4 cents for your thoughts

People pay taxes for services and for infrastructure.  Government provides services that businesses do not provide.  Businesses sell liquids in bottles, mostly plastic.  Billions of plastic bottles.  Baltimore City government and volunteer citizens pick up plastic bottles on a regular basis to try to keep the city clean.

Millions of dollars are spent to make Baltimore look good,  to make people want to live here and raise their families.

In business, when taxes go up to pay for government services, those costs are passed along to the customers.  If customers are willing to spend $1-$2 for a bottle of water, why wouldn't that same customer pay 4 cents to have a cleaner city?  If the city isn't clean, if the Inner Harbor isn't clean, no one will be buying any bottles at any price, because the customers will decide to live where it is clean. There is a direct link between how clean Baltimore is and whether businesses and citizens want to work and live here.  Is 4 cents a bottle too much to pay?


High Speed Fiber & Baltimore's Future

A small group of dedicated volunteers lead by Dave Troy and Tom Loveland (Baltimore Google Czar) put together a gorgeous proposal to convince Google to come to Baltimore.

A list of those volunteers can be found on the website: 

Look in the lower right hand corner under Baltimore community (site credits).  It is a great group of people.

A few of those volunteers gathered at the Greater Baltimore Committee's meeting at the University of Baltimore to hear what comes next in Baltimore's quest to bring high speed broadband to the community.

Two Mayor's, one from Layette, Louisiana and the other from Fort Wayne, Indiana detailed their cities successes with high speed Internet.  Based on their assessments of the economic benefits and the investments required, it is pretty clear that Baltimore can and should pursue this path to future innovation and growth.

Whether Google Fiber comes to Baltimore or not, the tech community, the state of Maryland, the city of Baltimore, its universities, businesses and organizations seem to be united in achieving that goal.

I haven't conducted a poll of members, but I believe that the volunteers that served BmoreFiber will stand behind that effort.  After all, we all live and work here and in the end this is a quality of life issue that everyone can benefit from.


Co-Working Conceptual

Tired of the cubicle life?  I was waiting for the Bolt Bus, talking with someone attractive from Canada on her way to Paris via NYC.  It is a faded memory, but I was trying to talk her into returning to Baltimore to start her job hunt.  Since I had nothing to offer her, I was at a loss as to what to say.  Also, she was much more connected and turned in that some new graduates.

But a beatnik-looking, young fellow next to us jumped into the conversation.  He was on his way to Brazil, via NYC.  He did neuro stuff and had given up that 9-5 job stuff a long time ago.  No more cubicles.  No more employer schedules.  He was living the good life, not just working it.

Which brings me to Beehive Baltimore.  Over the winter, I went along with the Baltimore tech crew to Philly's IndyHall on a sunny day and jealousy crept in. (see attached pic)  But now BB is making a move to larger quarters at ETC Canton, yeeha!

That Philly trip was the last time that we saw Patti C, except for Ignite Baltimore and on Twitter, before she moved to SF.  Gotta stop the tech brain drain.  Now about that Beta Lab.  Save that for next time.


Riding the Freedom Trail in Maryland

I hate my car.  Two catalytic converters just blew.  Cost to replace: $1700.00

The only thing that I like about my car is the radio.  As a transportation vehicle it stinks.  When I was a kid, I loved the power, the ability to ride 200 miles in a day without blinking, or sleeping in the back seat when I couldn't afford a motel.

Those days are gone.  My car is a ball and chain sitting in traffic on the inner loop of 695 at 3:00 pm in the afternoon sun.  My first used car cost me $800.  Today I can't buy one for less than $5000.  If my income had gone up by the same amount, I won't be so depressed.  I'd be rich.  Not a slave to mosuburbia.

Things are not getting better.  My disenchantment with the car is a nationwide plague and drivers are taking it out on bicycle drivers.  Patriotic cowboys of the road.  American's last symbol of independence and freedom.  You can still buy a nice used bike for $75 and my Schwinn is still going after 25 years.

Many people consider buffalo and wolves a thing of the past.  Who cares if they disappear off the face of earth?  Fortunately, bikers are a tougher and more adaptive species, they will live on, and long after my rotten car is sitting in a heap of another overflowing junk pile on Rt. 40, two wheelers will be riding the freedom road to paradise.


