25 October 2007

New Blog & Email

I originally created this blog as part of a little mentoring experiment I called Project Blue Lynx - thus the name. It turned into more of a personal blog, but there I was, stuck with the name & address.

Similarly, I created a gmail account (RPLeditor) to handle stuff for Rogue Project Leader, my online webzine.

Well, Project Blue Lynx is long since over, and RPL is on permanent hiatus. So, I figured it was just about time to come up with new, more permanent email and blog names. Names that were about me, not about temporary projects.

So, my new email address is The.Dan.Ward (at) gmail.com. My new blog will be at http://thedanward.blogspot.com/

It'll take me a while to get things all set up in the new blog location, but I've got the shell of things there already. (cause apparently I didn't have enough change in my life lately). :)

Come on over and check it out!

- "The" Dan Ward

23 October 2007

New photo

Figured it was time to update my photo...

(I love my Mac's PhotoBooth!)

Dan Pink!

The latest issue of Wired magazine arrived, and the cover article is by Dan Pink. That's very exciting!

"So what?", you might be thinking. Well, let me tell you.

Dan Pink is the author of a very cool book titled A Whole New Mind. It's a great book, and I highly recommend picking it up.

But that's not the real reason I'm mentioning all this.

See, after I read Dan Pink's book, I sent him a copy of my Simplicity Cycle manifesto (the one which was published at ChangeThis.com). He liked it, and suggested that it might be something I'd want to turn into a book someday. Believe it or not, until he suggested it, the thought of doing a Simplicity Cycle book hadn't occurred to me.

As you probably know, I eventually did the book, and the rest is history... and I have Dan Pink to thank for it.

So, don't miss his article in this month's issue of Wired (and pick up his book too!)


I like dentists just fine.

Most of the ones I've known have been friendly and helpful. They make uncomfortable things in my mouth go away. That's nice. Very, very nice.

But I hate... dental procedures.

I don't know why, but I have a really tough time dealing with them. It's purely psychological, I know, but there's something about having someone work on my teeth that just makes my skin crawl.

And now I've got a molar that is suddenly sensitive to cold... and feels strange when I bite down. Not painful, really, just pressure. For now. These things have a tendency to get worse, don't they? It's not like a cold, which gets better on it's own. Tooth issues generally require intervention. Darn.

So... off I go, to see a nice, friendly, helpful, highly skilled dental professional, to help make the uncomfortableness in my mouth go away.

(oh, I'm not looking forward to it!)

22 October 2007

All I Want For Christmas...

Since there are only 64 days until Christmas, I thought I'd pass along some stuff I want for Christmas.

I love food, so bake me some brownies, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, etc.

I love French Toast Girl's artwork - and she's got prints and cards for sale in her little online shop.

Speaking of cards, I love real mail (getting and sending), so you could head over to Cafe Press and have your own cards printed, with what ever sorts of designs and artwork you can think of. Or you can check out the stuff I created in my own little Simplicity Cycle Shop at Cafe Press (more than just cards).

And if you want to do something really cool, buy one of my Boomer Sisters books and donate it to a local library, children's hospital or elementary school. Or pick up a copy of The Desert and donate it to a church library, etc. It's two gifts for the price of one! You can even have it shipped directly there.

Of course, these ideas probably work for giving to other people too, right? And that's sort of the point. I don't need a bunch of stuff (and most people don't either). Home made gifts don't have to be macaroni art - Cafe Press, Lulu, and talented artists like FTG are all sources of home made stuff that's high quality, interesting, etc.

So... what do you want for Christmas this year?

21 October 2007

Having everything...

Hugh McLeod, the guy behind the Gaping Void blog, does some very interesting artwork on the back of business cards. His site is profane almost as often as it's profound (so don't be too shocked if you visit), but I really, really enjoy most of what I find there.

So, in keeping with my previous posts about economics, consumerism, the "enough movement," and the like, I offer up one of my favorite of Hugh's cartoons. Just one more example of the truth that "we don't really want to have everything we want," and the inherent, inevitable failure of materialism as a path to happiness.

