Archive for the ‘reprint’ Category

how cold is it?

an oldy, but a goody

An annotated thermometer (degrees Fahrenheit)

New York tenants turn on the heat
Minnesotans plant gardens

Californians shiver uncontrollably
Minnesotans sunbathe

Italian cars don’t start

Distilled water freezes

You can see your breath
You plan a vacation in Florida
Politicians begin to worry about the homeless
Minnesotans eat ice cream

Boston water freezes
Californians weep pitiably
Cat insists on sleeping on your bed with you

Cleveland water freezes
San Franciscans start thinking favorably of LA
Minnesota Vikings fans put on T-shirts—-YEAH!!!

You plan a vacation in CANCUN!!!!!
Minnesotans go swimming

Politicians begin to talk about the homeless
Too cold to snow
You need jumper cables to get the car going

New York landlords turn on the heat

You can hear your breath
You plan a vacation in Hawaii

American cars don’t start
Too cold to skate

You can cut your breath and use it to build an igloo
Miamians cease to exist
Minnesotans lick flagpoles

Cat insists on sleeping in your pajamas with you
Politicians actually do something about the homeless
People in Duluth think about taking down screens

Too cold to kiss
You need jumper cables to get the driver going
Japanese cars don’t start
Minnesota Twins head for spring training

You plan a two-week hot bath
Minnesotans shovel snow off roof

Mercury freezes
Too cold to think
Minnesotans button top button

Californians disappear
Car insists on sleeping in your bed with you
Minnesotans put on sweaters

Congressional hot air freezes
Alaskans close the bathroom window
Two Harbors Minnesota Agates practice indoors

Walruses abandon Aleutians
Minnesotans put gloves away, take out mittens
Boy Scouts in Two Harbors Minnesota start Klondike Derby

Minneapolis residents replace diving boards with hockey nets
Ridgeway snowmobilers organize trans-river race to Buffalo,WI
Lackore Boys start to complain while working on snowmobiles

Polar bears abandon Baffin Island
Girl Scouts in Two Harbors Minnesota start Klondike Derby

Lawyers chase ambulances for no more than 10 miles
Wisconsinites migrate to Minnesota thinking it MUST be warmer

Santa Claus abandons North Pole
Minnesotans pull down earflaps

Ethyl alcohol freezes
The University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus) closes

Lackore Boys quit working on snowmobiles.

Helium becomes a liquid

Hell freezes over

Illinois drivers drop below 85 MPH on I-90

Incumbent politician renounces a campaign contribution

-460 (Absolute Zero)
All atomic motion ceases
The University of Minnesota-Duluth is closed
Minnesotans alert us as to how it’s getting a mite nippy

refound here

sending email in python with gmail

A Python nugget from Programming Your Home (review) I wanted to share from p97:

import smtplib
def send_email(subject, message)
    recipient = 'your_email_recipient@domain.tld'
    gmail_sender = ''
    gmail_password = 'your_gmail_password'

    #use tls
    gmail_smtp = smtplib.SMTP('', 587)

    gmail_smtp.login(gmail_send, gmail_password)

    #message formatting
    mail_header = 'To: ' + recipient + '\n' + 'From: ' + gmail_sender + '\n' + 'Subject: ' + subject + '\n'
    message_body = message
    mail message = mail_header + '\n ' + message_body + '\n\n'

    gmail_smtp.sendmail(gmail_sender, recipient, mail_message)


35 great questions, part 5

Part 5 of 5 in my condensed reprint of Inc’s article, “35 Great Questions” from the April 2014 issue. (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)

  1. Who have we, as a company, historically been when we’ve been at our best? –Keith Yamashita
  2. What do we stand for – and what are we against? –Scott Goodson
  3. Is there any reason to believe the opposite of my current belief? –Chip Heath & Dan Heath
  4. Do we underestimate the customer’s journey? –Matt Dixon
  5. Among our stronger employees, how many see themselves at the company in three years? How many would leave for a 10 percent raise from another company? –Jonathan Rosenberg
  6. What did we miss in the interview for the worst hire we ever made? –Alberto Perlman
  7. Do we have the right people on the bus? –Jim Collins

the ultimate measure of financial success

How many times have you heard someone suggest that all their financial problems would magically disappear if they only made more money? But high incomes can’t guarantee financial freedom; there are countless examples of people who earned millions yet still ended up bankrupt. The common thread among folks who get into financial trouble — no matter how much money they make — is their inability to consistently spend less than they earn.

The bottom line: The ultimate measure of financial success is not the size of your paycheck. Rather, it’s the money left in your pocket after paying for all your obligations.

source: Len Penzo

lobachevsky – by tom lehrer

Tom Lehrer, for those who don’t know, was a fantastic satirist and musical humorist in the 20th century.

Lobachevsky is one of my favorites of his (YouTube edition):

[spoken] For many years now, Mr. Danny Kaye, who has been my particular idol since childbirth, has been doing a routine about the great Russian director Stanislavsky and the secret of success in the acting profession. And I thought it would be interesting to stea… to adapt this idea to the field of mathematics. I always like to make explicit the fact that before I went off not too long ago to fight in the trenches, I was a mathematician by profession. I don’t like people to get the idea that I have to do this for a living. I mean, it isn’t as though I had to do this, you know, I could be making, oh, 3000 dollars a year just teaching.

