Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Want the Boom Lift

CoolTools reviews some of the really neat tools that you can rent.

Music Break

Sinead O'Connor: "She Moved Through The Fair."

Beautiful Indeed

This post at Cultural Offering on the advantage of reading text on paper instead of a screen makes sense to me. I really like my Kindle and enjoy reading articles online, but let's get serious: The printed page connects in a special way and an old book can be a work of art.

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Night Short Story

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving.

Be Kinder Than Necessary

If you think the other person's life is a "day at the beach"'re probably wrong.

Sam Steiger, R.I.P.

Former Congressman Sam Steiger, one of the most colorful and refreshingly candid politicians in American history, has died. An excerpt from The Arizona Republic article:

Political consultant Joyce Downey, a longtime friend of Steiger, business partner and campaign aide, said he was one of the smartest and funniest men she'd ever met. He was from a different era, she said, where elected officials spoke their minds, regardless of how it might play with voters.

She recalled a campaign swing through Green Valley during the 1990 gubernatorial primary. If he were elected governor, a woman asked Steiger, what would he do about overdue library books?

"Ma'am, I have never given it one thought and I never intend to," Steiger replied.


This is one medical problem I'll never have.

[HT: Drudge Report]


From The Album Cover Art Gallery.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Jimmy Carter's old pollster Pat Caddell on the gross misconduct of the press.
The trailer for "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."
Comedian Adam Carolla on luck and hard work.
The trailer for "Swordfish."
View From the Ledge has the infinite test.
The trailer for "Robot & Frank."

Losing History

I recall listening to a conversation between a couple of neighbors when I was in elementary school. One neighbor had served on an American naval destroyer in the Pacific during the Second World War. The other neighbor, a German immigrant, had been in the Hitler Youth and then joined the German Navy. They talked about one event and another as if discussing a ball game. Their tone could have been taken from a documentary. I didn't ask as many questions as I should have. I was a kid and they were adults and no doubt I missed much of what was said.

Both men are dead now.

The Second World War generation is dying out. With each instance where the person's story was unrecorded, we have lost a bit of history.

Quote of the Day

Shot some fish in a barrel today. Surprisingly difficult.

- Norm Macdonald

Friday, September 28, 2012

Music Break

The opening music in the "John Adams" soundtrack.

"The Jetsons"

From the very first scene of the first episode we learn precisely how difficult the people of the future have it. Jane Jetson is standing in front of a flat panel “3D” TV and conducting a strenuous workout — of her fingers. Of course, we’re meant to laugh at the fact that people of the year 2062 are living in the lap of luxury needing only push a button to accomplish what used to take hours, but it was also a subtle jab to those viewers at home who may complain about how difficult life is when all the modern conveniences of 1962 were at their disposal.

Paleofuture is going to looking at every episode from the first season.

The Techie in Florida

I have vowed not to purchase anything tech-related until checking out what the noted FutureLawyer says. His blog is stunning in its coverage. Miss it at your peril.

Miscellaneous and Fast

Wally Bock on The Player-Coach.
Hollywood does the Middle East.
In Germany: A taxi driver, a camera, and an unusual art exhibition.
The trailer for "Won't Back Down."
The Elizabeth Warren case: What constitutes unauthorized practice of law?
Art Contrarian looks at Dublin Nouveau.
The trailer for "Looper."
Walter Russell Mead reviews the latest book on Richard Holbrooke.

Rating the Speaking Skills of the Candidates

I coach people and teach workshops on how to make presentations. [There is even a modest book on the subject that should be on every manager's book shelf.]

It would be unreasonable to expect me to resist evaluating the speaking skills of the presidential and vice presidential candidates. For what it's worth, here's my take. Keep in mind that I'm addressing delivery and not substance.

