Angela is Back

Idea Killeritis

Angela Lussier“You know the feeling.

“You’re sitting in traffic watching your life go by while studying the bumper of the car in front of you. You start daydreaming.

“You wonder why flying cars don’t exist yet. You wonder why we still haven’t figured out the answer to highway congestion, and then, as you watch a mom with a van full of kids flip off a teenager who cut her off….you’ve got it!…

“I invite you to a free webinar I’m hosting with this Wednesday, August 27th from 12-1pm EST.”

More information and online registration.

I Don’t Know What’s Going to Happen Next

“One of the things I like about jazz, kid, is I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Do you?”

—Bix Beiderbecke, American musician, born March 10, 1903

Bix Beiderbecke cropped

Click on the picture of Bix Beiderbecke to hear “Singin’the Blues.” The sax player is Frankie Trumbauer, who could blow a little himself. Beiderbecke looks like he’s about 12 in this photo.

Okay, entrepreneurs: here are ten technologies about to make the jump from “geewhiz” to “coming soon.” These are opportunities for innovators, investors, and cool, geeky start ups, and will bring enormous, society-wide change in the next couple of decades.

Speaking of geeky start ups, don’t miss Valley Venture Mentors graduation bash Wednesday, March 12 in Springfield. This has been an outstandingly successful session for VVM, and we’re pleased to celebrate the accomplishments of a great class of entrepreneurs.

I have two Macs, an iPhone 5, and an iPad Air. Up to now, I haven’t integrated Siri into my workflow. I’m experimenting right now with using Siri for dictation (it works really well). If you’ve got an iPhone and/or iPad, read this article and try out some of the tips for using Siri in your day-to-day work (and leisure). 

Jef Raskin’s comparison of using computers to wearing exploding shoes is still apt, even though things have improved in the last few years. 

Tomorrow in #westernma

8:00AM Agawam MarketRight
5:00–8:00PM Springfield Build Your Own Betty
6:00–8:30PM Greenfield Creating Your Own Business in Quickbooks
6:00–8:00PM Turners Falls Plug Into the Creative Valley
6:30PM Indian Orchard The Geek Group of Western Mass


Ten Breakthrought New Technologies You Should Watch in 2014

“The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies identifies recent key trends in technological change in its annual list of Top 10 Emerging Technologies. By highlighting the most important technological breakthroughs, the Council aims to raise awareness of their potential and contribute to closing gaps in investment, regulation and public understanding. For 2014, the Council identified ten new technologies that could reshape our society in the future.”

10 Technological Breakthroughs Of 2014

Ultimate Siri Guide
“The great thing about Siri is that it doesn’t require you to look at your device’s screen in order to interface with it. And Siri is smart enough to consider your location along with the context of your commands and conversations. By doing so, Siri can respond intelligently to your requests.

“Inside, we’ll teach you some of the history of Siri and show you some of its basic usage features. We’ll then present to you with an exhaustive list of voice commands, and discuss Siri’s dictation features. ”

iOS 7: The ultimate Siri guide

The Last Word

“Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining.”

—Jef Raskin, American scientist, born March 9, 1943


Breaking the Car Habit

“Art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead.”

—W. H. Auden, English poet, born February 21, 1907

320px-Potato-ChipsWhen you’re trying to break a habit, it’s very useful to build a sort of “scaffolding” to support you in avoiding the bad habit and sticking with the new one. For example, if you want to lose weight, it helps to replace high calories snakes with fruit and vegetables, because when you would go for the bad stuff there isn’t any around. Have a handful of carrots instead.

Continue reading “Breaking the Car Habit”

Parks and Recreation

“I think that every sexual position is fundamentally comic.”

—Judith Butler, American philosopher, born February 24, 1956

640px-East South East View Mt Sugarloaf South Deerfield MAWhen people study why entrpreneurs choose to build their businesses where they do, they find that their reasons have little to do with the things that politicians and economists go on and on about: tax rates and regulations. Nope: the questions they ask are whether a city is a nice place to live, whether it’s a good place to raise a family, if young people want to move there, and whether they’ll find other people like them there. These factors are certainly strong points about the Pioneer Valley, towns and cities that want to grow should keep them in mind in their plans. Yeah, I’m looking at you Greenfield, Holyoke and Springfield.  

