Ode to Joy
The last tweet of Oliver Sacks: A flashmob in Spain.
You will smile.
Write enough ideas and plans and you'll eventually scribble something that is remarkable.
The trick then is to get it done. A deadline and the desire to do it right can work wonders.
Jot down all that is needed and get moving. Give yourself no excuses.
One secret: Have the project support a higher purpose. That will fuel your efforts.
strategy + business has Jeffrey Pfeffer's required reading for aspiring leaders. Good choices.
Quote of the Day
Being a nerd just means there is something in the world that you care deeply about.
- Olivia Munn
What is Around the Corner?
You can find a lot of life at A Simple, Village Undertaker.
I submitted an entry in the Eclecticity Light Ripe for a Caption Contest.
Since there are no other entries, my chances may be good.
Find Something Beautiful Today
Reinventing the Axe
Political Calculations has the video on Leveraxe, a simple but brilliant invention.
You know you want one.
Here is the official trailer.
Get ready to hit the slopes.
The Beginnings of Our Friend Sherlock
Back by popular demand:
Mike Oblinski's beautiful video: "The Chase."
And don't miss Bryan Snider's video of an amazing rain storm in Tucson.
Choose and Become
Let’s say you had the chance to become a vampire. With one magical bite you would gain immortality, superhuman strength and a life of glamorous intensity. Your friends who have undergone the transformation say the experience is incredible. They drink animal blood, not human blood, and say everything about their new existence provides them with fun, companionship and meaning.
Would you do it? Would you consent to receive the life-altering bite, even knowing that once changed you could never go back?
Read the rest of the David Brooks column in The New York Times.
"End of Civilization As We Know It" Films
Quote of the Day
Everybody wants to save the Earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.
- P.J. O'Rourke
If you're reading this, you're a new employee at Human Resources, Inc. Congratulations. And condolences. At the very least, you're embarking on a career that you will never be able to describe as dull. You'll go to interesting places. You'll meet unique and stimulating people from all walks of life. And kill them. You'll make a lot of money, but that will mean nothing to you after the first job. Assassination, no matter how easy it looks in the movies, is the most difficult, stressful, and lonely profession on the planet. From this point on, whenever you hear someone bitch about his job, it will take every fiber of your being to keep from laughing in his face. This work isn't for everyone. Most of you are going to find that out the hard way because you'll be dead by the end of the month. And that's still just the training phase.
- From The Intern's Handbook by Shane Kuhn
The day rarely consists of major decisions.
It is instead filled with a collection of small decisions that, when combined with the small decisions of other days, will have an enormous influence on our lives.
We don't recognize the pattern until later, if ever.
So what can we do? Schedule our priorities and then, day after day, strive to make the right small decisions.
We can also stop looking for the big ones. We'll know those when they arrive but the small and important ones are often well-disguised.
Quote of the Day
It is not a fragrant world.
- Raymond Chandler
Peter Ustinov in an unusual little film about The Orient Express.
A Great Idea
It was a great idea but then it got too weird-complicated-you name it and the execution was flawed and those who'd loved the initial idea became demoralized and they couldn't understand why it didn't "catch on" but they missed the fact that the great idea had died within a couple of days. It had been replaced by something that was very different and nothing close to being great.
Keeping the characteristics of a great idea requires very close attention.
Forget the odds. Do the evens.
- Blame others.
- Check yourself out.
- Issue policies.
- Establish core values.
- Do something dramatic.
- Emphasize and execute the basics.
- Bring in a motivational speaker.
- Let people know how much you appreciate them.
- Increase monitoring.
- Strive to foster trust.
Born into the royal Borjigin family in 1162, Temujin, heir apparent to the Mongol clan's chieftaincy, found himself, at age nine, scorned by his people, cast out of the communal fold, and reduced to hunting for rodents and roots to survive. A tribe of Tatars had poisoned his father, erstwhile ruler of the Borjigin, and his subjects, refusing to invest a scion so young, usurped power and consigned Temujin to debasing destitution. The usurpers would have done well to note one circumstance, whether as augury or omen: Temujin was born clutching a clot of blood.
- From Murderers in Mausoleums: Riding the Back Roads of Empire between Moscow and Beijing by Jeffrey Tayler
Quote of the Day
If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Revenge of the Techies
The trailer for "Mr. Robot."
BTW: Remember this pronouncement of doom?
Complicated: Holding hidden dangers.
Clever: Approach with extreme caution.
Brilliant: We're talking about your plan, right?
