Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cultural Offering's Big Move

Cultural Offering, a truly great blog and daily read, has a new address. I think most of the heavy lifting has been done and Kurt's sitting on boxes, drinking beer, and wondering where to put the lamps.


Things Like That.

See more of Comically Vintage here.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Wally Bock: By and about leaders.
The Hammock Papers has an important thought by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Sippican Cottage, who knows furniture making, looks at "Un Trabajo Feliz."
Political Calculations looks at the real estate market.
Crazy Russian Hacker on how to cook bacon.
FutureLawyer features a persuasive case for coffee.
NSFW: Hold on. Eugene McCarthy had a fund-raiser at a Playboy Club?
Portland overreaction: This could make a great episode of "Portlandia."
Blondie: "Sunday Girl" and "Dreaming."
Chief Executive: 5 growth opportunities.

When Virtues Stray

Virtues, when taken to an extreme, can become faults. Some examples:

  • The selfless may become passive martyrs.
  • The analytical may become reclusive and indecisive.
  • The creative may become scattered and without focus.
  • The diplomatic may become timid and even cowardly.
  • The knowledgeable may become arrogant and impatient.

10 Danger Signs for Teams

  1. Lack of openness
  2. Lack of intellectual diversity
  3. Information-hoarding
  4. Lack of cooperation
  5. Malicious gossip
  6. Conflicting goals
  7. Indifference to priorities
  8. Lack of urgency
  9. Disloyalty
  10. Lack of accountability

Quote of the Day

The difference between what we are doing and what we're capable of doing would solve most of the world's problems. 

- Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Today is Shakespeare's Birthday

The man was a genius. 

Two brief examples from "Julius Caesar" and "Henry V."

Proof of Rectitude

Years ago the romance of Spanish history was the great passion of my life. The grand old viceroys of Mexico, from the days of Cortez downward, were such a splendid set of marauders - so fired with chivalry, lust, and fanaticism; so wildly visionary to conceive, and so daring to execute - that, upon a general review of their exploits, which so long furnished food for my imagination, it is a matter of the most profound astonishment to myself that I have never turned my attention to piracy or highway robbery. No stronger proof of innate rectitude could possibly exist. 

- J. Ross Browne, 1871

"Continental Kits"

Car Style Critic looks at a variety of spare tire spots from the 1950s.

Life Has Become Complicated

Situation: Some people have reported that Ed has misbehaved. It's nothing earth-shaking but it could create some team problems.

Modern Approach: HR is contacted. An investigator is appointed. Witness meetings are scheduled and Ed is questioned. All is carefully considered and noted. There is a lot of back-and-forth within HR. Weeks pass. Conclusions are reached. The organization's attorney reviews the material and tweaks the wording of a written reprimand.  Ed is given the reprimand and told never to do that again. A copy is placed in his file. Ed goes back to work and doesn't do it again. 

Underlying concern: Fear of future problems and legal complications.

Old Approach: Ed's supervisor hears about the problem late in the morning and that afternoon calls Ed in and explains the situation. Ed hems and haws and says that he might have perhaps done something sort of like what was described but he didn't do all of it and he didn't mean to cause any trouble. The supervisor says, "Don't do that again." Ed goes back to work and doesn't do it again. 

Underlying concern: Getting the job done.


Back by popular demand: The management classic by Arthur Elliott Carlisle.

This should be required reading for all managers.

First Paragraph

I was nine years old when I met my father. His name was M. C. Thomas, and my birth certificate describes him as a "laborer." My mother divorced him in 1950 and he moved north to Philadelphia, leaving his family behind in Pinpoint, the tiny Georgia community where I was born. I saw him only twice when I was young. The first time was when my mother called her parents, with whom my brother Myers and I then lived, and told them that someone at her place wanted to see us. They called a cab and sent us to her housing-project apartment, where my father was waiting. "I am your daddy," he told us in a firm, shameless voice that carried no hint of remorse for his inexplicable absence from our lives. He said nothing about loving or missing us, and we didn't say much in return - it was as though we were meeting a total stranger - but he treated us politely enough, and even promised to send us a pair of Elgin watches with flexible bands, which were popular at the time. Though we watched the mail every day, the watches never came, and when a year or so had gone by, my grandparents bought them for us instead. My father had broken the only promise he ever made to us. After that we heard nothing from him, not even a Christmas or birthday card. For years my brother and I would ask ourselves how a man could show no interest in his own children. I still wonder.  

