Saturday, November 15, 2014

Moving On

I guess I am hoping it's not necessary, since somehow it has proven to physically take a ridiculous amount of time.

I guess my highest hope is that i might learn to better express myself, multiplying that part of me which shines brightest and yet often proves the most alienating.

And maybe if i have mantra for my values, these things will come easier for me, not tearing my heart in so many directions.

I do feel trapped, still. Even after keeping my travels mostly solitary, Chester is going to feel claustrophobic.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Serendipity in Work and Sport

What are the odds that a business model and a game design theory could fit perfectly into each other?

Check this out...

A colleague recently shared The Ashridge model with me. She's got an MBA from a good school in the UK, worked for a number of notable medical device companies, so I'm not certain where she picked it up.  The Ashridge model was developed as a research project on 42 notable companies and their mission statements.  You can learn all about it here. The model is intended to drive company success by helping define a mission.

As soon as I saw this the words "Meaning" and "Optimism" resonated in my head.  

So, I'd like to share Jane McGonigal's research on gamification and game design, which you can learn more about here. She identified four characteristics of a good game:

Blissful Productivity – we stay determined and work on a task even if the goal is far off
Urgent Optimism – we keep going even if we fail (80% of the time)
Social Fabric – working with others forms relationships (cooperation with strangers, friends, & family)
Epic Meaning – desire to do something that matters, be a hero, be of service, be involved with a goal

...which I think are valuable for a company as well. It seems to interestingly echo the Ashridge Model.  Watch the magic happen:

Pretty cool, no?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

What is listening?

The tools are getting better to share one's perceptions.
They are closer at hand than ever before. I will
goddamn drown you in my way of thinking,
if it kills me. Which I hope it does, self-extinguishing
that one part- or breaking it up into so many pieces
that are absorbed and mingle with all your broken pieces
and if we are lucky then maybe a little heat or pressure
will put our pieces together.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Relativistic approaches in science, and other adventures

"Everything is relative". 
I was reading Colin Robson's textbook "Real World Research" and he mentions that in a relativist approach there is no objective reality- everything must pass through the subjective mind. The silliness of this is obvious to me but the wisdom is subtle.
I believe that true science tries not to give itself a privileged position- to remove a source of bias that might cause error in results. But deep within science is the assumption that a deep understanding of the universe and the pursuit of repeatable truths is somehow the noblest pursuit of man.
And in that regard, of giving meaning to a person's life, science is fairly silly, much like religion or astrology.  It can go one of two ways, I think: either science is a practical solution toward improving the human condition and protecting life on earth, or it is a calling, with some sort of underlying philosophy.  
In truth it is both, which is the power of it. No other medium has had the same opportunity to make predictable changes to the world around us and at the same time inspire us to be something more than our origins.
But I think science is only a milestone on what I hope is a long scale of evolving human thought.  I think the next most immediate step is, science can help us predict change, but to harness it, we must know of our aspirations, and they must be sufficiently shared that they do not put us to war against each other. I mean, which is more defining of one's worldview, Buddhism or science?

When it comes to our aspirations, true science has no philosophy, it is only a language. Thus, I was forced to consider my own philosophy; respecting the dignity and ugliness inherent in all life, and working to remove excessive suffering from the world.  
In this, I suppose I see myself as a mere steward of a journey not yet understood. We are travelling through time and space, perhaps with no destination, but since we have been given all these tools, why not tighten up the ship for future storms? And of course, these tools can self-propagate- how neat! By using them conscientiously, we can furnish our fellow passengers, especially the younger ones, with an ever-improving toolkit! Who knows what leak may spring, or what hurricane might brew, that will be dispatched confidently by future generations standing upon our shoulders?  
Not to underestimate their ability to create a whole new and exciting ship, either!
Of course, this is based in the assumption that a ship, once afloat, is intended to stay afloat. I am sure captains in despair have willfully run their ships aground, and crews have reached their extinction through sheer indifference.  
But I am a simple person. I see a beautiful ship, our planet, and I see a beautiful crew, all life as we know it. I figure- while I am around then why not do our best to leave things a little nicer than we got them?
And of course, one is always welcome to view the world another way- as a big joke!  
"42."- DA
"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different." -KVJ

Thursday, April 10, 2014

When to fell a tree

I once heard a story about a man who had a tree.  The tree, in his back yard, stood mostly straight- tall and proud...and dying of invasive infestation.  It endangered his home and his family, if it were to fall.  Decades of carbon, conjured invisibly out of the atmosphere had been fixed into sturdy, heavy fibers of Hemlock.

