Spinny’s Craziest Golfball Lie of 2014

As the 2014 golfing season winds to a close, it’s time to fondly remember some of the more fun (and/or crazy) times on the course this year. Here’s one: the craziest place a golf ball I hit ended up in 2014. The course was Crestwood Golf Club, my home course. I’m on the 18th hole, a par 5 dogleg right. My tee shot was unremarkable, which for me is good because that means I kept it in play. For my second shot I took out my #5 hybrid, aiming to send it as close to the angle of the dogleg as I could manage. Instead, I shanked it to the right in a low and fast arc. Whack! It hit the trunk of a partially-rotted tree and to my surprise and wonder stuck fast there. Yikes! On the plus side it gave us all a good laugh.

Here’s the lie, and me holding the club I used to do the damage:

Golf ball stuck in tree trunk

Play it as it lies!

It should come as no surprise I took an unplayable. Argh!

How about you? What’s the craziest place one of your golf shots has ended up?


Spinny Goes to the 2014 Honk! Festival

Every year about this time (for the past decade or so) the Somerville district of Boston plays host to the Honk! Festival. Billed as an extravaganza of “activist” street bands, it’s an excuse to get out and shake your booty to the high energy music. Yeah, some of the bands feature folks waving signs and no, I didn’t agree with all of them. It didn’t matter, I was there for the music! My brother-in-law lives very close to Davis Square, so my wife and I journeyed to Somerville to enjoy his hospitality—and the festival—for the long weekend.

The schedule for this fest is fairly simple: on Friday night the bands trickle in and you can catch impromptu performances around Davis Square. On Saturday the festival kicks off in full gear, and the bands take turns strutting their stuff at various venues around the Davis Square area. There’s a sort of schedule so you can plan to catch your favorites, or you can just wander the Square and take it all in. Brass and drums tend to predominate, as befitting the “street band” format where you’re mainly unplugged. Some of the bands feature dancers, including some on stilts who were just amazing to see.

We had a particular band we wanted to see, called The Party Band. They’re bright, high energy, and they’re pretty tight for a street band. Here’s a short video I shot of one of their songs in the Saturday set.

As you can see, they really get the crowd worked up and involved!

On Sunday the day kicks off with a parade. The bands form up at Davis Square and then march down Massachusetts Avenue to Harvard Square, where they then spend the rest of the day performing in static venues pretty much as they did on Saturday. Harvard Square is packed with booths and spectators, as well as the musical acts, and the festival atmosphere is strong. We scored a viewing spot just in front of Diesel Cafe in Davis Square, just meters from where the parade began. Here are some shots I took of various participants.

Once the last group set off on the parade route we caught the subway to Harvard Square where we met the arrivals, mingled with the crowds, did some shopping and, of course, caught another The Party Band set before we called it a day.

We had a great time, and definitely plan to return next year!


Today’s Musing on the Meaning of Science

Sometimes I feel this bears repeating: “science” is more than just our body of knowledge; it’s also the methodology—the so-called scientific method—for adding to that body. No, we don’t know everything, we haven’t had time enough to discover it all—yet.

In the meantime, I contend there exists no other reliable method for doing that discovering; anything else falls under the heading of “making shit up.”

I would certainly be interested in hearing about other possible reliable methods for discovery—properly sourced, of course.


“Bendgate” Redux

Heh. Just like conspiracy nutters (you know the ones: 9/11, UFOs, the grassy knoll, chemtrails…) when you definitively refute their current talking point the “bendgate” screamers just move the goalposts. Now that Consumer Reports shows the iPhone 6 Plus is actually LESS bendy than some others, (like the HTC One M8, for example), and is sturdier than many, they’re all: “No! You have to bend it RIGHT HERE! *pointing dramatically to the Fabled Weak Spot of Antioch*

Um…have you looked at the test gear used? The force is applied centrally, and braced at the ends, and then spreads across the WHOLE DEVICE, increasing until bad things happen. If there were such a proverbial glass jaw it would have broken there, and earlier than actually found. Remember: Apple tested the dog poo out of these things, then allowed third parties into their labs to see for themselves, then the tests were independently verified. Consumer Reports has historically been no friend of Apple, and would not have hesitated to raise that as an issue if it existed. I’m still waiting for answer to the question: have any of these anecdotal bending reports ever been independently substantiated as to what actually happened?

Would you please put those goalposts back? Thinking people might need them.


So Much for “Bendgate”

Sometimes I feel the need to reiterate some simple truths. Anecdotes are not evidence. Hearsay is not evidence, even if put into writing. Empirical data, that can be verified and reproduced by others…that is evidence. It matters not how many billions of people have been fooled into believing your claim: if you cannot provide ample evidence to back it, it has no merit.

