Monday, February 28, 2005

Coaching is a Management Obligation

Yes, but where it is not, mentoring is a very good option.
Mentoring is coaching from a third party.

Here's the essence of coaching:
  1. Verify the other person wants help.
  2. Generate options with the other person.
  3. Walk through consequences of those options. Wait for the coachee to choose an option (unless other people's safety is at stake).
  4. Create an action plan to implement those chosen options.
Good advice Johanna!

And now for the other side, if you do not have a coach
or a mentor... or at a minimum a good sounding board

Get one!

Electronic Game or More than that?

Twenty Questions. A good game. A mind game.
When playing with folks you know you can pick up on body clues...

Along comes this mechanical device, does the same twenty questions
with better success than body language (which it can not read!) can help with

Probably because it sticks to what it knows
and ignores the emotions

Good advice. Stick to what you know...

Thanks to BrandAutopsy for the link.

New Blogger Voice Found

I think that with the blogosphere growing as much as it is...
What is it now, hundreds of blogs a day?

... that in order to find out what is out there, one needs to go exploring
and that one needs to report back on what they find.

Now, as good as it sounds, I do not know if I'll be able to find one a day
but here is one for today:

All my tediousness upon thee stuff about my life, my family,
my school work, my MINI Cooper, my cats, doodles, photos, websites that peak my interest, random Google searches and anything else that pops into my head to post at any given moment that I find interesting and you probably won't.

Well Wendy, at least a few postings have caught my eye.
Keep at it!

Tom Peters - Half Way to 100 Ways to Succeed

Tom Peters has been posting regularly to his blog on 100 Ways to Succeed.

He is actually more than halfway there (posted #67 today)
but has combined the first 50 in a PowerPoint.

You know Tom lives with PowerPoint!
Well, this is actually a PDF version of his PowerPoint halfway mark.

A good summary of his thinking.
Better than scrolling through pages of his blog.

Now mind you, his blog is worth visiting daily.
But to go back through it for months at a time,
sorry I'll take the PDF and be happy!

So visit ChangeThis, get Tom's first 50
browse around while your at ChangeThis

You might find something else you'll like
then go Re-imagine!

and have fun....

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Cyclist peddles program to help kids ride, eat healthy

From the Boston Sunday Globe today comes this inspirational story about Julianne Idlet.

A change in work (as in being laid off from) complicated by a health problem (a collapsed lung due to a misdiagnosed case of pneumonia) provided Julianne some time to think, cruise the internet and do some research on cycling, one of her passions.

"Obesity rates have tripled in school-age children and adolescents since 1970, according to the American Dietetic Association. Studies blame kids' lack of exercise, poor eating habits and lack of intellectual stimulation.

"It was so sad to learn that kids today have a shorter life expectancy than we do, and it's because of their lack of exercise and poor eating habits," Idlet said."

What did she do? She turned to her passion (cycling).

"It seemed to her that a similar solution to childhood obesity was within easy grasp - that by appealing to kids' inherent interest in bicycles, she could teach them the habits to become fit for life. This awakened an idea that had been lying dormant since the summer before when an educator friend broached the idea of creating a cycling program for kids. At the time, Idlet was too busy with her work to give it much thought. "

Hence the creation of CycleKids.

The lesson for us all: identify an opportunity within your passion and go with it.

Yes, you have heard this advice before. This is just a re-affirmation that it works.

Go Julianne!

Passion: Willis on Jarvis

You have probably noticed that I do not comment much on politics. There are so many other topical areas to explore that I rarely need to. However, once in a while someone's passion will catch my eye and attention, and in turn, provide an opportunity.

Oliver Willis of Like Kryptonite to Stupid wears his passion on his sleeve all day long. I admire him for that. I do not always agree with his point of view but that's okay.

Jeff Jarvis of the BuzzMachine has a different writing style and prolific. Bouncing here and there, appearing here and there. I'll admit to skipping through some of his postings because they are so bouncy I can't keep track of who's on first.

Oliver does a number on Jeff here. Well written. Passion driven politics.
Updated: Jeff responds.

The Gates: In stride

In stride
Originally uploaded by shersteve.
Just happened to catch this one just right with the gates keeping pace with the ladies.

The Gates: Dolores & I

Dolores & I
Originally uploaded by shersteve.
We took the Amtrak Regional from Providence to Penn Station, hopped the 1-9 local to Columbus Circle and walked in the park amongst the crowds.

Lots of people were all around us; mostly walking but there were the bikers, the runners, the bladers, the stroller kids, some snow sledders, a couple of kids trying to make a snow man, some folks dancing on their roller blades, another group playing an intense game of soccer (one side wore orange piddies, of course).

A gracious stanger took this photo for us.

The park was a friendly place this February Saturday.

The Gates: Breezy

Originally uploaded by shersteve.
Yes, we did make it to The Gates in Central Park to spend a couple of hours Saturday afternoon walking around.

Much like everyone else, camera in hand, ready for a photo op.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Like, it is something you'll want, no need to have

Yes, folks line up and wait for it. Hasbro, the toy company, based in my old hometown of Pawtucket, RI is coming out with a musical tooth brush.

Now, why would you want one of those? Fair question.

