Thursday, March 31, 2005

Same Wellspring, Different (but parallel) Message

It looks like Jay and I were both reading Christopher Bailey today...but here is the quote that struck a chord with me:

... I encourage folks to live full lives that are not one-dimensional, but integrate work, personal time, community service, passionate hobbies, and anything else that adds to the complete experience that is life. This is the wellspring of creativity and spirit that drives our existence. To segment all of this ... is doing a disservice to the world and ourselves.

While I know that Bailey writes as a life coach and speaks to issues of humanism in the workplace, for me this particular post hits on a fundamental issue I come across day after day in my work with/for/about First Nations in Canada (and I would argue that this applies to indigenous peoples in general): the premise that all life is interconnected. All aspects of life "are the spokes to a larger wheel." To separate the parts from the whole is to nullify the whole.

And that is precisely what companies do when creating and perpetuating brands...that is precisely what the Canadian and British Columbian governments do when they continue to rely on inappropriate case law. The people for whom the system/brand was created in the first place are now secondary AT BEST. The bottom line is all we see...

But herein lies the rub: how do we live in the liminal space between problematic system and the revolutionary reform of that system? What do we do in the interim to provide for the needs of people that cannot wait for the ideal to become the real? How do we reallocate funds that are inextricably linked to the system?

Maybe the trick is that we think resources are in a stranglehold of established frameworks...

Being a More Complete Person

Christopher Bailey posts some more great thoughts today:

"I honestly believe that our customers want to know who we are as people. They want to know that actual human beings with minds and hearts exist behind that corporate name."

"I encourage folks to live full lives that are not one-dimensional, but integrate work, personal time, community service, passionate hobbies, and anything else that adds to the complete experience that is life. This is the wellspring of creativity and spirit that drives our existence."

Powerful words, and he gives a business case to defend them. He challenges managers out there to encourage employees to develop full lives as well. Then he tells us how having a workforce of interesting complete people will attract more customers than having a workforce of "worker bees, or robot drones"

I think in our current culture of consistent branding, the unspoken message is that to keep customer loyalty accross many branches of the same company everything has to be the same. It's called "creating a unified brand experience" and invariably it results in lack or personality in your workforce. People in uniform that look the same, stick to a customer service script and work in offices that have few, if any personal effects. If that is the only way to build your brand, then what IS the difference between your employees as robots, and real robots. Why not just mechanize everything?

Because customers don't like that. They PREFER to be served by REAL PEOPLE. In fact, if I am understanding Christopher's post correctly, he takes it one step further by saying that you can create MORE customer loyalty through soulful workplaces than through consistently branded ones. I hope that Executives out there are paying attention.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

From 'The Take'

Go here and sign...

We the undersigned therefore call upon the governments of Argentina and Neuquen, and the courts dealing with various aspects of the bankruptcy case to enact the following immediately:

1. Remove any threat of eviction from the factory, both now and in the future.

2. Grant legal recognition to the Zanon workers’ co-operative, FaSinPat, and acknowledge the important social and economic contribution they have made to their community over the past three years…

3. Pass a permanent and definitive law of expropriation on behalf of the workers of Zanon, so they can stop wasting energy in political and legal battles, and devote all their efforts to creating many more jobs, helping to build hospitals, schools, and housing in the public interest, and spreading the model of economic democracy, so desperately needed in Neuquen and around the world.

Points of Note

Two points of note from the workplace today…

Interesting Point: a coworker circulated an email this morning recommending that we tune in to CBC Radio One for a series of lectures on the talk show “Ideas,” March 28th to April 1st (9-10pm).

In A Short History of Progress Ronald Wright argues that our modern predicament is as old as civilization, a 10,000-year experiment we have participated in but seldom controlled. Only by understanding the patterns of triumph and disaster that humanity has repeated around the world since the Stone Age, can we recognize the experiment’s inherent dangers, and, with luck and wisdom, shape its outcome.

Scary Point: we had a break-in last night and the theory is that the perpetrator was hiding out until I left (I was the last to pack it in)…I was an idiot and did not set the alarm (I never do and just assume the cleaner will on his way out). I am spooked and pissed at myself. A shitty combo especially before one’s morning coffee…

Side Note: I want to ask my friends from Down Under: are you doing your patriotic duty? The Australian government is paying $2 319/child to mothers of children born after July 1st 2004.

In announcing the payments in May, 2004, Treasurer Peter Costello told the country: “You go home and do your patriotic duty tonight.”

The father of three suggested that two children per couple was not enough to combat the effects of an aging population: “You should have ... one for your husband, one for your wife, and one for your country.”

It is always heart warming when your government bribes you to be a mindless breeder…immigration policy reform anyone?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

My Sad 2 Cents

Jay writes about the following in a far more articulate and engaging way below…

Why is it that possibilities can seem just as limiting as they are unlimited? How quickly open doorways become overwhelming…I am sure I have read about this phenomenon in Western culture: overwhelming choice and its paralyzing effects. Whine, whine, bitch, moan….I know. I don’t even feel good writing a few lines about this considering Indonesia’s most recent “natural” disaster and the resultant death toll…

So, we are back to acknowledging the shit in our lives and then bucking up because “everything in perspective,” right?

And we, I, need to do something…anything…NOW.

The Wild Mind

Geat post on Evelyn Rodriguez's site today about the Wild Mind. Required reading for renaissance people.