Be that as it may, some of you may have had occasion to run into mathematicians and to wonder therefore how they got that way, and here, in partial explanation perhaps, is the story of the great Russian mathematician Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky. 


Who made me the genius I am today,
The mathematician that others all quote,
Who’s the professor that made me that way?
The greatest that ever got chalk on his coat.

One man deserves the credit,
One man deserves the blame,
And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach-

I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky.
In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics:

Let no one else’s work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don’t shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize –
Only be sure always to call it please ‘research’.

And ever since I meet this man
My life is not the same,
And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach-

I am never forget the day I am given first original paper
to write. It was on analytic and algebraic topology of
locally Euclidean parameterization of infinitely differentiable
Riemannian manifold.
Bozhe moi!
This I know from nothing.
What-i’m going-to do.
But I think of great Lobachevsky and get idea – ahah!

I have a friend in Minsk,
Who has a friend in Pinsk,
Whose friend in Omsk
Has friend in Tomsk
With friend in Akmolinsk.
His friend in Alexandrovsk
Has friend in Petropavlovsk,
Whose friend somehow
Is solving now
The problem in Dnepropetrovsk.

And when his work is done –
Ha ha! – begins the fun.
From Dnepropetrovsk
To Petropavlovsk,
By way of Iliysk,
And Novorossiysk,
To Alexandrovsk to Akmolinsk
To Tomsk to Omsk
To Pinsk to Minsk
To me the news will run,
Yes, to me the news will run!

And then I write
By morning, night,
And afternoon,
And pretty soon
My name in Dnepropetrovsk is cursed,
When he finds out I publish first!

And who made me a big success
And brought me wealth and fame?
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach –

I am never forget the day my first book is published.
Every chapter I stole from somewhere else.
Index I copy from old Vladivostok telephone directory.
This book was sensational!
Pravda – well, Pravda – Pravda said: “Zhil-bil korol kogda-to, pree nyom blokha zhila”[1] It stinks.
But Izvestia! Izvestia said: “Ya idoo kuda sam czar idyot peshkom!”[2] 
It stinks.
Metro-Goldwyn-Moskva buys movie rights for six million rubles,
Changing title to ‘The Eternal Triangle’,
With Brigitte Bardot playing part of hypotenuse.

And who deserves the credit?
And who deserves the blame?
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.

35 great questions, part 4

Part 4 of 5 in my condensed reprint of Inc’s article, “35 Great Questions” from the April 2014 issue. (part 1, part 2, part 3)

  1. Did my employees make progress today? –Teresa Amabile
  2. What one word do we want to own in the minds of our customers, employees, and partners? –Matthew May
  3. What should we stop doing? –Peter Drucker
  4. What are the gaps in my knowledge and experience? –Charles Handy
  5. What am I trying to prove to myself, and how might it be hijacking my life and business success? –Bob Rosen
  6. If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he do? –Andy Grove
  7. If I had to leave my organization for a year and the only communication I could have with my employees was a single paragraph, what would I write? –Pat Lencioni

35 great questions, part 3

Part 3 of 5 in my condensed reprint of Inc’s article, “35 Great Questions” from the April 2014 issue. (part 1, part 2)

  1. Are we changing as fast as the world around us? –Gary Hamel
  2. If no one would ever find out about my accomplishments, how would I lead differently? –Adam Grant
  3. Which customers can’t participate in our market because they lack skills, wealth, or convenient access to existing solutions? –Clayton Christensen
  4. Who uses our product in ways we never expected? –Kevin P Coyne & Shawn T Coyne
  5. How likely is it that a customer would recommend our company to a friend or colleague? –Andrew Taylor
  6. Is this an issue for analysis or intuition? –Tom Davenport
  7. Who, on the executive team or the board, has spoken to a customer recently? –James Champy

35 great questions, part 2

Part 2 of 5 in my condensed reprint of Inc’s article, “35 Great Questions” from the April 2014 issue. (part 1)

  1. What counts that we are not counting? –Chip Conley
  2. In the past few months, what is the smallest change we have made that has had the biggest positive result? What was it about that small change that produced the large return? –Robert Cialdini
  3. Are we paying enough attention to the partners our company depends on to succeed? –Ron Adner
  4. What prevents me from making the changes I know will make me a more effective leader? –Marshall Goldsmith
  5. What are the implications of this decision 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years from now? –Suzy Welch
  6. Do I make eye contact 100 percent of the time? –Tom Peters
  7. What is the smallest subset of the problem we can usefully solve? –Paul Graham

35 great questions, part 1

Part 1 of 5 in my condensed reprint of Inc’s article, “35 Great Questions” from the April 2014 issue.

