Thursday, September 30, 2010


One of the most interesting stresses that are self imposed is the famous personal schedule - or how you manage your time. Are you a planner - "Plan the Plan, and Work the Plan" or a the opposite.

What is the opposite of plan? The dictionary says - forget, ignore, neglect. I like the term ignore - because it is the most common cause of overscheduling (second is saying yes too much).

Calendar management is a learned skill and reflects the style and personality of the individual. It also relates to promptness, meeting management, route and travel habits, telephone management etc.

In the book "History of Time", I remember the cultural differences forcing others to wait extraordinarily long times for a meeting.

One thing I am certain of - when you overschedule yourself - you will be stressful. When you are around people who are overscheduled - you will be stressful.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Body Part Failure

At the Accenture ex-partner lunch, B.W. said "We are all just awaiting the failure of different body parts - we just don't know which ones and when".

My recent "hitch in the get-a-long" was the strained calf muscle from not warming up enough prior to Monday tennis. Hoping I was still a 20 year old expecting immediate recovery, B.W. reminded me that preventative care is but a minute compared to the recovery time in your 50's.

Yes my zeal to become more healthy by exercising (e.g. Tennis) had turned into a sport injury with pain, hobbling and cries for sympathy.

Wisdom arrives in the form of pain - and advice from individuals with their own painful body part failures.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kind vs Good

Rev. Stover's sermon mentioned that the word "kind" is never used in the Bible. Immediately a line from Sondheim's "In the Woods" popped into my head. Susan and I saw "Into the Woods" in Chicago (or I should say we saw half of it - because we walked out at intermission - that's a long story).

When the wolf first introduced himself to Little Red Riding Hood he said to her suspicious reaction - "But I am Kind". Her response was "Kind does not mean Good". Very interesting ......

It is tempting to automatically connect kindness with being good. After all why wouldn't you trust that the only reason someone is being kind is to promote goodness in the world? Unfortunately we have too many situations where kindness is a ploy for selfish manipulative reasons.

So be Good - and let Kindness follow.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wayne's Weekend

Wayne popped into my mind as the weekend approaches. Get prepared this may be a long blog - but was an important lesson to me.

In a very emotional time of my life, Wayne asked if I wanted to regularly golf on Sunday mornings at the Neumann public course on the west side. So we started the tradition. One of the Sunday mornings I was lamenting about my work schedule and started telling Wayne that I may need to eliminate Sunday golf so that I could work. Wayne responded: "Garen, you dumb ass! there are only 52 available weekends in the year and look what you've been doing for the last 10 years with those weekends."

Wayne had a way of simplifying things. He was right and like a bolt of lighting hitting the golfer - my light bulb was now fully illuminated. I resolved at that point in time (1987) that I would re-allocate my work time. I would work 24 hours (if necessary) during the week - but I made a covenant to never work on the weekend again. If my career was going to require that - then it was a career I didn't value. It was time to draw a line in the sand.

Fast forward 9 years later- 1996. Wayne had just arrived in Cincinnati from Las Vegas (his new residence) for his brother's wedding. I was knee deep in a high pressure job at Southern New England Telephone (SNET) in Connecticut - but back in Cincinnati for the weekend. Wayne stopped by for a visit at the Brill house and had dinner with Susan, Jenna and I, on Sunday evening - I'm sure I was lamenting again about the "deadline" I was facing for the project.

After a wonderful visit with Wayne, I was back on the plane to Connecticut - Monday morning. It was a tough week - the client was nervous, we were struggling to hit the deadline, and the politics were ugly - it was clear we were not going to make the date. The only alternative was to work the weekend - the first time in 9 years I would break the covenant. I would need to call Susan to let her know the bad news.

I got on the phone to tell Susan and as I was telling her my news she interrupted saying that Wayne had died - a heart attack on the plane as he was returning to Las Vegas.

