Monday, November 29, 2004

Food Safety Music

Yes, really there is someone who cares enough about this to actually re-do popular songs around this theme. Having experienced at least one family weekend that got spoiled by some bad seafood, this site strikes a cord of truth.

Where else would you hear: Fifty ways to eat your oysters. Or Veggie Believer! Or Still seems like food to me!

The site has the lyrics and the music. So turn up your speakers before you go and enjoy!

Thank you, Carl Winter. Keep up the good work!

Carnival of the Capitalists

This is a weekly recap of business blogging. This week's has especially good introductions to each of the postings by Lachlan Gemmell from Australia.

Pick and choose. There are a few really good ones and I have not read them all!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Joi Ito - The Terminal and Merhan Karimi Nasseri

After coming up with my own thriller/horror storyline set in a mall, I then read Joi Ito's posting. He starts with self-service kiosks that are clearly closed for business and continues about The Terminal and the real story behind the movie.

Yes, Merhan Karimi Nasseri, also known as Sir, Alfred Merhan is an Iranian refugee who has been living in the departure lounge of terminal one in Charles de Gaulle Airport since August 8, 1988. Read more at the wikipedia entry

Truth is stranger than fiction!

Possible Thriller/Horror Movie Storyline

Set initially in a Boston area mall. A remake of Groundhog Day combined with an update of “Charley on the MTA” .

Charley sitting on a bench on one of the crossways over the mall, second level. Every time someone walks by, the floor shakes. Charley starts to get up to meet his friends and the floor splits open.

He falls down, blacks out, wakes later in the mall sitting on the same bench.

But wait a minute? Didn’t he just fall? No, the bench is solid, the floor shakes when someone walks by but that is all. Where is he? Is he in the same mall?

He can’t tell. The stores are all the same. He sits down puzzling about it and falls again.

He keeps sitting, he keeps falling, he keeps finding himself in a mall but he can’t tell where he is.

They are all the SAME! He finally realizes that the kiosk with the sport memories is the only store that gives him a clue where he is because of what sports team stuff is for sale.

Can’t reveal the ending, it is too horrible! How would you end this? Would you even go with it?

Mall Observation - #3

Young couple, not teens, may be twenty-something, walking hand in hand. He stops, she does as well. He goes to one of the center aisle kiosks. She stays in the passageway. Her hands come together and start braiding her long blond hair on the left side of her head. She stops when he returns, straightens out her hair, and they resume the stroll down the mall hand in hand. He stops again and she repeats this routine. They do this three times before they disappear from my view.

Mall Observation - #2

Young female teen. Black jeans riding low on the hips. Jean leg bottoms just dragging along the floor. Suspenders are dangling down from the waist not being used to pull up the jeans and cover the gap between the waist band and her pink t-shirt which is riding high showing her belly button and more.

Mall Observation - #1

Is this how America lives? They come together groups of friends or family in a vehicle or two go to the Mall. They discuss in the entryway where they will meet and at what time. They split to go their separate ways through the mall. Window shopping here; pricing here; sampling here; buying there.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

The Singer sings his/her song, the Blogger writes his/her blog

In the evolution of life, individuals have looked to find their way, find their calling, find their voice, to be happy with what they do in order to live. Yes, there is a connection. Idealism is confronted by the harshness of reality. There needs to be some practical compromise to live.

Singers use their vocal talent and musical ability to attract attention, to tell their story, to spread their message. A glorious voice will catch ones ear. A particular musical note arrangement will turn ones head. If the attention can be held, and developed, there is an audience, a market, and a way of life.

Bloggers use their linguistic talent to turn the phrase that will catch and hold a reader. The phrase generating an idea, a recognition, a new thought. One reader will tell another and so it spreads, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly.

The word is powerful on the page. The links can be embedded to allow for a train of thought to be followed, to preemptively answer the question, “Where did this come from?”

The singer frames their words in some musical tones. A folk melody making a presentation that differs from that of the blues; still different from that of an aria; still different from the rap of a hip-hopper.

The message can be the same although the presentation and delivery is different. Ultimately looking for a connection. Agent Orange, another in the Amazon Theater series, makes this connection. The boy dressed darkly in the beginning is caught by her orange color as she moves through the station. He eventually reveals his true color, also orange, and they connect happily, ever after we are told just before the credits roll.

So have you made a connection? How do you keep it? Respect. Respect for the other. As Covey says in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” Develop the understanding. Be consistent. (i.e. brand harmony) If not, they will see you for the hollowness you hold inside and not return.

If there is something there there, and the there appeals to them, they will return. Maybe not everyday, but once in awhile, and then more regularly. And if satisfied, if the WOW factor is maintained, they will keep coming back. It is always showtime!

So if you are a singer, sing your song! I can not carry a tune but I do hear Neil Diamond singing:

Young it was
True it was
Days without wond'ring
Fall with a special thing
Laugh, I could laugh
And I did

And the singer sings his song
And the children dance along
And the singer sings his song
And we dance along

If you are a blogger, write your line!

The expansion of blogging continues

Found this posting on Josh Hallett writes:

An Apple is starting one for students:

Weekend recap - thus far

Cold this morning, 28 F. Heavy frost on the ground and parked car windows. The sun rising angles through the trees and sparkles on the frosted grass still mostly green.

