Saturday, December 31, 2011

How to publish your own book as a hardcover or ebook

A couple weeks ago I published a post with the suggestion to write a story for a child for the holidays.

This year for Christmas I wrote stories for my two older kids. It was a real thrill to watch them open these presents and get excited about a book written for them.

For my daughter I wrote a book about a trip we took that included many family photographs as well as some pictures I got off the Internet. This book I created using Shutterfly, which has improved its online tool since I last made a book a couple years ago.

The other book, for my son who is older, was a longer work, about 23,000 words with no pictures. I published it on a site called, where I was able to get a nicely bound hardcover. They even gave me a coupon for $15 off the cost of the first copy, so I could have had a bound copy for about $8 plus shipping. I also published an ebook version, just to see what it takes to do that. You can download a free ebook version of the book by clicking here or by copying and pasting this link into your browser:

How to publish your own book:
I was surprised at how easy it was to publish a book, and wanted to share the steps I followed with to produce a hardcover and ebook version of The Storyteller's Tollbooth:

1) First, you need to write the book, of course. You can write it in any word processing program that you want. I used Word. If you are going to have images, then you need to embed images in the document itself. If you are going to just produce an ebook, there aren't limits on the size of your book, that I am aware of at least. If you are going to produce a hardcover book, then it needs to be at least 110 pages. My book was just barely long enough.

2) Sign up and create an account on

3) Decide on the size of the hardcover book you want to create. I chose the 6"x9" version - a standard size for hardcovers. Then I downloaded a Word template from that was set up for that. I could have used my own template, but the template had the margins just right, and had the page numbers in the right place.

4) Copy and paste your book's text into the template. (I wouldn't find their template very convenient to write a book in, but you could if you wanted to.)

5) Create a table of contents page. You don't need to do any fancy formatting if you are going to just produce a hardcover. If you want to produce an ebook, you need to find the Chapter titles of each chapter, and highlight those in Headline 1 format, so the ebook reader will be able to create a hyperlinked table of contents.

6) Create a copyright page. gives you an example. They also give you an ISBN, which you are supposed to include on the copyright page.

7) Upload your document to The website converts it into a pdf for you and gets it printer-ready.

8) Create a cover for your book. You can design your own cover from scratch, or use's design tool, which lets you upload photos. I used their tool.

9) Write the "publisher's description" of your book, and follow a few more simple instructions, and you are done.

If you are publishing an ebook, it becomes available on immediately. If you are publishing a hardcover book, it will take about 10 days to get your book in the mail if you chose expedited shipping. My books aren't available on yet, but says that it takes about 6-8 weeks, since updates their inventory only monthly.

Through the site, I'm not sure exactly how to get the ebook onto a Kindle. I don't have a Kindle, so I haven't been able to test it. I did successfully download the book onto an iPad, though.

Pricing: lets you set your own pricing for your hardcover book. They have a minimum cost that depends on the type of binding and the number of pages. My book, for example, with a hardcover and 110 pages and a color cover, had a minimum fixed cost of about $23. You can set your own royalty, and just adds the royalty plus some margin to that minimum fixed cost.

For the ebook, you can choose to make the price equal to zero. I was worried that I might have to pay something, but the whole process was free to me. So if all you care about is getting your work read, and you aren't trying to make money off it, you can publish an ebook for free and your readers can download the book for free. If you choose to charge something for the ebook, then takes a cut of the price.

I was very happy with as a platform for getting a hardcover book printed at a relatively modest cost. I expect there are plenty of other services that are just as good and easy to use. Given that gives you $15 off the first copy of your book, even if you produce a hardcover, it will cost less than $20 including shipping.

Now that I know how easy it is to publish an ebook, I have a few other writing projects in mind. Next time, I might see if there is another platform that can get the book listed on Amazon more quickly.

Here is a copy of the hardcover version of The Storyteller's Tollbooth:

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Yelp as a challenge to Google

When I need to find a pharmacy, or a Starbucks, or a gas station, my starting place is usually the Google Maps app on my iPhone.

But my wife finds herself using the Yelp app more and more often as her default starting place in searches for local businesses, and definitely when searching for a nearby restaurant.

