Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The Divine Chorus
I like the thought that we seek harmony rather than unison.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The day Heather was grabbed by the Mexicans
This story -- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23784226/ -- reminded me of the event.
I'm still grateful to those three ladies. Funny the things you look back at with thanks.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Some interesting essays in evidence based child rearing
We have a baseline sense of what society considers appropriate, moral behavior, and we have a sense of where we fit in that. If we do something that is better than our norm, we balance it out with something a bit devious: it's a zero-sum game.
Of course the solution is to change the baseline, recognizing that if you don't change the baseline you will just get resource shifting, not improvement.
Should Children Redshirt Kindergarten?
It seems that fewer parents are comfortable with their child being one of the youngest in the class, the runts of the litter. By simply holding them back, parents can ensure their child begins the rat race as one of the oldest, most mature kids in class.
Does it give them an advantage or does it just slow them down?
The children’s reasoning scores, on average, leapt 32%. Translated to an IQ standard, that bumped them 13 points.
For comparison, consider that a 12 point gain is normally how much a child’s IQ goes up after an entire year of school. By giving the children precisely targeted games, Bunge and Mackey were able to beat that, in just 20 hours of game playing.
Go Sandy and Rich -- improving the IQ of America's kids, one game at a time ;)
New Research: Blaming Others Is Contagious
Important to think about.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Today we bought a tree and put it up in the front room. I was in charge of pruning away excess decorations. Then Rachel asked me which decorations were the most valuable. I pointed her to the ones Jessica made in the month before she died. Just Popsicle stick reindeer ornaments.
Suddenly it is too much for me, so I'm here. I'll be back in with them in a minute.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Escaping from utter poverty
Photocopies and word processing dropped the number of typists by 70% or more. The career path no longer exists as it once was. There are few replacements. They are not as easy physically or as pleasant. Filing jobs still exist, though computers continue to consume them. I'm posting about an alternative.
The first alternative is the certified nurses aide. It is a six week class, often a hospital will subsidize it for a worker. Bottom rung job in health care. But from there, there are a number of related training opportunities. CNA -> tech -> advanced tech or practical nurse -> advanced nursing degree or advanced tech or physician's assistant. Working and going to school or training. From the bottom rung to more than $200,000.00 a year (without becoming an M.D.).
Harder, not as pleasant, but you can start that path without any skill but the ability to read at a sixth grade level or less and the ability to work with alacrity. Many women take the path to escape abusive or hopeless situations, many men to find a place to start working when they've bottomed out of school and life. I've taken the depositions of doctors who got a similar start.
The road can be very long, but it is a road and one that almost anyone can start.
There are not that many lifelines out there. This is one.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Geoengineering, climate change and what should we fear?
Since it's technically possible and not all that hard to get going, we really need to talk about it and hopefully get treaties in place before someone takes this technology and does something massively stupid ....
Something to think and talk about. A presentation taped September, 2007, long before Climategate or Superfreakeconomics.
For more, visit http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2009/11/global-warming-tedtalks-2/1610/
There is a lot to think about, especially since almost any approach is likely to create incredible human hardship and suffering, from doing nothing to aggressive responses, both in crashing the world economies to stop carbon emissions to risk taking without proper study.
A lot to think about.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
A delightful day, I am grateful for so many things
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Finding a place as you age
- Ruling Matriarch
- Cherished Family Member
Entertainers end up competing with television, books and games. Usually they end up spending time pushing boundaries becasue in every other way they exhaust their ourve. While boundary pushing is great for a six year old, eventually you end up being old, rude and skanky, if not irrelevant.
To be cherished requires grace and patience. You have to learn to listen, to love and to console without offering advice or prescriptions. To be the person everyone goes to for a listening ear, a word of love and encouragement, a place of peace.
There are other things a grandparent can do to nourish and support an extended family. Dr. Elgin's book covers them. But you need to start with a foundation of peaceful love and patience.
For more on the book, click on the link, then pick it up through interlibrary loan.
Friday, November 20, 2009
You are invited for dessert at my house
Wanted to celebrate Heather being home, and she can't get Bluebell Ice Cream at BYU.
I'll also have fat free Fage yogurt for those, like me, who generally don't eat desserts.
It has been too long since our last party at the house. Feel free to come and just bring an appetite, children welcome, just like the last time.
Heather is back only for a limited time (just for Thanksgiving, then back to get ready for finals). We have missed her.
Update, the party went really well, though we had some people show up at 4:00 or so and others came a bit late so they left around 11:00 p.m.
Still, I wouldn't have missed anyone. It was grand.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Funny things heard about myself
Even Steve Marsh can't do that
Just because you can do it doesn't mean it is possible.
I'm Steve Marsh, but I'm not the real Steve Marsh.
The first was when I was going through documents with some other attorneys. All that mattered was whether or not one of six boxes was checked in the wrong position. If it was, the document needed to be pulled, regardless of what it said. The other guy was reading each document. Once I explained to him how I was going so fast ...
The third was another RPG designer, giving an address to a group. He's very good, anything I've done, he probably could have done, but he wanted to make sure they did not give him credit for my work (which was earlier). I wish I had saved it when I ran across it on the internet. Funny thing is that we both go by Stephen, and get called Steve.
