Flashes

Maturity >>> Patience

I admire many more people now than I did when I was a younger man. Possibly it took me over sixty years to mature beyond the hedonistic stage of development.  Whatever the cause, I am now awed many times every day by what others have accomplished.  I look at blogs created by others and am amazed at the amount of work I now know has gone into something as seemingly simple as writing and publishing a blog.

This web site is probably the closest I will ever come to following the footsteps of Daniel Boone.  I am wandering around in the wilderness, a digital one, and dealing daily with whatever unknown confronts me.

Frequently, at least every few days, I have one of those days when I feel I am on the right track for getting somewhere and bright crisp ideas for things to write about and business ideas bubble up in my mind.  These flashes always seem to occur when I am somewhere other than at the keyboard trying to write something that makes sense.  By the time I get to the computer and keyboard I am overwhelmed by the things I could be doing if I only knew how.  This morning I made a tiny step toward understanding how the menu setup works in WordPress.  That is progress.  I am now going to save this page of rambling and attempt to make it findable in a menu.  Wish me luck.

It took another several weeks after I wrote the above but finally, two days ago, I had the epiphany patience usually earns.  I realized I had not tackled the WordPress menu problem with the focus it deserved.  Once I quit trying to deal with it in a moment stolen between several other things, I figured it out in a mere matter of minutes.  Now the whole WordPress system seems easier.

A Memorable Leadership Lesson

We should learn from our mistakes and I think this one was one of my most memorable lessons,

Mr. “W”had left another career to become a high school teacher at an age when most people are starting to coast toward retirement.  I received the impression he did it because he wanted to be a good influence on young people and do something worthwhile. One of the classes he taught was auto shop which was attractive to the boys because it sounded like more fun than schoolwork.  Mr. W was there to help us learn more than to let us have fun and instead of tinkering with car motors we spent our days sitting in the home economics class room at sewing machines listening to him tell us the theories behind automotive mechanics. Most of my classmates weren’t chagrined by this turn of events and grumbled among themselves about how terrible being in a lecture class instead of the hands on class they expected.

One day in class Mr. W got wind of the discontent of some of the students and told us “Anyone who doesn’t like this class should get up and leave”. In my naïveté, I thought my classmates were just waiting for a hero to lead a revolt and make the class better for them. In response to the teachers invitation, I stood up and headed walked out the door, expecting the others to follow me. You guessed it. Everyone else sat tight and I ended up getting a failing grade for the class because I dropped out. I had an “A” in the class before my failed attempt at being a popular leader.

I have possibly failed to learn from a lot of mistakes over the past 70 years but whenever I’m tempted to do something because I think those around me want a leader, I think twice and usually keep my mouth shut. My realization from this lesson was “People are eager to talk the talk in a complaint session but when it comes time to walk the talk their talk was usually only noise”

Social Media Fad or Phenomenon?

I am an expert on the use of email.  In my opinion, the jury is still out on social media in general.

When communicating online we need to use words like “confirmed”, “okay”, “got it”, “Check”, “Will do”, etc to let the sender know you have received a message with important information.  What is important? The dog having puppies may not be important enough to warrant an acknowledgement but courtesy is a good habit

Facebook can be entertaining but so is playing ping pong.  Unless you are a professional ping pong player who wins thousands of dollars for tournament wins, playing ping pong should not take the place of all the things you need to do to have a full life and earn your way in society.  The same thing goes for Twitter, Snapchat and the dozens of the other  ”fun” social media programs. Good communication, on the other hand, is an integral part of good life.

The typical use of social media does not lend itself to developing meaningful and safe friendships.  Having dozens or hundreds of “friends” about whom you know little except they clicked a button on their computer saying they will be your “friend”  does not constitute a meaningful and safe friendship.

Can you believe what someone tells you in an email any more than what they tell you via social media?  No, not necessarily.  On the spectrum of communication options, however, I believe email is closer to  the “perfect communication” end of the spectrum than the other “Waste of time” end.  Example: When someone suggests a meeting date to another person online, no real completed communication has taken place until the initiator of the suggestion receives a response from the recipient.

