Thursday, June 29, 2006

Happy Thursday

I don't know the origin of the expression, "don't have a good day; make it a good day" but I do know who told me. My close colleague at work is a source of inspiration. He always finds the high road, even when bearing the weight of the other folks who aren't as willing to move along with the business. In the face of problems would debilitate others, he seems to gather more strength. His moral fiber is strong as a steel cable.

I remember the people in my life who have lent influence to me and been role models. People often come and go in our lives, so our role models aren't always with us. Today, happy Thursday, I can celebrate that I have at least one active role model with whom I can share part of my day.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Write and Think

If you write every day, does that mean that you think every day? Maybe. I'm fairly certain that Anne Lamott would be an advocate of journalling in a blog (don't think that blogs were hot when she wrote Bird by Bird.)

It's probably easier to write about the most interesting thing that happened during the day, although it may be more challenging to write about the most boring event. There's always the "Seinfeld" approach to the days non-events. Such as what is the protocol for discussion in the restroom. Side by side, over the dividers okay? Respect the sanctity of the stall?

Well, at least in this exercise I've learned that you put televsion shows in quotes, and movie titles in italics. Maybe there is something to writing each day even if the idea level is down to the "time to buy more" window.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Workout Double-Header

I had the rare opportunity today to enjoy a double-header. My favorite spinning teacher sub'd for one of the "yellers." I'm so much more comfortable in a cardio workout where there is a constant stream of encouragement and instruction on form and purpose. I think it proves you don't have to be a jock in the brain to be a jock in the body.

The spinning class was followed by the usual Saturday flow-ga class. The routine was different today with the requisite new challenge pose at the apex. When Yoga goes well, which is most sessions, I leave refreshed and restored both in body and mind.

The July trip to India is still somewhat of a mystery. I know the plan is to go to New Dehli and Bangalore, and that it's about one week near the end of July. I do hope to get better resolution next week before I go get pumped up with a broad assortment of shots and start working on a visa. I did hear the Taj Mahal is one of the most spectacular sites on the planet. Best is to stay nearby and awaken for the sunrise as it shines on the decorative inlays in the stone. Second best is to hire a driver and tour.

Word is that driving is not advised in India. You're likely to find, as my friend put it, elephants, people cooking, bicycles, and every imaginable obstacle -- which is a challenge atop driving on the left side of the road.

This weekend, I'll look to get caught up on some desk work, read, and relax.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What's New

Not too much. I've been busy working through some work issues. Career transition times can be tough, but much of the tough part is "my interpretation of events." All of the best advice I could rationally give myself is hard to reconcile when emotion takes over, driven partly by frustration and partly by fear. (Yes, fear. Such an interesting concept.) I was able to get my head together for the most part over a three-day weekend. A very affirming meeting on Monday with a senior exec left me reassured, and put my fear (needlessly felt) to rest.

I learned a strong lesson today. In a conversation with a supplier/partner, I referred to my company as a "computer company." The supplier said I "burst his bubble" as he'd been viewing us as a solution company. He went on and on about trade press, and statements the CEO made, and so forth. I'd used the expression when I was describing relative contributions of multiple companies and disciplines in a collaborative nature, so maybe this guy is just a jerk. However, the point he made really hit home, and gave me the pause to reflect.

I took a really great Yoga class on Sunday, "stretch and restore" and for me it was very much about restore. Not sleeping (on top of mental distractions) and worry (yes, me worry) takes it's toll. I told the teacher, who was new to me, that I was seeking the restoration of spirit. With my intent and very good guidance, the restoration occured. I slept Sunday night and was able to get recentered and put many items into perspective.

The feelings I experienced and the way I ultimately managed them was both a reminder of my humanity as well as a lesson in how to deal with it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Comic Relief

After going through a rather stressful week at work, which led to taking today off, I had the opportunity to spend some time with my daughter. This was an uptick in the week, as spending time with her is desirable since she goes away to college in September.

I don't know exactly how it happened, but as we were entering the supermarket I grabbed a shopping cart. I looked at the child's seat, then looked at Jenn. I recognized that she wouldn't fit into the child's seat, so I pushed the seat back which maximized the area inside the cart. Jenn was surpised because the next thing she realized was that she had been airlifted into the shopping cart. We both started laughing.

