Sunday, August 30, 2009

Missing, still.

I find myself missing Robin today. It is a day early, though it was a Sunday, it was the 31st. I should be over everything, but somehow I am not.

Sat with my mom and talked about dad some. She has always had such exact schedules, and this time nothing goes in easily planned or predicted increments. It can be hard for her.

Anyway, it was a couple tough days, remembering my daughter who died, when the third time was not a charm, but a third death, more than I thought I could ever take. Perhaps it was.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bought another Elgin Print

itknowswhereitsgoing.jpg It Knows Where It's Going
Print 11
Add to Cart

Now that I've bought mine, I'll link to it for anyone else who is interested.

The print I received was much better than the catalog appears. George Elgin has done a fine job with Suzette Haden Elgin's artwork and the prints.

This one reminds me a lot of the boat used in some of the stories at

Monday, August 24, 2009

Honesty and Recovery

I was reading on PTSD when it hit me that there is a concept where grief recovery, twelve-step programs and a number of other things converge. That concept is honesty.

The best place to begin with honesty is when you are wrong, promptly admit it. When you have failed to get something done, do not hide, instead acknowledge it. I try to train staff who work for me to do this (it is extremely rare for any mistake they could make to do more than be an inconvenience -- if they tell me so I can fix it). When someone else fails, look for solutions, don't waste time on blaming or anger.

Part of this is letting others express their anger without cutting them off or making excuses. You can explain later, much later, and always in the context of "I mess up by ... and this is how I will avoid it in the future." If the excuse is really good, you won't need to make it (e.g. I missed a hearing because I was rear ended and my care caught on fire. When my office called the Court ten minutes before the hearing was to start and said "Mr. Marsh will be delayed, his car is on fire" no one neeced an explanation or excuse later.).

Avoid legalisms or strained constructions. "Sure I practiced piano today [in my mined, while I was asleep]" is not honest, truthful, persuasive or useful. Looking for someone to blame is even worse than not useful.

As a place to start recovery, honesty is essential. You will have real trouble finding truth if you are not honest. The truth is that recovery can come. The honest truth is that it takes honesty for recovery to happen in a real sense.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dad is down twenty pounds in the last thirty days

My dad's Parkinson's disease has moved into the wasting stage. He can no longer walk, and doesn't have strength for much. Has begun to not eat much at all. The last candy I bought him is still there. The drop off in appetite was extremely precipitous. He remains happy and pleasant.

Seems so sudden, but considering the time they gave him as an estimate, guess it is not.

Not much else to say.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gravity and Levity

An interesting blog.

For example:

... my eight lifetimes. In it, I postulated that we measure time relative to our age, and as a result each length of time wherein our age doubles carries an equal psychological weight. There’s nothing scientific about this discussion — it’s just an idea. But it has absolutely changed the way I think about my life and the process of getting older. At the risk of being a shameless self-promoter, I highly recommend reading it.

The argument about “my eight lifetimes” can be summarized this way: in your life you will undergo roughly eight major transformations. That is, you get eight “lifetimes” during which you become a new and different person. If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’re already on your sixth or seventh. This is not to say you have one foot in the grave: having an entire lifetime ahead of you is still a big deal. For me, a 25-year-old, the two remaining lifetimes are the transformation from a 20-something-year-old to a middle aged man, and then from middle age to an old man. Both of those time periods are a big deal, and each of them contains plenty of living to be done. I just imagine that the time period between age 6 and age 12 was a similarly big deal.

All of this brings me back to the Gompertz Law of human mortality. The Gompertz Law is already an extraordinarily fair statement: no one escapes mortality, which becomes exponentially more probable in old age. But if you subscribe to my idea of time progressing relative to itself (of life being composed of “lifetimes”), then the consequence of the Gompertz Law is an almost extreme level of fairness. Look at it this way: about 96% of people survive to age 48 (the beginning of the “eighth lifetime”), but only 4% make it to age 96 (the end of the eighth lifetime). If you try to come up with an equation for probability of survival vs. number of lifetimes lived, you get an almost absurd exponential within an exponential within an exponential.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Why Loyalty Matters

Management fads are often driven by the conflict of interest that bonus structures create. Sunbeam had massive downsizing which resulted in extreme riches to managers who battened on the health and wealth of the company to its harm. Texas Instruments had its culture ravaged by the same sort of thing and has been striving to make things right. In every case the company involved betrays the loyalty of its workers to benefit often transitory and predatory managers.

