Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekend Magazine: The Mall Parking Lot.

I told you to write down the location.

Three Days?

source: Wikipedia
Today (Saturday) is the last day of the NFL draft. Round 1 was Thursday night, Rounds 2 and 3 were Friday night and rounds 4 through 7 are today. Teams are allowed an extraordinary amount of time to make a selection in Round 1, hence Round 1 gets it's own night. The draft is extended over three days to generate maximum exposure and control of the (sports?) news cycle.

Three days for multi-millionaires to decide which genetic mutants are going to be multi-millionaires and which other genetic mutants are going to have to use their college degree to find a job. But the President (or Governor or Mayor) better finish their speech by kickoff.

The whole world is laughing.
Training camp starts in under 90 days.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

ROL: Order Matters.

ROL is an abbreviation for Return on Life. Return on Life is all about making small incremental changes that yield large returns on life enjoyment. This week's ROL is about applying the proper sequence.
"When in doubt of what to do,
do something."
That's a favorite quote of mine. That fact that it's my quote (although I'm probably not the only one to have ever voiced the thought) doesn't diminish my affection for the quote. Not sure what to do? Do something. It's easier to execute a plan when you are active. Talking with an upset client/customer? Do something. Articulate your thoughts to the customer/client and get it done.
Ready. Aim. Fire.
That's the universal action plan, seemingly forever. "Ready, aim, fire" seems at odds with taking immediate action. To reconcile this potential conundrum, consider the basketball timeout (yes, really, a timeout in basketball).
source:  Wikipedia

A timeout in basketball is at most 60 seconds. The coach has 1 short minute to emphasize, articulate and motivate the players to better execute the game plan. Yet if you notice, the coaches and coaching assistants huddle together before convening with the players. 1 tiny minute for improvement, but a (small) portion of that singular minute is allocated to planning and prioritizing.

Act immediately, but plan first. Order matters.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

That's Okay.

I had two days of contract work this week, Sunday and Monday. I'm a funeral director by trade. I helped a family arrange a funeral on Sunday and returned to direct the funeral on Monday. I met with two sisters, accompanied by their husband's plan a funeral for the women's mother. The deceased had lived into her 90's and the family was prepared. No added shock or grief, rather relief that their mother was no longer in pain.

At the funeral, the older of the daughters took the opportunity to share some memories of her mother. One particular story grabbed my attention:
"Mom always told us we were beautiful, smart and kind. She said that many would want to be our friends. She also said that there would be some that didn't like us...and that's okay."
What a great lesson. What great parenting, empowering children to cope with the inevitable. And it's critical information not only for children, but for adults as well.
There will be people that don't like you...
and that's okay.
Do you agree? Disagree? What other lessons should be learned as children that perhaps don't show (but should) up as adults?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Want It.

As the hockey season was coming to a close for the Chicago Blackhawks, I waxed nostalgic for another lifetime when I was a season ticketholder in the 2nd balcony of the Chicago Stadium. For some reason my thoughts drifted to Steve Larmer.
source: Ice Hockey Wiki

Larmer was drafted 120th overall in 1980 and didn't make the Blackhawks until the 1982/83 season. Despite being a longshot to make the team, Larmer was placed on a line with the 2nd best center of the era (Gretzky was the best), Denis Savard. From the start of that season until his trade in 1993, Larmer never missed a game with the Blackhawks. Larmer exceeded both 1000 points and 1000 games in his career and some believe he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

How did Larmer last so long as a top performer despite not having an exceptional skill set? I remember watching Larmer go in to the corner against two bigger players, yet Larmer came away with the puck. How did that happen? Larmer simply wanted it more. That happened a lot for Larmer. "Wanting it more" took an also ran/afterthought to an outstanding professional career.

The next time you are faced with a challenge, will you "want it more" than the next person? How will you express your desire and what will you do to succeed?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

ROL: In A Moment.