Continue reading “Parks and Recreation”

The Networking Animal

“Don’t lie if you don’t have to.”

—Leo Szilard, American scientist, born February 11, 1898

I got a nice note from somebody about to graduate from Marlboro College Graduate Center with an MBA in Managing for Sustainability. He’s job-hunting, and also asked for advice on how to get started as a consultant. Here’s how I responded:

Apropos of getting started, it’s tough out there: if you have the (financial) ability, I might suggest doing some pro bono work for non-profits in the particular area you’re interested in, get some experience and results, and network like hell. LinkedIn is a great way to grow your professional network, but by all means get out there and meet people in the flesh as well as online. Consulting is a relationship business, and you need to get your name and reputation in front of as many people as possible.

All business is relationship business. Willy-nilly, we are animals who operate in social networks. Improving your connectivity may be the most important thing you can do to “grow your business”, assuming you have integrity and interesting skills to offer. That’s why InCommN is so committed to curating and publishing our business calendar: we want everyone in the community to find opportunities to learn and grow, and we put our money where our mouth is to provide the information.

By the way, don’t forget DELA in Holyoke this Wednesday. Also this Wednesday evening is Valley Venture Mentors’ Monthly Meeting. There: two great ways to get more involved in the Western New England business community, make some new friends, and show the world what you’ve got to offer.

The more we learn about what’s going on in Holyoke, the more excited we are about being part of the next chapter in the city’s history.

Love him or hate him: Ray Kurzweil has some cred when it comes to the future.

Have you read this week’s News From InCommN? If you subscribe, it hits your inbox every Friday at 1:30PM, right around the time you’ll be looking for anything to think about besides work. People say it’s informative and fun to read and look at.

Edison was right: if the only reason you’re doing work is for the money, you’re missing out on the best parts.

Today and Tomorrow in #westernma

8:00AM Agawam MarketRight
5:00-7:00PM East Longmeadow Professional Women’s Chamber of Western Massachusetts Free Networking Event
6:00-8:00PM Westfield Plug Into the Creative Valley
6:30-8:30PM Agawam Advanced Quickbooks Workshop
6:30PM Indian Orchard The Geek Group of Western Mass
7:15-9:00AM Hadley Amherst Chamber of Commerce Breakfast
11:30AM-1:00PM West Springfield Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield Lunch and Learn
5:00-7:00PM Northampton Northampton Chamber Arrive at 5
5:00-7:00PM Westfield Westfield Chamber After 5 Connection
5:15-7:30PM Springfield Valley Venture Mentors
6:00-7:30PM Shelburne Falls What You DON’T Know About Your Business (And How to find It!)


Holyoke Rising

“Two properties on Appleton Street were readied for marketing. Funding came through to convert the old Holyoke Catholic High School to apartments. Veterans Park was renovated.

Work should begin this year on a passenger-train platform and at least three new businesses plan to open on High Street.

Pieces of the economic development puzzle here are materializing into form, however slowly, officials say.

‘Things have been happening in Holyoke for a long time, but 2014 is poised to be the year that people see it, feel it, and become a part of it. Holyoke is rising, and 2014 will be a year to remember,’ Mayor Alex B. Morse said.”

Holyoke highlights economic development efforts in 2013, plans for 2014

Ray Kurzweil Places His Bets

“2017: Self-driving cars…2018: Personal assistant search engines…2020: Switch off our fat cells…2033: 100 per cent of our energy from solar…2040: Stay young for ever….”

Ray Kurzweil—How the World Will Change

The Last Word

“One might think that the money value of an invention constitutes its reward to the man who loves his work. But… I continue to find my greatest pleasure, and so my reward, in the work that precedes what the world calls success.”