Google isn't about to lose its #1 position in search anytime soon, but the rapid rise of Yelp within the local business category shows that Google's predominance won't necessarily last forever.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ideas for real estate agents

I've lived at four different addresses since I moved to New York City a decade ago. I suspect that moving every two to three years in New York City is pretty typical, or at least within one standard deviation of the norm.

What strikes me is that I've used a real estate broker for each of my four moves and that none of them ever contacted me after the move. Some ideas for real estate agents:

1) I imagine that customer acquisition cost is a significant fraction of your total expenses. That is the main function of a real estate office, after all. It would probably be cheaper to retain past customers than to acquire new ones. Ways to do this:
- Follow up with a phone call a month after the renter moves in to a new apartment - how did the move go? Is everything working? Happy with the new place?
- Send a personal holiday card
- Send out a periodic email, not so frequently to be annoying, but often enough so that you stay on the renter's radar screen. Probably once a quarter would be ideal. You could say, "Over the past three months I've helped __ families move into the neighborhood; I'm currently showing the following apartments at the following rates. If you know anyone moving in to the area who needs help finding a place, I'd be glad to help them out." Include a link to your website.
- Give something of interest / value: Include in that periodic email an update on rental prices and sale prices in my neighborhood. Many people who rent in our neighborhood might be thinking about buying a place eventually. If they got an email from you once a quarter with prices, who do you think they would call first when they do decide to buy?

From time to time I'll see an email on one of the alumni lists that I subscribe to, from someone looking to move to New York City. If I got contacted regularly by an agent, I'd connect the two of them.

- Build relationships with other real estate brokers in other parts of the city. If one of your past customers decides to move to lower Manhattan, you could be the one to put them in touch with a trusted broker there.

Transform your thinking about the job from a transaction-based role to a relationship-based role. Think about lifetime customer value. How many more times in the future might that customer need to move and use your services?

2) A much broader area of opportunity is moving beyond the narrow role of real estate broker to be a broker of relationships in the community. When someone moves into the area, there are a lot more things the person needs beyond a house or apartment:
+ Car mechanic
+ Pediatrician
+ Dentist
+ Accountant
+ Attorney
+ Financial advisor
+ Insurance
+ Babysitter
+ Connection to the local political establishment
+ Advice on schools
+ Handyman
+ Party rental space

Reviews on the Internet may eventually cover these categories in a comprehensive way, but I suspect that is still several years off. In the meantime, we'll still turn to our neighbors and friends for referrals to people they trust. Real estate brokers could play that role of connector.

I'm not sure what the best business model is. Should brokers give the referrals for free, hoping that referrals come back? Should there be an explicit commission?

3) Groupon and similar sites have demonstrated the power of highly targeted local advertising. Real estate agents could curate and offer to past customers deals that are tailored to their situations. The value to the businesses is that the deals could be hidden from the market, made exclusive to these customers, and so not impact their regular prices.

This option could be managed by a third party, and I can imagine someone building a business based on real estate agent customer lists.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Life is like a river. Or maybe it is more like a tidal strait

The idea that life is like a river seems so natural, it hardly makes sense to question it.

Back around 500 BC, Heraclitus said "You cannot step twice into the same river," and that seems a pretty decent aphorism about time, and about life.

The most powerful modern image of this idea that I'm familiar with is the young boy sitting on the bank of the river.

But what if life is more like a tidal strait than a river? That thought has occurred to me several times in the morning as I run along Astoria Park on the Queens-side of the East River.

The East River is poorly named, because it is not a river at all. It is a tidal strait. It connects Upper New York Bay to Long Island Sound. During parts of the day, you can see the East River flowing south, towards New York Bay, in the same direction of the Hudson, and this matches one's intuition of the direction the East River ought to flow.

But then at other times during the day, the direction reverses. As the tide changes, you see the water start flowing to your right (from the Queens perspective), or to the northeast.

It isn't a smooth transition, either. The East River doesn't slowly come to a standstill, then start flowing slowly in the opposite direction, then pick up its pace. No, the current starts to flow violently north, but along the edges it seems like the East River hasn't got the memo, and the water is still trying to flow south, and you see dangerous eddies where these two currents meet.

And it is quite dangerous. The biggest single loss of life in New York City before 9-11 was the General Slocum Disaster, a passenger steamboat that caught fire in 1904 in the East River. 1,021 out of 1,342 people on board died.