She discusses putting aside your inner self doubts to unleash your creative side. In her post she's specifically referring to writers, but the message really resonated with me in terms of striving to be a fully functional creative person.

We spend so much of our lives stuck in a small cage of self doubt and fear (a place we create but society strengthens ) In order to truly realize our creative potential and live a satisfying and whole life we have to step outside of our little cage.

Once outside we realize there is a huge world of possibility out there - but then invariably we are pushed back into our tiny enclosure by fear and doubt - but this time with the dissatisfaction of knowing that we have seen the alternative and this cage no longer suits us.

This is the heartbreak of being a creative person and trying to live your full life.

But there is also hope in realizing that there is an entire exciting creative world out there. It's like you SEE the possibilities that are available to you. You struggle to get past your own self doubt and societies expectation and it's so HARD. It's EXCRUTIATING, but it is so worth the fight. Think of it as a fight for your own life. It's a fight for your creative life. It's like asking the real you to please step forward for the first time.

And each time you spend a little more time outside your cage, you become stronger. Strong enough to keep fighting. Strong enough to fight harder. Strong enough to break your cage.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Poor Jay

I thought Jay would have today off as the majority of us working at a J.O.B. for "cash" are...see Hugh for a reminder of his "sex" versus "cash" theory.

Reading the Globe today I am bombarded by so much sadness in the world (not surprisingly): Marburg in Angola, Terry Schiavo, and the Pope. To just name a few...

So I turn to a charmingly fluffy movie, The Princess Bride, have another cup of now lukewarm coffee, and finish my laundry (dryer is broken so I am getting some free dryer action).

So sad...I have nothing else to share...

Back to work tomorrow and I am hoping the early morning will help jump-start the synapses.

I also need an infusion of coffee chat with Jay.

The Corporation

Tomorrow, The Corporation comes out on DVD. This is required viewing, and has made me think more deeply about my life choices. It hits you with real, hard-to-hear facts, but in the end leaves you with some hope for the future. People really can change things if they want to.

Happy Easter everyone!

I'm at work. Nobody I work with really wants to be here today. Our offices are downtown, in an area where there are many other business and government offices. I think that we are the only ones working today though. As a result, we don't have too many customers. Everybody is at home enjoying Easter with their families and friends. We are working.

I can't help but wonder. Is it worthe he associated costs of heat, wages, power, etc. to even have us IN today? Most of the people that I spoke with on the weekend were genuinely surprised that I was working. If these people are any indication of what the general public thinks, then who is going to know that we are open to serve them? It's not like we've hired a plane to sky write over our offices "Yes, we're open - come in and spend your Easter helping Capitalism thrive!!!"

Maybe if we had skywriting - we'd have more clients today. Seems to work in Vegas.

As it stands, I'm not sure what I'll be doing today.

Maybe I'll clean out my desk

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Is Europe the Next World Economy

Expansion on the last post. The National online weekly talks alot about the US as the dominant world economy and offers some very convincing arguments on why their reign might be ending and Europe has a chance at bat.

Imagine, Europe once again rising to the economic forefront of the world. This could bring about great developments for those of us who are left-leaning.

Unfortunately (again see last post) Europe could be taking control by taking on some of the less desirable traits of economic superpowers, like the US.

Makes for interesting discussion.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

And In Other News...

Seeing as the last two posts had something to do with France....

France has recently abolished the legislated 35 hour work week.

Somewhere off in the distance we hear lifestyle and soul giving a tiny last gasp as it is bludgeoned to death by economics and corporate culture.

La Fin du monde?

The Gut

I have been feeling at a bit of a loss regarding what to post here…

As I was doing a brief surf this morning I tracked back to a post Hugh made on his site in early November of last year:

Paris is fine. Still basking in the French glow. I've gotten to the point where I prefer speaking French to speaking English on an everyday basis. Sure, with my bloody awful command of the language it makes for limited conversations but hey, at the same time I'm having a real adventure.

Adventures are freaky things, are they not? People long for them in order to cleanse themselves of the oppressive mundanity of everyday life, but when you're actually experiencing one in the present tense, the reality is never quite what you imagined beforehand. What you imagined is quite light and jolly in comparison. The reality has much sharper teeth.

Much sharper.

Hilary Percy comments on Hugh’s post below:

it was spur of the moment, spontaneous, didn't have a job or any idea of what i wanted to do . . . i was travelling around france for a bit this summer after gleefully leaving the corporate world and when i got to paris i simply stopped travelling . . . it has been simultaneously the most terrifying and exciting, the most confusing and satisfying, and the most unstable and and yet assured experience of my life. . . it's the first time in my life i've well and absolutely truly followed my spirit and it's the first time in my life i feel my life (although no where concrete at the moment) is finally on track…

Maybe, just maybe, I should not have come home last summer…

What is the difference between running away versus running towards something?

News about Google News

In the paper today. Google News is being taken to court by Le France-Presse for copyright infrigement. Apparently, some of the stories on Google News are taken from this french paper -and from Le France-Presse's subscribers only pages no less. This means (gasp) that people don't have to pay for the news. They can get it for free.

Of course France-Presse is ticked off, Somebody is giving away for free what they want to charge a premium for. That's the beauty of the internet- it breaks down real and imaginary boundaries. If people really want access to the information, they can get it.