ROL(Return on Life) is the "help improve your life" counterpart of ROI (Return on Investment). Simply stated, ROL suggests incremental changes or activities that can produce major returns toward a better quality of life (QOL). This week's ROL is about what could happen in a moment.

About a week before Passover, I saw something different as a Facebook Post from my friend, Marjorie. The post began "Hi, Dan here and it's going to be me for a while. Marjorie fell down a flight of stairs, fractured her skull and sustained a traumatic brain injury." Dan has been updating Marjorie's stream regularly and results have been mixed. Marjorie is apparently getting better but progress is slow and inconsistent. It's going to be a long road for the family.

Until the fall, it had been a pretty good year for Dan, Marjorie and their daughter Emmy. They moved back to their beloved, adopted hometown in the Midwest after a brief stay on the West Coast. Marjorie had landed a job and was looking forward to gainful employment. Luckily(?) Dan and Marjorie had friends that could take charge of Emmy until grandparents could get into town. I can chart out in my mind what I would do if my wife was severely injured, but I really have no idea how I would move forward if this happened in my family.

Next time you're spitting mad because you didn't get your first choice when the family orders take out, think about my friend Marjorie and her family. I'll bet the dim sum will taste just as good as the egg roll.

Please keep Marjorie, Dan, Emmy and their extended family in your thoughts and prayers.

What about you? Any stories about perspective or reality checks you would care to share?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Better Me.

As part of my ongoing project to be better today than I was yesterday:

I posted in February I was regularly shunning the internet  to be more available to my family. Specifically, I stay away from major online activities nightly after dinner until wakeup the next AM. Occasionally I hop on, when I feel compelled to comment on a post I had read earlier in the day. Sometimes I write a post to stay close to my goal of posting 4-5 times a week when contract work will send me out early in the morning. Without a doubt, unplugging at night has a negative impact on growing my blog and expanding my social media presence. Still, when it comes time to write my eulogy my kids won't say, "He was a cranky jerk who never had time for us, but at least he was a social media ace." My decision to spend evenings attending to my family instead of growing my Twitterverse has been a good one.

I posted in January about adding regular walking to my routine for better overall health. In conjunction with the (not so) regular walking I added a nutrition tacking app to my smartphone last week. The app took some basic statistics and put me on a program to lose some weight. Well actually, a lot of weight. 50+ lbs in 11 months. If successful, I will weigh less than I have since college (perhaps my only fond memory of the Carter presidency). The app has already had the effect of making me think about my food choices as well as actively looking to include physical activity in my daily routine.

What changes have you made recently (or not so recently) to be a better you? Is there anything you would like to reincorporate into your daily routine?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Everybody Needs To Feel Sexy.

I am an unabashed fan of the NBC series "Harry's Law". Kathy Bates plays attorney Harriet "Harry" Korn. Harry loses her job in the patent department of a hot-shot Cincinnati law firm. On her path to redemption and meaning, Harry opens a firm in a two-story building in a seedy neighborhood in Cincinnati. The law firm shares the building with a fully functional shoe store that came with the building. If you are familiar with the implausible twists and turns that occur in a David E. Kelley dramedy, you have an idea of the weekly plot development. If you aren't a Kelley regular (or semi-regular) I can't explain it.
source: Mostly Posters

In Sunday's episode "The Contest", Harry is goaded into a silly bet with her former firm. Despite being understaffed and out-clouted, Harry bets over $3 million that her firm will win the local "hot lawyer" charity fundraiser. Harry realizes the bet is beyond silly and is in fact highly reckless. If Harry loses the bet, the firm itself might be forfeit. In a conversation with the firm's senior associate, Harry lists a number of start-up high profile firms that have come and gone. Harry ruminates about her firm's success in court without notice. Harry continues that her firm is beyond plebian, her firm is in fact hot. Harry concludes that despite her age, crankiness and height/weight ratio challenges she is indeed sexy and needs to feel sexy; therefore the bet. It's TV, so in the end the "Law Offices of Harry Korn" prevail, as usual.