I didn't work that weekend - I was in Las Vegas at Wayne's funeral on Saturday April 27, 1996.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beginning and End of File

One principle I learned at Accenture in computer programming is the importance of the logic and code necessary for the first transaction and the last transaction being processed - Beginning and End of File.

Everything else becomes routine and with logical loops. Testing the logic at the beginning and end is essential for a sound program. I remember just opening the file was non-trivial code.

In life, the mystery of birth (beginning) continues to challenge scientists and death (ending) is a mystery for both the religious and secularist. So the middle part (Middle Earth) is what we know -what we routinely experience - day, night; consume, digest; start, stop; - seemingly endless cycles since we don't remember"beginning of file" and we await/expect and "end of file".

Unlike programming - we have no choice in the beginning, and the last transaction process is unknown. What we control are the logical loops in the middle.

Is it time to reprogram?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hope vs Optimism

Dr. J.E. loves to educate me on the "Doctor" perspective. He said: "Hope is a feeling, a spiritual sense that anything can happen. A sense of the world that there are powers greater than ourselves that can intervene. Optimism is a mature feeling within the spectrum of what we know - a probability of some relative (and hopefully high) value."

In a quick google search - you find very interesting theories with conflicting premises about learned, emotion or not, inside your control etc:

(1) Hope and optimism differ in that hope is situation specific (specific condition) and contingent upon one's own abilities (internal condition). Optimism is an overall explanatory style (global condition) that positive things will occur independent of one's ability (external condition).

(2) Hope is distinct from optimism by being an emotion, representing more important but less likely outcomes, and by affording less personal control. Motivation and Emotion, 2005, Volume 29, Number 4, Pages 324-35

Are you hopeful but not optimistic --- or optimistic but not hopeful?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Live Beyond the Grave

I was meeting with M.M. hoping to recruit more Partners for SVP Cincinnati. We got on the subject of passion and he described his activities at CBMC ("Connecting Business Men with Christ") and that he was doing something that will "Live beyond the Grave".

The certainty of Death can be very grave - the feeling of finality. I've said that "the memory you create today, is - a touch of your eternal life" (or something close to that). I think the feeling of a legacy or doing meaningful stuff that will not be final is something that haunts the soul. Touching eternity is an interesting concept.

Or John Ortberg said it another way " Every human being you see is a cleverly disguised receptacle of Eternity".

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Exporting Popularity

Over weekend dinner in Hudson, Ohio, Susan and I had dinner with Miami Mergers S. & L. O. Demographics and China came into the discussion with the inevitable growth of China that will exceed the USA. Neither of us "feared" this event, and in fact I stated the USA will always have the advantage in exporting popularity - trends, or the "in stuff".

Whether it is movies, movie stars, technology, gadgets, sports, Starbucks, fast food, the list goes on and on. Some of this is culture - some just the American Dream. Some would say it's capitalism - I would say it is hope and freedom.

Hope to better one's self with the freedom to do so.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hearing is Believing

S.S.#2 said that only 7% of what a lawyer says will influence a jury. I replied - people should believe only one half of what they see; and one third of what they read; and one quarter of what they hear - I heard that somewhere :)

I've blogged several times about speaking (number of words), listening (skills of a good listener), and understanding - now we have the next step - believing (or in a jury's terms judgment).

We hear what we want to regardless of what is said. Because the mind is constantly judging - the minute you walk in and I see you the mind starts the assumption and forecasting process. Getting someone to change their mind is one of the most challenging propositions. Billions of dollars are spent in business attempting to influence you in a direction.

What "weight" you put on what you hear is a function of the speaker (his credentials - or how often he is correct). Luckily we now have the 100% correct internet capability.

Hence - I-Phone it - I believe it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pictures of Numbers

A.M. said - "yeah everyone talks about you with those charts on your wall". In fact, I love charts, graphs, any pictorial representation of data. I carry them in my wallet, my briefcase, on the wall of my office, and saved in files on my computer.