Did an easy three mile run. Legs feel a little sluggish after the race Thursday morning. Ran well for the condition my body is in at the moment. Had more left at the end. Should have made a greater attempt to find a map of the course to see where we were going to get an idea of where the mile marks were that would, at least, have helped with the pacing. It is better to run knowing where you are in relationship to the finish. Oh well, next time.

More important (1) that is was for a good cause (Best Buddies), (2) that there was a group of Pacers running, and (3) that since it was early Thanksgiving Day, the race provided a good reason to enjoy the feast later without any hesitation or regrets.

The feast was celebrated with the wife's side of the family, always a good meal and interesting conversations. On Friday, my side of the family gets together to continue the party. The "little" kids are all over having a good time while the "big" kids catch up on things. Now, this day is more for really relaxing and catching up on some rest (once some of the house cleaning and other chores are completed).

Friday, November 26, 2004

Product Placement - What works for me

As a frequent user, I have been intrigued by the new Amazon Theater. I have seen two of the three available now; "Do Geese See God" and "Portrait". I need to see Geese again before I formulate my thoughts on it. Portrait, however, is ready.

Let me set the stage a little bit by saying while I do not watch much TV, I have been caught with the story line in American Dreams. Yes, I'll reveal my approximate age because I was draft eligible for Vietnam and by the luck of the draw, my number was the next to be called in my home state of RI when the war ended. So as fate would have it, I did not get to participate.

The recent American Dreams episode had JJ Pryor coming home from the war, conveniently for Christmas. The broadcast was with minimal commercial interruptions. This helped to build the story line, maintain continuity, tension, etc. It was a good thing. This evidently was made possible by Ford. There was an intro commercial I liked, a remake of Field of Dreams, featuring Steve McQueen (actually a look-alike) coming out of the cornfields to get behind the wheel of a Ford and drive on the new carved track. The last commercial was long, I thought a couple of minutes, reading the Ford press release it was actually five minutes. My daughter and I were at first wondering, is this a commercial, or part of the show? It was both. It paralleled the American Dreams story line, coming home from the war and showcased getting a car. Not just any car of course, it was a new Ford Mustang. I found it soapy and over the top.

Now, I want to be careful here. It was over the top because of the branded message, come home from war and get your Ford Mustang, like your father did. With all due respect, coming home is an emotional experience and something needed for all who are fighting any war, but I wonder how much a car really has to do with it. This is the aspect that concerns me. War is a cruel experience and to sugar coat it in this way, I reject.

My father came home from World War II and did not get his Mustang. The implication of history repeating itself is also disconcerting. Does that mean all fathers are going to come from home from war, and that all sons are going to imitate their fathers? I should hope not. That is not the kind of American future I look forward to.

The contrast with the marketing behind Portrait is what I want to reflect on. Portrait is a tale with a timeless moral. "In this comic Hollywood fable, an ugly duckling turns out to be as pretty as a picture. Minnie Driver stars as a narcissistic corporate honcho who learns a lesson--the hard way, of course--about the importance of what lies beneath."

The product placement within the tale is much more subtle. The characters are all dressed in style, use phones, carry hand bags, live their "normal life". Unless you stick to the end and see the credits roll, you would not think of the marketing connection. Yes, it is a free film within Yes, the page setting does have other temptations, featured products, but you expect this. You come here to buy stuff. To find something free and uncluttered (inside the experience) with commercialization is the point I want to make.

So how do you like your marketing? Over the top with a heavy hammer? Or subtle?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Customers are people - not so novel an idea but one for this time

Another book for my "wish list": Customers Are People: The Human Touch by John McKean (Wiley, 2004). According to the review by Poping Lin, the author breaks the evolution of the customer-centric approach to marketing into four periods:

- Before the 1980s, customers were treated as a homogeneous group.
- During the 1980s, customers became a prime focus of business.
- In the 1990s, customers were recognized as individuals.
- Since 2000, customers have been recognized as people.

Skipping ahead to another good quote from the review: To establish a customer-friendly business, the battle begins on the front lines with your employees, who must develop a “human touch competency” that creates “a feeling of acknowledgement, respect, and trust” in every customer. Of course, you must give your employees the same respect that you would want them to shower onto their customers.

Yes, it comes back to the primary of the three determinants for success: (1) service value (the price for your service needs to exceed your cost of delivering the service but one the customers will immediately recognize as a Value) (Not like the recent performance of the major American airlines) ; (2) customer satisfaction (recall the Tom Peters' WOW factor); and (3) associate satisfaction (in many cases, your only asset is your employees, you need to treat them with respect so they will do likewise with your customers). Jim Collins made this point in Good to Great with "First Who, Then What". You need to have the right people on the bus before you decide where you are going to go.

Do you have the right people on the bus?

Book for my "wish list"

Here is a book that seems to be a practical one to follow the economic indicators: The Secrets of Economic Indicators: Hidden Clues to Future Economic Trends and Investment Opportunities by Bernard Baumohl (Wharton School Publishing, 2004).

An excerpt from the review to tease you into following the link to read more.

