Category Archives: learning

Day 191-194: MLwC and still partying like it’s 1959!

As Saturday was “Take a Conservative Friend to Lunch” day (not really, I just made that up), my partner and I took my friend Tom B. to lunch. First off, we love Tom.  He’s a good guy, and mostly we should just talk about movies and music, and mostly we do.  But not Saturday. Talk turned to the usual list of Talk Radio Hit Parade “issues” –Immigration, Global Climate Change Fraud, Taxes, and unexpectedly…Wildlife.

This last was too much for me. Tom was going on about how wrong it is that if he’s hiking in a National Park, he’s not allowed to carry a gun to protect himself in case he’s charged by a bear. I’m not aware of that law, but I like it.

Tom feels that humans should be able to carry guns in the wild in order to “even the playing field” with ferocious beasts. That was hilarious to me, and I thought, “Oh yeah, there’s that whole weird twist on the ‘dominion’ thing again.” I suggested that once upon a time, people didn’t go into the wilderness unless 1) They knew what they were doing and 2) They understood the risk. But now, you have so many people out there at any given time it’s almost not like hiking anymore.  And worse, people are building their 5,000 square foot houses in the middle of the wilderness and being outraged when a cougar attacks one of them when out jogging. This is not a ferocious beast, this is a response to lack of territory and resources.

We’re still living like it’s 1959

Here’s the deal: we are still living like it’s 1959 and there are only 3 billion people on the planet. 37 years later, world pop is well on its way to 7 billion. We are the only species on the planet that has the wildly extravagant idea that we can populate endlessly, use all resources available, without systemic change. How does this relate to Tom’s desire to go wherever he wants without incursion from wildlife (or any other natural barrier)?

We seem to think that the entire planetary system is without the very reactive wiring we take for granted in ourselves: loss of territory and defensive strategies, fear for resources and reactive measures, protection of offspring and dwellings. Just about every creature on this planet shows evidence of that behavior–from vegetation and invasive plants, to cougars and loss of territory/food resources, to humans and fear of invasion by all kinds of forces. We’re just organisms responding to stimuli. I know, I know, a lot of people are truly offended by that and I can understand the offense. I just find, for myself, that I am much more able to live in harmony with other creatures and systems when I remember I am just an organism like them…except with a whole arsenal of tools to make sure I win any argument we might have.

All creatures on this planet respond to threat and loss of “freedom” pretty much the same we do.

Anyway, back to Tom B. I may be deluding myself, but I do think he sort of understood that we have gone way too far in expecting the animal kingdom to be fine with inexperienced hikers and joggers just willy-nilly crashing into their environments. They react as they are wired to react. We’re the ones that are jimmying the game, we’re the ones that expect the laws of nature to change.

One last thing on this rant: I’m not really out to change Tom, just to make sure some little bit of the other side is represented in the conversation. I don’t want to change anyone–I just want more information to be included in the conversation. I want us to wake up our brains with just a little more new information.

Oh and, yeah, I do wish we’d realize it’s not 1959 anymore and we are close to 7 Billion People on this planet and things really, really do change in big ways with that kind of impact.

Daily Stats (Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: 0
Bus: 0
(been sick with a summer cold and ain’t doin much of anythin’ these days)

Day 168-171: MLwC and that memory thing

Here’s the scene: we’re biking our way to the West Seattle Farmer’s Market, it’s a beautiful morning and I’m thinking about peaches and Santa Rosa plums–the kind I grew up with but you can hardly find anymore but for a few weeks in August.

paniers for more info see

And then it hits me: I forgot to put the paniers on my bike and have almost no space to carry things home. We’re almost to the market and it’s too late to turn back. My partner remembered hers so we just keep going…but it will impact what we can schlepp home.

Another scene: I’m in a hurry, have a long to-do list but need to grab something to eat before heading out for my next appointment. I take a half a bagel from the freezer, slap a slice of cheese on it and toss it in the toaster oven. I race off to get my stuff ready to go and come back, anxious to get the bagel and split. But noooooo–the toaster is not plugged in, because we’re trying hard to remember to unplug unused electrical items, so the bagel is still frozen.