  • Barack Obama. Set speech delivery usually runs from Good to Excellent. The delivery of the on-the-stump and informal talks is Mediocre and sometimes even Poor. I cannot understand his frequent use of the teleprompter. He does not use that tool well and it frequently causes his body language to resemble that of a spectator at a tennis match.
  • Mitt Romney. Set speech delivery is Good to Very Good. I've heard him give one speech that I'd put in the Excellent category but his delivery tends to be more workmanlike. Slightly better than Obama at the use of a teleprompter, but that's not saying much. Both of them should scrap it.
  • Obama and Romney are rather reserved. When they try to be otherwise, it just doesn't ring true. [By the way, I deduct points whenever a highly educated speaker starts dropping "g"s. That is an insult to the audience.]
  • Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. I'd rate both of these gentlemen above Obama and Romney when it comes to delivery for one reason: Their delivery, both in manner and body language, comfortably matches their personalities. [Each delivered better speeches at their party conventions than their running mates.] Unlike Obama, Biden's informality comes across as genuine and not forced. The same could be said of Ryan vis-a-vis Romney although whereas Biden turns loose a combination of ward politician/regular guy persona, Ryan unleashes his inner nerd. You half-expect Biden to pour you a drink and Ryan to whip out a calculator and start scribbling on a napkin. That's good because it seems to fit who they really are.
  • Overall advice to each of them: Drop any technique that creates a barrier between you and the audience. Don't be afraid of letting people know you, not in some Oprahesque disclosure but in the sense of giving them a reasonable idea of what you would be like if they spent some time with you. For all of their time on the public stage, they seem to revert to their previous respective occupations; law school lecturer and management consultant. Those jobs are their comfort zone.
  • Debate suggestion that will not be adopted: Have the presidential and vice presidential face-offs in a living room setting where they just talk about the issues for three hours. No questions from moderators. They are given a broad topic and then can be as vague or as specific as they choose. I believe that would be very revealing with regard to depth and personality.
  • Updated on 9/2912.

Ambushed by Clarity

A brief conversation with a doctor about ethics. Great guy. Highly competent.

While walking from his office to my car, I thought of a way to simplify a concept that I've taught in leadership and ethics workshops for years. I jotted the points on a note card and refined them on the trip home. It was remotely connected with what the doctor and I had discussed but somehow the conversation triggered the thought.

Clarity is out there, waiting to be tripped over.

Quote of the Day

The guy who invented the first wheel was an idiot. The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius. 

- Sid Caesar

Thursday, September 27, 2012

News You Can Use

Chocolate + snails = Smarter snails. Probably happier ones too.

First Paragraph

An old French engraving survives from the early seventeenth century. It is a battle-print, at first glance like many others in European print shops. We look again, and discover that it shows a battle in North America, fought between Indian nations four centuries ago. The caption reads in old French, "Deffaite des Yroquois au Lac de Champlain," the "Defeat of the Iroquois at Lake Champlain," July 30, 1609.

- From Champlain's Dream by David Hackett Fischer

Hold the Grits

At Shape: Dr. Mike Roussell on seven foods a nutritionist would never eat.

The Pictures They Choose

An example of why people are wary of the media. I'd love to hear their explanations.

Truth Beckons

Great stuff, as always, at Eclecticity. [Where does he find this stuff?]

The Decision

"Did he have an impressive record of experience in your area?"
"No, it was sparse. But we hired him because we thought he had promise."
"Do you normally hire executives on the basis of promise?"
"Never, but the oral board was really enthusiastic about this guy."
"So he talked a good game."
"Well, yes, he did. He talked a great game."
"And things didn't turn out so well."
"Business has been terrible. He's in over his head. He still talks well, but...."
"So when did you show him the door?"
"We haven't done that yet. You know, we keep hoping that he'll turn things around."
"And you think he needs coaching on decision making?"
"I think you are the ones who need coaching on decision making."

Some Morning Greatness

At Cultural Offering: Glenn Gould and Bach. Need I say more?

Open Heart Cowboy

Note the flags in the background. A Franco-American alliance!

[HT: Suzanne and Fred Stork]

"The Architecture of Evil"

Someone designed the furnaces of the Nazi death camps. Someone measured the size and weight of a human corpse to determine how many could be stacked and efficiently incinerated within a crematorium. Someone sketched out on a drafting table the decontamination showers, complete with the fake hot-water spigots used to lull and deceive doomed prisoners. Someone, very well educated, designed the rooftop openings and considered their optimum placement for the cyanide pellets to be dropped among the naked, helpless men, women, and children below. This person was an engineer, an architect, or a technician. This person went home at night, perhaps laughed and played with his children, went to church on Sunday, and kissed his wife goodbye each morning.

Read the rest of Roger Forsgren's article in The New Atlantis.

Quote of the Day

I am at two with nature.

- Woody Allen

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Simplicity The Far Side of Complexity

Here's a reason why so many of us read Nicholas Bate every day.

