At ease

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This is from a talk by Kent something, announced on the BayXP mailing list.
Message: having Ease at Work means I'm not wasting energy feeling
uncomfortable and thus I will likely accomplish more, but even if I
don't I will certainly have a better life.

Inspirational quote #1: "Why do I have to turn off parts of myself to
work here?"

Inspirational quote #2: " I got tired of riding the genius/shithead
roller coaster."

Ease != Easy

Ease is:
  * a state of comfort
  * freedom from worry, pain or agitation.
  * readiness in performance. facility.

He talked about Fun vs Joy, something I've also heard as Pleasure vs. Enjoyment.

Source of discomfort: the difference between awesome powers to change
the world and the limitation that this doesn't matter if other people
don't also do their part. "Can I learn to be ok with both the power
and the limitation?"

When feeling discomfort likely to do things like play "schedule
chicken", overwork, hide information, live with the fear of being
found out.

Things that came up during questions:

  * Hero/martyr syndrome is organizationally addictive. People who buy
into this behavior get rewarded. How do you maintain ease in an
environment that not only doesn't value it but sees it as weakness?

  * This view of the programmer as wizard is related to the societal
view of software as mysterious.  At one time phones were mysterious...
will that view of programmers as wizards go away when computers are no
longer technological innovation but just a fact of life, as unexciting
as the phone on your wall?

  * audience member (you are on this list and you know who you are)
story paraphrased:  "when I'm at ease I tend to be honest in my
estimates and not overcommit, not get in over my head. but sometimes
getting myself in trouble was useful. I miss that useful trouble."

Brand called You

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The Brand Called You

Big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the Age of the Individual, you have to be your own brand. Here's what it takes to be the CEO of Me Inc.

From: Issue 10| August/September 1997 |  Page 83 By: Tom Peters Illustrations by: Alison Seiffer

It's a new brand world.

That cross-trainer you're wearing -- one look at the distinctive swoosh on the side tells everyone who's got you branded. That coffee travel mug you're carrying -- ah, you're a Starbucks woman! Your T-shirt with the distinctive Champion "C" on the sleeve, the blue jeans with the prominent Levi's rivets, the watch with the hey-this-certifies-I-made-it icon on the face, your fountain pen with the maker's symbol crafted into the end ...

You're branded, branded, branded, branded.

It's time for me -- and you -- to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson that's true for anyone who's interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work.

Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.

It's that simple -- and that hard. And that inescapable.

Behemoth companies may take turns buying each other or acquiring every hot startup that catches their eye -- mergers in 1996 set records. Hollywood may be interested in only blockbusters and book publishers may want to put out only guaranteed best-sellers. But don't be fooled by all the frenzy at the humongous end of the size spectrum.

The real action is at the other end: the main chance is becoming a free agent in an economy of free agents, looking to have the best season you can imagine in your field, looking to do your best work and chalk up a remarkable track record, and looking to establish your own micro equivalent of the Nike swoosh. Because if you do, you'll not only reach out toward every opportunity within arm's (or laptop's) length, you'll not only make a noteworthy contribution to your team's success -- you'll also put yourself in a great bargaining position for next season's free-agency market.

The good news -- and it is largely good news -- is that everyone has a chance to stand out. Everyone has a chance to learn, improve, and build up their skills. Everyone has a chance to be a brand worthy of remark.

Who understands this fundamental principle? The big companies do. They've come a long way in a short time: it was just over four years ago, April 2, 1993 to be precise, when Philip Morris cut the price of Marlboro cigarettes by 40 cents a pack. That was on a Friday. On Monday, the stock market value of packaged goods companies fell by $25 billion. Everybody agreed: brands were doomed.

Today brands are everything, and all kinds of products and services -- from accounting firms to sneaker makers to restaurants -- are figuring out how to transcend the narrow boundaries of their categories and become a brand surrounded by a Tommy Hilfiger-like buzz.

Who else understands it? Every single Web site sponsor. In fact, the Web makes the case for branding more directly than any packaged good or consumer product ever could. Here's what the Web says: Anyone can have a Web site. And today, because anyone can ... anyone does! So how do you know which sites are worth visiting, which sites to bookmark, which sites are worth going to more than once? The answer: branding. The sites you go back to are the sites you trust. They're the sites where the brand name tells you that the visit will be worth your time -- again and again. The brand is a promise of the value you'll receive.

The same holds true for that other killer app of the Net -- email. When everybody has email and anybody can send you email, how do you decide whose messages you're going to read and respond to first -- and whose you're going to send to the trash unread? The answer: personal branding. The name of the email sender is every bit as important a brand -- is a brand -- as the name of the Web site you visit. It's a promise of the value you'll receive for the time you spend reading the message.

Nobody understands branding better than professional services firms. Look at McKinsey or Arthur Andersen for a model of the new rules of branding at the company and personal level. Almost every professional services firm works with the same business model. They have almost no hard assets -- my guess is that most probably go so far as to rent or lease every tangible item they possibly can to keep from having to own anything. They have lots of soft assets -- more conventionally known as people, preferably smart, motivated, talented people. And they have huge revenues -- and astounding profits.

They also have a very clear culture of work and life. You're hired, you report to work, you join a team -- and you immediately start figuring out how to deliver value to the customer. Along the way, you learn stuff, develop your skills, hone your abilities, move from project to project. And if you're really smart, you figure out how to distinguish yourself from all the other very smart people walking around with $1,500 suits, high-powered laptops, and well-polished resumes. Along the way, if you're really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself -- you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.

What makes You different?

Start right now: as of this moment you're going to think of yourself differently! You're not an "employee" of General Motors, you're not a "staffer" at General Mills, you're not a "worker" at General Electric or a "human resource" at General Dynamics (ooops, it's gone!). Forget the Generals! You don't "belong to" any company for life, and your chief affiliation isn't to any particular "function." You're not defined by your job title and you're not confined by your job description.

Starting today you are a brand.

You're every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.

If your answer wouldn't light up the eyes of a prospective client or command a vote of confidence from a satisfied past client, or -- worst of all -- if it doesn't grab you, then you've got a big problem. It's time to give some serious thought and even more serious effort to imagining and developing yourself as a brand.

Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors -- or your colleagues. What have you done lately -- this week -- to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?

Go back to the comparison between brand You and brand X -- the approach the corporate biggies take to creating a brand. The standard model they use is feature-benefit: every feature they offer in their product or service yields an identifiable and distinguishable benefit for their customer or client. A dominant feature of Nordstrom department stores is the personalized service it lavishes on each and every customer. The customer benefit: a feeling of being accorded individualized attention -- along with all of the choice of a large department store.

So what is the "feature-benefit model" that the brand called You offers? Do you deliver your work on time, every time? Your internal or external customer gets dependable, reliable service that meets its strategic needs. Do you anticipate and solve problems before they become crises? Your client saves money and headaches just by having you on the team. Do you always complete your projects within the allotted budget? I can't name a single client of a professional services firm who doesn't go ballistic at cost overruns.

Your next step is to cast aside all the usual descriptors that employees and workers depend on to locate themselves in the company structure. Forget your job title. Ask yourself: What do I do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value? Forget your job description. Ask yourself: What do I do that I am most proud of? Most of all, forget about the standard rungs of progression you've climbed in your career up to now. Burn that damnable "ladder" and ask yourself: What have I accomplished that I can unabashedly brag about? If you're going to be a brand, you've got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value, that you're proud of, and most important, that you can shamelessly take credit for.

When you've done that, sit down and ask yourself one more question to define your brand: What do I want to be famous for? That's right -- famous for!

What's the pitch for You?

So it's a cliché: don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle. it's also a principle that every corporate brand understands implicitly, from Omaha Steaks's through-the-mail sales program to Wendy's "we're just regular folks" ad campaign. No matter how beefy your set of skills, no matter how tasty you've made that feature-benefit proposition, you still have to market the bejesus out of your brand -- to customers, colleagues, and your virtual network of associates.

For most branding campaigns, the first step is visibility. If you're General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler, that usually means a full flight of TV and print ads designed to get billions of "impressions" of your brand in front of the consuming public. If you're brand You, you've got the same need for visibility -- but no budget to buy it.

So how do you market brand You?

There's literally no limit to the ways you can go about enhancing your profile. Try moonlighting! Sign up for an extra project inside your organization, just to introduce yourself to new colleagues and showcase your skills -- or work on new ones. Or, if you can carve out the time, take on a freelance project that gets you in touch with a totally novel group of people. If you can get them singing your praises, they'll help spread the word about what a remarkable contributor you are.

If those ideas don't appeal, try teaching a class at a community college, in an adult education program, or in your own company. You get credit for being an expert, you increase your standing as a professional, and you increase the likelihood that people will come back to you with more requests and more opportunities to stand out from the crowd.

If you're a better writer than you are a teacher, try contributing a column or an opinion piece to your local newspaper. And when I say local, I mean local. You don't have to make the op-ed page of the New York Times to make the grade. Community newspapers, professional newsletters, even inhouse company publications have white space they need to fill. Once you get started, you've got a track record -- and clips that you can use to snatch more chances.

And if you're a better talker than you are teacher or writer, try to get yourself on a panel discussion at a conference or sign up to make a presentation at a workshop. Visibility has a funny way of multiplying; the hardest part is getting started. But a couple of good panel presentations can earn you a chance to give a "little" solo speech -- and from there it's just a few jumps to a major address at your industry's annual convention.

The second important thing to remember about your personal visibility campaign is: it all matters. When you're promoting brand You, everything you do -- and everything you choose not to do -- communicates the value and character of the brand. Everything from the way you handle phone conversations to the email messages you send to the way you conduct business in a meeting is part of the larger message you're sending about your brand.

Partly it's a matter of substance: what you have to say and how well you get it said. But it's also a matter of style. On the Net, do your communications demonstrate a command of the technology? In meetings, do you keep your contributions short and to the point? It even gets down to the level of your brand You business card: Have you designed a cool-looking logo for your own card? Are you demonstrating an appreciation for design that shows you understand that packaging counts -- a lot -- in a crowded world?

The key to any personal branding campaign is "word-of-mouth marketing." Your network of friends, colleagues, clients, and customers is the most important marketing vehicle you've got; what they say about you and your contributions is what the market will ultimately gauge as the value of your brand. So the big trick to building your brand is to find ways to nurture your network of colleagues -- consciously.

What's the real power of You?

If you want to grow your brand, you've got to come to terms with power -- your own. The key lesson: power is not a dirty word!

In fact, power for the most part is a badly misunderstood term and a badly misused capability. I'm talking about a different kind of power than we usually refer to. It's not ladder power, as in who's best at climbing over the adjacent bods. It's not who's-got-the-biggest-office-by-six-square-inches power or who's-got-the-fanciest-title power.

It's influence power.

It's being known for making the most significant contribution in your particular area. It's reputational power. If you were a scholar, you'd measure it by the number of times your publications get cited by other people. If you were a consultant, you'd measure it by the number of CEOs who've got your business card in their Rolodexes. (And better yet, the number who know your beeper number by heart.)

Getting and using power -- intelligently, responsibly, and yes, powerfully -- are essential skills for growing your brand. One of the things that attracts us to certain brands is the power they project. As a consumer, you want to associate with brands whose powerful presence creates a halo effect that rubs off on you.

It's the same in the workplace. There are power trips that are worth taking -- and that you can take without appearing to be a self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing megalomaniacal jerk. You can do it in small, slow, and subtle ways. Is your team having a hard time organizing productive meetings? Volunteer to write the agenda for the next meeting. You're contributing to the team, and you get to decide what's on and off the agenda. When it's time to write a post-project report, does everyone on your team head for the door? Beg for the chance to write the report -- because the hand that holds the pen (or taps the keyboard) gets to write or at least shape the organization's history.

Most important, remember that power is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader. When you're thinking like brand You, you don't need org-chart authority to be a leader. The fact is you are a leader. You're leading You!

One key to growing your power is to recognize the simple fact that we now live in a project world. Almost all work today is organized into bite-sized packets called projects. A project-based world is ideal for growing your brand: projects exist around deliverables, they create measurables, and they leave you with braggables. If you're not spending at least 70% of your time working on projects, creating projects, or organizing your (apparently mundane) tasks into projects, you are sadly living in the past. Today you have to think, breathe, act, and work in projects.

Project World makes it easier for you to assess -- and advertise -- the strength of brand You. Once again, think like the giants do. Imagine yourself a brand manager at Procter & Gamble: When you look at your brand's assets, what can you add to boost your power and felt presence? Would you be better off with a simple line extension -- taking on a project that adds incrementally to your existing base of skills and accomplishments? Or would you be better off with a whole new product line? Is it time to move overseas for a couple of years, venturing outside your comfort zone (even taking a lateral move -- damn the ladders), tackling something new and completely different?

Whatever you decide, you should look at your brand's power as an exercise in new-look résumé; management -- an exercise that you start by doing away once and for all with the word "résumé." You don't have an old-fashioned résumé anymore! You've got a marketing brochure for brand You. Instead of a static list of titles held and positions occupied, your marketing brochure brings to life the skills you've mastered, the projects you've delivered, the braggables you can take credit for. And like any good marketing brochure, yours needs constant updating to reflect the growth -- breadth and depth -- of brand You.

What's loyalty to You?

Everyone is saying that loyalty is gone; loyalty is dead; loyalty is over. I think that's a bunch of crap.

I think loyalty is much more important than it ever was in the past. A 40-year career with the same company once may have been called loyalty; from here it looks a lot like a work life with very few options, very few opportunities, and very little individual power. That's what we used to call indentured servitude.

Today loyalty is the only thing that matters. But it isn't blind loyalty to the company. It's loyalty to your colleagues, loyalty to your team, loyalty to your project, loyalty to your customers, and loyalty to yourself. I see it as a much deeper sense of loyalty than mindless loyalty to the Company Z logo.

I know this may sound like selfishness. But being CEO of Me Inc. requires you to act selfishly -- to grow yourself, to promote yourself, to get the market to reward yourself. Of course, the other side of the selfish coin is that any company you work for ought to applaud every single one of the efforts you make to develop yourself. After all, everything you do to grow Me Inc. is gravy for them: the projects you lead, the networks you develop, the customers you delight, the braggables you create generate credit for the firm. As long as you're learning, growing, building relationships, and delivering great results, it's good for you and it's great for the company.