The man knew an old-world lumberjack, a neighbor of sorts in this remote mountain community.  This lumberjack was not your stereotype- small, wiry, slightly hunched and well past his prime, with suspenders to keep his trousers up, and spectacles to fix his myopia. He would smoke his pipe and lean on his axe whenever deep in thought.  He was closer to how one might picture Aldo Leopold, writing the next chapter of Sand County Almanac in his mind, than to a muscle-bound, chain-saw-toting, chew-spitting, mysoginistic beer-chugging specimen of logger.  The man hired this old logger to come cut down the tree.

And the first day, the logger walked the two miles of dusty roads to the man's trim cabin.  He went out back, lit his pipe, leaned on his axe, and thought a while.  He walked back off down the road.

This happened twice.  The second time much the same as the first.  He walked two miles with his axe on his shoulder, looked the tree up and down, smoked a full pipe, and walked home.  The man grew concerned.  Was this logger going to cut down the tree or not?  He started thinking he should pay a landscaping company, with all their cherry-pickers, ropes, and chainsaws, to come all the way out and turn the tree to woodchips.

But the third time the logger walked the dusty road, there was a strange calm in the air.  An unusual spring storm was brewing.  The man fretted all the more- if the logger performed his act a third time, the tree might fall on the man's house and emperil his family.

Calmly, the logger lit his pipe and the smoke wafted lazily in every direction, indecisive.  He looked the tree up and down, thoroughly and shamelessly, like an old lecher at a blushing teen.  And then, the logger put his finger in his mouth and pointed at the tree, or rather, the ominous sky above.  And he immediately began to chop, smoothly and efficiently, his well-honed axe making short work of the grain of the mighty tree.

He paused to catch breath, and lit another pipe. The man noticed...the logger's pipe smoke was no longer lazy.  It now flew from his pipe in a very specific direction...precisely opposite the man's house.

You see, the logger knew these parts, having grown up here.  And he knew that the wind was usually prevalent in a particularly unfavorable direction for the unfortunate position of the man's house on the lee side of the tree and the sail-like tendencies of the dying tree's bulk.  And of course, having a house there, there was a large clearing, and the tree's branches naturally grew more heartily toward the house, eager for sunlight.  So the weight of the tree and the force of the wind were together conspiring to wreck the poor man's house, little did he know.

But the old logger knew.  And he was patient.  He waited for an unusual and strong wind, which blew exactly opposite the usual state of affairs.  And the old man knew from experience just when the wind would be gusting strongly enough to fell the tree...away from the man's house.  And so now having cut a sizeable wedge out of the tree, the logger began to notch the side facing the house, and with a mighty groan the tree fell cleanly away and landed with a deep resonance that reverberated in the very foundations of the house.

So, the moral is clear.  Patience is often rewarded with efficient successes.  The tree crew, all four of them, driving the truck, operating the chainsaws and blocks and tackle and wedges, might have gotten the job done- but this old man knew the far simpler approach.  Sometimes, it's best to wait for the right moment before acting.  It takes time, attention, and practice to build experience- experience on when to act and when to wait. And the logger lit another pipe and walked two miles home, before the first drop of rain pattered on the man's safe roof.  He could segment the tree on a better day.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April will be Imaginary

April fools.

Is me.

It’s going to be a long month of



Look out for a monster
made of time and technology.

Hide out in dens of nature and
sloven simplicity as
spring unfolds to
embrace you,
but there’s plexiglass
and we forgot the dry ice martinis.