Believe it or not (see what I did there?), this morning I’m not even talking about religious claims; rather, the recent “bendgate” bandwagon by the bleating flock of Apple haters quick to rush to judgement based on a pitiful few photographs and unsubstantiated claims. Anecdotes.

Fact: it takes x amount of force directed at specified locations on an iPhone 6 Plus in order to bend it. This cannot be denied and the numbers are there for all to see and verify (and verified they have been). Claim: that amount of force can be applied through seemingly trivial actions such as sitting down with the phone in one’s pocket. That remains to be substantiated. Which pockets, how tight were the pants, how long and how often? Was the force actually applied as claimed? All of that (and more) must be tested and verified before such claims have any merit.

I see how numerous are the “sheeple” quick to jump to conclusions and it’s easier to understand how so many people can also believe so much other unsubstantiated crap.


Networking: The Morning After

So, a new day has dawned, and you’ve survived Yet Another Networking Experience. Your head might be spinning from all the new faces and names you encountered last night and, hopefully, you have a nice pile of business cards to fill the gap left by all the ones you handed out.

So, now what?

This, my friends, is where you practice the fine art of following up. As soon as your daily schedule permits, you need to sit down with that pile of new cards and go through them carefully. Refresh your memory of each and every person in the pile and do your best to recall what you talked about before, during, and after the exchange. Those details are about to become useful.

Now get your mind cleared, your fingers limbered up, and write a follow-up email to each and every person who gave you a card. Use a friendly and informative subject line, like “Great meeting you at the Chamber Business after Hours last night!” so they’ll know right away why they’re getting an email from someone out of the blue. Be cordial and even flattering, but don’t over-do it and sound plastic and fake. The email is more effective if you can include a brief comment or reference to something you shared while talking—this not only helps reinforce the encounter in their minds as well, it shows them you were paying attention and hence their time was valuable to you. Going back to my anecdote on my “working a room” post, I mentioned how I interested a couple of people in possibly animating their logo. In my follow-up email I mentioned that possibility again, as well as added a couple of thoughts I had on how I might approach it. If they were part of a small group, such as the two people with the logo, it’s fine to address them all with a single email.

That moment you had their attention last night was fleeting, even if you made a good impression. Now they have something tangible with your name on it, reminding them of that impression, and you’ve become a more permanent fixture in their mind. If you feel especially bold, take this opportunity to pitch something of what you do, or to suggest another meeting where you can have each other’s undivided attention. It can’t hurt!

Networking is, first and foremost, all about building professional relationships. You can’t build something like that from five minutes over a handshake and a beer. Such encounters are just planting a seed, one that needs to be nurtured and watered in order to do the proverbial sprouting thing.

Now go ye forth and reap!


Does Networking Make You Feel Sleazy?

I know that many people have hang-ups related to networking, including fear and self-consciousness. I’m not a huge fan of putting myself out there, either, given my normally-introverted state of mind. It’s taken me years to get to the point where I feel (mostly) comfortable walking up to total strangers, sticking out my hand, and striking up a conversation that’s supposed eventually to lead to what we both do for a living.

It wasn’t until I read an article in Inc. Magazine today that I realized some people’s unease might go even deeper. Here’s the link:

It’s Official: Networking Makes People Feel Sleazy

To quote part of the piece:

“Unlike personal networking in pursuit of emotional support or friendship, and unlike social ties that emerge sxpontaneously, instrumental networking in pursuit of professional goals can impinge on an individual’s moral purity–a psychological state that results from viewing the self as clean from a moral standpoint–and thus make an individual feel dirty.”

Wow, that’s some crazy stuff. I can’t say that I’ve felt this way—at least not consciously. Nervous, feeling unworthy, stuff like that, but not actually unclean. I know there are studies and then there are studies, but this one made me think.

How about you? Do you feel “dirty” when you’re pressing the flesh and promoting yourself?


More “Smart Watch” Blather

More smart watch musings because that topic is everywhere today and I’m interested in them: the deal clincher is going to be the stuff it does besides tell the time and date, obviously. I wear a $35 Timex that I’ve had so long it’s on its third band; Anne got it for me ages ago. Regular watch stuff I already got.

I’m not terribly hung up on looks, though I expect Apple’s designers agonized over their offering. Given the limited screen real estate I’m thinking Moto’s round face approach was a mistake: those corners are useful. I’m also not a big fan of the chain mail band look. Give me fabric or leather.

