asparagus carrot stirfry

I stir-fried some carrot and asparagus today and it turned out to be a pretty good combination. Put some peanut oil in pan and set on medium high until hot. Put a few cloves of crushed garlic in the pan along with some green onion. Let it sizzle in the pan on very low heat while you chop asparagus. Chop the tough parts into thin strips and leave the tops. When the carrots are coated in oil and wilted, dump the asparagus in. Put in some salt and a dash of chardonney and chicken broth. Keep stir frying. Turn the heat back to medium high. Cook until done.

Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely

My friend recommended Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions to me and it turned out to be an absolutely great read.  The basic premise of this book is that people do not act rationally and certainly not as the rational agents that one assumes in classical economics.  Instead, we act in ways that would be considered “irrational” but are often quite consistent (hence the title). 

Mr. Ariely is a professor in Behavioral Economics in MIT so his case studies are tested through experiments conducted on various college campuses.   For example, one of his case studies examined the appeal of “FREE!”.  In the experiment, they put up a concession stand selling chocolates – Hershey’s Kisses at 1¢ and Lindt Truffles at 15¢ a piece (you could only buy one).  73% chose the Truffle over the Hershey’s Kiss, even when they raised the prices a penny.  They then took the prices and dropped them a penny.  With the Hershey’s Kiss as “FREE!”, only 31% of the folks chose the Truffle. According to rational economics, this total reversal in behavior makes no rational sense (the price difference between Kiss and Truffle remained the same), and yet it does make “common sense”. 

The book is filled with other such studies of “common sense” behavior tested empirically through different experiments.  He closes each chapter with takeaway concepts which could be applicable in more substantial situations (i.e. if you want people to get preventative health care, it would be much more effective to make it FREE! instead of “really cheap”).

Well written and very readable, it is well worth picking up — not necessarily a classic tome that I must have on my bookshelf (I got my copy at the library) but is definitely worth the time to pick up and read.

Meatball Sunday by Seth Godin

So I’ve been in the middle of reading a wide variety of books and Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae slips into the business/marketing area of the reading spectrum.  Its a good read, easily taken in chunks, not surprising since he is a blogger.  Actually, when I think about it I could easily imagine that most of his chunks are reformulated blog posts, but they hang together so nicely that it is not noticeable.

The basic premise of his book is that the new way of marketing demands a new way of doing business.  According to Godin, the old way of doing things is to mass produce a bunch of stuff and then interrupting people (like TV ads) to get them to want it.  While that has worked fabulously in the past, he contends that there are too many ways to get people interrupted and they are shutting off the interruptions that happen to them.  Thus there a new type of marketing (direct communication with consumers, long tail, google, web2.0) has arrived and you can’t just apply the new marketing to the old business model and expect it to work. As per his title, you can’t just put flashy sundae toppings (cream, sprinkles, cherry) on the classic old meatball and expect anything good to come out of it.  The web is not just a more efficient way of doing things, but a paradigm shift way of doing business with consequences that reach past the IT department.
However, as an architecture person, I’m not sure how new marketing works with my industry, even after reading the book.  Part of the confusion is that Godin basic dichotomy is the mass versus the individual.  If so, the architecture and design is already a very personal profession (especially at the small firms that I have worked at).  Maybe he’s saying the paradigm shift is tilting the world towards my direction.  If so, the lesson may well be that architects should get off of this mass production/prefab myth that they have been chasing for this past century.
Even so, I guess the book presents a mindset that may be useful in jumpstarting how one should view the role of computers in design, using them as more than just hyper efficient drafting mechanisms.  Or it might be a bunch of new-speak that isn’t really work practicing.  I’m just not sure — but I do think it is a good read, even though it is less entertaining than his other book Small is the New Big (which actually is a collection of blog posts).

Hmm twiddling around due to election coverage.

Well, its been an interesting period since I got around to starting this website, (weddings, vacations hurricaines).  Like many of my other hobbies, I guess this will be going through some changes after an initial push.  At $40 its not a big investment so I’m not too concerned if it goes in wierd directions or just stalls out.

In any case, I’m still messing around with the tone and wasting too much of my time following election coverage as opposed to other more productive activities.   Its fun to watch and follow all the gulf of opinions and information that can bury you alive.  Not much else to say.