But the second to last has given me thought. There are things, that just because they have happened, or just because they can be done, does not mean that they are possible -- they should be treated as anomalies rather than as guides or examples for someone else. We were talking RPG design, but the rule applies in many ways to many things.
Now that I'm in my fifties, there are things I could do in my twenties that I can't do, and that are not possible for me to do, which seems so strange, since there are so many things I do so much better.
I'll do a better post on this later, but I've been thinking about it, how just because things have happened doesn't mean that they are possible enough to be part of our expectations, goals or plans.
It is a sobering thought, at times.
Realized that what had gotten to me was being at Stake Priesthood Meeting without my dad. Finally came to the surface how much I miss him, again.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Freedom and Honesty
We need complete freedom to express our honest feelings [to God]
Freedom is an essential factor in the healing process because recovery is based on the practice of honest with ourselves and with [God].
It strikes me that in all types of recovery, freedom and honesty, that is, the freedom to be honest with ourselves and with God, rather than to be bound up or hidden, is important. So that our sorrow, our anger, our fear and our pain can, and should be acknowledged with ourselves and with God.
Friday, November 06, 2009
The key to her heart ...
You can tell a lot about what a person values by what you can do that makes them happy and what is most important to them. I remember one sister in a ward I was in who said that the only things that mattered were if a guy had hair and could dance and she discovered after marriage that her husband was going bald and didn't like to dance. Perhaps she should have been looking for different things, or perhaps just at a different person.
One of the reasons the human species is still around is that there are so many different things that different women value. I knew a girl who really valued how tall guys were. We were friends and got along well, but I called it off after one date when I discovered that was important to her (I'm not tall). My wife likes bright guys and people who find thinking and improving themselves important. I can do that, especially the improving as I've a lot of room for improvement.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
One of my favorite quotes
What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually....
[Just brought up again by someone commenting on it here]
Worth a visit I think.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Working on decorating
Still trying to decorate the house.
You know how it is, though a couple 72" Frazetta posters seemed like just the right touch, no one agreed ;)
Rorschach Tests and our Hearts
I was reading http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/2009/11/of-analogies-rorschach-tests-and-elder-oaks/ and it made me think of just how many things function as carte blanches that we can read into what we hope for or fear.
Our current president of the United States is one. So much that swirls around him seems to be what people have read into him for good or ill. I see that in other areas as well.
Which is why it is sometimes good to use the things we react to as hints as to what we might see if we looked into our own hearts.
Friday, October 30, 2009
What has happened to my heart
What brought it to mind was reading the travails of a young woman who felt God led her in a direction that came up dry. She had pain and confusion and questions of God and about God. I've been through that in my life. Both in God not giving me the results I prayed for when each of my daughters was dying, and in the times I felt pushed in a direction or towards a goal that did not seem to bear the indicated fruit.
The hard part is that it has come in the context of feeling God's love and grace. Of being blessed, including occasional physical miracles (like when I was kicked in the head hard enough to rock me back and off my feet, and had not a mark on me).
But what happened is that I realized that I've come to accept that I do not know the meaning of things other than that God is mindful of me and that his grace and love are there. Reminds me of how Seraphine writes of her heart being healed by the atonement when she wasn't looking.
I learned to accept the atonement, to rely on grace and love, and to begin to surrender. To become willing to let God cure me of my infirmities. That has what has begun to happen to my heart.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
On the dentist alleged to have given people AIDS intentionally
Just an update, since what I'd read and heard in the past is not necessarily accurate.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
On Global Warming and Cooling
The essay is at: Global Warming Fact Quiz
1. If the Earth’s warming leads to global catastrophe, that would be a really bad outcome.
TRUE / FALSE
2. Even when there is enormous uncertainty about the likelihood of future cataclysms, it makes sense to invest now in finding ways to avoid such cataclysms.
TRUE / FALSE
3. Economists estimate that the costs of reducing carbon emissions are likely to be upwards of $1 trillion per year.The correct answer to all three of these economic questions is “TRUE.” These are the three key economic facts that are critical to the arguments in our chapter. The first question doesn’t require any further explanation. The answer to the second question has been hammered home by Martin Weitzman’s work in the area, which we cite in SuperFreakonomics, as well as a newer paper that Weitzman has written. The third fact is based on the analysis of Nicholas Stern. These cost estimates are obviously highly speculative, but the true cost of reducing carbon emissions is likely to be within two orders of magnitude of this number.
TRUE / FALSE
The book is
It is what happens when applied statisticians get loose.
How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment
Imprisonment at five times the historical level in the United States, and at five times the level of any of the countries with which we would like to compare ourselves, has not been sufficient to fully reverse the growth in crime; current crime rates are still at 2.5 times the level of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Even that discouraging number understates how much worse things are now than they were half a century ago; today’s high crime rates persist in the face not only of ferocious punishment but also of greatly enhanced – and very costly – adaptations by potential victims to avoid being victimized. Those adaptations range from buying alarm systems to moving to the suburbs. Most of all, they involve avoiding risky situations. The need to take such precautions leaves all of us less free than Americans were half a century ago.