It goes back to business schools. I had a friend in the early 80s who expressed his unhappiness that to continue in his then area of choice he needed to find a plant and close it to demonstrate toughness. He needed to sacrifice the careers and lives of hundreds of employees to have a resume item. He noted that probably more than 75% of plant closings at that time in the 1980s were not justified – they were betrayals of worker loyalty for modest personal profit for the managers closing them at the expense of the corporate entity and the loyal employees.

It is no surprise that after about thirty years of this type of treatment, older workers tend to lack loyalty and younger workers (often their children) see loyalty as foolish. That is one of the gifts that elite MBA schools and management consultants have given modern America – an erosion of loyalty. That same experience has bled out into consumer relationships.

I can compare a small business I know with Volvo. When the UPS strike hit, in order to make his commitments to clients to make thirty day delivery turn-around, John paid for overnight express delivery and ate the loss. He was and is loyal to his customers and a man of integrity. Volvo, I bought a car from them (two actually). The paint was bad. They kept promising that they had fixed it when all they had done was buff and use colored wax that would hide the problem for 2-3 months. Finally, they offered to pay for half of the cost of repainting – if I used their provider. Of course they wanted me to pay about $2,500.00 for my half, up front, for a paint job that should have cost a total of less than $1,500.00 (same color, one color, no primer needed). I actually had the job done for $800.00 and it has lasted several years and is still excellent.

In other words, Volvo offered to make only a $1,600.00 profit at my expense for fixing their problem. Did that show or inculcate loyalty, honesty or trustworthiness? Obviously not at all. I’ll never buy a Volvo again and would advise anyone I know not to buy one.

Yet, there is a reason people are happier when they are loyal. Companies that are loyal have more satisfied and effective employees and better served customers. Now loyalty alone won’t do the job, but without loyalty in the mix, the job does not get done well.

As you might suspect, I’ve been enjoying

If you pick it up, it is easy to mistake it for a book length advertisement for a web 2.0 application. Of course access to the application is free with the book and only tangential to the book itself (in other words, it is an effort to provide “value added” material, not a cheesy attempt to get you to pay for a book length advertisement for a web app).

Once you get past the short aside for the web based service, what you get is an explanation of what loyalty is, why it is important, how to measure loyalty (rather than how to make superficial guesses like most “loyalty programs” do) and how to nurture and integrate loyalty with the other elements that lead to corporate and personal success, and that are essential for individual satisfaction and happiness.

The book is honest. For example, 80% of your loyal customers are ones you are losing money on and will never turn a profit on (which is one of the reasons they are loyal).

However, it is important to realize that your life will be more satisfying and you will be happier if you have areas where you can be loyal. Understanding loyalty is a significant point in finding happiness in your life.

I’ll write more on the book and on loyalty, but it is a worthwhile read.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A sidenote, link to some beautiful art for example (the one I just bought).

On the left hand side of the page there are three buttons:

The first takes you to the home page. The second is a list of the prints available (not a link to print the list). The third will change names, it is the next print on the list. You can scroll through the prints by just clicking on that link over and over again. Oh, and I cheated on the links -- instead of Friends (the text on the page I've linked to) taking you to that print, it jumps to another one I really liked ;)

If more people read my blog, I'd probably have had second thoughts, since I expect I'll go back and buy that one too and I would want it to sell out before I get the chance ...

But just scrolling through the prints can enrich your day and make you smile, even if you don't buy one.

Suzette is a living saint, btw, one of the Elachi.