You Just Might Be a Book Lover
You just might be a book lover if:
- You own more than one copy of the same book and it's not the Bible.
- You recall every unreturned book you've ever loaned.
- You buy books but may not read them for five to ten years and that does not bother you in the slightest.
- You have purchased a book at a used bookstore and later, when you looked just inside the cover, found your signature on the title page.
- You underline, mark, and dog-ear pages of some books while treating others as if they are historical artifacts.
- You roll over in bed and find a book or two. Or three.
- You give some authors a second chance but are ruthless with others.
- You get excited whenever you "discover" a good and prolific writer.
- You like the smell of the pages.
- You can remember the book covers of novels you read many years ago.
- You occasionally read some passages out loud.
- You won't read a book if your mood wouldn't do it justice.
- You get nervous at the thought of being trapped on a long flight without a book.
- You often shop at more than three bookstores.
- You know every bookstore within five miles.
- You can remember the first hardback book you purchased.
- You believe that e-books can be convenient but they will never duplicate the experience of holding, and turning the pages of, a fine book.
Quote of the Day
Whip those procrastinating, undisciplined tendencies, those inclinations toward weakness. Do it in private - and I am telling you, you will sweat it out; it is not an easy thing - it is a most difficult thing - but take the time to do it, and watch the gradual serenity and power that will come into your life.
- Stephen R. Covey
One of Those Evenings
Car battery: Dead. Now replaced.
Kitchen refrigerator: Dead after a mere 35 years or so. [For some reason my wife won't leave the replacement decision to me. I tell her that Avocado Green may make a come-back.]
Simple irritants. Not real problems.
Bathroom scale: Accurate. Now that's a problem. I think my wrist watch must weigh 30 pounds.
"The Federal Bureau of Investigation says San Francisco's Bay Area has suffered more than a dozen attacks on its fiber optic infrastructure over the past year. The attacks slow Internet service and disrupt financial transactions and emergency phone calls."
- From "Attacks on Fiber Networks Baffle FBI," The Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2015.
"Dust Covered Foot Soldiers"
Writing in True West magazine, military historian John Langellier recognizes the foot soldiers of the post-Civil War Army. An excerpt:
“We are about 1,000 miles from nowhere excepting it be the verges of Hell, and I think we ‘ain’t no more nor’ ten rods from that delightful spot,” wrote Second Infantry Lt. Col. Josias King, whose attitude about Fort Larned, Kansas, could have been echoed at almost every frontier outpost.
The Cover Charge to Greatness
If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants is correct as far as it goes, but it gives dullards the wrong idea. Those giants don't hoist you up there for a piggy back. You have to climb up them like a kitten that hasn't been fed yet, and the giants swat at you while you make the ascent. Once you're standing on their shoulders, you realize that the giants are drunk half the time and palsied the rest. They were only giants because you were so short. You can't see as far as you had hoped. There's a lot of work left to do.
Read the rest at Sippican Cottage. Great stuff.
Art Break: Williamson
Art Contrarian looks at the Ford Model A ads of James W. Williamson.
Bate and Vora: Sketchnote Leadership 7
Tanmay Vora has created a sketchnote of Nicholas Bate's "Leadership 7."
I read Nicholas Bate's site every morning and often just before shutting down my computer in the evening, just to make sure that I haven't missed anything.
Leadership Reading for High School and College Students
Which works do I recommend to high school and college students who are interested in leadership? Although I've tucked in one (19 Stars) which directly addresses leadership, each of the titles on this list provides valuable perspectives for leaders:
- Lincoln and His Generals by T. Harry Williams
- Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
- I, Claudius by Robert Graves
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- 19 Stars by Edgar Puryear
- Inside The Third Reich by Albert Speer
- John Adams by David McCullough
- The Last Hurrah by Edwin O'Connor
- Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- The First Circle by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
- Plunkitt of Tammany Hall by George Washington Plunkitt
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- Seize the Fire by Adam Nicolson
- Modern Times by Paul Johnson
Quote of the Day
I will act as if I do make a difference.
- William James
Hip-Hop History of Macro
Interesting. I always thought of Milton Friedman as James Brown.
[HT: Greg Mankiw]
A meeting this morning in north Phoenix. Way up yonder in an area that is more Scottsdale-like than Phoenician. And to be precise, more north Scottsdale than traditional Scottsdale [There is a difference. north Scottsdale is quasi-Southern Californian.]
After that, a client proposal and a bunch of emails, as well as reviewing marketing stuff for upcoming workshops. [More on those later.] And tweaking items for a Wednesday briefing.
