Thursday, December 29, 2011

Need A Good Read? WBUR's Listeners' Best of 2011

Check out the books Boston readers liked this year:
WBUR's Best Books 2011
"You’ve heard from our experts: now, it’s your turn. Here’s a list of top picks from callers and web site commenters:


On Facebook, Inez Steele suggested “The Cat’s Table,” by Michael Ondaatje, and Darryl Daniel said his favorite this year was Nile Rodgers’ autobiography, “Le Freak.” Dawn Opstad said “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach gave her 'hope in an otherwise disillusioning baseball season.' "
Read more here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Darjeeling: Do you drink when you read?

I'm a complete tea freak and always like to read and drink tea.   Here's some great books to read if you're drinking Darjeeling.

Have you read them? Did you love them?  Here's a link to buy them.

Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai


A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth












The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy


And from the official Darjeeling site:



How does one prepare a cup of Darjeeling Tea?

Take 1 level teaspoon of pure Darjeeling Tea in each cup. Nothing for the pot. Pour water, immediately after bringing it to a furious boil. Brew it for 3 - 4 minutes.

A perfect cup of Darjeeling is ready.

If Broken / Fanning Grades of tea is used, ½ teaspoon of tea would suffice. In case milk or sugar is to be added then the brewing time has to extend to about 5 minutes.

The quantity of Tea and the brewing time can be altered according to personal preferences.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Great Stuff (per usual) from J.Konrath's Blog

If you don't read Joe Konrath's blog, "A Newbie's Guide to Publishing" you must not care about books, ebooks, good writing, humor, insight and any of those kinda things.

It's such a great blog and he's put up his list of resolutions for 2012.

Here's a link and here's a quote:
" ... Formats and gadgets come and go. But the world will always need storytellers." 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Woody Says "There's a Reindeer in my Boot!"

We've had this toy a long time and my son managed to break the talking box inside, but I do remember Christmas Woody being very upset and whining that there was a reindeer in his boot.  As a new mom, I had more important problems to solve, so I pretty much ignored his pleas. I was busy getting my son over colds, cuts, scrapes and other dangers he seemed determined to launch himself into.  This kid was a climber -- early on.

There was no reindeer in HIS boot, but often as not there was an infection in his ear or or a lost blankie or there was the time when he first learned how to out get out of his crib. Now that he's a mountain climber and an instructor at the rock gym, showing others how to belay and climb, I finally get it.  His first ascent should have been a hint where things were headed.

It was a big crib, mattress set at the lowest setting so most kids would not have been able to escape.  We read all the books.  But the books did us no good.   He was tall even then and an adventurer.

He did it early in the morning when we were asleep in the other room, so I'll never know exactly what technique he employed, but we woke up to howling cries as he found him high up on top of his tall dresser next to the crib,  where he'd grabbed a big jar of Vaseline and was spreading it all over the wall and himself.  He was in tears, covered with petroleum jelly, looking very upset, as if someone had done this dirty work TO HIM and then exiled him from the comfort of his crib. You learn early as a parent not to laugh at your kids in peril -- especially self-inflicted scenarios of disaster like this one.

After we got him de-greased and settled back into his bed again, I remember looking at the dark streaks all over the wall, not having a clue how I'd get them off the rented walls.  This was going to be a long haul, but a never a dull one.

Friday, December 23, 2011

eBook Pricing ... a Peculiar Art

My writer friend in the UK, Suw Charmin (think Sue like Suzy) has written a great blog post about how ebook authors price their books.  Here's a sliver.   Check it out on her excellent site, Chocolate and Vodka and go BUY HER EXCELLENT BOOK!

" ... As writers, we would all like to think that our work has inherent value. The blood, sweat and tears that we leaked all over the page should, we tell ourselves, be valued by others as much as it is by us. 
But the price that the public is willing to pay has little to do with any sense of inherent value; it is directed by what price the market will support. When it come to deciding what price we put on our ebooks, it is not sufficient to think about our concept of inherent value."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

ebook secrets ... shhhhh!

Leo Tolstoy, Age 20, 1848
Don't tell anyone I told you, but here are some of the secrets ebook lovers have discovered and do not want to share.  This is why they can't go back to books.