That win-win logic holds for as long as you happen to be at that particular company. Which is precisely where the age of free agency comes into play. If you're treating your résumé as if it's a marketing brochure, you've learned the first lesson of free agency. The second lesson is one that today's professional athletes have all learned: you've got to check with the market on a regular basis to have a reliable read on your brand's value. You don't have to be looking for a job to go on a job interview. For that matter, you don't even have to go on an actual job interview to get useful, important feedback.

The real question is: How is brand You doing? Put together your own "user's group" -- the personal brand You equivalent of a software review group. Ask for -- insist on -- honest, helpful feedback on your performance, your growth, your value. It's the only way to know what you would be worth on the open market. It's the only way to make sure that, when you declare your free agency, you'll be in a strong bargaining position. It's not disloyalty to "them"; it's responsible brand management for brand You -- which also generates credit for them.

What's the future of You?

It's over. No more vertical. No more ladder. That's not the way careers work anymore. Linearity is out. A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It's full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense. (It often does.) A career is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, gain you new expertise, develop new capabilities, grow your colleague set, and constantly reinvent you as a brand.

As you scope out the path your "career" will take, remember: the last thing you want to do is become a manager. Like "résumé," "manager" is an obsolete term. It's practically synonymous with "dead end job." What you want is a steady diet of more interesting, more challenging, more provocative projects. When you look at the progression of a career constructed out of projects, directionality is not only hard to track -- Which way is up? -- but it's also totally irrelevant.

Instead of making yourself a slave to the concept of a career ladder, reinvent yourself on a semiregular basis. Start by writing your own mission statement, to guide you as CEO of Me Inc. What turns you on? Learning something new? Gaining recognition for your skills as a technical wizard? Shepherding new ideas from concept to market? What's your personal definition of success? Money? Power? Fame? Or doing what you love? However you answer these questions, search relentlessly for job or project opportunities that fit your mission statement. And review that mission statement every six months to make sure you still believe what you wrote.

No matter what you're doing today, there are four things you've got to measure yourself against. First, you've got to be a great teammate and a supportive colleague. Second, you've got to be an exceptional expert at something that has real value. Third, you've got to be a broad-gauged visionary -- a leader, a teacher, a farsighted "imagineer." Fourth, you've got to be a businessperson -- you've got to be obsessed with pragmatic outcomes.

It's this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.

Tom Peters ( is the world's leading brand when it comes to writing, speaking, or thinking about the new economy. He has just released a CD-ROM, "Tom Peters' Career Survival Guide" (Houghton Mifflin interactive). Rob Walker contributed the brand profile sidebars.

18 things to teach your body

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18 Tricks to Teach Your Body 18 Tricks to Teach Your Body
Soothe a burn, cure a toothache, clear a stuffed nose...

By: Kate Dailey, Photographs by: Michael Cogliantry, Illustrations by: Headcase Design & Zohar Lazar
Posted on 10/24/2005

1. If your throat tickles, scratch your ear!

When you were 9, playing your armpit was a cool trick. Now, as an adult, you can still appreciate a good body-based feat, but you're more discriminating. Take that tickle in your throat; it's not worth gagging over. Here's a better way to scratch your itch: "When the nerves in the ear are stimulated, it creates a reflex in the throat that can cause a muscle spasm," says Scott Schaffer, M.D., president of an ear, nose, and throat specialty center in Gibbsboro, New Jersey. "This spasm relieves the tickle."


2. Experience supersonic hearing!

If you're stuck chatting up a mumbler at a cocktail party, lean in with your right ear. It's better than your left at following the rapid rhythms of speech, according to researchers at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. If, on the other hand, you're trying to identify that song playing softly in the elevator, turn your left ear toward the sound. The left ear is better at picking up music tones.


3. Overcome your most primal urge!

Need to pee? No bathroom nearby? Fantasize about Jessica Simpson. Thinking about sex preoccupies your brain, so you won't feel as much discomfort, says Larry Lipshultz, M.D., chief of male reproductive medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine. For best results, try Simpson's "These Boots Are Made for Walking" video.


4. Feel no pain!

German researchers have discovered that coughing during an injection can lessen the pain of the needle stick. According to Taras Usichenko, author of a study on the phenomenon, the trick causes a sudden, temporary rise in pressure in the chest and spinal canal, inhibiting the pain-conducting structures of the spinal cord.

5. Clear your stuffed nose!

Forget Sudafed. An easier, quicker, and cheaper way to relieve sinus pressure is by alternately thrusting your tongue against the roof of your mouth, then pressing between your eyebrows with one finger. This causes the vomer bone, which runs through the nasal passages to the mouth, to rock back and forth, says Lisa DeStefano, D.O., an assistant professor at the Michigan State University college of osteopathic medicine. The motion loosens congestion; after 20 seconds, you'll feel your sinuses start to drain.


6. Fight fire without water!

Worried those wings will repeat on you tonight? "Sleep on your left side," says Anthony A. Starpoli, M.D., a New York City gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at New York Medical College. Studies have shown that patients who sleep on their left sides are less likely to suffer from acid reflux. The esophagus and stomach connect at an angle. When you sleep on your right, the stomach is higher than the esophagus, allowing food and stomach acid to slide up your throat. When you're on your left, the stomach is lower than the esophagus, so gravity's in your favor.


7. Cure your toothache without opening your mouth!

Just rub ice on the back of your hand, on the V-shaped webbed area between your thumb and index finger. A Canadian study found that this technique reduces toothache pain by as much as 50 percent compared with using no ice. The nerve pathways at the base of that V stimulate an area of the brain that blocks pain signals from the face and hands.


8. Make burns disappear!

When you accidentally singe your finger on the stove, clean the skin and apply light pressure with the finger pads of your unmarred hand. Ice will relieve your pain more quickly, Dr. DeStefano says, but since the natual method brings the burned skin back to a normal temperature, the skin is less likely to blister.

9. Stop the world from spinning!

One too many drinks left you dizzy? Put your hand on something stable. The part of your ear responsible for balance -- the cupula -- floats in a fluid of the same density as blood. "As alcohol dilutes blood in the cupula, the cupula becomes less dense and rises," says Dr. Schaffer. This confuses your brain. The tactile input from a stable object gives the brain a second opinion, and you feel more in balance. Because the nerves in the hand are so sensitive, this works better than the conventional foot-on-the-floor wisdom.

10. Unstitch your side!

If you're like most people, when you run, you exhale as your right foot hits the ground. This puts downward pressure on your liver (which lives on your right side), which then tugs at the diaphragm and creates a side stitch, according to The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Men. The fix: Exhale as your left foot strikes the ground.


11. Stanch blood with a single finger!

Pinching your nose and leaning back is a great way to stop a nosebleed -- if you don't mind choking on your own O positive. A more civil approach: Put some cotton on your upper gums -- just behind that small dent below your nose -- and press against it, hard. "Most bleeds come from the front of the septum, the cartilage wall that divides the nose," says Peter Desmarais, M.D., an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Entabeni Hospital, in Durban, South Africa. "Pressing here helps stop them."


12. Make your heart stand still!

Trying to quell first-date jitters? Blow on your thumb. The vagus nerve, which governs heart rate, can be controlled through breathing, says Ben Abo, an emergency medical- services specialist at the University of Pittsburgh. It'll get your heart rate back to normal.


13. Thaw your brain!

Too much Chipwich too fast will freeze the brains of lesser men. As for you, press your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth, covering as much as you can. "Since the nerves in the roof of your mouth get extremely cold, your body thinks your brain is freezing, too," says Abo. "In compensating, it overheats, causing an ice-cream headache." The more pressure you apply to the roof of your mouth, the faster your headache will subside.

14. Prevent near-sightedness!

Poor distance vision is rarely caused by genetics, says Anne Barber, O.D., an optometrist in Tacoma, Washington. "It's usually caused by near-point stress." In other words, staring at your computer screen for too long. So flex your way to 20/20 vision. Every few hours during the day, close your eyes, tense your body, take a deep breath, and, after a few seconds, release your breath and muscles at the same time. Tightening and releasing muscles such as the biceps and glutes can trick involuntary muscles -- like the eyes -- into relaxing as well.


15. Wake the dead!

If your hand falls asleep while you're driving or sitting in an odd position, rock your head from side to side. It'll painlessly banish your pins and needles in less than a minute, says Dr. DeStefano. A tingly hand or arm is often the result of compression in the bundle of nerves in your neck; loosening your neck muscles releases the pressure. Compressed nerves lower in the body govern the feet, so don't let your sleeping dogs lie. Stand up and walk around.


16. Impress your friends!

Next time you're at a party, try this trick: Have a person hold one arm straight out to the side, palm down, and instruct him to maintain this position. Then place two fingers on his wrist and push down. He'll resist. Now have him put one foot on a surface that's a half inch higher (a few magazines) and repeat. This time his arm will cave like the French. By misaligning his hips, you've offset his spine, says Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Results Fitness, in Santa Clarita, California. Your brain senses that the spine is vulnerable, so it shuts down the body's ability to resist.


17. Breathe underwater!

If you're dying to retrieve that quarter from the bottom of the pool, take several short breaths first -- essentially, hyperventilate. When you're underwater, it's not a lack of oxygen that makes you desperate for a breath; it's the buildup of carbon dioxide, which makes your blood acidic, which signals your brain that somethin' ain't right. "When you hyperventilate, the influx of oxygen lowers blood acidity," says Jonathan Armbruster, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at Auburn University. "This tricks your brain into thinking it has more oxygen." It'll buy you up to 10 seconds.

18. Read minds!

Your own! "If you're giving a speech the next day, review it before falling asleep," says Candi Heimgartner, an instructor of biological sciences at the University of Idaho. Since most memory consolidation happens during sleep, anything you read right before bed is more likely to be encoded as long-term memory.

Googlel: 10 Golden rules

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MSNBC - Google: Ten Golden Rules

Google: Ten Golden Rules
Getting the most out of knowledge workers will be the key to business success for the next quarter century. Here's how we do it at Google.

By Eric Schmidt and Hal Varian
Updated: 11:33 a.m. ET Dec. 2, 2005

Issues 2006 - At google, we think business guru Peter Drucker well understood how to manage the new breed of "knowledge workers." After all, Drucker invented the term in 1959. He says knowledge workers believe they are paid to be effective, not to work 9 to 5, and that smart businesses will "strip away everything that gets in their knowledge workers' way." Those that succeed will attract the best performers, securing "the single biggest factor for competitive advantage in the next 25 years."

At Google, we seek that advantage. The ongoing debate about whether big corporations are mismanaging knowledge workers is one we take very seriously, because those who don't get it right will be gone. We've drawn on good ideas we've seen elsewhere and come up with a few of our own. What follows are seven key principles we use to make knowledge workers most effective. As in most technology companies, many of our employees are engineers, so we will focus on that particular group, but many of the policies apply to all sorts of knowledge workers.

  • Hire by committee. Virtually every person who interviews at Google talks to at least half-a-dozen interviewers, drawn from both management and potential colleagues. Everyone's opinion counts, making the hiring process more fair and pushing standards higher. Yes, it takes longer, but we think it's worth it. If you hire great people and involve them intensively in the hiring process, you'll get more great people. We started building this positive feedback loop when the company was founded, and it has had a huge payoff.
  • Cater to their every need. As Drucker says, the goal is to "strip away everything that gets in their way." We provide a standard package of fringe benefits, but on top of that are first-class dining facilities, gyms, laundry rooms, massage rooms, haircuts, carwashes, dry cleaning, commuting buses—just about anything a hardworking engineer might want. Let's face it: programmers want to program, they don't want to do their laundry. So we make it easy for them to do both.
  • Pack them in. Almost every project at Google is a team project, and teams have to communicate. The best way to make communication easy is to put team members within a few feet of each other. The result is that virtually everyone at Google shares an office. This way, when a programmer needs to confer with a colleague, there is immediate access: no telephone tag, no e-mail delay, no waiting for a reply. Of course, there are many conference rooms that people can use for detailed discussion so that they don't disturb their office mates. Even the CEO shared an office at Google for several months after he arrived. Sitting next to a knowledgeable employee was an incredibly effective educational experience.
  • Make coordination easy. Because all members of a team are within a few feet of one another, it is relatively easy to coordinate projects. In addition to physical proximity, each Googler e-mails a snippet once a week to his work group describing what he has done in the last week. This gives everyone an easy way to track what everyone else is up to, making it much easier to monitor progress and synchronize work flow.
  • Eat your own dog food. Google workers use the company's tools intensively. The most obvious tool is the Web, with an internal Web page for virtually every project and every task. They are all indexed and available to project participants on an as-needed basis. We also make extensive use of other information-management tools, some of which are eventually rolled out as products. For example, one of the reasons for Gmail's success is that it was beta tested within the company for many months. The use of e-mail is critical within the organization, so Gmail had to be tuned to satisfy the needs of some of our most demanding customers—our knowledge workers.
  • Encourage creativity. Google engineers can spend up to 20 percent of their time on a project of their choice. There is, of course, an approval process and some oversight, but basically we want to allow creative people to be creative. One of our not-so-secret weapons is our ideas mailing list: a companywide suggestion box where people can post ideas ranging from parking procedures to the next killer app. The software allows for everyone to comment on and rate ideas, permitting the best ideas to percolate to the top.
  • Strive to reach consensus. Modern corporate mythology has the unique decision maker as hero. We adhere to the view that the "many are smarter than the few," and solicit a broad base of views before reaching any decision. At Google, the role of the manager is that of an aggregator of viewpoints, not the dictator of decisions. Building a consensus sometimes takes longer, but always produces a more committed team and better decisions
  • Don't be evil. Much has been written about Google's slogan, but we really try to live by it, particularly in the ranks of management. As in every organization, people are passionate about their views. But nobody throws chairs at Google, unlike management practices used at some other well-known technology companies. We foster to create an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, not a company full of yes men.
  • Data drive decisions. At Google, almost every decision is based on quantitative analysis. We've built systems to manage information, not only on the Internet at large, but also internally. We have dozens of analysts who plow through the data, analyze performance metrics and plot trends to keep us as up to date as possible. We have a raft of online "dashboards" for every business we work in that provide up-to-the-minute snapshots of where we are.
  • Communicate effectively. Every Friday we have an all-hands assembly with announcements, introductions and questions and answers. (Oh, yes, and some food and drink.) This allows management to stay in touch with what our knowledge workers are thinking and vice versa. Google has remarkably broad dissemination of information within the organization and remarkably few serious leaks. Contrary to what some might think, we believe it is the first fact that causes the second: a trusted work force is a loyal work force.