So what if life is more like a tidal strait?

People come into your life, then the tide carries them on. But some of those people, the tide brings them back into your life. The current is confused and dangerous, not flowing in one direction. Rather, multiple currents are flowing in both directions, interacting, twirling, competing. The flow doesn't fit your intuition, and the direction depends on when and where you try to measure it. You can dip your toe into it, and you just might dip your toe into the same tidal strait twice, if you time it right.

A tidal strait isn't as tidy a metaphor as a river, but seems richer with possibilities.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Needed: Netflix meets Yelp; Netflix meets TripAdvisor

This post based on a suggestion by my wife:

The reviews of restaurants on Yelp and of accommodations on TripAdvisor are a great start - they help us discover places we might not have found otherwise. And they are giving a boost to the locally owned business as opposed to the chains.

The extra value you are paying for at Panera or a Marriott, after all, is that you can trust the place to be pretty decent, just like the ones you've eaten at or stayed at before. But if you can get this level of trust in an independently owned establishment from Yelp or Tripadvisor, you don't need that brand quite as much.

But for this transformation to truly take hold, we need Yelp and TripAdvisor to mature to the point where we can see the reviews from people like us. We need a Netflix-style recommendation engine that takes into account our preferences as expressed in our past reviews.

If the person reviewing a local restaurant also gave Subway five stars, I don't trust that person, and I want their opinions filtered out.

When Yelp and Tripadvisor can take my past reviews into account, they will dramatically increase my willingness to contribute reviews, because then I'll be creating value for myself. The more places I review, and the more thoughtfully I review them, the better the site will work for me.

If Yelp and Tripadvisor don't do this, some site surely will.

Same goes for Amazon: I want to the book reviews of people whose preferences are similar to mine.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cover letters - how and why

Cover letter tips:

Include the contents of your cover letter in the body of your email, even if you want to go ahead and attach it as well.


1. Person receiving it might be reading your email on their smartphone, where opening attachments is sometimes a hassle. If you don't have the cover letter in the email itself, it might never get read at all.

2. Some positions get so many responses, that people don't even have time to open all the attachments, even if they ARE at their desktop or laptop.

3. Some people are wary of opening attachments, since they are concerned the attachment might have a virus. Prove you are a real person by writing a tailored cover letter in the email.

4. And include your contact info - all the relevant coordinates, in the body of the email. That means cellphone, email address as a minimum, and Skype, Twitter, instant messaging etc. if relevant.

Is writing a good cover letter a lot of work? Yes. And that is a good thing, because it is a filter that will separate you from the chaff - those people who email resumes out willy-nilly.

I used to wonder, "What is the point of a cover letter? They'll see my resume and see that I'm qualified." What changed my perspective has been posting several dozen job posting over the past several years, both to help clients fill full-time roles, as well as hiring subcontractors and to do various odd jobs. The employer isn't particularly interested in the leadership positions you held in college, or the responsibilities you successfully executed as the Assistant Associate District Area Manager. The employer wants to know:

A) Who are you, in just a few words?
B) Why are you a good fit for this particular role we are trying to fill at OUR company? How can you help us?
C) Do we know anyone in common who will vouch for you?
D) How did you hear about the job posting? [employer is curious which method of advertising the role is working]
E) Where do you live? Are you going to have to relocate?
F) When are you available? Can you start right away? [If you are available, that is good, because the employer needs you to start tomorrow, but it is also bad, because no one wants to hire the guy who just got fired for cheating on his expenses.]
G) Why are you available?

Answers these questions in as few words as possible.

Read your cover out loud - does it sound like a human wrote it? Or does it sound like a cut and paste job from a book of cover letter examples?

Check to make sure there are no grammatical mistakes or typos.

Didn't find any? Check again - odds are you missed one.

Now send the cover letter.

Attach your resume as a PDF, so what they see is what you see. Otherwise, they may have a different version of Word, and the formatting will be all cross-eyed. Also attach a PDF of your cover letter. If possible, combine them so the employer only has to open and print one file. (Remember, they just received 100 emails. Do you like to open 100 emails and print all the attachments?)

Oh, and finally: think about the naming convention you use for your cover letter and resume.