Those Wild and Crazy Dutch

Some pranksters glued a new iPhone to an Amsterdam sidewalk. Hilarity ensued.

[I guess you had to be there.]

Art Break: Yeats

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Jack Butler Yeats.

Nose to the Grindstone

The Onion: Office cheers as co-worker does 32-minute nonstop work streak.

The Wilderness

Whenever I learn about exceptional leaders who have spent time "in the wilderness" - remote places that would offer little chance for advancement - I wonder about two things: what the world would be like if they had not escaped their exile and how many others, of equal or greater talent, did not do so.

These questions have been renewed while reading the fascinating Brothers, Rivals, Victors by Jonathan W. Jordan. The book traces the rise and relationships of Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley and it is filled with many "What might have happened?" moments. Their salvation was General George C. Marshall, the extraordinary leader who was himself rescued from relative  obscurity by the wily FDR. President Roosevelt recognized that Marshall was exactly the sort of talent needed to prepare the American armed forces for war. Marshall himself was an astute observer of talent and his willingness to clear the way for the decidedly different personalities of Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley as well as for other officers of great promise was, by itself, a major contribution to the security of the United States and the winning of the Second World War.

That willingness requires a sensitivity to the importance of fitting the right person with the right job. It is not as common as one might suspect, especially in a world in which we seem more inclined to let bureaucratic systems determine such matters. Marshall and his team beat the bureaucracy and we all benefited.

Look at your own organization. Who are the talented people "in the wilderness?" What's being done to rescue them?


Tanmay Vora reviews the new book on blogging by Rajesh Setty. You can download it at no charge.

Quote of the Day

Running a business is like managing a flowing river.

- Philip B. Crosby

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Because Everyone Needs a Cookie

While we're on the subject of food, The Pioneer Woman shows how to make your own slice-and-bake cookie dough. She also has a flashback:

I love slice-and-bake cookie dough because it reminds me of the times during my freshman year in college that my dorm friends and I would buy tubes of the storebought stuff and eat it straight out of the tubes with plastic spoons. I have no idea why I put on fifteen pounds that year.

True Gourmets Quake this news report.

75 for Your Career

Jacquelyn Smith at Forbes lists the top 75 web sites for your career.

Black and White and Not Read All Over

Rob Long has a candid opinion on newspaper advertising revenue.

Old Loves and Panic Attacks

James Lileks remembers some old loves at The Bleat. An excerpt:

You walk outside at noon and you almost melt with happiness: the warmth has returned like a girlfriend in college who broke up with you but missed you and showed up one day, ready to twist your heart like a wet towel for a few weeks before deciding “no, I was right the first time,” and all her friends agreed, because it’s more interesting to talk about new affairs.

Ideas, Opportunities, and Choosing Well

Tim Berry on the difference between ideas and opportunities. An excerpt:

Remember displacement … recognize that you can’t do everything. You want your plan to help you focus in on the best opportunities among your longer list of ideas.

Yes, It's Related to "Ice Cream Sandwich"

Things you pretend to know but might not: The definition of "jelly bean."

Mean Green Listening Machine: eco-amp 2.0

As is well-known, this site is cutting edge when it comes to technology.

Check out the eco-amp 2.0 iPhone speaker amplifier.

The Eyes of Ray Bradbury

Because he was a lifelong reviser, many of these “greatest hits,” or pieces of them, remain in print today in a half-dozen variations. Truth be told, the proportion of greatest hits among his more forgettable works is not high. Yet the effect Bradbury has had is as potent as that of creators like L. Frank Baum, Rod Serling, and Steven Spielberg — probably as potent as all three combined, considering the large swaths of American popular culture he is father to. Filmmakers who cite his influence include Spielberg, David Lynch, James Cameron, and Back to the Future screenwriter Bob Gale. In television, he inspired Serling (and directly contributed ideas and scripts to Serling’s The Twilight Zone) and indirectly shaped such Baby Boom-era touchstones as Star TrekThe Addams Family, and Dark Shadows. Any number of wildly successful books and movies — Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, to name two — are unthinkable without Bradbury. And in the words of the prolific American horror writer Stephen King, “without Ray Bradbury, there is no Stephen King.”

Read all of Lauren Weiner's essay in The New Atlantis.