Of course, we're not the only company that follows these practices. Many of them are common around Silicon Valley. And we recognize that our management techniques have to evolve as the company grows. There are several problems that we (and other companies like us) face.

One is "techno arrogance." Engineers are competitive by nature and they have low tolerance for those who aren't as driven or as knowledgeable as they are. But almost all engineering projects are team projects; having a smart but inflexible person on a team can be deadly. If we see a recommendation that says "smartest person I've ever known" combined with "I wouldn't ever want to work with them again," we decline to make them an offer. One reason for extensive peer interviews is to make sure that teams are enthused about the new team member. Many of our best people are terrific role models in terms of team building, and we want to keep it that way.

A related problem is the not-invented-here syndrome. A good engineer is always convinced that he can build a better system than the existing ones, leading to the refrain "Don't buy it, build it." Well, they may be right, but we have to focus on those projects with the biggest payoff. Sometimes this means going outside the company for products and services.

Another issue that we will face in the coming years is the maturation of the company, the industry and our work force. We, along with other firms in this industry, are in a rapid growth stage now, but that won't go on forever. Some of our new workers are fresh out of college; others have families and extensive job experience. Their interests and needs are different. We need to provide benefits and a work environment that will be attractive to all ages.

A final issue is making sure that as Google grows, communication procedures keep pace with our increasing scale. The Friday meetings are great for the Mountain View team, but Google is now a global organization.

We have focused on managing creativity and innovation, but that's not the only thing that matters at Google. We also have to manage day-to-day operations, and it's not an easy task. We are building technology infrastructure that is dramatically larger, more complex and more demanding than anything that has been built in history. Those who plan, implement and maintain these systems, which are growing to meet a constantly rising set of demands, have to have strong incentives, too. At Google, operations are not just an afterthought: they are critical to the company's success, and we want to have just as much effort and creativity in this domain as in new product development.

Schmidt is CEO of Google. Varian is a Berkeley professor and consultant with Google.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

Why Movies are so Bad

Book page


"Why Are Movies So Bad? or, The Numbers" by Pauline Kael


This is one of the angriest rants against business-as-usual in the film industry ever written — and one of the most lethally accurate, I always believed, since it stemmed from Kael's experience in working as a kind of senior development executive at Paramount Pictures in (as I recall) 1979 and '80.�


Her piece was seen at the time as a kind of obituary for the golden era of expressionism American movies had enjoyed from the late '60s to mid '70s, which was pretty much killed off by the marketing revolution brought about by the wide release of Jaws in 1975 — i.e., the first big-event film to realize a huge financial killing by appearing in thousands of theaters simultaneously after a big commercial launch — and the growing corporate influence upon the filmmaking process (which was particularly augmented by the swelling numbers of TV executives who began taking power in Hollywood beginning in the mid to late '70s) that followed.


[I've added boldface type and underlines to certain sentences in the piece to lend a kind of structure — the piece didn't appear this way originally when it ran on June 23,1980 in The New Yorker.]





"Why Are Movies So Bad? or, The Numbers"

by Pauline Kael


1.� The movies have been so rank the last couple of years that when I see people lining up to buy tickets I sometimes think that the movies aren't drawing an audience — they're inheriting an audience. People just want to go to a movie. They're stung repeatedly, yet their desire for a good movie — for any movie — is so strong that all over the country they keep lining up. "There's one God for all creation, but there must be a separate God for the movies," a producer said. "How else can you explain their survival?" An atmosphere of hope develops before a big picture's release, and even after your friends tell you how bad it is, you can't quite believe it until you see for yourself. The lines (and the grosses) tell us only that people are going to the movies — not that they're having a good time. Financially, the industry is healthy, so among the people at the top there seems to be little recognition of what miserable shape movies are in. They think the grosses are proof that people are happy with what they're getting, just as TV executives think that the programs with the highest ratings are what TV viewers want, rather than what they settle for. (A number of the new movie executives come from TV.) These new executives don't necessarily see many movies themselves, and they rarely go to a theater. If for the last couple of years Hollywood couldn't seem to do anything right, it isn't that it was just a stretch of bad luck — it's the result of recent developments within the industry. And in all probability it will get worse, not better. There have been few recent American movies worth lining up for — last year there was chiefly The Black Stallion, and this year there is The Empire Strikes. The first was made under the aegis of Francis Ford Coppola; the second was financed by George Lucas, using his profits from Star Wars as a guarantee to obtain bank loans. One can say with fair confidence that neither The Black Stallion nor The Empire Strikes Back could have been made with such care for visual richness and imagination had they been done under studio control. Even small films on traditional subjects are difficult to get financed at a studio if there are no parts for stars in them; Peter Yates, the director of Breaking Away a graceful, unpredictable comedy that pleases and satisfies audiences took the project to one studio after another for almost six years before he could get the backing for it.


2.� There are direct results when conglomerates take over movie companies. Heads of the conglomerates may be drawn into the movie business for the status implications — the opportunity to associate with the world-famous. Some other conglomerate heads may be drawn in for the women, too; a new social, life beckons, and as they become social people with great names approach them as equals, and famous stars and producers and writers and directors tell them they've heard from other studios and about ideas they have for movies. The conglomerate heads become indignant that the studios they run have passed on these wonderful projects. The next day, they're on the phone raising hell with the studio bosses. Very soon, they're likely to be directors and suggesting material to them, talking to actors, and company executives what projects should be developed. How bad is the judgment of the conglomerate heads? Very bad. They haven't grown up in a showbusiness milieu — they don't have the instincts or the information of those who have lived and sweated movies for many years. (Neither do most of the current studio bosses.) The corporate heads may be business geniuses, but as far as movies are concerned, have virgin instincts; ideas that are new to them and take them by storm may have failed grotesquely dozens of times. But they feel that they are creative people — how else could they have made so much money and be in a position to advise artists what to do? Who is to tell them no? Within a very short time, they are in fact, though not in title, running the studio. They turn up compliant executives who will settle for the title and not fight for the authority or for their own tastes if, in fact, they have any. The conglomerate heads find these compliant executives among lawyers and agents, among television executives, and in the lower echelons of the companies they've taken over. Generally, these executives reserve all their enthusiasm for movies that have made money; those are the only movies they like.� When a director or a writer talks to them and tries to suggest the kind of movie he has in mind by using a comparison, they may stare at him blankly. They are usually law school or business school graduates; they have no frame of reference. Worse, they have no shame about not knowing anything about movies.� From their point of view, such knowledge is not essential to their work.� Their talent is being able to anticipate their superiors' opinions; in meetings, they show a sixth sense for guessing what the most powerful person wants to hear. And if they ever guess wrong, they know how to shift gears without a tremor. So the movie companies wind up with top production executives whose interest in movies rarely extends beyond the selling possibilities; they could be selling neckties just as well as movies, except that they are drawn to glamour and power.


3.This does not prevent these executives from being universally treated as creative giants. If a studio considers eighty projects, and eventually twenty of them (the least risky) go into production, and two of them become runaway hits (or even one of them), the studio's top executive will be a hero to his company and the media, and will soon be quoted in The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, talking about his secret for picking winners — his intuitive understanding, developed from his childhood experiences, that people want a strong, upbeat narrative, that they want to cheer the hero and hiss the villain. When Alien opened "big," Alan Ladd, Jr., president of the pictures division of Twentieth CenturyFox, was regarded as a demigod; it's the same way that Fred Silverman was a demigod. It has nothing to do with quality, only with the numbers. (Ladd and his team weren't admired for the small pictures they took chances on and the artists they stuck by.) The media now echo the kind of thinking that goes on in Hollywood, and spread it wide. Movie critics on TV discuss the relative grosses of the new releases; the grosses at this point relative to previous hits; which pictures win pass the others in a few weeks. It's like the Olympicswhich will be the winners?


4.There are a lot of reasons that movies have been so bad during the last couple of years and probably won't be any better for the next couple of years. One big reason is that rotten pictures are making money — not necessarily wild amounts (though a few are), but sizable amounts. So if studio heads want nothing more than to make money and grab power, there is no reason for them to make better ones. Turning out better pictures might actually jeopardize their position.� Originally, the studios were controlled by theater chains — the chains opened the studios in order to have a source of supply. But the studios and the theater chains were separated by a Supreme Court order in 1948 and subsequent lower court rulings; after that, the studios, operating without the protection of theaters committed in advance to play their product, resorted to "blind bidding" and other maneuvers in order to reduce the risk on their films. It's only in the last few years that the studios have found a new kind of protection. They have discovered that they can get much more from the sale of movies to television than they had been getting, and that they can negotiate presale agreements with the networks for guaranteed amounts before they commit themselves to a production. Licensing fees to the networks now run between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000 for an average picture, and the studios negotiate in advance not only for network showings and later TV syndication (about $1,500,000 for an average picture), and for pay television (between $1,000,000 and $1,500,000), but for cable TV, the airlines, cassettes, and overseas television. And, of course, they still sell to foreign distributors and to exhibitors here, and much of that money is also committed in advance, sometimes even paid in advance. So if a film is budgeted at $8,500,000, the studio may have $14,000,000 guaranteed and — theoretically, at least — show a profit before shooting starts, even if $4,000,000 is allowed for marketing and advertising. And the studio still has the possibility of a big box-office hit and really big money. If a picture is a large-scale adventure story or has superstars, the licensing fee to the networks alone can rise between $15,000,000 and $25,000,000, and the total advance guarantees may come to almost double the budget. Financially, the only danger in an argument like this is that if the film goes seriously over budget the studio will lose money. That's why directors who have the reputation of always coming in on schedule are in steady demand even if they've had a long line of box-office failures and their work is consistently mediocre, and why directors who are perfectionists are shunned as if they were lepers — unless, like Hal Ashby, they've had some recent hits.


5. The studios no longer make movies primarily to attract and please moviegoers; they make movies in such a way as to get as much as possible from prearranged and anticipated deals. Every picture (allowing for a few exceptions) is cast and planned in terms of those deals. Though the studio is happy when it has a box-office hit, it isn't terribly concerned about the people who buy tickets and come out grumbling. They don't grumble very loudly anyway, because even the lumpiest pictures are generally an improvement over television; at least, they're always bigger. TV accustoms people to not expecting much, and because of the new prearranged deals they're not getting very much. There is a quid pro quo for a big advance sale to television theaters: the project must be from a fat, dumb bestseller about an international jewel heist or a skyjacking that involves a planeload of the rich and famous, or be a thinly disguised showbusiness biography of someone who came to an appallingly wretched end, or have an easily paraphrasable theme, preferably something that can be done justice to in a sentence and brings to mind the hits of the past. How else could you entice buyers? Certainly not with something unfamiliar, original. They feel safe with big-star packages, with chase thrillers, with known ingredients. For a big overseas sale, you must have "international" stars performers who are known — such as Sophia Loren, Richard Burton, Candice Bergen, Roger Moore, Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Alain Delon, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen. And you should probably avoid complexities: Much of the new overseas audience is subliterate. For a big advance sale to worldwide television, a movie should also be innocuous: it shouldn't raise any hackles, either by strong language or by a controversial theme. And there must be stars, though not necessarily movie stars. It has recently been discovered that even Americans are actually more interested in TV personalities than in movies, and may be roused from their TV viewing to go see a film with John Denver or John Ritter.� In countries where American TV series have become popular, our TV stars may be better known than our movie stars (especially the ones who appear infrequently). A 1979 Canadian film, Running, starring Michael Douglas, who has appeared in a TV series and was featured in The China Syndrome, cost $4,200,000; by the time it was completed, the various rights to it had been sold for over $6,000,000. The lawyer-financier who set production of Foolin' Around, which stars Gary Busey, said he would not have made the picture without the television insurance of a supporting cast that included Tony Randall, Cloris Leachman, and Eddie Albert. Nobody needs to have heard of these independently packaged pictures for them to be profitable, if it were not contractually necessary to open the film in theaters in order to give it legitimacy as a movie, it would be cheaper not to, because the marketing and advertising costs may outstrip the box-office revenue (unless that, too, was guaranteed).� On productions like these, the backers don't suffer the gamblers' anxieties that were part of the film business in the '50s and '60s, and even the early '70s.� Of course, those backers don't experience the gamblers' highs either.� Movie executives now study the television Q ratings, which measure the public's familiarity with performers, and a performer with a high rating (which he attains if he's been in a long-running series or on a daytime quiz show) is offered plum movie role even if this means that the script will have to be completely re�written for his narrow range or bland personality.


6.There is an even grimmer side to all this: because the studios have discovered how to take the risk out of moviemaking, they don't want to make any movies that they can't protect themselves on. Production and advertising costs have gone so high that there is genuine nervous panic about risky projects. If an executive finances what looks like a perfectly safe, stale piece of material and packs it with stars, and the production costs skyrocket way beyond the guarantees, and the picture loses many millions, he won't be blamed for it — he was playing the game by the same rules as everybody else.


If, however, he takes a gamble on a small project that can't be sold in advancesomething that a gifted director really wants to do, with a subtle, not easily summarized theme and no big names in the castand it loses just a little money, his neck is on the block. So to the executives a good script is a script that attracts a star, and they will make their deals and set the full machinery of a big production in motion and schedule the picture's release dates, even though the script problems have never been worked out and everyone (even the director) secretly knows that the film will be a confused mess, an embarrassment.