Enter the courts. They come in after the fact to try and pass legislation, so that the big corporations can continue to protect their market share. It's mostly lip service though. I think the online music/movie downloading debacle has proven that people will continue to take what they want for free whenever possible (often at the expense of the honest internet users out there. Just ask Hamish over at cardboard spaceship)

"You cannot impose a law on a population that does not agree with it. It's on the books but not enforceable. "

Which makes for an interesting kettle of fish. US against THEM all over again. David (humble blogger) vs. Goliath (big corporate entity.)

Well, David won. Once.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Evelyn Rodriguez says:

"To astound the world, you must sink into creativity as a heroic act"

She talks about how to become what Seth Godin would call "remarkable" and what fellow blogger/ marketer Tom Peters terms as "gasp-worthy"

To Evelyn, the secret to making your idea/product/self more remarkable and gasp-worthy lies in creativity. And she will be providing us with ideas over the next month or so on how to unlock our own creative processes.

Headrush has a great post today too. Kathy Sierra discusses remarkable ideas - in the context of how do you get remarkable ideas out of your company/team/not for profit group/ family unit. What she discovered contradicts conventional "wisdom." She found that remarkable ideas come from INDIVIDUALS and are actually stifled and "dumbed down" when smart, creative people compromise as part of a team environment (controversial stuff.) Her post goes on to talk about how the best team environment for inspiring gasp-worthy, intelligent ideas is one where there are differences of opinion. A diverse environment where team members are encouraged to think independently, feel free to debate their ideas, and in conflict between good ideas, the best idea wins.

"Paradoxically, the best way for a group to be smart is for each person in it to think and act as independently as possible."

Think about that for a second. This is what renaissance girls and boys have been fighting for all along: The permission to act independently and creatively. This is the very thing that is stifled in the modern workplace and the very reason why so many talented and creative people are self-employed entrepreneurs.

But think about it from a management perspective. We NEED the people on our team that are able to create remarkable ideas/products/processes. We NEED "driven self-starters with an entrepreneurial spirit." And we say we want it. On paper those words look good. They look like the very things that will make us better.

In practice, though?

We want a "team player" who doesn't "cause conflict" or "rock the boat." We want somebody who follows our mission statement without question or challenge. Essentially we want somebody non-creative.

So what's a renaissance girl to do?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Maybe this is why you're sick, Nigel

From the Taipei times:

"A number of health and environmental problems are due to a loss of darkness," says Dr David Crawford, executive director of the International Dark-Sky Association, a group that campaigns against light pollution. "And it will get worse as we creep -- or rush -- to a 24/7 world. All of life, all of it, has evolved with a day/night cycle -- the circadian rhythm. It's essential to good health. Many studies are now showing that those who go without a true day/night cycle are adversely impacting their immune systems, and that's not good."

Humans have known for a long time that banishing the dark from our lives has a powerful effect. "Don't forget," reminds Dijk, "continuous light has long been used as a method of torture."

Interesting article - especially in light of the fact that I had three late nights in a row this weekend and am now feeling very tired. But what is the alternative? In winter especially, even with my 8:30-5 working hours, there isn't much time for life outside of work if I stay in the dark once the sun has gone down. This is a challenge, to say the least, and it throws an interesting scientific curveball towards our work/life balance discussion.

Perhaps all the more reason to find a satisfying job - what Blogger Christopher Bailey would call Soulful work.

Still Stuffed

But I am soldiering on for three reasons:

1) working to a deadline;
2) tv-couch time got really old over the weekend;
3) not 100% covered by my work for sick days.

The above is not necessarily in order of importance...

Regardless I am eager to dig into my new (now almost a week old) project with my whole, stuffed-up, head...I am back burner-ing my other work until I slog through construction of the 'foundation' on this new project. I enjoy this part but I am always a little lacklustre on the follow through (I think this is partly due to vague foci and resultant expectations - not to mention my less than tight working 'style'). Moving on...

Three minor jolts from the past this morning and I am wondering if my current attempts to live in the present are becoming like the opposite course of my past pendulum swing, ie usually living in the past versus ignoring it completely. For fear of sounding too in touch with my inner child: isn't it interesting how something has a way of reminding us to temper our latest endeavors; everything in moderation?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Check out This Blog

More Renaissance People are out there (we're everywhere, we're everywhere - cue twilight zone music)

My friend Beth on her journey to Japan - interesting to read about somebody's travels.

And totally coincidentally, she chose the same background template as us! (cue twilight zone music again)

I'm so happy, I just sneezed...

Interesting site :
National Native Title Tribunal


Wonderful diagram of my self-diagnosed cold (note the "docking ports" in particular).

How I became a sicky, ie immune compromised...I blame the chicken salad and/or freezer burned ice cream sandwich I consumed while visiting my 'friend' in Toronto:

Food Poisoning Overview
Food poisoning is a common, usually mild, but sometimes deadly illness. Typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea that come on suddenly (within 48 hours) of consuming a contaminated food or drink. Depending on the contaminant, fever and chills, bloody stools, dehydration, and nervous system damage may follow. These symptoms may affect one person or a group of people who ate the same thing (this would be called an outbreak).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the United States alone, food poisoning causes about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and up to 5,000 deaths each year. One of the most common bacterial forms of infection, the salmonellae organisms, account for $1 billion in medical costs and lost work time.