—Thomas A. Edison, American inventor, born February 11, 1847


Lolita and Dr Zhivago in Sochi

“They don’t ask much of you. They only want you to hate the things you love and to love the things you despise.”

—Boris Pasternak, Russian novelist, born February 10, 1890

putinWe really tried, but we just couldn’t live with DELA. I’m sorry to report that, for the most part, Rick F and Rick P have been reduced to eating at their desks. I appear to have reverted to middle-school geekdom, shunned by the Kool Kidz in the cafeteria. (Kidding. I think.)

Solution: the all-new, Don’t Eat Lunch Alone: Industrial Strength, hosted at Universal Quality Machine in Holyoke. The first meeting is this Wednesday, February 12 from 12:00–1:30PM. This is a no-food-available location, so bring your lunch. Come prepared to talk about manufacturing, in addition to the usual DELA mixture of matter and mishegoss. We’re interested in getting to know everybody in Holyoke who are doing interesting things and people in manufacturing and engineering from anywhere in Western New England. Please pass on the invitation to your networks.

We’re pleased to see improvements to air travel options in the region. Having Worcester come on line with commercial flights is great for Central Massachusetts. International flights may come to Bradley next year. Now if we could connect the trains with the planes…

A story about a web developer who stopped charging for his work and started asking people to give him a gift they considered equal in value in return. Most people give him gift of cash, which is reasonable if you consider how people prefer gift cards to lame attempts at finding something they’d like. For freelancers who struggle with pricing, this is an interesting article. (The picture shows a potlatch, which you should read the Wikipedia article about and think about in the context of money and social values.)

Boris Pasternak, author of “Doctor Zhivago,” (probably not a favorite of President Putin’s) was alluded to in Sochi’s Impenetrable, Utterly Russian Opening Ceremony, as was Vladimir Nabokov, author of “Lolita,” who was an émigré from Russia, and might have had a few acerbic comments to make about the ham-fisted propaganda on display.

See you at DELA:IS on Wednesday!

Today and Tomorrow in #westernma

8:00-9:00AM Westfield Westfield Chamber Mayor’s Coffee Hour
7:00PM Easthampton Nerd Nite 4
8:00AM Agawam MarketRight
5:00-7:00PM East Longmeadow Professional Women’s Chamber of Western Massachusetts Free Networking Event
6:00-8:00PM Westfield Plug Into the Creative Valley
6:30-8:30PM Agawam Advanced Quickbooks Workshop
6:30PM Indian Orchard The Geek Group of Western Mass


Regional Air Transportation Infrastructure News

“From Bradley International Airport in Connecticut to Worcester Regional Airport in Massachusetts, people who live, work or play in western New England have more options than ever when it comes to flying the friendly skies.

“In 2013, the regional airports saw a number of new direct flights making it easier for people to reach their destinations without traveling to New York or Boston’s busy Logan International Airport.”

Western New England Air Travel Options Improving

I Forgot to Ask For the Gifts

potlatch-ceremony“…This, of course, can be an inconvenient realization for an adult with a family. But Hoppel had given it a lot of thought, and decided to make a specific sort of change: he stopped charging money for his work, and instead began to operate within the ‘gift economy.’”

This Guy Stopped Charging Clients And He Has Zero Regrets

The Last Word

“No one can be good for long if goodness is not in demand.”

—Bertolt Brecht, German poet, born February 10, 1898

Art & Videos

“It is nearly always the most improbable things that really come to pass.”

—E. T. A. Hoffmann, German writer, born January 24, 1862

odeMestylistI suggest a visit to Kris Badertscher’s brand new site Art & Videos. It looks great and has a lot of her fine work to look at. If you haven’t encountered Kris’s work before, you’ve got a treat coming. (BTW, A & V is a Squarespace 6 site. I’ve been doing some sites in SS6 recently and it makes a spiffy looking site.)

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Trains, Please

“I ain’t what I used to be, but who the hell is?”

