Another depressing post
Today I went to a shelter to adopt a cat. I had never actually been to the pound before and now I know why. You can literally feel the pain of dozens of animals, as they sit in their prison cells, waiting to be adopted (unlikely) or die (much more likely). Some squeal, some bark. All look at you with sad and hopeful eyes. A lot of them are pitbulls, bred for fighting and thrown out, but some are...
Power of beliefs
In these last couple of weeks, as the election campaigns heat up, I’m reminded of the incredible power of beliefs. I suppose all of us (myself included) are guilty of this, but I certainly hope I do an above-average job of dissecting the situation objectively. When it comes to politics in particular, I have found a lot of people I know leave aside any logic or facts and think entirely...
Military spending needs to go
Today I caught myself thinking that I don’t really know where the federal money is going. Luckily a 5 second search on Wikipedia was able to shed some light. 3 line items immediately catch attention: Health and Human Services (which includes Medicare and Medicade), Social Security and Defense. Together they make up 71% of the budget. While most people agree that Medicare, Medicaid and...
Please register to vote
bijan: My friend Fred has written a great post about the importance of getting the next generation registered for this election and future ones as well. Your vote does matter for this country and for this planet. Don’t believe the haters that claim your vote doesn’t count. It does. So please register to vote (super easy and quick to do) and make your voice heard. Thanks!
We are giant pussies.
I’ve been hanging out with my grandpa for a week. His stories from World War II days made me realize what a bunch of pussies we all are. He, along with pretty much all of Europe, had to deal with a great deal of discomfort (putting it very lightly) for several years. We complain about having to fly red-eye in economy. As an 18-yr old he (and his entire school class) tried to join the...
I hang out with a few of my old friends in Moscow this weekend, and realized that childhood friends are very different from other friends. As a child you start with no filters, and actually develop together with them. My best friend and I shared a desk in school from day 1 of first grade. We have a ton in common. Some of the other guys and girls are tied together with me in a way that most...
Life Without Mass (or Why I Love Physics)
One of the reasons I love physics is the line between theory and mindblowing practice is pretty thin. The recently discovered Higgs Boson gives everything mass. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without mass, but here’s a glimpse. According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, massless particles (like electrons) are destined to forever travel at the speed of light. And...
Money in politics is the root of all evil. Part 2
It is sickening that in a country that claims to be the leader of the free world, the chances of winning an election are directly tied to the amount of money raised. It would be ok if fundraising success was just an indication of popularity, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Money flows into politics for 2 reasons: 1) Politicians need money to campaign (i.e. twist the truth to...
Jon Orlin's Blog: InBox To Zero Achieved →
jonorlin: I’ve finally achieved Inbox To Zero. It’s a state of bliss that probably won’t last long. A big part of getting to here involved not using Email as a To Do list. I’m a big GTD groupie (Getting Things Done, by David Allen) and following those ideas really helped. Here are some of the tools…
Look who's on New York Times →
Death to Freemium, Long Live the Free Trial
Here’s a reprint of my first guest post (in Mashable, nonetheless). Since they took out some of the juicier points (particularly why the App Store doesn’t offer refunds), here’s the original version. __________________________________ There’s a psychological barrier to paying for online services, and it’s hurting both consumers and businesses. We pay for things in real life...
Breaking news: "X may cause Y"
I hate these articles. X either does cause Y, or it doesn’t. If you don’t know, it just isn’t news. Grrr…
Buster's thoughts on behavior change, and a new...
: In defense of hype →
nabeel: For a startup ecosystem that is all about optimism, it’s ridiculous how much petty backstabbing and general negativity there is when new stuff comes along. To pick only one topic area, here is a random assortment of negativity on the general funding environment I’ve heard just in the last…
Romney is such an asshole
I love the fact that his defense for jumping a kid and cutting off his hair was that “he didn’t know the kid was gay”. Because it’s totally cool to bully non-gay kids.
South Korea seizes capsules containing powdered... →
Why the fuck aren’t more people pissed off about this?! Just to clarify: there are thousands of capsules, made of flesh of dead babies! Let’s leave aside the sick reason why there’s a demand for this. Stamina? Seriously? Have you heard of Viagra, you sick fucks? The bigger question is where are these dead babies coming from? Why is this not a major major headline all over the...