An amazing essay. Click on the link to read the rest of it.
Is there an alternative to brute force? There is reason to think so, and pieces of that alternative approach can be seen working in scattered places throughout the world of crime control. But the first step in getting away from brute force is to want to get away from brute force: to care more about reducing crime than about punishing criminals, and to be willing to choose safety over vengeance when the two are in tension.
If for a moment we thought about “crime” as something bad that happens to people, like auto accidents or air pollution or disease, rather than as something horrible that people do to each other—if we thought about it, that is, as an ordinary domestic-policy problem—then we could start to ask how to limit the damage crime does at as little cost as possible in money spent and suffering inflicted.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Resources for Grief
http://www.compassionatefriends.org/resources/available_brochures.aspx -- all of their material, for free, on-line.
Important, all of these can be obtained through interlibrary loan, for free. Because what will connect for you, and what will not, is extremely personal, don't buy any book you haven't read through the library for free first.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Me at a karate tournament
The throw just slipped right in there, reflex. I was really pleased.
It is a reprise to http://adrr.com/bengoshi/judo3.htm which I wrote about twenty years ago to capture something I did to amuse Win (she came to watch some Judo work-outs. One of them I used only this sequence of throws).
Friday, October 09, 2009
Failure in relationships
- Harsh start-ups. When conversations start with criticism, sarcasm or contempt, they are referred to as conversations that have begun with a harsh start-up. A conversation that begins with a harsh start-up will end on a negative note. A harsh start-up pretty much dooms a conversation to negative results, which is a failure. If you have a conversation that begins that way, stop the conversation and start over, whether you started talking that way to a child, a spouse, a co-worker or a subordinate.
- Toxic patterns. There are four.
- criticism rather than complaint. A complaint addresses a specific action or event, criticism is global. "You don't care" or "You are forgetful" or anything that sends the message "something is wrong with you" rather than "something is wrong with what you did" or "please change the way you are acting/what you are doing" is a criticism rather than a complaint.
- contempt. Sarcasm and cynicism reflect contempt. Contempt leads to conflict (obvious or hidden) and withdrawal and preempts reconciliation, blocking it.
- defensiveness. It doesn't work. The hidden message is always "the problem is not me, it is you and I want away from you."
- stonewalling. Tuning out is turning away and giving up, whether you recognize it or not.
- Rejected repair attempts. A repair attempt is a call for a time out, a white flag, an attempt to set things right. When repair attempts are rejected it is a rejection of reconcilliation. For example "you left the milk out and there is a mess." Someone who says "that sure was stupid of me" is making a repair attempt. If you pile on at that point, you are rejecting the attempt. Children often make very blotchy repair attempts. When they do, teach them how to make better attempts, don't just crush the blotch.
- Loss of positive memories. You need to build, refresh, recall, share and nourish positive memories. Positive memories lead to positive attitudes. Do you give someone the benefit of the doubt because of positive attitudes or do you just assume the worst? If you are assuming the worst, you are killing your positive memories.
If you do those things you can repair and save a failing relationship. If you are in a relationship that has those elements, it will probably fail (well, the r^2 on failure is over .83).
Don't ever let yourself start saying "you always" or "you never" or "you are so selfish" or ... unless your goal is to end the relationship. Do spend time every day with a positive memory (the reason for things like gratitude lists). Do share positive memories every day.
You can (and probably should) complain, it is how people help each other improve. Part of a useful boss's feedback is complaints. Properly training a secretary includes teaching them to complain. But universal criticism (as defined above) is useless and toxic. It poisons what should be memories that make a couple glad of each other, replacing those memories with acid burns.
Nourish good memories and good responses instead.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
The Hobbit meets the Internet ...
Dear MR BAGGINS, Fellow Conspirator,I just received this from a friend.
I am Thorin Oakenshield, descendant of Thrain the Old and grandson of Thror who was King under the Mountain. I am writing you to discuss our plans, our ways, means, policy and devices for rescuing our treasure from the dragon Smaug.
During the reign of Thror our kingdom was a prosperous one. Kings used to send for our smiths, and reward even the least skillful most richly. Fathers would beg us to take their sons as apprentices, and pay us handsomely, especially in food-supplies, which we never bothered to grow or find for ourselves. Altogether those were good days for us, and the poorest of us had money to spend and to lend, and leisure to make beautiful things just for the fun of it, not to speak of the most marvellous and magical toys, the like of which is not to be found in the world now-a-days.
Undoubtedly that was what brought the dragon. Dragons steal gold and jewels from men and elves and dwarves, wherever they can find them; and they guard their plunder as long as they live (which is practically for ever, unless they are killed), and never enjoy a brass ring of it. There was a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm called Smaug. One day he flew up into the air and came south. The dragon settled on our mountain in a spout of flame and routed out all the halls, and lanes, and tunnels, alleys, cellars, mansions and passages. After there were no dwarves left alive inside the mountain he took all their wealth for himself.
In view of this, I received your contact through a friend and counselor, an ingenious wizard, who noted you as a Burglar who wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward. And I and my twelve companions have agreed to give you 10% of the total gold and jewels that the dragon Smaug now rests upon if you can join us on our long journey. When you have agreed please tell us the place where you dwell and send one hundred pence so that we might travel to you.
