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I love Gardening! I hate Gardening!

There's an old family joke in Nikki's family that stems from a time when Nikki went fishing. She almost immediately caught a fish and it was exciting and she exclaimed, "I love fishing!" A little while later, she hadn't caught any more fish and she said "I hate fishing!". So the proper use of the phrase is when someone is being a little fickle about a topic you say "I love fishing! I hate fishing!" and then everyone laughs.

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Delicious Banana Bread recipe

I always buy bananas and forget to eat them, so why not turn brown bananas into a tasty treat!

3 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups partly mashed bananas
1/4 cups creme fraiche or sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/3 cups walnuts

Prehead oven to 350. Butter 2 9X5 pans and dust with flour.

Mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt into bowl.

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FON - Crowdsourcing as a business model

The bane of the telecommunications industry is always infrastructure. Well, maybe sometimes it's the regulation board or the PUC, but mostly it's infrastructure. Capital investments in infrastructure are like fingernails on a chalkboard to the telecom CFO. If you want to create a WIFI hotspot network you have to spend money on a ridiculous number of things like:

  1. The actual physical WIFI antennas/routers/etc - and you have to make them reliable
  2. Salespeople to go out and make people install your stuff, which is why major retail space owners (Starbucks? McDonalds?) are likely targets for big deals
  3. Field technicians to go to those retail locations and actually install the stuff
  4. Field technicians to go back out when someone kicks the device and it breaks
  5. Fleet managers to track the truck rolls and do oil changes and...
  6. get the point

What if you could have a wifi network without buying or hiring any of those people? What if you just had a couple engineers who retrofit really cheap WIFI routers with your hardware/software package and then you sell them to people who already have a broadband connection? All of a sudden everybody with a DSL/Cable connection in their house becomes your Salesperson and Field Technician.

FON vs. TMobile

At least for the USA, T-Mobile hotspots go for $10/day. And there is no such thing as being able to use them for free. In contrast, "Aliens" on the FON system currently pay $3/day. Undercutting Tmobile by two thirds. Well, that's not bad.

Crowdsourcing a Telecom Company

This is what Wired was talking about in their recent "Crowdsourcing" article. It's the idea that as communication and search costs lower you can suddenly contract with everyone in the world to be a tiny little service provider in a giant company that has very little infrastructure or employees, but that does millions in transactions a day. eBay has been doing this for a few years now, but we finally have a fun title for the practice.

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Fear and Politics in the US

So, I was reading Businessweek the other day (again) and an interview with Soros (subscription required) struck me a little bit odd and misleading.

But a little background first...

Management and Decision Making Styles

One of the first things I remember from my management class was a graph that looked somewhat like this:

Management Styles

Of course it was fancier and what not, but that's the basic idea. If you are in a situation where there is a relatively small amount of time pressure, you can take a little while to make the decision and the structure for the decision making (the management) tends to be relatively democratic. If you are under a deadline and are doing something "serious" or "scary" then there isn't enough time to consider a very broad set of inputs and the decision tends to be more autocratic.

The lesson also discussed how you can flip the situation - or the perception of the situation - to use a different management style. So, if a person or an organization needs to be more autocratic to get an organization to move quickly or do something that isn't very popular then you can emphasize a relatively scary, serious, and time-sensitive item in the world which will give management more power and allow them to make decisions on their own. The employees will respond to this reasonably well for at least a little while because that's what employees do in times of crisis.

Use and Abuse of Crises - Both Invented and Real

So, if you can use an invented crisis to move people to action and make positive change happen then that's a pretty awesome thing. If you disagree with the course of action then you will tend to see this as an abuse of power. There are several examples from U.S.A. politics that show this method in use - whether for good or bad:

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