“Nearly half the earnings of the S&P 500 firms come from business generated outside the U.S. More than 22 million American workers—nearly two in ten jobs—are linked to foreign trade. One out of every four dollars generated in the U.S. economy is based on trade. What this all boils down to is that foreign economic indicators should be followed with the same regularity, interest, and scrutiny as the domestic indicators.”

Lyrics from the musical Cabaret come to mind: "Money makes the world go round..."

Sobering thoughts ahead of the holiday - Economic `Armageddon' predicted

An extract from this article to further entice you to follow the link and read the remainder.

Stephen Roach, the chief economist at investment banking giant Morgan Stanley, has a public reputation for being bearish. But you should hear what he's saying in private. ...
His prediction: America has no better than a 10 percent chance of avoiding economic ``armageddon.''
Press were not allowed into the meetings. But the Herald has obtained a copy of Roach's presentation. A stunned source who was at one meeting said, ``it struck me how extreme he was - much more, it seemed to me, than in public.''

Indeed sobering thoughts as we head into the holiday.

Was Built To Last Built To Last?

Good article in FASTCompany about the Jim Collins and Jerry Porras best seller: Built to Last

I did not read this one but did read Good to Great and will review that some time soon.

FASTCompany also has an interview with Jim Collins that is good to read along with the article. Jim provides some of the asnwers to the questions that I thought of as I read the article.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Jittery - A new concept in online auctions

I was reading Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business by Chet Richards on the train to and from work today. The speed of action is heavily addressed in this work. With this in mind, cruising amongst the blogs tonight I found this posting at

introducing Jittery, an eBay competitor with a twist. Are they quick enough? Are they going to have the strength to make it?

Time will tell for sure...

Glorious Music - Huun Huur Tu

Yes, this group of Tuva throat-singers is unique. They are probably unlike anything else you have seen perform. The review by Rebecca Ostriker, in today's Boston Globe , comes close to putting the sounds they make into words we can understand.

I heard this group in July at the Lowell Folk Festival. They were outstanding. They created a mesmerizing sound and truly enchanted the audience.

If you get a chance to hear them perform, I think it would be a good thing to do.

Saturday, November 20, 2004


This is worthwhile reading. It is from Tim Sanders' Fall Lovecat Newsletter. Subscription info can be found at the end of this post.


This fall, in August, I spoke at the Willow Creek Association Leadership Conference in Chicago. The topic of my talk had to do with scarcity, and how it can keep you from being successful and generous. Here is an excerpt from my speech, I hope it brings you value.

"Scarcity is a story that gets believed - by you first as a leader and everyone else eventually.

It is not a reality - it is a prevailing belief, a collective unconsciousness. Scarcity exists because you breath life into it. As Dr. Covey says in 7 Habits: "We write autobiographical scripts that we live by" and one of our story lines is that there is not enough, we don't have enough, our people will not be able to give enough. An elderly member of the Unitarian Comm church of Glen Allen, which you'll hear more about later, lived through a time of great scarcity - the Great Depression and explains it this way, "I learned that there was always more than I imagined. The Depression taught me that true scarcity is in my mind - it is a belief that we don't have enough to share."

Profile of scarcity:
You believe that there is not enough to go around - not enough to share.
You define yourself based on what you lack, not what you have.
You are motivated by fear. You motivate others by fear.
You believe that when others gain, you lose. When you give, you have less.
You cannot envision starting over. Quitting. Rebuilding. Losing.

Impact of scarcity thinking:
1. You have a vicious cycle of turnover in your organization. You spend your waking hours looking for new help and fresh meat - just like a butcher! According to Jim Collins in Good to Great - you create a doomloop.

2. You become a competitor, not a community builder. You can no longer enjoy the success of other's. You say, "what about me?" inwardly while you express your reservations about them-sometimes you volunteer to confess their sins. In business, I see this disagreement as the source of all conflict. It fuels the conflict between companies, churches, team players, managers and family members.

3. You cannot lead - at best you manage and browbeat. If you spend your life gathering crumbs like a miser, you will end up a crummy leader! Leadership is your ability to give to your people and bring out their best for the good of the mission and vision. Leaders say, "How can I help you?"- Mangers say "What have you done for me lately?"

Scarcity is the greatest crisis today in our society. There is no greater evil than the belief that there is not enough to go around. There is no greater threat to your organization or company's future than the Scarcity mindset. Sounds scary? There are two pieces of good news: there are solutions and when they are implemented, you will experience profound happiness and peace.

Solution: Return to your Abundance Mentality
Step 1:
Change your thinking. Define yourself by what you have, not what you lack.
As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "find the Abundance in the little things in your daily life". This morning I found Abundance in my breakfast and the endless cup of coffee given to me. In 2000, during the crash, I found abundance in the smiles of others. At Yahoo, I led the 'refresh' campaign and encouraged people to find abundance in what they had, especially compared to all of the others that had so much less and so little to look forward to.

Step 2: Stay on the lookout for Fear. Replace it with Faith and Endurance.
This is one of the few places where it is OK to label people. Call a spade a spade. That's what I do at Yahoo as the Leadership Coach. When I catch someone acting like Chicken Little, I stamp them. When I observe someone acting out their personal story of Abundance, I name them DaVinci (Don, Doris, etc.). My mom gave me advice for this talk; I need only two things to lead and thrive-faith and endurance. One will help me when the other is in short supply.

