13
Jan 14

Let’s Ditch Our Offices For Good

Snip20140112_1

Last week, over the two days of commuting to-and-from my office and my house, I spent nine hours in my car.

This was mainly due to arctic conditions making their way south, putting most of the United States in a deep freeze, while everyone and their mother went to work on Wednesday to escape the kids who were enjoying the last day of an unprecedented 18-day holiday break.

But just because this confluence of events clogged the roads doesn’t mean I didn’t mind sitting in traffic, watching my speedometer rarely touch the 20 miles-per-hour mark.

The worst part of it, as I constantly adjusted my seat warmers so that my butt didn’t get too hot (humblebrag!), was knowing that I was missing out on nine hours of work that I could have been doing. Instead I spent nine hours thinking about how wasteful it is to drive into an office five days a week to work, when I can do everything I need to do with a working cell phone and a reliable wireless connection.

Other than getting some face time with the people I work with — and that is important — I am still having a hard time coming up with reasons why I need an office.

I mean, the commuting is literally killing us, so there’s that.

And horrible traffic increases my stress levels, which has also been known to kill people. So there’s that, too.

And the CO2 emissions from our vehicles are probably pushing us to the climate brink, so there is also that.

(Did I miss anything?)

We know some successful PR firms have already eliminated the office in favor of a remote workforce. No corporate office means they can look for talent anywhere around the globe, rather than being relegated to their region.  No corporate office means they’re not wasting money on rent, which means (I assume) they can put that money into better technology for their employees, or pay them more.

Win. Win.

The ability to work from home is one of life’s great pleasures. And the feeling I get when I can start work without having to fight through the traffic slog is one that I would like to bottle up and give to all of my friends whose careers are based on showing up and sitting at a desk. It’s bliss, really.

There is a time and a place for showing up to work every day so that you can interact with your fellow employees, but those days are becoming increasingly rare, thanks to advances in inter-office technology.

We can have those same interactions now without leaving our home office.

So why are we still driving into an office every day?

Picture courtesy of SLworking2 on Flickr.


07
Jan 14

2014 Comes In With a Whimper

2014

Happy New Year, everyone!

2014 is almost seven days old and I feel like I missed out on that window where all bloggers are required to write something deep and meaningful about the past year, and what the new year will bring.

You know, something powerful where they raise their fists in the air and declare 2014 the Year of Blogging Regularly! Or something.

As I sit here, I got nothing.

I mean, I’ve got some things. A new house. A longer commute. Kids who have selective hearing. (Must be hereditary.) A larger mortgage.

In other words, things nobody really wants to read about.

But as I write that sentence, I wonder. Does it matter if you want to read about it?

I know that a lot of blogs are written with a specific audience in mind, with the goal of drawing in as many readers as possible, with the ultimate goal being, well, I’m not sure what. We all know you can’t make any money blogging.

But I started this blog with the sole intention of having a place to put down my thoughts in a way that is (hopefully) entertaining. I don’t intend to stop in 2014.

However, I do intend to blog regularly, even if it’s just once a week.

When I write, I feel better about myself. And if I feel better about myself, everybody wins. (More exercise helps, too.)

There really are no negatives to putting more thoughts down. Heck, I don’t even need to hit the publish button. Typing can be therapeutic.

So I guess I’m here to say that if you didn’t come up with any resolutions in 2014, that’s okay.

There’s still time to come up with something.

And if you don’t want to, that’s okay, too.


09
Dec 13

Get Your Hands Off Of That Elf

elf

The first rule of Elf on the Shelf is that there is only one rule: Don’t touch the Elf on the Shelf.

According to lore, touching it will cause the magic to wear off and your Elf to never return to your house, much to your kids’ chagrin.

So, yeah, try telling that to your kids. This will just make them want to touch the Elf even more.

We already tried the no-touch approach with the Nativity scene. All that got us was a missing Wise Man, a Wise Man with no hands, and a lamb missing an ear.

Jesus. These kids.

After being told they couldn’t touch Ralph (our Elf) they just sit their on the couch, staring at that smirky Elf, just waiting for the opportunity to strike.

WE MUST TOUCH HIM.

It’s a proven fact that kids want to do whatever you tell them not to do, so perhaps we should have told them to touch him all they want?

Strike that. Probably not the best idea. I don’t ever want to have a discussion with my daughters where I tell them it’s okay to touch a boy.

Like, ever.

For now we’ll just threaten them with the thought of zero presents on Christmas morning, as if we would ever go through with it.

***

While I’m on the topic of the Elf on the f*cking Shelf, can we talk about some of the crazy ideas parents come up with for their Elf?

My wife saw something on Pinterest (of course) where an elf wrote “I Love You” in toothpaste on the bathroom sink. While a lot of you think that’s adorable, I can’t get over how messy it would be to clean up.