7.Another new factor makes a risky project still riskier; if a movie doesn't have an easily paraphrasable theme or big stars, it's hard to sell via a thirty-second TV commercial. (The networks pay a lot for movies, but they get much of it back directly from the movie industry, which increasingly relies on TV commercials to sell a film.) It's even hard for the studio advertising departments to figure out a campaign for newspapers and magazines. And so, faced with something unusual or original, the studio head generally says, "I don't know how to market it, and if I don't know how to market it, it will lose money." The new breed of studio head is not likely to say, "It's something I feel we should take a chance on. Let's see if there's somebody who might be able to figure out how to market it." Just about the only picture the studios made last year that the executives took a financial risk on was Breaking Away. And despite the fact that it cost what is now a pittance ($2,400,000) and received an Academy Award Best Picture nomination, Twentieth Century Fox didn't give it a big theatrical rerelease (the standard procedure for a nominated film) but sold it to NBC for an immediate showing, for $5,000,000. So a couple of weeks after the Awards ceremony, just when many people had finally heard of Breaking Away and might have gone to a theater to see it, it appeared, trashed in the usual manner, on television. The studio couldn't be sure how much more money might come in from box-offices, and grabbed a sure thing. In order to accept the NBC offer, the studio even bypassed pay TV, where the picture could have been seen uncut. It was almost as if Breaking Away were being punished for not having stars and not having got a big advance TV sale. And the price was almost insulting: last year, Fox licensed The Sound of Music to NBC for $21,500,000, and licensed Alien to ABC for $12,000,000, with escalator clauses that could take the figure up to $15,000,000; Columbia licensed Kramer vs. Kramer to ABC for nearly $20,000,000, and United Artists got $20,000,000 for Rocky II from CBS. Bu how do you summarize in a sentence the appeal of a calm, evenhanded film about fathers and sons, town boys and college boys, and growing up — a modest classic that never states its themes, that stirs the emotions indirectly, by the smallest of actions and the smallest exchanges of dialogue?


8.If a writer/director conceives a script for a fiery young actor — K., a young man with star potential who has not yet had a role that brought him to the consciousness of the public — and shapes the central character to bring out K's volatility and ardor, he is likely to be told by the studio head, "K. doesn't do anything to me." That rules out K., even if the studio head has never seen him (and chances are he wouldn't remember him if he had). The studio doesn't care if K. could become a star in this part; he wants R., because he can get a $4,000,000 network sale with the impassive, logy R., a Robert Wagner type who was featured in a miniseries. And if the point is pressed, the studio head may cut off discussion with some variation of "I must know what I'm doing, or I wouldn't be in this job." If he is feeling expansive, he may go on with "I won't say that you can't make a good film with K., and some people — some critics and your friends — will like it. But a good picture — a successful picture is one that will make money." If the writerdirector persists, it's taken as a sign of stupidity.� A finer-grained executive — one of the rare ones who loves movies — may put it to him this way: "I like K., I like you, I like the script. But I can't recommend it.� It's an expensive picture, the subject matter makes it a long shot. And if I back too many long shots that don't come in, I'm out on my ass." That's the distillation of executive timidity, and maybe it's better to get it from the coarser man: you can have the pleasure of hating him — you aren't made to sympathize with his plight.� Since all the major studios basically play by the same rules, the writer will wind up with a picture that is crucially miscast and has a vacuum at its center.� By the time it is released and falls by the wayside, and he is publicly humiliated, K., disgusted at not having got the part, may have accepted a dumb role in a TV series and become a hot new TV personality, whom all the movie studios are propositioning.


9.Chances are that even if the writer/director had been allowed to use K., he would have been completely enraged and demoralized by the time he started shooting, because the negotiating process can stretch on for years, and anyone who wants to make a movie is treated as a hustler and an adversary. "Studios!" said Billy Wilder, paraphrasing an old complaint about women. "You can't make pictures with 'em, and you can't make pictures without 'em!"� Everybody in the movie business has the power to say no, and the least secure executives protect themselves by saying no to just about anything that comes their way. Only those at the very top can say yes, and they protect themselves, too. They postpone decisions because they're fearful, and also because they don't mind keeping someone dangling while his creative excitement dries up and all the motor drive goes out of his proposal. They don't mind keeping people waiting, because it makes them feel more powerful. I'm describing trends; of course, there are exceptions — those who are known (and sometimes revered) for quick decisions, like David Picker in his United Artists days, and Daniel Melnick in his brief stints at MGM and Columbia, and David Begelman at Columbia and now at MGM.� But most of the ones who could say yes don't; they consider it and string you along. (Hollywood is the only place where you can die of encouragement.) For the supplicant, it's a matter of weeks, months, years, waiting for meetings at which he can beg permission to do what he was, at the start, eager to do. And even when he's got a meeting, he has to catch the executive's attention and try to keep it; in general the higher the executive, the more cruelly short his attention span. (They're television babies. Thirty seconds is a long time to them.) In this atmosphere of bureaucratic indifference or contempt, things aren't really decided — they just happen, along bureaucratic lines. (Generally, it's only if a picture is a hit that executives talk about having given it the go-ahead. They all angle for credit in the media.) During the long wait, the director has lost the cinematographer he wanted and half the performers; in order to get the necessary approvals, he has agreed to actors he knows are wrong, and he has pared down the script to cut costs, chopping out the scenes that once meant the most to him but that he knows he can't get in the tight, ten-week shooting schedule he has been forced to accept. And then, at the last minute, a few days before shooting is to start, the studio is likely to slice the budget further — and he's down to a nine-week schedule, which means trimming the camera moves that were half the reason he'd been eager to work on the idea in the first place. Is it any wonder if the picture that comes out has a sour spirit?


10.It may just barely come out anyway. If there's an executive shakeup during production or after the film is completed (and shakeups take place every few months), the new studio head has nothing to gain if the film succeeds (he can't take credit for initiating it); he may find it to his strategic advantage for the film to fail. The executives — bedhoppers, who go from one berth to another — have no particular loyalty to the studio, and there isn't the lower echelon executive stability to launch a film initiated during the old regime with the same care as one initiated during the new regime.� It all depends on signals that come from the top.


If a big star and a big director show interest in a project, the executives will go along for a $14,000,000 or $15,000,000 budget even if, by the nature of the material, the picture should be small. And so what might have been a charming light entertainment that millions of people all over the world would enjoy is inflated, rewritten to enlarge the star's part, and overscaled. It makes money in advance and sends people out of theaters complaining and depressed. Often, when people leave theaters now they're bewildered by the anxious nervous construction of the film — by the feeling it gives them of having been pieced together out of parts that don't fit. Movies have gone to hell and amateurism. A third of the pictures being made by Hollywood this year are in the hands of first-time directors, who will receive almost no guidance or help. They're thrown right into a pressure-cooker situation, where any delay is costly.�� They may have come out of sitcoms, and their dialogue will sound forced, as if it were all recorded in a large, empty cave; they may have come out of nowhere and have never worked with actors before. Even if a director is highly experienced, he probably has certain characteristic weaknesses, such as a tendency to lose track of the story, or an ineptness with women characters; he's going to need watching. But who knows that, or cares enough to try to protect the picture? The executives may have hired the director after "looking at his work" that is, running off every other reel of one of his films. They are busy people. Network executives who are offered a completed movie commonly save time by looking at a fifteen-minute selection from it — a precis of its highlights — which has been specially prepared for them. God forbid that they should have to sit through the whole thing.


11.What isn't generally understood is how much talent and hard work are wasted — enough, maybe, to supply the world with true entertainment. A writer who is commissioned to adapt a book and turns in a crackerjack script, acclaimed by the studio executives, who call him a genius, then stands helplessly by as the studio submits it to the ritual lists of the stars and the directors in they can get the biggest guarantees on. And as, one by one, the stars and directors who aren't right for the project anyway take months to read it and turn it down, the executives' confidence in the script drains away. If a star expresses tentative interest, contingent on a complete rewrite, they will throw out the snappy script and authorize a new script by a sodden writer who has just had a fluke hit, and when the star decides to do something else anyway, they will have a new script written for a different star, and another and another, until no one can remember why there was ever any interest in the project. It may be shelved then, but so much money has already gone into it that in a couple of years some canny producer will think it should be brought back to life and reworked to fit a hot new teenager from television who eventually will decide not to do it, and so on. To put it simply: A good script is a script to which Robert Redford will commit himself. A bad script is a script which Redford has turned down. A script that "needs work" is a script about which Redford has yet to make up his mind.� It is possible to run a studio with this formula; it is even possible to run a studio profitably with this formula. But this world of realpolitik that has replaced moviemaking has nothing to do with moviemaking. It's not just that the decisions made by the executives might have been made by anyone off the street, it's that the pictures themselves seem to have been made by anyone off the street.


12.The executives are a managerial class with no real stake in the studio; they didn't build it, it's not part of them, and they're moving on — into a bigger job at another studio, or into independent production (where there's more money), or to form their own companies. The executives just try to hold things together for the short period that they're going to be around; there isn't even an elementary regard for the conservation of talent. And, as in any chaotic bureaucracy, the personalities and goals of those at the top set the tone for all the day-to-day decisions; the top executives' apathy about the quality of movies infects the studio right down the line. The younger executives who are pushing their way up don't want to waste their time considering scripts that may not attract a star. For them, too, a good picture is a picture that makes money, and so after The China Syndrome clicked at box- offices, they could be heard talking about what a wonderful craftsman its director, James Bridges, was, and after The Amityville Horror, with its unbelievably clunky script by Sandor Stem, showed big grosses, they wanted to sign up Stem as a writer/director. At the bottom as at the top, the executives want to score; they want a hit, not just for the money but for the personal pleasure of the kill.


13.� Part of what has deranged American life in this past decade is the change in book publishing and in magazines and newspapers and in the movies as they have passed out of the control of those whose lives were bound up in them and into the control of conglomerates, financiers, and managers who treat them as ordinary commodities. This isn't a reversible process; even if there were Supreme Court rulings that split some of these holdings from the conglomerates, the traditions that developed inside many of those businesses have been ruptured. And the continuity is gone. In earlier eras, when a writer made a book agreement with a publisher, he expected to be working with the people he signed up with; now those people may be replaced the next year, or the whole firm may be bought up and turned into a subdivision of a book-publishing house or a leisure-activities company. The new people in the job aren't going to worry about guiding a writer slowly; they're not going think about the book after this one. They want bestsellers. Their job is to develop them or manufacture them. And just as the studios have been hiring writers to work on a screenplay they are now beginning to hire writers to work on novels, which the publishers, with the help of studio money, will then be used to promote to bestsellerdom at the same time that they are being made into movies. The writer Avery Corman has suggested "the horrifying prospect of a novelist being fired from his own book." It won't horrify the ones who are commissioning these new books, pre-novelizations.�


14.There are certain kinds of businesses in which the public interest is more of a factor than it is in the manufacture of neckties. Book publishing, magazines and newspapers, movies and television and live theater — these are businesses, of course, but traditionally the people who work in them have felt privelged (by birth or ability or talent or luck, or by a combination of those factors). That has been true not only of the actors and journalists but of the entrepeneurs and the managers. There have always been a few businessmen in these fields who had the sensibility of artists (without the talent or the drive); if they had a good critical sense and a generous nature, they were appreciators of artists and didn't resent them. And so they became great producers in the theater and movies, or great book and magazine editors. Contemporary variants of these people insist on being celebrity artists themselves, and right now they all seem to be writing and directing movies.


15.In movies, the balance between art and business has always been precarious with business outweighing art, but the business was, at least, in the hands of businessmen who loved movies. As popular entertainment, movies had something of what the vulgarian moguls had — zest, a belief in their instincts, a sentimental dedication to producing pictures that would make their country proud of their contribution, a respect for quality, and the biggest thing: a willingness to take chances. The cool managerial sharks don't have that; neither do the academics. But the vulgarians also did more than their share of damage, and they're gone forever anyway.�� They were part of a different America. They were, more often than not, men who paid only lip to high ideals, while gouging everyone for profits. The big change in the industry today is reflected in the fact that people in the movie business no longer feel it necessary to talk about principles at all. They operate on the same assumption as the newspapers that make heroes of the executives who churn out hits and don't raise questions about their quality.


16.When the numbers game takes over a country, artists who work in a popular medium, such as the movies, lose their bearings fast. There's a pecking order in filmmaking, and the director is at the top — he's the authority figure.� A man who was never particularly attractive to women now finds that he's the padrone: everyone is waiting on his word, and women are his for the nod. The constant, unlimited opportunities for sex can be insidious; so is the limitless flattery of college students who turn directors into gurus. Directors are easily seduced. They mainline admiration. Recently, a screenwriter now directing his first picture was talking about his inability to find a producer who would take some of the burden off him; he said he needed a clone — someone who would know what was in his mind and be able to handle a million details for him. But anyone observing this writer-director would know that he needs a real producer, and for a much more important reason: to provide the sense of judgment he has already lost. Nobody really controls a production now, the director is on his own, even if he's insecure, careless, or nuts. There has always been a megalomaniac potential in moviemaking, and in this period of stupor, when values have been so thoroughly undermined that even the finest directors and the ones with the most freedom aren't sure what they want to do, they often become obsessive and grandiloquent, like mad royalty. Perpetually dissatisfied with the footage they're compulsively piling up, they keep shooting — adding rooms to the palace. Megalomania and art become the same thing to them. But the disorder isn't just in their heads, and a lot of people around them are deeply impressed by megalomania.


17.What our directors need most of all, probably, is a sense of purpose and a subject that they can think their way through. Filmmakers want big themes, and where are the kinds of themes that they would fight the studios to express? It's no accident that the two best recent American movies are both fantasy fairy tales — childish in the fullest, deepest sense. Working inside a magical structure, Carroll Ballard in The Black Stallion and Irvin Kershner in The Empire Strikes Back didn't have to deal with the modem world; they were free to use the medium luxuriantly, without guilt. You can feel the love of moviemaking — almost a revelry in moviemaking — in their films, as you can also in Walter Hill's The Long Riders, despite its narrative weaknesses and a slight remoteness. But we don't go to the movies just for great fairy tales and myths of the old West; we also hope for something that connects directly with where we are. Part of the widespread anticipation of Apocalypse Now was, I think, our readiness for a visionary, climactic, summing-up movie. We felt that the terrible rehash of pop culture couldn't go on, mustn't go on, that something new was needed. Coppola must have felt that, too, but he couldn't supply it. His film was posited on great thoughts arriving at the end of a confrontation and a revelation. And when they weren't there, people slunk out of the theaters, or tried to comfort themselves with chatter about the psychedelic imagery. Trying to say something big, Coppola got tied up in a big knot of American self-hatred and guilt, and what the picture boiled down to was: White man is the devil. Since then, I think, people have expected less of movies and have been willing to settle for less. Some have even been willing to settle for Kramer vs. Kramer and other pictures that seem to be made for an audience of overage flower children. These pics express the belief that if a man cares about anything besides being at home with the kids, he's corrupt. Parenting ennobles Dustin Hoffman and makes him a better person in every way, while in The Seduction of Joe Tynan one can see that Alan Alda is a weak, corruptible fellow because he wants to President of the United States more than he wants to stay at home and talk with his daughter about her adolescent miseries. Pictures like these should all end with the fathers and the children sitting at home watching TV together.