Step 3: Practice Abundance daily.
Practicing Abundance requires letting go of stuff - and believing that there is more. Every day, give something, share something or be a bigger person because you know there is enough to go around. Each act of generosity on your part sends a signal to the world that you are in touch with your Abundance.

Tim Sanders, August 13, 2004 at Leadership Summit 2004 - Willow Creek Assoc.

You can sign up for Tim's newsletter on his web site:

Friday, November 19, 2004

Book Review - The Leader's Voice by Clarke & Crossland

“The biggest problem with leadership communication is the illusion that is has occurred.”


"The cry for more communication is often the symptom of the undiagnosed disease, mistrust. The disease is cured with authentic communication, not more communication."

are two great quotes from this book that I just finished reading this week. It is a good read. I do highly recommended it! It has joined my Top Ten Business books listing.

Running was a key human characteristic

Now I know why I run :)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Bloggers Local 1394

Interesting posting on the guidelines, or lack there of, for a company and employee blogging efforts. This from Matthew Oliphant at Business Logs.

I have refrained from commenting on anything connected directly to my own company but really should go check and see if there are any policies in place that I should be aware of.

It can happen. At least one recent one still being reported on as it develops is the story of Queen of Sky that can be found here:

Does your company have guidelines or policies on blogging? Does it hinder your activities?

Mark Cuban introduces "Apologevents"

I like Mark's approach to this ongoing issue. I did not see the original event. It is all over Google News today (may have been yesterday but I did not have time to go find out).

Is this an issue? What do you think?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Down Home

Listening to Days of Horses by Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman, better known
as Aztec Two Step, on the drive to work today. The lines from Down Home
caught me:

"... Down home, not just a place
A state of mind, a state of grace..."

Thanksgiving is a week away. Folks will be heading home soon, may
already be thinking of home. Visions of the big dinner, family
gathering, the annual football game...

Are you going home for the holiday? What do you call "home"?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Crecent Moon Over the Shoulder

I had a really good run tonight. Covered a route that I had not done in about a year. Covered it in the best time I have recorded for this route. It feels good to be running well.

I had the crecent moon over my left shoulder keeping me company for most of the route. Over the trees, across the field, peaking through some wispy clouds. It made for some good company.

Monday, November 15, 2004

More Steves

Yes, my name is really Steve

Hence, I could not resist linking to this posting on a new book out: Steve's America: A Celebration of Steves

Thanks, Virginia!

Armchair Economics Reading List

To really add some fuel to the fire... No, I don't mean burn these books. Come on now! Expand your horizons.

To understand the world we live in, I offer that famous line of advice from Cabaret: "Money makes the world go round..." Pick up one of these and go for it!

The "known" quadrant

I like this posting.

How do you remember where you put something?

Picture Blogs

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, find some time to go crusing amongst these blogs.

Great pictures! Great stories!


Sunday, November 14, 2004

Cold Morning Run - Advice to make it a good one

The Norfolk County Pacers is the running group I have joined. Founded earlier this year by Scott and Kim Knous, it currently counts about 60 members from the area in and around Franklin. The hardy among us came out to do our thing on the roads this morning for the Sunday Fun Run. The outside temperature was 18 degrees Fahrenheit when I left for the middle school parking lot where we gather. I had volunteered for the coffee and refreshments for the post run social period, so I stopped at the local Dunkin Donuts on the way.

The high school parking lot was a sheet of reflections broken here and there with crusted snow. I gingerly made my way across. Running on ice is okay if you keep your strides short and ensure that your center of gravity stays level over your feet. Arms should be loose anyway, but especially at this time, so they can be extended quickly, if necessary to help keep your balance. I did a loop around the high school and made my way back to the middle school to see if the 3 mile group was going to be more than just me.

There was a light breeze and lots of sun, no clouds in the sky this cold morning. I had layered properly and was nice and warm. Of course, the body provides plenty of heat when moving so the key to the layering is to keep the sweat off you and keep the heat within.

For the upper body:
The bottom layer should be something along the new material line that wicks the sweat away. I like this layer in a long sleeve with an extended cuff that also provides a thumb hole. This gives a complete seal to the layer. A short sleeve cotton t-shirt goes over this and all this is topped with a good wind breaker. I currently have a luminous yellow top that was on sale at the local Saucony outlet store. The only draw back is that it has no pockets. I get around that by either tying my key into my shoe laces, or recently have been pinning it into the inside of my jacket zipper binding. For this short run, I don't carry any ID or money. For a longer run, I have a small running wallet with some changes, a couple of dollar bills, and some ID. For safety sake, and my wife's peace of mind mostly.

For the lower half:
I wear some close fitting leggings, dark blue today to run in the daylight. For the dark, I have a couple of pairs of yellow tights. I admit, I must look like a character but in the dark it is better to be seen than look good. Over the leggings a pair of exercise shorts. For the under 30 degree days, a regular pair of jockey briefs goes underneath. As it gets warmer, this layer is less required. Over 40, I usually only need a pair of lined nylon running briefs. If the temp dropped below 10, and or the wind chill was more of a factor, I could also add another bottom layer. Beyond that, you try to schedule your run for a better day. Discretion is the better part of value.

