Saturday, March 31, 2018

Serenity



David Kanigan finds serenity on Amtrak

A charming man with a charming story.

Spring Training Quiz



[Photo by Rob Bye at Unsplash]


George Will, who is a mega-baseball fan, has a serious quiz for us.

The Alpha Male Paradox




[Photo by Sander Wehkamp at Unsplash]

Take a few minutes to ponder James Lawther's post on The Alpha Male Paradox.

Plus. Minus. Equal.

Brilliant.

Last Night

Last night, I played hooky and failed to plan today. 

Sloth.

Read some material on time management and then part of Justice Scalia's opinion on the D.C. gun control case. My back was acting up so I slept in a special reclining chair my wife bought for me several years ago. [I had scoffed at it then but I'm not scoffing now.]

Around 2:30 a.m. the dog decided that her bed blanket should be rearranged and so she used the highly effective "wet nose technique" to rouse this elderly retainer into action. I found it amusing.

Sleep quickly returned.

The dog returned later to inform me that she wanted breakfast. I prepared her usual while she stared out a window and barked at anyone who has the audacity to walk down her street.

I took the front section of The Wall Street Journal in to my wife, who was still lounging in bed. 

Some espresso, The Wall Street Journal book reviews, an English muffin as well as orange marmalade performed their magic for me.

And now, hours behind schedule, the remnants of the day are being planned.

All in all, time well spent.

Bock's Reading Assignments

Woman sitting on a fallen log reading alone



[Photo by Yassine Laaroussi at Unsplash]

Wally Bock has some weekend leadership reading for us.

Good stuff.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The Rain."

Quote of the Day

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles away from the corn field.

- Dwight Eisenhower

Friday, March 30, 2018

Rio Reimagined

The Rio Reimagined project is a bold and imaginative look at how the Salt River in the Phoenix area can be enhanced to improve the quality of life in a collection of communities.

It builds on what was done with the Tempe Town Lake near Arizona State University.

Passover 2018



At sundown today, Passover begins.

May it be a blessed season.

The Joke

Reprise: A scene from "The Lives of Others" that should be periodically viewed, especially on college campuses.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Lawrence of Arabia."

Book Review: Peak Performance




A review by Wally Bock. He continues to add to my reading list.

Fix the Roof

Anderson Layman's Blog is the work of a man of thought and a man of action.

Be sure to read it every day.

Good Friday




[Photo by Aaron Burden at Unsplash]

I believe that we know much more about God than we admit that we know, than perhaps we altogether know that we know. God speaks to us, I would say, much more than we realize or than we choose to realize. Before the sun sets every evening, he speaks to each of us in an intensely personal and unmistakable way. His message is not written out in starlight, which in the long run would make no difference; rather, it is written out for each of us in the humdrum, helter-skelter events of each day; it is a message that in the long run might just make all the difference.

- From Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons by Frederick Buechner

The Attitude You Bring to Life




[Photo by Alexxx Alexxx at Unsplash]


Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happened.

- Khalil Gibran

The 12 Book Rule

The bottom of five weathered books stacked horizontally next to each other

[Photo by Syd Wachs at Unsplash]


My current reading: 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson; Leading a Worthy Life by Leon Kass; Crisis of Responsibility by David L. Bahnsen; The Startup Way by Eric Ries; Still The Best Hope by Dennis Prager; Churchill & Orwell by Thomas E. Ricks; Mr. In-Between by Neil Cross; Screw It, Let's Do It by Richard Branson; Listening to Your Life by Frederick Buechner; Vision in the Desert by Jack August; and The Silo Effect by Gillian Tett.

I'm also re-reading The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning.

All of them are good. 

I assure you that the reading process is not as chaotic as it may appear. Certain books are read at certain times - fortunately, I have a good memory - and I set a limit of no more than 12 books at any time.

A few of them, such as the Branson and Buechner books, are written to be read in short bursts so they are great late-night reading. Even a small portion of Buechner needs to be read and pondered. I am not in a race and am slowly reading the Peterson and Kass books in order to absorb their arguments.

Closest to completion: Peterson, Ricks, Cross, and Branson.

As for the Manning book, if you have not read it, get with the program. It is as enjoyable the second time around as it was the first.

First Paragraph

Billions of dollars have been wasted on marketing programs that couldn't possibly work, no matter how clever or brilliant. Or how big the budgets.

- From The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Quote of the Day

The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic, and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary, it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant, and kind. Failure makes people bitter and cruel.

- W. Somerset Maugham

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Music Break

Tracy Chapman: "Fast Car."