18.The major studios have found the temporary final solution for movies: in technique and in destiny, their films are television. And there's no possibility of a big breakthrough in movies — a new release of energy, like the French Wave, which moved from country to country and resulted in an international cross-fertilization — when movies are financed only if they fall into stale categories of past successes. But once the groups that are now subsidizing studio-made films begin to weary of getting TV shows when they thought they were buying movies, there should be a chance for some real moviemaking.� And when the writers and directors have confidence in what they want to say, if they can't find backing from the studios they ought to be able to find backers outside the industry who will gamble on the money to be made on a good picture, once it is completed. It's easier to make money on movies now: there are more markets, and we know now that the films sell themselves. A much longer commercial life than early moviemakers could have said. The studios may find that they need great moviemakers more than moviemakers need them. Billy Wilder may be right that you can't make movies with 'em, but of course he's wrong that you can't make pictures with them. There are problems both ways, but there may be fewer problems without them, and with less rage.


It would be very convincing to say that there's no hope for movies, that audiences have been so corrupted by television and have become so jaded all they want are noisy thrills and dumb jokes and images that move along in an undemanding way, so they can sit and react at the simplest movie and there's plenty of evidence, such as the success of Alien. This was a tedious haunted-house-with-a-gorilla picture set in outer space. It reached out, grabbed and squeezed your stomach; it was more gripping than entertaining, but people didn't mind. They thought it was terrific, because at least they'd felt something: they'd been brutalized. It was like an entertainment contrived by Aldous Huxley's Brave New World by the Professor of Feelies in the College of Emotional Engineering. Yet there was also a backlash against Alien — people were angry at how mechanically they'd been worked over. And when I sawI saw The Black Stallion on a Saturday afternoon, there was proof that children who have grown up with television and may never have been to a good movie can respond to the real thing when they see it. There was a hushed, attentive audience, with no running up and down the aisles and no traffic to the popcorn counter, and even when the closing credits came on, the children sat quietly looking at the images behind the names. There may be a separate God for the movies, at that.



June 23, 1980


Guy Kawasaki on How to Start

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Guy Kawasaki -- The Art of the Start

Guy Kawasaki: The Art of the Start

From Scott Allen,Your Guide to Entrepreneurs.

Top Ten Tips for Anyone Starting Anything

Guy Kawasaki made a name for himself at Apple in the 1980s as the evangelist who helped launch the Macintosh computer. As founder and CEO of Garage Technology Ventures, he has tested and proven his ideas with dozens of startup companies. He is the author of over half a dozen business books, including Rules for Revolutionaries, Selling the Dream and How to Drive Your Competition Crazy.

I had the privilege recently of attending a presentation by Mr. Kawasaki on his latest book, The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything. He's a tremendously entertaining speaker - funny, irreverent, and above all, insightful. He built his presentation around his top ten tips for anyone starting anything - entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, non-profit ventures. I share them with you here, along with a few of his choice quips that you won't find in the book.

1. Make Meaning

Focus on making meaning, not money. If your vision for your company is to grow it just to flip it to a large company or to take it public and cash out, "you're doomed". Kawasaki says that great companies are built around one of three kinds of meaning:

  1. Increase the quality of life. Make people more productive or their lives easier or more enjoyable.
  2. Right a wrong. A variant on the above. Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.
  3. Prevent the end of something good. Preserve something classic or historical. Save the whales.
2. Make Mantra

Kawasaki took a jab at corporate mission statements by showing Wendy's mission statement:

    Our guiding mission is to deliver superior quality products and services for our customers and communities through leadership, innovation and partnerships
"I love Wendy's," he said, "but I had no idea that every time I eat there I'm participating in all of that." He says if you want to create a generic mission statement, you can save yourself tens of thousands of dollars for a retreat, facilitators, etc., with the Dilbert Mission Statement Generator.

Instead, Kawasaki recommends coming up with a simple mantra, preferably three words or less, that succinctly describes your core values. Some examples he gave:

  • Wendy's: "Healthy fast food"
  • FedEx: "Peace of mind"
  • Nike: "Authentic athletic performance"
  • Guy Kawasaki: "Empower entrepreneurs"
3. Jump to the next curve

Great companies aren't created when a book retailer says, "We're going to change the way books are sold. Instead of carrying 250,000 titles, we're going to carry 275,000." Great companies are created when you say, "Instead of 250,000 titles, we're going to carry 2.5 million." Then you have Amazon.

He offers three tips for how to do this:

  1. Reboot your brain. You have to break old patterns of behavior in order to adopt new ones.
  2. Kill the cash cows. The obvious ones are the external ones - the dominant competitors in the space. If you beat them, you beat everybody else, too. The not-so-obvious ones, though, are the internal ones. This mainly applies when launching a new product within an existing company. For example, Apple had to kill the Apple II in order to make way for the Macintosh. They could have continued milking it, but they would have eventually gotten passed up by everybody else. Clear away the old to make room for the new.
  3. Polarize people. You can't please everyone. It's better to have a small, fiercely loyal customer base than to create a mediocre product that fades quickly into obscurity. Some examples he gave were the Macintosh, Harley-Davidson, Tivo, and the Scion XP (People under 25 look at it and say, "Hey, cool car!" People over 25 look at it and say, "It must have been designed by someone who got fired from Volvo.")

4. Get going.

Don't get caught in "analysis paralysis". Some tips to keep you moving forward:

  • Don't type, prototype. There are two kinds of entrepreneurs, he says. One kind thinks that Microsoft Office is the killer app for entrepreneurs. You write your business plan, you create forecasting spreadsheets, you build PowerPoint presentations for clients and investors, etc. The other kind uses AutoCAD to design the product, a compiler to write the code, etc. -- whatever it takes to start actually making the product.
  • Don't worry, be crappy. Voltaire once said, "The best is the enemy of the good." If companies waited to completely perfect a product before releasing it, they would never get anything out. It's OK if your 1.0 release is a little rough around the edges, so long as it still creates value for customers. Of course, he says, "This doesn't apply if you're developing medical equipment."
  • Find soulmates. "Every young visionary needs adult supervision," he jokes. Behind every Bill Gates is a Steve Ballmer. Behind Steve Jobs is a Steve Wozniak. Build a management team that shares your vision and your enthusiasm, but complements your weaknesses with their strengths.
5. Niche thyself.

Ideally, you create something that is both of high value to customers and that few others are doing. If you consider uniqueness and value creation as the two parameters, you have four quadrants:

  • High value, low uniqueness - You compete on price.
  • Low value, high uniqueness - This is what he refers to as the "stupid" quadrant. It doesn't matter if you have no competition if no one wants to buy your product.
  • Low value, low uniqueness - The "dotcom" quadrant. At one point, someone said, "We're going to change how people buy dog food. We're going to sell it online. We'll cut out the middleman and people will be able to buy it cheaper." But they forgot one thing: dog food is heavy. The money saved was offset by high shipping costs. The crazy thing is not that a company didn't realize this, but that at one point, 16 companies were selling dog food online. Of course, most of them are no longer in business - no great surprise.
  • High value, high uniqueness - This is where you make money, margins and meaning.
6. Let a hundred flowers blossom.

Your best customers may not be who you expect them to be, and no matter how good you are, no matter how much market research you do, you can't perfectly predict what will happen in the real world. Kawasaki suggests the following:

  • Sow fields, not window boxes. Niche positioning is critical, but spread your message far and wide, as much as your budget will allow. Narrowcast your marketing message too much and you may miss out on a market you didn't even realize existed.
  • Look for agnostics, not atheists. Everyone wants to have those "marquee customers", but large corporations are usually resistant to those ideas that "jump the curve". Find the early adopters who are open to new ideas and save the big fish for later.
  • Don't be proud. Don't be surprised when the people who are buying your product aren't your intended target market. Instead find out why they're buying it and capitalize on your newfound good fortune.
7. Follow the 10/20/30 rule.

When making presentations to clients or investors, use:

  • 10 slides - Not 50 as most people do
  • 20 minutes - You may have an hour, but some people will be late, others may leave early, and you want plenty of time for Q&A.
  • 30 point font - If you use a small font, it usually means you're trying to use a lot of text, which implies that you're a lousy speaker (which most tech company CEOs are, he says). Why? Because they don't practice.
(If you do a lot of presentations, be sure to check out The Seven Deadly Sins of Powerpoint Presentations)

8. Hire infected people.

Hire people who are as passionate about your product as you are (or at least close to it).

  • Ignore the irrelevant. A shared passion is far more important than education or relevant work experience. These employees will be more loyal and motivated. Kawasaki himself was working at a jeweler "counting diamonds" when he took the job at Apple. But, he says, the first time he saw the Macintosh, it put tears in his eyes. That's what made him more qualified for the job than anyone else.
  • Hire better than yourself. "A" players hire "A+" players, but "B" players hire "C", "C" hire "D", etc., leading to what he calls a "bozo explosion". Hire people who make you look smart for hiring them, not by comparison to them.
  • Do the shopping center test. Imagine you see a recently-interviewed candidate at a distance in the shopping mall. Do you...
    • ...walk directly over to them, tell them how great the company is, and encourage them to come on board?
    • ...figure it's a big place and maybe you'll run into them, maybe you won't?
    • ...deliberately avoid them?
    If your answer is any other than the first one, don't hire them.
9. Lower barriers to adoption.

Make it easy for people to buy and use your product:

  • Flatten the learning curve. Good products should be intuitive to use without having to refer to a manual or take a class. For example, do you know how to set the clock on your VCR? Why is that even a challenge?
  • Don't ask people to do something you wouldn't do. While his example of a nuclear-powered mousetrap (that you have to drive to Utah to dispose of the waste) was a bit far-fetched, his story about the Kawai Hyatt Regency hit close to him. At that hotel, there are free washing machines on every floor. People don't want to pay several dollars to wash resort clothes, especially when they're already paying $250 a night for the room!
  • Embrace your evangelists. Whether they're your employees or your customers, include them in everything you do. Do everything you can to give them a voice. They are your very best marketing.
10. Don't let the bozos grind you down.

Some bozos are easy to spot. They're grumpy, cynical people who shoot down all your ideas. But beware the "successful bozo" wearing a nice suit. "People automatically equate 'rich' with 'smart'," he says. "That's a big dialectical leap." Often very successful people can't embrace the next curve.

After pointing out some famous tech industry foolishness, he told his own personal bozo story. At one point, he turned down a job interview to become the CEO of a Silicon Valley startup, saying, "It's too far to drive, and I don't see how it can be a business." The company? Yahoo. Kawasaki figures that decision cost him about $2 billion.

"I've been thinking about that for ten years," he said. "And you know what? I made the right decision. I got to spend lots of time with my wife and sons while they were young. I didn't want them to grow up, go off to college, and end up wondering who each other was."

"That explains the first billion," he quipped. "The second billion still pisses me off."

Kawasaki finished off with a Q&A session. The first question out of the chute was, "What's the next big thing?" His answer: "I'm a marketer, not a visionary. I can see the idea and tell you if it will sell or not. If I knew what the next big thing was, I'd either be doing it or funding it. And I certainly wouldn't be telling this audience."

MySQL backups using replication

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From: Live Backups of MySQL Using Replication    
 Published on (
 See this if you're having trouble printing code examples

Live Backups of MySQL Using Replication

by Russell Dyer, author of MySQL in a Nutshell

One of the difficulties with a large and active MySQL database is making clean backups without having to bring the server down. Otherwise, a backup may slow down the system and there may be inconsistency with data, since related tables may be changed while another is being backed up. Taking the server down will ensure consistency of data, but it means interruption of service to users. Sometimes this is necessary and unavoidable, but daily server outages for backing up data may be unacceptable. A simple alternative method to ensure reliable backups without having to shut down the server daily is to set up replication for MySQL.

Typically, replication is a system configuration whereby the MySQL server, known in this context as a master server, houses the data and handles client requests, while another MySQL server (a slave server) contains a complete copy of the data and duplicates all SQL statements in which data is changed on the master server right after it happens. There are several uses for replication (e.g., load balancing), but the concern of this article has to do with using replication for data backups. You can set up a separate server to be a slave and then once a day turn replication off to make a clean backup. When you're done, replication can be restarted and the slave will automatically query the master for the changes to the data that it missed while it was offline. Replication is an excellent feature and it's part of MySQL. You just need to set it up.

The Replication Process

Before explaining how to set up replication, let me quickly explain the steps that MySQL goes through to maintain a replicated server. The process is different depending on the version of MySQL. For purposes of this article, my comments will be for version 4.0 or higher, since most systems now are using the later versions.

When replication is running, basically, as SQL statements are executed on the master server, MySQL records them in a binary log (bin.log) along with a log position identification number. The slave server in turn, through an IO thread, regularly and very often reads the master's binary log for any changes. If it finds a change, it copies the new statements to its relay log (relay.log). It then records the new position identification number in a file ( on the slave server. The slave then goes back to checking the master binary log, using the same IO thread. When the slave server detects a change to its relay log, through an SQL thread the slave executes the new SQL statement recorded in the relay log. As a safeguard, the slave also queries the master server through the SQL thread to compare its data with the master's data. If the comparison shows inconsistency, the replication process is stopped and an error message is recorded in the slave's error log (error.log). If the results of the query match, the new log position identification number is recorded in a file on the slave ( and the slave waits for another change to the relay log file.

This process may seem involved and complicated at first glance, but it all occurs quickly, it isn't a significant drain on the master server, and it ensures reliable replication. Also, it's surprisingly easy to set up. It only requires a few lines of options to be added to the configuration file (i.e., my.cnf) on the master and slave servers. If you're dealing with a new server, you'll need to copy the databases on the master server to the slave to get it caught up. Then it's merely a matter of starting the slave for it to begin replicating.