Worldwide, diarrheal illnesses are among the leading causes of death. Travelers to developing countries often encounter food poisoning in the form of traveler’s diarrhea or "Montezuma’s revenge." Additionally, there are new global threats to the world's food supply through terrorist actions using food toxins as weapons.
Last updated: Jan 24, 2005

And then I had the flu earlier this month:

Habits for Good Health
These steps may help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu:

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze—throw the tissue away after you use it.

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you are not near water, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.

Stay away as much as you can from people who are sick.

If you get the flu, stay home from work or school. If you are sick, do not go near other people so that you don't make them sick too.

Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way.

I hope you have enjoyed the above presentation of: My Health (or lack thereof)...

Tired Now...

First Gig of Three this weekend was last night. Needless to say, my ears are still ringing and I can't quite think straight...whee!

We get there and the lead singer of the band we were filming tells us that he plugged in the light for the stage and it blew up.

It blew up.

Now for those of you who have never filmed anything before, let me tell you - no light = no picture. What we can see in low light with our 3D eyes, doesn't translate to 2D film - you just see alot of darkness and shadows that run into each other.

So we have no light.

That's....ok... Our camera has a "night shot" function which means that we can still pick up detail. Problem with night shot though: it's kinda like those night vision glasses that you see on TV - it turns everything green.

So instead of a shadowy blur we have detailed green. Oh well, it's St Patricks day so green is fitting :-P


So halfway through the show, my partner and I are sitting down and wondering if it's even worth filming tonight - we worry that we'll end up with two hours of basically unusable footage.

Then my partner (brilliant man, I sure wish I had thought of this) gets an idea:

"Black and white" Stylized for effect! We can convert the green to black and white with a simple colour corrector program we have on our video editing suite. Then we can use all the footage we shot in a classy non - green kind of way. It's so crazy it just might work!

We're going back in tonight to shoot some more - I'm excited

Thursday, March 17, 2005

What Does Justice Mean: Why Is The World Not Fair?

The Canadian Legal System…justice…the law.

Thinking about the recent decision in Vancouver acquitting the accused in the 1985 Air India bombing…thinking about the Virk family struggling through the third trial to determine culpability in the 1997 murder of their daughter…

And, in California, Scott Peterson was sentenced to death for murdering his pregnant wife.


Justice \Jus"tice\, n. [F., fr. L. justitia, fr. justus just. See Just, a.] 1. The quality of being just; conformity to the principles of righteousness and rectitude in all things; strict performance of moral obligations; practical conformity to human or divine law; integrity in the dealings of men with each other; rectitude; equity; uprightness… 3. The rendering to every one his due or right; just treatment; requital of desert; merited reward or punishment; that which is due to one's conduct or motives…

[Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) ]

A Speedbump on the Road to my Success? or Is the Glass half empty?

So my "paid gig" fell through. The people that were going to pay for a video have changed their mind, for now and decided that they didn't need one. I am of two minds about this:

1) I was flattered when they wanted to hire us to shoot them sight unseen, but a little suspicious at the anount of planning they themselves had put into the idea. If you are going to hire somebody without first making sure you like what they do, then the possibility of disappointment runs rampant. Also, I already have three gigs this weekend (all pro bono... sigh) so I am happy to not have the pressure of the paid one clouding my work for the others.

2) But, I really liked the IDEA that somebody was willing to shell out for what we do. Not only does that speak of market demand, it also meant a possible turning point in the business (see below) which we have to wait on again. That being said, when it DOES come sround again, perhaps we will be better prepared.

I still think that word of mouth is in our favour. The fact that these guys were thinking of hiring us means that when projects come up again, we will be top of mind. The pro bono projects we are doing for others also will create exposure and hopefully good reviews. By having the space to focus on those projects this weekend, we will be able to make them top quality, which will in turn create stronger referrals in the future.

So it's a mixed blessing - but I believe that there is a natural progression to things, and it is best to "go with flow" I guess then, my glass is half full - ha ha. At least, I have enough to keep me busy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

This is the part where we really start to get our "one voice"

Nigel just wrote my thoughts today:

"Now I have to time manage and actually figure out a way to optimize my deliverable out-put. I need to be very motivated right now. I need to produce something that someone can have and hold.

And, damnit, I actually want to…I want to rise to the challenge and prove to myself that I am not an impostor."

I'm not sure what project Nigel was referring to, and it may not matter because the message is very clear - and I think most of us can relate to the thoughts above (and below.) It's like the very rare moment where a door opens - an opportunity presents itself, and here's the kicker, we actually recognize it. So much of our lives go by with us being blind to those opportunities. When we fail to recognize thosde open doorways we often feel victims of chance, like a tiny boat tossed along a rough sea. Occasionally however, we see the opportunities before they arise and we feel ourselves taking that important first step towards what could be a life altering experience. Those moments are magical. They are the moments that have the potential to evolve us.

So I will tell you about my opportunity, in the hopes that it will help me rise to the challenge and prove I am not an imposter:

I've talked about my filmmaking aspirations before. I've also talked about how I do alot of "volunteer" filmmaking for friends and not for profit organizations so that I can "be what I want to be" and build my portfolio. Today something new happened. Now I haven't advertised, and nobody that I've filmed has seen my work yet (that to me is a big deal in relation to what comes next.) Somebody has offered to pay me to film them.

