Sunday, September 7, 2008

Words of inspiration

Steve Jobs, the man who created Apple Computer, the imac, the ipod, the iphone, and many other amazing tools, may very well be one of the most incredible people of his generation and certainly of the last 20+ years.
Someday in the distant future, when the aliens come down, and probe the earth for signs of life after we have most certainly wiped ourselves clear off the planet, they will discover the impact that one man had on the world of computers and technology and the way both were used.

This article is from the Standford News Service site and is a very empowering read. Enjoy.

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisio

ns I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about var

ying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossib

le to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macint

osh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. Wh

at had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Big Foot Exists?

Highly doubtful. If any one of the 10 remaining intelligent Americans tuned in to this debacle of a press conference yesterday afternoon, we would have quickly surmised that all the Bigfoot clues pointed, with a large neon flashing sign, to "NO".
Let's take a look at some of the possible clues that might have tipped us off.

The Bigfoot "expert", Tom Biscardi, who started the conference looked like he stepped right out of the back of a Gypsy wagon ready to sell some snake oil to all the world. It was hard to follow him, what with all the exciting rendition of how he met those fine gentlemen. From the plane ride down, the stay at the hotel, the food they served him, the 2nd plane ride down, more food being served, interrupted only by his horribly placed and shameless plugs for his lame internet radio show, eastern standard time and all. Shouldn't that really be clue number one? An internet radio show? I could go get an internet radio show in about 5 minutes myself. A credible broadcaster that does not make me.
After several minutes of some more boring anecdotes, pathetic plugs, things unrelated to Bigfoot, and some of the most lame showmanship one has seen on major cable news sources, in at least a few hours, our fair leader of this dog and pony show introduces the first of the dynamic duo from the mountains of Georgia. (Cue the banjo folks)

Matthew Whitton, an ex police officer, claims he and his friend stumbled upon this beast while walking in the woods, with their video camera of course. He stated how they were never hunters of Bigfoot prior to this encounter even though the hats they adorned stated, along with another shameless plug, that they were the best Bigfoot trackers in the world. That statement alone is absolutely stupid. "I fell over a dead body of a mythical creature. I'm the best at tracking him."
Whitton said that there were many other similar animals watching them the whole time they removed the body, with his mutton headed friend's tow truck. I find it next to impossible to believe that they were not challenged while trying to remove the 500 lb. body.
A question posed by this fine reporter is, when did Whitton get shot in the hand? Before or after this incredible discovery? He claims it was in the line of duty. How much of a help would he be in removing the body with a lame hand?
When asked about his law enforcement job, he seemed to get very heated about it and declined to respond. That certainly peaks my interest and I would love to see someone investigate that just a bit further.
At one point during cross examination, our Bigfoot ringmaster Biscardi jumped in when Whitton was asked a question regarding other fake claims of Bigfoot. Before long Bascardi was arguing with the reporters and explaining how he had refunded money to other poor suckers from one of his previous fake Bigfoot partnerships. He tried to quickly dismiss it and stated that the person who had claimed to have found Bigfoot in that incident had mental problems and was since receiving mental help. Nice.
Biscardi did have some interesting stats, none of which were factually relating to the subject of this press conference.
He quoted a statistic of 72 missing planes that have never been found with all of our high-tech imagery and such as a response to why we are unable to see 7000 or so of these creatures as he has posed.

When the press asked if the other guy speaks, Biscardi brought him to the stage. There is a good reason why Rick Dyer was the mute one for a while.
"When we was filling the freezer up with water." he responded when asked why the freezer kept braking that housed the illusive hairy beast.
When asked why they were filling up the freezer with water he stated, "To put it in a block of ice." This is the point I fell off my chair laughing so hard. These morons thought they were going to build a solid block of ice around this thing almost like it was an iceman carved from the deep regions of the Arctic plains. By filling up a freezer with water! Georgia's rep just dropped a few clicks and at this very moment is right at par with the stereotype of West Virginia. Congratulations boys. You have served your state well.

Oh, and the overwhelming DNA evidence that was supposed to be revealed. Part human, part Possum, as he says. And more pictures were released. One looks like every other photo over the years of Bigfoot. In the woods, trees blurring the view.

You know, I was taught never to judge a book by it's cover, but I have to tell you that when I look at these 3 guys, my gut doesn't like it. Anyone who sports that Kid rock dirty mustache look, with those slightly beady eyes like he "Just aint right", has something else going on inside that head all the while laughing at the U.S press who jumps at the opportunity to broadcast this crap. Shame on all of us for getting to the point where we allow non credible news and people to fill our lives with B.S.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Red flag warnings to a landlord of a potentially bad tenant.