The Replication User

There are only a few steps to setting up replication. The first step is to set up a user account to use only for replication. It's best not to use an existing account for security reasons. To do this, enter an SQL statement like the following on the master server, logged in as root or a user that has GRANT OPTION privileges:

    ON *.*
    TO 'replicant'@'slave_host'
    IDENTIFIED BY 'my_pwd';

In this SQL statement, the user account replicant is granted only what's needed for replication. The user name can be almost anything. The host name (or IP address) is given in quotes. You should enter this same statement on the slave server with the same user name and password, but with the master's host name or IP address. This way, if the master fails and will be down for a while, you could redirect users to the slave with DNS or by some other method. When the master is back up, you can then use replication to get it up to date by temporarily making it a slave to the former slave server. Incidentally, if you upgraded MySQL to version 4.0 recently, but didn't upgrade your mysql database, the GRANT statement above won't work because these privileges didn't exist in the earlier versions. For information on fixing this problem, see MySQL's documentation on Upgrading the Grants Tables.

Configuring the Servers

Once the replication user is set up on both servers, we will need to add some lines to the MySQL configuration file on the master and on the slave server. Depending on the type of operating system, the file will probably be called my.cnf or my.ini. On Unix-type systems, the configuration file is usually located in the /etc directory. On Windows systems, it's usually located in c:\ or in c:\Windows. Using a text editor, add the following lines to the configuration file, under the [mysqld] group heading:

server-id = 1
log-bin = /var/log/mysql/bin.log

The server identification number is an arbitrary number to identify the master server. Almost any whole number is fine. A different one should be assigned to the slave server to keep them straight. The second line above instructs MySQL to perform binary logging to the path and file given. The actual path and file name is mostly up to you. Just be sure that the directory exists and the user mysql is the owner, or at least has permission to write to the directory. Also, for the file name use the suffix of ".log" as shown here. It will be replaced automatically with an index number (e.g., ".000001") as new log files are created when the server is restarted or the logs are flushed.

For the slave server, we will need to add a few more lines to the configuration file. We'll have to provide information on connecting to the master server, as well as more log file options. We would add lines similar to the following to the slave's configuration file:

server-id = 2

master-host =
master-port = 3306
master-user = replicant
master-password = my_pwd

log-bin = /var/log/mysql/bin.log
log-bin-index = /var/log/mysql/log-bin.index
log-error = /var/log/mysql/error.log

relay-log = /var/log/mysql/relay.log
relay-log-info-file = /var/log/mysql/
relay-log-index = /var/log/mysql/relay-log.index

This may seem like a lot, but it's pretty straightforward once you pick it apart. The first line is the identification number for the slave server. If you set up more than one slave server, give them each a different number. If you're only using replication for backing up your data, though, you probably won't need more than one slave server. The next set of lines provides information on the master server: the host name as shown here, or the IP address of the master may be given. Next, the port to use is given. Port 3306 is the default port for MySQL, but another could be used for performance or security considerations. The next two lines provide the user name and password for logging into the master server.

The last two stanzas above set up logging. The second to last stanza starts binary logging as we did on the master server, but this time on the slave. This is the log that can be used to allow the master and the slave to reverse roles, as mentioned earlier. The binary log index file (log-bin.index) is for recording the name of the current binary log file to use. As the server is restarted or the logs are flushed, the current log file changes and its name is recorded here. The log-error option establishes an error log. If you don't already have this set up, you should, since it's where any problems with replication will be recorded. The last stanza establishes the relay log and related files mentioned earlier. The relay log makes a copy of each entry in the master server's binary log for performance's sake, the relay-log-info-file option names the file where the slave's position in the master's binary log will be noted, and the relay log index file is for keeping track of the name of the current relay log file to use for replicating.

Copying Databases and Starting Replication

If you're setting up a new master server that doesn't contain data, then there's nothing left to do but restart the slave server. However, if you're setting up replication with an existing server that already has data on it, you will need to make an initial backup of the databases and copy it to the slave server. There are many methods to do this; for our examples, we'll use the utility mysqldump to make a backup while the server is running. However, there's still the problem with attaining consistency of data on an active server. Considering the fact that once you set up replication you may never have to shut down your server for backups again, it might be worth while at least to lock the users out this one last time to get a clean, consistent backup. To run the master server so that only root has access, we can reset the variable max_connections like so:

SHOW VARIABLES LIKE 'max_connections';

| Variable_name   | Value |
| max_connections | 100   |

SET GLOBAL max_connections = 0;

The first SQL statement isn't necessary, but we may want to know the initial value of the max_connections variable so that we can change it back when the backup is finished. Although setting the variable to a value of 0 suggests that no connections are allowed, one connection is actually reserved for the root user. Of course, this will only prevent any new connections. To see if there are any connections still running, enter SHOW PROCESSLIST;. To terminate any active processes, you can use the KILL statement.

With exclusive access to the server, using mysqldump is usually very quick. We would enter the following from the command line on the master server:

mysqldump --user=root --password=my_pwd \
      --extended-insert --all-databases \
      --master-data  > /tmp/backup.sql  

This will create a text file containing SQL statements to create all of the databases and tables with data. The --extended-insert option will create multiple-row INSERT statements and thereby allow the backup to run faster, for the least amount of down time or drain on services. The --master-data option above locks all of the tables during the dump to prevent data from being changed, but allows users to continue reading the tables. With exclusive access, this feature isn't necessary. However, this option also adds a few lines like the following to the end of the dump file:

-- Position to start replication from


When the dump file is executed on the slave server, these last lines will record the name of the master's binary log file and the position in the log at the time of the backup, while the tables were locked. When replication is started, it will go to this log file and execute any SQL statements recorded starting from the position given. This is meant to ensure that any data changed while setting up the slave server isn't missed. To execute the dump file to set up the databases and data on the slave server, copy the dump file to the slave server, make sure MySQL is running, then enter something like the following on the slave:

mysql --user=root --password=my_pwd < /tmp/backup.sql

This will execute all of the SQL statements in the dump file, which will include the CREATE and INSERT statements. Once the backed-up databases are loaded onto the slave server, execute the following SQL statement while logged in as root on the slave:


After this statement is run, the slave will connect to the master and get the changes it missed since the backup. From there, it will stay current by continuously checking the binary log as outlined before.

Backups with Replication

With replication running, it's an easy task to make a backup of the data. You just need to temporarily stop the slave server from replicating by entering the following SQL statement while logging onto the slave server as root or a user with SUPER privileges:


The slave server knows the position where it left off in the binary log of the master server. So we can take our time making a backup of the replicated databases on the slave server. We can use any backup utility or method we prefer. When the backup is finished, we would enter the following SQL statement from the slave server as root to restart replication:


After entering this statement, there should be a flurry of activity on the slave as it executes the SQL statements that occurred while it was down. In a very short period of time it should be current.

Automating Backups

If replication and the backup process are working properly, we can write a simple shell script to stop replication, back up the data on the slave server, and start the slave again. Such a shell script would look something like this:


date = `date +%Y%m%d`

mysqladmin --user=root --password=my_pwd stop-slave

mysqldump --user=root --password=my_pwd --lock-all-tables \
      --all-databases > /backups/mysql/backup-${date}.sql

mysqladmin --user=root --password=my_pwd start-slave

In this example, we're using the mysqladmin utility to stop and start replication on the slave. On the first line, you may have noticed that we're capturing the date using the system function date and putting it into a good format (e.g., 20050615). This variable is used with mysqldump in the script for altering the name of the dump file each day. Of course, you can set the file path and the name of the dump file to your preferences. Notice that the date function and the formatting codes are enclosed in back-ticks (`), not single quotes (').

This is a simple script. You may want to write something more elaborate and allow for error checking. You probably would also want to compress the dump files to save space and write them to a removable media like a tape or CD. Once you have your script set up, test it. If it works, you can add it to your crontab or whatever scheduling utility you use on your server.


Replication is a useful administrative feature of MySQL. It's an excellent way to be assured of good regular backups of databases. There are more options and SQL statements available for replication than I was able to present here. I cover them individually in my book MySQL in a Nutshell. For active and large systems, you may want to set up more than one slave server for added protection of data. The configuration and concepts are the same for multiple slaves as it is for one slave. For extremely active and large databases, you might want to consider purchasing software like that offered by Emic. Their software costs a bit, but it does an excellent job of handing slave serves for backups and load balancing, especially.

In May 2005, O'Reilly Media, Inc., released MySQL in a Nutshell.

Russell Dyer is a Perl programmer, MySQL developer, and web designer living and working on a consulting basis in New Orleans.

Copyright © 2005 O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Tomatoes, part 1

Book page


Tomato, Part I

Tomato, Part I (Questions 1 - 41)

1. Q. When should I start my seed indoors to produce tomato transplants for my garden?

A. Depending upon temperature and how the plants are grown, it takes from 6 to 8 weeks to produce a healthy, 6-inch tall transplant for setting out in your garden. The plants should be grown in a warm area and receive 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily or tall, poor quality, leggy plants will result.

2. Q. How do you select good transplants at nurseries or garden centers?

A. First, select the Extension recommended varieties of transplant whether it be tomatoes, peppers, eggplant or broccoli. Also, look for plants that appear healthy, dark green in color, and do not have any spots or holes in the leaves. The ideal tomato, pepper or eggplant transplant should be just about as wide as it is tall. Avoid tall, spindly plants.

3. Q. How often should my tomatoes be fertilized?

A. It is necessary to fertilize the garden before planting tomatoes. Apply the fertilizer again when fruit first sets. From that point on, an additional fertilization (sidedress) every week to 10 days is recommended. Plants grown on sandy soils should be fertilized more frequently than those grown on heavy, clay soils. A general sidedress fertilizer recommendation is one to two tablespoons of a complete fertilizer scattered around the plant and worked into the soil. If using a fertilizer high in nitrogen such as ammonium nitrate or sulfate, reduce the rate to one tablespoon per plant.

4. Q. Should tomato plants be staked, caged or left unsupported?

A. Tomatoes should be supported. Whether you cage or stake them is personal preference. Regardless of the method, plants with foliage and fruit supported off the ground will produce more than unsupported plants. Caging has several advantages. It involves less work than staking. Once the cage is placed over the plant there is no further manipulation of the plant - - no pruning, no tying. The fruit are simply harvested as they ripen. In many areas, staking and pruning of the plant to a single or multiple stem results in sunburn when the developing fruit is exposed to excessive sunlight. Other advantages of caging over staking include protection of fruit from bird damage by more vigorous foliage cover and less fruit rot. Caged tomato vines produce more fruit of a smaller size, but staked and tied plants produce less fruit which mature earlier yet are larger.

5. Q. My tomato plants look great. They are dark green, vigorous and healthy. However, flowers are not forming any fruit. What is the problem?

A. Several conditions can cause tomatoes to not set fruit. Too much nitrogen fertilizer, nighttime temperatures over 70 degrees F., low temperatures below 50 degrees F., irregular watering, insects such as thrips or planting the wrong variety may result in poor fruit set. Any of these conditions can cause poor fruit set, but combinations can cause failures. If Extension recommended varieties are used , the main reason tomato plants do not set fruit is because they are not planted where they can receive 8-10 hours of direct sunlight daily. Any less direct sunlight will result in a spindly growing, nonproductive plant with healthy foliage.

6. Q. Are there really low-acid tomato varieties?

A. There are some varieties that are slightly less acidic than others, but this difference is so slight that there is no real difference in taste or in how the tomatoes should be processed. Some yellow-fruited types are slightly less acidic than the normal red varieties, but not enough to make any difference. Research conducted by the USDA indicates that all varieties available to the home gardener are safe for water bath processing as long as good quality fruit are used. Flavor differences which exist between varieties are not because of differences in acid content, but balances of the sugar to acid ratio.

7. Q. Some tomato varieties are recommended because they are determinate and fast maturing. What does determinate mean and can you tell if a tomato is determinate by looking at it?

A. Determinate means the plant is small. Determinate tomato varieties seldom are more than 5 to 6 feet tall. A determinate vine is distinguished by a repeating pattern of two leaves followed by a flower or fruiting cluster. An indeterminate vine has a repeating pattern of three or four leaves, then a cluster.

8. Q. Can I save seeds from my tomatoes from next season's plantings, and if so how?

A. You can save seed from tomatoes if the variety is not a hybrid. Hybrid tomatoes do not come true from seed. The plants and fruit from seed saved form your home garden may or may not resemble the parent. Chances are the fruit will be poorer quality and the vine characteristics will not be the same as the parent plant. However, for true breeding varieties, such as Homestead, it is easy to save seed. To save seed from tomatoes or any other home vegetable fruit crop, leave the fruit on the plant until it is mature, pull it, squeeze juice with seed into a glass, let this ferment for two days adding water if needed. Rinse the seeds two or three times to remove debris. Seeds will settle to the bottom. After rinsing the seeds, blot them and place them in the sun to dry. Store the seeds under cool, dry conditions.

9. Q. When caging tomatoes, how large should the cage be?

A. The diameter of the cage should be at least 18 to 20 inches. Smaller cages often restrict plant growth and reduce yields. Height of the cage will vary but generally 2 feet is sufficient for the recommended varieties. However, if vining types such as Better Boy, Homestead or Terrific, are used a cage 5 feet in height is preferred. Regardless of variety, the 2 foot tall cage is sufficient for most fall garden tomatoes.

10. Q. How do you stake tomatoes?

A. Staking involves pruning or suckering the plant to either one or two main stalks. Tomatoes grown without support develop a bush shape. However, if the plant is to be trellised or staked, it must be pruned to a single or double stalk. The small suckers which develop between the axil of the leaf and the stem are removed to develop a vine structure rather than a bush. A wooden stake an inch in diameter and 6 feet long is driven into the ground beside the plant. Do not damage the root system when inserting the stake in the ground. The stalk of the plant is loosely attached to the stake as it grows. The plant can be attached to the stake with twist-ties, soft string, strips of cloth or panty hose. The plant is sufficiently supported if it is attached to the stake at 12 to 14 inch intervals. Continued suckering to prevent the plant from developing more than one or two central stems. If a double-stalk plant is desired leave the sucker produced above the first flower cluster since it will be the most vigorous.