- From My Grandfather's Son: A Memoir by Clarence Thomas

The Reminder

First and foremost, they are not numbers, applicants, test takers, candidates, team members, associates or employees. They are people with dreams, goals, fears, joys, worries, talent, pride, and families. 

Any personnel or management system that glosses over that fact is dangerous.

Quote of the Day

Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it is awfully hard to get it back in. 

- H.R. Haldeman

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Instant Flashback

Eclecticity Light (who else?) has a nostalgia rush for all car lovers.

Office Fashion

A horror story in Fortune magazine: Dress yoga pants?

Avoiding Bitterness

With the passage of time, I become more convinced that dwelling on past slights or injustices is one of the greatest mistakes which individuals, groups, and nations can make. Nothing positive is achieved. No great insights are revealed. All it does is to make us bitter and bitterness increases unhappiness. Although the objects of our ire have gone off to new experiences, we turn ourselves into angry prisoners. Our cells are events which may have taken place decades ago. 

Our attitude, exhibited in a pout here and a snide remark there, poisons the atmosphere around us. That bitterness can kill careers, teams, and friendships. It can also scare off a lot of fine people who would otherwise like to know us. Who wants to be around bitter people?

Catch yourself when bitterness taps at your door. Life is too short to squander time pondering and re-pondering unchangeable negatives. 

Get on with the good. Leave your ghosts behind.

Life with a Hummingbird Nest

I remarked to my family, "There's a large hummingbird that flies inside the patio. That's odd because they usually stick to the yard area."

And then I found the nest.

It is atop one of the patio lights which is connected to the patio ceiling; a good spot to avoid predators and provide shelter. The nest seems sturdy but, not surprisingly, it is small. I later learned that hummingbirds use spider webs to secure their nests and perhaps to provide elasticity. [Here's a video of the process.]

The mother alone tends the eggs and usually there are only two. We're giving the nest a wide berth and hope that all works out.

And it is cuter than cute.

There are Rules and There are Rules

Is it a real rule that must be obeyed or one which can be ignored if it is inconvenient or the violator is popular or on our side or has somehow turned the breaking of the rule into a benefit for us? Does it conflict with another rule? Does it reflect what the organization hoped to achieve when the rule was adopted? How much support does it have? Will it create many enemies if enforced?

Never assume that a rule will be enforced.

Quote of the Day

The shelf life of the modern hardback writer is somewhere between the milk and the yogurt. 

- Calvin Trillin

Monday, April 21, 2014

Music Break

Back by popular demand: Mark Isham with "A Tale of Two Cities."

Happiness Recipe

Cultural Offering recommends charcoal therapy. I see no serious argument to the contrary.

Bios and Auto-Bios

The Telegraph gives its list of the 20 best autobiographies and biographies of all time.

I'll take liberties and add in no particular order:
  1. Chronicles of Wasted Time by Malcolm Muggeridge
  2. John Adams by David McCullough
  3. Inside The Third Reich by Albert Speer
  4. The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro
  5. Silent Missions by Vernon Walters
  6. Churchill by Lord Moran
  7. Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson
  8. Primo Levi: A Life by Ian Thomson
  9. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
  10. The Oak and the Calf by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

When It's Cold Again

I don't care about the dimming of my eyes and the ringing in my ears; the stabbing pain like a rebuke, the residue of blows unseen and unprovoked; the passing of the seasons like palings in a picket fence as you drive down the street. I just don't want the referee to count ten before I prove he wasn't a fool to hope after all.

Read all of it at Sippican Cottage where it is as good as it gets.

Art Break: KIrchner

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Ernst Kirchner.

Life with Google Glass

There he was in his Google Glass, which, if you’re a shut-in who’s escaped the last two years of unremitting hype, is Google’s foray into wearable face computers. Not yet released to the public (it’s currently in its beta phase, and is in the hands of developers, “Glass Explorers,” and tech-world beautiful people, such as they are), Glass essentially puts a smartphone, including camera, videorecorder, and Internet, on your eye. The Glasshole, as the Glass-wearing elect are now commonly called, stood there in his lensless frames. Or not so much frames, as a titanium bar draped across his brow, to which is affixed a rectangular three-quarter-inch LED display over one eye, and a colorful plastic “touchpad” arm that rests over one ear and also holds the circuitry. Curiosity-seekers, ooohing-and-ahhhing, thronged like he was a carnival exhibit. A Glassholier-than-thou shadow crept over his countenance, his facial muscles toggling between smugness and self-consciousness. As with most Glassholes, it wasn’t entirely clear if he was wearing Glass, or Glass was wearing him.