Please hold what I have told you in strict confidence and I look forward to your earliest response.
The Hobbit meets an on-line scam ... ;)
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
It is a book on communication, but totally different from the usual approach. The research shows that there is a 90% correlation between some communication patterns and a marriage that succeeds or fails.
Do you have harsh openings when you talk to someone, or do you have gentle ones? When you have a disagreement, do you use sarcasm, do you ever change your mind, do you value your spouse's opinions (and care to hear them) or do you downgrade anyone you disagree with?
Do either of you make repair or soothing attempts, and if one occurs, do you respond to it?
Those are all patterns you can learn to recognize, control and improve.
The book has a lot more than those points, but it teaches them well and they are the core to successful relationships (with friends, at work, or in a marriage). It contains a lot of accessible checklists, advice and patterns you can use. Best, it is data driven rather than modeled on current trends, psych fads or common knowledge and old tales.
Based on it, I've got some rules for talking to a spouse.
- Never say "you always" or "you never" or "you are." That leads to divorce because it devalues your spouse and puts them in the category of "bad" rather than someone you love. If you want not to love them, fine, but otherwise take a different approach.
- Never use sarcasm in any emotional discussion with your spouse. If there is emotion, then you should never belittle, degrade or use sarcasm (you shouldn't anyway).
- Be gentle with each other.
- Never pile on. When a repair attempt occurs (e.g. "you forgot to pick up the milk." [not, "you always forget to pick up the milk"] "I did, that was stupid" -- that is a repair attempt) If you pile on a that stage (e.g. "you sure are stupid!") you are sending the message that you don't want change, you just want to hurt the other person.
- Spend some time each day supporting your spouse's venting. Agree with them, don't try to fix it or offer solutions, don't try to talk them out of venting. Take at least 15 minutes and make sure they do at least 95% of the talking.
Obviously there is a lot more than my conclusions in this book (ok, it may not be obvious, and with some books, there would not be, but there are in this case). Different people will have different take away points (and I have more, but I just wanted five for this post), with different amounts of tangibility (application vs. general principles).
Worth getting through interlibrary loan or used at amazon.com. Bears revisiting and the checklists and quizes are useful for application.
I may do some more posts based on the book.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Then, as I began to lose weight and I ate lunch at home every day. That went on for more than three years.
We moved, the house isn't close enough, and I've been eating lunch at work for the past six or so months.
I finally went back to the Chinese place, had asparagus chicken again. This time I skipped the rice, skipped the sauce, didn't finish the asparagus and enjoyed the chicken. It was like an entirely different experience.
For a link to the article I read recently:
How American Health Care Killed My Father - The Atlantic ...
and a commentary on it:
How American Health Care Killed My Father, David Henderson ...
Not my experience. Not my story. But interesting and a comment on the health care reform debate.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Reflections on Karate and Wado Ryu
Modern karate began with Funakoshi Gichin (or Gichin Funakoshi in the west) whose greatest skill was his impeccable sense of manners and his complete lack of self promotion.
He taught a style of punching and kicking (and other strikes) with high stances that operated from the balls of the foot. Most of the students he taught were Judoka -- people with a great deal of training, experience and competition titles in Judo.
He had two heir apparents. Hironori Ōtsuka and Funakoshi's son. Ōtsuka was not part of the university and Judo groups and was eventually alienated and founded Wado-Ryu. Funakoshi's son Gigō (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi died early of tuberculosis .
As a result, Nakayama Masatoshi (M. Nakayama in the west) became the dominant force in Japanese karate, not just Shotokan by virtue of incredible political skills. A PhD who was the director of physical education at Takushoku University, he had sophisticated and developed teaching and planning skills, which he devoted to unifying the teaching of karate as a system. He also had his background in Kendo, not Judo. He also cooperated with Hidetaka Nishiyama.
Under Nakayama the transition to lower stances and driving from the heel (much like an Olympic powerlifter drives from the heel) matured and completed (though it started with Gigō Funakoshi who is credited with originating the concepts), with a transforming ripple that affected all of the techniques, kata and applications.
As an aside, many of the conflicts between karate instructors can be better understood in terms of the University caste system vs. the old fashioned birth caste system (e.g. many early karate-ka had university credentials and gained status as graduates of the Japanese equivalents of the American Ivy League schools in a Japan where that status was very important -- these are the same people who refereed matches in suits and ties). The older birth caste system (which ranked people's status by the nobility of their parents -- Samurai caste and various degrees in that caste, for example) was fading and being supplanted at the time. Many in that caste had martial arts traditions in their families, but due to the social shifts were unable to finish university educations.
As to Wado and Shotokan, which is better and which is the better way to begin martial arts instruction? I'm not qualified to decide. Shotokan can have tai sabaki (when our club in Wichita Falls trained under Nic http://nikchapapas.typepad.com/ every work out included a fair amount of tai sabaki drills as a part of the warm-up), Wado can have a great deal of power. I had Judo training before Karate. I admire people in both styles, I just could not continue in Shotokan after Robin died. Wado is something I can do right now, and I was able to keep my dad's death from derailing me.