Quick Look

The trailer for "Kodachrome."

Where Does He Find This Stuff?



There is a lot happening at Eclecticity Light.

The Swiss Army Knife

Image result for bowie knife amazon


No, this is not a Swiss Army knife.

The Swiss Army knife is part of Nicholas Bate's essential tools of excellence series.

I've carried one for years - the small pen knife version and not the large honker that probably has a car jack as well as a tool for brain surgery - and it is extremely useful. 

[Like Nicholas, I had one confiscated at the airport after 9/11. It was quickly replaced.]

"The Thief of Joy"




[Photo by Lucas Lenzi at Unsplash]

Consider an observation by Theodore Roosevelt (via The Hammock Papers) with a very important lesson that may linger with you for the rest of your life.

It should be posted in classrooms.

Vietnam War Veterans Day


[Photo by Joe Ridley/Beth Martin at Unsplash]

March 29 is National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Thank those who served and remember those who didn't return.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Terminal."

Circling



[Photo by Radu Marcusu at Unsplash]

I have mentioned in previous posts that I often circle projects. 

If you too are a "circler" you know what I mean. We study the matter from various perspectives and look for the best approach and for strong and weak spots. We are driven by a desire to get it right and do not like to take the castle by rushing into the moat.

That is admirable but, left unchecked, it can lead to indecisiveness. Eventually - and usually sooner than we'd like - the decision point arrives. We just do it and although the decision may have been an option that could have been quickly achieved, there are times when the circling is extremely valuable.

There is another benefit. Circling is a great teacher.

First Paragraph

"May you live in interesting times!" This ancient Chinese curse appears to have landed on us - we whose lives have spanned the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the new millennium. In addition to the usual run of crises, foreign and domestic, we face genuinely novel prospects both for good and for ill, the harms often emerging tragically as unavoidable consequences of the benefits Ours is the age of atomic power but also of nuclear proliferation, of globalized trade but also worldwide terrorism, of instant communication but also fragmented communities, of free association but also marital failure, of limitless mobility but also homogenized destinations, of open borders but also confused identities, of astounding medical advances but also greater worries about health, of longer and more vigorous lives but also protracted and more miserable deaths, of unprecedented freedom and prosperity but also remarkable anxiety about our future, both personal and national. In our age of heightened expectations, many Americans fear that their children's lives will be less free, less prosperous, or less fulfilling than their own, a fear that is shared by the young people themselves. Like their forebears, our youth still harbor desires for a worthy life. They still hope to find meaning in their lives and to live a life that makes sense. But they are increasingly confused about what a worthy life might look like, and about how they might be able to live one.

- From Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times by Leon R. Kass

Presence




[Photo by at Spencer Dahl at Unsplash]

Presence is more than just being there.

- Malcolm Forbes

Log-Sitting with Proper Reverence




[Photo by Nathan Dumlao at Unsplash]

Cultural Offering has the instructions from poet and novelist Jim Harrison.

Quick Look

The trailer for "The House with a Clock in Its Walls."

Quote of the Day

Love is the source of every virtue in you and of every deed that deserves punishment.

- Dante Alighieri

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

In the Background

Image result for mark o'connor yo yo ma amazon

Three Directors

Spike Lee, Mira Nair, and Steven Soderbergh talking about the filming of "The Battle of Algiers."

It is an extraordinary film. 

"Discrimination and Disparities"

A podcast of Peter Robinson talking with economist Thomas Sowell about Sowell's new book.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Big Fish."

Another Book for My Reading Stack

Scorched Worth: A True Story of Destruction, Deceit, and Government Corruption by [Engel, Joel]


Congratulations, Joel!

Don't Be in a Hurry

A stack of rocks against a pink sky



[Photo by Bekir Donmez at Unsplash]

Don't be in a hurry to:
  • judge.
  • say yes.
  • do the irreversible.

First Paragraph

It was about nine o'clock one bleak November day that the key rattled in the heavy lock of my cell in the Lubyanka Prison and the two broad-shouldered guards marched purposefully in. I had been walking slowly round, left hand in the now characteristic prisoner's attitude of supporting the top of the issue trousers, which Russian ingenuity supplied without buttons or even string on the quite reasonable assumption that a man preoccupied with keeping up his pants would be severely handicapped in attempting to escape. I had stopped pacing at the sound of the door opening and was standing against the far wall as they came in. One stood near the door; the other took two or three strides in. "Come," he said. "Get moving."

- From The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz

Music to My Ears

Listening to a young man tell me how much this book has helped him.

Update: An astute reader asks, "What did he say?" 