Thanks to Brand Autopsy for the posting and for the answers:

"When pressed to the tooth, [Tooth Tunes] renders a recorded riff from a pop star that lasts two- minutes precisely the amount of time dentists say children should be spend brushing their teeth." [source: Wall Street Journal article sub req'd.]

Not only does it make the ho-hum toothbrush remarkable, it also solves the problem of getting children to brush their teeth more often and for longer periods of time. "

Now, I must admit that dentists and I do not get along too well. They are not very high on my places to visit. The last time there, the hygienist suggested that I get a powered tooth brush. Not particularly fancy, battery powered would be sufficient. This would be just enough to help fight the plaque I seem to accumulate. So I moved up into the powered world of tooth brushes. I keep my manual brush handy. It won't run out of battery power.

And along comes this. With music!

The integration of technology into a device like this to solve a problem like this simply intrigues me. Why didn't I think of it?

Parent in not so distant future: Johnny, go brush your teeth. I want to hear Beethoven twice!
Michael or Jane: Can I listen to (insert your favorite child pop star) instead?
Same Parent: Yes, as long as I hear it twice!

Of course, the questions that now remain for me are as follows:

  1. How long will it take for a cheap knock off to hit the market?
  2. How long will it take for someone to hack the device so that they can down load from their iPod Shuffle?
  3. or better yet, play from their iPod?

Do you have any questions?

Or answers to these?

Updated: From BoingBoing, Cory Doctrow writes of an acoustic hack to the iPod, sort of stepping in the right direction as suggested here.

Who's Wendy - Halley's Looking

A little detective sleuthing required here:

Step 1 - Read Halley's posting from today
Step 2 - Read the "About Face" posting especially the comment from Wendy
Step 3 - Use your best investigation tools to identify Wendy and let Halley know

Let's go!

On Trust - Halley & Tom & Steve Combine

Halley Suitt went deep into the archives to find this posting with some help from another (blogan).

Originally written around divorce and what it does to a relationship, particularly to trust, it can be applied to any other relationship. A good relationship is one built from the ground up, slowly, learning about the other, becoming partners (or becoming one), building trust.

Trust can fall like a house of cards.

However long it took to build it, an incident suddenly changes the world for the relationship. One may not understand the impact that it has upon an other. That, in and of itself, is a sign of the issue. Something was wrong in the relationship. One or the other started becoming too comfortable, too important, too inconsiderate.

Once cracked, or broken, and even with a willingness to work on rebuilding it, there is only one way to do so.

It takes time.

So I would pose one question that you may ask yourself, if you find yourself in a potential situation:
Will the time it takes to recover be worth spending for the moment (or more) that the situation presents itself?

Tom Peters asks a similar question. While his is posed to be asked at the start of a new project, you could consider this situation (and handling the aftermath) as a project.


Will it be worth the chance, the change, the new world that will result?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Imitation Flattery = Funny

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Well, sometimes it is also quite funny.

Check out "Crackers 2005"

Many thanks to Mark Hurst for the link.

I purchased tickets today to take the train down to NYC to see the "real" Gates this Saturday.
I am looking forward to some quality time with my wife.
Our youngest daughter will also be at college this weekend to enjoy "Siblings Weekend" with her sister, a freshman.

The ride down spent talking, watching, and reading.
A leisurely walk in the park (here's to hoping the weather will cooperate).
Take some pictures (of course).
Early dinner at a restaurant on the west side of the park.
The return ride also spent talking, maybe less watching (it will be dark), and reading.

So there will be less posting on Saturday than I normally get to
but I am sure I'll have something to say when I get a chance on Sunday.

Because buildings can't dance

Leave it to Doc Searls to say it very well.

In his posting on corporate blogging; what it should be, what it is not, how many metaphors are mixed in amongst red herrings, etc. he works to climax with this quote:
"When we said, in The Cluetrain Manifesto, that markets are conversations, we meant that conversation trumped all marketing jive. Conversation, and the relationships that follow, are what really matter in real marketplaces — which are places (whether in virtual or physical space) where people meet to do business and make culture. You can't "deliver" conversation. It's not "content." It's not about branding, or media, or building anything other than what conversation does best (better than "messages"): making and changing minds. "

I am not a corporate blogger. While I am in the financial industry, my current role is to coordinate internal desktop support (which is hardly in the SEC headlights) but I expect that corporate blogging is not likely to happen anytime soon.

So I write on personal development, business processes, running, family life, poetry and whatever else catches my attention.
The key being the topic may be something we can discuss.
That we can each improve our own understanding.

If I don't feel I can add some value to the discussion, I let it pass.
There will be other opportunities.

Are you in this for the conversation? or something else?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Google Movies

How appropriate! Google introduces a new operator for searching information on movies.

Google Futuristic View

More catching up. The video you can view when you follow this link is something else.

Brings back memories of George Orwell's 1984. Of Aldus Huxley's Brave New World. More recently of Lois Lowry's The Giver. And of Apple's Super Bowl ad to announce the MAC which apparently is the subject of a recent spoof.

What really gets to me about the futuristic view of Googlezon, is how close it is to my own "Bingo Theory". The connections we make in our own grey matter, selecting from amongst the various sensory inputs we have some choice over. The selections in EPIC will be provided for us.

Thanks to John Moore at BrandAutopsy for the posting.

Don't put yourself down!

