Monday, November 30, 2015

Miscellaneous and Fast

Mari-Claire Alain: Organist.
Manufacturing: How rubber bands are made.
The trailer for "Climate Hustle."
Get moving: Post-Thanksgiving work-out.
Financial Times: Liberal intolerance.
The trailer for "A Streetcar Named Desire."

Art Break: Freud

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Lucian Freud.

The Future of Libraries

Ben Schiller at Fast Company explores the future of libraries

My quick reaction: A raised eyebrow. 

Any time I see the word "collaborative" I want more details. Is there a "wow" item?

Music Break

Anderson Layman's Blog has the annual Iron Butterfly extravaganza.

Quickly name three songs by Iron Butterfly. 

Me neither.

On the other hand, it is better to have one memorable song than no songs at all.

Increasing the Difficulty

Consider this question when tackling a project: "Am I making this harder than need be?"

Is your natural tendency to simplify or to complicate?

In my case, I have to fight against unneeded complication. Either tendency can create problems.

Catch - and correct - your tendencies.

Phineas Finn

There is so much wisdom in Anthony Trollope's Phineas Finn that I regret not having read it as a young man.


I've had some complications in my recovery but see the doctor today. Am taking things slowly.

Bear with me.

Quote of the Day

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years. 

- Bill Gates

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Off the Grid

I have to tend to some bothersome medical issues. Back soon.

Different Realms

Most of our struggles and conflicts in life involve good people who happen to disagree with our perspective on a particular matter.

They are not evil. The sad news, however, is that good people - and let's throw ourselves in that pool - are capable to doing some pretty shabby things; a fact that needs to be remembered more often.

The evil individuals, of course, are in an entirely different realm but are not on a different planet. There is a road connecting their realm to our own world.

It runs in both directions and the trip to and fro can be made quickly.

Quote of the Day

An inexhaustible good nature is one of the most precious gifts of heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought, and keeping the wind smooth and equable in the roughest weather. 

- Washington Irving

Friday, November 27, 2015

Music Break

Simon and Garfunkel with "The Boxer."

Crossed Pens

Writing in Commentary, the extraordinary Joseph Epstein explores literary rivalries.

You will smile.

And here's the link for Clive James's "The Book of my Enemy Has Been Remaindered."

Film Break

The trailers for:

"At Least He Did Something"

"At least he (or she) did something."

That's a very low bar. It may even be a counter-productive one because it assumes that any action is better than none and that a policy of inaction would not have ultimately produced far superior results.

  • Neville Chamberlain? "At least he did something."
  • The Bay of Pigs? "At least he did something."

When you explore many of the "did something" moments you find that the bold action made matters worse.

Now I'm as action-oriented as most Americans. I like to see things moving along and am not in love with paralysis-by-analysis. At the same time, action for action's sake is seldom a good move. Later, when reality begins to intervene, you'll hear the "At least he or she did something" excuses.

Don't buy them. 

Secretary of State George Shultz used to urge, "Don't just do something, stand there." 

My own advice would be, "Do something wise but recognize that may mean sitting tight. Don't succumb to the temptation to do something so you can later say you did something. Action for action's sake is the policy of someone looking for an alibi, not the measured action of a real leader who seeks real progress."

Art Break: Schiele

Art Contrarian looks at the "nicer" paintings of Egon Schiele.

Good Company

There is something about sharing a fine meal with your family even if Old Dad's midsection is bound by a giant device that looks like an ACME rubber band in the Roadrunner cartoons.

Good stories, laughter, and a dog nearby to remind us of higher responsibilities.

Thanksgiving is a truly great holiday.

Quote of the Day

Character, not circumstances, make the person. 

- Booker T. Washington

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Dog Keeps Her Own Counsel

Phoenix, Thanksgiving Day, 2015.

Appalachian Spring

A memorable introduction and performance by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Happy Thanksgiving

May all blessings be counted. May all calories be ignored.

Quote of the Day

Gluttony is not a secret vice. 

- Orson Welles

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Still Another Music Break

The Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra with the overture to Barber's "The School for Scandal."

Music Break

1939: Marian Anderson sings at the Lincoln Memorial.

Talent and grace.

