Have you ever had the urge to walk on red-hot coals? Maybe not. But youve probably been in a hurry to thaw a piece of meat that you forgot to take out of the freezer. Let me try to shed some light on these two activities which, believe it or not, are scientifically connected.
You probably remember the infomercial for Miracle Thaw that goes something like this: Youll never worry again about forgetting to thaw meat! Just take the meat from the freezer, put it on the miraculous thawing plate, and in minutes its ready to be cooked. Your days of uneven microwave defrosting are over. To emphasize that the product was a true technological marvel, the infomercial showed an ice cube melting almost instantaneously on the Miracle Thaw. Should we bow our heads in reverence, or is there a more mundane explanation for this purported miracle? In order to understand what is going on here, let us digress for a moment and look at the mysterious practice of fire walking.
Who hasnt been amazed by the feat of feet treading on glowing coals? Some motivational gurus claim that one needs special powers in order to do this. And, of course, they alone are capable of teaching the mind-control techniques that protect the feet from the red-hot embers. Popular motivational speaker Tony Robbins is perhaps the most famous proponent of this idea, and he even suggests that successful fire walking is proof that his seminars have taught people to overcome extreme adversity. With the right mental focus, he asserts, we can rearrange the molecules of our feet so that they can withstand the heat. Indeed, many of his followers claim that the practice has made them feel powerful, rejuvenated, and less reliant on doctors. Robbins even says that hes seen some cancers go into remission after his fire-walking sessions. If the mind can conquer the coals, he implies, then it can also conquer disease. But you dont need metaphysical mumbo-jumbo to conquer high temperatures plain old down-to-earth physics will do.
Photographers who consistently and effectively reach vast audiences with their imagery are usually great illusionists. That’s not to say they’re inherently dishonest. Rather, they have mastered ways of tricking viewers’ eyes into thinking two-dimensional objects are three-dimensional. By creating a sense of depth using shadow and light, texture, and the correct focal length, they can create pathways for viewers’ eyes to walk into the photograph. That sense of depth is the mark of many successful images.
The trick is recognizing elements in the landscape that make this illusion of depth possible. I spend hours scouting locations searching for an interesting subject. I then visualize how it is going to look as the sun’s angle changes. This is crucial, since cross-lit subjects anchor the composition as they emerge from the shadow and appear three-dimensional. As seen in this image, using shadows as a way to isolate the sunflowers of Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Monument required moving the camera as the shadow moved. When the angle of the sun changes, so must the camera position, thereby creating a different composition. This is not easy and requires trial and error. I have had countless preconceived images fail in the end. At the same time, as the sun’s position changed, I’ve also had compositions become apparent elsewhere and had to hurriedly change my camera position in an effort to capture the image. If I think a composition is really strong, I believe it’s worth a couple days of my time to craft an image as best as I can.
You can rearrange the furniture in your office, put your favorite tchotchkes on the shelves, and prune your plants any way you like. So why cant you customize Windows to your hearts content?
In fact, Windows XP is surprisingly pliable. This is fortunate, because one of the best ways to deal with many Windows annoyances is to tweak, customize, or otherwise hack the operating system to eradicate them.
THE ANNOYANCE: When I scroll a folder in Windows Explorer or a web page in Internet Explorer, it acts sticky, as though it needs oiling. I presume oiling my monitor is out of the question, but theres got to be a way to make scrolling snappier.
THE FIX: Microsoft calls this behavior smooth scrolling, and fortunately, you can turn it off. For this, youll need a Microsoft program called TweakUI (free, http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx). Click the Explorer category on the left side of the window (Figure 1-1), and on the right side, uncheck the Enable smooth scrolling box. Click Apply when youre done.
Stay and Work in Fiesole n January 22, 1414, Cardinal Dominici solemnly joined the Council of
Constance, and on July 4, he presided, as Pope Gregory XII’s delegate, at the
Council’s opening. Gregory XII’s abdication and the election of Martin V put an end to the schism that had divided the Church, and also ended the exile of Fra
Giovanni del Mugello and his fellow Dominican friars from Fiesole. The energetic intervention of the influential Cardinal Dominici caused the Bishop of Fiesole to return the convent he had taken from the Dominicans.
In 1418, the Dominicans joyously returned to their cherished home, where Fra
Angelico would spend the next 18 years of his life. The monastery had been built on the mountainside where the Etruscans once founded ancient Fiesole, a picturesque site that dominated the Arno valley. In Roman times, new inhabitants established themselves on the plain. Florence grew imperceptibly until the time of
Fra Angelico, the height of its power. This prosperity was due to Cosimo de’Medici, who was given the title of “Founding Father” by the town council. An imposing cathedral was erected in the centre of Florence and was consecrated by Pope
We use “Goliath” as shorthand for the things we face in business that seem overwhelming and impossible. We may feel like no matter what size our companies become, someone or something is always bigger. Perhaps a key employee who provides a knowledge base you don’t have threatens to quit or a big customer says she’ll drop your services unless you drop your price (even when you have grown your business to accommodate her company and it represents 30 percent of your volume). This is the chapter about those big things that wake you up in the middle of the night. You lie in bed worried about your family and how to provide for them, the eighty or so other families who count on your company for their livable wages and health insurance coverage, the community programs that depend on your sponsorship, and whether your business can keep going for the long term or even until next week.
You are not the only one who has been there. Lisa starts us out with a story about her largest distributor getting into financial trouble that spilled over into her business and put the entire company at risk. Margot remembers how her largest customer dropped her entire line after she had ramped up to meet the projected orders for the next year. Joe tells us how a previous client called him and claimed he’d stolen an idea and had no right to use it. In times like these, adrenaline courses through your body. You feel like you’ve been punched in the stomach, and you fear that everything you have built is a house of cards that can come tumbling down. These times feel like the toughest of the tough stuff. At the end of this chapter, we distill a few reminders that have helped us when we faced our own Goliaths.