Just getting around to catching up to this posting from Trevor from last week.
Yes, it is almost Thursday again already.

But you know, somethings I want to write about need to sit and stew a little bit before they see the light of day. The thoughts kind of get lost in amongst everything else going on in the grey cells. Eventually, they make there way to the fingers which in turn make these letters, and then words, and sometimes paragraphs, and then you click this button and publish for all to read.

Well, some of you do. The others just have not found this yet. Someday.

This is good advice from Trevor via Mark Twain. I have not met Trevor but he must be a good guy for he likes Mark. Mark is one of America's great writers and humorists. I think I have read almost everything Mark wrote. One college course focused on his writing. That was a semester between the covers of several books that passed quickly!

Anyway, to this point. Soapbox alert.

You will know who you are as you have heard from me before on this topic. (And may still hear from me again.)

Be good to yourself.
Treat yourself with respect.
Do not put yourself down!
Do not allow others to put yourself down.

You are special.
You have many talents.
You will accomplish what you want to if you set your mind to it.

Okay, I'll get off the soapbox now. Enjoy!

"Draft" by James Hoch, Poetry Comments, Rumi

I found that Slate has a series where a poet reads one of their own poems.

Yes, I must have missed it earlier.

Oh well, the first mistake this year. :-)

Follow the link for the text and the voice!

Robert Pinsky, poetry editor for Slate, is the creator of the Favorite Poem Project. I heard him read when he was making the rounds during the Favorite Poem Project and also caught him at the Dodge Poetry Festival.

As a recent blogger, poetry holds a special interest for me.

The ability to condense thought
to some arrangement of words
that allows the reader
to dance in that same space
as the writer
although separated
is a wonderful thing!

Rumi said:
"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I'll meet you there."

Rumi was born during 1207 and passed away during 1273.
Yet, even today, his words still can transport us to a field.

Will you meet me there?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A Book Meme

From Gillian at gillianic tendencies:

A book meme, because it's quick
I got this via Memer, and thought it was a cute idea so I'm rolling with it.

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
  5. Don't search around and look for the "coolest" book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.

What I got:

"And in his secret heart, he wanted one, too."

From an excerpt of The Greyling by Jane Yolen in the collection Hey! Listen to this: Stories to read aloud by Jim Tralease.

Blogging Barriers - Time bound

Josh Hallett has some good writing on Blogging Barriers: Writing - Part 1.

I'll refer to it and the promised follow on postings when I do get stuck.

Usually, I find myself with plenty to say but not enough time to write.

Josh, are you going to address that?

I do work a "normal" job. I am not apologizing for it.
It supports my family and current lifestyle.
But requires a certain amount of time to do it justice.

Family, the house, the cars; yes, all these material things accumulated
require time to manage them.

Troy Worman has posted his "day in the life of" following the meme
of Jon Strande at Business Evolutionist.

I am working on my entry, well actually it's in two parts as
the Mon-Fri routine is much different from the Sat-Sun routine.

There was a time when I could have/would have lived a different life.
But that time is not now, nor likely to come again soon.

I am happy with what I have accomplished,
with what I can do, with what I am,
with where I am going.

I am still moving forward.
I do have goals and objectives.
Some short term, some longer.
Some easy, some stretch.

And while I do wish I had more time
I know I have the capability to manage what I have better!

Jason Kottke has taken a big step in another direction.
He announced today that he will attempt to support himself via his blog.

Jason, I applaud you for the courage to make this decision.
The check (a modest contribution to the cause) will be in the electronic system soon.
I wish you well!

So to summarize this wandering train of thought:
  • What do you do when you are stuck?
  • How do you manage your blogging time?
  • Consider supporting Jason.

Unintelligent Design - The discussion continues

Good writing over at OneGoodMove.

Be sure to include the comments in your reading.

Particularly, the series of other "intelligents" by dimossi.

Good healthy, open discussion.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Slick Trending of First Names

Thanks to Kris at Anywhere but Here for the posting.

Really slick!

Blogger Job Descriptions/Survival tools

This is a start but I am sure we can/should add to this listing by Civil Unrest. Thanks to JR Hallet for the link.

What I do here, for example, I do not consider work
hence can't have a "job description" in that sense.

The effort seems effortless at times
Mostly time consuming

Like: It is already past noon today
Half the day off is already gone
and what have I done?

Can I really describe what I have done?

The train of thought has stopped in so many stations today.

A Clear Eye



Radiant Marketing

Crossroads Dispatches

Orbit Now

and this is only a partial listing...

Evelyn ends one of her recent posts with a good quote:

Think of me as a fellow patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, could give some advise. – C.S. Lewis

Some of the reading influenced the writing.

Other pieces are still floating around
trying to stick to something
to make sense
when eventually verbalized
or wordsmithed

Like when shoveling the snow, do I call the shovels implements of war?
Leading you to believe that it is a battle with Nature.

Or do I call them tools of the craft?

For that is more like what they are:

  • the slightly curved shovel for pushing the snow aside
  • the deeply bent handle for lifting the heavy stuff without breaking my back
  • the long handled broom for clearing the cars

Shovels: tools of survival in the New England winter.

Blogging: a tool for making connections in this wired bloggable world that calls for descriptions to help the conversation, but sometimes defy description.

