Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Verbal Pet Peeves II

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about those pesky, annoying things people say in everyday life and what I think of them. Well guess what? Those weren't the only ones.

Here are a few more that bug me and, I think, you should look out for - or if you use them, stop.

"It is what it is"
This one communicates that the person using it cannot describe something - a problem or challenge usually. People use this phrase when they basically surrender to a situation. "Can't do anything about this, it is what it is." The thing that bugs me on this one is not so much the saying, but HOW MUCH people say it. Put a few more seconds of thought into what the problem, challenge or topic is your communicating about and I'm pretty sure you'll be able to say something more profound and helpful than "it is what it is." Or, if you really are out of ideas or really don't think anything can be done...say that.

This is a real common one. People want to have a set of take-away information from a meeting, a conversations, a report or similar. They want something they can use or apply later or to inform their own decision making. And they certainly want to be able to tell their boss or their team that the were, essentially, paying attention in whatever gathering they were at by reporting out something tangible they learned.

So, people say stuff like, "The learnings from that customer meeting were...." or "What we need are solid set of learnings to help determine our next step."

But the use of the word "learning" is jarring and is not correct.

No people, in fact what you're looking for are not "learnings," but....wait for it..."lessons." What lessons can be learned from a meeting? What lessons can someone teach us?

"The ask"
In business, people and teams are always asking for things - more budget, to hire, to fire, to get or ditch responsibility for something and on and on. It's endless. I've noticed that when many people describe what they are asking for they literally use the word "ask" as a verb. People say stuff like, "The ask is for 20 percent more budget this year" or "Well, that's a pretty aggressive ask if you want to know my opinion on the matter." Really? That's they way you want to communicate? To represent yourself?

Just like "learnings," this is just incorrect English and sounds lame - especially when their such an easy word to use instead. That word is "request." That's right, you are requesting budget or the request seems too aggressive.

I remember hearing this one for the first time back in the mid-1990s when my boss was asking me if I could take on a certain element of work or not. She asked me if I had enough "bandwidth" to do it. I got what she meant - as anyone who uses technology at work does. She was using an analogy with how much data a network can handle (or not) based on its bandwidth.

I know that most people will understand what is being communicated with "bandwidth," but guess what? People aren't computers or networks or servers or modems or routers and should not be addressed as such. The amount of time I have or don't have to do my job is not analogous to technology. That and, well, comparing ones time to "bandwidth" just comes across as geeky. Better to use "capacity" or "time" or "resources" or "ability."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Seattle Photo Project

This past Monday I took the day off of work. Waking up and seeing how stunningly beautiful the day was going to be, I decided to use a bit of my free time to take some pictures of some iconic Seattle views.

This was a bit more than an impulse, however. Indeed, I've started a series of shots of Seattle - taking little outings when I can. So far, I've really only gone to the Pike Place Market, capitalized on a visit to the Columbia Tower Club and now the Seattle Center area. I also took some shots of the streets near my house in Ballard a few years ago.

Anyway, the idea is the hit the big spots around the city first, then work my way through a few key neighborhoods and add in some quirky stuff along the way. At some point, I'll have a nice set of Seattle pictures to treasure forever.

Below are a few shots I took Monday, but you can see more on my Flickr Photostream HERE.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April Fair

Today is the last day of April Fair 2013 in Seville, Spain.

Don't know what that is? More to learn HERE.

But, I can summarize that it's a big, city-wide celebration of Seville's history and culture, replete with festivities, dancing, music, food, bull fighting and a lot more.

Below are a few pictures I took when Diane and I visited April Fair back in 2004. You can see more shots from our trip in a set HERE.

Girls on the way to the fair

April Fair bullfight

Dancing at one of the April Fair parties

All pictures in this post taken by Marc Osborn and are not authorized for any use without prior written permission of Marc Osborn.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Thoughts on Boston Bombs

Like all Americans, I was horrified by the terrorist bomb blast that rocked the finish line at the Boston Marathon yesterday. For the victims, I...and I know all of you...offer heartfelt thoughts and sincere sympathy.

There will be many people far more informed than me who will deduce who did this, why and what can be done to make sure it does not happen again. There will be those who use this incident to try and make political points - twisting facts to fit their ideology, ignoring history to justify their beliefs and conveniently blaming someone or some group that they oppose.