An AAPL a day
It’s been 1 week since I switched to the dark side, and I couldn’t be happier. For years I didn’t want to be a part of the Apple cult. Then I started noticing some of the smartest people I know switching. And (almost) nobody was coming back. They must be on to something. Then I got an iPad, and finally started to understand what the fuss is about. Last week I switched to a...
Had a pretty weird/amazing experience today. I...
If you’re not charging for your product, then your customer IS the product
Death to Freemium
There’s a psychological barrier to paying online, and it needs to stop. We pay for things in real life every day. We don’t hesitate to drop a fifty for a tank of gas, or $4 for a cup of coffee. But when it comes to paying for $5 for an online service that actually delivers significant value - it’s a no-no. I’ve been guilty of this for years myself, and now that...
In defense of Silicon Beach
As much respect as I have for Brad Feld and Mark Suster, I politely disagree with their points on the Silicon Beach discussion (here and here). The actual name of the brand matters much less than what the brand has grown to symbolize. Does anyone really associate Coca Cola with the coca plant? Or Coke with cocaine? And wtf is Pepsi? True Ventures is a great name, but the reputation they...
Just in case I haven’t shared this enough today
The best to-do app in the world
I’ve tried every task/project management tool known to man. From Franklin Covey and Asana to pen and paper. I love the simplicity and versatility of pen and paper, but it lacks the aggregation and filtering. And the apps like Remember The Milk, Things, Wunderlist, Asana, etc require you to learn/use their system, and are essentially a walled garden. If you decide to switch, you’re...
Problems vs Opportunities
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between going after a business opportunity (vitamin) vs solving a real problem (painkiller). It’s not that one is better than the other. There are plenty of fantastic “vitamin” businesses that have gone after an opportunity in the market and “created” a problem for their solution. But there’s another important distinction: is the...
Words of wisdom from Tyler Durden
Man, I see in Fight Club the strongest and smartest men who have ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. Goddammit, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man; no purpose or place. We have...
Stuart Roseman: SaneBox bounce rate increase... →
stuartroseman: For anyone out there that has seen their bounce rate go up after Feb 17th and been chasing red herrings trying to figure out what changed. Firefox 10.0.2 caused the SaneBox homepage bounce rate to go from 25% to 90% for our FF users. Here is a snap of our GA analytics spot lighting browser ==…
Lessons for next year's #SXSW
1. Rent a bike 2. Reserve a room and flight tickets at least 6 months in advance (ideally next week) 3. Set up lunches/dinners. Playing by ear doesn’t work 4. Definitely don’t buy a conference pass (didn’t this year, and couldn’t be happier)
Jason Shah: Lock Down a Paid Subscriber On Visit... →
jasonshah: Like millions of other people this week, I found out about DollarShaveClub through its undeniably hilarious viral intro video, “Our Blades Are F****** Great”. I will leave it to someone else to pick apart how incredibly brilliant the video itself is (insofar as any form of advertising can be…
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Thoughts about life and death
This was a tough month for the Leonov household. We had to put 2 of our pets to sleep. First it was Houdini, and just yesterday it was our lovely dog Santine. Enough has been said about how much it sucks to lose your pets, and ours are no different. This did make me think of something else: quality of life vs longevity. The reason we put both Houdini and Santine to sleep is because they were...
Astronomy is mind blowing
One of the many good things about living in LA is the weather. This is why I was very annoyed to miss this month’s full lunar eclipse due to a week of nonstop rain. The last full eclipse I witnessed was in winter 2008, and it showed a completely different perspective on an object I was so used to seeing. We usually view the moon and the stars in 2 dimensions. We know in our head...
Shitty day. Had to put one of my guinea pigs to sleep today. Euthanasia sucks because you are technically killing your pet, and actually have to convince yourself you’re doing the right thing. What sucks even more is your pet’s last minutes are spent in fear, in an unknown bright room with random people doing things to it. Doing it at home is highly recommended. The fox from the...
How I conquered meditation
On paper, Ive been trying to meditate for over 2 years. I’ve read books. I’ve downloaded apps. I’ve told people “yeah I meditate sometimes, it’s awesome”. And I’ve been a big fat liar until 3 weeks ago. I’ve been successfully and regularly meditating for about 3 weeks, and I don’t plan on stopping. Here are my 3 rules for how to meditate...