Kathy Bates is an extraordinary actress that takes on roles with the ease of putting on a bathrobe. As Kathy Bates, she comes across as intelligent, dignified and professional. Physically, Kathy Bates will never be confused with the artwork that adorns this blog (highlights from my youth). Still, Harry is right. There are qualities beyond looks (and money) that are indeed "hot". Everybody needs to feel sexy. Maybe not every minute of every day, but everyone does need their time in the "white hot" spotlight.

What do you do to feel sexy? How do you help a friend, spouse or partner achieve the feeling of sexy?

Friday, April 13, 2012

ROL: It's Just Stuff.

ROL (Return on Life) is derived from the metric ROI (Return on Investment). Just as changes (hopefully small) to investment increase profitability (hopefully disproportionately larger than the increase in investment), small incremental changes in behavior can greatly increase QOL (Quality of Life). This week's ROI is about stuff.

Monday was a day of contract work. Monday was also part of the seemingly endless spring break for my kids. Work is about 70 miles away. I take the kids to Grandma and Grandpa, about halfway to work. On the way home from the Grands, we saw black smoke in the sky. I thought one of the local farms was doing a seasonal burn, but the winds seemed way too high and gusty for a land burn. As we approached our subdivision, it was obvious the smoke wasn't from a land burn. Luckily for my family, all the activity was two blocks away.
April, 10, 2012
The fire chief estimated the damage to the house at over $150,000 including the loss of personal property. My wife and I think the fire chief is at least $100,000 short. The siding on both neighboring houses also buckled and will need to be replaced.

When the fire started, the owner of the house and her two dogs were on the back deck. There were no injuries to the owner, her dogs, the neighbors or the fire fighters. Once the fire started, no injuries to anyone is the only outcome required.

When a family heirloom, a car or even a small kitchen utensil is broken, it can be very frustrating. Sometimes, the loss of property can go beyond frustrating and be a monumental pain in the neck. But in the end, it's just stuff.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Shifting Trends In Blogging.

Last week I found some time to go to my reader. I read posts from friends Marya and Margie Clayman, back to back. Marya commented that the latest trend in blogging is to blow everything up. Margie questioned whether Margie had anything to blow up. Oh, crap.

Not "oh, crap" to their thoughts. More like "oh, crap" to concern for what the experts are/aren't doing now. Who cares what the experts say (thanks to friend  Pam for her post)?

Many of the bloggerazzi are going to convince you that you must do this or have to avoid that if you desire success. These bleating voices are trying to establish credibility by predicting a trend (that might come to fruition, or not) or creating a trend by sending followers in a certain direction. Take these suggestions with a grain of salt. One size never fits all. One size only fits the designer.

Social media (blogging is a form of social media) is merely another form of networking. Networking is nothing more (and nothing less) than engaging with others. Just because social media doesn't require deodorant, mouthwash or clothes doesn't mean the rules of engagement change. It is that simple. Don't make it complicated.

Is there anything you see in the world of social media that wouldn't work at a face to face get together?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Holy Weekend.

Easter Sunday and the beginning festival days of Passover occur together this weekend. Given that both holidays seem to be conveniently set around the vernal equinox, Easter and Passover often  fall together. I am intrigued that both religions (disclosure: I'm a practicing Jew) claim a singular path to truth, yet if either are right, one religion must be wrong.

source: Wikipedia
A while back, my friend Victoria G. Marshall posted George Carlin's thoughts on God's most favored nations. Hint: Carlin doesn't think the God he doesn't believe in picks favorites. Like Carlin, my father in law is an atheist. My father in law, Cary claims his atheism because "too many people have died in the name of God." I have to grant Cary that point.