Nostalgic Meandering

The story of "Over the River and Through the Wood."

I recall singing this in grade school. In subsequent versions, grandfather got dropped from the lyrics, probably by communists.

Special treat: Proof that you can find anything on the Internet.

Health Food Update

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls | The Pioneer Woman

The Pioneer Woman shows how to make Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

Well Said

It is one o'clock in the morning. I have at least two more hours of studying to do, and I am struggling to stay alert by gulping coffee that was cold at midnight.

My friend Steven warned me before I came here that most of my classmates would be former engineers, consultants, and financial analysts, people who knew who to work with numbers. "Then there'll be a few students with flaky backgrounds like yours," he said. "Poets. You know, people who've never done anything real for a living."

Today this poet sat through all three of his classes feeling utterly lost, then went to the library and studied "utility maximization" models for two hours but still couldn't do the problem. Finally, I gave up and went to the campus bookstore. When I picked up a book I recognized, the Divine Comedy, I flipped to the canto in which Dante finds himself standing at the gates of the inferno, looking up at the inscription:


That's me all right, I thought. A poet in hell.

- From Snapshots From Hell: The Making of an MBA by Peter Robinson

Coconut Prejudice

Althouse: In a stylish form of complaint, a man sends 240 coconut-covered donuts to the police.

I thought his note was well-done but am perplexed at the prejudice against coconut donuts.

BTW: The donuts were donated to the Salvation Army.



This brief video clip should be on a running loop in every student union in America.

Is There a "Release the Hounds" Option?

FutureLawyer looks at the Ring Video Doorbell; a rather nifty product that allows you to be in Rangoon and see who's at your front door in Walla Walla.

Singing Songs of Love

The Hurdy Gurdy Man is at Anderson Layman's Blog.

Just in time to memorize it for your completely unsolicited Thanksgiving dinner solo.

Missing in Action

The team had passion, energy, and intelligence. 

Unfortunately, those qualities simply enabled them to make a lot of mistakes very quickly.

They needed sound judgment.

Sound judgment is boring at times but very nice to have around.

Quote of the Day

Seek out that particular mental attitude which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, "This is the real me," and when you have found that attitude, follow it. 

- William James

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Customer Service and Mrs. Smith

A short video of former Phoenix fire chief Alan Brunacini on customer service. 

Brunacini is an old friend and a legend in the fire service. One of his concepts is a fictitious customer named "Mrs. Smith." You'll hear some Mrs. Smith references in the video.


The idea is a river fed by small streams. I could see the connections and its nature but was unclear as to its direction and its boundaries until this morning when I was lying in bed and could jot down the governing premise.

I've been looking at the river for years but could not see it through the fog.

That happens more than we realize.

More on this later.

News You Can Use

Althouse points to a toilets around the world slide show.

Don't pretend you don't want to check it out.

Insert Brilliant Post Here

Make it sharp and pithy. Approach a topic in a new way or remind people of something they may have forgotten. Evoke a strong desire to forward the message to others.

Oh yes, put the text beneath a picture of an attractive person even if the photo is only slightly related to the topic.

Go back to bed.

Quote of the Day

Within you right now is the power to do things you never dreamed possible. This power becomes available to you just as soon as you can change your beliefs. 

- Maxwell Maltz

Monday, November 23, 2015


Leo Rosten and Friedrich Hayek discussing democracy, special interests, and dictatorships.

Recovery Monday

Glued up. Taped up. Cleaned up.

Aside from occasional exhaustion, I'm ready for the week.

Or at least for the day.

This does not come without difficulties. In order to avoid nursing duties, my wife fell and broke her arm on the day I returned from the hospital. 

Impeccable timing but since I'm a world-class tripper I can hardly find fault.

We've since adopted a mutual recovery alliance and monitor each other's progress. The children have been particularly helpful via frequent visits to keep the house in order. The dog is eager to see us shift back into full elderly retainer mode. 

My condition is far more serious and deserves far greater sympathy and support - the sort normally given to royalty - so I've suggested a formula to apportion assistance fairly.

"I wish only to please" is one of the key phrases.

My wife finds this highly amusing. She's already on the mend.

Quote of the Day

Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy. 

- Anne Frank