Saturday, March 27, 2010

Influences....

Some of my favorite bloggers have been posting lists
of books that have influenced their lives. It is an
interesting exercise. For the purposes of this list, "influenced"
means a book that opened my eyes to something new and
important for me, a book that opened a door to new and
further exploration, a book that made me re-think, or
re-connect in a different way some old ideas, and finally,
a book that made me cry. Subject to being able to edit
later, here is my list:

Abraham Maslow: The Farther Reaches of Human Nature
M. Scott Peck: The Road Less Traveled
Julia Cameron: Vein of Gold
David Hawkins: Power versus Force
Emmett Fox: Sermon on the Mount
Louis Untermeyer: Robert Frost's Poems
Wm. Paul Young: The Shack
George S. Clason: The Richest Man in Babylon
Leon Uris: Trinity
Hernando De Soto: The Other Path
Will & Ariel Durant: The Lessons of History
Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel
Jim Trelease: The Read-Aloud Handbook

Kurt has Sherlock Holmes and Watership Down
on his list. I spent hours and hours as a teenager
reading Conan Doyle's work and Watership is a
long time favorite. Makes me think that I need a
second list. A list of books that I read a long time
ago, but still keep close at hand. While not strictly
meeting the definition of an "influence", they
clearly are important to me. Here is my second
list:

Michael Shaara: Killer Angels
Wendell Berry: The Memory of Old Jack
Rafael Sabatini: Captain Blood
Giovanni Guareschi: The Little World of Don Camillo
Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes
Baroness Orczy: The Scarlet Pimpernel
Pat Conroy: The Prince of Tides
Ernest Hemingway: The Old Man and the Sea
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: Welcome to the Monkey House
Richard Adams: Watership Down

Reasons why I like living in Newark and Licking County

Reason #39: Buildings as a canvas for Public Art.

I think it is great that people in our community are willing
to think up, fund, and complete projects like these murals.
What I really like is how they came back after the murals
were painted and decided to illuminate them for nighttime
viewing. What a great attitude: take a good thing and make
it even better. I like what the attitude says as much as
the art.

The first three murals are visible from Canal and Market
Streets between Second and Third Streets in downtown
Newark. They are painted on the rear walls of buildings
fronting on South Park Place and South Third Street.

They were all painted by Columbus artist Curtis
Goldstein.

They are all illuminated. The coolest time to see them
is after dark.




















































This mural is part of the Works campus. It is visible from
South First Street. Between the mural and First Street,
The Works has unearthed part of the canal system that ran
through the Downtown. Knowing the Works, this will be a
first class attraction when it is completed.




Our first stand up comic.....



















There is an e-mail with quotes from Will Rogers making the
rounds. I enjoyed reading it today. Will Rogers was a more
than a star, he became a national treasure. Starting as a
roping vaudevillian, he acted in over thirty silent films and
more than twenty "talkies". He had an every Sunday
broadcast radio show, the Gulf Headliners, and was a
syndicated columnist. Rogers also toured the country doing
stand up comedy- before that genre even existed. He was
a wry observer of politics and human nature and a quote
machine. Here are a few of my favorite ones:

"Our foreign policy is an open book- a checkbook."

"The income tax has made more liars out of Americans
than golf."

"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggie' until you can
find a rock."

"I'm not a real movie star. I've still got the same wife I
started out with 28 years ago."

"Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians
seriously and the politicians as a joke."


"Don't let yesterday use up too much of today."


"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if
you just sit there."

"Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're
paying for."

"The more you read and observe about the Politics thing,
you got to admit that each party is worse than the other.
The ones that's out always look the best."

"If stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out?"


Rogers lived from 1879 to 1935. He was a great one.


Thanks Vic.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Robert Frost......

My first memory of Robert Frost was at John F. Kennedy's
inauguration. The (then) 86 year old Frost was to read a poem
he penned for just this occasion, The Dedication. However, the
cold, the wind, and the glare got the better of him, so from
memory he recited The Gift Outright instead. At the time
(remember now, I was still 8 years old), I couldn't figure out
who this guy was, what he was doing, or why he was trying
to do it.

This was my first, and maybe best, lesson about the danger
of judging by first impressions.

Thirty some years ago, friend Grant had one of those large
hard bound tomes suitable for leaving on your coffee table.
Idly looking through it, I came upon Two Tramps at Mud
Time with illustrations. Robert Frost immediately went
to the top of my (very short) list of favorite poets. I have
posted the end of this poem previously, but I'm going to do
it again:

"But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes."