"The writer must be a participant in the scene, while he's writing it."
Hunter S. Thompson 1939 - 2005

The National Monument to the Forefathers; Plymouth, MA

For more information on the National Monument to the Forefathers in Plymouth, MA you can check out this:

For a full view picture taken by Paula in December, 2002.

More than a little info on

Jay Rosen has a great summary on some of the details behind the New York Times and it's deal to acquire and what it might mean for the future of the Times, archives, links, search engines... oh, I think you get the point.

Good reading here!

Founders Monument - Law

Founders Monument - Law
Originally uploaded by shersteve.
Another side of the monument, regal Law.

Yet his hand is worn perhaps by fending off attacks to twist/corrupt the law for specific purposes other than the general good of all?

or broken in accidental play that others some could call vandalism?

What do you think?

Founders Monument - Education

Founders Monument - Education
Originally uploaded by shersteve.
A side view of the monument. Education is showing the way with a book in her lap.

Yes, AJ, reading any and all books is a good thing. We need to step outside our range frequently. By stretching we learn.

Note the detail inside the seat of education. A mother holding her child's hand.

Note the photographer's point of view. Deliberately, education focused on the book with the moon in the distance.

Founders Monument - Looking up

Founders Monument - Looking up
Originally uploaded by shersteve.
Visited Plymouth, MA on Saturday with some friends up from New Jersey.

Saw Plymouth Rock of course, then went to this monument off the beaten path.

Impressive granite detail on a clear day.

Holiday Musings

It's Monday, no work today.
The stock market is closed for the holiday, President's Day.
The artificial creation of American society.
Insteading of truly celebrating Washington or Lincoln,
we pick the third Monday in February
to ensure some regularity to our breaks.
The auto dealers are going crazy with sales.

We need to remember.
To pass the knowledge on.
The real reason why.
Parents, especially to their kids.
Otherwise, they would not know why.

Snowing again here in New England.
The ground was just beginning to show itself
after the Blizzard had buried it
but it's getting covered over again.

Fresh, fluffy white stuff.
Cleansing the world.
Creating an illusion of clean, of purity.
But it's just cold
and eventually wet.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Fish News - Eat Meat - or Re-imagine?

The BBC have a news article today reflecting on a conference in Washington, DC where the conclusions are that the fish supply is declining and threatening our own survival.

Quoting from the article: Bold is my emphasis.

David Conover, of Stony Brook University in New York found a two-fold change in productivity in Atlantic silversides within just four generations of fish.

"By selectively harvesting the largest fish, we end up changing the whole biology - not only growth rates, but egg size, fecundity, feeding behaviour," he said.

"The scary part is that when we stopped size-selective harvest, the biology didn't change back, it was permanent."

Around the world, in Sri Lanka recovery from the tsunami is slow. Rebuilding their life and livelihood will take time. The fishing industry is one that has been devastated.

The Boston Sunday Globe has an article on this today:

After some initial investigation, which shows that many areas are over-fished and that mafia-like organizations control boats in many communities, some groups are balking at simply replacing what was lost.

''We think people should take a closer look at fishing and see if they can make it more sustainable and more equitable," said Scott Faiia, CARE's director in Sri Lanka. He's not sure what that would entail, but he said his group is hesitant about ''simply replacing boats that were lost."

Given the fish supply these decisions will not be easy. If the fisherman do not get their boats back what do they do? Especially in an economy that is recovering?

What would Tom Peters advise? This is a re-imagine opportunity.

AJ Hoge's writing provides thoughtful advice.

The tsunami survivors have time to figure out what to do but I suspect that they are focusing on the basics: housing, food, water for daily survival. Then closely related to these efforts, how to sustain themselves. What work is available to provide income for sustenance?

In the fisherman's case, do they switch to raising cattle to provide meat? Is this a possible switch after generations of fishing; reading the sea, following the schools of fish to the sweet catching spots.

What would you do?

Friday, February 18, 2005

NHL = No Hockey League

I would classify myself as a good sports fan but not a hockey fan yet I find it disturbing to hear that the league and players can not agree to terms and thereby have canceled the season. Why are these two parties unable to come to terms? Have they considered that unless they agree and play the other party (and this group by the way what may really be the major party to this) their fans, their market place are left out in the cold? How many season ticket holders will not renew? How many will jump into this opportunity to take their place? All this remains to be seen as the drama continues to play out.

Reading Stephen Covey's The 8th Habit while coming home from work on the train, I found one section in particular relates very well to this situation. Stephen writes:

"My experience is that if people really try to understand each other, they will, in most but not all cases, come to agree with one another. Why? Because over 90 percent of communication problems are caused by differences in semantics or perceptions. Again, semantics means the way you define words or terms. Perception means how you interpret data. Whenever people listen to each other with true empathy, that is, within the other’s frame of reference, both semantic and perceptional problems dissolve … This is because they are listening within the others frame of reference. They’re sensing how the other defines words and terms, or how the other interprets meaning and data. This puts them on the same song sheet, using the same language, which then enables them to get on with problem solving on the other 10 percent of the genuine disagreements. The spirit of mutual understanding is so affirming, so healing, so bonding that when people do discuss their disagreements, they do it in agreeable ways and usually are able to solve them either through synergy or a form of compromise."

I wonder what the real issue is in the No Hockey League?