—Dizzy Dean, American athlete, born January 16, 1910

DizzyDeanGoudeycardHall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean was the last National League pitcher to win 30 games in one season (went 30–7 with a 2.66 ERA with Saint Louis in 1934); he also said: “Son, what kind of a pitch would you like to miss?” That scores well on the ever-popular badass scale.

We like the idea of better rail connection between Springfield and Boston, but the important thing for us is that “Amtrak’s high-speed rail service [in the Pioneer Valley] will begin in early 2015.” Practical commuter rail in the Valley will be, like the article says, “a significant economic boon to Northampton, Holyoke, and Greenfield.” Can’t wait.

I love Charles Perrault’s elegant Last Word characterization of the downtrodden youngest son of three, who thwarts the witch (or whatever the local threat is) and gets the girl in folktales from India to Norway.

Today and Tomorrow in #westernma

7:45AM Holyoke Women Business Owners Alliance Breakfast Meeting
12:00PM Springfield Exchange Club of Springfield
12:00-1:00PM Northampton Pioneer Valley Wellness Alliance
5:00PM Springfield The Business Network at Max’s in Springfield
8:00PM Northampton Northampton Webdive – After Dark


I Hear That Train a Comin’

Edward Lamson Henry - The 945 Accommodation“Meantime, $73 million worth of work on the Knowledge Corridor is much further along and officials now estimate that Amtrak’s high-speed rail service will begin in early 2015, ushering in the return of passenger trains through Greenfield, Northampton and Holyoke for the first time since the late 1980s.

“Those plans call for a shift in the Amtrak Vermonter’s alignment, which today takes it through Amherst and Palmer before getting to Springfield, to a more direct southern route.

“While infrastructure work takes place this year, Brennan said discussions are taking place to increase the number of planned daily runs. Increasing the number of daily shuttles will provide a significant economic boon to Northampton, Holyoke and Greenfield, the mayors of those communities said in a joint letter to state transportation officials earlier this year.”

Talk of high-speed rail between Springfield and Boston heats up.

The Last Word

“The poor child was the drudge of the household, and was always in the wrong. He was, however, the most bright and discreet of all the brothers; and if he spoke little, he heard and thought the more.”

—Charles Perrault, French author, born January 12, 1628

Hilltown Families at TEDx Shelburne Falls 2013

“The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make the rest of us wonder at the possibility that we might be missing something.”

—Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egyptian leader, born January 15, 1918

Nasser portrait2I love this quote from Gamal Abdel Nasser. He was a major figure in the history of the modern Middle East post-WW2. It’s nice that his given name, Gamal, means “beauty,” too.

Demographic change again. What am I, a broken record? This excellent piece points out that the dynamics are complex and not necessarily as uniformly dire as linear extrapolations of the trends may make them seem. The impact of age on social arrangements will change as people live longer and stay healthy and are able to and desire to continue working.


Go watch Sienna Wildfield’s TEDx Shelburne Falls 2013 talk. It’s really good.You should be supporting Hilltown Families, too: it’s a precious resource for the whole Western Massachusetts region that only exists because of love, dedication, and hard work. (It’s also a powerful and very economical way to reach tens of thousands of Western Mass people in prime demographics for the marketers among us.)

The Last Word today goes to Saint Mary MacKillop , who was canonized in 2010. Don’t hold her connection with ex-pope Benedict against her. And what she says is very true.

Continue reading “Hilltown Families at TEDx Shelburne Falls 2013”

Nine: Kill Them Without Mercy. Ten: Smile for the Cameras

“The clock talked loud. I threw it away, it scared me what it talked.”

—Tillie Olsen, American novelist, born January 14, 1913

Stinging nettlesWhy is World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen so hard to beat? Above all he’s nettlesome. The ten qualities of the article describes are all well worth cultivating. You too, can be nettlesome — or at least make yourself thoroughly hard to play against.

(By the way, nettles are very good to eat when they’re young and tender. Full of vitamins, too. They make a really good soup in the early spring.)

When I’m not being nettlesome, I very much agree with Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Last Word. Kindness is the finest thing in the world.

Continue reading “Nine: Kill Them Without Mercy. Ten: Smile for the Cameras”