11. Q. What causes a tomato to crack? Is there anything I can do to prevent it?

A. Cracking is a physiological disorder caused by soil moisture fluctuations. When the tomato reaches the mature green stage and the water supply to the plant is reduced or cut off, the tomato will begin to ripen. At this time a cellophane-like wrapper around the outer surface of the tomato becomes thicker and more rigid to protect the tomato during and after harvest. If the water supply is restored after ripening begins, the plant will resume translocation of nutrients and moisture into the fruit. This will cause the fruit to enlarge; which in turn splits the wrapper around the fruit and results in cracking. The single best control for cracking is a constant and regular water supply. Apply a layer of organic mulch to the base of the plant. This serves as a buffer and prevents soil moisture fluctuation. Water plants thoroughly every week. This is especially important when the fruits are maturing. Some varieties are resistant to cracking, but their skin is tougher.

12. Q. What could cause the leaves of my tomatoes to turn brown along the edges?

A. Leaf-burn or scorch generally indicates root injury, quite often caused by heavy amounts of fertilizer applied too near the roots. This injury often results in browning and die back of the ends and margins of the leaves. Other possible causes are root injury caused by nematodes, insects or physical injury by cultivation. Also overwatering or underwatering along with diseases might cause leaf-tip burn.

13. Q. About the time my tomatoes ripen and turn red, I lose at least half my crop to bird damage. What can prevent this?

A. Bird damage is common in all areas. One control method which works quite well is to take old nylon stockings and cut them into pieces 10 to 12 inches long. Tie a knot in one end of the stocking and slip the open end over the entire cluster of tomatoes. Secure the end above the tomato cluster with a rubber band or twist-tie. Birds will not be able to peck through the nylon. Slip the stocking off the cluster and harvest the ripe fruit and replace it to protect later-ripening fruit. Also, birds damage fully mature fruit more readily than breaker or pink fruit. Harvest in breaker or green-wrap stage. Gardeners have tried many ways to reduce bird damage. Scarecrows, aluminum strips, tin foil plates and noisemakers will work until the local birds become accustomed to seeing or hearing them. Fabric covering materials such as Grow-Web and Reemay can also be used as a barrier mechanism.

14. Q. What causes the black spots on the bottom of my tomatoes?

A. Blossom end rot, caused by improper (fluctuating from too dry to too moist) moisture. Maintain uniform soil moisture as the fruit nears maturity. Remove affected fruit.

15. Q. What causes tomato leaves to curl?

A. The exact cause of tomato leaf roll is not fully known. Tomato leaf roll appears about the time of fruit setting. The leaflets of the older leaves on the lower half of the tomato plant roll upward. This gives the leaflets a cupped appearance with sometimes even the margins touching or overlapping. The overall growth of the plant does not seem to be greatly affected and yields are normal. This condition appears to be most common on staked and pruned plants. It occurs when excessive rainfall or overwatering keeps the soil too wet for too long. It is also related to intensive sunlight which causes carbohydrates to accumulate in the leaves. Some varieties of tomatoes are characteristically curled.

16. Q. What causes some of my early tomato fruit from the spring garden to be oddly shaped and of poor quality?

A. This condition is usually caused by low temperatures during bloom and pollination. Fruit that set when temperatures are 55 degrees F. or below often are odd-shaped and of poor quality. The blooms these tomatoes develop from often are abnormal because of temperature conditions and grow into abnormal, odd-shape fruit.

17. Q. Do products which are supposed to aid in setting tomatoes really work and if they do, how should they be used?

A. These hormonal products are designed to substitute for natural pollination. These products work better when tomatoes are failing to set because of too cool temperatures. Tomatoes which set after use of these products will be puffy and have less seed.

18. Q. What is the plant advertised as a tree tomato?

A. The tree tomato is a member of the Nightshade family. The regular tomato belongs to the same plant family but is a different species. The tree tomato has the scientific name Cyphomandra betacea. Like the true tomato, it is a native of Peru. It is grown in market gardens there and in several subtropical countries including Brazil and New Zealand. The tree tomato is woody, grows from 8 to 10 feet tall, bears fruit 2 years after seeding and may continue to bear for 5 to 6 years. They are not winter hardy except in southern areas and would need to be taken inside over winter. Fruits of the tree tomato are oval, about 2 inches long and change from greenish purple to reddish purple when fully ripe. The fruits are low in acid and the flavor is moderately agreeable. Some varieties of the tree tomato produce bright, red fruits. The fruits can be used in stew or preserves after the tough skin and hard seeds are removed.

19. Q. Should you allow tomatoes to become fully ripe and red on the vine before harvesting?

A. Generally, yields will be increased by harvesting the fruit at first blush or pink instead of leaving them on the plant to ripen fully. A tomato picked at first sign of color and ripened at room temperature will be just as tasty as one left to fully mature on the vine. Picking tomatoes before they turn red reduces damage from birds.

20. Q. If tomatoes are picked green or before they are fully mature, how should they be handled to insure proper ripening and full flavor?

A. Never refrigerate tomatoes picked immature. Place them in a single layer at room temperature and allowed them to develop full color. When they are fully ripe, place them in the refrigerator several hours before eating. Those handled in this manner will be of high quality and full flavor.

21. Q. What is a husk tomato?

A. Husk tomato is also called Ground Cherry, Poha Berry or Strawberry Tomato. It is grown the same way as regular tomatoes and produces a fruit the size of a cherry tomato. The fruits are produced inside a paper-like husk which, when ripe, turns brown and the fruit drops from the plant. If left in the husk, the fruit will keep for several weeks. Like tomatoes, they are sensitive to cold weather and should be set out from plants after all danger of frost in the spring. Space the plants 1 feet apart in rows at least 3 feet apart. When ripe the small fruit can be used in pies, jams or may be dried in sugar and used like raisins.

22. Q. I have the best tomato crop I have ever had, but the large tomatoes are falling off the vines. Even the ones that stay on the vine are jarred off easily. What is the problem?

A. Cool fall temperatures cause the abscission zone, the area where the tomato is attached to the plant to weaken, and the heavy fruit subsequently falls. Gather fallen tomatoes as soon as possible, wipe them clean and store them in a warm place to ripen. These aborted tomatoes will rot if left on the ground.

23. Q. I have large translucent areas on my tomato fruit. What's going on?

A. This is an environmental problem. The translucent areas are sun scalds. Heat from direct intense sunlight destroys the color pigments of the tomato. This damage does not make the tomato inedible.

24. Q. Can I propagate tomatoes for the fall garden from spring- planted vines?

A. If quality transplants of Extension recommended varieties cannot be found, use suckers or layering (cover with soil until roots appear) of existing vine. Do this several weeks before the recommend transplanting date for fall tomatoes, and use early-maturing tomato varieties.

25. Q. Can spring-planted tomatoes be cut back in late summer or early fall resulting in renewed growth and increased production until the first killing frost?

A. This can be done in some areas, especially in the southern parts. However, the plants must be healthy and free of insect problems. Trying to carry an unhealthy plant through the summer into the fall usually means disaster. If the plants are to be cut back, avoid removing too much of the foliage since hot weather can burn the plants to death. After pruning, apply additional fertilizer and water to renew growth and increase tomato production well into the fall.

26. Q. How do you tell when a green tomato harvested early to prevent freeze damage will ever turn red and ripen?

A. This can simply be done with a sharp kitchen knife. Harvest a tomato typical of the majority of green tomatoes on your plants. Look at size but pay particular attention to fruit color. Slice through the center of the tomato. Closely examine the seed within the fruit. If the seeds are covered with a clear gel which cause them to move away from the knife, then that fruit will eventually turn red and ripen. If the seeds are cut by the knife then those fruit will never properly ripen. Compare the color and size of the tested fruit when harvesting tomatoes on your plants. Most similar fruit will eventually ripen and turn red.

27. Q. Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable.

A. The tomato is legally-declared a vegetable by the Supreme Court of the United States. A vegetable is a herbaceous (non-woody) plant or plant part which can be eaten without processing and is usually consumed with the main meal.

28. Q. The foliage on my tomatoes is infected by irregularly- shaped spots which cause it to turn yellow and drop off. This occurs in all seasons and is on the top as well as the bottom leaves.

A. Several types of leaf spots will attack tomatoes. Septoria leaf spot is seen quite often. It can be controlled with a combination chlorothalonil and benomyl (Benlate) spray program. Begin the spray program early in the life of the plant. Apply chlorothalonil every 7 to 10 days adding benomyl every second spray (14 to 20 days) if humidity is high or rain and dew cause wet foliage.

29. Q. The leaves on my tomato plants are distorted. Why?

A. This is a mosaic virus. If the virus is severe, remove the plants to prevent spread to other plants. Many viruses are insect transmitted and are difficult to control even with insecticides.

30. Q. My tomato plants are stunted and have a pale yellow foliage. The root system has knots or swellings on the roots.

A. These are root knot nematodes. Varieties such as Celebrity, Better Boy and Small Fry resist this problem. If other varieties are to be grown nematode populations must be reduced. Root knot is a species of nematode which causes galls or swellings on plant roots. It restricts the uptake of nutrients from the root system to the foliage, resulting in a yellow and stunted plant. Root knot lives in the soil and can survive on a number of weed and vegetable crops. It is best controlled by planting a solid stand (close enough for root systems to overlap) of marigolds three months before the first killing frost of fall and/or planting cereal rye (Elbon) for a winter cover crop. Cereal rye should be shred and tilled into the soil 30 days before planting a spring crop. Nematode resistance is indicated by the letter N after the tomato name. Example: Celebrity VFN.

31. Q. My tomatoes were healthy during the spring and early summer, yet after a recent rain, they wilted and died very rapidly. I found a white fungal growth at the base of the plant.

A. This is southern blight. It is a soilborne fungus and lives on organic material in the soil. Terrachlor used as a preplant treatment will reduce this problem. Also, the deep burial of undecomposed organic material in the soil will reduce the problem. Control foliage diseases on tomato plants because the fallen leaves around the base of the plant will feed the fungus, and it will build up in this area and cause damage later. Crop rotation will also reduce southern blight.

32. Q. My tomato plants wilted rapidly. When I cut the stem open, I found a brown ring around the inside.

A. This is Fusarium wilt. It is a soilborne fungus that attacks tomatoes and other crops. It is controlled only through the use of resistant varieties. Most commercial tomato varieties are resistant. Before you plant a variety, make sure it is resistant to Fusarium wilt. This resistance is denoted by the letter F after the name. Example: Celebrity VFN.

33. Q. What do the letters "VFN" associated with particular tomato varieties indicate?

A. VFN indicates the tomato variety is resistant to three types of diseases; Verticilum wilt, Fusarium wilt and nematodes. Many of the new hybrid varieties are VFN types. Disease resistant varieties preferred in areas of Texas where these problems are severe and cause great losses to home gardeners.

34. Q. The lower foliage on my tomatoes is beginning to turn yellow and drop. The leaves have circular, dark brown to black spots.

A. This is Alternaria leaf spot or early blight. It is a common problem on tomatoes and causes defoliation, usually during periods of high rainfall. Plant tomatoes on a raised bed to improve water drainage. They can be spaced enough so air can move, dry the foliage and prevent diseases. Follow a spray program using daconil beginning when the fruit is set and continuing at 1- to 2-week intervals during the growing season until harvest.


35. Q. My tomato fruit have small yellow specks on the surface. When the fruit are peeled, those yellow specks form a tough spot that must be cut off before eating the tomatoes. What's wrong?

A. Your problem is not of a varietal origin. The yellow speckling is caused by sucking insects such as stinkbugs or leaf- footed bugs. Early control of sucking insects that feed on the fruit is helpful in alleviating the problem.

36. Q. We planted tomatoes in our small garden. They are loaded and are the best tomatoes we have ever had; however, there are some small holes near the stem end of the tomato. When we cut the tomato open, there is a small worm inside. What is it and what can we do?

A. You have been invaded by the tomato pinworm. They usually do not damage all fruit and can be controlled only by a preventive insecticide spray every 7 to 10 days. When the damage is evident, it is too late to do anything about it.

37. Q. What causes my tomato leaves to turn yellowish and fall off?

A. Many conditions may cause these symptoms including spider mites, diseases and nutrient deficiencies. Examine the underside of the leaves for small red to greenish mites. If mites are found, treat with Kelthane, malathion or sulfur dust. Make two to three applications at 5-day intervals for best results.

38. Q. On some of my ripe tomatoes I have discovered small holes with numerous ants in them. I was unaware that ants could do this to tomatoes. How can I control them?

A. Ants aren't really your problem. They are just attracted to the moisture in the holes which were caused by other insects. A likely culprit is the tomato fruitworm, also known as the corn earworm. Bt (Bacillus thuringensis) is a nontoxic biological control which you can apply to the plants.

39. Q. My tomatoes wilted and died soon after they bloomed. Last fall I had the soil tested and followed the recommendations. I didn't notice any insects on the tomatoes, and none of the other plants growing in that area were affected. The plants were in full sun, though one limb from a black walnut tree which is about 20 feet from the garden reaches over that corner at about 30 feet above the ground. Could the slight shade from this branch cause such a severe problem?

A. The branch is not the cause of your problem, but the tree it is attached to probably is. Roots of black walnut and butternut trees release a substance called juglone which kills roots of sensitive plants. Tomatoes happen to be among the most sensitive, and should not be planted within at least 50 feet of these trees. Juglone is emitted from living and dead roots and can persist in the soil for over a year, so avoid areas where juglone producing trees have grown for two to three years after removing the trees.

40. Q. What is disease resistance?

A. Disease resistance is the ability of a plant to withstand attack from disease causing organisms such as bacteria, fungi, or viruses. The extent of resistance can vary from being strongly resistant to infection to being only somewhat more tolerant of the disease than standard varieties. Resistance is not immunity. Improper culture of a resistant variety may negate that resistance.

A. Plant breeders have a tough job to breed disease resistance into crops because there are so many diseases and often several strains of a given disease. What is often done is to select the disease that causes the most problems and work on breeding resistance to that disease. Seed catalogs and packets indicate what, if any, disease resistance a variety has in descriptive text or with initials following the variety name.