My second favorite Frost poem is Birches.
It concludes:

"So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed it open.
I'd like to get away from earth for awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love;
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches."

There are a handful of other favorite Frost poems;
Bearer of Evil Tidings, Mending Wall, The Investment,
Revelation, The Woodpile come to mind, but let's close
this with the second half of Tuft of Flowers:

"But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.

I left my place to know them by their name,
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.

The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
Leaving them to flourish, not for us,

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him,
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.

The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,

That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.

'Men work together,' I told him from the heart,
'Whether they work together or apart.'"

The good stuff.

Reasons why I like living in Newark and Licking County

Reason #11 : The Newark Public Library

My library card is one of my most prized possessions.

The first picture below shows the building at 5th and
Church that housed the library when I first moved to
Newark. Nice building certainly, but what you see is what
you get for parking.



















Below is the picture of the new library at 5th and West Main.
Completed in 1999, the building contains more than 60,000
square feet of space and oodles of parking for employees and
patrons.

The leadership of former library directory Wilma LePore
and former Board of Trustees chair Tim Bubb, made the
process from planning to site acquisition, to design, to
passage of the bond issue by the voters, to construction, to
grand opening a smooth success (Full disclosure: I was a
trustee 1998-2001).

This library counts about 330,000 patron visits per year.

One of the significant improvements of the new building is
its expansion and enhancement of computer/Internet access
for our community. Every time I'm there, those computers
are hard at work. Add the study rooms and the meeting
rooms that are available for community groups and you get
a pretty special facility.

As a community, we have the right to feel good about the
entire Licking County Library System. We can feel
especially proud of the Newark Library.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

More from Csikszentmihalyi......

Last Sunday we talked about the book Flow: The Psychology
of Optimal Experience. This seems like a good time to post
another excerpt:

"How to keep love fresh? The answer is the same as it is for
any other activity. To be enjoyable, a relationship must
become more complex. To become more complex, the
partners must discover new potentialities in themselves,
and each other. To discover these, they must invest
attention in each other- so that they can learn what thoughts
and feelings, what dreams reside in their partner's mind. This
in itself is a never ending process. A lifetime's task."

Sounds fun, though.

Thoughts.....

"Change your thoughts and you change your world."
-Norman Vincent Peale

Problem solving via Rule #22....

Alan Webber recently wrote the book Rules of Thumb. In it
he lists 52 rules, or rather truths for winning at business
without losing yourself. Webber, a high quality blogger
among other things, bases his rules on a lifetime of business
experience. He is perhaps best know as being one of the
founding editors of the magazine Fast Company.

Anyway, for those of us in sales (which is pretty much
all of us), lets go back to Rule #22. "Learn to see the
world through the eyes of your customer."

Here is an excerpt from his essay:

"That's when I realized that, like many entrepreneurs, I'd
been looking at the situation through the wrong end of the
telescope. Absorbed in the brilliance of my own idea, I'd
overlooked the other end of the telescope: I'd neglected to
consider how the world looked to the people I was trying to
sell on my idea.

When I swung the telescope around I saw the world through
Fred and Mort's eyes. They needed someone to help them
solve their problem. I realized that the other magazine
companies had passed on Fast Company not because it was
or wasn't a good idea but because we weren't a solution for a
problem they had. Now if I wanted to sell Fred and Mort on
my magazine, I first had to buy into my responsibility to help
them solve their problem. I had to stop acting like an
overaggressive salesman and start acting like a partner who
understood and respected their side of the deal. If I could
see how to solve their problem, then maybe they'd agree to
solve mine."

Sales 101. Thanks for the lessons Alan

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Be careful what you wish for.....

Globalization has undoubtedly intensified, but it is not a new
thing. The following is an excerpt from Axel Madsen's John
Jacob Astor: America's First Multimillionaire.
The year is 1815:

"Astor's ships sailed around the world, but as his friend
Albert Gallatin was one of the first to realize, the fall of
Napoleon put an end to unparalleled expansion of American
commerce and prosperity. Gallatin was in Paris and
understood that a peaceful, stable, and productive Europe
would not demand the volume of American imports it had
absorbed during the thirty years of nearly continuous war.
In retirement, (James) Madison also recognized that glutted
foreign markets meant falling prices, that only war or natural
disasters could sustain the economy. If peace continued, he
wrote, 'nothing but seasons extensively unfavorable (in
Europe) can give us an adequate market for our grain crop'."