Not responding might unintentionally complete the loop needed to qualify as communication.  For example, when face to face, saying nothing and walking away from someone who has asked a question or made a request seems like an insult which is communication.  When someone does not respond to an online question or request, it is not known if they even received and/or read it so interpreting the non-response can be interpreted more than one way

My CQ Synergy Project is an attempt to answer the question:  Without meeting face to face, can email and a web site be used to develop meaningful and safe friendships across the miles better than social media alone?

Viewpoints Can Change

As a child I didn’t know my home life was unusual but with my years of experience i now realize being insulated from almost all organized activities outside the home and school was out of step with the times. We lived in a rural environment and I spent a lot of my time in the woods and exploring around Vancouver Lake, alone much of the time.

My mother, the dominant influence in the family was raised to be very critical and skeptical about everything beyond her immediate control.  I played sports at recess but unlike most of the other kids my age, especially those in the city, I did not participate in any organized sports like baseball, football, etc.  In High School I was able to wrestle and I now realize that was allowed because wrestling is an individual activity as opposed to a true team sport.

That non sport oriented background, combined with an ingrained distrust of television, kept me from gaining any appreciation for professional spectator sports. Since leaving Alaska and the hundreds of reasons Alaska gives a guy for not sitting down in front of the TV, I have watched more and more football, baseball, basketball and other favorite American Pastimes. My feeling about spectator sports has gradually changed until I now appreciate the valuable lessons participants can gain from participation and even watching sports. The strategies involved in baseball and football are amazing once one understands the game enough to see and appreciate them……More to follow— January 15, 2017

Living In The Moment

On the way home to Gilbert tonight after dark, I turned off of Warner onto Gilbert Road, northbound.  After getting straightened out in the inside lane I experienced a moment of confusion caused by seeing oncoming car headlights directly in front of me a block or so ahead. As i was running all the possible causes and how I was going to avoid a headon collision, the street jogged slightly to the right beneath the car and the oncoming cars were no longer coming at us head on.

Looking back on the experience I realized living in the present instead of worrying about what tomorrow will bring is like driving on a road with curves in it. If we tried to turn for the curves up ahead instead of the part of the road passing under the front of the car, we would not make it very far. ………More to follow

The Compliment

Near the end of my first trip around the world in the last part of 1963, I had a long conversation with one of the flight attendants during a long nighttime flight.  I had apparently told her the places I had been over the past several months and she said something to me I still remember.  She told me I reminded her of the character “Larry ” in  the book by Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge.  Out of curiosity, I got a copy of The Razor’s Edge when I got back to the Seattle area and read it.

After a few weeks of applying for jobs with different companies, I was hired by the General Adjustment Bureau and told to report for work in Pasco Washington March 1, 1964.

I had decided upon arriving home, I was going to try to date a number of different girls before letting myself get serious with anyone.  I reestablished contact with some girls I had known before leaving the year before and had a few dates before moving to Pasco.  After arriving in Pasco I met Margaret the third day in town and I also, sometime in the first few weeks I met a girl who had a dog grooming business.  I had a few dates with the dog groomer while I was also getting acquainted with Margaret.  I gave my copy of The Razor’s Edge  book to the dog groomer during that time. When I decided I was going to only date Margaret, my dog groomer girlfriend used the book to let me know she didn’t like me ending our relationship.  She gave it back to me after Underlining numerous places in the book where things Larry did were described.  I don’t recall what was underlined and I didn’t give it a lot of thought at the time.

