Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I've really enjoyed Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Be gentle with each other.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Eating Lunch

Back before my life adjusted, I used to eat lunch just down the street from work once in a while. I'd clean the plate and probably use a cup of sauce to do it with (a sugary red sauce the Chinese restaurant used).

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

Completely off of my usual topics.

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?

Every health care plan has triage of some sort. If nothing else, there are limits of time and risk so that accepting one treatment plan will take time that can not be spent on something else.

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

There is always triage. If nothing else, there is never enough time, and everything done excludes something there was not enough time to do as well. In every area of choice, choices have to be made. In addition, for most of us, there are financial and political limits, as well as limits to risk. Nikita Khrushchev may have ruled Russia with an iron fist, but he could not obtain a day at Disneyland for all his power.

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

Part of being unique in a field is to have two virtues:

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:
  1. Why you might need to make the effort.
  2. Why you instead of someone else.
It would be nice to see an ADR related book of this type for Mediation and other ADR providers.

4.5 out of 5 stars (28)
Excerpt - Front Cover: "... Becoming a Category of One How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity and Defy Comparison 2nEr Editiol ..."Surprise me! See a random page in this book.

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.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

My dad died

Much sooner than anyone expected, about 7:30 p.m. last night.

I loved him and love him still.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Dying from Parkinson's

Dying from Parkinson's is not linear or mechanical. It has multiple pathways.

  • 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.
All of these pathways are active at the same time and act at different rates for different people, sometimes getting worse and sometimes getting better. I've known a number of people with the disease, each has had different pathways take them to the end. A friend's father, who died recently had a particularly difficult death.

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

More Philosophy


Ok, I've only read some of them, but they were funny.

e.g. http://www.principiacomica.com/archive/7.html

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

Lao Tze
Tao Te Ching

Joseph Smith
Doctrine and Covenants 121