But, I had not seen the thoughts I'm expressing here expressed anywhere else, so I wrote this post and edited the Wiki a little. I train because it has been part of my life since I was a teenager, and I'm glad to find a place I can train that is not overwritten by emotional issues or too far to drive from my house.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
What should we call Triage?
But most have limits that cut in before there are risks that people are unwilling to take or limits on just what sort of treatment people choose. Insurance won't cover experimental treatment. Some policies have lifetime treatment caps. Most electives are outside of coverage. That is triage.
The first time I encountered triage was when a guy ran a red light and hit me. We ended up in the same ER and they took care of him first. Triage is applying limited resources in order of need and effectiveness. It is often not pretty and often not fair.
Health plans have triage There are limits to the time and money available. People tend to want three things. First, they want more than they are paying for, second, they often want treatment past what other people would judge to be the point of diminishing returns and third, they often want treatment so they can avoid being compliant in observing their own health.
At times, triage comes together harshly. In WWII, antibiotics went first to treat venereal diseases, and then what was left over went to treat those injured in combat. Generally, combat infections resulted in death. V.D. got you treatment. But the treated went back to war, those rotting from combat wounds would have gone home (and, you could treat 20 cases of V.D. for the same antibiotics that one infected wound would take).
Often, triage also seems arbitrary. Decisions made seem to be random, often decided by cultural matters. Sometimes the decisions are mechanical, made in advance by formulas (Oregon's hierarchy list for example).
So, what do you call triage? In some ways it decides who gets an extra chance at life and who dies now. It also decides who gets treatment for non-compliance and who gets optional benefits (e.g. dialysis for for kidney problems brought on by not controlling sugar intake, AZT for AIDS, abortions, Viagra, or cosmetic surgery -- you name it, it might be on someone's list).
In addition, at some point, medical care is no longer done for someone, it is done to someone. Who decides that point? Some people would pay a million dollars to live an extra hour in pain rather than die an hour earlier in peace, especially if it is someone else's money.
It is disingenuous to claim that triage and plans for triage do not exist. It is a lie to deny that. However, it is questionable to characterize such plans as "death panels." Perhaps, perhaps not. But denying that triage exists is not only a lie, it is a harmful lie, because it stops communication about the real issue.
Given that perhaps half of Medicare money goes to mostly futile expenditures in the last ninety days of life, given the growing expense of non-compliance, given all of these other issues, we need a rational discussion on triage. Avoiding it by claiming that it is not happening or can be avoided serves no one. Until we can have an open and honest discussion on triage, we will be in denial, with all the increasing failures that causes.
What will be the answer we get? I don't know. What is the right answer? I don't know. But we can't find either the right answer or any answer if we don't have an honest discussion.
Triage in a Finite World
Currently, the limits of time and money are coming to the fore in health care. Oregon faced it head on. They ranked treatments by cost effectiveness and then matched them up with State resources. If there is money, and your treatment does not mean someone else is denied a more effective treatment (for spending the money on your treatment instead), you get the treatment at state expense. If the answer is different, they will pay for counseling and for euthanasia treatments (which are legal in that state).
The easiest way to finance health care for all is to take the current dollars spent and pour them over into a new system that covers everyone. But if that is done, you will get different triage choices than the current system offers.
Now triage happens. Insurance will often not pay for things (which reminds me of battles in past years to force insurers to pay for treatments now known to be failures). But there are often improvements. Hypoplastic left ventrical used to be a death sentence. Now 60% of those treated with surgery survive, though year after year after year of failures occurred first.
We need an open, honest and extensive national discussion on triage in a finite world. Not only about what we cannot accomplish, but about the things we can.
Becoming a Category of One
Trust, those you deal with must be able to trust you to do what you say and to keep your promises. They must trust your ability to deliver.
Reliability, people need to be able to rely on you, that things will be what they expect
Yes, these two virtues are very similar, they are part of a package, that needs both elements.
In addition to the two virtues, you need to have a core concept. Much of that is being able to answer the question "What is your story?" You need to be able to answer what it is that you do in a way that has meaning.
Finally, you need to realize that the goal you are seeking is not painless or effort free. Reaching the so-called position of a category of one is not trite. If things don't change, you have not made the necessary commitment. If bonuses go to the top of an organization in a change initiative, before anything happens or before positive long-term results have been measured, you have already failed.
Assuming you want to be extraordinary and that you are willing to do the work, there is a book that tells you much of how to do it. It also addresses the two questions:
- Why you might need to make the effort.
- Why you instead of someone else.
I should note that I enjoy reviewing books. Occasionally I get sent review copies of books that I really don't like or that don't speak to me. For example, The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work by Jon Gordon really seemed too short to me.
But, it was just the right length for my boss to borrow and read it (she is sometimes pressed for time, already workign 70 hours a week and a daughter who is an elite skater). Amazingly, I actually kept it on my desk for a couple of months, in the vertical position, so that anyone walking in my office would be confronted by it. I'd say it reduced some complaining by 90% or better just by people reading the title every time they came in my office to complain.
The book really worked, just from people having to confront the title.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
My dad died
I loved him and love him still.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Dying from Parkinson's
- The mind can go to the point where the body becomes deregulated.