For the feet:
A good pair of socks is a must. I am currently rotating amongst a trio of "Run Across America" socks (item RRS-894) from Road Runner Sports. They are CoolMAX with a nice cushion and advertised to last for 3000 miles. While I have not gone that many miles in them, they indeed have stood up better to the running better than any other socks I have worn. They come in the full crew (mine) or the shorter ankle form. I do have some woolen liner socks that I wear as my bottom layer when I am wearing hiking boots. The wool ones are good if I know it is one of those days that I won't be able to avoid getting my feet wet. The wool handles water better than cotton.

For the hands:
I feel in love with some glittens several years ago and they have been very serviceable. It is only now getting to the point that I am considering upgrading the ones I have. The polypropylene material is good for most temperatures. They can be used as a glove, roll the mitten cover over the fingers and obtain the additional warmth. On the days when your hands are cold to start with, but then you warm up enough so you don't need them, you can take them off, roll them up and carry them in your hands. If you don't like things in your hands, they can tuck nicely into a pocket or into your waist band.

For the head:
The head is actually the most important part of the body to protect in the cold. Numerous studies have shown how much heat is given off through the head. In the 50 - 30 degree range, I'll use a nylon stretch head band from Saucony that my daughters gave me for Christmas. Below 30, I go with a good knit cap.

Post run:
Get out of your wet stuff as soon as possible. Yes, when it is cold, this can be a challenge. You will attract some attention with your steaming upper body exposed. I focus on the upper body layer as that tends to generate the most sweat. Getting some dry clothes on and letting the body cool down gradually is a good thing. Keep moving, gently shifting the weight from leg to leg, especially when socializing in the cold over coffee and bagels, will leave you feeling better as the day goes along.

Well, no others arrived for the 3 mile so I headed out. About a half mile away, I found a threesome coming back in from their six mile run. I turned around and headed back with them. I opened the car to make the coffee and refreshments available, then took off to do another loop to complete my own run.

This completed a good week of running, 17 miles over 4 days. It felt good to be "back" to this level of fitness. Now, I need to keep it here, no sliding back. I can build on this to continue the gradual increase in fitness and strength.

Blogging is rapidly emerging as a threat to Internet users

This is a quote from a news release hit the wires recently from Dublin-based Research and Markets.

Will this cause the alert system to be elevated a color level? What do you think about this perceived threat? Is is real?

What are they really after?

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I like Saturday's

The day is usually a combination of activities and when they can be done close to the radio, it works well for me. I like to listen to WERS' Women in Music, followed by Standing Room Only. Then I switch stations to catch the A Celtic Sojourn on WGBH and keep it there for Folk on WGBH and finish with Garrison Keilor's Prairie Home Companion.

It is a rare day that I go from end to end. But the music is good and I can keep tuned in as I run errands in the car, or do some work around the house. A Celtic Sojourn can also be listened to via the web on demand and Prairie Home Companion repeats on Sunday from noon to 2:00 PM on WGBH so all is not lost if I miss some.

While I do not arrange anything I do around TV, I will consider this for Saturdays. Do you have must see TV? or must hear radio?

Warm for no good reason

Good writing and not just because it feels good to be warm on a New England day like today!

Typical New England Weather

It started raining yesterday and the precipitation changed gradually to snow as the temperature dropped. There were almost two inches of white stuff on the car in the train station parking lot when I came home yesterday. It continued throughout the night and we ended up with at least six inches in Franklin this morning.

I had planned on getting the snow thrower ready this weekend. I got a reason to do so early this morning. The high school cross country team bus was scheduled to leave at 8:45 AM to head for the division championship meet on the Franklin Park course in Boston. Hopefully, they ended up with less snow. Cross country is a "real" sport and not one to be canceled lightly.

So the snow thrower started, the driveway eventually was cleared, and I did some clean up work with the shovel to keep my arms and shoulders in shape. Carolyn found her team captain had an IM away message that indicated the bus was leaving at 8:30 so we left the house in a hurry to make this adjusted schedule. She did make the bus, others were not so fortunate to see the away message, and they arrived as previously scheduled for 8:45.

Last week the course was full of the autumn colors, leaves all over the trails, the grass green in the sunlight. This week, a new world. White. Cold. Quiet. Colorful as the team uniforms provided the rainbow decorations. The start of each division race (four divisions arranged by school size, boys and girls running separately) was a picture. The rainbow spraying against the white background and grey sky, moving as the runners made their way quickly to the cheers of their teammates, coaches, parents, etc.

Two or three races into the meet and the orange cones marking the course were standing out against the white. Along one side of the cones, it was still a pristine white. The other side was trampled snow, browning, breaking here and there to reveal, yes, there is some green grass underneath this cover.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Please Believe In Yourself

Halley has this post today.

Tom Peter's has this post:
Stephen Covey has a new book. The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness

I still have a little label on my daily notebook with the 7 Habits that I made many years ago after having heard Stephen speak at the Help Desk Institute Conference in Nashville, TN.