  1. How can we become the company that would put us out of business? –Danny Meyer
  2. Are we relevant? Will we be relevant five years from now? Ten? –Debra Kaye
  3. If energy were free, what would we do differently? –Tony Hsieh
  4. What is it like to work for me? –Robert Sutton
  5. If we weren’t already in business, would we enter it today? And if not, what are we going to do about it? –Peter Drucker
  6. What trophy do we want on our mantle? –Marcy Massura
  7. Do we have bad profits? –Jonathan L Byrnes

the art of the essay

Paul Graham is one of my favorite essayists. The following are some excerpts from his excellent 2004 essay, “The Age of the Essay“.

The most obvious difference between real essays and the things one has to write in school is that real essays are not exclusively about English literature. Certainly schools should teach students how to write. But due to a series of historical accidents the teaching of writing has gotten mixed together with the study of literature. And so all over the country students are writing not about how a baseball team with a small budget might compete with the Yankees, or the role of color in fashion, or what constitutes a good dessert, but about symbolism in Dickens.

With the result that writing is made to seem boring and pointless. Who cares about symbolism in Dickens? Dickens himself would be more interested in an essay about color or baseball.

in the late 19th century the teaching of writing was inherited by English professors. This had two drawbacks: (a) an expert on literature need not himself be a good writer, any more than an art historian has to be a good painter, and (b) the subject of writing now tends to be literature, since that’s what the professor is interested in.

The other big difference between a real essay and the things they make you write in school is that a real essay doesn’t take a position and then defend it.

Defending a position may be a necessary evil in a legal dispute, but it’s not the best way to get at the truth, as I think lawyers would be the first to admit. It’s not just that you miss subtleties this way. The real problem is that you can’t change the question.

And yet this principle is built into the very structure of the things they teach you to write in high school. The topic sentence is your thesis, chosen in advance, the supporting paragraphs the blows you strike in the conflict, and the conclusion– uh, what is the conclusion? I was never sure about that in high school. It seemed as if we were just supposed to restate what we said in the first paragraph, but in different enough words that no one could tell.

To understand what a real essay is, we have to reach back into history again, though this time not so far. To Michel de Montaigne, who in 1580 published a book of what he called “essais.” He was doing something quite different from what lawyers do, and the difference is embodied in the name. Essayer is the French verb meaning “to try” and an essai is an attempt. An essay is something you write to try to figure something out.

Figure out what? You don’t know yet.

If all you want to do is figure things out, why do you need to write anything, though? Why not just sit and think? Well, there precisely is Montaigne’s great discovery. Expressing ideas helps to form them.

Questions aren’t enough. An essay has to come up with answers. They don’t always, of course. Sometimes you start with a promising question and get nowhere…An essay you publish ought to tell the reader something he didn’t already know.

An essay is supposed to be a search for truth. It would be suspicious if it didn’t meander.

The Meander (aka Menderes) is a river in Turkey. As you might expect, it winds all over the place. But it doesn’t do this out of frivolity. The path it has discovered is the most economical route to the sea.

The river’s algorithm is simple. At each step, flow down. For the essayist this translates to: flow interesting. Of all the places to go next, choose the most interesting.

So what’s interesting? For me, interesting means surprise. Interfaces, as Geoffrey James has said, should follow the principle of least astonishment. A button that looks like it will make a machine stop should make it stop, not speed up. Essays should do the opposite. Essays should aim for maximum surprise.

I found the best way to get information … was to ask what surprised them. How was the place different from what they expected? This is an extremely useful question. You can ask it of the most unobservant people, and it will extract information they didn’t even know they were recording.

[T]he ability to ferret out the unexpected must not merely be an inborn one. It must be something you can learn. How do you learn it?

To some extent it’s like learning history. When you first read history, it’s just a whirl of names and dates. Nothing seems to stick. But the more you learn, the more hooks you have for new facts to stick onto– which means you accumulate knowledge at what’s colloquially called an exponential rate. Once you remember that Normans conquered England in 1066, it will catch your attention when you hear that other Normans conquered southern Italy at about the same time. Which will make you wonder about Normandy, and take note when a third book mentions that Normans were not, like most of what is now called France, tribes that flowed in as the Roman empire collapsed, but Vikings (norman = north man) who arrived four centuries later in 911. Which makes it easier to remember that Dublin was also established by Vikings in the 840s. Etc, etc squared.

There are an infinite number of questions. How do you find the fruitful ones?

I write down things that surprise me in notebooks. I never actually get around to reading them and using what I’ve written, but I do tend to reproduce the same thoughts later. So the main value of notebooks may be what writing things down leaves in your head.

Whatever you study, include history– but social and economic history, not political history. History seems to me so important that it’s misleading to treat it as a mere field of study. Another way to describe it is all the data we have so far.

Gradualness is very powerful. And that power can be used for constructive purposes too: just as you can trick yourself into looking like a freak, you can trick yourself into creating something so grand that you would never have dared to plan such a thing. Indeed, this is just how most good software gets created.

If there’s one piece of advice I would give about writing essays, it would be: don’t do as you’re told. Don’t believe what you’re supposed to. Don’t write the essay readers expect; one learns nothing from what one expects. And don’t write the way they taught you to in school.

Popular magazines made the period between the spread of literacy and the arrival of TV the golden age of the short story. The Web may well make this the golden age of the essay. And that’s certainly not something I realized when I started writing this.