- The body can go to the point where one is no longer strong enough to breathe and suffocates.
- Other body systems can weaken and fail, together or in sequence.
- Some people just sleep longer and longer and finally do not wake up.
- Some lose the desire to eat and eventually just fade away from not eating.
As for my dad, he expected to die a couple of years ago, wanted everyone near him and a blessing to make the transition easier (he was in constant pain, serious delusions and completely bed bound). He recovered and started walking again instead of dying.
But, it was temporary, it looks like he is now in the final decline. He has lost his appetite and begun to waste. That is probably the gentle way. He still recognizes everyone, he is at peace with death now. Hospice comes daily, but there is no concrete time line.
I visit from time to time, Win sits with him on Wednesdays so my mom can spend the morning at the temple, I come by on Saturdays to get him out of the bath (my mom isn't strong enough to get him out) and when he slips and falls to the floor (she isn't strong enough to lift him). He hasn't walked for some time, but he does transition to and from a wheel chair with the tools they gave my mom to make that possible. I suspect that is likely to end soon as he is just not strong enough to help at all in the transitions.
It isn't faster than expected, but it comes and goes irregularly. My mom has lived her life by structure, so this really does not fit, but then life never does.
I've got posts written, will get them up, just wanted to respond to some e-mails here. That's the news from Lake Woebegone, so to speak.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
Ok, I've only read some of them, but they were funny.
And, a choice of philosophy boxes:
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
I'm quoting from http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=2629 but this is great relationship material. Visit over there and read the whole thing.
So here’s my deal, we humans, we are a bunch of messed up sinners. All of us. We’re weak and lazy and selfish and power hungry. I think most all of us would like a dominion in which we are fanned by palm fronds and fed pealed grapes while receiving a foot massage and being read to by Morgan Freeman. Whilst sending our minions off to buy more jello and clean the toilets. Sigh.
But a righteous dominion must exist, no? Or there would be no need to warn of the unrighteous variety. I don’t know if in any substantial way dominion is different from the leadership, the words certainly feel different to me, to be led or to be dominated, even righteously.
Each husband, each father, should ask some questions of himself to see if he may be on the borderline of unrighteous dominion:
1. Do I criticize family members more than I compliment them?
2. Do I insist that family members obey me because I am the father or husband and hold the priesthood?
3. Do I seek happiness more at work or somewhere other than in my home?
4. Do my children seem reluctant to talk to me about some of their feelings and concerns?
5. Do I attempt to guarantee my place of authority by physical discipline or punishment?
6. Do I find myself setting and enforcing numerous rules to control family members?
7. Do family members appear to be fearful of me?
8. Do I feel threatened by the notion of sharing with other family members the power and responsibility for decision making in the family?
9. Is my wife highly dependent on me and unable to make decisions for herself?
10. Does my wife complain that she has insufficient funds to manage the household because I control all the money?
11. Do I insist on being the main source of inspiration for each individual family member rather than teaching each child to listen to the Spirit?
12. Do I often feel angry and critical toward family members?
To which, let me add my own bit of poetry:
a medley by Steve Marsh
a man is supple and weak when living
hard and stiff when dead
No power or influence can be maintained, except
the hard and the strong are the signs of death
the supple and changing the signs of life
by persuasion, by long suffering, by meekness and by gentleness
that which is forceful will not vanquish
that which is strong will fall to the axe
by kindness and pure knowledge
the strong fails
the supple succeeds
without hypocrisy and without guile
nothing is more submissive and weak than water
yet for breaking mountains, nothing can surpass it
Charity and virtue
that the weak overcome the strong, the
submissive the hard, all know
Yet none can put it into practice
Then the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul
as the dew from heaven and without
compulsory means dominion
shall flow unto thee
Forever and ever
Tao Te Ching
Doctrine and Covenants 121
Sunday, August 30, 2009
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
Monday, August 24, 2009
Honesty and Recovery
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
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.
... 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.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Veganism crosses the line into a moral error ...
He concludes (I'm taking an excerpt, read the whole thing by clicking on the links):
my own view is that veganism is a kind of harmless and in many ways sweet eccentricity (who can get mad about people who love animals?), but it crosses the line into a moral error insofar as people think it is morally obligatory or morally superior to non-vegan lifestyles.But, he is a liberal, at Chicago via UT. He is used to some abuse.
I expect stating this plainly will open me up to lots of abuse, but since vegans do not, as far as I can see, have any arguments that can appeal to shared background attitudes, they probably have no choice. As A.J. Ayer noticed long ago, "It is because argument fails us when we come to deal with pure questions of value, as distinct from questions of fact, that we finally resort to mere abuse."
The overall point, those who do not have arguments that can appeal to shared background attitudes, have only abuse to argue with. Combined with the triumph of value ethics, every disagreement becomes a proof of moral failing in those one disagrees with, rather than a disagreement.
Interesting to consider.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Why Loyalty Matters
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
On the left hand side of the page there are three buttons:
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.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Remembering that there is always another side.
There is another side. There is always another side. Sometimes it takes a long time to hear it. But hearing it is essential if we are to be “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens…of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).
That is a great truth.