Good: Will_Bachman_Resume.pdf, Will_Bachman_CoverLetter.pdf

Not so good: WillBachman_Resume for high tech firms.pdf
[Oh, so this is your customized resume, and you are applying to a bunch of industries?]

Even worse: Resume-final-high tech firms- with edits from Mom.pdf
[Someone may be trying to detach these files and save them in a folder. Not including your name makes it hard to find your resume.]

Okay - last point:
Send from a respectable email address. Your own email address. Not your girlfriend's, or your son's. Yes, people do this. You'd be surprised.

Monday, December 19, 2011


A brand on the shelves in a store in the Galapagos, Ecuador.

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Visit our wilderness

Something poignant about an advertising campaign encouraging people to go visit a wilderness.

"the largest wilderness in the Southeast.... but not if we can help it."

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Geotagging the Tourists" in New York magazine

Great piece in New York magazine: a map of the city that plots all the photos taken by tourists (and which were geotagged and uploaded to Flickr.

Eric Fischer, who made the graphic, has created similar ones for many other cities. These graphics can be found on Flickr.


Friday, December 16, 2011

In case of emergency

This is the tram that takes passengers from one end to the other of Terminal D at Miami International Airport.

I wouldn't want to be inside the car in the event of a fire with loss of lighting. To open the escape hatch, all you need to do is follow steps one through eight.

Here, with the lights on, how long does it take you just to find the cover to the button you have to press in step 1?


People taking pictures

It is usually more fun taking pictures of people taking pictures of something than taking pictures of that thing.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I think this is an interesting approach.

I looked at the sign and said to myself:
Cones - OK.
Burgers - OK
Fries - OK
Hot Dogs - OK
Sundaes - OK
Concretes - Huh?

I assume that is exactly the response that the marketing team hoped I would have. "What is a concrete? Is that a term I should know? Let me check it out and see what that is."

If all the other terms were also unfamiliar, it wouldn't work.

It didn't manage to lure me into the restaurant, but in case you are wondering, I did look it up on their website:

Q: What is a concrete?
A: A concrete starts with three scoops of Frozen Custard blended at high speed with any of our Shack-made mix-ins. Order one of our specialties or make your own!

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Math

I just discovered the site New Math, which uses equations to describe the world.

Definitely worth checking out.

Here is an example:

Placebo = Pill - Medicine

In case the link above doesn't work, the site is:

Monday, December 12, 2011

The two-day "one-day sale"

Macy's "One-Day Sale" is running on December 13 and December 14. I guess it is a "Two-Dale Sale" at 50% off?


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The new iPad 3: it bends!

For a moment, I thought, well Apple has done it again. An iPad that you can bend and flex! It is revolutionary! This will change everything!

And then I realized that the billboard was just bent.

What gave me pause, though, was that it was easy to believe that Apple had done it.

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The "don't bring a spare" rule

If you are worried about losing a widget that you need, don't bring a spare.

It seems to be a general rule that you are far more likely to lose both widgets, since you won't keep track of either one of them with the attention you would if you just have one.

On the other hand, if your widget is likely to break, or run out, then by all means be prepared and do bring a spare.

Short version of this post:

Worried about loss? --> Bring just one
Might break/die? --> Bring spare

Friday, December 9, 2011

Two recommended ebooks, both free, released this week

1. Seth Godin's Domino Project has just released a free ebook called
The Flinch, by Julien Smith. The short book, really a longish essay,
is a close cousin to Steven Pressfield's The War of Art. (Steven
Pressfield's "Resistance," which Seth Godin refers to as the "lizard
brain," is here known as "the flinch.")

The book includes a set of exercises designed to train you to get over
"the flinch," that fight or flight instinct that was useful in helping
us escape from bears, but not so helpful in the modern world where it
keeps us from accomplishing our dreams. The first exercise, for
example, has you take a cold shower. As you stick your hand in and
feel the cold water running, experience that instinct in your chest
telling you to skip this stupid exercise. Really savor that feeling.
Then step in. Do this seven days in a row. The goal is to learn that
you won't die from pain, and to train yourself to face the
uncomfortable. After day one of trying this experiment, I will attest
that I felt the "flinch" while still in bed, dreading that cold
shower, and that the cold water in December in New York City is not
making me look forward to day two of the exercise. The next exercise
is to take a mug (empty / not your favorite one), hold it out at arm's
length, and drop it on the floor. That one should be a little easier
than the cold showers. Here is a link to the book:

2. Chris Guillebeau, the writer and travel hacker who is on a
five-year mission to travel to every country in the world (19 left),
has released a new manifesto about leaving a legacy. It is free and
available for download at:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Please smoke (??)