Knowing Everything and Knowing Nothing - Happy Facebook Earth

I remember it was not too long ago when scientists first started learning what was in dirt.  I thought to myself, how long have we had microscopes and we didn't know what little things were crawling around in dirt?
Another curious fact.  California, supposedly one of the most progressive states environmentally and certainly one of the most beautiful, lets sewage flow untreated into the Pacific Ocean.  So California heavily regulates the air that works its way through car engines, but lets its swimmers play in contaminated water.

Somehow these things bring us to Facebook and the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day.  Some people say that Facebook might be a threat.  Some say that owning our information will be a boon to business.

As we all know there are some big corporations in the world that have been pretty good at threatening our existence and who threaten the health of the planet that we call home.  Some say that big government is a threat.  There are a lot of threats to chose from.

In my own case on this Earth Day, I am going to try to focus on where my food comes from and who I choose to get it from and how much I consume.  I am not much of a multi-tasker, but maybe this place, Earth would benefit from a simpler approach to threats and our brief existence in this sphere.


Social Media Noisy Exuberance

Jump on the bandwagon, or do not jump on the bandwagon?  Look before you leap!  I love cliques and repeat-isms.  I loved the pet rock, too.  I own lots of rocks of the serpentine variety, most recently from hikes at Soldiers Delight.  This is a stone worth keeping from a hiking area that is worth preserving.

The news media loves to talk, fill space, get on the bandwagon, or preferably be the first with a story, but as Paul Harvey used to say, "Here is the rest of the story."  Or at least some of it.

The Internet produces a lot of noise.  Some of that noise rises above the other noise.  Sometimes a story goes "viral" and many of us run to see what the noise is all about.

A look see on the Internet can be as short of 3 seconds, maybe at the same time the viewer is multitasking.  This makes it difficult for the bean counters.  The Internet is all about ease of use.  If that "use" is only 3 seconds, good luck with measuring in the short term.

If you have 30,000 followers on the Internet, Twitter or Facebook, what exactly does that translate down to?  Depends on what you are trying to accomplish and in what time frame and in what locality.

Measuring is more than counting.  Return on investment is cumulative and hopefully compounded over time if you keep your eye on the ball and stay in it for the long haul.  You are in it, I gather, for the long haul?

Exuberance is an important element in greasing the wheels and people do want to know that you are passionate about what you do.  So get on the bandwagon, strut your stuff, but don't be just part of the noise, show that you are rock solid.  Produce something, support something, protect something that you will be proud to tell your grandchildren about.


Health Care Solutions Dilemma

Problem #1 Cost

Solution: Take the job away from the insurance companies. Give it to the best corporate cost cutter: Walmart (home of the $4 prescription) Add some competition: Give half to Target for those who have aesthetic issues and to keep it competitive.  Insurance companies only handle paper.  Handling paper is generic and can be totally automated.

Problem #2 Quality

Solution: Open clinics at Nordstrom, Macy's, JC Penney and any other retailers that understand how to deliver good customer service.  Add Zappos, Amazon, Google and Yahoo on the Internet to the mix.

Lastly, require that all systems be open source and full integrated.  Google knows how to do that and Oracle and SAP, I am sure would welcome the business.

Final Analysis and Rational

Insurance companies have not done their job: improve quality and reduce costs. Fire them. Bring in successful companies that know how to do both. Open up the market to competition.  HMO's can be useful.  That 15% that we currently spend on overhead is a big incentive and an opportunity.  Take 5% of it and offer it as additional profit to HMO's for the first 10 years.  Reduce overhead to 5% like Canada and give 5% back to the American people.

The biggest hurtle here is Congress.  We need to lay this out in a simple, transparent way and then take it to each member of Congress and have them sign off on it.   We have the resources.  The Internet always wins, but only if it is used.  In a capitalist society, we have so many choices, but many times not enough gumption to show Congress the way.  It really is time to get tough on the people that we hired to do this job in Washington.  Not in a hysterical way, just being supportive of common sense solutions.  Ask yourself, what would Ben Franklin do?