It wasn't enough to simply position this way at the entrance to the store. I pushed the cart with her in it into the store. It didn't take long to start getting the looks. Two ladies started the dialogue. "How old are you?" she said with a grin. Eighteen was the answer. The other lady looked at me and said, "Is this your baby?" I grinned and answered affirmatively. They said, "Have fun!" which of course, we overachieved in for the next few minutes.

The story goes just a few more sections -- past the blueberries and strawberries, and heading toward the salad bar. Jenn started reaching toward the serving spoons. We then concluded it was time to return to normal -- which was far less fun, drew far less attention, and made us laugh far less.

It is a great memory, which did elicit our laughter later in the afternoon as we recalled the silliness.

I will save for another time the rap song that I created spontaneously on the ride home, which I did as an overlay to some Kanye West that we were listening to.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Flowing Thoughts

Just like the melody of a song, or like the movements in a Yoga flow, our thoughts should flow -- smoothly, evenly, freely.

Many times we have those troubling thoughts that stall our mind. We get caught in that one thought and, with awareness, can feel how that one thought brings us down. It may be that we stop breathing during this thought and our body collapses without oxygen. It may be that the one thought is the only thought that we allow to be in our mind at that time. Also, it is possible that the one thought gets us stuck because we don't have a resolution to whatever issue or problem this thought presents.

Much like you would not want to hear music where there is stuttering or stopping along the way, you wouldn't want your thinking mind playing the song of your life moving erratically. There is no reason why our thoughts shouldn't continue to flow. Maybe they move with our breath, or maybe they have another carrier that needs to keep them moving along. I'm not sure, but as I remember the importance of being able to take the role of the observer of self, the master of all the thoughts, I'll be looking to see how the thoughts flow and how they often stutter or stop.

Even in writing, we find ourselves hearing the silence of no keys being depressed on the keyboard. These moments may either reflect the collection of thought, or the absence of the next flowing thought. Either way, it is important to understand how we move our thoughts along -- breath or linking one thought to another -- and to practice to movement of thought just like we might practice the movement of music or the movement of body.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Graduation Day

On Saturday, I attended my daughter's high school graduation. It came as no surprise that the cermony was a little slow. We heard messages from the young and from the experienced that either refected or created varying degrees of inspiration. In between the speakers, the students bounced beach balls in the air, which occasionally knocked the graduation caps askew. It was amuzing to see the disciplinarians in suits making one last attempt at maintaining order for within the hour their positional power would evaporate.

It was wonderful to see the graduates line up and cross the stage to receive their diplomas and to discover where in this crowd of several thousand where their family, friends and supporters were seated. One student was treated to a short air horn solo, played with some virtuosity. And when the enthusiasm in the crowd brought out the ham in the graduate, we were treated to various inflections of "I acknowledge you, my fans, but it's really about me."

During a morning reflective walk, I considered the amount of time and effort that went into school and academics (yes, they are not completely one and the same) over the last 14 years. I know a great deal about the activities in our home, and to a some extent what happened in the homes of classmates. Yet, it created a very powerful sensation when I consdered that the effort over the years when multiplied by well over 400 represents an enourmous amount of human energy. It was easy to feel and be a part of the collective pride that should natually be elicited from the orderly procession of a fine group of young people dressed tidily in cap and gown.

In our home, the 14 years went by quickly, as it always happens with time gone by. I reflect on Jenn's graceful execution of both the curricular and extracurricular activities. Of course there were some challenges along the way -- obstacles to either remove or circumnavigate. And, without these challenges the journey would have arguably been unnecessary. Jenn developed the skills to deal with the intellectual as well as the interpersonal challenges. The accretion of knowledge and skill will serve her well as she starts another leg of the adventure this fall.

While I feel pride for the many, I am proud of the one. Jenn, congratulations!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Yoga and World Peace

One of the Yoga teachers that I learned from would ask at the beginning of class if there were any requests. Innocently, I would often ask for world peace. Here is an article that may show the path for my request to come true.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Recent Events

When I first started the blog, it was really easy to make entries every day. Now, nothing has really changed too much regarding my activities but it seems a little more difficult to write daily. I wouldn't declare writer's blog [sic] but it may just reflect that I'm a little busier -- probably with work.