Also of interest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_of_Survival
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Adjusting to Brilliance
For the most part, in the competing memes of talent and practice, I side with the [Talent is Overrated] camp.  However, real talent does exist . If you or a child you care for is brilliant, this essay is about how to cope with it. I'm using links to sub essays to keep the bullet points direct and succinct. *Make sure you are as bright as you think you are.  * Look for places where you are compensating. My brother Daniel is brilliant. He has severe dyslexia that was undiagnosed until he was a senior in college because he was compensating (well, he was first in his department). Had he been properly taught and helped in grade school, his life would have been much better. I have mild number dyslexia. I learned about it, and to compensate for it in 2009. Economics would have been easier if I had taken care of it thirty years earlier. * Believe in yourself. I'll note that Daniel has brilliant ideas, still. Sometimes he shares them with me. I'm always impressed that the only weakness in his ideas is that he does not believe in how brilliant they are. * Expect and excuse mistreatment. If you want to succeed in life you need to realize that in some contexts you will create and prompt people to be unjust and unfair and that the only successful response is to forgive them and move on.  * Practice. In a study of outliers in math ability, it was discovered that by engaging in practice, the brilliant learned better than the traditional belief that the brilliant could learn best by skipping the practice. They can, but that is compensating, and they learn better with practice. * Don't rush yourself. I started college at 17. I resisted things that would have pushed me into college at 15 or 16 or younger. My life was better for the delay. * Learn social skills. The pretty, the social, the pleasant get better treatment in life. Kind of like learning to dress for success or how to bath regularly, you should learn how to have a social demeanor. 
*Make sure you are as bright as you think you are. 
* Look for places where you are compensating. My brother Daniel is brilliant. He has severe dyslexia that was undiagnosed until he was a senior in college because he was compensating (well, he was first in his department). Had he been properly taught and helped in grade school, his life would have been much better. I have mild number dyslexia. I learned about it, and to compensate for it in 2009. Economics would have been easier if I had taken care of it thirty years earlier.
* Believe in yourself. I'll note that Daniel has brilliant ideas, still. Sometimes he shares them with me. I'm always impressed that the only weakness in his ideas is that he does not believe in how brilliant they are.
* Expect and excuse mistreatment. If you want to succeed in life you need to realize that in some contexts you will create and prompt people to be unjust and unfair and that the only successful response is to forgive them and move on. 
* Practice. In a study of outliers in math ability, it was discovered that by engaging in practice, the brilliant learned better than the traditional belief that the brilliant could learn best by skipping the practice. They can, but that is compensating, and they learn better with practice.
* Don't rush yourself. I started college at 17. I resisted things that would have pushed me into college at 15 or 16 or younger. My life was better for the delay.
* Learn social skills. The pretty, the social, the pleasant get better treatment in life. Kind of like learning to dress for success or how to bath regularly, you should learn how to have a social demeanor. 
Friday, July 17, 2009
Rachel's surgery went well, she is doing better and better.
All is well.
All is well, except this morning Rachel got up and decided to jump rope, seeing as her doctor had told her she should refrain from running for a few days but did not mention jumping rope ....
She is safely asleep now.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Until I get that book review up this week end, here is a post to tide you over
The Media's Role in a Loyal Society
By Timothy Keiningham and Lerzan Aksoy,
Authors of Why Loyalty Matters: The Groundbreaking Approach to Rediscovering Happiness, Meaning and Lasting Fulfillment in Your Life and Work
Putnam lays much of the fraying of our social fabric on the "individualizing" nature of our electronic media. He laments, "Electronic technology allows us to consume this hand-tailored entertainment in private, even utterly alone. As late as the middle of the twentieth century, low-cost entertainment was available primarily in public settings, like the baseball park, the dance hall, the movie theater, and the amusement park . . . As the poet T.S. Eliot observed early in the television age, 'It is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.'"
There is no question that we now have tremendous opportunities to be both connected to others via electronic media, yet remain completely anonymous and unaccompanied. We can even build synthetic identities, complete with virtual wives, jobs, and mortgages. As the real living, breathing wife of a cyberholic laments, "This other life is so wonderful; it's better than real life. Nobody gets fat, nobody gets gray. The person that's left can't compete with that." If only it were real!
Fortunately, most of us know the boundary between the virtual world and reality. But our ability to satisfy our own distinct appetites has led to increasing fragmentation of our personal lives. A study by Deloitte reports, "In recent years, the number of media formats and channels has exploded -- changing the way people consume content and splintering the mass market into smaller pieces . . . that translates into a fragmented world of increasingly scattered audiences."
Furthermore, this fragmentation abets asocial ideas. The ability of the media to provide subject matter on virtually any idea means there is ready access to content for the lunatic fringe of society. A study conducted by the New York City Police Department states, "The Internet is a driver and enabler for the process of radicalization . . . It also serves as an anonymous virtual meeting place -- a place where virtual groups of like-minded and conflicted individuals can meet, form virtual relationships and discuss and share the . . . message they have encountered."