Good question: He liked its practical tips on diplomacy and that the book is not a bunch of theory but instead gets right to the point. He liked that its simple design permits quick and easy reference and that he can use its lessons now and throughout his career. He said he is going to re-read some sections.



Quote of the Day

“Whenever someone comes to me for help, I listen very hard and ask myself, ‘What does this person really want – and what will they do to keep from getting it?’”

– William Perry

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "An Ordinary Man."

Training and The Real World



[Photo by Amr Elmasry at Unsplash]


One of the most jarring things I have encountered in life has been the frequently found gap between training and what is actually needed on the job. 

Not always, of course, but often enough to leave you scratching your head in wonder that such an arrangement continues to exist.


Rather than finding a careful blend between the academic and the practical, you discover two separate areas where one side says: "You'll pick up that knowledge when you get on the job" and the other declares: "Disregard this and this and this of what you were taught. This is what we really do out here."


It is not a tidy system. Approach it with caution.

Busy Busy

An iMac with “Do More” displayed on its screen on a wooden desk


[Photo by Carl Heyerdahl at Unsplash]

You can go to meetings, read messages, make calls, have business lunches, and conduct research without achieving anything - not one thing! - that will advance the good of your organization, your career, or the community.

Achieve More is better than Do More.


Quick Look

The trailer for "The Bookshop."

"I do not want to be a little gray man."



Take a minute or two and ponder this post at David Kanigan's blog.

And then think about crossing the Atlantic in a kayak.

Quote of the Day

We know nothing about motivation. All we can do is write books about it.

- Peter Drucker

Monday, March 26, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "Mountain."

Gimme Shelter

In 1969, Ed Sullivan, a noted party animal, had it all on his show.

Exploration

Orange rocks and snowy blue mountains in a scenic landscape


[Photo by Alexander Slattery at Unsplash]


We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

- T. S. Eliot

Boldness and Risk


The "Pre-Invasion of Russia" Napoleon

A superficial assessment of bold decision makers could lead one to conclude that their boldness carries a certain magic and that, once they decide, marvelous things just seem to follow in their wake.

The bold decision makers who are successful over the long term, however, are far from reckless. They do their homework and are very interested in actions that can reduce the amount of risk. In that respect, the less successful leaders are far "bolder" because they plunge ahead without completing the necessary groundwork.

Successful leaders who are bold would call the "plungers" irresponsible and reckless. They know there is a time to act and a time to set the stage for successful action.

They also know that patience is not cowardice or indecision.

In the Background

Image result for vaughan williams orchestral works amazon

Quick Look

The trailer for "A Tale of Two Cities." [The best version.]

Seeking Meaning




[Photo by Nathan Lemon at Unsplash]

Despite the lazy lure of relativism, we really do know in our bones that some opinions are truer, some books better, some lives and nations more admirable than others. And anyone who has even once tasted the exhilaration of discovery is a witness to the existence of truth and the value of seeking it.

- Leon R. Kass in Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times

Why Are We Surprised?

Image result for russian dolls

Why are we surprised when a project that looks simple from the outside contains another, more complicated, project, and perhaps even another and another?

How many times have we experienced that?

Speaking for myself, plenty.

Every Home Needs One




[Photo by Kyle Glenn at Unsplash]

I am fascinated by globes and maps. Old ones. New ones. I pore over them, find an obscure location, and wonder what's happening there now.

My interest began back in elementary school days when my teachers would roll down the large and heavy maps from just above the blackboard and quiz us about geography. [Many of you will recall the pink or red colors for the British Empire. Green was used for the French.]

When it came to sparking the imagination, those maps were magic.

And for many of us, they still are.

First Paragraph

I have written this book because I am convinced that there is a way to end most evil. And ending evil is the most important task humans can ever undertake.

- From Still The Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph by Dennis Prager

Highly Recommended

Image result for swan song amazon

An extensive collection of excerpts from diaries and documents on the last days of The Third Reich.

Quote of the Day

America's political system used to be about the pursuit of happiness. Now more and more of us want to stop chasing it and have it delivered.

- Jonah Goldberg

Saturday, March 24, 2018

There Was Always a Lot of Drama in Berlin



Today, The Wall Street Journal had a review of the latest translation of the book. [The review is behind a subscription wall but it's worth tracking down.]

Here is a trailer for the "Berlin Alexanderplatz" television mini-series. The series itself is a mere 15 1/2 hours long.

Not "The Elvis"

Cultural Offering has the essential mixes of Elvis Costello.

Having led a sheltered life, it is possible that I have never heard a song by Elvis Costello but that gap will be remedied.