But not me.

No, I have my thoughts on all that, but I will reserve judgement.

Rather, after sorrowful thoughts to those directly impacted I feel that this is just ONE MORE INCIDENT that life doles out that just reminds us that life is fragile, short and should not be taken for granted. You think you're going to run a marathon and have a great time, but a bomb goes off and kills you...or maims you.

A woman in the Seattle area drives to work one morning recently and is killed by a drunk driver who does a u-turn on the freeway and smashes into her.

Another drunk driver two weeks earlier takes out a number of pedestrians recently in the Seattle area.

My otherwise perfectly healthy aunt dies of brain cancer at a very young age.

Some people go for a hot air balloon ride in Luxor, Egypt and their balloon explodes killing them all.

A mentally ill person gets a hold of an arsenal of weapons and shoots children dead in an elementary school...or a movie theater in Denver...or at Virginia Tech...and on and on.

People...life. is. short. You think you're going to live to 90 and die peacefully in your sleep. You might. But you might not.

So, what are you to do with this knowledge? Live in fear? Tuck yourself away and live in fear? Limit your exposure?

I say no.

I say the opposite.

I say you need to live life the best you can. Do not live in fear. Do not live stupidly, but...do not live in fear. Experience the things you can and that you want to. You may have way less time on this Earth to do those things than you think.

Paint that picture. Write that short story. Ask that girl or boy on a date. Go on that trip to the place you've always wanted to go to. Take a class to learn something new. Love the person you are with as best you can. Rock out (or whatever you're into). Change your look up. Learn to play an instrument. Meet new friends. Join that sports league. RUN A MARATHON. Do not work on weekends.

All of these things and more add up to experiences and happiness...things that you cannot and should not take for granted. It could end today, or tomorrow...or in five years from now. Don't be irresponsible, but LIVE LIFE and take in what this world has to offer.

And guess what? If you are lucky and you do indeed live a long life...think how much more interesting that life will have been and the stories you can reflect on, share and pass on to your children, friends or loved ones.

People, the events of the Boston bombing are horrific. They are tragic. Those responsible need to be hunted down and brought to justice.

But, do not lose sight of the other lesson that this incident like oh so many teach us all too regularly - the spark of life can be over before you know it, so live life to the fullest while you can.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An Unexpected Kick Butt Gig In NYC - Volbeat

Volbeat Live in NYC (I took this shot)

This week I was in NYC for a couple days for work. Usually when I'm there, evenings are taken up with team or work-related dinners and that's about it. However...luckily...one of my colleagues decided he wanted to check out a band he'd heard of who was playing that night right near where we all were staying.

Excellent. So, we went. The name of the band is Volbeat. I had not heard of them before, but my buddy Pavan had and he also knew that they were on the bill at an upcoming rock festival he would be attending. So, he wanted to hear them to see if they were any good.

Volbeat Perform an Encore in NYC (Pavan took this shot)
Turns out, Volbeat is a tight rock and roll band. They're from Denmark, but you wouldn't know it based on how the singer sounded. I'd say the band nicely combine heavy metal, rockabilly and occasionally some touches of epic melodic rock. In any case - this was good stuff and it was fun to see them. Where we saw them was a below ground venue near Times Square called the Best Buy Theater. All I can say is, while I had not head of Volbeat...apparently a LOT of other people had because the place was jam packed. A blogger's review is HERE.

You can also see video of varying quality of the show we attended HEREHEREHERE, HERE and HERE. I did not shoot the videos.

Other than the front man, the band weren't much to look at stylistically - just dudes in different degrees of black jeans (or in one guy's case shorts) and black shirts. But, the main singer/guitar player did have a look - black leather pants, white shirt, black leather vest with a sheriff star on it and slicked back hair. To me, it looked like he was cribbing his style from London Calling era Joe Strummer. Not a bad choice.

All of which is to say that sometimes great rock and roll memories are unexpected ones - gigs or sets you see that you were not expecting to and then you're pleasantly surprised. Such was the case with Volbeat.

 Unfortunately, they just performed in Seattle, so I won't be able to see them any time soon again. But, I'll be checking them out on iTunes.If you like your rock and roll heavy...but not too heavy...I say you should too.