Do I think in-between or do those items come in-between thinking?
Repeating military maxim: Fast is slow. Slow is fast.
I read The Mosquito Coast years ago and it never quite left me. Here's the trailer for the film; a movie I'm not inclined to revisit because the novel was disturbing enough.
On the other hand, it could be a worthy warning for young people with utopian tendencies.
Throw It Out
True, the ideas in the document that was unearthed may be helpful but it has been seven years since you've seen it and you functioned well without it all that time and - who knows? - perhaps even better than if you'd had it and now that it's in the trash if a related project arises and you regret having thrown out the paper just remember that some of it stayed with you and you have the ability to start again if every damned paper in your files went up in smoke or were suddenly erased.
Live bravely. Throw it out.
Quote of the Day
A great day cannot be devised; it must be distilled.
- Raymond Chandler
Music for Reflection
Guitarist John Williams plays Sakura.
Cultural Offering, a man who knows his music, has the essential mixes.
Take a Stroll
Take a stroll with Haydn's "The Philosopher" at The Hammock Papers.
Find Something Beautiful Today: "The Chase"
Check out this video by stormchasing photographer Mike Oblinski as he chases storms around the Southwest.
[HT: Kelly Corsette]
Heroism Foils Evil on a French Train
The Teaching of History
Historical study and history education in the United States today are in a bad way, and the causes are linked. In both cases, we have lost our way by forgetting that the study of the past makes the most sense when it is connected to a larger, public purpose, and is thereby woven into the warp and woof of our common life. The chief purpose of a high school education in American history is not the development of critical thinking and analytic skills, although the acquisition of such skills is vitally important; nor is it the mastery of facts, although a solid grasp of the factual basis of American history is surely essential; nor is it the acquisition of a genuine historical consciousness, although that certainly would be nice to have too, particularly under the present circumstances, in which historical memory seems to run at about 15 minutes, especially with the young.
No, the chief purpose of a high school education in American history is as a rite of civic membership, an act of inculcation and formation, a way in which the young are introduced to the fullness of their political and cultural inheritance as Americans, enabling them to become literate and conversant in its many features, and to appropriate fully all that it has to offer them, both its privileges and its burdens. To make its stories theirs, and thereby let them come into possession of the common treasure of its cultural life. In that sense, the study of history is different from any other academic subject. It is not merely a body of knowledge. It also ushers the individual person into membership in a common world, and situates them in space and time.
Read the rest of professor Wilfred M. McClay's speech in Imprimis.
Coffee and Papers
I was up late last night. Next week I brief a team on communication issues and there is an item I've decided to stress and so, last night, I was focusing on any subject that could be titled Not That Item.
The technique is one where you remove all of the items that are not that item and then what remains is the item. Sculptors do it all the time. Much of today will revolve around three tasks: preparing proposals, organizing files, and That Item.
Oh yes, and coffee. Black.
If I had only one sermon to preach, it would be a sermon against Pride. The more I see of existence, and especially of modern practical and experimental existence, the more I am convinced of the reality of the old religious thesis; that all evil began with some attempt at superiority; some moment when, as we might say, the very skies cracked across like a mirror, because there was a sneer in Heaven.
- From If I Had Only One Sermon to Preach by G.K. Chesterton
Quote of the Day
Never lose a holy curiosity.
- Albert Einstein
The required procedure was clearly stated in the e-mail message but several people didn't read that far down and even some who did thought that someone else would handle it so they did nothing and others decided to do nothing anyway until someone screamed and so the assumption that notifying everyone of the procedure and the deadline didn't work and, after all, what is a deadline to some folks but a really strong suggestion, if that, and consequently what the sender regarded as a direction - an order! - was nothing more than another message and it should have been no surprise when the deadline came and went and a whopping six percent had complied and the response of the others was "Oh, yeah, I'll get on that."
Fears Seldom Recognized
Fear of freedom, success, power, discretion, money, praise, advancement, friendship, status. popularity, happiness, leisure, fame, and many more.
I sometimes wonder if people fear good things more than bad things.
Quote of the Day
You know, we can't get out of life alive. We can either die in the bleachers or die on the field. We might as well come down on the field and go for it!
- Les Brown
Mick and the boys with "Jumping Jack Flash."
10 E-Mail Rules
- Always check the address before sending.
- Always check to see if you remembered to attach documents.
- Always check to see if the subject line is correct.
- If the subject has changed over time, update the subject line.