I am reminded at times like this of the great selling advantage of Easy. With a car, you barely have to think–just hop in and step on it, and anything you buy you can throw in the back seat and go. Leaving things plugged in, in all the homes across the globe, accounts for an enormous waste of electricity, but on the little-ol-me scale, it’s simply a whole lot easier.

Easy is just…well, easier than remembering stuff. Remembering to plug the toaster in, remembering to put the paniers on your bike, remembering to bring your canvas bag to the store, remembering to re-use your plastic bags…on and on.

But, it’s all just habit. It really is a habit to head out in your car with little more thought than getting up in the morning–you’re just used to it. If plugging in the toaster oven were perceived as a normal part of using a toaster oven, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. It’s all habitual. So, we’ll stay the course (thousand points of light ;-)), and try to change the way we think about our appliances, our trips to the store, and stuff.

Santa rosa plums from

By the way, the Santa Rosas were in (Thanks, Tiny’s!) and my summer is now complete. The peaches from Rama Farm are as heavenly as ever–and at least as expensive. But the harvest is coming in and now’s the time to visit your local Farmer’s market, if you don’t already.

Daily Stats (Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun)
Car: 20 miles (2 people, 4 tasks)
Bike: approx 16 miles
Ped: 9 miles
Bus: 0

Day 92 & 93: MLWC plus Command-and-Control Knowledge

Alright, it’s about time “My Life w Car” got its own acronym, doncha think? So, here we go: MLWC. For a while, I’ll link back to day 90 for an explanation of the project and then, once it’s so common place that I hear it on the nightly news, I’ll stop linking 😉

Command and Control Knowledge “Management.”
I consult on operational issues relating to the customer and the front-line worker—that vital connection between the company and the public. Of late, that connection has shown some wear and tear. Its been commoditized as companies try to manage costs—and when they try to manage costs, they head for the frontline first. They buy software, dream of robotic systems, outsource their service—not because it’s better but because they hope it will make the problem of the frontline-to-customer relationship go away.

Knowledge Management, in all its many forms, is a command-and-control oasis. With very few exceptions (and those exceptions are basically Web 2.0 leaders), companies desperately hang onto the notion that they should, and can, control the information that flows from the agent to the customer. This subverts the agent’s role into that of a robot and so far in all my agent observations, I’ve yet to meet a robot.

Internet-based knowledge sharing—wikis, blogs, online collaboration tools—is both revolutionary and elegant. It engages people at an intuitive level and collects tacit knowledge in natural, accessible ways. Legal will hate it, IT will distrust it, Management will eschew it because they don’t understand it. The New Knowledge Sharing–how many more Knowledge acronyms can we bear??–which will take place online is the one innovation that will engage the front-line, enable JIT knowledge transfer, help the customer, and give command-and-control management style a run for its money. I know where I’m placing my bets.

A couple of articles to consider about this issue:

    A local fave rave consulting group, Ramp Group, has some interesting thoughts about knowledge and content sharing on their blog.

    Here’s a great rundown of articles tackling the problem of knowledge sharing across global groups and in enterprises–note the dates of the articles, the more recent ones are coming to the same conclusions as above.

Daily Stats:
Car: 13 miles (1 person/3 tasks)
Bike: 0
Bus: 0

Note: Jorge Gajardos Rojas from Chile wrote yesterday to ask why I don’t just walk? He lives close to work and ammenities and walks daily. Such a great question–most Americans don’t walk unless it’s for leisure. We don’t walk to the grocery store, for sure. We couldn’t carry back the massive amount of stuff we buy. But elsewhere in the world people walk everywhere, daily. I’ve walked to the grocery store a few times in this project but haven’t kept track of it; I imagine if I walked to the store daily, I wouldn’t have to pay for a gym membership. Thanks Jorge!

Day 65 & 66: My life w car

Yesterday, all across the country, there were peaceful demonstrations about global climate change. The purpose was to raise awarenes and consciousness. From awareness and consciousness, one hopes, comes change.