He made a great impression on me.

You do need to start with believing in yourself. Becoming the person you want to be. I get inspiration from Covey, et al in my daily quest to become what I can best be; for me, for my family, for my work, for my co-workers...

Halley maybe your friend could use this recommendation?

Kirk's T4D on Veteran's Day

Follow the link to good writing for Veteran's Day. Kirk Weisler writes from personal experience and it is well worth reading on this day.

The current conflict in Iraq has caused much discussion. Vietnam did as well. While the Korean War, WWII, and WWI were less controversial, they were still wars, and wars are a cruel experience. The survivors are generally considered the lucky ones. Some of them are also considered heroes. After discussions with my father, a US Marine veteran of Iwo Jima and Saipan, I believe the real heros are the ones who do not come home.

This thought is also mentioned in James Bradley's Flag of Our Fathers: Heroes of Iwo Jima. This is recommended reading, especially for Veteran's Day.

Unfolding Origami's Secrets - By Louise Kennedy, Globe Staff

Interesting article in the Boston Globe today about Robert Lang. He is at MIT for a few days for a series of lectures and workshops on this ancient art of folding paper. He compares it to music.

''I love shifting gears completely, from art to math, which is very formal, abstract, and almost unrecognizable, and to engineering, which is certainly not art, but neither is it really math," Lang says. ''That switching gears is fun, and I think it also keeps the creative juices flowing in both categories. I very rarely have an inspiration when I'm sitting down at my desk to do an origami design. The inspiration happens when I'm doing something else, and then it's a question of whether I can get back to my desk quickly enough to get it done."

Inspiration comes any time when you are ready to receive it. I generally find it in quiet moments. It also comes when I am running. Some of my best thoughts occur on the road. It also comes in the shower. An odd place but not uncommon.

I will explore Robert's web site to learn more about his "tree theory". I like making these connections. I find intriguing that origami has

practical applications: ''foldable structures that can get very small and then very large later on," which can be useful, for example, in deploying a telescopic lens in space or in designing more efficient airbags for cars.

Have you done any origami lately?

The Clarett Case

Today's Globe has this article on Mike Vrabel and his views as an OSU alumni on the Maurice Clarett case. Clarett has come out with new charges against OSU, the coaches and administration. To what purpose? To claim some conversation around the water cooler? To create a marketing opportunity for a future NFL coach or owner to say: Let's go get this guy for our team!

Maurice, you are getting some bad advice. Those talking to you must have dollar signs in their eyes to cloud their judgement.

As a coach, would I take this guy on my team? Granted he has some talent and can perform. But how would he fit in the locker room and on the practice field with the rest of the team? I don't think I'd take him. It might very well be more trouble than the gains that could come from it.

I hope the almighty dollar does not rule in this case. If it does, he will end up with a big contract someday and likely continue to make headlines of the negative time. Yes, I have heard people say that there is no bad publicity. All publicity can sell tickets but that is not my way.

A sad case. One we are not likely to hear the end of anytime soon.

Vacationing on Veterans Day

With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, how do I love a vacation day in the middle of a week? Let me count the ways.

1 - I get to sleep late.
2 - I get to wake up with my wife waking up at the same time and with time to enjoy our married state.
3 - I get to listen to the news while snuggled in her arms, keeping warm under the cover, keeping the mean cruel world at bay (for a bit longer).
4 - I get to go online when I choose.
5 - I get to go on a good long run in the day light. I did run 6 miles today. Last time I did this route was just over a year ago. Feeling good today.
6 - I get to do some work via email on my time, and then leave the rest of it for later.
7 - I get to post here and comment there like some of the other bloggers I read who seem to have a flexible schedule to do their blogging during the day. I am normally limited to a couple of hours at night or the weekends.
8 - I am getting hungry so I'll have brunch now and come back to post more later.

I hope you get to take a vacation day during the week some time and enjoy the things you like to do on your schedule. It is a great thing!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

At Home

with one last, last minute
thing to do completed
they scurry out of the house

with the door closing
silence settles slowly
awakening the kitchen clock

whose whirring resumes telling stories
while the radiator bubbles
and gurgles with delight

to which the faucet responds
with its monotonous drip, drip
drowned out as the

silence settles still further
and the people upstairs
begin living here

The Audio (podcast) version of this can be found here

I grew up in a five room apartment on the first floor of a three tenement house. I was the oldest of six and needless to say, the house got busy and noisy at times as we all did what we needed to do. The family was all going out but for some reason, I was being left behind, maybe I had something else to do, maybe I was sick, the circumstances were such that after the hustle and bustle of their leaving, I was left in the empty house. Except it was not really empty, as you hear in the reading, the house almost has a life of its own.

Orange Numbers

If we roll our orange round
first, it will
peel like an apple
second, so
you can give me a quarter
third, so we can
beslobber our mouths with juice
fourth, so we can have a magnificent
excuse for a kiss
sixth, and clean up our act.

Fifth, fifth, oh yes
there was a fifth
but by the time
that gets passed around
and back to us
there’ll be nothing left..

Let’s have another orange!