It was a referral - a friend of a friend. Keep in mind though neither the friend nor the person that has requested my services has seen my work - this is all based on faith.

And I'm scared that if I charge this person and they don't like what I do, the positive word of mouth that I've developed so far will become negative word of mouth before I even get started. I'm worried that I'm not ready yet, and shouldn't be taking paid gigs. I worry about the potential to damage my reputation and the goodwill of the friend that referred me.

They say "make hay when the sun shines" and maybe this is time to take a big chance - maybe this is my doorway, my opportunity. I hope I don't make a fool of myself.

Into the deep water with both feet and no flotation device.

Time to learn to swim.

And the pressure is on...

Feeling a little bleak this morning and it is not because of the heavy rain and damp chillness in the air. I have just been assigned another project, on top of the one I am currently mismanaging, and I am grieving the loss of the little lull I had been taking for granted. By “lull” I mean being left to my own devices and pretty much setting up my day as I saw fit. If that meant reading all day, I read all day. If that meant chasing down some tangential issue (see yesterday’s post), I chased it down. Now I have to time manage and actually figure out a way to optimize my deliverable out-put. I need to be very motivated right now. I need to produce something that someone can have and hold.

And, damnit, I actually want to…I want to rise to the challenge and prove to myself that I am not an impostor.

So I will give a nod to the fear (I miss you Hunter - check out his last "Hey Rube" article) then put it to bed, shake off my own sleepiness, and dive in head first. I just hope the pool has enough water in it…

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Where has the day gone?

I have been trying to write this (and send off an email to Jay) since I got in this morning at 8:30am..Unfortunately, actually doing my job has been very time consuming. And then I practiced yoga on my lunch break.

Today's work = far can one go out in a boat before one can no longer see the height of land...taking into account the curvature of the Earth and pretending the West Coast of Vancouver Island usually experiences picture perfect weather (for those of you not from the Island, it normally doesn't). Anyway, I know everyone is waiting on tenter hooks so here is the spine tingling answer: approximately 100 nautical miles OR 185 kilometers OR 115 miles.

Tah Dah

In reference to Jay's last post, I too believe it is imperative to examine why something (person, place, or thing - animal, mineral, vegetable - if you prefer - for conceptualisation purposes) does not feel right or appropriate. Why is it always so much "easier" to condemn ourselves for being lazy or stupid or ungrateful instead of simply saying, "hey, this might not be for me." Not only will this save you a little heartache but for those around you as well. For example, those friends and family members who see you struggling AND those people who would flourish with your job/partner/place of residence/etc. if only you could just let go and move on.

Reason # 423 Why Rosa is wonderful

Check out her latest post on talking story. It's about listening to what you want and honouring what you want in order to develop your own innate strengths.

Rosa, you always say exactly what I need to hear (maybe its that old adage: when the student is ready....)

Some of you may have already guessed from many of my posts that I am feeling restless at my 9-5 day job (that hasn't been obvious) and am trying to develop the more creative (and fulfilling) side of myself. My goal is to turn my passions into a source of income, and in doing so start working for myself and my own agenda.

As Rosa says today: perhaps there is a very good reason why I am feeling restless. Perhaps there is a very good reason why I enjoy doing certain activities. Perhaps I should trust my instincts and do activities that feel "right" for me.

Perhaps you should too.

Thanks Rosa

Guardian Online book review

About languages. Very Interesting.

Currently English rates 2nd amoung number of speakers, but it has only about half the number of speakers as Mandarin. Hindi ranks 3rd - just behind english.

The really interesting bit is about the evolution of languages. For example, Latin used to be thought of as a language that was going to be spoken by the world. Now latin is a very dead language - except perhaps in the sciences. Now English is considered to be the language that will unite the world and all her people. Think about this. English has half the number of speakers that Mandarin does. Perhaps we should all learn a second language.

Anyway, the review is here. Well worth a read

Monday, March 14, 2005

Busy and yet at a Stand Still

Hey, me too :-)

It feels like I feel paralyzed some days by the amount of things on my plate. I should take the bull by the horns, and allow the stress to have a positive effect on my life - translating into getting more done, but instead I do nothing (or do things that do not help my work load - like surf the net or take on a NEW project) and just get more and more stressed.

But at least I don't feel like that every day :-) If I did, I would never get out of bed in the morning.

I was sick on Friday, and most of the weekend. I feel like I've had the same cold for three months now, and it only occasionally gets worse (necessitating a sick day) or better (when I only have a little headache, and most of my energy.) I went to the doctor last week, and he diagnosed my headaches as stress related - and told me that I probably caught the other various bugs (colds and flu, I think I've had most of the ones this year) at the office.

So I figure, I'm stressed about work, and therefore my immune system is not working which is causing me to get sick all the time.

Problem is... I am not the only one at work who is sick all the time. EVERYBODY has been getting sick alot this year.

Now let's think about that for a minute. What kind of environment DOES this to people?

Managers, take note. This is an important piece to the employee productivity puzzle.