John Ruskin said some neat stuff....

Ruskin, an art critic and social thinker, live in England
from 1819 to 1900. Here are a few of this thoughts:

"The highest reward for man's toil is not what he gets for it,
but what he becomes by it."

"What we think, or what we know, or what we believe, is in
the end of little consequence. The only consequence is
what we do."

"When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece."

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up,
snow is exhilarating; there really is no such thing as bad
weather, only different kinds of weather."

"There is scarcely anything in the world that some man
cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply,
the person who buys on price alone is this man's
lawful prey."

Just for fun, here are two quotes that capture the
tension of being both a social progressive and an art
critic:

"The question is not what a man can scorn, or disparage,
or find fault with, but what can he love, value and
appreciate."

"Pagan in its origin, proud and unholy in its revival,
paralysed in its old age... an architecture invented, as it
seems, to make plagiarists of its architects, slaves of its
workmen, and sybarites of its inhabitants; an architecture in
which intellect is idle, invention impossible, but in which all
luxury is gratified and all insolence fortified." (talking about
the classical tradition in art).

The man could write.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A little Plato never hurt anybody....

"Time will change and even reverse many of your
present opinions. Refrain, therefore, awhile from
setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters."
-Plato

The slippery slope just got slippier......

Our Country just got different. I am not sure if the health care
insurance reform just passed by the House of Representatives
is a good thing or a bad thing. I haven't read it, and may not
understand it if I do.

I do know that my very bright and common sensible sister,
who practices (non-litigation) health care law in Philadelphia,
believes there are good provisions to the bill, and worrisome
provisions to the bill. I do know that my sweetie, who reads
and understands Medicare rules and regulations as part
of her day job, believes there are good provisions to the bill, and
worrisome provisions to the bill. I also know that our current
system of providing health care is hopelessly in need of
improvement.

So....I guess now we wait and see. I might have some trust in,
and would feel much better about, our Congress and its ability
to craft sensible legislation if the Social Security Trust actually
had $2.5 trillion dollars in it, instead of $2.5 trillion in IOU's. I
might have some trust in, and would feel much better about, our
Congress and its ability to craft sensible legislation if they were
not in love with creating unfunded mandates that strangle the
ability of local governing entities to focus just on their core
missions. I might have some trust in, and would feel much better
about, our Congress and its ability to craft sensible legislation if
they hadn't voted to exempt themselves from all the laws they
pass for our benefit.

I guess I am having trust issues.

The following is from Monday's New York Times, quoting Nancy
Pelosi:

“After a year of debate and hearing the calls of millions of
Americans, we have come to this historic moment. Today we have
the opportunity to complete the great unfinished business of our
society and pass health insurance reform for all Americans that is
a right and not a privilege".

I am a bit confused about privilege, rights, and responsibilities. I
wasn't aware that health insurance was a "right" for Americans.

My hope for my children's generation is that pretty soon we, as
a society (but mostly us baby boomers), stop talking about rights
and start talking about responsibilities.

In the meantime, I am an optimistic person and this is an
optimistic blog. I am filled with hope that the Democrats got it
right and this bill will provide better health care for all
Americans (that's the goal, right?) and will reduce our
federal government's deficit.

You can make your snide comment now, I'm not making one.

Thoughts

"Let one therefore keep the mind pure, for what a man
thinks, that he becomes."
-The Upanishads

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy 102nd Birthday........



















It was a sad day when Louis L'Amour died in 1988. The man
wrote 89 novels and countless short stories. I have read
them all (well, maybe- his estate keeps finding new ones).

It is probably true that his writing was uneven, that he
only had three or four plot lines and just kept reworking
them, and that he would have benefited mightily from
actually having an editor. But....so what? Most of his
novels could be read in an evening. Not taxing reading;
but comfortable, relaxing, enjoyable in a predictable sort
of way. The good guy always won and usually got the girl.
Justice prevailed. The men and women mostly looked after
themselves, accepting risk as part of life. Willing to help,
but not asking for any.

I suspect that Louis L'Amour merged his work and his
love as well as anyone could. I am grateful for the hours
of honest pleasure that merger brought me.

Thoughts.....

"Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their
minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."
-William James

Monday's poem

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
-the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis


-e.e. cummings

Gratitude...

"You pray in your distress and in your need; would that
you might pray also in the fullness of your joy."
-Kahlil Gibran

Welcome to the Monkey House

I first stumbled across Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in Miss Deubler's
8th grade American History class. His short story Report on
the Barnhouse Effect was reprinted in the Weekly Reader,
and she had us read it in class. Vonnegut was heady stuff for
an 8th grader.

Later, I loved Cat's Cradle, liked Slaughterhouse-Five, and
struggled with Breakfast of Champions. Maybe, due to Miss
Deubler, my favorite Vonnegut is Welcome to the Monkey
House, a collection of his short stories written in the 1950's,
which includes Report on the Barnhouse Effect.

Drifting around the Internet last weekend, I came upon an
essay offering what I thought was a very unique interpretation
of the short story Harrison Bergeron. Puzzled, I went to the
book shelves to find Monkey House and re-read the story.
Great opening (might be a candidate for the top 25):

"THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal.
They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were
equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody
else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody
was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality
was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the
Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of the agents of
the United States Handicapper General."

Re-reading the short story and thinking about the unique
interpretation, just reinforced the notions that we all see the
world through our own particular set of filters and that you
can find just about anything on the Internet.

Read the whole short story here. It is worth the time.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Reasons why I like living in Newark and Licking County

Reason #24: the Rotary Accessible Playground.

The Newark Rotary Club celebrated its 100th year of
operation in 2005. Being a service club, the members
decided to celebrate their centennial by building a fully
accessible playground for the community. (Full
disclosure: I am a member.) To accomplish this,
over $500,000 in cash was raised, and countless volunteer
hours were donated, by the membership and like-minded
people and organizations in our community.

The results are guaranteed to bring a smile to about
any face. On a sunny afternoon last week about 100
kids (of all ages) and parents were enjoying the
playground, which is located on Sharon Valley Road
just north of the OSUN/COTC campus.


This is an exceedingly generous community.




















































































Sunday's verses

How blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding.
For its profit is better than the profit of silver,
And its gain than fine gold.
She is more precious than jewels;
And nothing you desire compares with her.
-Proverbs 3:13-15

The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom:
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
-Proverbs 4:7

Twelve years ago Uncle Ted Pasquesi told me to read

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Flow: The Psychology of Optimal
Experience. Uncle Ted is one of the brightest, most free
thinking persons I have known. He says read, I read.

Anyway, yesterday I was reading gapingvoid's post
"to unify work and love". (I love the theme- see 2/1/10 post
of Robert Frost's Two Tramps at Mudtime). Not sure how,
but from there I found my way to Kevin Kelly's site CoolTools,
where he had a post about the 100 Best Business Books of
All Time. Flow was on the top of the list.

I suspect that the unity of work and love leads to flow.

Here are some of the characteristics of Csikszentmihalyi's flow:

1. Doing a task that we have a chance of completing.
2. Concentrating on that task.
3. Clear goals for the task.
4. Immediate feedback on how we are doing.
5. Acting with deep but effortless involvement.
6. Acting with a sense of control over our actions.
7. Concern for the self disappearing.
8. Sense of time is altered.
9. Following a flow experience, the organization of the self
is more complex than it was before. Increased complexity
of the self may equate to growth.

Mihaly thinks complexity in this context is a good thing. He
sees complexity as the successful merging of differentiation and
integration.

The following is an excerpt from Flow:

"In the past few thousand years-a mere split second in
evolutionary time- humanity has achieved incredible advances
in the differentiation of consciousness. We have developed a
realization that mankind is separate from other forms of life.
We have conceived of individual human beings as separate from
one another. We have invented abstraction and analysis- the
ability to separate dimensions of objects and processes from
each other, such as the velocity of a falling object from its weight
and its mass. It is this differentiation that has produced science,
technology, and the unprecedented power of mankind to build up
and to destroy its environment.
But complexity consists of integration as well as differentiation.
The task of the next decades and centuries is to realize this
underdeveloped component of the mind. Just as we have learned
to separate ourselves from each other and from the environment,
we now need to learn how to reunite ourselves with other entities
around us without losing our hard-won individuality."

Thoughts

"No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible,
until a great change takes place in the fundamental
constitution of their modes of thought."
-John Stuart Mill