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Alaska to An Army of Two

Do you work at an e-mail-free Friday company? There's an article in today's USA Today that points out the growing trend. The idea being to encourage more phone calls or face-to-face meetings. I'm just as tethered to my inbox as the next person, but it seems to me productivity would drop dramatically. I could certainly see a decrease in stress, which would be welcome, but in the news business e-mail is necessary, and dropping it from the day's communication tools would be detrimental to business. In an office environment with more internal networking, perhaps it might work better. But wouldn't all those requisite social niceties really slow things down? Your thoughts?

(CBS/Daniel Sieberg)
Much of my time this week was spent finalizing a story airing this weekend on CBS Sunday Morning. I tagged along with a National Geographic photographer named Bobby Haas, who also happens to be a financial mogul. You see, photography is actually his second successful career (third, if you count his time as a lawyer). Haas was one of the pioneers of leveraged buyouts in the 1980s, at one time owning more than 10 percent of the nation's soft drink market. But he's now straddling simultaneous career tracks, and he's already published two books of aerial photography taken over Latin America and Africa. His next project takes him over the countries and regions that intersect the Arctic, and we spent some time with him over the interior of Alaska. His relentless pursuit of self-satisfaction is an inspiring tale that I hope you'll watch.

(CBS/Daniel Sieberg)
Plus the photos are a gorgeous and thought-provoking view of the planet, which Haas hopes encourage people to embrace the fragile environments around them.

I've had a busy week outside the office, too, speaking of photos –- I was the judge of the Nikon Small World competition that highlights photo-microscopy. That means taking brilliant and illuminating pictures of creatures, cells, fibers, or other tiny objects, often too small for the naked eye. The resulting work is both artistic and scientific, providing a different perspective on important areas of research. The winners were announced last night at the Explorer's Club in New York, and you can see the images here. (By the way, while we were judging back in May, we never knew what type of microscope or camera the hundreds of contestants were using. Nikon hosts the competition but any type of equipment is allowed.)

(CBS/Robert Shaer)
And there was a little time for fun –- and I mean video games! Electronic Arts hosted a press preview of its upcoming holiday titles. Plenty of upgrades to the armchair sports line-up like "NBA Live 08," which features some dizzying realism like the coach pacing up and down the court next to the bench.

In the shooter realm I got a chance to play "Army of Two," which requires players to act in tandem as military contractors (a hot topic these days with Blackwater in the news). The basic premise is you cannot leave your partner behind. That means finding creative ways to tackle baddies that seriously outnumber you, and doing things like lifting each other over high terrain or providing medical attention. The tag-team format takes some getting used to since you can't just run in guns blazing. But perhaps the most addictive and easy-to-play title on-hand was EA "Playground" for the Wii.

(CBS/Robert Shaer)
Note the cameo appearance of CBS GameCore's Chad Chamberlain tapping into his childhood playground experience.

"Playground" includes a series of mini-games ranging from dodge ball to flying a paper airplane. Plus, there was the EA Wii trivia game, which was quite cool, but since I lost badly we'll skip that one until I get a re-match.

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