Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Public Health Media

Here's a shocker from Canada's workplace safety authority. Definitely not for sensitive viewers.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I'm Not Crazy, I'm a Relentless Innovator

It just occurred to me how to describe myself. Of course, it took someone smarter than me to help me put the words together. I just finished reading Don Berwick's funny, intriguing and enlightening piece "Sauerkraut, Sobriety and the Spread of Change" from his collection of speeches entitled Escape Fire, which, by the way, may possibly be the most accessible and brilliant book EVER about how to improve healthcare quality in the US. But that's another review.

In my LinkedIn profile I used to identify myself as a "Social Entrepreneur and Technologist." I think the first half of that is right, or at least the right spirit. But the second half, "Technologist," isn't. While I do have a love of technology and a personal fetish for electronic gadgetry and assorted gizmos, I don't love technology for its own sake in organizations. In fact, from my business development experience in the internet industry, during the heyday of the dotcom boom (and thankfully, only a little of its bust) for a number of years, I'm actually suspicious of technology for its own sake in the business environment. What I realized I really love is innovation in business, using technology or other resourcefulness to do things better than they've been done before. Taking the tools given and either refining them or turning them upside down to improve them.

What I realized from reading Dr. Berwick's speech, is that in every organization I have ever been in, I have been a tireless agitator for innovation, to varying degrees of success. It was his description (with a great deal of reference to Everett Rogers' work, Diffusion of Innovations, which I'm ordering from Bookpeople tonight) of how innovators succeed or fail within organizations that is beginning to help me truly define my calling. I have always thought I had an innovator streak in me; various personality tests often point out innovation specifically and creativity generally, but it was understanding when I have failed at innovation was what really brought this home to me. A few characteristics of innovators that really hit me over the head:

  1. "Innovators tend to be wealthier than average or to have special circumstances that give them enough slack to accept the risks inherent in innovating."
    OK, that first part is definitely NOT me these days, especially with a 3 year old to take care of, but I suppose that I have had special circumstances, both financial and otherwise, that have given me the opportunity to do some innovation: starting a non-profit in New Orleans or jumping into public health and informatics when I had no formal training in either field.

  2. "Locally, they tend to be a little socially disconnected."
    I usually try to describe (spin?) this as "I don't do office politics."

  3. "They are not opinion leaders; in fact, they may be thought of as weird or incautious."
    Story of my life. I tend to scare the conservatives in every organization because of my enthusiasm for a great idea. I used to make some of my bosses feel insecure until I became aware of this trait and worked to assure them that rarely did I ever want their jobs. And if I did, I told them so and committed myself to getting them promoted.

This all hit me over the head about 20 minutes ago and I'm going to embrace it, blog it and change the words I use to describe myself. I might rethink the excitement of all of this and remove the post from my blog, but for now, I feel like I just figured out something important that needs to be said. I am a social entrepreneur and relentless innovator. I feel like I just came out of the closet or something.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

(I like) NO AGE

It gets harder and harder to deny that LA has some pretty interesting elements under that shimmery lizard skin.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My New Favorite Coffee Shop in Austin

Rio Rita, the East 6th Street coffee shop with the retro 70's Seven-Up sign, is a cool coffeehouse meets hipster lounge. There's space for a rousing Knit n Bitch meeting (pictured) as well as more urbane lounging in the swirling, billowing South Beach style booths. Coffee by day, cocktails by night.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Coin Operated Boy

Kudos for this clever video for an eminently hummable tune.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Out take from a photo shoot for the Louisiana Public Health Institute annual report and web site. That's Tiffany, Bridget, me and a piece of rubber fruit.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Finally, Some Good News Out of New Orleans

It looks like one of the most shady of New Orleans' pols is finally out of business. I am delighted to announce that New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas has pled guilty to federal corruption charges and should be resigning from his post effective immediately. Oliver Thomas and I share a special history, as he was the enforcer for Wal-Mart during the famous battle in New Orleans (for a quick overview, see "Wal-Mart: The Hits Just Keep on Coming"), the issue that gave birth to both the Urban Conservancy and the latent revolutionary inside of me.

The sad thing is that his crookedness was well known, although it was never said out loud. Part of the problem is that elected officials in New Orleans take on demigod status with the populace. City Council members get a vehicle, typically a luxury SUV or large Town Car and a driver who is an armed deputy. They have multiple staff people, all charged with keeping the unwashed masses out of their offices. The other problem is that there is all sorts of hand wringing now about the "loss" of this "popular" leader. The same sort of sadness that some have about Edwin Edwards going to prison. Go figure.