Quick Look

The trailer for "A Quiet Place."

First Paragraph

I've learned, over the years, that nighttime in the open deserts of Iraq could be surprisingly beautiful and still.

- From One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams by Chris Fussell with C. W. Goodyear

When You Don't Know Why

A person writing in a life planner with a coffee and a croissant on the desk

[Photo by Cathryn Lavery at Unsplash]


There is wisdom in refraining from something because it just doesn't feel right. You may not know the reason for your hesitation, but your mind is telling you to beware.

There are times, of course, when we do know the reason. We don't want to write the report or go to the movie and we can cite the basis.

But what about those times when you resist doing something and the situation doesn't fit either of the above? We don't sense a threat or problem and we can't cite a reason.

My completely unscientific belief is that procrastinating until you are in the mood may not be a cop-out. It may instead be a mode of mental preparation; an acknowledgement that if you tackle the task later you will do a better job.

That's my rationalization and I'm sticking to it.

A Dental Story

David Kanigan has been floating.

The recovery period should have plenty of time to watch "Marathon Man." 

Quote of the Day

If a society is to preserve its stability and a degree of continuity, it must know how to keep its adolescents from imposing their tastes, attitudes, values, and fantasies on everyday life.

- Eric Hoffer

In the Stacks

Two vintage hardcover books with deteriorating pages laying next to each other.

[Photo by Kiwihug at Unsplash]


Back soon.

Ultra-Early Quote of the Day

The laws in this city are racist. All laws are racist. The law of gravity is racist.

- Marion Barry

Friday, March 23, 2018

Quick Look

The trailer for "Adrift."

News You Can Use: Sleep


The Art of Manliness has a technique on how to fall asleep in two minutes or less.

Don't forget "the brook trout look."

[HT: Instapundit]

Weekend Leadership Reading

Shot of daytime studio through the doorway with lifesaver and plants on wall, Isles of Scilly

[Photo by Annie Spratt at Unsplash]


Wally Bock has some assignments for us.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Unbroken 2."

A Chair, a Book, and an Appointment

An armchair, checkered table, and books in a room with wooden floorboards

[Photo by at Cater Yang Unsplash]


So often we read on the fly. Whether it is while having breakfast or waiting in doctor's offices or at airports, we try to catch up on our reading in much the same way many of us seek to catch up on sleep.

That is common and it is a mistake when it comes to anything deeper than the standard thriller or spy novel. More substantive material requires focus and time. Ten minutes here or there won't do it.

A comfortable chair and at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted time will be needed. [Better yet, schedule a one or two hour block.]

Schedule it. Don't wish for it. Treat it as if it were a meeting only in this case the meeting may be with Aristotle, Drucker, Tolstoy or some other writer of real substance.

It will be time well-spent.

Quick Look

The trailer for "Backstabbing for Beginners."

Great Book Titles

Image result for in the great apache forest amazon

Quote of the Day

Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.

- Robert Benchley

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Mission and Vision Statements

Today I facilitated a discussion for an organization that is revising its mission and vision statements.

It went extremely well. We made amazing progress in a short period of time and accomplished all we had to achieve.

A key reason: a lot of thought had gone into the issues ahead of time and the management team was very positive.

Trivia item: The motto for the Royal Air Force is Per Ardua ad Astra; "Through Adversity to the Stars."

Beauty

A woman holding her long hair while standing in front of a blue and purple building.


[Photo by Svetlana Pochatun at Unsplash]


Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.

- Franz Kafka

Quick Look

The trailer for "Eighth Grade."

Facebook's Reality



In the New York Post, John Podhoretz with a reminder that Facebook was never free. An excerpt:

Did you think the company that has allowed you to consume news and opinion at no cost whatsoever to you was doing so out of the goodness of its collective heart?


"Does It Bring You Misery? Delete It."

A man working at a MacBook on a wooden table


[Photo by Bench Accounting at Unsplash]

Nicholas Bate has the answer.

And Patrick Rhone would like to abolish "I don't have the time."

The University as Trade School

Long book-filled shelves in a library


[Photo by Priscilla Du Preez at Unsplash]

The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point is reportedly discussing a plan to eliminate 13 majors including English, philosophy, history and Spanish. 

Read the rest of the article at The Hill.

If the plan is adopted they will still offer classes in those subjects, but won't have majors. That sounds like a ruse. Without a major-driven program, those classes will be fewer and fewer.

A university is not a trade school. Although universities should provide teaching in subjects that can aid careers, they also have a responsibility to preserve and promote knowledge. Besides that, a person who has studied history or philosophy has acquired knowledge that can apply in a wide variety of jobs. The individual is also closer to what most of us regard as "well-educated."