Disease resistance in tomatoes indicated by initials include:

V - Verticillium wilt
F - Fusarium wilt (F1, race 1; F2, race 2)
N - nematode
T - tobacco mosaic virus
A - Alternaria alternata (crown wilt disease)
L - Septoria leafspot

41. Q. Enclosed are two tomatoes which came off of one vine. This plant also has some leaves on the lower part of the plant that don't look as good as the rest of the plant. All plants are the Bingo variety planted at the same time, same fertilizer, etc. Plants are about 5 feet tall. There are 10 plants in this group. This is the only plant affected now. Will these tomatoes be good to eat and can you tell us what caused this? Any help will be appreciated.

A. Along with those black, scabby tomatoes you sent me, you have done an excellent job describing the plant nemesis called Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV). In 1986 TSWV annihilated 60-70 percent of tomato and pepper transplants in the area as well as five million dollars worth of peanuts in Frio County alone. Luckily, the intensity of infections has diminished to a normal 10-15 percent so your one infected plant in ten is about normal. Infected tomato plants have many small, dark, circular spots on younger leaves. Leaves may have a bronzed appearance and later turn dark brown and withered. Flushes of new growth are yellowish and distorted. Fruit has many spots about one-half inch in diameter with concentric, circular markings. On ripe fruit these markings are alternate bands of red and yellow. Pepper fruits may have dead spots as well. Insects named thrips are the culprits that spreads the virus. Insects feed on a plant with virus and transmit it to another plant. Not all insects spread virus. The insects which have been known to cause problems include aphids, thrips, white flies and leaf-feeding beetles. Virus prevention is difficult - - 100 percent insect control is impossible as well as impractical. Even if you could grow a plant which was full of pesticide and would kill any insect immediately if it damaged the foliage, the virus is delivered the instant the plant tissue is penetrated. Insect sprays are not the answer; I recommend a physical barrier such as covering with Grow-Web netting during the first two months of growth. The larger a plant is before infection occurs, the more productive it will be. The soil is not contaminated so you can, and should, remove the infected plant and replant a cherry tomato or a Surefire in the very same hole. The fruit of infected plants can be eaten if you are man (or woman) enough to eat anything that ugly!

2000 year old date palm sprouts

Book page

<p>From: <a target="_blank" href=""></a></p>
Seed of extinct date palm sprouts after 2,000 years

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<a href="">Return to regular view</a>

<a href="/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=
">Seed of extinct date palm sprouts after 2,000 years</a>

- Matthew Kalman, Chronicle Foreign Service<br>

Sunday, June 12, 2005


<A HREF="/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2005/06/12/MNGJND7G5T1.DTL&o=0&type=printable" TARGET=""></A><A HREF="/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2005/06/12/MNGJND7G5T1.DTL&o=1&type=printable" TARGET=""></A><A HREF="/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2005/06/12/MNGJND7G5T1.DTL&o=2&type=printable" TARGET=""></A>
<p><strong>Kibbutz Ketura, Israel</strong> --
It has five leaves, stands 14 inches high and is nicknamed
Methuselah. It looks like an ordinary date palm seedling, but for UCLA-
educated botanist Elaine Solowey, it is a piece of history brought back to
<P>Planted on Jan. 25, the seedling growing in the black pot in Solowey's
nursery on this kibbutz in Israel's Arava desert is 2,000 years old -- more
than twice as old as the 900-year-old biblical character who lent his name to
the young tree. It is the oldest seed ever known to produce a viable young
<P>The seed that produced Methuselah was discovered during archaeological
excavations at King Herod's palace on Mount Masada, near the Dead Sea. Its age
has been confirmed by carbon dating. Scientists hope that the unique seedling
will eventually yield vital clues to the medicinal properties of the fruit of
the Judean date tree, which was long thought to be extinct.
<P>Solowey, originally from San Joaquin (Fresno County), teaches at the
Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura, where she has
nurtured more than 100 rare or near-extinct species back to life as part of a
10-year project to study plants and herbs used as ancient cures.
<P>In collaboration with the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Center at
Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, named in honor of its Southern California-
based benefactor, Solowey grows plants and herbs used in Tibetan, Chinese and
biblical medicine, as well as traditional folk remedies from other cultures to
see whether their effectiveness can be scientifically proved.
<P>In experiments praised by the Dalai Lama, for example, Borick Center
Director Sarah Sallon has shown that ancient Tibetan cures for cardiovascular
disease really do work.
<P>The San Francisco Chronicle was granted the first viewing of the historic
seedling, which sprouted about four weeks after planting. It has grown six
leaves, but one has been removed for DNA testing so scientists can learn more
about its relationship to its modern-day cousins.
<P>The Judean date is chronicled in the Bible, Quran and ancient literature
for its diverse powers -- from an aphrodisiac to a contraceptive -- and as
a cure for a wide range of diseases including cancer, malaria and toothache.
<P>For Christians, the palm is a symbol of peace associated with the entry
of Jesus into Jerusalem. The ancient Hebrews called the date palm the "tree of
life" because of the protein in its fruit and the shade given by its long
leafy branches. The Arabs said there were as many uses for the date palm as
there were days in the year.
<P>Greek architects modeled their Ionic columns on the tree's tall, thin
trunk and curling, bushy top. The Romans called it Phoenix dactylifera --
"the date-bearing phoenix" -- because it never died and appeared to be
reborn in the desert where all other plant life perished.
<P>Now Solowey and her colleagues have brought this phoenix of the desert
back to life after 2,000 years.
<P>The ancient seeds were found 30 years ago during archeological
excavations on Mount Masada, the mountaintop fortress on the shore of the Dead
Sea where King Herod built a spectacular palace. When the Romans conquered
Palestine and laid waste to the Temple in Jerusalem, Masada was the last stand
of a small band of Jewish rebels who held out against three Roman legions for
several years before committing mass suicide in A.D. 73.
<P>Archaeologist Ehud Netzer found the seeds, which were identified by the
department of botanical archaeology at Israel's Bar-Ilan University. Then they
were placed in storage, where they lay for 30 years until Sallon heard about
the cache.
<P>"When we asked if we could try and grow some of them, they said, 'You're
mad,' but they gave us three seeds," she said.
<P>Sallon took the seeds to Solowey, who has cultivated more than 3,000 date
palms and rarities like the trees that produce the fragrant resins
frankincense and myrrh. Solowey admits she was skeptical about the chances of
success with this project.
<P>"When I received the seeds from Sarah, I thought the chances of this
experiment succeeding were less than zero," said Solowey, cradling the
precious seedling in a specially quarantined section of her nursery on the
kibbutz. "But Dr. Sallon insisted and I took this very seriously. Lotus seeds
over 1,000 years old have been sprouted, and I realized that no one had done
any similar work with dates, so why not give it our best shot -- and we were
<P>The three seeds were long and thin, grayish-brown in color. Solowey
soaked them in warm water, and then added gibberellic acid, a potent growth
hormone used to induce germination in reluctant seeds. Next, she added a
special rooting hormone for woody plants called T8 and an enzyme-rich
fertilizer to supplement the natural food inside it. She then planted it in
sterile potting soil on the Jewish festival of trees, which this year fell on
Jan. 25.
<P>Solowey placed the pots in her nursery and tended to them each day for a
month, not expecting anything to happen.
<P>"Much to my astonishment, after five weeks, a small little date shoot
came up," she says. "It was pale, almost whitish green. The first two leaves
were abnormal-looking. They were very flat and very pale. The third leaf
started to have the striations of a normal date plant. Now it looks perfectly
normal to me.
<P>"The only difference between this date seedling and any other date
seedlings I've seen come up is the length of the third leaf. This is very
unusual," she said, pointing out one very long, thin leaf growing out of the
<P>"It's certainly the oldest tree seed that's ever been sprouted. Wheat
seeds from pharaohs' tombs have been sprouted, but none of the plants have
survived for very long. Before this, the oldest seed grown was a lotus from
China, which was 1,200 years old," she said. "I'm very excited. I wasn't
expecting anything to happen. I'm really interested in finding out what the
DNA testing is going to show. I know that date seeds can stay alive for
several decades. To find out that they can stay alive for millennia is
<P>Date palms are either male or female, but it's too early to tell the sex
of Methuselah. Normally, female trees begin to bear fruit after about five
<P>"We have to figure out where we can put it so it can grow to maturity.
Then we'll hope that it grows up and flowers so we can figure out whether it's
male or female, and then it has offshoots and seeds so we can propagate it.
It's very exciting to think that maybe someday we can eat 2,000-year-old dates,
but there's a 50 percent chance that it's a male, in which case that won't
happen," she said.
<P>Sallon trained as a pediatrician and gastroenterologist, and she once
worked with Mother Teresa at the Sisters of Charity orphanage in Calcutta. She
founded the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Center 10 years ago and is a
world-renowned expert on the medical properties of plants. "It feels
remarkable to see this seed growing, to see it coming out of the soil after 2,
000 years. It's a very moving and exciting moment," she said.
<P>The two researchers hope the reborn tree will provide valuable
information about the Judean economy and society at the time of Jesus.
<P>Once the seed sprouted, samples of seeds excavated from the same cache on
Masada were sent to the University of Zurich for radio-carbon dating. The
results came back last week, showing the samples were 2,000 years old, plus or
minus a margin of error of 50 years, placing them during or just before the
Masada revolt.
<P>"Perhaps one of our ancestors was sitting there on the battlements of
Masada eating his dates while the Roman armies were preparing for the final
siege and perhaps nonchalantly spitting out a pip," said Sallon. "Two thousand
years later, here I am at Kibbutz Ketura and it's grown."
<P>The sixth leaf has been sent to the Volcani Centre, Israel's agricultural
research institute, for DNA testing by date palm expert Yuval Cohen.
<P>"I find it remarkable," said Cohen. "Two thousand years ago, during the
Roman Empire, Israel was known for the quality of its dates. They were famous
throughout the Roman Empire. But date growing as a commercial fruit export
stopped at the end of 70 A.D., when the Second Temple was destroyed by the
Romans. From then, the tradition was lost.
<P>"It's an interesting question what were the ancient dates like. We hope
by genetic analysis, we can learn more about the character of the ancient date
<P>When the Romans invaded ancient Judea, thick forests of date palms
towering up to 80 feet high and 7 miles wide covered the Jordan River valley
from the Sea of Galilee in the north to the shores of the Dead Sea in the
south. The tree so defined the local economy that Emperor Vespasian celebrated
the conquest by minting the "Judea Capta," a special bronze coin that showed
the Jewish state as a weeping woman beneath a date palm.
<P>Today, nothing remains of those mighty forests. The date palms in modern
Israel were imported, mainly from California. The ancient Judean date,
renowned for its succulence and famed for its many medicinal properties, had
been lost to history.
<P>Until now.


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Complicated Migraines or TMA

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Complicated migraine or TIA

Forum: The Neurology and Neurosurgery Forum
Topic: Speech
Subject: Complicated migraine or TIA

Posted by ccf neuro M.D. on April 14, 1997 at 22:55:10:

In Reply to: Complicated migraine or TIA posted by Debbie M on April 09, 1997 at 15:38:35:

: My 12 year old daughter had what was first Dx. as a TIA
in Sept/96. She had marked weakness on one side, vision
field was reduced in one eye, confusion, slurred speech,
and was dragging her left foot, she also did not know her
name could not identify objects, and was not able to write.
when she left the hospital she was dx. as having a TIA.
Since that time she has had about 4 migraines but not at all
like the first one. They are now calling the first attack
a complicated migraine. Why the difference now? Thanks
for any help.
A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, occurs when a part of the brain is temporarlily, usually briefly, deprived of blood flow, resulting in the temporary loss of function of that part of the brain in which the blood flow is temporarily lost. Migraine headaches result in an abnormal constriction or narrowing of one of the arteries in the brain, followed subsequently by abnormal dilation or widening of the same or nearby arteries, which generates the pounding, throbbing pain of the migraine. On occasion, the initial portion of the migraine where the blood vessel is CONSTRICTING is so severe that it causes a large enough reduction in blood flow to the part of the brain the artery supplies to produce neurologic symptoms very similar to those caused by a TIA. The term "TIA", however, is restricted to describing instances where the temporary loss of blood flow is caused by a blood clot temporarily clogging the affected artery before it busts up in its own into smaller pieces. The lack of blood flow in the case of
migraines that are "complicated" by neurologic symptoms, by contrast, is due to SPASM or narrowing of the artery rather than by a blood clot. Typically, also, the duration of symptoms in complicated migraines is an hour, whereas for a TIA the duration is 5 minutes or less. You should be aware that the diagnosis of "complicated migraine" can only be made after excluding other more serious illnesses such as tumors or arteriovenous malformations (abnormal tangles of blood vessels in the brain), that can produce remarkably similar symptoms. Presumably, your daughter has already had an MRI scan, or at least a CAT scan with contrast to rule out these more sinister but rarer possibilities. Complicated migraines often but not always run in families and are often controllable by the same drugs used to prevent regular migraines. Sometimes, the patient has the neurologic symptoms WITH a headache, in which case the episode is called a "complicated migraine." Other times, theneurologic symptoms may occur WITHOUT the
headache, in which case the spell is called a TRANSIENT MIGRAINOUS ACCOMPANIMENT, or "TMA"--- note the similarity to "TIA", which is appropriate since both episodes are produced by diminished blood flow to a portion of the brain. On rare occasions, the spasm or narrowing of the artery may become so severe that the artery clots off--- in which case you get a STROKE. If your daughter EVER has neurologic symptoms lasting more than about 45 minutes, you should bring her to the nearest emergency room IMMEDIATELY---- DO NOT WAIT beyond that time interval, because if you do and she has had a stroke, she will miss out on the opportunity to have the stroke reversed by clot-buster drugs that must be administered within 3 hours of stroke onset in order to have a chance of working. I would suggest that you have either a pediatric neurologist or a headache doctor treat your daughter's complicated migraines/TMAs as prompt control of these is desirable. I hope this information answers your question in a way you can
understand, and helps you understand why the episode your daughter initially had (a TMA) was easily misinterpreted as a TIA, as her history of migraine headaches was not known at the time and, by coincidence, her first migraine symtpom just happened to be a TMA.

Reply by: ccf neuro M.D. on 04/14/1997