There are as many indicators that a rental applicant has the potential to become your biggest nightmare tenant, as there are stars in the heavens. Even still, the most "ideal" tenant application can disguise the "Mr. Hyde" that lurks beneath. A person could look great on paper with all of the appropriate qualifications and reference but once they move in, it turns out they are an absolute slob and completely disrespect your property. You may not learn of this from the previous landlord during a tenant history check since most likely that landlord wants that tenant gone. Why would he give you a bad report on that tenant if he wants him out of there as fast as possible?
But let’s address a few issues that could be considered alarming if not completely “red flag worthy.”

They say that first impressions are everything and I have to tell you that when it comes to meeting with tenant applicants, I believe this whole heartedly. If a person shows up to meet you for the first time, and they are disheveled, dirty, lackadaisical and just downright lame, that should certainly be the first sign to the landlord that this may not work out too well. My opinion is that when applying for an apartment, it is as important as applying for a job. Show up on time, look the part of a decent individual and be presentable as a respectable human. NOT someone who just left the halfway house. I have had people literally walk into empty apartment while smoking. SMOKING! I often look into the person's car when they leave. If it looks like a garbage can in there, I take note. If they don't respect their own property, how can they respect the landlord's property as a tenant?

The following are actual lines that I have personally been witness to during the tenant application process.

1.“Let me tell you my situation”- This may be my favorite flare in the sky, falling rock ahead, slippery when wet and do not feed the animals warning of them all. I have heard this particular statement used as an opening time and time again in the 6 years that I have been Mr. Landlord. This little nugget is usually followed by, but not exclusively, numbers 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

2. “I just got out of a crazy relationship and I just need to get my own place.”

3. “I’ve been living at my Grandma’s for the past few years.”- Hmm.

4. “I’ve been looking for a job. I should have something soon. It won’t be a problem.”

5. “I can have half the deposit next week and the rest when my check comes in on the first

6. “What kind of things are you looking for on the criminal background check?” What a great question to ask a potential landlord. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have NEVER had to ask that question to anyone in which I was filling out any type of document for. The alarm that this one sounds is as loud as a tornado horn In the Midwest. Amazing. Any landlord should put red line through this potential tenant.

7. “I can get you my criminal report for you if you like. To save you the money.” No thanks.

8. “ Do you take pets?” When I tell them no, the follow up is the alarm. “Oh, ok. I can leave him with my ___________.”

9. “Do you do a credit check?” This is always a treat. They just give you the information before you even ask.

I am constantly amazed at just how much people will tell complete strangers. Especially to a potential landlord! I have the gift of gab myself, thank you very much, but these people coming in for an apartment sometimes just hang themselves before I can even hand them the rope. If you let them speak, they may tell you EVRERYTHING and then some. I have several tenants that think I am their personal therapist, or hairdresser for that matter. They call me with everything in their lives. But I digress. We will keep that for another post, “Tenant Horror Stories.

Borat Wins In Court

Do you remember that scared man who was running down the street screaming for Sacha Baron Cohen to leave him alone in the movie "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"? He sued 20th Century Fox. His claim was that they unlawfully used his image in the movie. Quite honestly, a very funny moment in the film.

His suit was dismissed by a federal judge in Manhattan. The judge's opinion was that while the film appealed "to the most childish and vulgar in its viewers," it attempted "an ironic commentary of 'modern' American culture." Well said your honor. It was definitely an "ironic commentary of 'modern' American culture".

And thank God we have films that do that. Immature? maybe. Offensive? Sure. But why not? If we can't be a bit goofy once in a while and laugh at each other, AND ourselves, at some point, won't we just go completely batty?

I enjoyed that film and laughed my posterior off with my father and my 2 brothers. That laugh felt great and It's not because I don't like certain religions or races, it's because it was a funny film that poked fun at a bunch of different stereotypes, cultures etc. It took politicians and put them in awkward situations. It took normal people and put them in awkward situations. Sacha Cohen has the ability to take normal people in boring circumstances, and make it completely hilarious. Through his ability to bring out someone's honest nature, he shows us the innocence and vulnerability of people at the same time he is showing us their ignorance. Do you remember the rodeo scenes with the redneck moron talking about how Borat should shave that mustache so he looks less dangerous and maybe more Italian?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wonder Pets and Cheerios

