed to laugh:

Believe it or not, this video convinced me to leave a cushy job that year and seek my fortune elsewhere. I wrote about it in an article titled Assrockets and Opportunities, which I hope you’ll find both amusing and enlightening.

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“Spring Cleaning” post #4: Get on your bicycle!

by Joey deVilla on April 21, 2014

spring cleaningAnd now, another post in the Spring Cleaning series, in which I take a lot of blog posts that have been sitting as drafts for far too long, finish them, and finally put them online! Here are links to the Spring Cleaning articles I’ve posted so far:

bikes

If you’re into cycling, this one’s for you.

I find that in the morning, before I go to work and use these machines…

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My home office setup in Tampa. Click the photo to see it at full size.

…that it’s worth my while to use this machine:

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My home gym setup in Tampa. Click the photo to see it at full size.

Although I’ve been travelling to Tampa on a regular basis for the past two years, I’ve been living here full-time for a mere six weeks. That means that I am, for all intents and purposes, new in town and still figuring my way around. I’ve found that the best way to get to know the area around me, enjoy the weather and get in some exercise at the same time is to hop on a bicycle and ride. It’s the most energy-efficient form of human-powered locomotion, it lets me cover more distance than mere walking but still gives me the up-close look at my surroundings that I can’t get in the car, and it has brain benefits, as the links below will show:

Here’s a video of a patient with Parkinson’s disease who experiences “freezing gait” when walking. However, put him on a bike, and it’s like magic:

It’s been noted in the video that the guy isn’t wearing a helmet. That’s because the video was shot in the Netherlands, where helmets aren’t mandated by law, nor customary. It’s also worth noting that you’re 30 times more likely to get hurt on your bike in the US than you are in the Netherlands. The differences between cycling in the Netherlands and even more bike-friendly American cities like and Chicago and Davis, California are quite notable, as this Dutch observer points out:

At TEDxCopenhagen, Mikael Colville-Andersen says that urban cycling is part of the good life, and helmets are not part of biking:

Why is biking so popular in the Netherlands? This BBC article takes a closer look.

A number of American cities are looking to the Dutch model for improving cycling within cities. To see what we can learn, take a look at From the Netherlands to America. Yes, the US is not the Netherlands, but there are still a number of good ideas to borrow from them, and it doesn’t have to be Rob Ford’s so-called “war on the car” (and really, when’s the last time he told the truth about anything?):

One point made in the video above is that bicycling also boosts economies. This is counter to what a lot of small retailers say: they tend to overestimate the need for parking, and that bicycle lanes will hurt their business. This study says that that ain’t so.

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the saddest cooking show

spring cleaningLet’s continue with Spring Cleaning, a series of posts that have been sitting for far too long in my Drafts folder, and which I’m now unleashing upon an unsuspecting world.

Last fall, I stumbled into what must be the saddest cooking show ever: Weber Cooks, a show that ran on the student-run TV station in Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Hosted by a slightly unkempt Steven Reed, it’s intended for college students with small budgets, a microwave oven, and little or no cooking experience. Reed’s delivery has many similarities to the so-awkward-you’ll-squirm comedy styles of Tim and Eric and Zach Galifianakis, but with one very crucial difference: his is unintentional.

In this episode, Reed gives the benighted masses the Secret of Spaghetti:

If spaghetti isn’t your cup of carbs, he’ll also show you how to make Rice-a-Roni, complete with his trademark heavy breathing:

You want more cheap carbs? Steven is happy to deliver with this recipe for creamed corn and potatoes:

If that isn’t sad enough for you, here’s the creamed corn and potatoes recipe, backed with Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1:

Having company over to watch the big game or a movie and need carbs? How about Steven’s chili cheese nachos?

If you ever screw up an attempt to cook a dish, or feel bad about your lack of cooking skills, point your browser at these videos and take comfort in the fact that no matter how bad a cook you are, there’s someone out there who’s far, far worse.

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Happy Easter!

by Joey deVilla on April 20, 2014

boris vallejo cruciflex

In honour of this holiday, I present to you fantasy artists Boris Vallejo’s depiction of a risen (and ripped) Christ, a painting I like to refer to as “The Cruciflex”. It’ll make you want to go to church and the gym.

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