Secret No. 1:  No Glasses Required!

Know what this is?    Aa

You probably don't if you don't read ebooks.

"Aa" is the key on the Kindle that lets you set the font size so no matter where you are you can read WITHOUT putting your glasses on.  (That is, if you are myopic.)  And, let me tell you, once you get used to being able to read without having to go HUNT FOR YOUR GLASSES, it's very hard to get used to reading a real book again, where you can't change the font size instantly.  Like that baby on Youtube who thinks a magazine is an iPad, you'll find yourself whacking the paper book expecting the font to get bigger.

Secret No. 2:  No Lights Required!

If you have a dumb old paper book and you read from daylight into darkness, you have to either get up and turn on the light or go find a little clippy light.  With an ebook, you likely have a built-in light with the cute old Kindle cover, or you have the Kindle Fire or iPad which means the book is "lit" without doing anything.  Sounds like no big deal, but there are many times and places you want to read where turning on a big old light overhead is either very inconvenient or disruptive of others.  Ebook readers love not having to mess with lighting.

Secret No. 3:  Effing Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky 

If you read novels, and most ebook readers do, there is something so WONDERFUL about a quick search to find out who the hell a certain character is, with an unpronounceable  name like this one.  I mean, if you read Tolstoy and don't speak Russian, you are lost in a snowstorm of complicated character names.  Who can remember who the hell Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky is anyway?!  And you BETTER remember who Vronsky is, because he's Anna Karenina's lover and she throws herself under the train for the bastard. Not only does the plain old Kindle let you search the name, finding the first time it appears and other important data, but with the super cool upgrades on the Kindle Fire, it practically gives you all the Spark Notes info on the guy.  You start to feel less like a reader and more like a private eye.  What paper book can do that for you in 5 seconds?!

Secret No. 4:  Have I Got A Deal For You!

If you have a Kindle, you get so many terrific deals on books EVERY DAY, it's almost impossible to imagine going into a bookstore anymore.  I mean, maybe you could go into a bookstore, use one of their big comfy armchairs, open your Kindle and see what great books are on sale today at Amazon, download one in a split second and sit there and read, but that would be very rude behavior.  Can you honestly use a bookstore's chair, with no intention to buy their wares as you sit next to a hardcover book, priced at $19.95 or more and read the SAME BOOK in the e-version which you just bought for $1.00?! Please, be fair.  As the Ebook Wars rage, be polite enough to avert your eyes from the hopeless victims.

These are just a few of the secrets, I refuse to tell the others.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Help Wanted: Leader of Kindle and Print Book Editorial

Amazon posted this job on March 31, 2011.  Tall order.  Just think how much has changed in the world of books (and especially ebooks) since March, then you can imagine how difficult writing a five-year strategy would be! 

Job Description:  Leader of Kindle and Print Book Editorial
Amazon.com is looking for a seasoned executive to lead our Kindle and Print Book Editorial Team responsible for developing the vision for furthering Amazon’s position as a world-class book seller, and leading a team of Editors in the execution of that strategy.  The Director of Editorial is a newly created role responsible for the end-to-end Editorial vision for Amazon.com Books, he or she must have deep experience interviewing high profile authors and celebrities, and reviewing and creating compelling book content across all genres of Books, from fine literature to science fiction.  The Director of Editorial works with customers, publishers, authors and the press to ensure a best-in-class book experience for Amazon.com and its customers.

The key strategic objectives for this role include:
1)      Develop a 5 year vision for Amazon.com’s Editorial voice.  The strategy will incorporate existing Amazon metrics on book sales and customer segments, shifting patterns in customer shopping and online behavior, industry and competitive trends and will ultimately become the road map for how we talk with customers, authors, illustrators, publishers and the media.
2)      This leader will help innovate toward a better book buying experience. He or she will establish a best-in-class content experience, as measured by increased number of customers who purchase, the conversion rates at which existing customers purchase from us, increased customer engagement with us, and increased exposure in the media.
3)      This leader will innovate and develop new models for connecting with customers, helping customers connect with content creators, stimulating customer engagement with Amazon, identifying new and emerging sub-genre’s of books to introduce customers to, and constantly seeking new ways to use metrics and data to increase the likelihood of success.

