The details: Apollo 13 splashdown

Celebrating Apollo 13's splashdown



The details are hidden in the context of this photo (Source: NASA) from the mission control room of the Apollo 13 expedition. Because, really, there’s nothing particularly striking about this photo. A line-up of men in largely identical outfits cheering, applauding, and lighting cigars. The kind of image that you could flip right past.

But these men are celebrating for good reason: The Apollo 13 astronauts have just splashed down, safely back on Earth.

With that knowledge, the imagination sparks. How many anxious, lung-crushing hours have these men suffered as they worked to get the astronauts of Apollo 13 home? (Not to mention the anxiety of the astronauts themselves!) How much helplessness did they feel, separated by so many impassable miles? How much worry over whether, after all the crew had been through, they would actually make it home safely? All those nightmares wiped out by jubilation.

Because the details make all the difference between “What?” and “Wow!”

The details: Immortalizing a dragonfly

Dragonfly diplacodes trivialis

Dragonfly diplacodes trivialis by Joydeep (JDP90). Source: Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0

Look at the lace of the wings, the fine detail on the hairs on the legs and head. This whole photo has a remarkable crispness and texture. If you click through and view the largest image size, you can even see the fine lines in the eyeballs.

Because the details make all the difference between “What?” and “Wow!”

The details: Antarctica 1912

Antarctica 1912

Map of Antarctica, 1912 (detail). Source: Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress

Interrupting this 1912 map’s vast white stretch of “unerforschetes gebiet” (“unexplored territory”) is one journey—that of Ernest Shackleton, who made it deep into Antarctica in January of 1909.

Shackleton's 1909 journey to Antarctica

This was not the expedition for which we now remember Shackleton, but an earlier one. Interestingly, though Shackleton’s is the name immortalized on the map, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen beat him to the South Pole itself. Amundsen “was the first to reach the South Pole on Dec. 14, 1911” (

Map of Antarctica, 1912

Map of Antarctica, 1912

Click through to see the full-size image and sites of other Antarctic exploration (if you happen to be able to read German, you’ll be in particularly good shape).

Because the details make all the difference between “What?” and “Wow!”

The Details: Turtle Eye


Turtle eye

Why, hello there.

I was lucky enough to arrive home as this guy (gal?) was crossing the driveway.

Look at the way the color travels almost perfectly from the turtle’s skin across its eye, and across all those textures. That’s the kind of detail I swoon over—both in nature and in design.

Also, if anyone knows what kind of turtle this is, give a shout out in the comments.

Always keep in mind your dream. Get as close to it as you can. Then be patient. You never know what doors will open up.


Richard Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute? 2013 edition

How to help a colleague who bursts into tears

My emotions occasionally leak out my eyes. As such, I was grateful for this compassionate defense of those who have, at one time or another, cried at work. Thank you, Amy Gallo and HBR Blog Network.

So how do you help a colleague who starts crying at work? Action points from Gallo’s article:


    • Act like you would in a social situation — be comforting and solicitous
    • Keep your responses simple and focused on the employee
    • Make a specific plan for handling the situation going forward


    • Judge people who bring emotions to work — it’s not unprofessional to cry, it’s human
    • Try to get your employee to stop crying — offer a tissue and let the tears flow
    • Push a person to tell you what’s happening if he doesn’t want to talk about it

“Don’t judge people who bring emotions to work” is especially important to me. A former colleague and I once discussed the problem of being tear-prone. We find it frustrating, not because of the rare tears (though they can be embarrassing), but because of the reactions that tears might evoke—particularly from managers. Who wants to be perceived as weak, or unable to handle pressure, because of something that’s normal?

Plus, I know that I’ve been the most helpful to colleagues when I’ve tuned in to their feelings—and the least helpful when I’ve not paid attention. As Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, an associate professor of management and organization at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, says in the article, “We don’t leave our humanity at the office door.”

So to all of you humans out there, I offer my tissue box. Take as many as you need. And I hope you’ll share one with me, should the occasion arise.

So What IS the Etymology of ROI?

At the opening of “What’s the ROI for This Article?” Todd Wasserman points to a shift in language: The phrase “return on investment” began to grow in popularity just as the phrase “return on capital” began to lose popularity.

The word-nerd in me immediately perked up. Why would the language change if we’re still talking about pretty much the same thing—”bang for your buck,” as Wasserman says.

Alas, Wasserman notes that the reasons are “unclear.”

I looked at the Google Ngram he provided and saw that the increased usage of ROI began in the 1960s. And I couldn’t help but wonder if the shift began—at least in part—because the term “investment” was more amenable to the mood of the Sixties than the term “capital” was. As is so frequently the case, language morphs with the times.

Any bets on whether a political scientist somewhere has already written the article on this? Otherwise, there’s got to be a master’s thesis in here somewhere…

Food for the imagination

These photos were too magnificent not to share. Click through for full-sized images.

Space Shuttle Atlantis pre-launch

Space Shuttle Atlantis the day before launch

The rich colors, the contrast of light and dark, that wonderful reflection.

Space Shuttle Atlantis launches

Space Shuttle Atlantis launches on its final mission

The column of brightness, the upward movement of the shuttle and the outward billowing of smoke. The people who dream this venture up, then make it happen—that is creativity and determination.

Meaning comes from the intersection of multiple sources. In the old days, journalists triangulated truth against a handful of sources. Today, we need to triangulate truth against millions of sources.


Brian Solis, Without Analytics, Big Data is Just Noise