For CC

This was written many years ago while I was doing my undergraduate studies at Assumption College. Both CC and I were student athletes and at a party together where there was some drinking. However, we were both in training and could not participate in that aspect of the party so we did our own thing and enjoyed a few oranges. She had not seen an orange peeled like that before so I was able to delight her with the story and then the poem later. I think I liked the fantasy part about the kissing. I recall that it was suggested, and tried, but not encouraged.

Blog Enhancements

I did not get to post yesterday. I spent my time learning and improving this blog by adding a site meter and enabling RSS feeds. Atom was already built in by Blogger but not explicitly enabled on the page for someone else to add to their RSS reader. I also downloaded a free RSS Reader and set up some blog files within that to help my cruising though the web.

While the RSS Reader will help keep current on the favorites I like to follow, I will have to continue to go exploring from blog to blog by following links and interesting lines of thought. If I don’t continue to do so, my “world of bloggers” would remain limited by what is set up within the reader.

Do you use a reader? How do you manage your reading/on line time?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Election post mortem - continued

There has been much writing about the election results in blogs, the daily papers, the weekly magazines, and I am sure we have not see the last of it yet.

I was troubled by the red/blue map and wrote on that already. One of the troubles not mentioned previously is covered nicely in the Purple Haze posting on BoingBoing. This is a better graphic, more reflective of the reality.

Thomas Oliphant wrote in the Boston Globe today about the gay marriage deception. Well said!

The editorial column in FastCompany's January 2003 issue recommended changing the conversation. We could re-write the column and replace the business news with the election news. The advice left for us is to change the conversation. Let's be real about what we say. Let's mean what we say. The quote I found earlier this week fits here too. Our conversations need to be authentic. We need to walk the talk.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi

Shared work - food shopping

One of my weekend pleasures during the school year is food shopping. As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, my wife teaches kindergarten. To help provide some of her required prep time on the weekends, I do the food shopping and prepare the dinner meals for Saturday and Sunday. As part of our shared work arrangement, it works out nicely for us.

I do enjoy doing the food shopping. It is one thing I do not mind spending some money on. I know it will go to a good purpose; feeding our family. Shopping is a challenge. The choices can be overwhelming. I start by being organized. I have a food listing (in a Word doc) with the standard items we purchase in sequence of the local store layout. It took a little thought to put it together the first time, and when the store changes things around, requires some adjustment, but overall it is worth the time spent. I print a blank form to use each week (actually I print several at a time). Dolores and I then go over the weekly circular and check the sale items against our needs. As she goes through the circular, I check off on the form. I have spaces for the once in a while buys, those odd items we get infrequently.

A little short hand coding helps to prepare the listing. The store frequently has sales for “Buy 1, Get 1 Free”. So I’ll mark that item as B1G1. When there is a coupon available, I put a circle around a “C” to remind me to check that I am getting the proper item. It saves a hassle at the check out line. Thus prepared, I can cruise through the aisles, getting what’s on the listing and limiting those extra purchases that the store likes to get you to indulge in.

Comparison shopping is generally a challenge. Item pricing is supposed to help but does not always. Be careful to look for the unit pricing as the key comparison. Pay less attention to the price on the item itself. Coffee for example, comes in the standard one pound cans. But look closer and the actual weight varies from 11.5 OZ, to 12 OZ. to 13 OZ, to 15 OZ. Rarely do you find a legitimate one pound can these days.

If I were ever to win one of those dollar amount shopping sprees, I would be prepared. The smallest items are actually the most expensive comparatively speaking. Olive oil can run as high as hundreds of dollars per gallon. Spices can run several hundreds of dollars per pound. The meat and fresh fish are relatively cheap compared to these two.

If one of my daughters comes with me, I’ll use the self-check out line. If alone, it is not worth it, unless I have only a few items. Then the self-check out can be quicker than going through the express lane. If alone, the staffed check out line with the bagger on the end is much more efficient.

Round trip, driving to and from, the list prep, the actual shopping, loading, unloading, and putting the food away can be done inside two hours. It is time I look forward to each weekend.

Where is food shopping on your list of things you enjoy doing?

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Running in the dark, safety steps

Daylight savings has left us, we are heading towards the winter solstice. Only five weeks away from the shortest day of the year and then two-three minutes of light get added to our life per day, culminating in spring. Winter does not have to be dull and dreary. There is so much to hope for. We need to recognize that it comes and goes in those daily two-three minute increments.

So with this hope, and the energy to run, much of it will be in the dark over the next couple of months. Here are the rules I run by during this period.

1 - Never run a route in the dark that you have not run at least a couple of times in the daylight. You should be familiar with the route, and not just the turns, but the surface you are running. I have mostly run in a built up area whether city or town. The sidewalks can be a challenge. The road side gutter can be a challenge. Knowing where the sewer covers are, the pot holes, the low spots will help when you try to navigate the route in the dark.

2 - Avoid the blackest black. Darkness is really the absence of light. When running in the dark, there can be sources of light from houses, store signs, street lights, moving vehicles. But where there is no light, there is dark. And the less light, the darker it is. Where two shadows cross, it is darker. In that dark, you might find the black hole. This hole could easily cause a stumble or twisted ankle, etc.