Speaking of, I've had the wonderful opportunity to spend morning and evening on calls with a supplier in Taiwan. It has been challenging both to get them to resolve our technical problem and to do so with a sense of urgency. It is difficult to understand their difficulty in this matter. Probably a combination of skill gap and motivation. Regardless, they stand in the way of business and it's harmful to other relationships.

Between calls, I went out to dinner with my French class. Our teacher, who is kind enough to teach the seven of us in her home, suggested that we join for dinner as our last meeting of the summer. In a previous session of the class, we couldn't converge on a decision to meet at a French restaurant (tres cher) so we met at the Chinese buffet. It was really nice to go out as a group. I thanked our teacher for helping us learn the language as I have found it personally empowering to understand and be able to speak some French. I occasionally work with colleagues and customers in France, and it's nice to be able to read and understand the e-mail that is written in French. It's also nice to speak at least a little with customers in their native language as they always seem appreciative.

I have not played any piano since I went to Italy. My interest is waning somewhat, and my teacher is now on a summer schedule. I have found it is easiest to make progress on projects with regular and routine activities. This coming year will be the last year my teacher will be in this area before returning to Eastman and doing his PhD and teaching. I'm deliberating whether to finish this coming year with him, or make the transition to a jazz piano instructor. It may be that I should just take a little break and not worry about it, but I know that not playing regularly will not only preclude progress but that skill might erode.

This weekend at home will be great fun. Family and friends will come celebrate my daughter's HS graduation. My focus should be on how much I can help here enjoy the weekend, how much I can help facilitate the events, and how much fun I can have in the process.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Silent Treatment

I just read one of the most insightful articles about the silent treatment. In The Daily Om a wonderful explanation was given for this harmful and self-defeating behavior. While considering the points made, I reflected upon my own experiences.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Working in the USA

It was nice to see all my many colleagues at the office today after being away last week. I was happy to see that folks took turns putting a little spin on the flywheel to assure the momentum continued.

I also found another area that maintained consistency, and that is the arrival of new opportunities to excel. The daily challenge is alive and well -- and actively multiplying. One person close to me reminded me that the goal is not to have a nice day, but to make it a nice day.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Italy -- Partial Trip Report

On the way from the hotel to the airport, estimated as a 70-minute car ride, my colleague and I were treated to a very expensive amusement ride via a chartered car. The driver, who operated a Mercedes passenger van, demonstrated multi-tasking to the max.

The first thing we noticed in the car was the television station playing on the front dashboard. There was a daytime talk show playing (in Italian, of course). As we settled in and buckled up, we quickly sped onto the nearest road. Even though today is a national holiday, it took very little time to be cut off by a motorcycle, much to the dismay of our driver.

After speeding through the little towns, traffic circles, etc., we found the straightaway. Here is where the driver demonstrated his skill. As if watching television while driving isn't interesting enough, the driver maintained a stream of phone conversations which arrived on not one, but two cell phones. In addition, he was operating a PDA while steering the van.

I couldn't help but noticing how quickly we seemed to be passing other vehicles, how little time it took to arrive within a few meters of the next "blocking" car, and how little time it took for the car in front to realize it was in their best interest to quickly pull over and get the hell out of the way. Only one car passed us, a BMW 3-series, and this was an anomaly on this venture. The other drivers we passed generally ignored us as we sped by, with very few looking back in annoyance (having been forced out of the way).

It seemed like we were going about 85-90 MPH, but I asked my colleague if he could see the speedometer. The reported max velocity was 170km/h (106 mph). We both kept our nerves, but with accelerated heart rates. My colleague suggested that if the driver "lost it" people would not visit us in the hospital. I suggested we'd receive flowers.

As we approached the toll booth, I wondered just how fast this guy would try to drive through the speed pass lane. 100 km/h? That very strange sensation from four non-moving wheels lasted only for a moment as the driver patiently waited for a magnetic card to be processed and the crossing arm to retract. As the gate opened, we resumed the race, speeding quickly onto the highway, and cutting a sharp right to left diagonal across six lanes of traffic.

Our 70-minute planned trip ended in 45 minutes with us arriving safely at Malpensa airport. If only the security lines moved as fast as our ride to the airport!