And an Elf doing snow angels in flour? No, thanks. I’m not that into this new tradition at our house. Have you ever gotten flour on your sleeve while baking? Brushing it off just pushes it further into the fabric. We’d have to run the Elf through three wash cycles, at least.

Listen: I’m all for anything that puts the fear of God in our children to behave. (“Oh, you want to body slam your sister? Ralph’s watching.”) But I’m not into something I have to spend thirty minutes setting up the night before. Putting Ralph head-first in a bag of mini chocolate chip cookies, like he got drunk on eggnog and passed out while chowing down on them, is about as far as I’m willing to go.

It’s our first year with an elf on our shelf. The kids are still thrilled every morning to find him in different positions. For now, that will due.

Just don’t lay a finger on him.


25
Nov 13

Living In An Always-On World Just Got Easier, Unfortunately

I had to use this image.

I had to use this image.

Striking a work-life balance in an always-on world is tough. (Some would say impossible.)

It’s even harder when you own two small people, but that’s for another post.

As a business traveler who travels in spurts, I can’t lie to you, dear reader, and say I don’t sort of enjoy the wireless-less time on an airplane after the cabin door is pressurized and before the plane reaches 10,000 feet.

Just me and my thoughts and the latest issue of Sky Magazine.

There is something comforting about that feeling of weightlessness while you watch the ground fall below as the plane ascends into the sky, your knuckles turning white as they grip the armrest as tightly as humanly possible.

On top of that, you have a legitimate excuse for not being plugged in during takeoff in that, you might be arrested if you try to use your iPhone to connect to wireless to answer an important email while the plane ascends.

But that twenty minute respite from technology will soon be a thing of the past. Southwest Airlines announced last week that they will become the first airline to offer gate-to-gate WiFi, making it the first U.S. airline to provide such an option.

Other airlines, like Virgin Airlines, also have relaxed their in-flight electronics policy.

Um, hooray?

I don’t want this to come across as anti-technology, because I love technology. (I still have a hard time believing the iPad is a thing.) But we are all plugged in so much, that it’s a bit disconcerting to me that this lessening of restrictions will allow us not to have more time to be plugged in, but rather, a longer uninterrupted stretch.

Eventually, we’re just going to stop unplugging. That’s where this is going.

Perhaps that is what guys like Ray Kurzweil are talking about when they predict the singularity is near.

We will still inhabit our carbon-based life forms, but we will be so engrossed in technology that it will be hard to decipher where one ends and the other begins.


19
Nov 13

BatKid Proves We Can Use Social Media for Good

No, not that BatKid.

No, not that BatKid.

“Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.”

The quote above, taken from the movie The Dark Knight, kept going round and around in my head last Friday as I watched the beautiful story of the BatKid unfold from San Francisco, live on every single one of my social networks. Except I thought Batman said he was the hero that Gotham did not deserve.

That would make much more sense.

I have not been shy on the pages of this blog about sharing my dislike for how we use social media.

We tend to get so worked up about amplifying the negative, that it just becomes the norm. It seems we exist on our social networks just to accentuate how poorly everyone else uses it (or how much better we are at it.)

And while it is (and always will be) fun to ridicule a hated financial institution for being so out of touch with reality, we can do better than that.

So, thank God for the BatKid.

For one afternoon, my Twitter feed was full of people broadcasting the positive; sharing a story that highlighted how humans can be good toward each other.

It was like stepping into The Twilight Zone.

Did we truly feel touched by the outpouring of love by the Make-A-Wish Foundation? Or did we share the story because everybody else was, and we didn’t want to feel left out?

In my heart, I want to believe it was the former.

A few months ago, around the time Breaking Bad was coming to an end — NO SPOILERS PLEASE — I made an off-hand comment to my Twitter friend, Ker Kilbourne, that it was the next show on my to-watch list.

Later that day, I had a direct message from Ker explaining that she owned the first four seasons on Blu-Ray and she would mail them to my house, if I wanted to borrow them.

Um, hell yes.

A person who I had never met in real life was offering to send me her discs in the mail, just so that my wife and I could experience the joy that so many other people had experienced.

(I tried explaining to my parents how I came to be in possession of the first four seasons, but they couldn’t get past this Twitter thing.)

Maybe in the back of her mind she was worried she would never see the discs again. (Ker – If you’re reading this, I swear we’re just really slow at watching them. Kids, amirite?)

Or, maybe, just maybe, she’s a good person.

Maybe most of us are good people, but the ease in which we can broadcast our thoughts to millions just turns us into mindless status-sharing cyborgs.

Our networks are only as good as the people in them.

Surround yourself with the people who do good. You’ll feel better about yourself.