3 - Avoid all puddles, especially in the rain. Water is a wonderful thing, the substance of life, but in the dark, it shows one of its other powers. It fills holes. When it fills the hole, the surface is smooth, shinny and reflective. But seriously deceptive because you can not tell how deep it is from the surface. It may be shallow. It may be deep. You won't be able to tell running along in the dark. Avoid it.

4 - Wear reflective clothing. It is important to be seen by any of the moving vehicles that will share the road with you during the run. Your senses will be sharper so you’ll see their headlights, and hear their motor or tires as they approach. But is is equally important that they see you. Do not be afraid to be over visible. It is better to be a luminous object and run again.

5 - Run with the traffic, not against it. This may cause some discussion but I have found it so much safer to run with the traffic than against it. I don’t get blinded by their headlights. Their lights are behind me and help show me the way. Just as important, the lights can allow me to pick out what my options would be the closer they come to me. Blinded, you have little choice but to stop, pull over until you can see again. The one serious fall I took was the last time I was running against the traffic. I had followed all my rules, I was familiar with the course having run it frequently during daylight hours. I was coming over a little crest and the approaching vehicle flipped on their high beams to get a better view of me. The high beams blinded me. I slowed and remembering the sidewalk was just over there stepped into the wheelchair curb cut to get out of the way. Unfortunately, right in the middle of the curb cut was the galvanized steel street sign. I hit it directly, nose first. Drawing some blood with a nice cut on the forehead and ending up in a heap at the foot of the pole wondering what had just happened. A lesson learned, never again have I run facing the traffic.

I hope this helps. If you have your own rules, I would be interested in hearing about them.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Mandate Poll Results & Red vs. Blue States Discussion had a poll on their front page the last couple of days (gone today) as to whether the Bush victory was a mandate or not. I thought it rather interesting that the mandate poll results were in line with the actual voting poll results.

Cruising amongst some blogs this evening, I find a variety of discussion around the election, and one in particular about the red vs. blue states.

If one were to find fault (as to who created this red vs. blue debate) I think it comes back to us. Yes, some one person or group in the media or a political campaign did originally came up with the idea to depict the vote graphically this way. It works as a graphic. What does not work is when folks take the graphic for a reality in and of itself. The graphic takes on a life of its own. The state becomes Red, or all its people become Blue, and the generalizations take over with a new twist on "us vs. them".

Let's step back a minute folks.

Some one may have started it but by our own choice of words we can either continue this discussion in this way, or change it. We have much more in common than the differences between Red and Blue.

Let's be respectful of the differences amongst us.

We can choose not to talk of Red or Blue and focus on the real issues, the real problems we face. Our revolutionary ancestors would be turning over in their graves if they could hear this Red/Blue thing going on. United we stand, divided we fall.

Authentic Communication

I came across this today while reading on the train to Boston:

"The cry for more communication is often the symptom of the undiagnosed disease, mistrust. The disease is cured with authentic communication, not more communication."

from The Leader's Voice by Clarke & Crossland

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Nice photos from Tom Asacker's site

15 good photos... good ones... for which you could easily come up with a caption or two

relax, enjoy, be creative.... thanks for the opportunity Tom!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Double duty - Running to Vote

I did double duty tonight, hearing of much traffic around the high school with the record voter turnout, I chose to run there. Less traffic on the sidewalks and gutters along the side of the road. I was able to slip in and out very easily.

That took care of my physical duty to exercise and my civic duty to exercise my right to vote.

Running back, I passed a couple of cars, a couple of times as they waited in line for the light. Felt good to make the point that feet do get places quicker sometimes. It did not last long, once past the light, we got separated quickly. I wasn't running that fast!

Felt good while it last though!

Early Morning - Election day

The commuter train platform is almost empty this morning at 6:10 waiting for the 6:22. Is it a holiday? No, just election day; we still have to go to work. Maybe these folks are off to vote early! This could be as there is a last minute rush and most of the normal crowd appears as the train makes its approach.

One woman did arrive, short of breath, coffee in hand, relieved. She had made it to the polling place (our high school) to vote when the polls opened at 6:00 AM and the lines were already from the door to the parking lot, with little room left to park.

The ballot counting machine is sensitive. We use markers and if there is a mark on the ballot outside the “authorized” area, the ballot is rejected. That station worker told her she would need to re-do her ballot. She went back up the line to get another ballot and that station worker was not prepared for this circumstance.

Communication and coordination of process and procedures is so so so important. All need to be on the same page at the same time. Whether you are delivering a product for money or providing a civic duty like voting.

After this minor hassle, minor delay, she got another ballot, filled it out, no extra marks this time, and it passed.

There will be a good turn out today in Franklin, MA. Go vote!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Sam Allis in The Observer in the Boston Sunday Globe

From Sam Allis’s column on Sunday; 10/31/04

John F. Kennedy's eulogy to Robert Frost, presumably drafted by Theodore Sorensen, reminds us that intellectual elegance really did once exist in the White House.

JFK said this in his address delivered at the dedication of the Robert Frost Library in Amherst:

''When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses."

He added: ''I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist. . . . We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda, it is a form of truth."

Good question! Does poetry cleanse you?