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily]

Illustration Magazine

There is a magazine for every specialty. Illustration covers artists most of us have seen while turning pages.

Eyebrow Raised

In nearly two dozen cases, a single U.S. Department of Agriculture employee attended a conference at a cost to taxpayers of $10,000 or more, according to a Washington Examiner analysis of agency records. In one instance, the USDA spent nearly $57,000 for a conference attended by only one of its employees, according to agency disclosures that do not provide any explanation of the cost.

Read the rest of The Washington Examiner article here.

When "Direct" is Needed

Odds are you've heard people described as "too direct" far more often than you've heard ones labeled "too indirect."

After all, the "too direct" can cause problems due to their lack of tact or sensitivity. They blurt out thoughts that should be restrained. They hurt feelings. They may be more numerous than their indirect cousins, if only because many of us slip into their mode.

But what of those who are locked into being too indirect? Their filters are so thick that their words require a special device to calibrate their meaning. When they say something is "Not bad," they mean it's terrible. They damn with faint praise. They don't want to explain; they want to be read, and many of us lack their dictionary.

The Too Indirect are disasters when supervising those who are ultra-direct because faint and gentle supervisory signals go drifting into the cosmos. The practitioners of subtle don't realize that the folks who practice extreme directness don't take hints and aren't in the market for nuance. They want the message without the bark on. If you haven't told them directly, you haven't told them.

Both styles are needed, of course, but I suspect that those of us who take pride in our diplomatic skills know, deep inside, that we could use a few classes in Advanced Directness.

Quote of the Day

Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and give her a house.

- Lewis Grizzard

Monday, September 24, 2012

First Paragraph

After living for seven years as a Jesuit seminarian, practicing vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the Jesuit general in Rome, I morphed into corporate man. On Friday afternoon, my role model was the Jesuit founder, St. Ignatius Loyola, whose writings reminded us seminarians that "poverty, as the strong wall of the religious life, should be loved." The following Monday brought a new career in investment banking - and new role models. One managing director lured talented would-be recruits with the tantalizing prospect of becoming "hog-whimperingly rich." I never quite got the image, but I did get the point.

- From Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company that Changed the World by Chris Lowney

"Halloween" on the Big Screen

John Carpenter's horror classic will have a special showing in theaters near the end of October.


Recommending Biographies

At Ricochet, there's an interesting post with comments on the best biographies. Some of my quick nominees would be:

  1. John Adams by David McCullough
  2. Hitler by John Toland
  3. Cicero by Anthony Everitt
  4. Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson
  5. The first volume of the LBJ biography by Robert Caro
  6. Mussolini by Denis Mack Smith
  7. Stalin by Robert Conquest
  8. Winston Churchill: A Brief Life by Piers Brendon

I shudder to think of how many great ones I've missed.

Your nominees?

Why Children Succeed and Fail

Daniel H. Pink looks at Paul Tough's book on How Children Succeed.

Media Bias/Distrust of the Media

Back by popular demand: UCLA professor Tim Groseclose on media bias.

The American news media have been ranked low on trust for years and justifiably so.

Walter Russell Mead gives his analysis.

Management Question: Work Product

"Which aspects of your day's work could be described as the prose, which would be the poetry, and are you shirking either?"

Diary: To Keep or Not to Keep

Writing at The Atlantic, Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg discusses Teresa Amabile's tips on keeping a diary. They're quite good.

I kept a diary for several years, partly with the egotistical thought that one day someone in my family might find it of interest. I scribbled away my observations through days good and bad, some exciting and many too boring truly for words.

Then I stopped.

Time was one factor. Another was a recurring lack of progress in certain areas. Self-censorship was serious barrier plus I found that the overall feeling evoked by the process was not positive. It was too easy to slip into a form of introspection that was less of a boost than a trap.

I'll probably shred the damned things.

An admirable alternative to daily journals is to do what a sage employer of mine practiced: Write an annual account of what you've learned about life.

Now that could be of real benefit to your descendants. 

The Undiscovered Basics

When people urge us to get back to the basics, there is the assumption that we know the basics. Another assumption is that the basics are easier to perform than the Jazzy Beverly Hills  Management Style That Produces Bliss and Thin Thighs in a Week.

Executing and sticking to the basics are separate subjects. For now, let us consider just how hard it can be to agree on the basics.