I believe the overwhelming majority of adherents to any of the world's religions are tolerant and inclusive. I believe there exists a virulent, parochial, exclusive and vocal minority within most religions which incorrectly claims to speak for all followers. I believe most follow religion as a path to enlightenment and tolerance. I believe that although I seek that path as a religion specific monotheist, others can find their path through a different religion or atheism, paganism, agnosticism or as a Wiccan. Belief is great, but it is each individuals acts that seals the deal.

I wish all celebrating Passover or Easter a weekend of meaning, clarity, enlightenment and tolerance. I wish everybody else the same for their weekend.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

ROL: (Re)Opening Day.

ROL (Return On Life) is about engaging in small incremental changes that can have a large positive impact on living life. It is a non-quantitative adaptation of the financial measure ROI (return on investment). This week's ROL is about Opening Day.

source: Wikipedia
This is usually one the best sports weeks of the year. College basketball crowns a champion and the baseball season begins. When Kentucky won the basketball championship Monday night, commentators remarked that Kentucky hadn't won the NCAA b-ball tourney since 1998. Wow, 1998. The last time the Cubs won the World Series, the great grandparents of the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats basketball team hadn't winked at each other yet.

Opening Day. It really does sound regal. Opening Day teaches that no matter what has happened in the past, everything starts fresh. Even if you haven't won a championship in over a century, you have the same opportunity as everyone else to excel. Opening Day also reminds champions that effort is required to remain a champion. Start coasting and pretty soon your long term record is Cub-like (well, maybe not so soon, but do you really want the success rate of the Cubs?)

Life is full of start over opportunities. Pay attention. Act accordingly.

Spring hopes eternal.

Carpe diem.

Where do restart buttons appear in your life? How do you recognize a start again opportunity?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Passover Puzzle Piece.

April is Autism Awareness Month. My son Mario has Asperger's Syndrome, placing Mario somewhere on the autism spectrum. One of the many characteristics of an Aspie is extreme rigidity in routine. Aspies can be extremely challenged when  encountering change. The onset of Passover this Friday night will present multiple challenges for Mario and his food routine.

source: Wikipedia
It took a while, but Mario finally got settled in a good breakfast routine. An egg (either scrambled or hard boiled), oatmeal and another starch (usually pancakes or waffles). We don't eat bread or bread-like starches on Passover. For Mario this means no oatmeal, pancakes or waffles for the week of Passover. Additionally, Mario's favorite (daily?) lunch is a PBJ sandwich. Sandwich and Passover go together like... the Cubs and the World Series (opening day is Thursday). Yes, there is matzah. A talented surgeon with the world's most trained hands will merely cripple a sheet of matzah while applying butter. For an Aspie, buttering r nprayers amatzah will likely lead to a crumb encrusted meltdown. There are plenty of foods available, but the only spectrum that applies to Mario is the autism spectrum.

source: Super Mario Wiki
I know how it sounds when parents whine about their lot in life. I love my son and wouldn't trade his challenges for another's challenges. Still, the prospects of a Breakfast Battle Royale with the potential of a redo the next day are daunting. We will survive, as will our Passover traditions. Mario, on the other hand may have a tough week.
Your Help.
My friend Marjorie fell down some stairs and susatined some significant injuries. Please keep Marjorie and her family in your prayers and thoughts.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Untinted Lense.

There is a growing undercurrent that suggests calls for the prosecution of George Zimmerman are race related. In an effort to provide clarity why not retell the details, withholding race?

An armed volunteer member of a neighborhood watch in Sanford, FL spots a stranger in his subdivision. The watch member reports the stranger to 911. The watch member follows the stranger. The watch member is driving his truck while the stranger is on foot. Despite the 911 operator's direction to stand down, the watch member continues to follow the stranger. Fearing for his own safety, the watch member shoots and kills the stranger. The stranger, as it turns out is 17 years old and unarmed, carrying only Skittles, an iced tea and a cell phone. After a cursory police examination the watch member is sent home and the stranger is sent to the morgue.

I'm always disturbed when someone armed injures (kills?) someone that has no weapons.  Your thoughts?