The other night, after almost 53 years, Margaret and I watched the original movie The Razor’s Edge on TV.  I now, possibly for the first time, understand what Larry represented in the book and I realize how much of a compliment the airline attendant’s comparison was.  Although I don’t think she meant it that way, I also consider the use of the book as a communication device by my dog groomer friend to have been a compliment.  I will probably think of the razor’s edge frequently in the future at times when I try to live Up to the comparison with Larry.— January 27, 2017

The Easy Trap Discovered

In January 1981 I flew from New York City to Scotland via Icelandic airlines. I had decided to go to Europe to learn to speak French and upon arriving in New York City I   learned the cheapest and most efficient way to get to Europe at that time was via Icelandic airlines. Most of the airlines had gone to jet propelled aircraft but Icelandic was still flying prop jets and they needed to stop in Iceland on the way to Europe to refuel. Since the plane was stopping in Iceland and I had never been in Iceland I decided to lay over a week between flights and see what Iceland was like. We didn’t have the Internet in 1981 and I don’t believe I even went to the encyclopedia and looked up Iceland to see what I was getting into.

At that time in my life I was proceeding as if I was guaranteed good luck without even knowing I was an extremely lucky person. I was so naïve about life I didn’t even know I was naïve. When the plane landed in Iceland at the Rekjaviac airport all of the passengers deplaned and walked into the “terminal” to wait for the refueling process to finish and to stretch their legs. The terminal was a frame building with a stove to warm the interior. It was the only structure on the airport. When the refueling was finished everyone else got back on the airplane and I stood on the side of the runway alone in the dark and watched it take off for Europe. After it was gone, I remember standing there with my single suitcase looking at the lights of Rekjaviac in the distance through the dark January night. I don’t recall being frightened but by any standards of normal care considering my ignorance of Iceland I should have been. I walked the mile or so into the city of Rekjaviac and not having any idea where to go I did what I now realize was the easy thing.. I must have decided it would be comforting to find some other Americans so I went to the American consulate. There was an American Marine guard at the door and it was comforting talking to someone familiar. Security was a much more casual thing in those days and after we visited a bit he suggested I could sleep in one of the empty bunks at the Marine quarters where he and his fellow guards spent their nights. I jumped at the chance and had a place to lay my head that night.

A day or two later, someone must have thought of the fact no one knew anything about me and I could be some kind of a spy or bad guy. They decided I shouldn’t probably be allowed to stay in their quarters under those circumstances. I understood and thanked them very much for their hospitality, took my suitcase and left. Not knowing what else to do I went to the least expensive hotel I could find and rented the least expensive room in the Hotel. It turned out to be directly underneath some kind of equipment on the roof that went on and off during the night. I believe I only spent one night in the hotel and after being there for part of the day and the night a realized no one had really spoken to me in any way other than to talk to a customer. I was nearing the end of my weeks stay in Rekjaviac and had not yet met one Icelandic person from whom to learn anything about Iceland.

It might have been at this point I first realized, at least subconsciously, the danger of doing what was easy. I had been doing the easy thing and had gained very little. I decided I would walk the streets the last night in the city until I met someone I could communicate with and learn more about Iceland.

After walking a while I stopped in a small café and ordered a cup of hot milk which I had learned was a common drink in Iceland. While sitting at the counter I spoke to a man a few stools away to see if he spoke English. He did and expressed an interest in where I was from etc. He said he was on his way to a chess tournament. I had never heard of a chess tournament but and I told him I had played chess a few times. He asked if I would like to go with him and be an observer at the tournament. I jumped at the chance and spent the rest of the evening watching people paired up at tables with little clocks to time how long it took them to make their moves. At some point during the evening or at the end of the tournament he asked if I had a place to stay. I told him no. He invited me to come to his house and sleep on his couch. I accepted and when we got there he told his wife who I was and she went to bed.

We ended up talking until two or three in the morning. It became obvious to me as we talked, this gentleman whose name I no longer know, knew more about the way the United States operated in almost every way than I did. When he finally went to bed he set an alarm for me and I slept a couple of hours before getting up and walking back out to the airport to catch my plane for Scotland.

One of the two significant things I learned at my first out of the country stop was how abysmally ignorant I was about my own country. The second significant thing I learned, even though I wasn’t aware of how significant it was at the time, was to be cautious about taking the easiest solution to a problem or the easiest alternative. If I had spent my last night in Rekjaviac in a hotel which was the easiest thing to do, I would have learned nothing from that first week in Europe.—1/27/17