It is the statistician in me - the need for a regression analysis, or a fit to an exponential curve. A desire to predict the future and to see the past - all in one picture. Give me a column of numbers and I will create a graph immediately. Why?

Because a graph is a beautiful picture of numbers. I guess I love art after all. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Touching Face

I remember D'Lane saying - "just keep your hands below your shoulders and you will be alot healthier".

I was listening to NPR's interview of the author of the book " Ah choo The Uncommon Life of your Common Cold" she said that we touch our face 1-3 times EVERY FIVE MINUTES! I won't even mention the number of times we pick our noses - ugh!

So trying not to touch anything above your shoulders would be a monumental task.

I'm a BIG BELIEVER in Vitamin C. I take 1000 mg per day. Does it prevent or cure the common cold? It will forever be a controversial subject. But what can it hurt?

Oops - in the duration of this blog I touched my face twice :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Printing Hell

I found my second punishment in Hell - trying to configure printers and print a document. I have spend years of my life messing with printers. This plug and play is a joke.

First- half way through the through the installation it asks for the locations of the driver. That creates the challenge of finding the old installation disk.

Then you discover it was a old disk for the old operating system.

Next you spend the time navigating the web site for driver downloads and try this feature.

Then Microsoft tells you - it's not certified.

I could go on and on. (out of ink, margin problems, letters cut off, ....)

So now add the challenge of helping Serena with her computer. Since I can't read her Chinese Microsoft XP instructions; I can't mirror the steps because I have Vista; and in the end I think it has something to do with Chinese fonts.

Yes - Printing Hell right here on Earth.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Heavenly Books

I have this habit of marking up my books and then passing them on. My hope is that when I give a book away to someone that they "pass it on" also.

On Wednesday as I was talking to S.W. about his new magazine, I mentioned Family Foundations, and reached over to pass on the book "The Foundation: A Great American Secret" by Joel L. Fleishman sitting on my office bookshelf.

I could feel conflict in possession/collection vs giving and releasing. Did I really need that book on my shelf in my office? As I turned it over to S.W., I wondered - will it be read again? will it be passed on? will it sit again on a shelf collecting dust forever on S.W.'s shelf? What path will the book take and who might it influence?

S.W. called me back the next day - thanking me for the idea; he was going to use it in his magazine. In a sense the book - "grew a limb" - a branch in it's journey of influence.

If there are not books in Heaven - do you really want to go there? C.S. Lewis answers:

"I don't see why there shouldn't be books in Heaven. But you will find that your library in Heaven contains only some of the books you had on earth. Which? I asked. The ones you gave away or lent. I hope the lent ones won't still have all the borrowers' dirty marks said I. Oh yes they will, said he. But just as the wounds of the martyrs will have turned into beauties, so you will find that the thumb-marks have turned into beautiful illuminated capitals or exquisite marginal woodcuts"

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I never forget a face - names are a different thing. As I learned from Jerry Lucas (Dr. Memory), we remember visual things --physical pictures. Words are mental abstracts-- they are merely mnemonic pegs.

Faces are infinitely interesting - we gaze at a face and wonder, who is that person.

I just re-watched "In the Line of Fire" where the villain disguised himself with various changes to the hair, nose, wrinkles etc. Clint Eastwood (the hero) states - "I know people" by the "eyes".

The eyes may be the windows into a person's soul. How often do you look carefully into peoples eyes? The amount of eye contact has various implications in various cultures.

The face is magical. Infants are constantly attracted to our face - to our eyes. They will spend as much time looking at you as you are willing to spend. Somehow we comfortable staring for long moments into an infant's eyes yet for an adult we will avoid even brief eye contact.

Skype has added a new measure face recognition challenges during telephone conversations. I have spent 40 years communicating "behind a curtain". So often I have said - "It's nice to put the face to the voice". Watch yourself sometime as you are Skype-ing, do your eyes wander?; somehow "virtual" face connections are different from the physical face connection.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rewards - What's the Point?