The Amazon.com Books team interacts with over 100 million customers, 40 million books, across 30,000 publishers at any given time.  As book format options continue to evolve, and book publishing becomes increasingly easier for writers, customers look to Amazon to navigate the myriad Books available and help them find the exact book they are looking for.  The Director of Editorial plays a critical role in connecting customers with books in as seamless manner as possible.  The Director of Editorial is responsible for an Editorial vision that touches millions of customers and billions of revenue per year.
Basic Qualifications
  • Bachelor’s degree is required.
  • 10+ years of relevant book experience.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Existing relationships with the media, top authors, and publishers.
  • Tremendous editorial credibility with readers, content providers, and the media.

Preferred Qualifications
The ideal candidate will have demonstrated experience creating high profile book content, and is considered an influencer by readers, writers, and their peers:
  • Creative, forward thinking leader with proven ability to innovate.
  • Experience using data to drive decisions.
  • Has hired and developed teams of at least 5.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: In Delirium Bloom

I really don’t know much about vampires or those walking dead folks, zombies.  In fact, when people say, you could fill a book with what I know about X … well, you could fill a book with what I DON’T know about these semi-dead dudes.  So the good news is Libboo.com has filled a book with them --  In Delirium Bloom is the perfect short story collection with just enough after-life adverturers to make me happy, as well as entertain those who are blood thirsty for tales of the dead and sortof dead.

If you like history mixed with fantasy, you’ll like South of the Walloomsac which shows you the The Battle of Bennington VT was more than you ever thought it was.  These vampires have been with us for a long time and did their part in the Revolutionary War, don’t you know?   If American History doesn’t do it for you, perhaps you like the American Musical Theatre.   In Sing For Your Life,  the last living guys and dolls manage to sing their way out of a mob of bloodthirsty zombies by turning on the musical numbers and getting the zombies grooving to the beat of Oliver.  Perhaps, young girls toting big guns and using neighborhood zombies for target practice, is more your cup of tea.  If so, you’ll like the story Here and Now.  

Whatever your particular favorite twist is, in the dead men walking genre, this collection of lurid tales will entertain you from dark to dawn.  Just be sure to keep the lights burning bright as you read, or you’ll be hearing many things going bump in the night and find yourself seriously freaking out thanks to this range of freaks.  

Watching My Hair Grow Grey

I know growing old is not very popular with most baby boomers, especially for women, but I'm rather thrilled about it.  First of all, being named after Halley's Comet which arrives every 76 years, I have a game plan, so I need to really focus on getting old, grey and wrinkly fast.

Since the Comet returns in 2062, I plan to go out with it, the way Mark Twain did, so I am looking forward to the living at least to the age of 106.  I am a mere babe at 55.  I'll be 100 in 2056 and a nice desiccated, cranky 106 by 2062.  And what a bitch I'll be by then!   Can't wait.

So along those lines, I decided this year it's time to go totally grey.  I've been growing out my hair -- MY hair -- my REAL hair which has been hidden away by girly girl goldilocks, blonde paint from a bucket, until lately and now ... TA DA ... here's my actual hair appearing front and center!  I have gorgeous wise old lady hair and it's shiny grey in patches, just like my dad's.

It's a great batch of hair and really does give me a quiet nostalgic moment in the mirror to reconnect with family members no longer on this side of the glass.

Seeing the first white stripe in the front of my fringe did remind me of my dad and made me instantly melancholy and rather jump-for-joyish.  Sad to remember he's gone, but happy to be revisited by him.

So in my aim to grow old fast and not particularly gracefully, I've been studying the devious skills old people use to do whatever the hell they please, most of the time.   First, this game they play of pretending to be hard of hearing -- well, I'm hip to that one -- this poor hearing thing is a ruse, a way to disregard what most people say.  I'm practicing the scrunchy faced look of confusion and the quick, "What's that you say, sonny?"  I love ignoring what most people say, but now I have a good excuse.

And then there's the alleged trouble they have with walking and their creaky, crappy bones making it hard to get around. These cute old folks always want to stay in their seats, sip their tea and read their book.  I'm 100% behind that one.  "Honey, fetch me another cuppa," oh yes, love that.