Wait, you shout. Isn't their obvious and universal importance an inherent aspect of the basics? One might think so, but that is not true. One person's basics can be another person's options. The source for so many of our mistakes rests, as quality wizard Philip Crosby wrote years ago, in what we take for granted. Too often, a leader points to the top of a mountain and describes the virtues of the summit and later learns in a sad moment that large numbers of followers thought the goal was to picnic in the shade at its base.

Always keep your pick ax nearby. Revisiting the question of "What are we about?" is not a once-every-seven-years activity. You'll need to do it frequently.

Quote of the Day

Did anyone in 1952 ask voters whether they would prefer to have Eisenhower or Adlai Stevenson come to dinner? The nation liked Ike but hired him not for the pleasure of his company but to have him see that the laws were faithfully executed and to preserve the peace, which he did.

- George F. Will

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Night Short Story

By Ambrose Bierce: "Staley Fleming's Hallucination."


Got perspective? Time to read this post at The Hammock Papers.

You Get a Star Every Time You...

  • Perform a good deed and then say nothing about it.
  • Don't hold a grudge.
  • Listen to a joke you've heard before.
  • Make the shy feel welcome.
  • Do something kind without being asked.
  • Restrain your sarcasm.
  • Pay attention to the other person.
  • Stop making excuses.
  • Don't expect others to be like you.
  • Help the deserving.
  • Do what's needed and then some.

Slow Down

A reminder from Tanmay Vora.

Music Break: Down Memory Lane

Juke box. Georgia Gibbs. Start moving.

Fall is Coming

Cultural Offering gives us a list of what to look forward to this Fall.


But He'll Be Back

Anderson Layman exhibits style even when he's gone.

Cold Calling

You can find widely varying positions on the issue of cold calling for sales.

Some people argue that although you'll encounter a lot of rejection since this involves calling strangers, with time and skill it will eventually pay off. Others caution that as most of us personally don't like to get cold calls, so should we in turn avoid them. They assert that cold calling also carries the whiff of desperation. On the other hand, sometimes the person who exudes a plausible belief in the product or service may wear down opposition and get a chance.

Since this often comes up in marketing and sales articles, I'm curious: On which side do you fall?

Quote of the Day

The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty.

- Thomas Sowell

Friday, September 21, 2012

Whole Lotta Shakin Going On

From a 1964 Shindig show: Little Richard brings down the house.

Independent Publishing: The New Option for Writers

Rich Archbold on the rise of literary self-publishing. An excerpt:

The novel centres on several members of a fictional battalion drawn from the ranks of Toronto typesetters. It is set both in the trenches of France and in Toronto in 1934, during the great Canadian Corps reunion. And it contains some of the finest writing about war and the impact of war that I have ever read—not to mention a compelling portrait of Toronto in the dirty thirties. It also moved me deeply. I offered to help him find a publisher.

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily]

When Techies Gather

A curmudgeon in Florida crumbles over people standing in line to get the latest iPhone.

Back to Wrist Watches

A few days ago, I asked for recommendations of wrist watches. The ones received were:

  • Sony Smart Watch [This was a tongue-in-cheek recommendation.]
  • Seiko diver's watch [Rugged}
  • Omega Speedmaster [Beautiful but not for a Timex budget.]
  • Fossil [Great styles.]
A wrist watch can be a very personal decision. I once had a great Swiss Army wrist watch which I gave to my son. Had mixed results with Citizen watches and still use one, but surprisingly good experiences with Casio, a very inexpensive but functional watch. I've had a few of their lowest-priced models - one was quickly taken by my wife - and dollar for dollar, they're hard to beat.

Feel free to submit other nominees. What's on your wrist?

Drabness Update

Art Contrarian looks at sterile architecture in Glasgow. Where is Christopher Wren when you need him?

Friday on My Mind

Catchy tune. This video of The Easybeats from 1967 hints at the clothing fashion virus that would afflict society in the Seventies. May the statute of limitations never expire on bell bottoms.

Slogans for This Weekend

If in doubt, throw it out. Slow is fast. Fast is slow. Less is more. If you haven't used it in five - no, make that seven - no, make that ten - years, you're not going to use it.

Think Spartan. Think Japanese.

First Paragraph

AAA Auto Parts is not, contrary to what you might believe, named after Alfred A. Archos. Nope, the owner had precisely the same strategy in naming his business that Jeff Bezos did when he named Amazon. To be first in the phone book.