In Case You were Wondering OR Canada does not always = Il Fait Froid

Observed at: University of Victoria 14 March 2005 9:00 AM PST
9 °C
Pressure/ Tendency
102.5 kPa↓
68 %
4 °C
NE 5 km/h

Max Temp.
18.1 °C
Min Temp.
4.4 °C
Precip Total
0.0 mm

5 Day Forecast from Environment Canada
High 15 °C
Sunny with cloudy periods
Monday night
Low 3 °C
Cloudy periods

High 14 °C
A mix of sun and cloud

High 11 °C
Low 4 °C

High 11 °C
Low 1 °C

High 14 °C
Low 0 °C

Issues to define for myself:

Work ethic

Why do I feel overwhelmingly busy and yet, at a standstill - all in the same moment?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Not working today and I just got paid

So everything is going to be has to be...

Just about to head out and take care of business, errands and the like, and I thought I'd take the time to write a brief treatise on the brilliance of the mix tape. My good friend Simon made me one (with play list describing why each song made the cut and/or is relevant to his life, mine, or everyone we know) and now I have something to throw in the stereo every time I miss having breakfast/coffee/beers with him and Al (his partner). Miss you guys something fierce.

My uncle also recently sent me a CD of tunes he felt it imperative I familiarise myself with...what a wild way to get to know someone. I still owe him a rebuttal mix. And my cousin in the prairies, but that is another story about growing up in the same country but in parallel universes.

So make a compilation of sorts tonight and send it to someone you are missing or just want to have know you a little better.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Variable Cloudiness

Weather report for the day, here in Victoria, B.C.:

Temp: 17
Wind: N 5
Precip: 20 %
Variable cloudiness

On my mind:
Darfur (Sudan, AFRICA) and Pinchi Lake (British Columbia, CANADA)

Two peoples under siege…the reason I bring both situations to this blog is that time and time again we (read: western, typically white) ignore poverty, malnutrition, death, slaughter and the media makes peripheral commentary so that ‘we’ can shake our heads and say, “those poor people over there.”

Pinchi Lake, the Tlazten First Nation people, are here and Cominco has been running amok in B.C. (and elsewhere), relatively unchecked, for decades.

Now what?

Quote for the Day:

Hey, my quote today is not from anybody else's blog, for a change:

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." ~Albert Einstein~

Now those are very important words for any renaissance girl or boy to take to heart. I think that in modern western culture (both work and play) we put alot of pressure on ourselves to try to be super people. Media images show us finely crafted people and situations where the characters look perfect, have great jobs, beautiful apartments, and well-behaved families. We take these images to heart, even though we understand they are fiction, because we see so much of it - it must be true. Media images are insidious that way. They look like real people, they sound like real people, so they must be real people. But real people don't have perfect lives where every problem is resolved within a twenty minute plot line.

At work, we are subjected to a performance review regularily, and a prevaling message within the corporate culture is: "if you are doing X well, now work on Y" Though it is important to consistently work on improving oneself - this message at work can often result in a feeling of "my best isn't good enough" or " mistakes will not be tolerated."

But if you are afraid to make mistakes, then you will never feel comfortable taking chances and trying new things, and if you won't try anything new then you run the very real risk of missing out on something that was made for you. This is not to say that you should throw caution to the wind, and behave like a lunatic. Calculated Risks, and Taking chances is good for your soul however, and essential to personal (and professional) growth

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Hey, Blogging is good for your job!

Who Knew?

Again, a link found through boingboing - a great place to go for a quick summary of interesting items - takes you here.

"Bobby Fischer is 62 today" and other random thoughts...

Bobby Fischer, 62 today

You do what you have to do to put food on the table, then suddenly discover maybe you don't need a $400.00 purse or a $500.00 pair of shoes because your time is more important than that and you cannot be bought out. Suddenly you are living life for yourself and feeling more fulfilled all the time. At least that's the idea of it all. ~ Jay

Whoah…it is amazing to me how you think you know something and then someone says it again or in more articulate terms and boom you are reminded that there really is a difference between listening and hearing a truism. I am worth more than a $400 pair of boots (but they sure do rock – Fluevog) and I want my time to be about more than slobbering consumerism. Well, now doesn’t that take the pressure off of finding time to provide for perceived needs and contribute to the world in a way that may not directly garner one tangible pay-back…

New topic: I have been reading English Cut and while impressed with Thomas Mahon’s work ethic the following description of his temperament also caused me to pause and think, “this would be a great guy to have a conversation with…”

3. Temperament.

I love Savile Row, and love being there. But I know myself, and know the rest of London doesn't suit me nearly as well.

I don’t want four hours of commuting on tubes and trains, every day. Nor am I particularly interested in getting my name in the right glossy magazines. I can’t be bothered with the trendy parties. You never get a decent drink, anyway.

Call me old fashioned, but I have an independant [sic] streak. Yes, I prefer to rough it up here based in beautiful Cumbria and keep visiting my customers where they need me, not where it’s 'cool' to be seen.

Final topic: Based on conversations with a fellow student (French class), who is working as a police officer, I have decided to track down any treatises on the correlation between personality type and pursuing work in one of three well compensated, but requiring no post secondary schooling, excluding specialised training – which I am NOT downplaying, “helping” fields: the police, paramedics, and fire fighters. I suppose I need to caution myself against sweeping generalisations based on minimal samples…but isn’t it true that birds of a feather…?

Renaissance girls (and boys) Unite!

A good friend of mine (who is also a renaissance girl) has just started her own blog that she says was inspired by ours (awww, thanks!)

There is only two posts on it so far, but it already has some great ideas about life and love, so support renaissance people and check it out!

The title is based on Hugh's immortal " I'd like my crayons back" post, and is called: I'd like my crayons back too.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Tips on Aging Gracefully..