And that business with poor eyesight?  You didn't fall for that one, did you?   Like many seniors, I've already had cataract surgery, and have better than 20/20 eyesight, but still wear the cute old lady peepers to fool everyone.  I can see the serial number on the back of your computer 50 yards away at a crowded Starbucks.  I can be delightfully nosy, reading any private papers on your desk or desktop when waiting in your office to be taken to lunch.  On the street, I am quickly noting your PIN number at the ATM when pretending to wait in line.  I smile sweetly.

And with any luck, soon I'll be armed with their main weapon of choice -- a nice silver-handled cane.  You think it's for walking?! Are you nuts!?   Ever notice how handy it is for whacking some youngster in the shins when they act up.  If that doesn't do the trick, a rap with the silver knob along side of the brow of a young, brash upstart is quick to knock some sense into their heads.   Leaves a nice dent in the hood of a too pushy red roadster too.  Ah, growing old -- this is a sport I am going to excel at.

Picture Credit:  Granny Glasses

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kindle Unkindness: NYT

The New York Times is saying the Kindle Fire is a dud.  I do not agree, but read this and I'll be back later to talk about why they have it all wrong.  Or tell me your thoughts in the comments below.  Remember to tell me if you actually HAVE a Kindle Fire.  And you might want to mention is you have an iPad and if you're comparing it to that device.

"The Kindle Fire, Amazon’s heavily promoted tablet, is less than a blazing success with many of its early users. The most disgruntled are packing the device up and firing it back to the retailer.


A few of their many complaints: there is no external volume control. The off switch is easy to hit by accident. Web pages take a long time to load. There is no privacy on the device; a spouse or child who picks it up will instantly know everything you have been doing. The touch screen is frequently hesitant and sometimes downright balky.


All the individual grievances — recorded on Amazon’s own Web site — received a measure of confirmation last week when Jakob Nielsen, a usability expert, denounced the Fire, saying it offered “a disappointingly poor” experience. For users whose fingers are not as slender as toothpicks, he warned, the screen could be particularly frustrating to manipulate."

Elle by Mindthings

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On All Things Magic: Marco Tempest

If you didn't see Marco Tempest at LeWeb11 yesterday, I am just so sorry for you!  He threw a few magical thoughts up on the massive screen behind him, like Goethe's excellent suggestion:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
He showed us how the brain wants to believe in the visual, filling in the blanks at times when it decides it knows what's going on, but it can be fooled. I really can't do his performance justice here, so I'll ask you to find a way to see him live. He's so very good.Check out his Ted Talk here.

Watch some of these great videos and you'll get an idea how he plays gently enough with your brain, then politely returns it where it was sitting lazily protected by your thick cranium, much improved and sparkling with new ideas.



That's the UMBRELLA trick.



That's the PENCIL trick.

Had enough? Pretty great eh? Better check this link.  He is doing a lot more wild stuff than this, but isn't it nice the way he turns our heads around to BELIEVE in the idea that you can do magic tricks with video and online and still TRUST him -- that it's not just some editing trick.  Wish the models they showed in adverts could be trusted not to be photoshopped up.



The PHOTOSHOPPED FEMALE trick.

LOréal at LeWeb11

LOréal is at LeWeb11 -- and I can't wait to hear more about what they are up to.  This great picture of Gwen Stefani is from their French site.


My dad worked in advertising and worked for Charles Revson at Revlon early in his career.  He also worked for Smirinoff Vodka.  He got all the free samples of makeup and vodka he could want -- and of course, my mom wore NO makeup and neither of them drank liquor!  I guess that is just the way it goes sometimes. Or "c'est la vie" as the French say.


Check out Gwen Stefani, the classic blonde, here:

Petzl: Where Innovation, Adventure and Safety Thrive

Before attending LeWeb11 in Paris to talk about start-ups and entrepreneurial passion, I was so lucky to catch up with Chris Blakely, the head of Petzl's training and research centre in Crolles, near Grenoble. For those who know and love Petzl, you likely know Crolles. And, I'm sure you know what incredible innovation takes place there, but for others, please take a look at this video to start with.



