Brad's Blurb

This month I thought I would pass on a TED Talk: What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work?  The talk is by Dan Ariely, a Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University.  Ariely puts forth a case that people are motivated at work for a variety of complex reasons.  He says, “When we think of labor, we usually think about motivation and payment as the same thing, but the reality is that we should probably add all kinds of things to it:  meaning, creation, challenges, ownership, identity, pride, etc.” Check out the 20 minute video that provides some interesting implications for what makes us feel good about our work.

Regards, Brad

Brad's Blurb

When March arrives, many of us automatically think of St. Patrick’s Day and the coming of spring…NOT!  We think of March as above all other things, a time for brackets, bravado, and bragging.  March Madness runs from mid-March until the end of April.  Some economists contend that this annual event costs American companies and organizations almost 2 billion a year paid to unproductive workers spending time on betting pool priorities.  In addition, the amount of money wagered has routinely exceeded the 2 billion mark.  Yet each year we are certain that this is our time to select the perfect bracket.  With over 70 million+ basketball brackets filled out, each one has a 9.2 quintillion chance of predicting the correct winners of every game.  Good luck and let the madness begin!  BTW, I have the MEAC tournament champions, N.C. Central winning it all.  The lowest seed to win a Men’s NCAA championship was a number 8 seed, Villanova, in 1985.  The lowest seed to win a Women’s NCAA championship was a number 3 seed, Tennessee, in 1997.  

Brad's Blurb

Have you ever felt like your day-to-day routine was becoming too monotonous?  Or felt that you were stuck in a rut going through life’s motions as if on autopilot?  If so, then you have probably also heard that quiet voice whispering in your mind telling you to “change it up a bit”, “live a little”, or “do something different”.  Below is a short list of 16 suggestions and reminders (provided in a blog by Howard Thurman) to help stop just going through the motions.  Take off the autopilot and incorporate changes into your daily routine to help recharge yourself.  Several of these resonated with me.  For example, reference #3, I recently pulled out some old Johnny Cash CDs that I had not listened to in many years.  All I can say is that the music was pretty darn good!   Wild and crazy stuff…living on the edge indeed.  Hey, at least I mixed it up a bit.  Reference #11, I recently drove an alternate route home.  Lo and behold, I found a store I was completely unaware of, that provided a service I drastically needed: clothing alterations.  Like ta-da-you know it!  Just me switching off that autopilot occasionally.     

Brad's Blurb

Humor in the Workplace

“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

I recently read a magazine article contending that tasteful, deft, and non-snarky humor in the workplace is a key to organizational success.  The article cited several book authors on the subject and here is what they had to say:

Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do at Work, wrote, “Humor, by its nature, tends to have an edge to it, so people typically tone it down at work,”  “It’s hard to do well and easy to do badly.  Plus, we all have a tendency to take ourselves too seriously.”


The development and change over time (evolution) of geomorphic, soil, hydrological, and ecosystems (Earth surface systems; ESS) is often, perhaps mostly, characterized by multiple potential developmental trajectories. That is, rather than an inevitable monotonic progression toward a single stable state or climax or mature form, often there exist multiple stable states or potentially unstable outcomes, and multiple possible developmental pathways. Until late in the 20th century, basic tenets of geosciences, ecology, and pedology emphasized single-path, single-outcome conceptual models such as classical vegetation succession; development of mature, climax, or zonal soils; or attainment of steady-state or some other form of stable equilibrium. As evidence accumulated of ESS evolution with, e.g., nonequilibrium dynamics, alternative stable states, divergent evolution, and path dependency, the "headline" was the existence of > 2 potential pathways, contesting and contrasting with the single-path frameworks. Now it is appropriate to address the question of why the number of actually observed pathways is relatively small.The purpose of this post is to explore why some developmental sequences are rare vs. common; why some are non-recurring (path extinction), and some are reinforced.

Brad's Blurb

This month I will start out with a couple of really lame jokes.

*What did one snowman say to another?  Is it just me or do you smell carrots!

**What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?  Frostbite.

***Where do snowmen keep their money?  In a snow bank. 

Do you remember the time before computers?  Me neither.  If you are young enough, computers have been around your whole life.  If you are old enough, your memory is not as good as it used to be.  I fall in the latter category.  The Internet/Web for me is like my car; I use it all the time and expect it to work all the time, but I don’t really have any idea how it actually works.  Which leads me to some questions?  

-How did the Internet get started?  See 1

-Who’s in charge of it?   See 2

-What is the difference between the Web and the Internet? See 3

-Who is the keeper of all URLs (website addresses)? See 2

-How many websites exist?  See 4

-What are the top 10 websites based on traffic? See 5

1. In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for a system called the World Wide Web.  He then wrote the first web browser, server, and Web page.  He also wrote the first specifications for URLs, HTTP, and HTML. 


In a 2009 article I introduced the concept of a geomorphological niche, defined as the resources available to drive or support a particular geomorphic process (the concept has not caught on). The niche is defined in terms of a landscape evolution space (LES), given by

where H is height above a base level, rho is the density of the geological parent material, g is the gravity constant, and A is surface area. The k’s are factors representing the inputs of solar energy and precipitation, and Pgrepresents the geomorphically significant proportion of biological productivity (see this for the  background and justification).


Just published in Geomorphology:

Samonil, P., Danek, P., Adam, D., Phillips, J.D. 2017. Breakage or uprooting: how tree death affects hillslope processes in old-growth temperate forestsGeomorphology 299: 276-284. 

The abstract is below:

Posted 14 November 2017


Brad's Blurb

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Thanksgiving

I am going to use this edition to write about a family tradition that I am looking forward to during the Thanksgiving break-watching the film classic from director John Hughes, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1988).  The movie stars John Candy and Steve Martin.  Although, not necessarily “one for the kids” based on some very colorful language (one particular scene between Steve Martin and a car rental agent), the movie has a memorable ending that might just leave you feeling a little contemplative about Thanksgiving.  Some other notables you might recognize with bit parts in the movie include: Kevin Bacon, Dylan Baker, Ben Stein, Edie McClurg, Michael McKean, and Ruth De Sosa. 


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