Updated: Mark Cuban adds his financial viewpoint to this situation. Follow this link to his post and comments.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Blink - Malcolm Gladwell

Finished reading Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking coming home on the train today. Good stories, nice flow, good writing overall.

A relatively simple concept that we should understand and then trust our instinctive first impressions, snap judgments, or in Malcolm's terms "thin slices".

"... we are often careless with our powers of rapid cognition. We don't know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don't always appreciate their fragility. Taking our powers of rapid cognition seriously means that we have to acknowledge the subtle influences that can alter or bias the product of our unconscious.


... if we can control the environment in which rapid cognition takes place, we can control rapid cognition. We can prevent people fighting wars or staffing emergency rooms or policing streets from making mistakes."

I was asked if the book could be shorter? Possibly, but it certainly does not feel long. The story teller holds you gently, guides you through his passages, building his case so that you can get the point.

Nice writing, Malcolm!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Dan Bricklin's Next Big Thing

Dan Bricklin announces his new project in his blog today on the way to the DEMO conference where he will reveal more details. You can read about this in his posting.

The thing I liked about what I read was here is a good example of one of those "aha, defining moments" laid out for us in his first person voice.

"In mid-November it hit me: There are certain basic things about copyright law, computer software licenses in general, and Open Source in particular, that most developers don't know... I wondered: What type of training is there for developers today? If there isn't much, maybe I'm the right one to do it."

His research revealed that there was not much, so he has his new project underway to deliver training (via DVD) for developers to meet this need.

Isn't there something in what you do, see, hear about that could create this kind of "aha moment" for yourself?

How do YOU measure success?

AJ Hoge writes about Wat and how he is developing his jewelry business. From Phukat to Bangkok and now heading to Japan.

"He will probably start, yet again, with a blanket and a sidewalk. His brother and friends will keep the Bangkok operation going. Wat has done all this without business training. He doesn't call it a "business".. he calls it "my art". He doesn't have "employees"... he has friends & collaborating artists. He doesn't "network"... he just has tons of friends. He has no "marketing strategy", he is just an extremely likable guy who has mastered his craft. "

Jeff Jarvis posts on the Gates in Central Park that he does not get it.

"Call me a cynic. Call me a philistine. You've called me worse.
But I don't get The Gates.
Shower curtains on parade? Florida citrus product placement? Hare Krishna craziness?"

He wonders why they did not do this in June. I thought I read that they deliberately chose the bleak days of February to add some color to Central Park.

He dismisses that this display is "just art".

By Jeff's measure, the gates are a failure.

"Wat will never be a millionaire. But he is living life on his own terms and doing quite well. He's an inspiring example of a freelancing hobopoet whose "work" and "art" are one in the same thing."

By hobopoet measures, Wat is a success.

How do you measure success?

Sacred Drift & Valentine's Day

Continuing to discover the writings of AJ Hoge on Hobopoet. Good stuff. No, great stuff! I have added AJ to my blogroll. Yes, he ranks with a high recommendation to read as often as he posts.

"I prefer Hakim Bey's notion of sacred drift. One of my favorite activities is to take off in a particular direction and follow my whim. If something captures my eye-- I pursue it. If I get a whiff of something interesting.. I try to find it. This process quickly leads off the beaten path- to chance encounters and interesting surprises.

Give it a try sometime... even in your hometown. Most people move in fairly small circles and would be surprised at the weird and wonderful things that exist in their own home."

I do heed this sacred drift as I often as I can.
There is so much to explore in our own circle of life.
I am almost ashamed to admit that I know some former neighbors better then I know my next door neighbors.

I found AJ by following a link.
I could have passed it by.
So many other links do get passed over.
His writing was fresh.
There was something more than what was stated.
A tease of some passion still burning.

It is burning! He lives as a hobopoet.

This Valentine's Day, expand your world.
Take a step aside.
Follow the moment.
Share the love of this life you lead.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Fighting Words

I come away from this article in the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine with mixed feelings. As one who does like to write, the act of writing can be a release, can provide time to collect ones thoughts, structure them for consumption by others. Hence, I applaud the work underway by the National Endowment for the Arts: Operation Homecoming. I recognize this won't work for everyone. But the process should be a good start.

"To my knowledge," says NEA chairman Dana Gioia, himself a poet, "this is the only program like this in history that happened right when the event was going on."

Gioia hatched the idea for Operation Homecoming almost two years ago over drinks at a New Hampshire tavern with an old friend, Marilyn Nelson, who is Connecticut's poet laureate and the daughter of a career Air Force officer. Part of that discussion, says Nelson, "was about the course I taught at West Point, `Poetry and Meditation,' and part was about the teaching I'd done at the Joiner Center at UMass-Boston, which was founded for Vietnam vets. A lot of the vets in the program suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder - people who were waking and having screaming nightmares about things that happened 40 years ago, and I suspect that's because they didn't get them out - and several of the ideas [Gioia and I] were tossing back and forth was if it might be possible for the soldiers of this generation to avoid that by having something like what was happening in my class."

My father was a veteran of Iwo Jima as a member of the US Marines 4th Division. He did not (and still does not) like to talk much about his time there. I respect that. My daughter, Allison, had the opportunity to read Flags of Our Fathers: Heroes of Iwo Jima by James Bradley. She got me interested, very easily I would add, as I have always wanted to know more about Iwo Jima. We in turn, obtained a copy for Dad. After completing the book, he said that the real heroes of Iwo were those who did not come home.