In the Petzl entrance lobby, there are many interesting artifacts, photos and facts about the company started by expert caver Fernand Petzl in 1975. You could spend hours there alone, but most our time was spent at the amazing research facility known as V.axess.

At V.axess Chris showed us three full-size mannequins dressed for action and sporting Petzl equipment which demonstrate the three product areas where they focus. The first is the caver, who may descend many hundreds of meters DOWN with a primary objective of exploration. The second is the climber who belays another climber, who would go UP into the mountains or up a rock gym climbing wall with Petzl equipment like the very famous "GRIGRI," invented 20 years ago.

The third mannequin has the most robust equipment, most protective clothing and with two independent systems, would be a representative of their industrial customer -- rescue and safety personnel or other industry workers who need to use harnesses and heavier equipment to do everything from helicopter rescues to industrial maintenance of those large windmills which dot the landscape.

You may notice the rope thickness and weight of the equipment goes from lighter to heavier as you go from caver to climber to industry safety personnel.

Equally exciting was the V.axess test facility. It may look like one big climbing gym to you with one wall full of holds any climber would love to spend the day ascending, but there are many more types of testing and training that take place there.  In fact, some is so leading edge, it's confidential and I can't write about it.

Other areas in the V.axess facility include simulated "burning buildings" where firefighters can practice quick exits using Petzl equipment when all other routes are unavailable. You'll be glad to know that Petzl will not sell that equipment without first getting a commitment from the firefighting team to training.

As Chris spoke with me, I got a better idea of what he and his team work on: innovation of current and classic products, improving something as well known the karabiner or GRIGRI, as well as introducing new solutions driven by their team and current clients' needs.  One of the most important "products" they provide, is training to their distributor network, who then in turn train those who sell Petzl equipment.

Chris gave us some interesting examples of his work day challenges -- finding out how "G force" the ropes and equipment used in helicopter rescue might be subject to, simulating it and ensuring those rescuers can rely on Petzl products in the worst conditions.

He walked us over to the main lobby where the original handmade equipment is on display.  Chris showed us how the original Petzl products were handmade (and many still are) and pointed out the devices created by their founder to manufacture karibiners and other equipment.  We could have spent many more hours learning about this fascinating "start-up" where a young man who loved exploring caves turned his passion into a great company known for innovation, adventure and safety.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Karl Lagerfeld Interview at LeWeb

The funny thing was … I didn’t expect him to have a German accent.  Of course, that’s crazy since he IS German, but he’s so much of a Parisien in his style and work and attitude.  I've heard Karl Lagerfeld in French many times, but didn't hear his accent in that language.  But the interview between Loic and Karl at LeWeb this morning was in English.   I did expect him to speak English well and he does speak it very well.   And very politely.   He was allegedly born in 1933,  but doesn’t like to talk about it.   That means in 1960, he was the same age as Zuckerberg is today.   And he's still fresh, innovative and creative as any young entrepreneur, 50 years later.

Mr. Lagerfeld has a perfectly gorgeous leather case – I think he said it was made by Celine --  for his many devices.  He opens it and there is a white iPad on top.  There’s a second level which he flips open to reveal four iPhones in black and white Karl Lagerfeld brand design.    What else?!  Also he has a bunch of black, white and silvery iPod Shuffles.  Some are shimmering.  He lives in a world of absolutely beautiful things.

I love watching his hands using his iPad and iPhone.  They are in black leather fingerless gloves with silver studs – as if they are two dangerous dogs, needing to be locked up. Chien Mechant!  But the gloves also reverberate with a medieval king’s style, he is a veritable Charlemagne planning a conquest.   How can you not love his clothes, the 1910 high white starched collar, the casual white ponytail?

He explains to Loic, showing off his iPhones, that he has certain friends set up to call certain phones and keeps things organized that way.  Loic ask something about the phones and he scolds him, “Of course I have more than four friends!” He’s a master of understatement.

He shows us how he uses the iPad to sketch and says it makes his drawings look even better than they might be on paper.  It feels a bit “like engraving” for him, he explains.  At first the application is not working, creating a Murphy’s Law moment, but he pushes on, and finally it works and he draws for us.  Earlier he had made a drawing of Steve Jobs and shows everyone.  It’s quite good.   It’s a treat to watch him at work.  It’s so simple, so private in public way, to see him simply draw, to watch him at work as an artist.