Yesterday in my home town paper, there were dozens of articles about global climate change, how we as first worlders impact it, and what we can do. Everything from incandescent lightbulbs (How many governers does it take to change a lightbulb?) to transportation (Seattle’s master bike use plan) a million small changes that add up to big cultural change at the family home level.

Exciting times. I was talking with some friends about all the stuff happening, and explained my blog–my personal transportation game–where I’m trying to become conscious of car usage, see if there’s a reasonable, workable way to ditch my car at some point in the future, and what I’m learning in the process. It seemed a good time to review some of these ideas here and also some of the conversation that ensued yesterday.

I started the “My life w car” series as a year-long plan to be conscious of transportation habits, dependencies, etc. The hope was that some day we could become a one-car family with lots tasks and travel delegated to bike, bus or flexcar. My secret hope was that it would all happen quickly and easily. Wrong.

Some of my rules around this transportation game: no single use trips (unless it really really can’t be avoided); multi-passenger use whenever possible (task combos); at least two days of non-carbon based transportation per week; improve bike mileage by 10 miles minimum per month. Obviously, the rules won’t work sometimes–last week was sort of a bust. But they work more often than not, for sure.

After 65 days, what I’ve learned: I’m not a big car person, I don’t really drive a ton or put a lot of focus on my car and I really don’t have an attachment to it. But even with my limited dependence on a car, I have found, after 65 days, that limiting one’s use of a car is dang difficult. Our entire culture is built around cars, about zipping here and there, about the luxury of simply not having to plan, think, or consider one’s dependence on cars at all.

Now, if we are really expecting people to reduce their automobile usage, combine trips, use mass transit, or bikes, there’s going to have to be some serious-ass change in our culture. A willingness to revise time and access across a lot of channels to make this work. Mass transit has got to be better than it is, biking has to be safer, and jamming schedules with non-stop action and to-do lists will have to lighten up. I’ve done it, to a degree, and while it’s been hard, I have to say: I’m happier for it. But the point is, this is a massive change on a massive scale…but it will all start at home, in your own backyard.


Upshot: after talking about these learnings with my friends, and coming to the conclusion that it would be very difficult to jettison one’s car in the near term, we turned our attention, each of us, to how we could reduce our daily car use by one or two days a week. Carpooling, bus, combining trips to reduce trips, planning ahead…all the things I’ve started to incorporate into my thinking on a regular basis.

We are learning creatures (nice article here): it’s what we do best, and on a continual basis. Not saying we learn good things, just saying we are constantly in “adapt” mode, which means learning. This key feature may be what saves is in the end.

(One among us who is clearly lagging behind on the learning curve, however, is discussed here. Oh, Dear Leader! Once he’s outta the way, though, maybe we can actually begin to build a future instead of destroying it)

Daily Stats:
days without carbon trans: 0
car: 18 miles (multiple tasks, two riders)
bike: 0
bus/flexcar: 0

Day 59 & 60: My life w car…and a note about elearning

Is elearning effective? I’ve wondered that for a long time…personally sometimes it works, like for short topics with clearly identified skill goals, and sometimes it doesn’t work, especially for conceptual learning. IMHO, It’ll never work for teaching customer service handling skills, for example–that’s a practice and mentoring issue.


But I was reading Design for Living this morning and was captured by her idea of rolling several other layers into traditional elearning–blogging on the subject matter, for example, being able to share one’s experience or understanding of the subject matter, adding to it, filling it out, making it more vital to the individual or community–and that made a lot of sense to me.

The biggest problem for me with elearning is how “flat” it feels–it forces me into such a passive role and I get antsy in about now time at all. Anyway, this idea of adding several community creating layers to elearning is just great–and the elearning company could potentially use the information to vastly improve their content on an ongoing basis. win/win.

On the car front: after tax time, I’ve pretty much realized that I can actually call my car a 100% business related expense since anymore I’m doing all my tasks, errands, etc on my bike. This helps me see my car in a more limited way–and I really like that.

Daily stats:
Days without carbon based transportation: 2
Car miles: 0
Bike: 6.5
flexcar/bus: 0