One of the family's good friends, a long time neighbor and former classmate of Allison, is now at West Point, part of the Long Grey Line as a member of the Class of 2008. Who knows what his opportunity to serve will be when his time comes?

As Operation Homecoming continues to evolve, one can hope that the program will be an enabler for the successful return of these current day heroes.

Gates in the News

There a two gates in the news today: One, Christos' Gates in Central Park; Two, a movie project recording suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge. These gates sort of cover from the beginning to the end.

Christos' The Gates Central Park, New York 1979-2005 is the full and formal title for this new art work that is generating conversation. Googling "gates, Central Park" returned over 1.4 million references in less than 23 seconds.

A running buddy was there to see it yesterday and was thoroughly impressed with the gates. It was the highlight of her trip to the big city this week. She had just returned and talking about it carried our conversation for an easy mile. Yes, we can talk and run at the same time. These are the best kinds of runs.

I am making plans to visit the city to see this. The pictures are dramatic and yet the photography I know understates the event. The camera can not fully capture the feeling of the view, of the walk through the gates, through the park. Hopefully, if things work out, I'll get down there one of the next two weekends before the exhibit comes down (2/27/05).

The second gate in the news today is the more famous Golden Gate Bridge and its attraction as a suicide site. While the numbers are debatable, it is clear that the bridge provides some unique suicide opportunities. ''The railings are only 4 feet high. It's fast -- it only takes a four-second fall to the water -- and it's clean..." This quote is attributed to Dr. Mel Blaustein, president of the Psychiatric Foundation of Northern California.

Film maker Eric Steel set up two cameras and recorded over two dozen suicides in the course of the past year. He has plans to use the footage in a full length documentary. You can read the Boston Sunday Globe article here.

The footage has generated controversy. But I wonder if it is the footage itself, or the act recorded in the footage that is the real issue here. Americans do not like to talk about suicide. While there are many factors that lead one to end their life, I think that this is a topic that sits much higher on the taboo subject totem pole than race, politics, and how much money you make.

"Suicide is most frequently an impulsive act committed in moments of desperation, which mental health specialists say usually pass. A 1978 study by Professor Richard H. Seiden of the University of California at Berkeley tracked 515 people who had been restrained from jumping off the bridge, from its opening in 1937 to 1971. He found that 94 percent were still alive or had died from natural causes."

I applaud Steel's attempt to take this topic to a constructive discussion. He is quoted in an email as saying the documentary would ''challenge us to think and talk about suicide in profoundly different ways." I hope he follows through with this attempt.

The camera alone can not do justice to what goes on inside one's head.

The camera captures the outside, creates a perception, by capturing ones actions.

What was once an impulse and has been passionately delivered after many years in the making is now seen as the gates in Central Park.

What also was once an impulse and remains to be seen in some future cinematic event may help to open the discussion to save some lives.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

All is not always as it seems

Found Hobopoet today and I am scrolling through the February posts to catch up on AJ.

This is a good read, nice writing AJ!

Mortal Sins of Management

Troy Worman has a good posting compiling some mortal sins of management from a couple of other bloggers (Rosa at Talking Story), (Madame Haneberg of Management Craft) and adding one of his own.

I added one of my own as a comment on his posting.

Doesn't get it - refuses to listen, won't look at something unless it is in his/her acceptable format, will spend hours redoing work to get it his/her way.

Unfortunately, there are probably others.

Curt Rosengren in a posting on Worthwhile's blog envisions a series of books on the Great Mistakes. But if we follow the advice in Tom Asacker's posting today (from a comment on Tom Peters blog that recommends that we should read fewer books) this series of books will not be succeed in selling a lot of copies.

While I agree with AJ Hoge's idea in principle, I prefer to take all things in moderation. If all we do is read books, then I agree we should read less. If we read one a month, then that is probably a good thing.

However, just reading a book is not enough. It needs to be digested and discussed. Only then can the concepts it presents become understood and accepted or rejected. Tim Sanders in Love is the Next Killer App has some good advice on the process around reading a books, absorbing its ideas, sharing them, having the discussion.

Book reviews enable this discussion.
Blogging also enables this discussion.
We can relate the book to our experience, both good and bad.
There is value to figuring out what went wrong and learning from it.

How did that quote go:
Those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Read, share, learn, enjoy!

What do you think?

Friday, February 11, 2005

Singing in the Rain

Singing in the Rain is one of my all time favorite movies. There are so many good song and dance routines in it. "Good morning" "Make 'em Laugh" and of course the title song, "Singing in the Rain"

Jason Kottke has the inside scoop on a new VW Golf GTI commercial that highlights a remake of the "Singing in the Rain" scene. Check it out here

Carnival of Recipes

Getting back to basics.
It's Friday night.
The weekend is upon us.
Plans being reviewed and made.
What do we need to do, when.
What will we do for dinner?
And then there is a pause.

Yes, what will we do for dinner?
Sometimes, the smart aleck in me says "eat food".
This does not always go down so well.
Sometimes I need the spoonful of sugar
to get the bad taste of the evil glance out of my mouth.

Then we start listing the options.
Instead of providing my list, here
is a wonderful listing of recipes that you can refer to
when this point in your conversation comes up.