He explains he has hundreds of iPads ... did I get that right?  Yes, he uses them like journals for different projects, each dedicated to a different creative project.

This is when Loic asks to roll the video – the famous Apple commercial called Think Different.  At the end, Loic is excited to hear what Karl Lagerfeld has to say about it.  Instead of gushing, Karl jumps in with what seems wrong with it.  “There are no Frenchmen in it!”  as if this were an obvious design flaw.

Talking about ebooks, he says “I love paper” and talks about how ebooks are one more way to enjoy books, not replacements for real books, but an addition, as there was once only radio and then TV came along.  It did not stop radio. It was just one more new medium to be embraced.

Loic pushes him about being part of social media, joining things like Facebook or Twitter.  I happen to know he’s been on Twitter awhile and was very cool in adopting it a few years ago.  He is not particularly overwhelmed about such networks and says bluntly. “It’s not about being overly connected, it’s about being WELL connected.”

His demeanor is humble, artistic, funny, blunt.  He says outrageously funny things from a place of complete, “oh please!” honesty.   He makes us all look like liars, he has no need to dodge the honest truth, which most people sugarcoat.

He talks about how he sketches and draws every morning, that you find good ideas by keeping a hand in, making things.  Doing the physical work of drawing helps him find new ideas.  "You get good ideas by making things, not from machines."

Loic asks him about his “brand” – how he controls his brand.  He looks at him sheepishly, “I’m not a brand, I’m just me.”  He goes on, “I don’t like promotion, I don’t promote myself, I just AM myself.”

This is like Steve Jobs or any of the other folks in the Think Different video denying they are a brand.  Picasso “just being” Picasso was a world-changing phenomenon, (equally Karl) and of course he knows that and shows us that the boldest way to exist is to JUST BE YOURSELF.   All true innovators have faced that fact.  They figure out sooner or later that they are here on Earth to be uniquely themselves, which in the beginning of your life can make you very difficult to deal with.  Many people will dislike you, but there’s only one person you are here to be.  Be yourself.

He is an artist,  that is plainly obvious from the way he has no lack of courage about trying new things.   He mentions part of that is throwing away 95% of work he does.  He is the boldest innovator in the room.

I understand as we age, how easy it is to just ignore many of the new technologies in favor of the ones you know, learned years ago, which work fine for you.   Oh no, this is not Karl’s way.  He’s as cool as my teenager trying new things, finding new ways to work, collaborating with young people.    I suspect he has a skateboard hidden away in his room for early morning romps.

Getting old is mostly no fun, but Karl seems anything but old and is all about fun.  Gravity, seems an evil force that would have you slow down as you age, making every step and muscle sag, as it tries to yank you back into the ground, ashes to ashes, but Karl has his artistic curiosity, like a kid, to resist the common pull of gravity and fly high above the crowd, like one of the break dancers who soar through the air at the opening of the conference.

Champs Elysées Christmas Decorations

video
The very gracious Renault invited the bloggers to a bash on the Champs Elysées last night.  This is a noisy (mute it) street clip to show you all the lighting and lovely decorating you can see in Paris at this time of year.  I took it on the way to the party and that alone was enough to have me sighing and muttering, "Merci beaucoup, Renault!"

Check it out.  And here's their link to R-Link which is a voice-controlled, touch and remote control tablet in our car. Their cars are leaders in technology and green innovation.  They may have a blue logo and brand (and even had a BLUE Santa there last night) -- but they are VERY GREEN!

Renault Blue Christmas and Blue Santa

Here at LeWeb11, there was a very fun party last night at Renault on the Champs Elysee.  I wore my fur hat and Blue Santa wore his too.  This is me with Santa next to his new Renault. Wish I had one for Christmas and an apartment in Paris would also be nice too Santa!

The Champs Elysee was so full of lights and decorations and everything lovely, it was stunning.  If you've never had a chance to see it, put it in your so-called bucket list.  It's amazing.