They should have classes on French literature, Chinese art, and an assortment of unusual subjects. If the universities don't, who will?

Great Book Titles

Image result for screw it. let's do it amazon

Quote of the Day

Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.

- G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Phoenix Winter

The breeze spreads the smell of orange blossoms throughout my neighborhood. A hummingbird has started to build a nest on top of the light on my patio. It is around 8 o'clock in the evening and the temperature is 71 degrees.

But it is partly cloudy.

Brutal.

Interest Groups of the Caribbean


Disney is once again changing its "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride.

Because as we all know, pirates were extraordinarily sensitive to the rights of women.

The Los Angeles Times article also notes that Disney no longer sells the frontier rifles in Frontierland.  

When we took our children to Disneyland many years ago, I bought a flintlock rifle (and a flintlock pistol!) for my son. He was somehow able to overcome the trauma of the purchases.

I am wondering if the pirates will be disarmed in the future. 

Admit it. That is not beyond the realm of possibility.


[HT: Joel Engel]

Every Single Day

A man's hand holding a cup of coffee on a workspace with a notebook and a keyboard


[Photo by Cathryn Lavery at Unsplash]


We pay a price whenever the day is unplanned. You cannot connect dots if only a few at a time are seen and if plans are not coordinated then time is lost and priorities are skewed. I keep recalling Stephen Covey's admonition that we should schedule our priorities instead of prioritizing our schedule. In doing so we need to book project work and not just meetings.

The evening is the best time to plan the next day. Mornings can be hectic. Surprises may arrive with the newspapers. 

Another consideration: Review the upcoming two weeks, not just the coming week. For some reason, we often have a tendency to think that a date is further out than it truly is. The "Two Week glance" reduces the likelihood of surprise. 

[Anyone who has ever turned an appointment calendar from one month to the next knows what I mean. The first week of a new month can arrive like a speeding freight train.]

"Cocktail Hour" in the Foreign Legion

They had been on the farm for three weeks. They came from Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, and Ukraine. Seven actually came from France, but had been given new identities as “French Canadian.” After the recruits returned to the compound they had a while to wait before dinner. In the dirt yard a slim, bullying corporal barked them into a disciplined formation in a parade-rest stance: feet apart, eyes fixed forward, hands clasped behind their backs. Then the sky opened up. The men were drenched but did not care. In the winter they might have been less indifferent. Men who have been through winters on the farms insist as a result that you should never join the Legion then. You should go to Morocco, sleep under a bridge, do anything, and wait for spring. The rain stopped. The sergeant extinguished his cigarette. For me, in French, he spared precisely four words: “It is cocktail hour.” He walked across the compound, released the men from formation, and led them through the barn to the back side, where the cocktails were being served. The cocktails were pull-ups and dips and a sequence of synchronized sit-ups punctuated by two brief rests during which the slim corporal strolled across the abdomens of the recruits. Then it was run to the barn to wash, and run to a multi-purpose room to eat.

Read all of the 2012 Vanity Fair article by William Langwiesche.

Music Break

USD Choral Scholars with "Mo Ghille Mear (My Gallant Hero)."

[Are all of the women in Ireland beautiful?]

Quote of the Day

Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?

- George Gobel

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In the Background

Image result for amelie soundtrack amazon

Quick Look

The trailer for "Wild Wild Country."

Go See




[Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov at Unsplash]

I could request a report, but I'd better go see.

I could make a call but I will learn more if I go see.

I could listen to descriptions of what others have seen and question them carefully to make certain they have covered everything but still, in the back of my mind, there is the sense that I will get much more information more quickly if I do something else.

What could that be?

Old Friends

An old man and woman having a conversation with their canes next to a doorway.


[Photo by Cristina Gottardi at Unsplash}


Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Because Everyone Loves The Beatles

Althouse has some videos of a couple of brothers who sing Beatles songs in the New York subway. 

They go by the name Blac Rabbit and they are very good.

Alert Nicholas Bate, the fifth Beatle. They may need a back-up singer.

Just Another Day at the Office

The trailer for "Tomb Raider."

Quote of the Day

My grandfather used to make home movies and edit out the joy.

- Richard Lewis

Monday, March 19, 2018

Medical Maxim




[Photo by Isabell Juskova at Unsplash]


When you hear hoof beats, think of horses, not zebras.

- Dr. Theodore Woodward

Decline of the Toy



Anderson Layman's Blog on the fall of Toys 'R' Us.

Very interesting and troubling.