- Give short messages an extra review for clarity.
- Don't use e-mail to discuss sensitive subjects.
- Check the tone as well as the grammar and the spelling.
- Don't engage in e-mail wars. Call or go talk to the person.
- If there is a reasonable chance that the sender would not want their e-mail forwarded, get their permission before doing so. They sent it to you, not to the world.
- Never send an e-mail when you are angry.
Things to Remember in a Celebrity Culture
Fogging a mirror does not merit a trophy.
Being eloquent doesn't mean being wise.
Fame is not the same as success.
"Blends": The Sketchnote
Many thanks to consultant, author, photographer, and artist Tanmay Vora for his sketchnote version of my post "Blends."
It is an honor to be noted on his fine blog and especially in such a creative way.
Reasons for Not Doing
Even if the resources are available there are many reasons for not doing what needs to be done:
- Lack of focus
- Lack of self-discipline
- Lack of motivation
- Delusional thinking
- A thick broth of all of the above.
There are exceptions, but this is a good general rule:
When you feel like engaging, disengage. When you feel like disengaging, engage.
Quote of the Day
Happiness flows from a clear spring: You need to have a totally honest relationship with yourself.
- Gay Hendricks and Kate Ludeman in The Corporate Mystic
A Memorial Gone Astray
George Will on the proposed Eisenhower Memorial. An excerpt from National Review:
Gehry is 86, world famous, and impatient with philistines who note that his proposal is discordant with the Mall’s aesthetic. But Prometheus need not conform: “There are sorts of rules about architectural expression which have to fit into a certain channel. Screw that.” Perhaps it is the license of genius to talk like a lout: “In this world we are living in, 98 percent of everything that is built and designed today is pure s***.” Gehry has prospered during his ordeal at the hands of people with tastes less refined than his: His firm has pocketed $16 million so far from work on Ike’s nonexistent memorial.
Americana: The Tasting
Man drinks Old Rip Van Winkle.
Man becomes Old Rip Van Winkle.
And it is appropriate because he is a Washington Irving fan.
Correction by this sloppy blogger and an update by Cultural Offering: A video on Pappy Van Winkle.
"Justice for Jack"
True West magazine has the story of the sad ending of Jack Swilling, the man who founded Phoenix. The photo alone is priceless.
Friendship with Touchy Artists?
The one thing you can almost never tell an artist friend is that you don’t like his art. It’s dicey merely to say that you don’t understand a particular work, much less that it doesn’t speak to you (even if you go out of your way to assure him that the failing is yours). It’s all but impossible to have a friendly relationship, or even a cordial one, if you simply don’t respond to anything he does. In some cases this is a function of the artist’s vanity, but I’m sure that more often it has to do with his deep-seated uncertainties. Many of the artists I know have fragile egos, and though some of them are amazingly successful at hiding this fragility, most are not. As Orson Welles once said to Peter Bogdanovich, “A bad word from a colleague can darken a whole day. We need encouragement a lot more than we admit, even to ourselves.”
Read the rest of Terry Teachout's 2005 column here.
Both - And
"So you're saying this is always wrong?"
"No, I'm saying that under some circumstances it is wrong."
"But are you saying the opposite is right?"
"In some situations the opposite is right but in others it is wrong."
"I don't like that answer."
"Neither does your opponent."
Quote of the Day
I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor.
- D. H. Lawrence
Great Moments in French Television
Joe Cocker and a three-mile-long cord: "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window."
[Who in the hell planned that?]
Advice for all would-be bloggers:
If a blog comment starts with "This is the greatest blog ever" then you know it is spam.
Great Moments in Marketing: 20 Mule Team Borax
They knew how to clean clothes in those days.
20 Mule Team Borax was the prime sponsor of the TV western "Death Valley Days." [There was a time when it seemed as if every restroom had powdered soap dispensers.]
A product with "mule" in its name must leave a memory. They're still around.
CoolTools looks at designs and selections by designer Jimmy DiResta.
Villains to Know
Knowing the villains of literature is part of a sound preparation for survival. Those memories provide an internal alarm which can sound an alert if we encounter such characters in real life. A few to keep in mind:
As the above list indicates, Shakespeare and Dickens knew their villains.
- Iago from Othello
- Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair
- Lady Macbeth and Macbeth from Macbeth
- Uriah Heep from David Copperfield
- Blue Duck from Lonesome Dove
- Bill Sykes from Oliver Twist
- Mr. Kurtz from Heart of Darkness
- Madame DeFarge from A Tale of Two Cities
- Long John Silver from Treasure Island
- Napoleon from Animal Farm
- Richard III from Richard III
- Alfred Jingle from The Pickwick Papers
Are there any you'd like to add?