Found the link on boingboing... takes you here. Where Milton Glaser (designer extraordinaire) tells us "10 things I have learned"

I like number 2: If you have a choice, never have a job... Ooh, yes please, where do I sign up?

I think this links in to both of Nigel'It s last posts (though I'm still trying to get my head aroung the sex thing- please, tell me more) and also my posts about being anything you want to be and moving from the known to the unknown.

The example in Miltons article talks about getting up every morning with the question "how do I put food on the table" and then your life becomes your job becomes your life. I think this particular question/way of thinking strikes a chord with many creative people and artists out there. It's so simple. Yet, somehow not simple at all.

What it does, however, is shift your own focus - from working for "The Company" or working for money - to working for yourself. You do what you have to do to put food on the table, then suddenly discover maybe you don't need a $400.00 purse or a $500.00 pair of shoes because your time is more important than that and you cannot be bought out. Suddenly you are living life for yourself and feeling more fulfilled all the time. At least that's the idea of it all.

Simple, yet very difficult.

So maybe read the article, and if you feel like it, add your comments below. I would be interested in hearing other thoughts on that piece :)

Margaret Mead

Being bed-ridden for almost a week can be a mixed blessing: lots of time to think and too much time to think.

Spring boarding off of yesterday’s post on creating one’s own job/career and place in the world; I want to do more work on defining that for myself and then tell others. Lots of others.

I also have been thinking about sex. Love too but mostly about sex. I blame too much tv time over the past week and the CBC documentary: Sex, truth and videotape. I am getting dangerously close to a Margaret Mead frame of mind but I am drawn these days to concepts of self in relation to sex. What is the western frame of reference, how does that evolve and what is normal for me…maybe this is less Mead and more Desmond Morris. Or Jerry Springer.

Also have been thinking about human beings as animals and machines and the optimal utilization of our animal or machine selves: maintenance of the vehicle in which we travel. To flu shot or not to flu shot…let alone diet, exercise and the like.

None of the above is revolutionary but I believe it is mandatory in terms of individual self-determinism.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Pushing past your frustration

I'm not really a technology person, I consider myself more an artist.

Over the last few weeks, my partner and I have been upgrading our computer systems and essentially taking on some new technology in order to facilitate our art in a new way (computers can be great tools - even for the technologically impaired :))
So, one of the tools we bought is FLASH - to assist with web page design, but more importantly (in our eyes) to be able to create animated cartoons. (what can I say, we're young at heart.) The goal is to create several cartoon shorts, and one half hour cartoon as well (aim high)

Now, some of you may know - FLASH has a pretty steep learning curve.

I spent five straight hours on the computer on Saturday and by the time I was finished, all I'd accomplished was an animation of a little red ball moving across the screen and bouncing up and

And I'm a fairly bright person, on my good days anyway.

So by Saturday evening, you could say I was feeling fairly frustrated. I thought - "how am I ever going to find the strength to learn this stupid program, and why doesn't it come with print manual" (I hate trying to read those help tutorials that are part of the program- exhausting.)

So, back to basics as it were. Start with what you know and move from the known to the unknown (as one of my old teachers used to say.) What I know is frame by frame animation. FLASH can do that very well. Sunday I sat down to do what I know and....

SUCCESS! - things are looking up- and using what I know combined with extra features present in the program, I was able to move past my frustration, create something I liked, and now I'm excited about future possibilities.

Just the simple process of starting with what I know and moving from there (simple, but somehow not obvious at the time) made all the difference.

I am vertical once more...

The end result is that it's essentially impossible to become successful or well off doing a job that is described and measured by someone else.

~ Seth Godin qtd. in

Whoa… “successful”…now forgive me for how long it will take to write out my thoughts on this (I’m getting over the flu) but this statement seems revolutionary. I always knew my discipline/career of choice required some serious, imaginative work to describe the job I wanted and then hunt down those who would pay me for that “job” (I am very familiar with the concept of the “authentic voice” – Mr. Macleod). That is unless I wanted to teach and/or sign on with an institution and pursue some post-doc research question(s). However, sadly, not everyone has the skill to educate nor the desire (sadder still is the fact that many still enter into that arena and teach regardless) and not everyone has the drive to establish a preserve for chimpanzees (I love you Jane Goodall). Anyway, I suppose it is admitting to my self-centeredness to say that I had not thought of other careers in these terms – imagine the roles you could play, market them, or die (ie, less dramatically, get a 9-5er and work within those parameters).

The potential career-wide (if not globally) is interesting if not astounding. Imagine if you will career counselor Mr.X asking little Jimmy what he wants to be when he grows up and instead of listing some occupations he has a vague familiarity and appreciation of Jimmy instead suggests, “well, Mr. X I think I’ll figure out what propensities I have, what skill sets I want to garner, the fields and geographic space I want to work within and then dovetail all of it with an appropriate educational/mentoring facility that will enable me to achieve my goals. The key, Mr. X, is a successful marriage between what I know, what I will learn, and where I want to be in the future.”

ps just read over Jay's brilliant post nuggets and find my head nodding emphatically at two points in particular: 1) start with what you know and 2) you are what you want to be. Scary truths there...

Friday, March 04, 2005

This just in from the associated Press...

Macho cat thrill seeking by riding many miles on top of a car.