The folks at Renault were so much fun.  Here's our Chief of Bloggers Steph Booth in a zippy new Renault.  We will all need BIG Christmas trees if Santa delivers the new Renaults on Christmas morning (or Christmas Eve here in Europe.)

They are doing the coolest thing called R-Link which is a voice-controlled, touch and remote control tablet in our car.

I made sure to ask Santa in French what he wanted for Christmas.  Another amazing LeWeb moment happened as he quietly said, rather seriously in French how he was hoping for more " ... calm and peace in the world.  I do wish people would just learn to get along with one another and make this a better world."  I love that guy!

It Happened in a Taxicab In Paris

It all happened so fast.  Yes, I had a menage à trois of sorts in a taxi here in Paris.  That is, I had a meeting of the minds with two other bloggers about the obvious fact that taking some TIME to think about what we see here at LeWeb and writing something that is thoughtful might be the best use of our time.

We confessed our sins -- more and more conference bloggers including ourselves, sometimes rush to slap something up on the Web and add very little in terms of THOUGHT.

We shared a truly intimate 15 minute cab ride, all in agreement that our new way to blog should be:  watch, think, provide context and publish slowly.   Oh là là!

Picture Credit:  Wikipedia, Jules et Jim

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Morning / Grenoble

I love slowly inching up on Paris by starting my trip in a town far away from the center of action.  Grenoble is a wonderful town – essentially, the Silicon Valley of France, although it makes me think of Brad Feld and Boulder, CO more than anything in California.   It’s situated at the foothills of the Alps with breathtaking views of the mountains all around it.   It’s a great town to visit, especially if you like to ski or mountain climb.  Also it’s very near Italy and of course, being in the Alps, near Switzerland.  If you are staying on after the LeWeb Conference, take the TGV from Gare de Lyon to Grenoble (directly or via Lyon) which is only about 2 ½ hours.  You might want to rent a car and drive into the Alps, although this is not for the faint of heart as the roads are … how shall I put it … very exciting!

This morning I’m excited to visit Petzl (www.petzl.com), the leaders in mountain and rescue equipment to learn more about their R&D lab, in a suburb of Grenoble called Crolles.  If you think VC’s have a stomach for risk – wait til you see what the folks at Petzl consider risk.  I hope you don’t have a fear of heights!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dimanche au musée / Sunday at the Museum

I spent Sunday afternoon in a museum and was reminded of what wonderful museums you can find in Europe, even in towns which are not the big ones like Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, or Rome.  I’ve visited world-class museums in all those cities, but as I wandered the excellent Musée de Grenoble I was pretty impressed with their building and collection.   The first thing that struck me in the spacious, sun-filled, three-story high main hall was how soaring AND quiet it was.  Museums may be one of the last quiet, solitary places to find a peaceful tourist experience, which I love.

I decided to go back in time from Andy Warhol to the Greeks and Romans, an interesting timeline.  Beautiful women, whether depicted in bold bright silk screen 1960’s psychedelic colors or, the classic icy cool white marble of the Greeks, rule the day.   In between 1960 and 6 B.C., they had some lovely Renoir, Monet, Fantin-LaTour and other well-known French and European masters.

I had forgotten how noisy Renoir’s brush strokes were – you can hear the canvas glow with the fun of the bal musette and cafes of the 1880’s – and the intense quiet of Monet’s watery blue ponds and lily pads.

As the museum was in Grenoble, there was a wonderful roomful of landscape paintings of the Alps, which were clearly views painted after the artist had climbed high into the mountains.  Perhaps he was carried by a burrow or donkey, but whatever he did, it’s amazing to see the mountains so beautifully depicted in a time that was pre-photography, and his efforts to go there and paint, create a legacy for us, a record of the unspoiled beauty of those earlier days.

Thanks to my son, the climber, I am often dragged along on hikes where I get to see equally beautiful scenes and you can’t imagine how stunning it is to see the mountains up close after earning the right, by walking every step of the way up to the summit.  We didn’t climb last weekend when visiting Mount Washington in New Hampshire, but I have climbed up Tuckerman’s Ravine before, as well as stayed at the simple, lovely hut known as Lakes of the Clouds, close to the top of Washington, one of many huts which dot the range of the Presidentials.