Whether or not the decline in social networks is primarily attributable to the individualizing aspects of modern electronic media is clearly debatable. But let's assume for the moment that it is. Should we give up our iPod, our satellite TV and radio, our Internet access to live in a more cohesive society, where loyalty to other citizens is as obvious as it is fulfilling? For many (if not most) of us, the idea of moving backward to a technologically simpler era sounds too severe an action to bear.
But we should realize that if we don't moderate the effects of our electronic entanglements, we put at risk our most basic and common humanity. There is a definite connection between our level of personal interaction and our social selves as citizens. Alexis de Tocqueville's observations more than 150 years ago still ring true:
When men are no longer united in any firm or lasting way, it is impossible to persuade any great number of them to act in cooperation unless you convince each of those whose help is vital that his private interests are served by voluntarily joining his efforts to those of all the others. This cannot be achieved usually or conveniently except with the help of a newspaper, which is the only way of being able to place the same thought at the same moment into a thousand minds.De Tocqueville reminds us that civic loyalty was once tied to the news we received from our media. Unfortunately, modern news is often driven by the ratings it will generate, filtered by political ideology, and narrowly broadcast to like-minded constituents. So instead of producing the "same thought at the same moment into a thousand minds," we now transmit different thoughts at the same moment targeted to those who already believe. We no longer interact with the community at large but only with those portions of the community with which we agree.
The Founding Fathers of the United States believed strongly that free societies required a free press. Thomas Jefferson famously said, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." But Jefferson also added, "But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them."
The First Amendment grants freedom of the press in the United States. And while all countries do not provide constitutional protection to the press, Western countries provide news organizations with great latitude so that reporters are able to uncover and report the truth. But with every right comes a responsibility. The free press is supposed to remain loyal to the people. This requires offering the public a forum for open, honest political discourse.
Hence, it is ironic that parody news programs -- namely The Daily Show and The Colbert Report -- are viewed by many Americans (specifically Americans under the age of forty-five) as truly honoring the media's duty. A key responsibility of the press is to challenge truthiness with the truth. (Truthiness is a term that Stephen Colbert, faux-conservative anchor of The Colbert Report, popularized, defined as "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.") In an out-of-persona interview, Colbert laments:
Truthiness is tearing apart our country . . . it doesn't seem to matter what facts are. It used to be [that] everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It's certainty . . . What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true?So what part of the equation has changed? Why do we find that people are willing to accept gut instinct over verifiable truth? Well, this type of skewed media has always been available. But nowadays, intellectually honest debate is sorely lacking. Debates in the news are choreographed and the true essence of debate is spoiled. Often, conservative and liberal representatives merely repeat the party line so that they simply talk past one another without listening to or addressing the legitimate concerns of citizens. So, perhaps it is the fleeting concept of open and public discourse that allows the proliferation of "truthiness" to go unchecked.
To quote Jefferson again,
No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press.In other words, Jefferson believed that the press is the primary means of ensuring our liberty. And, as de Tocqueville observed, it is also the primary means of ensuring our loyalty to our communities while maintaining our individual rights.
Therefore, the press must exercise its great power to bring honest discourse to the people, recognizing its vital role in maintaining liberty, and fostering civic loyalty. And it should do so with vigor.
The above is an excerpt from the book Why Loyalty Matters: The Groundbreaking Approach to Rediscovering Happiness, Meaning and Lasting Fulfillment in Your Life and Work by Timothy Keiningham and Lerzan Aksoy. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Copyright Â© 2009 Timothy Keiningham and Lerzan Aksoy, authors of Why Loyalty Matters: The Groundbreaking Approach to Rediscovering Happiness, Meaning and Lasting Fulfillment in Your Life and Work
Timothy Keiningham is a world-renowned authority in the field of loyalty measurement and management, and Global Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President for Ipsos Loyalty, one of the worldÂ’s largest business research organizations. Lerzan Aksoy is an acclaimed expert in the science of loyal management, and Associate Professor of Marketing at Fordham University. They are coauthors of a new book, with Luke Williams, entitled Why Loyalty Matters (BenBella Books, 2009, www.whyloyaltymatters.com ), and creators LoyaltyAdvisor (www.LoyaltyAdvisor.com), a web-based tool that analyzes your loyalty across multiple dimensions proven to link to your success. LoyaltyAdvisor is the product of a global effort, the most comprehensive study of loyalty ever conducted.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Being yourself does not mean being a collection of your flaws. That sort of definition would define a floor by the dirt on it. But being yourself does mean expressing what you really are and not something else. The the extent that you work on yourself, it means improving rather than changing yourself.
A long time ago, being yourself was considered a core part of having integrity. It was a significant part of the trope "to thine own self be true" and it meant avoiding pride and pretensions.
Now, being yourself seems to be used either as an excuse for annoying problems (e.g. "I'm a motor mouth and I don't show courtesy or respect to anyone else, but that is just the way I am") or a call to "free yourself" from trying to be someone you are not.
The later sense, that of freedom to be (rather than freedom to annoy) is important. We have gone from people who are being pretentious from an excess of pride to people who are submerging themselves because they do not love themselves the way that God does. I find myself wanting to tell people "You should allow yourself to be the person that God loves, not someone else." Nurture the person God loves.
Be that self. Then what love you give and receive will be true. But be there for God to love as he loves you and not something else. That is what being is all about.