On the road again…greetings from Tarrytown!

I type this from the Westchester Marriott, one of my favorite hotels in Westchester County (the other two I like here are the Rye Town Hilton and the Westchester Renaissance). They took good care of me (and their other guests) during the Big Blackout last August, providing free food (though they did manage to get a battery-powered cash register in the bar) and lightsticks.

I’m hoping not to repeat that experience, of course, but I was pleased when I arrived today to be treated to access to the concierge lounge. I’ll be even more pleased tomorrow at breakfast time, but it was nice tonight, since I made away with a bottle of water to sustain me in the workout room.

I decided to travel light this time, so I am XM-less. With Bootcamp over, I don’t feel that I’ll fall behind if I can’t listen, but it would be nice to have some nice music right about now.

I’m also camera-less, unlike my trip to Japan — but I’ve finally gotten around to replacing my old digital camera (a Kodak DC280, which gave good service until the LCD started to go). We visited Fry’s yesterday and picked up a Casio P-600, which is much smaller than my old camera, offers a better zoom, should work better in low light, and, in general, should remove any excuses I have for not taking good pictures. Well, most excuses — the camera doesn’t have an image stabilizer, so long exposures will still be a problem if I can’t find a place to put the camera instead of holding it. I was tempted to bring it with me on this trip, but I didn’t think the hassle of getting a camera pass for IBM would be worth it for the very few possible picture opportunities which might come up.

I didn’t even bring a GPS, so I can’t geocache, either. I guess I’ll have to work.

Tomorrow, I’m supposed to give a colleague from Israel a lift to the meeting we’re both here to attend; her plane is due at JFK at 5:30am, so I hope she makes it through Customs and traffic in fairly quick time. I’ve never cleared US Customs at JFK (I’ve left the country from JFK a number of times, though), so I don’t know how plausible it will be for us to make it to the meeting on time.

But for now, I think it’s time to call it a night.

There goes another week!

I thought I’d have a lot to write about this week, but I don’t — I’ve been too busy at work to do anything fun or noteworthy!

But despite the best efforts of the stockholders of IBM to keep me busy, I did manage to find a few things to talk about.

The most interesting, at least at this writing, is the Hebrew Beginner’s Course at Milingua. Diane actually discovered this one, not me, but when she sent Jeff and me a note when their word of the day was “Kehillah” (which is the name of the high school he will be attending in the fall (yikes!)), I took a look at the site and decided to give it a try. I’d gone to Hebrew School when I was a kid, and I can sound out the words in the prayerbook, but I can’t understand Hebrew, nor can I read it for meaning (barring the words I recognize from prayers). I just finished lesson two, the alphabet — so far, so good. Of course, I haven’t gotten into anything new yet, either!

I’m still pleased with XM Radio. I had to have it on in my office today to mask conversations in nearby offices — but I left it on long after the conversations ended. I really enjoyed calling Earle Bailey at Deep Tracks and asking him to play some Seatrain, and having him play it five minutes later. I wish I’d thought to ask for their version of “Flute Thing”, though.

Next week, I’m off to the wilds of Westchester County for the kickoff meeting on an IBM Academy study on Wikis and Weblogs; it should be interesting. I hope so, anyway!

Shabbat Shalom!

Recent Reading

I read two very interesting books this week:

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell, and Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.

I’d had Tuesdays with Morrie sitting on my bookshelf for quite a while (we bought it at Costco, so that must have been at its peak of popularity), but hadn’t ever gotten around to opening it. But one of the people at the Shir Hadash Book Group was very vocal about recommending Albom’s next book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, so I decided to read the one I had in hand.

And it was very definitely worth reading, especially as I’m trying to figure out what I should be doing at work to have a more significant impact, and as I’m trying to build a proposal to look at work practices and productivity. Sometimes, when looking at the way people work, it’s possible to forget that they are, first and foremost, people — not Human Resources or headcount; Tuesdays with Morrie is a good way to remember.

Unlike Tuesdays with Morrie, I had had no plans to read The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership; in fact, I’d never even heard of it or its author. But I had a request in to the Almaden Library for Rudy Giuliani’s Leadership, and when I asked the librarian about the status, she mentioned that she had Maxwell’s book in hand if I was interested in the meantime. So I borrowed it, and read it in one sitting.

There’s nothing profound in this book — in fact, all of the 21 Laws are obvious. Once you think of them, anyway. But seeing them in one place was good as a starting place for some thinking.

So that’s been my reading for the week — much more inspirational than anything in the papers lately, too.

Shabbat Shalom!

XM Bootcamp II in Retrospect

I’ve been enjoying my first day of post-Bootcamp XM listening (well, as much as I can enjoy listening while really working), and I have to say that Bootcamp worked — about half of my listening time today was spent on channels I “discovered” during Bootcamp (namely XM Live, Real Jazz, World Zone, and XM Music Lab).

What did I discover at Bootcamp?

I like more kinds of music than I thought I did

The channels which I liked more than I expected came primarily from the “Country,” “Urban,” and “Dance” categories. Before Bootcamp, I claimed I didn’t like country music at all, I expected “Urban” music to be synonymous with Rap, and hadn’t listened to “Dance” at all.

Good music didn’t stop when I left college

The 80’s was one of my favorite channels, earning a B+. And several of the channels which got a B or B- play music from the 90s and today.

Good music didn’t start when I entered high school

I liked the 40’s, too. And I liked many of the classical and jazz channels, of course.

Some channels are ok in small doses, but a few minutes at a time is plenty

The dance channels fit this description really well; so does Ngoma, Fungus, and Boneyard

I like music better than talk

The only “Talk and Variety” channel I gave a favorable rating to was Discovery Radio, and that was partially out of guilt and partially because it was early in Bootcamp. True “talk radio” channels interested me even less than variety and comedy channels did. If I participate in another Bootcamp, I won’t even bother with any non-music channels.

My Bootcamp Awards

Most Pleasant Surprise: A three-way tie, between Luna, Bluegrass Junction, and World Zone. Honorable mentions go to The System and On The Rocks.

Biggest Disappointment: This one clearly goes to The 70’s, for playing music I’d spent decades trying to forget I’d ever heard.

Best Music to Work By: Another tie, between Luna, Real Jazz, and XM Pops. Honorable mentions go to XM Classics and Watercolors.

Worst Music to Work By: There’s no question here; it’s Suite 62, because my thoughts when listening there are definitely not work-related.

Most Predictable: XM Live — Red publishes the schedule well in advance, and it’s a good bet that if I like the artist, I’ll like the hour, and vice versa.

Most Boring: This is a two-way tie between Radio Disney for their all-Hilary Duff format and Sunny for their devotion to elevator music.

Most Fun: On The Rocks is the clear winner here among the channels; Phlash Phelps and Heidi Selexa being the winners among the personalities. XM Kids has its moments, too.

Least Fun