Apparently the cat decided to jump on top of the car after it's owner got in... Definately extreme feline sports here.

I would not want to be a dog in this kitty's way - MeOW!

The Dam Bursts...

Today from BBC news:

"A California judge said in a preliminary ruling that bloggers should not have the same protection afforded to journalists under US law. "

A couple of Bloggers have been taken to court by Apple computers because they leaked information about some new products. The judge has so far ruled that the bloggers (unlike journalists) legally can be made to disclose their sources to Apple - presumably so that Apple can punish it's offending employees.

Bloggers everywhere, take care.

We all know the perils of blogging about work - now it could be written in the law.

Please visit The committee to protect bloggers today.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

You are What You Want to Be...

Think about that for a second.

You ARE what you WANT to BE.

There is this moment of opportunity, when you are just meeting new people for the first time, or when you start presenting yourself to the world for the first time (like when writing a blog) when you can present yourself as anything you want to be. The people listening to you have no reason to disbelieve your version of yourself, and if you are lacking confidence, maybe you will start to believe in yourself too.

Now, if you want to be a Rock Star, but are tone deaf, and have never picked up an instrument in your life - then you could be faced with challenges along the road to becoming what you want to be. But in general, most of us have other versions of ourselves that we want to realize more fully that we already have at least some rudimentary talents in.

I want to be a filmmaker. I have filmed some little things with my friends, shot some weddings - but nothing one would label me as a professional. One day it clicked for me. I realized that I wasn't going to become a filmmaker if I just sat around in my free time, only to occasionally pick up a camera. I started asking around: Can I film your band/not for profit group/wedding? Wanna make a Music Video/Promotional Video/etc? Now I am starting to build my portfolio, and soon I won't have to work for free anymore, because I will be a filmmaker - then I can fund my love projects. Movies or documentaries that I want to shoot, but that nobody will help fund yet.

So again, you are what you want to be - you just have to be it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Make up New Rules:

Great new Seth Godin post:

"The only chance our country (your country, depends where you live), your economy and most of all, your family has to get ahead is this: make up new rules."

We are all cogs in the machine - unless you are the designer of the New Machine...

(read it... read it)

Stress notes:

I read an interesting article about stress on the BBC website today. It discussed the common causes of stress in peoples lives and listed effective ways of dealing with them. Most of it was the usual info on the subject.

What I found interesting though, was amoungst the causes of work-related stress were:

Having too little to do at work
Having work that is not challenging enough
Being in the wrong job

and there was also, of course, stressors that I have touched on in this blog before:

Feeling undervalued
Lack of consultation and communication
Lack of control over the way work is done

And the bigger the organization, the more those last 3 stressors come into play.

Why is this so interesting to me? Well conventional management theory when it touches on how to motivate your staff and keep them HEALTHY and PRODUCTIVE doesn't generally cover any of those six stressors. It doesn't even come NEAR the first three - but the first three stressors are ones that you can expect to apply to the smartest and most talented (and most creative) people on your team. Those are the very people that a high performing company would love to attract, and keep - and those are often the people that leave their organization.

Again, the larger the organization. the more difficult these stressors are to address, but I do not think that it is an impossible task.

The most important weapon we have, I think, is what Rosa Say would call Malama:

"To Malama, is to take care of.
A manager is a steward of assets and a caretaker of people.
Malama calls upon us to serve, to honor, and to protect.
Acts of caring drive us to high performance levels in our work with others.
We give and become unselfish. We accept responsibility unconditionally.
Malama is warm, and Malama is personal.
It comes from heart, and it comes from soul.
When we Malama, we are better."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Two different things today:

Or, two diverse posts that caught my eye:

One is (of course) from Headrush (a blog so good I've memorized the URL from typing it into my links so many times). Kathy Sierra talks about how our brains have not evolved past caveman times, and this is why its so difficult to lose weight or study for an exam. Well worth a read.

And it poses a question: If our brains are still preparing us to run from tigers, and store food for the winter, what impact are our "caveman" brains having on our ability to communicate with one another effectively? What impact are our "caveman " brains having on our management style? How does our "caveman" brain impact our customer service?

Ok that's three questions, but you see my point.

Another post I wanted to talk about today is from Seth Godin's blog. He writes:
In a note from American Express (in response to my email to them):

"Due to unusually high volume, we will respond within three to four businessdays.
How long, I wonder, has the volume been unusually high? How come American Express doesn't have a plan for dealing with this spike?
We've all heard this excuse when we're on hold. Personally, it doesn't make me feel any better. I don't say, "Oh, they've staffed up with plenty of people but this particular moment is an exception so I'll cut them some slack."
What's missing from the cost benefit analysis is pretty clear: a customer just took the initiative to call in, to do business with you, to pay attention. And the company, just to save a buck or so in excess capacity, makes this eager person just sit and wait.
Surely there's a better way."

Ooh, so the almighty dollar rears it's ugly head and in doing so scares away customer service AGAIN. And we know it's true. We all have stories like this. Many stories. Now the really funny thing is, the big wigs at American express probably tell their employees every day how important it is to give superior customer service. Then the bottom line enters into it, and no matter how hard the employee tries to provide great service to the customer, the system has already collapsed. It fell apart at that first phone message and all the kings men can't put it back together again.

So that we don't end on a sour note, please also visit Talking Story. Rosa has an exciting month planned for her readers.