This morning I worked for $102/hr. It involved protesting and eliminating the $29 fee for the "Travel Rewards program on the Chase Visa card. The call took 17 minutes of time but resulted in a credit and transfer to a "Freedom Rewards" no fee program. I guess Freedom stands for free of fees.

I have rewards points all over the place many that sit there unattended - Marriott, Delta etc. Nearly every credit card I own has some kind of rewards points or cash back program. There was a time I worried about all these points. It plays on the human condition not to waste things - we feel bad about "wasting points".

But there is value in consolidating and keeping track of points - I have a Sony TV, Surround Sound, Playstation, and Digital Camera to thank for Amex Points. So I guess the marketing value rewards points works.

In the old days, it wasn't points - it was S&H Green Stamps, and the local competitor where I lived issued Gold Stamps. Fill up those paper books and send them in for gifts.

By the way - the value of a reward point has been going down over time. There was a time a point was worth a penny. Now you're lucky to get a half a penny a point. But then again what is a 1200 point S&H Green Stamp book worth today?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Can there be a dual truth? I am reading "Heaven - the Heart's Deepest Longing" by Peter J. Kreeft and nearly every page he writes a paradoxical statement. Try out Wikopedia's infinite regress:

"The statement below is false"
"The statement above is true"

The danger of entering the infinite regress (and not leaving it) is, to me, insanity. I prefer to leave a paradox only slightly researched. To the point of three loops and "I'm done" - out of time.

Maybe there is no paradox in Heaven.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Favorite Season

It is a redundant blog - but then again it is a reoccurring feeling. The cooler days of September and the crisp feeling of the Fall season coming. This is my favorite time of year! Football season has started (well not really - Sept 12 will be the NFL openers); The Red's are in the hunt; All but some of the colleges on quarters have started; The Buckeyes (trees I mean) are maturing with falling leaves.

This Labor day weekend has been a special family day (Jenna is back for the weekend). We biked the Miami Trail starting in Loveland and finished with dinner at Trio's. Tomorrow is the block party and Monday a day of fun.

It's a good time of year - a favorite and reoccurring.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Moving Day

My original choice for blogging was - just a random pick with little research. That site closes Sept. 30, 2010. I had a similar experience as GeoCities closed last year. Suspecting that would happen - and not knowing if there would be conversion tools, I started Blogger (Google supported) and about 100 posts ago began duplicating the posts on both Vox and Blogger.

But thankfully had a conversion tool through and with some manual deletions - blogger has the full functionality of Vox - with archives, labels, search tools, and statistics.

I remember the challenges of tying my email to Prodigy (yes Prodigy was the first AOL and early entrant to the world of email) which went under in the 90's. That was when I was smart enough to pick a Company (Yahoo) that looked like they would be around for a while.

Moving is tough - new addresses, new phone number, new tags, new environment to learn. One fact is consistent - there will always be a moving day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Quantify Suffering

Dr. J. E. mentioned on the phone this morning that he was trying to "speak the business language" and begin to put various alternatives into how politicians and capitalists talk. His overall theme was that a community must protect their "human capital". As I queried further - he said "how do you quantify human suffering?"

In the 80's, I remember working on the Human Resource Practice Aid for Accenture. One of the intellectual ponderances was how to get employees on the balance sheet - or -- how to quantify human capital. Does an employee depreciate or appreciate over time? The thought was that as we transition to a service economy it is human capital that "wins" in the corporate marketplace. As an example the only asset - real asset - Accenture has is it's 190,000 employees.

If human capital is like a machine - then as we age we depreciate. If it is the emotional and intellectual quantification then maybe some of us appreciate as we age. But what about the ups and downs - joy and suffering.

Mythbusters the other night tried to quantify pain with the length of time you can hold your hand in a bucket of ice. That would be one way to quantify pain and suffering. The results confirmed women tolerate pain better than men.

"Labor" on that one. :)