- From Small is the New Big by Seth Godin

Management Question: Termination

"How many times does a person have to screw up before management pays serious attention?"

Quote of the Day

No more good must be attempted than the public can bear.

- Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Miscellaneous and Fast

The Incomparable Bate: Paradoxical Productivity.
Adfreak: Humans with tattoos of dot.coms that no longer exist.
Wally Bock gives us some leaders to ponder.
The trailer for "Deadfall."
George F. Will looks at a case of conflicting rights in New Mexico.
Michael P. Maslanka on the reasonable woman standard.
Dr. Helen Smith has a book on the war on men.
The trailer for "Let the Bullets Fly."
Mark Steyn on the failure in Benghazi.
View From the Ledge: Philip Roth seeks justice.
Portlandia: "Please hold."
Elderly art "restorer" wants royalties. [As Ignatius Reilly would put it, she should be "flogged in the confessional."]
A Simple, Village Undertaker is playing the book game.
Political Calculations crunches the numbers on income inequality.

Entertainment Break: A House, A Home

At the blog of Old Try, a print shop, is an unusual six minute film directed by Daniel Fickle.

Be sure to wait for the ending.

Leadership and Yoga

Fast Company: Allison Graham finds five hot leadership lessons at The Moksha Yoga Studio.

Hip Business Meetings

"Portlandia" shows how it's done. Of course, making a profit is another story.

Book Game

Hmm. To celebrate International Book Week. Grab the nearest book. Go to page 52. Copy the fifth sentence. Post as your text. Don't mention the book title. Following the instructions from Anderson Layman who received them from Madame Scherzo:

"As he raised his body irritably to adjust his twisted pajamas, he noticed that Virginia was awake."

Do you know the name of the book?

E-Mail Sensitivity/Paranoia: The Checklist

  1. What do you hope to achieve?
  2. Should this subject be addressed via e-mail? E-mail is not for sensitive subjects.
  3. Are you so upset that you shouldn't be near a computer? Don't e-mail when angry.
  4. Are you sending it to the right person?
  5. Have you carefully reviewed the prime area for spelling mistakes; i.e., the subject line?
  6. Does the subject line need to be updated?
  7. Have you finished attaching the right documents?
  8. Have you checked the spelling in the body of message?
  9. Is there any language left over from a prior draft or message that is hidden at the bottom of the message?
  10. Have you read the message carefully to spot any phrasing which might cause problems?
  11. Does the tone seem appropriate?
  12. Do you need to be wary of the infamous Reply All button?
  13. Would you be embarrassed if your message appeared on the front page of the newspaper? If so, don't send it.
  14. Is there anything about the message or subject that makes you uneasy? If so, start over. Better yet, delay.

Quote of the Day

Young men think old men are fools, but old men know young men are fools.

- George Chapman

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Art Break: Kelly

Art Contrarian looks at the work of Gerald Festus Kelly.

[The portrait above is of Ralph Vaughan Williams.]

Music Break: Alison Krauss & Union Station

At Anderson Layman's Blog you can always find great music.

But Do They Know The Tango?

FutureLawyer, techie extraordinaire, finds some smart shoes.

First Paragraph

As the incisors of the Nazi jaws bit deep into the American front, a bleary-eyed Dwight Eisenhower stared at the tangle of red grease-pencil lines snaking across his smudged maps. He winced. The tall, bald general whom every man in uniform saluted was painfully aware of what those advancing red lines represented: regiments cracking, support units overrun, supplies captured, men cut down along a fifty-mile swath.

- From Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and the Partnership that Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe by Jonathan W. Jordan

Remembering Record Albums

From The Album Cover Art Gallery.

Major Holidays Update: Pirate Time

A reminder for those whose employers do not honor this significant event:

We be meaning Talk Like a Pirate Day, of course.

If you don't know the lingo, here are some lessons by Robert Newton, the man who brought us "Arr."

The Other Audience

I just looked over the list of a group of people who signed up for one of my Leadership Lessons Learned briefings for October. As was the case with my September briefing, it's an impressive group. I'm sure that many of them are attending for a booster shot since they already know a great deal about leadership.

Their attendance, however, makes me wonder about another sizable group: the people who shun training like a vampire avoids mirrors. If you were to ask some of them about the last time they were inside a classroom, they'd mention a workshop they attended 20 years ago.