Well, it is Good Friday. I will be home with my 2 year old this morning and I can hear it now.
"Watch Wonder Pets Daddy. Watch Wonder Pets." For those of you without children, congratulations and you're lucky. This is the show that my lovely child is hooked on. Right now. Tomorrow it may change, last week it was different. The concept:
3 school pets, a turtle, a baby chick and a gerbil or hamster (who knows) are summoned on a regular basis, through a phone, to go rescue much larger animals from peril. Example: A baby elephant is trapped in some mud. They have to go fly to him in their quickly assembled fly machine consisting of an upside down frisbee, some cloth sail, 2 marker caps as "jets" and some toy wheels. When they get there, through the power of teamwork, a simple lever, and some horrible animation technique, they are able to free the Pachyderm without much fanfare. 3 animals weighing no more than 3 pounds collectively.
Actually, the interesting thing is that kids today have SO much more to watch on t.v than we did. I know, I know. I sound like my parents. Pathetic but bear with me here. When we were kids, you really only had a few channels to choose from as far as kid's entertainment. We're not talking about THAT long ago. 70's and 80's. Our house did not have cable back then and even if it did, if I remember correctly Nickelodeon had just started as I was in late grade school. Either way, at a younger age, Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, (watch out, here comes a relic) The Electric company, and maybe a few others that are caught in the cobwebs of my brain at the moment, were really the only thing available for little little kids.
It's interesting to watch my child when it comes to what she likes on t.v. Mr. Rogers is still on, Sesame Street is as well. Once in a while she will go with Mr. Rogers but you can almost tell that it isn't quite stimulating enough for her brain that is used to the overload of noise and visuals she gets from modern day programming. Sesame Street has definitely withstood the test of time and certainly updates it's themes to remain current with the Pop Culture. All the while delivering us that tried and trusted stop animation technique that was the norm of almost all of their inter-cut videos like the "letter of the day" etc. It's great watching a nice racially mixed group of 3 to 6 year olds rap with some monsters about recycling and protecting the earth. That's about as real as a turtle, hamster, and a baby chick freeing an elephant from the muck.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Long awaited return

Well, to those of you that have been waiting in anticipation for many months, I am back. I have spent the last few months really deciding on how I want to take this medium, what I want to do with it, what I want to achieve.
You see, when I created Venti Bold, I was in a caffeinated haze. A coffee coma if you will, and I wasn't sure really what I wanted to do with it. I realized that I needed to take the idea and put it in my hands not unlike a sculptor does with his stone, marble or raw lump of clay. I needed to hold it in my hands a little and feel the density in its rawness. To squeeze it a bit and feel its mass and realize the potential of what I was holding. To look at it and see what it could become. To embrace it and ever so slowly, shape it into what I wanted. I knew that it would take some time but I could take that piece of stone, and turn it into my Venus di Milo! Venti Bold is my Goddess of Love! My woman with no arms! Naked even! What do you think of that?
So what will become of this place? What will I achieve here? Will I educate others? Maybe so. Will I stimulate others? Indeed. Will it entertain, anger or even outrage others? It better! Hopefully, all of the human emotions will be tickled when visiting Venti Bold.
By the way, as a side note. I actually do not drink Venti Bold anymore. Yeah. I was having a hard time with the old ticker after consuming 40 ounces of Starbucks High Octane Go Juice during the day. 20 in the morning, 20 in the evening. I started to feel like I was on a constant adrenaline rush and my body was getting exhausted, except when it came time to sleep, where I would stare at the ceiling at 2 am wondering how long it would take to walk to and from the moon. As a distance of course. NOT actually walking to the moon. That is impossible.
I know what you're thinking. "What will happen to all that insightful witty banter that you come up with when you're in the zone?" Fear not my devoted follower(s). I still get the taste of java in my orifice with the decaf. It just doesn't come with that jitter that courses through my body like a meth head looking for the next score. In addition, I do not feel that changing the name to Venti Decaf will benefit the overall feel and atmosphere of this blog so I think we will all stay pleased knowing that the name stays!
Ok, with that out of the way, let me say that after some hard thinking, some brain storming, a little think tank that I had earlier today with a trusted "hermano", I have decided that what would be a great addition to the blog would be guests, not unlike a talk show, that could "guest blog" so to speak about their lives and such. We could get a glimpse into the world of others and how they feel about politics, current issues, the profession that they are in etc. Hopefully starting next week, we will have these guests and listen to their thoughts a bit. I expect that you all will give them the same courtesy you give me.