Friday, January 29, 2010

Solar Impulse

I was attending the DLD conference during the past few days, so C had to take the kids to school. I am back at my job now! I was telling the kids a bit about my favorite presentation during the conference, by Bertrand Piccard, founder of Solar Impulse. You can see it here: And learn more about Solar Impulse here Pretty inspiring stuff.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Monty Python in SF

It was only A & N in the car today as P spent the night throwing up :-(. Not having gotten much sleep myself I turned the radio on and found a talk show that was interviewing Terry Jones from Monty Python. Switched to music but A & N asked me to switch back, so we heard Terry for a while. The kids are huge Monty Python fans - they know the dialogues from the Search for the Holy Grail by heart. We had a good laugh hearing his stories & his fabulous British accent & humor. Turns out he is in SF for a special Monty Python festival that starts in the Castro tonight. Did you know that while Search for the Holy Grail is their most famous movie in the US, in the UK Life of Brian is much more famous? I didn't...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


This morning we spoke about the earthquake in Haiti. We've been to the Dominican Republic so I think the boys can at least relate to where Haiti is located. I mentioned that disasters such as this one can help us keep things in perspective. How can we be too upset about the typical things that go wrong with our daily lives when we think about the poor people of Haiti? We need to remember how fortunate we are! And we need to help. Their school is very international and very socially responsible, so I am sure they are already working on something...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ultimatums, blackmail & negotiations

I was telling the kids about the book Ultimatum that I am reading. They wanted to know what the word meant. When I explained it N asked whether that wasn't the same as blackmail. I explained the difference... We then got into a conversation about negotiations and the importance of not negotiating with yourself. If you are negotiating and the other side doesn't respond, do not improve your offer. Wait for the other side to respond with something. Otherwise, you are negotiating against yourself...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Business Plans

I told the kids that this afternoon I am going to Stanford to mentor a team in an entrepreneurship class. They wanted to know what kind of help I gave them. I explained that they had to write a business plan and that I helped them make sure it covered all the key aspects it had to. Also, I give the students feedback on the actual content of the plan... The kids were quite interested. N said that if he had to write a business plan it would be for a touch computer, "like an iphone, but a computer", A said he would do a game development company.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Butterfly Effects

I read a story this morning about the secondary benefits of exercise. Nothing too surprising, but I guess not entirely obvious either: less colds, less diabetes, less cancer... I told the kids about this and about second & third degree consequences. How most systems are very complex and unpredictable. We had a laugh imagining how a butterfly could create a tsunami (blow air that moves a small leave, that moves a bigger leave, that changes the flight pattern of a small bird...).

I gave them the scenario of the forest with sheep and wolves that lived in harmony until hunters killed all the wolves. Asked them what would happen and they immediately guessed "ecological disaster... the sheep starve". Gave them a few more examples: raise the minimum wage (had to explain what "minimum wage" was). A correctly guessed some employees might get laid off. I added that some businesses might shut down altogether...

How did we get from the health benefits of exercise to unemployment??? Oh, well...

Monday, January 4, 2010

What you do vs. Whom you do it with

I asked the kids what they thought was most important about a job. N quickly suggested having fund and making friends. I mentioned the stereotyped description that Americans decide WHAT do do, then find people to do it with, while Europeans decide WHOM to work with, then look for what to do with them. The boys thought the "American" approach was better. They said one could make new friends at work and continue to have fun with existing friends outside of work. I mentioned that while that was indeed ideal, time constraints sometimes mean one mostly spent time with those at work. I also mentioned how important it was to pay attention to whom one worked with. I mentioned that one criteria that I used before deciding whether I want to work with someone is whether I would like to have that person over for dinner at my place.