Neighbors Still

I stand at the open door,
one child – exhausted – with her head on my shoulder
another burning energy and adrenaline
by endlessly circling my legs
like a kite whose string has been cut.

It’s late.
We’ve stayed too long, had too much fun,
and we all know we’ll pay for it in some measure in the morning,
but this is the very definition
of the long goodbye.

These are not “wave from the door friends”
they are “walk you all the way ‘til the sidewalk ends” friends,
and so we stand at the car, only slightly awkward,
offering hugs and thanks and promises to do this more often.

And we pause before leaving
grasping at the tenuous bonds of friendship
knowing our attention will only become more diverted over time
and these times together will certainly become more rare.

Yet they are precise, nearly priceless moments of perfection
where we strike a careful balance
between reminiscing about the past
and marveling at the future.

So even though six large men and a moving truck
have scrambled our zip codes,
we linger and we promise and we hope
because we are – after all – friends, family, and neighbors still.

Proof that we're losing our minds…

Thirteen-year-olds facing jail time and sex offender label
First, the story out of Oregon about two 13-year-old boys who ran down the hallway in school swatting girls on their butts. The were marched to the principal’s office, questioned for a few hours, handcuffed and hauled off to juvenile detention where they spent the next five days. Turns out, if they’re convicted of sexual assault at their August 20 trial, they’ll face additional jail time and be required to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. There are far too many bizarre things in this case to repeat, so I just suggest you read this article from The Oregonian.

Patrolman sentenced to five years for defending himself
Chicago Patrolman Mike Mette was off-duty in Dubuque, Iowa, where he attended a party. At this party, he and his younger brother got into an argument with another partygoer. (This other partygoer, by the way, was 20-year-old college student Jake Gothard, who had a blood-alcohol level of .30, which would be nearly four times the legal limit in Indiana.) Gothard begins yelling at Mette, berating him for coming to the party without any women. Mette and his brother and their four friends decide to leave. Gothard follows them outside… well, here’s how the story plays out:

Gothard and his roommate began chasing Mette and the five other men, claiming they had stolen his cell phone, until they all ended up on the front lawn of Marc Mette’s house.

“Mr. Gothard approached me and told me he was going to beat the crap out of me, and he actually hit me with his two fists like this in the chest. Hit me three times. I pushed him away from me. Told him to leave. He comes back at me a fourth time and that’s when, you know, when I hit him. I hit him in the left side of the face,” said Michael Mette.

Moments later, when city police arrived on the scene, Gothard was still on the ground, having been cold cocked by Officer Mette’s right hook. When Mette and the others described what happened, Dubuque Police arrested Mette, charging him with felony assault causing serious injury.

Last week, this police officer was sentenced to five years in prison. If you can stand it, read the ABC News story.

"Find what you love," says Jobs

The transcript of Steve Jobs’s Stanford commencement address was sent to me this morning as “great career advice.” I couldn’t agree more. Among the highlights:

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

[Read the full transcript]

The Death Knell for 'Page Views'

We had a conversation recently with a prospect who was hoping to boost ad revenue by building page views — at the possible expense of a meaningful user experience. We recommended against it, arguing from the altruistic viewpoint that building a meaningful experience would be far more beneficial in the long run. Plus, we had concerns about the viability of a page view strategy in the face of increasing use of AJAX, whereby results are given to a user without the page reloading at all.

Recently, Nielsen has noted the same thing and has begun adjusting its method of measurement. According to this AP article, Nielsen “will scrap rankings based on the longtime industry yardstick of page views and begin tracking how long visitors spend at the sites.”

Now we’re getting somewhere… Time spent is an interesting and important analytic because it suggests engagement. But, ultimately, I think we’re going to need a tool that can actually measure engagement. After all, if I load up your web site and get distracted (or if I use tabbed browsing and it’s open all day in a tab), I may look heavily engaged when, in fact, I’m not paying any particular attention at all.

Five Charity Myths Dispelled

I recently wrote an article for the Indianapolis Business Journal about one of my favorite sites, Charity Navigator. In the most recent issue of their newsletter, they’ve highlighted five myths about charitable giving. They are:

Myth 1: Charity executives are overpaid.
Myth 2: After a natural disaster, charities need old clothes.
Myth 3: You can judge a local charity based on a national name.
Myth 4: Excellent charities spend 100% of their budgets on program services.
Myth 5: A good way to support charity is to participate in a special event or buy a special product.

[Read the article, “Five Charity Myths Dispelled”]
[Visit Charity Navigator]
[Read my review of Charity Navigator at Rare Bird, Inc.]