I can’t stress this enough: battery life. Rumor has it the Moto can’t even get through a regular workday without dying. The use case: you take it off the charger in the morning and put it on. You use it fairly regularly through the day. You don’t take it off again until it hits the charger when you get ready for bed. If it can’t survive that long then it’s really not very useful.


Spinny’s Thoughts on “Smart Watches”

Why does a “smart watch” even make sense? I’m not 100% sure myself, but I have some ideas. For an analogy: I have a “smart key” for my car. I never have to take it out of my pocket and yet I can lock/unlock the doors of my car as well as start the engine when it’s “on” me. The car even knows when I approach and turns on the interior lights to greet me.

I would look for a wearable gadget to do the same for my phone: reduce the times I need to take it out of my pocket by a large degree. Emails, text messages, calendar (and location-based) notifications…things like that. I might even like to see some navigation ability, but the screen size might make that impractical—in fact, reading an email (much less responding to it) might be difficult on such a screen. I’m curious to see what Apple actually delivers. Yes, I know the Moto just came out, but already it left me meh (and of course I don’t participate in the Android ecosystem so double meh). The “iWatch” (or whatever the hell they call it) won’t get a free pass from me, either. One possible Big Deal? The rumored wireless charging ability. Battery life on the Moto is already drawing howls from reviewers.

Again, we’ll see. I’ll be an interested watcher of the Apple keynote next Tuesday.


Spinny’s Networking Tips: Working a Room

I’m going to post a kind of series on this, starting today. No, I am not a “guru,” nor a “rockstar,” nor any of those silly over-used social media terms. I’m just a solopreneur making his way through the business jungle and sometimes I feel like I have a glimmer of an idea worth sharing.

So, you’re at your local Chamber of Commerce mixer, beer in hand, some hors d’oeuvres in your belly, and a room full of people surround you whom you know diddley about. Yikes. Rule one: they’re all here for the same reason you are, to network. Relax, they’re not going to recoil in horror when a stranger approaches them.

How do you worm your way in to a stranger’s notice without obnoxiously being “that guy?” It’s not really hard. Size up a smallish group that’s chatting, causally work your way into the circle. Nod and listen. C’mon: this isn’t rocket science. Odds are they’re making small talk, you can feel your way into how and when to toss in your two cents (I’m assuming here that you’re not pathologically terrified of small talk; if so, I can’t help you). At some point other people will drift in or out. I’m also assuming there are name tags involved: I’d be very surprised if not. The guy next to you is probably primed with his own elevator speech, so as things calm a little greet him by name and ask him about his business. Guess what? He’s probably in the same boat as you, and gravitated to a safe group. You’ve just handed him the keys to the kingdom! Score one for you.

Listen to him (okay, also her. I’m not going to get silly trying to stick with gender neutral pronouns. Deal), I mean, really pay attention. No matter how boring or mundane or unrelated to your interests his business might turn out to be, I guarantee you he has some “pain,” as in, things that could be better. As he talks, what are his pains, and can you do anything about them? Do you know anyone who might be able to? If not, the worst you’ve done is met someone you can add to your circle. If you hit pay dirt and there’s some pain you can help with, now you have a real in! Take it from there. If you didn’t score to that degree, odds are he’s going to ask you about your business. Now it’s your turn for the elevator pitch, show your demo if you have one, and so on. I say this without being facetious: be assured and interesting. Stammering and stuttering and acting terrified gets you nowhere. Keep reminding yourself: this guy is here because he WANTS to hear from people like you.

Here’s how the network works in the second degree (after you’ve moved on): yesterday someone approached me at a Chamber mixer out of the blue. She’d heard about me from someone she’d just talked to, with whom I’d talked earlier in the evening, and who remembered me and (correctly) realized she and I should talk. He fired her my way, and voila. Make sure you do that for others! Be a facilitator as much as a networker.

And lather, rinse, repeat. You can float from circle to circle for as long as the venue will put up with your event. Don’t be afraid to spend some time working older contacts you’ve already made, either: reinforcement is always a good thing. I’ve been at this for a couple of years now and at this point I try to divide my time equally between reinforcing old contacts and making new ones. This isn’t a science, it’s an art, and you should trust your gut.

I can’t stress this enough: these people WANT to meet you, that’s why they are there! Relax, relax, and relax some more. Have fun! Yesterday I spent a fair amount of time listening to some insurance sales reps talk about how they make cold calling fun. I laughed and laughed, and also got the business cards of every single one of them and have a couple of them potentially interested in how I can jazz up their logo with animation. No one is a waste of your time.

Next time I think I’ll talk about what you do The Morning After.