Two questions:
1. Is this a request to all students?
2. 50 feet from the entrances to the school, or 50 feet from ALL building entrances? (Might be interesting to see what percent of NYC surface area meets that condition.)

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Write a story for a child this holiday season

A piece that I wrote has been published on, and is reprinted below. For Christmas this year I've written stories for both Alejandra and Samuel, but shhh! it is a secret. Once I can figure out the technology, I'll publish the story I wrote for Samuel as a free ebook and announce it on the site here.

[Update on December 14:
I've published the story on You can download a free ebook version here:

I can't imagine anyone other than me would want to buy a hardcover version of the book, but it is available here for $23.44

Publishing the book on was free, and they even gave me a credit to purchase one hardcover copy of the book for free - that is the one Samuel will get for Christmas. I'll be writing a post on how the process works and providing a link here within the next day.]

Is there a young child in your life? A son or daughter, niece or nephew, grandson or granddaughter? Consider writing that child a story this holiday season instead of buying a gift. The suggestion applies especially if you do not consider yourself a writer. First we’ll talk about why, then how to do it.

Why write a story?

The world is full of children’s books, why write another children’s story? Four reasons:

1) If you write the story, you can include the child in the story, along with the names of her friends or family members. You can set the story in a location the child is familiar with. It is a real thrill for a child to be read a story in which she is a main character.

2) You’ll serve as a fantastic role model, giving the child a message that anybody can write, and that it is fun to write. There is a good chance the child who receives your story will want to tell her own. If she doesn’t know how to write yet, you can take a video of her telling the story, or offer to transcribe it. Then ask her to draw some pictures to accompany the text. If the child is older and already knows how to read, watch out for her to go off and try her hand at writing her own story.

3) As you challenge your mind, it will do wonders for your own creativity. If you don’t think of yourself as a writer, particularly as a fiction writer, you may surprise yourself at what happens if you allow your imagination to roam across a page. You could very well get some creative juices flowing that get you picking up an old hobby you once enjoyed, or coming up with more creative ideas at work. When you get your creative engine working in one area, it doesn’t observe boundaries.

4) The child gets the message that the best way to show your love with a gift is not to buy another gadget in a store, but to make something.

How to write a story for a child

1) Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Try customizing a common story or fable. Think “Sophia and The Three Bears.” Or “Frog and Toad and Julia.” You’re not going to get prosecuted for non-commercial use of a story at home. So feel free to incorporate favorite characters from whatever source. Your daughter could join Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund on a trip back to Narnia. Or fly to Neverland with Peter Pan. Or head to Wonderland with Alice.

2) Younger children particularly seem to like stories with a refrain that gets repeated multiple times, because they can help recite the story. The Eric Carle books are a great example of how to challenge your mind.

3) For younger children, incorporate pictures. You don’t need to draw illustrations: you can use family photos, or perhaps postcards that you purchased on a trip.

4) As noted above, place the child in the story, along with her friends or brothers and sisters, or pets.

Once your creative engine has completed the plot line, added photos or artwork, and arranged the layout, here’s how to present the story.

The best way to show your love? Give the story to your children and read it together.
1) If you want to keep it simple, and you are including both text and pictures, you can just tape it up and put the pages in page protectors in a binder.

2) If you get more ambitious, you can create a book on Shutterfly, Blurb, or one of the numerous other print-on-demand services.

Don’t worry about creating a Newbury Medal-winning masterpiece. The fact that you wrote a story will mean a lot more to your child than the literary quality. They’re almost certain to treasure the gift for longer than anything you could buy on Amazon.

Shortest detour in New York City

At nine feet, three inches, this may be the shortest detour in New York City. Or perhaps anywhere, ever:

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bic headquarters

I happened to wander into the Bic headquarters in Shelton, CT, slightly lost and looking for another company, and just had to take these pictures to share.

In the lobby, they've got a chandelier made out of Bic pens: awesome!

