Category Archives: Cool

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Kristen Daukas compiled a list of Father’s Day gift ideas for this year – some of it on her own and some from recommendations she solicited from dads she knows, including yours truly. Here’s my favorites from her list:

Here’s one from my own experience. My better half got me the SkyRoll on Wheels for Father’s Day a couple of years ago and it has completely transformed my business travel life. Easily the best piece of luggage I’ve ever had.

wheels-home-page-product-view

The Incredible Turd Machine

As a man who’s spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with the ebb and flow of turds in my home I found this post by Bill Gates to be quite interesting:

I watched the piles of feces go up the conveyer belt and drop into a large bin. They made their way through the machine, getting boiled and treated. A few minutes later I took a long taste of the end result: a glass of delicious drinking water.

20 Tactics for Paying Better Attention

While this list of “20 Ways to Win the War Against Seeing” came out of a project a professor created for a class on product design, I think all of us could benefit from trying them. Here’s a sample:

Spot something new every day
Another student, Gaïa Orain, focused her solution on a two-block walk she made every day, and that had long since become so routine she could have sleep-strolled it. So she made a conscious effort to “see something new” every day — turning this routine walk into a kind of open-ended game.

Let a stranger lead you
Thinking about strangers reminds me of Vito Acconci’s well-known “Following Piece,” performed over a period of weeks in 1969: Daily, he would pick a random person, and follow her or him around New York. This would continue until his subject entered some space Acconci could not (a residence, for instance, or a car that promptly departs). In one case, this meant sitting through a movie when the person he was following went to the cinema. The exercise could last a few minutes, or hours, depending on what the stranger happened to do. I doubt Acconci would characterize his goals as having much to do with “paying attention,” per se, but borrowing his practice would be an adventure in seeing the new.

Misuse a Tech Tool
This has been another recurring theme. One student used a chat/dating app designed for gay men to (“obsessively”) monitor the number and locations of users within 400 feet. Another used the macro filter on her digital camera to study the textures of street objects on her walks to and from school. A third started using the compass on her iPhone to orient her gaze — wherever she walked, she’d take a look toward true north, and whatever happened to be there, “introducing a degree of randomness into what I saw.”

The Basic Report

Do you read The Week? It’s a great publication because it does something vitally important – it provides on overview of issues of the week and incorporates excerpts from news sources from around the world in the process.

Now some folks in San Francisco have created The Basic Report, which is kind of like The Week, but appears to go a step further by taking the events and explaining how you can best use this info in a cocktail party setting. November, 2014 is Vol 1, Issue 1 and it looks like a great start. Here’s to hoping they stick around.