Read the rest of Matt Labash in The Weekly Standard.

How's the Weather?

In some departments, the weather is mild while others are in a deep freeze or subject to frequent storms. All can suffer erosion and, over time, high mountains can be reduced to hills, plains or even canyons. The weather can encourage people to meet or to hide, to travel or to stay put, and can shut down communication. In some places the conditions are constant but their opposites see changes within minutes.

Leaders can cause an organization's climate and that ability operates for good or bad. Tucked within a company in which the overall environment is hostile, one may find an oasis or a cozy nook that is hospitable and even highly desirable. 

Whenever you see that, you know a leader has made a positive difference by building the power of "We" and limiting the influence of "They."

Quote of the Day

What's the opposite of diversity? University! 

- Kate McMillan

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Past Passovers

The Huffington Post has a fascinating collection of historical Passover photos from around the world.

A Long Week

David Kanigan has the video evidence.

On Film and The Passion

Mark Steyn looks back on The Passion of The Christ:

The headline on the Washington Post review summed it up: "'Passion' Is A Gory Take On A Gentle Teacher's Violent End". Somebody's confusing their Gospel with Godspell. A few days before the "violent end", the gentle teacher had been hurling tables around in the temple. And, even if you overlook the rough stuff, rhetorically Christ was as forceful as He was gentle.


A music video by the future governor of California.

Poetry and Gargoyle

View From the Ledge knows how to take a trip:

Then off on our last leg up to Troy where we spent the weekend with family. We reserved a morning where the Brunette and I could go out on our own and seek out old barns to wander around and photograph. Then north a few more miles up to DogEars Books where we met the owner out in the balding parking lot in front of the barn. He asked – as always – if we were looking for anything in particular and I mentioned two poetry books I left on the shelves during our last visit. “You know where they are then,” he said.

Lawyer in Shorts

Althouse describes the case of a lawyer who tried to appear in court while wearing shorts. The clothing choice was due to a medical condition.

I side with the lawyer but a toga would have been a much better choice..

Entertainment Break

The trailers for:

Yard Work

All is timed. I can get one lawn done this morning before showering and going to the barber. Can't start too early or I'll wake the slugs although this neighborhood has few of them. [I suspect that the lawyer across the street goes to work at 4 a.m.]

Made a dent in the back yard last night as it was getting dark. The dog ran around like a maniac and I had to keep an eye on her because she's still new and does not seem to be mower-wary. We had irrigation several days back and she didn't let the water interfere with her running; indeed, found joy in the splashing. 

I had forgotten the odor of wet dog.

There was a long blog post which I'd intended to have up this morning but it needs marinating.

More to come.

Quote of the Day

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change, until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds. 

- R.D. Laing

Friday, April 18, 2014

The All-American Music Map

At Eclecticity Light, of course.

[But what about Classical? If you want to be a real rebel, listen to classical music. Push hard against the times.]

Talk to the Wrist

The latest from FutureLawyer on SmartWatches. [Start at the bottom and work your way up to get the complete evolution of the story.]

1938 Studebaker

Car Style Critic looks at the headlight options. Personally, I like the price in the above ad.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Wally Bock: By and about leaders.
SquawkPoint features five TED talks.
Kirsten Powers on the attacks on Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Jay Carney inadvertently exposes a weak press corps.
The Strategic Learner has four questions about learning.
George Will reviews Timothy Sandefur's book on the Constitution.
Ryan Kearney with a profile of Anthony Bourdain.

Management Training

Cultural Offering is planning for training and the course material is excellent.


There are days when the one at Anderson Layman's Blog seems plausible.

Biking, Walking, and Danger

At Vox: The deadliest U.S. cities for biking or walking.

I notice that Phoenix and Mesa are the most dangerous ones for biking. Since Mesa is pretty much in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, consider combining the numbers.

This is one of those studies, however, where you wonder what's behind the numbers; e.g. which incidents are counted and which are excluded. If John Doe has a heart attack while walking, is that counted? Are motorcycles included?

Good Friday

At The Huffington Post: The origins, observances, and fasting rules.

A trailer for "The Passion of The Christ."

The Group

The group is a collection of personalities and factions with personalities and the group itself has a personality and the factions can shift. The circumstances affecting each of those personalities can also change, sometimes enormously. Consider your own situation and there's a lot going on.

Always remember the chemistry.

Quote of the Day

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. 

- Anonymous