Thanks to Kris for compiling this color spectrum of recipes!

Doc Searls on The Experience of No Advertising

Scrolling through the blogosphere,
reading here and there,
some items catch your attention.
You'll read the full posting.

You may even click through the RSS reader
to the blog itself and read the original.

Some get you so involved, you will comment
or even go off and write on your own
to add your view point, your two cents.

Some you just nod your head and say,
I could have written that.

Here is one of those I wish I had written.
Thanks, Doc.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Goal Scoreboard

Okay, I got a little silly this morning with the Free Prize idea and the round tuit. But sometimes, all you need to get started is a little incentive, like a round tuit. Okay, so it was corny. But it works.

Another way to provide some incentive is this idea of a goal scoreboard. Thanks for the posting Steve!

Simple to implement. You need a goal of course. And it needs to be measurable. But then you can track your progress over time.

My running log provides a good way for me to keep track of the days and miles I run. Occasionally, I track the time for particular workout routes to note progress. If you don't measure it, you can't find out how you are doing. By recording the time for a route, I found that my average mile time improved by 10 second per mile over the last five months. Not bad! I still have a ways to go to get where I would like to be but I am making progress.

I do not obsess about it but it is good to check it out periodically.

What would you put on your scoreboard?

Salon on Amazon and 43 Things

Salon's Katharine Mieszkowski raises the question as to why Amazon does not want to define their relationship with 43 Things. Maybe there are legitimate business reasons for this. But there is also a hint of something else.

"Whatever plans Amazon has for the little company it is funding, it's not telling. But you can add Amazon to the list of big companies, along with Google and Microsoft, that are taking tagging seriously."

Tag, you're it! is no longer just a kids game.

The Seventh Law of Identity

Kim Cameron has continued to develop his "laws" and there has been much discussion around them. He introduces the Seventh Law today.

I hope you have been keeping up with this discussion. This will have a long term effect on us all and we have the opportunity to help influence the future now.

Google Maps

From the Google blog, I read that they are now introducing maps. I have used their search function almost daily. I like Google News. If I have a limited time for lunch at the desk, I can at least catch up on the major headlines. And now maps....

I tried it and went searching for some specific addresses; my home, my in-laws, some other key sites. The return was quick and the maps are good. I'll go further next time and look at the directions from here to there. This can be a challenge that some other map sites have not handled well. It will be interesting to see how Google does it.

What do you think?

Fat Tuesday - Free Prize Inside

Yes, today is Fat Tuesday; the traditional start of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

You want to go party but you have things to do.

Items that need to be done that you have been avoiding, now are starting to pile up.

You keep saying that you'll get a round to it but you never do.

Here is your prize today. Treat yourself. Take one of those items off the "To Do" listing!

And then go have some fun!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Super Bowl Sunday

Good run this morning with the Norfolk County Pacers. I ran two miles to the gathering point, did the three mile with the group, and then returned home for a seven mile total for the day.

Running progress has been good considering the weather. A check on my log shows that the loop I ran yesterday, for example, was at a 10 second per mile pace faster than I did five months ago. Nice work!

I have signed up for a 5K race in Foxboro for February and another 5K race in Groton for April. I have a few choices for March but have not made a decision yet.

Sitting here; writing, relaxing, and periodically turning the chicken wings in the oven enjoying the soy sauce scent drifting through the house. We'll enjoy them later as the Patriots do their thing versus the Eagles.

I hope you have an enjoyable day whether you watch the game or not!

The trouble with identity

From the Boston Sunday Globe today comes this interview by Drake Bennett with Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of a recent book from the Princeton Press: The Ethics of Identity.

As a teaser:

"IDEAS: You're well-known for writing that there's no such thing as race. What do you mean by that?

APPIAH: I'm no longer inclined to stress that way of formulating the claim, because it produces so much resistance, and I don't really care about that formulation. What I care about is getting people to see that race as a form of social identity is not the product of biologically significant ways of dividing human beings into groups.

I don't want to deny that it matters to many African Americans that they're African-American. Nor do I think it's any of my business whether it should matter to them or not. That's exactly the sort of thing that I take to be up to them.

IDEAS: There are, though, physiological differences between people whose ancestors came from different parts of the world. Doesn't that suggest some biological difference?

APPIAH: There's much more variation even within those continental populations than most people realize. If you take a characteristic like skin color, there are many biologically distinct ways of getting to look dark-skinned. Modern aborigines in Australia aren't especially closely related to modern Africans but they happen to both be, many of them, dark-skinned."

The book idea seems to be exploring the problems with the categorization/classifications we make. While it helps to simplify a discussion, the classifications can take on a life of their own. A recent example of this was the controversy around the red vs. blue states. You recall that mathematically a state was coded red or blue by whatever majority happened to take the day. A more interesting portrayal might be something akin to the Map of the Market. Here, the math behind what the market is doing graphically presents the gradations along a continuum rather than the either or depiction of red or blue. If I could do the math, I think the color of the USA map would be more purple (and shades thereof) than red/blue.

I believe I'll add this book to my reading list. I'd like to see how close I have come in this expectation.

If you have already read this book, please let me know what you think.