Update: Public statement from former Councilman Thomas

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Stop at Spider House on a Search for the soul of Austin


 

Every day we are looking. Trying to find out what makes this place different from all the other Sun Belt boom towns of America. I often tell people that I feel like I am living in Los Angeles in the 1950's: a place of incredible opportunity, hyper growth and money. Lots and lots of money.



 
In the midst of all this, we are looking for the funky soul, the underbelly that isn't part of the approved ad campaigns.


 
We are still looking.


 
But we haunt some of those places that don't have a concept, like the Spider House.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

For New Orleans Folks
(note: I didn't write this)

From the "Louisiana Events" E-mail List:

"FROM TOURO BOULIGNY MEETING: Capt. of 2nd Dist. demonstrated tonight this new on-line source of crime incidents occurring within 1 mile radius of a given address.  There is a lag time of about 5 days for the info presented.

1st - access the NOPD at WWW.NOPD.COM

2nd - click on NOPD Crime Map (left column)

3rd - click on sentence that begins "click this link to view interactive crime, etc.

4th - enter address and click submit (this will resolve to a map with yellow location of address.)

5th - Click on City Services at top on page and that will present a drop down
menu; select NOPD. This will resolve to a page that will show all crime incidents within 1 mile radius of the address in last 30 days. Put the cursor on any symbol to see brief details. Detail results are shown at bottom of this page with Police report number, Street, Description, and incident date.

Check it out. This is a huge step in getting crime information to the citizens."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Business Leaders Explore Affordable Health Insurance Options for Small Businesses in Central Texas Region

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2007/7/prweb539989.htm

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Guitar Serenade of the Zilker Zephyr

Self made South Austin celebrity Wood Woode (or is it Woode Wood?) entertains the folks on the Zilker Zephyr, the World's Slowest Train.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Santiago at Dad's Office


Santiago at Dad's Office
Originally uploaded by Edward Melendez
Santiago made his first visit to the ICC today, so Cassie and I could brainstorm ways to make the office space a little happier.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

More Heartbreak From New Orleans (It just keeps on coming)

It's pretty incredible to write this on the heels of a happy little post about my last visit to NO.

Two people. Two stories. One story has a few years distance. One is now. This picture of horseplay at the hair salon is of two good friends of mine. On the left is Bobby Merrill, who died in 2003 of a heart attack at age 34. The guy on the right is Robin Malta. Robin was murdered in his Marigny home earlier this week.
I had just visited Robin at his shop when I was in New Orleans a few weeks ago. Bobby was our "family" hairsylist, confidante and conspirator. Cassie and I would schedule both our haircuts on the same night with Bobby and make an evening of it. Bobby, Cassie and I would have drinks during the haircutting process (Bobby always had an amazingly steady hand, even after a few cocktails) followed by dinner out, often at Adolfo's in the Marigny. Robin worked at the same salon as Bobby and was Bobby's comic foil and friend. Robin was the one who broke the news of Bobby's death to Cassie. Robin was the hardest working man in hairstyling and opened up his shop on Decatur a few years back. Business was booming, he said when I last visited him. During the year that I was commuting to New Orleans for work, Robin cut my hair, often without an appointment and about 10 minutes notice from me. He always wanted to know when Cassie and Santiago were going to visit, and he carefully (politely?) studied the pictures of Santiago that I shared with him.

Both of these people are gone from my life forever. I miss these two people. The city is hard. I'm tired of being sad or scared for all the people I love in New Orleans.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This Week, New Orleans

So I am back in New Orleans this week, visiting a few friends and business associates. My semi-frequent appearances in the city seem to mystify most people. They feel absolutely natural to me. New Orleans is the culture I understand best and function in most effectively. I know the city backwards and forwards, although I am having trouble keeping up with the torrent of gelato shops and t-shirt boutiques with pro-New Orleans imagery that seem to be some of the primary drivers of the economy at the moment. I have favorite places and people and I also enjoy being an anonymous guy at a neighborhood bar, like I was yesterday at Molly's, where a patron bought the entire bar a round in celebration of the passing of Jerry Falwell. New Orleans is a good second home for me for now.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Oh Yeah, I Made a Movie

Here's part one of the Unbroken Line of History:



Here's part two:

Friday, March 16, 2007

PISTOLERA

If I can get some strength back (and get some cases prepped), I really want to check out Pistolera tomorrow. They're playing once during the day at the Mexicarte Museum and later at the Copa.

Advice to Young Men from an Old Man


Some of these are pretty good.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Great photo from New Orleans. This is taken in front of my favorite bar in all of New Orleans, Ms. Mae's. By the way, the bar is open for business.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Santiago, reading the New Yorker and wearing his Che t-shirt, just like some sort of East Coast liberal.