Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Ever notice that the Declaration Of Independence cites the importance of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness as fundamental to us as Americans, but the Constitution cites Life, Liberty and Property.

I suppose the idea of happiness doesn't lend itself to legislation, but property is rather important. Actually, I'll bet most Brits in the 18th Century didn't and couldn't own property. But I spoke enough about History this week already. I'm interested in today, today.

For some time I've been known to say that everything I owns also owns me. If I own a house or a car or even a house plant, the owned requires care and maintenance. Without those two things instead of an object of appreciation I have an object of deterioration and potentially, shame.

I've probably been talking about this for several years, and I've made some strides toward ridding myself of excess baggage. I no longer own my residence and that's a choice I'm happy with. I gave up my car, and as important as those things were to me at one time, being without them is surprisingly easy.

When I moved to my present apartment about 3 years ago I knew one thing for sure. I didn't even want a house plant. The light isn't that great for plants, but the real reason is I don't want to take care of one. Or several.

Is this because I'm lazy and don't want to do anything? Apparently not because I seem to be doing stuff all day long. And even late into the night. So one might ask what all this amazing free time that doesn't get taken up with watering and feeding and repotting and cleaning up and, and and?

In my case it's been the winter of my discontent to quote Mr. Steinbeck. Business is okay but kind of slow. I realized my routine was no longer serving me. I quit my suport group, not because I don't want one, but I realized the one I created in order to get what I wanted wasn't giving what I was looking for. I'm not dating anyone and there isn't anyone on the horizon. The CDs, books and old clothes are leaving and will be gone in a few days.

I'm becoming unowned. I'm looking forward to it, but of course I'm impatient.

What's new?

It's not boring, I can tell you that. And I feel lots lighter. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


As most of you know, it doesn't take a whole lot to get me irritated. And if you read yesterday you know I want to comment on stuff I saw in the paper on Sunday. One of my largest irritations is the way business relationships are managed. As a disclaimer I am probably writing about this because it's safer than writing about personal relationships. But I can acknowledge that whatever dysfunction exists at work also happens at home.

I have no direct experience with any of the people involved in what I read so all I'm writing about is what I read and how it affected me. No quotes or attributions, just my responses and of course my judgements about how this is universal bad acting on the part of everyone in business.

Okay, no more disclaimers. I have been in work relationships in which theoretical agreements are made. That's the kind of agreement the boss offers and asks words to the effect of, What do you think? As though I have options. Other than relinquishing expectation of receiving my next paycheck.

One of the guys I read about said his organization has goals everyone has agreed with and the results are published to the entire company every month. The way my mind works, the negotiations about goals included a set of guidelines (with numbers) from the top. This is followed by an expectation that group and individual goals would fill in the blanks to make those numbers happen. Gitti' 'er dun! And then he goes on to say the organization is driven by metrics that are rated on a scale of 1 to 5. One of which is Gittin' 'er dun! He's even proud about expecting that at the interview level, and continues through everything they think about.

I don't know about you, but I have a history of not getting things finished that I was dedicated to finishing. And, yes, the first reason is that I just put it off for some reason, good or bad in my eyes. And I suspect everyone does or has doen that in their lives. Here's where the rubber meets the road for me. Since this is such an overwhelmingly common occurrence. making it a metric is guaranteed to be deadly. It's going to assure that people will hit the mark, but not necessarily meet the real expectations.

I did it, but is is any good? Or as good as it should have been? Am I and my team proud of this? Have we re-negotiated the outcome as we proceeded? Have we stewarded our process or have we filled in the blanks.

Management is all about efficiency, so they love to check off, Got 'er dun. But how often do we need to do it over? Or have an unhappy customer.?

Tomorrow about moving up the ladder and being human at the same time.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Anyone who has a memory of certain teachers has had the opportunity to find how those people have changed over time. I had a teacher of American History in my junior year. He had a nickname handed down from classes that preceded mine of Bobby D, teenage idol. He was a priest and we were seminarians, theoretically on our way to becoming one like him, and we were thrown together to see what would happen.

He was a priest, but also a human. That was a difficult concept back in those pre-Vatican II days. The world was different then, and I don't mean better or worse, just different. He was a guy who was in love with American History, especially the Civil War, but few of us really gave much of a dam one way or the other. We just wanted to get it over with. And he was quirky a kind of way most of us are, but in a way that drew the attention of teen age boys. So, many of us had fun at his expense, but behind his back. I don't recall any issues raised in class, but the lunch room was another story.

All this is to say I got a life lesson from him that serves me to this day, and hoodaeverthunk? He assigned us the task of bringing the Tribune Book Section from the Sunday paper in every Monday. And during that class period, the Revolution or War of 1812 or the discoveries of Lewis & Clark were set aside for the purpose of helping us discover what it might be like to live the life of a reader. Because we are all interested in something, not just the Civil War, he knew we could expand and enrich our lives by reading and discovering all the things we weren't learning in school. And at the same time we would be entertained. What a concept! What teaching! A man who thought beyond the curriculum, not in rebellion but in service to the point of the curriculum. After all, we have gone on to write 50 years of history since then, and my appreciation of it has grown significantly. But I remember today that lesson, which continues to be part of my life today all these years later. And I'm grateful.

When this occurred to me yesterday, as I was jolted or nudged by what I read in the paper I started to think about writing this and I remembered him. And I wasn't going to mention him, but as I write it I've been thinking he deserves the recognition. So I googled him. And I discovered he passed away in November at the age of 85, after having served his God and his parishioners after his teaching career ended. After all his calling wasn't to the classroom but to the Flock. He wasn't attached to any of the Church scandals and seems to have been a well respected man. There was a comment from another former student who obviously came after me and thought this was one of his favorite teachers. That comment calls me to remember many of my teachers and be grateful for them all, the good and the bad and the middling. At this point I can see how I learned from them. Different things from each to be sure and much more than was contained in the texts.

Today I can be grateful to them all and say, thank you. Your challenges and sacrifices are things I have deep appreciation for today. And in recognition of them all, Reverend Robert Dovick, Bless you and your life.

I hope to see you tomorrow on the topic of what I was jolted by yesterday.