19 October 2007

Consumption & Production

Keith Giles has a great post on his Subversive website, about consumerism and personal identity. One line that really stood out to me was this:

Unlike the artisan who could express his or her identity through the things s/he created, we have learned to do so through the things we buy.

Wow. It's one of those things I think I knew, but hadn't seen put quite that way before. Another part of the post reminded me of my favorite definition of leadership (by Kevin Cashman): Leadership is authentic self expression that produces value.

And then there's this great little video on how to make "Mug Eggs" in the microwave in 2 minutes. I made them for Beth the other morning, and she loved them. It's fun to watch eggs cook in the microwave.

17 October 2007

Al Gore's Prize

I'm sure the pundits and commentators have already said all sorts of things about Al Gore's recent Nobel Peace Prize, and no doubt some of what I'm going to write has been said already... but I haven't really been plugged into the media much lately, so I'm not sure what's already out there.

Anyway, as I've said before, I saw Mr. Gore's movie and enjoyed it. I think it's definitely worth seeing. And I have come to deeply respect Mr. Gore's mission, passion, dedication and enthusiasm. I really think he's doing good work, and I was intrigued to see a short clip of him addressing the Senate (Congress?) in 1986, saying much the same thing he's saying today. The big difference is, people are listening now. How's that for persistence!

Having said that, I think he is a strange choice for the Peace Prize. Not a bad choice. Certainly not the wrong choice. Just a strange choice. According to Wikipedia, Nobel's will stipulated that the Peace Prize should be awarded "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

That's not exactly what Mr. Gore's been doing. Yes, water is very likely to replace oil as the fluid of choice for future generations to fight over (and probably still in the Middle East). And Global Warming is likely to affect the water supply in places where clean drinking water is already terribly limited. So yes, fighting climate change is an indirect blow for peace... but rather indirect, don't you think? I'm not saying it isn't a peace issue - just that it isn't primarily a peace issue. It's been a while since I saw the movie, but I don't recall him talking war & peace very much.

So, I offer my congratulations to Mr. Gore on his award. I'm glad he's getting recognition for what is clearly his life's work. But I still think it was a rather strange selection.

Class at 4

Noted: It's very difficult to like a class that begins at 4pm.

Defense AT&L is Up

The latest issue of Defense AT&L is posted online, and this month, I've got another 2-page superhero comic! Check it out and tell a friend.

The editor also sent me a note yesterday to let me know there was a surprise for me on page 67. Guess what it was - they reprinted Chet Richards' review of my Simplicity Cycle book! What a cool surprise!

I'll post something about Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize later (maybe tomorrow).

16 October 2007

Roosevelt's Hero Tales

Theodore Roosevelt is my favorite president, hands down. I often describe myself as a "Roosevelt Republican," which is QUITE different from today's variety. Roosevelt was an environmentalist, for starters. He was also a proponent of a strong military (the big stick, ya know), but despite the fact that critics called him militaristic and belligerent, when he was president the US military didn't fire a shot. In fact, TR was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize (and he won it for doing something directly peace-related: negotiating for peace in the Russo-Japanese War).

TR was also a prolific writer - and a wonderful writer at that. I'm currently reading "Hero Tales: How Common Lives Reveal The Heroic Spirit of America," which he co-wrote with his friend Henry Cabot Lodge. It's a great series of short historical snapshots and mini bio's of Americans, famous and obscure. Here's a short excerpt I read last night and which I found particularly interesting, from the introduction to a chapter titled "The Death of Stonewall Jackson":

The Civil War has left, as all wars of brother against brother must leave, terrible and heartrending memories; but there remains as an offset the glory that has accrued to the nation by the countless deeds of heroism performed by both sides in the struggle. The captains and the armies that, after long years of dreary campaigning and bloody, stubborn fighting, brought the war to a close, have left us more than a reunited realm. North and South, all Americans, now have a common fund of glorious memories.

We are the richer for valor displayed alike by those who fought so valiantly for the right, and by those who, no less valiantly, fought for what they deemed the right. We have in us nobler capacities for what is great and good because of the infinite woe and suffering, and because of the splendid ultimate triumph.