There may be a host of reasons why they don't attend seminars. Some would cite tight schedules (for 20 years?), others would say they don't need the information (how would they know?), and still others would admit they don't care enough to do anything beyond what they are doing right now. The last group may be the most honest. I can applaud that.

But they shouldn't expect to be promoted. And their indifference raises a question: In this increasingly competitive world, do they ever wonder if the knowledge from those workshops might be needed someday just to keep their jobs?

Quote of the Day

The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.

- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Pawnee Rangers Handbook

From Parks & Recreation, troop leader Ron Swanson displays the handbook for the young rangers.

Boiling It Down

Daniel H. Pink: Obama and Romney in a word.

I often encourage clients to reduce a problem they are facing to one sentence. This can be especially helpful with disciplinary situations since it clarifies thinking and identifies the precise problem. Does it miss nuances? Yes, but so can lengthier descriptions. Less can be cloaked.

How to Give Orders

At Sanders Wade Rodarte, the beauty of SMEAC.

Learning from the Ancient - and Modern - Greeks

At Defining Ideas, Emily Esfahani Smith outlines the world view of Victor Davis Hanson, professor, farmer, and agrarian conservative. An excerpt:

“The Greeks of the ancient world understood human nature,” Hanson says. “They knew that people want freedom and affluence, but that when you combine the two, you can have decadence.” The ancient Greeks knew that virtue required a strong moral order that protected people from themselves—from their own follies and vices. Hanson specifically cites the importance of a “shame culture” in checking human behavior.

Wrist Watches: Which One Would You Recommend?

Let's get this clear at the beginning: I am aware that many people no longer wear a wrist watch since they prefer staring at the reason of their existence: their smart phone. I like wrist watches and am usually happiest when my phone is in my briefcase.

That said, I've had a variety of watches in recent years and have noticed that the expensive ones are just as inclined to break down as their cheap cousins. Here's my question: Is there a brand that you've found to be particularly attractive and reliable and which doesn't cost as much as my car?

18 Success Tips

Take some time today, pop over to Business Insider,  and read Richard Branson's 18 tips for success.

And then go wind-surfing with a friend.

[HT: Vanessa Ching]

Clipping the High Ones

At CoolTools: The Fiskars 12' Pruning Stik.

You know you're getting old when you get excited about this. I was also intrigued by the item in the comments section about the cooking spray. That's another sign of age.

Hmm. I think I'll go cut something down.

"When pride still mattered"

Pride is a wonderful feeling. It makes work seem like, well, more than work. It elevates it to a mission, to something that carries special meaning. Certainly saving peoples’ lives and property from fire is certainly a mission you can sink your teeth into. But our work as project managers also has the potential to create strong feelings of joy and accomplishment. Witness the outpouring of joy at NASA’s Mission Control when a space craft lands successfully. Or how about the crane operator atop the new One World Trade Center currently undergoing construction who remarked to a New York Times reporter about his and his co-workers feelings about rebuilding Ground Zero “this is the greatest job we never wanted.” Now that’s pride.

Read the rest at Ward:Wired.

Those Dashing Postal Workers

Paleofuture takes us to a time (1958) when it was thought our home mail delivery would come via jetpack.

Restoring a Black Widow

The Northrop P-61 Black Widow was a premier U.S. night fighter of WWII. 742 of these airplanes were built; only 4 are left in existence. The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum owns one of these, and has a project underway to return it to flyable condition.

Read about and see the link on the extraordinary nature of the project at Chicagoboyz.

Some Thoughts about Excellence

I want excellence in a surgeon and a tailor. I want excellence in the president of the United States, although I've yet to get it.

For many other things, pretty darned good will do. Would you really want a perfect spouse or a flawless friend?

If excellence means there is very little or no room for improvement, would those of us who are inclined to fix things want to work in a place where everything is excellent and guaranteed to stay that way? Would we really want a car that is so good it need never be replaced?

Lawyers have plenty of clients who do not want justice. Consultants have clients who do not want excellence. Achieving excellence is usually very demanding. Sacrifice and exertion are required. Many would like to be helicoptered to the end of that trail, but they certainly wouldn't volunteer for the hike. They like excellence in theory but its practice is sort of scary.

Never forget that.

In heaven, angels must be given special challenges or else it would turn into hell.