The Curious Entrepreneur: Gluttonous mercenaries →
skotzko: Yesterday, I couldn’t stop thinking about someone who hurt me badly a few months ago. I hadn’t thought of this person in at least a month, and then BAM, I’m in it. I know where this train of thought leads. It is not a happy place. My defenses tell me to ignore the memory. I listen. I try. I…
Perspective is a bitch
A few days ago we found out that our dog has cancer, and doesn’t have long to live. Like weeks, not months. And not many of them. Nadine and I were devastated. A week before she was a healthy, happy and playful - nobody could guess she’s almost 11. And now she’s given just a couple weeks to live? That same day she started feeling noticeably worse. Didn’t eat, no...
My birthday was a couple of weeks ago. It was the best day to be on Facebook. Even before midnight I started getting some love from a few folks in Asia, as well as those who misunderstood facebook’s note that my birthday was not actually today but tomorrow. By the time I woke up, I was greeted with 40 or so congrats from Euros and East Coasters. It’s a great feeling. Then by lunch...
Charity is selfish
I had this random thought the other day. What if selflessness is not doing what’s best for others, but redefining what “you” is? Most charitable giving is done to causes donors associate with. Some people work at their local homeless shelter because they identify with their community. Some do the Big Brother program because they identify with their 10 year old self. My wife...
Ifttt.com is awesome
The genius of this app is only challenged by its simplicity. It basically applies my favorite “If->Then” logic to multipIle online services. They have a bunch of recipes pre-created: from “get an email if tomorrow’s forecast calls for rain”, to “Send an sms to a number, and get a call back on your phone so you can get out of that awkward date”. ...
Money in politics is the root of all evil
Last year I wrote a post about our trip to Cambodia, and how we dealt with corruption on a very local level. (Quick summary: we got hit by a speeding car, whose driver was drinking with the cops right before the accident. Needless to say, justice was obstructed). I’ve been thinking about corruption a lot lately, in light of the recent events in Russia, US and across the globe. If you...
How chess is like business
When I was a kid, and my grandpa was teaching me how to play chess, I hated it. Sitting for an hour, trying to think was incredibly boring. Now I love it. Sitting for an hour, trying to think is actually fun. I’ve played chess in different ways: 1. Like normal people 2. Drunk with my friends (great drinking game) 3. Over email with my grandpa, since we now live on different...
Time is weird
We are used to visualizing time as a horizontal arrow with past, present and future. I just read a book that offers a different point of view: time is a vertically stacked collection of “now’s”. It’s not a new concept (Zen), but thinking about time in this way is liberating. “Now” is all we ever have. We can eliminate the illusion of being able to control...
Everything is a remix, even startups
I used to have little respect for startup clones. According to Steve Blank’s definition, a “startup is an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model”. So if you’re cloning an existing model, you’re no longer searching, you’re just scaling, right? Sure. Then I saw this: http://www.everythingisaremix.info. Basically this...
Berlin Startup Community ist Wunderbar
I just spent 2 weeks plugging into the tech/startup scene in Berlin. I love that city for lots of reasons. One of them is this: I believe it will become the next New York of the startup world. Most of the ingredients of a successful startup ecosystem are there, and the missing ones are arriving quickly. I’ve met many fantastic entrepreneurs who are making it happen. To all of my new...
What's wrong with America
I read this quote in a book, and I think it captures what’s wrong in the United States perfectly: “The United States has long thought itself to be a nation “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It’s not a coincidence that this nation rose to become the most prosperous on Earth. It is also not surprising that this nation is gradually losing all that it...
Have you ever revisited the place where you grew up, and realized how much bigger everything used to seem? I spent this past week in Moscow, where I spent the first 16 years of my life. I then took a 10 year break, but visit the city about once a year for the last few years. The first trip after 10 years was mind blowing. I arrived directly from a plane to my school class reunion - with...
WHY to temporarily move to another country
In my last post I talked about how to temporarily move to another country. Here’s why you should do it: 1. It’s good for business. It took me literally 2-3 hours from the moment I google’d “Berlin startups” to: a) set up several meetings with entrepreneurs b) register up for a bunch of meetups and c) sign up to speak at a conference I’ve been here for...
+8 hour work week
For the past 2 weeks I’ve been living and working in Europe. It’s been pretty awesome for a number of reasons. 1. I’ve travelled a lot, but have always done relatively short trips - 1-2 weeks per country. Sometimes even less. Between travel time and jet lag, it’s pretty painful (especially with a baby). I’m now convinced that the best way to travel is to move...