We hold that it was vital to the welfare, not only of our people on this continent, but of the whole human race, that the Union should be preserved and slavery abolished; that one flag should fly from the Great Lakes to the Rio Grande; that we should all be free in fact as well as in name, and that the United States should stand as one nation-the greatest nation on the earth. But we recognize gladly that, South as well as North, when the fight was once on, the leaders of the armies, and the soldiers whom they led, displayed the same qualities of daring and steadfast courage, of disinterested loyalty and enthusiasm, and of high devotion to an ideal.

I think his treatment of the South is both respectful and appropriate - recognizing the South was wrong, but in their error, still valiant, skilled and devoted. Similarly, I think his treatment of war is spot-on. It's full of horrors and heartache, but also courage and nobility. It's too easy to simply say war is bad or doesn't solve anything. There's more to it than that.

I'd love to hear what you think.

15 October 2007

Probability is funny

I'm taking a probability class, and I've learned some interesting things. For example:

A "random variable" is not random... and it's not a variable.
An "expected value" is quite often a value which you can't actually achieve (rolling 4.5 on a 6-sided die, for example).
The "compliment of success" sounds like a nice phrase, but it turns out the compliment of success is failure.

So much to learn!

13 October 2007

Chesterton, Simplicity and Happiness

Three of my favorite things: Chesterton, simplicity and happiness, all wrapped up in one sweet little quote:

"When men pause in the pursuit of happiness, seriously to picture happiness, they have always made what may be called a 'primitive' picture. Men rush towards complexity; but they yearn towards simplicity. They try to be kings; but they dream of being shepherds."
- G. K. Chesterton

12 October 2007


I took the AF physical fitness test yesterday and scored another 2.5 points higher than last time. My total score was 89.5, so I was just 1/2 a point away from being in the "excellent" category. If I'd shaved 9 seconds off the run, I would have had another 1.5 points (and I think I would have done it too, if there'd been anyone running in front of me, but I was the fastest guy on the track). It's my highest score ever (again), and I'm very happy with the outcome. I maxed the pushups and situps and lost an inch on the "abdominal circumference" measurement.

But my point isn't to brag. I'm actually thinking about how & what we measure, and the decisions we make based on those measurements. See, in addition to doing very well on the test, I also calculated my Body Mass Index (BMI), just out of curiosity. For those who don't know, the BMI is basically a ratio of height and weight. My BMI is 27.6. Anything over 25 is considered "overweight." But here's the thing: the BMI was only intended to classify sedentary individuals with an average body composition (not active, athletic types) - and we're using it for a lot more than that.

In fact, Wikipedia says "BMI has been used by the WHO as the standard for recording obesity statistics since the early 1980s." Yikes! That sort of makes me wonder about the whole obesity thing. If a guy like me falls into the "overweight" category, I wonder how may people in the "obese" category really don't belong there. I have no idea or any data - I'm just skeptical.

Yes, there are a lot of big people around these days, but that's an anecdotal observation, not a statistical or scientific one. It seems to me we should define obesity as having something to do with body fat percentage... but that's a harder thing to measure than a simple height/weight ratio. Do we end up measuring what's easy, rather than what's meaningful?

Am I missing something here?

Humility & Integrity

The more I think about it, the more impressed I am by Barry Boehm's willingness to disavow the "spiral development model" he created - not because he came up with a better theory or found a flaw in the documentation, but because nobody could actually do it correctly.

Some people might have just blamed all those dumb practitioners, those silly program managers who don't know what they're doing and should have listened harder, tried harder, studied harder, and generally done things better. But Mr. Boehm recognized that a smart-sounding theory which can't be implemented isn't actually worth very much.

That's a remarkable demonstration of integrity and humility.

Now, it might be an apocryphal story. A professor has mentioned it in class a few times, but I haven't found any references to it online. I do hope it's true...

11 October 2007


I heard a great definition of simplicity the other day, from the Agile Alliance's "principles behind the Agile Manifesto."

"Simplicity - the art of maximizing the amount of work not done."


Pushing Daisies

Just one more plug for the new TV show "Pushing Daisies." It's on Wed's at 8:00, but if you've got a DVR, who cares what day/time it's on, right?

