Archive for the ‘Insights’ Category

Hand sanitizers at gas stations

Posted in Insightson Oct 11, 2011

I find it curios and odd to find hand sanitizer dispensers at gas stations.  The dispensers give you a little squirt of some alcohol-based gell, which does a pretty good job at killing germs that are on your hand.  If you are worried about picking up germs from touching the gas pump, then these dispensers will calm your worries.

I suspect that most people who pump gas at a gas station are worried about gas getting on their hands.  The thing is, gasoline isn’t going to give you a disease, and it isn’t filled full of germs.  In fact, gasoline is about as germ-free as the hand sanitizer.  If you get gas on your hands, what you really want is good old soap, which will break down the oils from the gasoline and remove it from your hands.

So while I appreciate the the sanitizer dispensers at gas stations, they really aren’t the most ideal for getting gas off your hands.

Quick home repair

Posted in Insightson Jul 25, 2011

There are few fixes costing only $15 and 15 minutes which make life a little bit more pleasant.  Replacing your toilet seat is one of those easy fixes.  All you need is a new toilet seat (Walmart has a few), and a couple of tools which might include a flat head screwdriver and a wrench.  Replacement is usually just unscrewing the old seat and screwing down the new seat.

Buying sunscreen

Posted in Insightson May 10, 2011

Summer is arriving and it is the time of year that many will buy sunscreen.  You may be tempted to buy the big bottle that will last years, but before you do, realize that sunscreens have a limited shelf life.  Oprah’s website recommends that you replace sunscreen every year.  At the very least, you should replace sunscreen after its expiration date.

If you are like me, you won’t end up using gallons of sunscreen every year, but want to have some on hand for the weekend adventures.  You may consider buying a travel size tube of sunscreen, which usually sells for about $1 for 1 ounce.  Buy a new tube every year and you are good to go.

In some cases, the travel size may be cheaper per ounce than larger tubes.  For example, I was at Walmart last night and saw a 1.5 ounce package of sunscreen selling for over $3 next to the rest of the sunscreens.  But when I went over to the travel section, I found a 1 ounce tube of the same brand for just $0.97.


Posted in Insightson Jan 12, 2011

There is a popular, yet incorrect, belief that setting a termostat to a higher temperature will cause the room to get warmer more quickly.  People who believe this will find that a 67 degree room temperature is too chilly and thus will crank the thermostat up to 80.  After an hour, the room is too warm so they crank the thermostat down to 60 degrees to get the room chilled off fast.

I suppose this belief is understandable.  If you are driving a car and press on the accelerator pedal harder, the car goes faster, so shouldn’t a home warm faster if the termostat is cranked?  No.

Most home heating systems are either on or off, meaning that they are warming the home, or they are not. A thermostat simply turns on the heater if the current temperature is less than the setting, and turns the heater off when the setting is reached.  But it will take the same amount of time to warm a room from 67 degrees to 70 degrees whether the termostat is set at 70 degrees or 80 degrees.

You will find that you will save the most on your heating bill if you only increase your thermostat by a degree or two at a time.  Never set your thermostat at a level higher than your desired target temperature.  It doesn’t warm your house any faster.

A couple of email reminders

Posted in Insightson May 5, 2010

Recently I saw an email which was sent out to an entire organization, but it was only meant for that organization’s leadership.  What is bad, is that it contained some sensitive information which could embarrass some people.   These mistakes can be hard to avoid, but it reminds me of three practices which should always be followed when writing emails.

1. Always use a meaningful subject.  The incorrectly-addressed email had a subject of only “Hi.”  It should have had a more appropriate title like, “Leadership Meeting Notes from April 20.”  A meaningful subject helps the reader understand how urgently they should read the email.

2. Always address your audience at the beginning of the email. If you begin your email with, “Hi everyone…” as this email did, then everyone will think that the email is written to them.  If you instead begin your email with, “Hey leadership committee…” then people know if they should be reading the email or not.

3. Avoid emailing confidential information. Emails are too easily forwarded and archived.  Too many businesses and politicians have been burned by something that they emailed.  Once you send an email, you loose full control over who sees it.  It may be better to just say things in person.

Last September as the fall TV season was starting to roll, I made this prediction: Jay Leno’s new TV show wouldn’t be successful in a primetime slot.  My reasoning for my prediction is this, and I’m sticking to it:

In the Tonight Show time slot just after the late-night news, the competition is this: David Letterman (CBS) and Nightline (ABC).  All the shows at that hour are basically budget shows airing 5 nights a week.

Shifting to the primetime slot, 5 nights a week, just before the late-night news, and the competition is: CSI Miami, Castle,  The Good Wife, The Forgotten, CSI: NY, Ugly Betty, The Mentalist, Private Practice, NUMB3RS, and 20/20.

Basically, by airing Jay Leno 5 nights a week at primetime, NBC mistakenly thought that they could create a low budget show every day that could compete with higher budget shows which longer production cycles.

Tree Meeting

Tree Meeting

I’ve been in a lot of meetings that have failed. I’m not sure sure how to make meeting work, but I’m beginning to understand why they fail.

Forget the time cost of meetings. Take the number of people in your meeting and multiply by the time of the meeting. 12 people in a short 20 minute meeting costs the same as a half a day by one person. To make your meeting fail, never consider this calculation; always have the most people in the longest meeting possible.

Have meetings just because. Yesterday’s meeting failed, so there needs to be another meeting today. Have another meeting tomorrow to keep the trend going.  We all know that meetings are essential for work, so make sure you have as many as possible.

Communicate 1-0n-1 in large group meetings. If you have a lot of people to talk to, tracking them down and talking to them individually would make too much sense.  Instead, gather everyone you need into one large meeting.  During that meeting, go around the room and have a one-on-one discussion with each person.  Everyone else will surely be bored to death while they listen in on your discussion with someone else.

Darken the room so everyone can’t see you. You prepared two whole slides to use during your hour long presentation–you better turn off the lights for your whole 30-minute presentation so people can see your slides and not you.  You want to make sure you place undue importance on that slide containing inspirational quotes that probably could be skipped all together.  Making people squint to see you in the dark will help your meeting fail.  Lowering the lights will also have the added bonus of helping people feel sleepy during the meeting.

Avoid assignments. If you want your meetings to fail, about the last thing you want to do is to ask people to prepare for the meeting.  People should walk into a meeting with no idea of what it is about, and with no ideas, topics, or research to share.  Additionally, avoid making assignments during the meeting for work to be completed outside of the meeting.

Don’t read this book: Successful Meetings: How to Plan, Prepare, and Execute Top-Notch Business Meetings by Shri Henkel.  Of all the books I found at the library to improve meetings, this one was fairly short, straight forward, and easy to follow.  Anyone looking to have bad meetings should stay far away from this book.  It is available from or from the Square Galaxy Store.

(Image used under CC license from Flickr).