The Stockdale Paradox

From Bnoopy today is the recap from Good to Great by Jim Collins highlighting the conversation with Admiral James Stockdale and The Quote referred to as The Stockdale Paradox:

"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end -- which you can never afford to lose -- with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."

This quote is one of those that I believe can be read every day and still bring some freshness with it.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Friday Special - Fukitol

Chris Locke writes:

"This post has been brewing for (at least) a couple days -- these things take time, sportsfans -- and as it has developed, all sorts of odd synchronistic events and linkages have come to shape what will be, if I'm lucky and industrious, its eventual posting today. Lost you already, have I? Well then, let the longwinded explanation begin...

In yesterday's snail mail I received a package inside of which was, to my initial bewilderment, one of those 365-day desk calendar things, this one's pages consisting of quotes from that dastardly bastion of bestselling business books, Who Moved My Cheese? "

Follow the link to read the rest:

Great Customer Service & Trust to make a decision

Bit of an agrument developing around the posting by BusinessPundit on "Great Customer Service at Bed & Bath". He closes the post with:

"Update: Is this great customer service? Some people disagree."

Follow the link to CEO Blogger who argues that this is not great customer service. I can see why he has a problem.

"The problem with implementing a policy of not servicing your worst customers is that you can't really trust low level employees to make that distinction. And you don't want the word to get out to your customers. Therefore a company is best served by erring on the side of too much customer service, leaving decisions to cut off money-losing customers to management.

You, as CEO, should have created a work system such that your low level employees are fully capable and trusted to make that distinction.

Yes, 20% of your customers provide 80% of your profits. So how do you grow? You get customers to talk about the good service you provide so that more customers come and buy stuff.

Is your customer relationship system such that you can instantly identify the customer who is your profitable 20%'er? or your not so profitable 80%'er? If you can, great. If you can't, you need to treat them all the same.

By focusing on your employees, your most valuable assets, providing them with the systems, process, and training, and of course, hiring the right people in the first place, then you should be able to trust them to make the distinction. When you do that, they have a vested interest in the company, their goals and objectives are aligned to drive the bottom line, then you should have no problem. The people on your front lines will do very well for you (and the company, and themselves, and your customers).

Your choice.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Seth has a series on the Great Job

Seth Godin has a series on the Great Job. You can find parts one, two and three.

But don't go away just yet, I need to provide my two cents. :)

One of the things I am passionate about is the wow experience, the great project, the great job. I am fortunate to have had several good ones and others that, at a minimum, have provided great earning experiences for the next step. FireCaptain Bob, a motivational speaker I heard at a Help Desk Institute Conference a couple of years ago, said that if you were not on vacation you should be planning your next one. This is good advice for one who lives in a stressful environment.

I would paraphrase his advice to say we really should be planning for our next job while we are working hard (and smartly) on this one.

You can do that by defining who you are; by knowing and accepting the person you see in the mirror. By defining your reason to be. Answering the question: Why do I exist?

Once defined, you need to establish your network. Who do you know? What do they do? Who do they know? It can be as easy as the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Then do something special. Be a purple cow.

Once the network is enabled, you can let the net work.

Evelyn - Heart Break Open

Good honest from the heart writing. Follow this link to read about Evelyn's turning point.

Evelyn, when one door closes another opens. I am glad that you have found The Door.

Those who find this blog and your writing will be able to share the goodness of the heart you have opened to the writer you will be.

I look forward to following the word stream. It should be quite a journey!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Back to the basics: Why do you exist?

Another good posting from Evelyn:

"You must first answer: Why do you exist? and then live it. Be clear in purpose and its resonant expression follows. An invitation that stems from purpose and conviction is unmistakable and unshakable in its alluring draw. "

The bold is mine for emphasis to help drive the point home.

So why do you exist?

To have fun in this world.
To make some money.
To keep up with the Joneses.
To beat the Joneses.
To ________________.

You need to fill in the blank.

Evelyn gets this apple

Leave it to Evelyn Rodriguez to decode the hype on the recent announcement that Apple had dethroned Google as the numero uno brand.

Evelyn, nice writing!

Read it all here.

Custer State Pk - Road Sign

Custer State Pk - Road Sign
Originally uploaded by shersteve.
Deep into a cold and very white New England winter, on a day when the press is talking about some small animal's shadow, my thought turns briefly to a warmer time when we did look for the cool comfort of a shade tree. So I found this picture of large animals checking out their own grazing shadows on a summer's day in Custer State Park, South Dakota. Think warm!

Bloggers as migrant knowledge workers

Chris Locke has an interesting (as usual) twist on bloggers in this posting. Good writing hence good reading! Enjoy!

Mark has good advice

Mark Cuban has good advice for those interesting in sports marketing.

1. Don't major in Sports Marketing
2. If you can sell, you can get a job - anywhere, anytime

and he answers a very important question: What makes a good sales person?

"The best salesperson is the one the customer trusts and never has to question.
The best salesperson is the one who knows that with every cold call made, they are closer to helping someone.
The best salesperson is the one who takes immense satisfaction from the satisfaction their customer gets."

You can read the full posting here.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

GMAIL accounts for Bloggers

Yes, I am going to continue the viral marketing effort now that I have my own account and have been enabled to offer three gmail accounts to "friends".

If you would like a gmail account, are a blogger, and have a compelling reason, I'll provide three accounts to the first three that meet these requirements.