It's gorgeously shot, very colorful, quirky, intriguing and a refreshing change from the Doctor and Lawyer shows which dominate the rest of the television schedule. Don't get me wrong - I really enjoy House and Boston Legal, but I think it's fantastic that the main character in Pushing Daisies is a pie maker (and it doesn't hurt that Kristin Chenowith is in it - she's very talented and has a great character in this show).

And what is it about medical and legal dramas? Aren't there other professions out there which could be turned into shows? It just seems like cops, lawyers and doctors are the easiest route...

Anyway, check out Pushing Daisies when you get a chance.

09 October 2007

Random notes from classes

a) Make sure you're building the right system before you ensure you are building it right (makes me think of the F-22, which is -in my opinion- the wrong system, built well).

b) A guy named Barry Boehm developed something called the Spiral Development model. He no longer endorses the model, because he says nobody does it correctly (i.e. it's an interesting theory that fails in practice). Guess what - we still (try to) use it anyway.

c) Several people have pointed out that cyber-technology today is at approximately the same state as airpower was in the 1930's / 40's (i.e. before the Air Force was an independent service). So some people are wondering if there should be some sort of independent Cyber Force. But just like airpower, I think people (specifically the senior-types) are waiting to see if this internet thing is going to catch on and/or be relevant before endorsing something like an independent Cyber Force (duh!). Even though we know airplane development would have moved along faster/better if the AF had become independent in the 1930's, when people first called for it, rather than waiting until 1947. Plus ca change...

07 October 2007


There are good reasons for not doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Like, you don't really want to, you're not interested in writing, you don't have anything to say, or your writing activities are progressing in other ways. NaNoWriMo is not for the faint of heart - it's fun, but it's also exhausting and hard.

My point is, it's OK to not do it (particularly if you've done it before, you have other writing projects you're doing in different ways, etc).

But there are also bad reasons for not doing NaNoWriMo. Like, you're afraid it'll be too hard or too tiring. Or you don't think you'll be able to do it well. Or, you've always wanted to write, but aren't quite sure how to start. I'll tell you how to start: sit down and put words on paper. It really is that easy.

I do hope lots of you will join in with NaNoWriMo this year. I hope you'll have a lot of fun with it! But it's OK to not, of course...

03 October 2007

TV Update

I watched about 8 minutes of the Caveman show, which was a waste of about 4 or 5 minutes. I was really sort of hoping it would be funny, but sadly, after 8 minutes, we'd had enough and moved on. It was just too painful.

But there's some fantastic stuff on TV now. Have you seen Pushing Daisies - wow. Holy cow. It's gorgeous, funny, engaging, poignant and did I say gorgeous?

Also, the Big Bang Theory show makes me laugh out loud, frequently and often. I love geek humor.

Classes update

Day 2 of the Fall quarter is behind me, and Day 3 is today! I'm very, very excited about most of my classes (particularly one on Information Operations). I'm very not excited about my schedule on Tuesdays. I've got two 2-hour classes back to back, with a one hour class right before them and a one hour class at the end of the day (starting at 4pm). Six hours of lecture is quite a lot for one day, and by 5pm, I'm pretty wiped out.

The professors are all fantastic (although it's sort of weird to see a Major teaching the class - the same rank as I am). The course material looks challenging but do-able, and relevant to my future endeavors. It'll definitely be a time management challenge, keeping track of assignments, etc...

It's cool to be in school again.


"All models are wrong. Some are useful."

- from a software class yesterday

02 October 2007

Busted Rim

Many of the streets around here have no shoulder at all. Like, the yellow line is painted right up against the grass, corn or beans. I'm not sure why the streets are so narrow like that, but there you go.

So, the other day my attention wavered for a split second, and my front tire slipped over the yellow line for a moment... right at a point where the non-shoulder was actually a pretty deep little hole. I managed to crack off a significant chunk of my rim.

Got home fine and a few hundred bucks later, the car is good as new (as far as I can tell). And the amazing thing is despite the damage to the wheel, the tire was untouched and didn't need to be replaced!