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

And the whole building looks like a Bic product:

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

The speech I wish Joe Paterno had made

In the speech Joe Paterno actually gave on November 8, 2011, he said, "The kids who were victims or whatever they want to say, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them. It’s a tough life when people do certain things to you." And then Paterno indicated he was resigning effective at the end of the season: "I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can." I can't find a link to the full text of his speech, but if someone sends in to me, I'd like to include it.

Here is the speech I wish he had made instead, on November 6, the day after the Grand Jury indictment against Jerry Sandusky was made known:

[Scene: press conference on the lawn of Joe Paterno’s house. November 6, 2011. Joe Paterno approaches the microphone]

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming. This will be my last press conference as the Head Coach of Football at Penn State.

In 2002 I made a terrible mistake that has haunted me to this day and will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life.

As you now know, I was informed by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary that he had observed our defensive coordinator at the time, Jerry Sandusky, perform “incidents in the bathroom” with a young boy. The next day, I informed Athletic Director Tim Curley of what I had heard from McQueary. I also subsequently informed Gary Schultz, director of business and finance, who oversaw the University Police. At the time, I considered that by informing my supervisors, I had done what was legally required of me.

Of course, there can be a large gap between doing what is legally required and doing what is right.
It is clear that I should have been far more aggressive in questioning Mike McQueary about exactly what he saw. It is clear that I should have not only informed my supervisors, but should have ensured that the police were immediately informed and that the incident that McQueary reported to me was fully investigated.

Jerry Sandusky has now been indicted by a Grand Jury, and it is alleged that he molested other boys after I was informed of this bathroom incident in my program’s own locker room. If I had acted with more moral courage, if I had done what was right, these boys would not have been molested, I am convinced.

It is difficult to live with myself, knowing that I could have, and should have, prevented the harm that occurred to these boys.

Throughout my career at Penn State, I have always sought to follow the highest ethical standards, even when not absolutely required. I have taught my players, and believed myself, that there is not a trade-off between following the more difficult, more ethical route and being successful on the field or in life. In fact, I’ve taught and believed that doing the right thing is not only the right thing to do, but the best way to win.

So I’ve worked to run a program with high graduation rates, because I believe that students should come to college to get an education, and not just play in a minor league for the NFL.
So I’ve kept our uniforms free of doo-dads and endorsements and stickers, because I want the team to play as a team, not an advertisement.

So I’ve adhered to the spirit and not only the letter of recruiting requirements, even if it meant we lost a player we would have liked to have had.

And now, with my failure to act in 2002, with my failure of moral courage, I’ve disappointed the many people who I’ve tried to inspire with my own example over the past five decades.

Why did I fail to act?

I have wrestled with that for nine years now.

There are reasons, none of them adequate.

It was difficult for me to believe these accusations against Jerry Sandusky, who was not only an important part of my team, but a good friend.

I am ashamed to say that I must have been influenced by a fear of tainting my program if word of this crime were to get out.

Within days or weeks of learning about the incident, I quickly came to believe that I should have done more. But then it became even harder to act. People would have asked me, “Why did it take you five days, five weeks, five months to come forward?” The more time passed, the harder it became to ensure these allegations were properly addressed.

For years I have known that this day would come, when word would get out, when Sandusky would be caught, when my failure to act would become known. I have dreaded this day at the same time I could have taken action to prevent it.

And now that my own failing has come to light, I have no choice but to resign as Head Coach, effective immediately. I can no longer effectively serve as the leader of the program and as a role model to my players.

While this step is obviously a deep disappointment to me, I would ask that no one write or think that it is a shame that my career has ended this way. What happened to those boys that Jerry Sandusky molested is far, far worse than the feelings of an old man.

I hope that my resignation today, in my last act as Head Coach, will serve as one final lesson to the players that I’ve coached and the fans that have supported our team.

If you are informed that someone may be molesting a child – don’t just inform someone. Follow up and make sure that the monster is stopped. Do not relent.

More broadly, when you have a choice of following the letter of the law or doing the right thing, do the right thing. There are very few times in your life, really, when you get tested in this way. It is a difficult thing to prepare oneself for. Perhaps the example of my own disgrace will help my players and fans find the courage to act when they themselves face this test.
These are my plans now:

Once the media circus has died down, I would like to be able to apologize, in person, to each of the boys that Sandusky molested. I want to look them in the eye and tell them how deeply sorry I am that I did not prevent what happened to them.