Quote of the Day
Having the world's best idea will do you no good unless you act on it. People who want milk shouldn't sit on a stool in the middle of a field in hopes that a cow will back up to them.
- Curtis Grant
The closer you are to a subject, the more you understand its complexities.
- If you've never done it.
- If you don't care about quality.
- If you don't have to do it.
- If you have plenty of time and resources.
A Daily Pleasure
Every Sunday, I exhort readers of this blog to "find something beautiful today."
Consider how richer our weeks are when we do that daily. We can study dimensions and perspectives while driving. Street scenes become dramas. People are novels. Watch them and try to imagine their lives. Note their gestures and expressions.
And the sky, of course, is an ever-changing art gallery.
Start with something simple and study the beauty and complexity of your own hands. [My skin resembles that of an old lizard but even lizards have beauty.]
We are surrounded by beauty and miracles.
Quote of the Day
If you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
- Sun Tzu
How to Be a Real Jerk
Wally Bock, a very nice man, has a list.
Few of us are completely innocent all of the items
I once met a man who said that he can never have just one bowl of soup. He always wants a second bowl, regardless of the amount in the bowl. He became known for this habit. One of his relatives served him a very large bowl of soup as a test. He finished it and then asked for another.
All of us follow routines, far more than we may realize. I like to read just before going to sleep. Nothing thrilling that will jangle the nerves. No business books that will spur me to take notes. The book can be humorous or serious but it can't be so deep that fatigue will fog clarity.
I'm currently re-reading Catch-22. Not a bad choice. A sample:
Major Major had been born too late and too mediocre. Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three. Even among men lacking all distinction he inevitably stood out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.
[Update: Correction was made in second sentence. Mea culpa.]
Marty Robbins: "Cool Water."
Current temperature: A cool 99 degrees. It's expected to hit 109 later. I'd better get my chores done before it gets hot.
The Yard Abides
I slept in until seven and now it's almost nine. It started getting hot outside around five. My backyard resembles Tarzan territory and the front? Well, I should have a car up on blocks in order to complete the look.
A slight exaggeration perhaps but that's how I feel.
A large straw hat, sun block, and plenty of water are now on my agenda.
One consoling thought: yard work provides a vastly greater reward when it really, really, really needs to be done.
Find Something Beautiful Today
Guys with Skills
This aggression must not stand, man. My little son will watch This Old House but passes on an offer to watch his father fix the old house he lives in. There's a danger there. It's not simply that the attention span required is too long. Of course a TV production removes dead time. All the preparation is excised, and even most of the work itself. There is a constant patter of a kind I call "refreshingly information-free." Most of TV and the Intertunnel is made up of this intellectual equivalent of a cow's cud. You chew it for a while, swallow it, and hurl it up to chew again later. Nothing is accomplished and no benefit is accrued but passing the time.
Read the rest at Sippican Cottage.
Fear the Walking Dead
My wife and son are at Cabela's.
I just saw this trailer at Cultural Offering.
Perhaps I should call and tell them to get more ammo.
Reading While the Sun Shines
I went down to the Peiraeus yesterday with Glaucon, Ariston's son, to pay my devoirs to the goddess, and at the same time I wanted to see how they would manage the festival, as this was the first time they held it. A fine procession I thought it which our people made, but the Thracians' seemed to be quite as good. We made our prayers then, and saw the show, and set off for the city.
- From The Republic by Plato
An Issue of Respect
Many years ago, when I was handling Equal Employment Opportunity matters for a major American city, we conducted a study to determine when people are most likely to file a discrimination complaint about the hiring process. It turned out to be very revealing.
What we learned was that being turned down for a job was not the trigger point. Unsuccessful job candidates often thought the selection decision was wrong but they regarded such decisions as mysterious territory and so rarely filed complaints.
The spot that was most sensitive, however, was when they didn't get a job interview. The reaction was along the lines of "I may not have been the best person for the job but I at least deserved a job interview!"
They were frustrated because they didn't get a chance to tell their story and to compete.
As a result, we started encouraging managers to expand the size of their interview pool. This accomplished two things. First, the managers found that some of those people in the larger pool were in fact quite good. The second thing was that the complaints about hiring decisions dropped dramatically.
Check out anything in your personnel procedures that might pose similar problems and don't cut too fine a line when it comes to showing respect.