I plan to transfer a significant portion of my estate to a fund that has been set up to provide some compensation to the victims of Jerry Sandusky. While my attorneys assure me that I am not legally liable, as I did what was strictly required, I think that I am morally liable to these boys. While money won’t take away what happened to them, it’s the best way I can think of. Put your money where your mouth is, as the saying goes. While I will be providing the initial funding for this fund, I will not be in any way associated with the management of it.

I’d ask supporters of the Penn State Football program to consider adding a contribution to this fund.
To current students: don’t rally in my support. I failed to stop a child molester. When you have kids, you’ll understand.

My last request to the University is that inside Paterno Libary a display be set up with the facts of this case, as a reminder to current and future students that your moral integrity is something you need to work at maintaining every day of your life.

I’m an old man, with not much time left on the clock and no time outs. I’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer.

In life, as in football, you can’t control the timing of when a replacement is sent in and you get called off the field. But when it is your time to go, go.

My resignation is effective immediately.

I won’t be taking questions today.

Thanks for your attention, and goodbye.

[Paterno walks back into his house.]

After I wrote this, when I was searching for the full text of the speech Paterno gave, I found that right after the another writer had the same idea of writing a "speech he should have given."

Suggestion to immigration officials around the world

The immigration form is the first impression of your country that travelers get.

If you want to take a first pass at the translation into English, fine. But it would be worth the investment to have a native English speaker take a second pass. There are plenty of places to find such a proofreader, but one source is Scribendi, where for a one-time cost of $50 or so you could have some high-quality proofreading done.

Not to pick on Ecuador, but I just traveled there and have a copy of their immigration form. It isn't any worse than most countries that I've traveled to. Here are a few excerpts that could have benefitted from the services of Sribendi:


The following will be considered personal effects (new or used):, imitation jewelry, personal and house ornaments

...photographic printed material and, written or handwriting documents

...wheel chairs, crutches, orthopedic elements, and similar objects, only used for one person [no tandem wheelchairs!]

...Phonographic records, recording tapes, video-cassettes, laser discs, music or data discs, roll film, carried by one person [Daddy, what is a laser disc?]

...a maximum of 2 life house pets [sic] [no dead house pets, please] and accessories may be transported normally by one person [no unusual transportation of toys allowed]

[my favorite] It will not be permitted to nationalize through International Passenger Lounge, MANY merchandises whose FOB value is over US $2,000, for they will have to be transported to a temporary store for its regular dispatch, previous customs formalities messures.

The traveler can not declare as its own, third party luggages or transport goods that do not belong to him/her.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Travel tip - take a picture of your luggage

Travel tip: take a picture of your luggage.

You could do this either right when you are checking in, so you have the photo readily available on your phone (that's what I do), or if you are more sophisticated you could create a contact in your address book called "My Luggage" and attach the photo as the contact's photo ID.

Then, if your luggage gets lost, it is a lot easier to fill out the lost luggage form, on which they ask you to describe the luggage.

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

No dial tone

OK, so I'm trying to figure this one out.

Who makes a sticker that says "No dial tone" and puts it on pay phones?

Was it the company that owns the phone? Why wouldn't the company just fix the phone? Or if they aren't going to bother fixing it, just remove it?

Or maybe the phone actually does have a dial tone, but some prankster is going around putting on these stickers so people who do need a pay phone won't try this one? This occurred to me just now, as I'm writing this. Next time I'm on 125th St. in Harlem near 3rd Ave, I'll see if it really does have a dial tone.

Who uses a payphone anymore, anyways? Any predictions on how much longer they will be around?

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Credit card update

Followup on my recent post about trying to stop credit card offers:

Over the past week, received two credit card offers, both from Chase, both for a Continental Airlines card.

Also, I got notified by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that my complaint to them had been received:

Thank you for contacting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

We have received your complaint and will send it to your bank as soon as possible.

You can track your complaint at:

Thank you,

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
(855) 411-CFPB (2372)

but when I went to their website to check the status, it says no record found. Hmm, still some bugs to be worked out there:


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