Resolutions

ny reso

The end of the calendar year has always been a time for me to wrap things up, enjoy some down time, and get ready to start the new year strong. I know some folks believe that New Year resolutions don’t work, but they do for me.

I do an annual review and assess where I’ve been, where I am, where I want to be, and which course corrections I need to get me there. The symbolic starting point of January 1 always helps me re-commit to new and better habits and goals. Sure, I often fall off as the year grows, but that good start always helps me with whatever I’m trying to accomplish.

It also helps me create some urgency in my life. Why do that? Well,  we just don’t know how much time we have left. No matter your age or physical condition, your expiration date is still a mystery. Sure, you can improve your odds with good, healthy choices on diet and exercise, but even then, those are just odds, not guarantees. If you have more to accomplish in your life, then you’d better get to it, ‘cuz you never know when you’ve seen your last New Year.

Just ask Kathy Baker. She was doing everything she was supposed to do. She went to college then worked hard for years to become CFO of the prestigious Lawrence Livermore Lab. She was an accomplished and well liked  leader, and very disciplined about her exercise. 3-4 times a week she went to the gym for a 6:00 am class before heading to the office at 7:00 am. Every week. Like clockwork.

Until about three months ago. Continue reading Resolutions

Excuses, Excuses…

Yeah, I kBack In The Hospitalnow. I haven’t posted since Halloween. But as you can see, I’ve got a good excuse.  A dozen,  actually .  Three Xrays, two Ultrasounds, two MRIs, a kidney stone, three shots of Lidocaine and a big one of Cortisone.

My resilience was sorely tested during all of this, and I was starting to feel rather defeated.

But the meds kicked in, the prognosis is good, my out of pocket maximums have been reached, and the New Year is upon us.

Let’s just hope this is the last hospital bed selfie for a long, long time.

What Your Halloween Costume Says About You

HalloweenHalloween was always my favorite holiday as a kid. It was the one time of the year when I could go out and get as much as I wanted. I just had to put in the work to get to as many doorsteps as time and distance allowed.

I had two major costume themes growing up. The first was the classic Hobo. Back then it wasn’t in bad taste as we hadn’t invented homelessness yet. I went with the classic depression era tramp look, baggy coat, crumpled hat, smudged face, and the iconic kerchief on a stick bundle thingee. The rail-riding vagabond type I’d seen on the Red Skelton show, warming himself over a makeshift trashcan campfire, cooking beans in a can and roasting weenies on a stick.

Hobo IIA rather romanticized ideal of life on the road. Not the mentally ill squalor of today’s homeless, but looking back, a need for freedom and escape, a yearning to be away from constraint and the tyranny of society. I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day analyzing my 12 year old psyche.

Then came the Knight in Shining Armor phase. No doubt a shrink would see a misguided attempt at the hero role in the family, but for me it was a practical approach to self defense.

At the end of our street lived an older guy who loved to terrorize us younger kids. Continue reading What Your Halloween Costume Says About You

It’s Over

Portrait of New York Yankees guest coach Yogi Berra during spring training photo shoot at Legends Field. Tampa, Florida 3/2/2005 (Image # 1225 )Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame baseball player and coach, passed away this week, 69 years to the day of his Major League debut. In his 19 year career as catcher of the New York Yankees, Yogi played in 18 All Star Games, was named American League MVP, and won 10 World Series Championships. He later added three more World Series wins as a coach.

As great a player as he was, Yogi’s greatest claim to fame came from his inadvertent contributions to American English idioms. Yogi was a master of the malapropism and the obvious, and one of the most quoted men in history. Affectionately known as “Yogi-isms”, Berra’s observations were often nonsensical, usually illogical, but always warm-hearted and hilarious.

He had a deep folksy wisdom, and in a certain light, he was a phillisophical genius. While coaching the last-place Mets in 1973, a reporter asked him in July if  their season was over.  In what proved to be one of the most prophetic statements ever made in sports, Yogi said “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” The initial reaction to this for most folks was, “Duh!”. But when his Mets went on to win the pennant and play in the World Series that year, people began to see the elegant genius in his dumbassed sounding words. Continue reading It’s Over

Unwanted Gifts

Mitzy

Meet Mitzy, our sweet, beautiful cat. She’s sociable and likes to sit on your chest while you stroke her behind the ears. She is calming, warm, and as far as cats go, very bright.

She is also a ruthless killer.

She stalks small animals, pounces, then drags them into the house to be tortured for sport. Over the years she has dragged in and tortured mice, rats, moles, gophers, birds, lizards and snakes.

Sometimes we find them partly alive and rescue them to the outside where they may or may not survive. Often we find them bloodied, missing fur and feathers, and very, very dead.

This cat is one sick puppy. Continue reading Unwanted Gifts

Disorder Control

CopsWCuffsThere was a civilized ruckus going on in Union Square Park when I popped out of the subway. A large and raucous crowd was protesting police violence in the wake of yet another person dying while in NYPD custody.

These fellas here were on duty, eyeing the demonstrators with an air of irritation, boredom and  wariness, seemingly nonplussed and on edge all at the same time.  Judging by the plastic handcuffs on the officer’s belt, they came ready for business.

Soon the crowd began to mobilize and head toward 14th Avenue. The cops scrambled into action, mounting a very loud loudspeaker on the back of an NYPD pickup, blaring a pre-recorded notice that anyone blocking vehicular or pedestrian traffic would be arrested. Duly warned, the protesters stepped off the curb and the moving phase of the protest began – the crowd leading, the cops following… Continue reading Disorder Control

James Harrison on Earning It

JH Trophies
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison with the participation trophies he gave back

“I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy,” Harrison said in a post on Instagram. “I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best.”

Where were you James Harrison, linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, back in 1972? Yes, your principled stand of returning participation trophies your sons  didn’t earn is newsworthy today. But I sure could have used your help at our Boy Scout Camporee.

The annual competition  of scouting and camp craft skills drew every troop in the area. It was a chance to measure ourselves against other scouts in a healthy, structured way. Individual patrols would compete in first aid, fire building, orienteering, knot tying and fitness events,  and be scored by judges for their campsites, cooking and adherence to the Boy Scout Manual. It was a challenging competition and we loved it.

Low scoring patrols were awarded a yellow participation ribbon, patrols in the 80th percentile won a red ribbon, blue ribbons were given for 90th percentile, and all our ribbons were proudly displayed on our troop’s flagpole. We had lots of yellows and reds, and quite a few blues on our pole. They were a source of pride for us because we earned them. The yellow ribbons were proof that it wasn’t easy to win a red or blue ribbon, and it made them worth celebrating.

But the one thing we didn’t have was a Presidential Award ribbon. Continue reading James Harrison on Earning It

Jon Voyage

Jon Stewart

Tonight it ended. 16 years of the finest, most objective American journalism disguised as a comedy show. The greatest political and social satire of our generation. Jon Stewart signed off after his 2599th episode of The Daily Show, the most trusted source of news for Millenials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers alike. Though the show will continue, it will never be the same, and neither will we.

There has been a vast disturbance in the Force…

A stand up comedian from New Jersey, Jon worked the comedy club circuit for years as he tried to climb the show biz ladder. Appearances on MTV led to a short stint hosting his own show in the mid 90’s. But after 16 episodes it was back to guest appearances and one forgettable role as an “enhancement smoker” in the stoner feature film, Half Baked.

Then in 1999 the role of a lifetime showed up. Jon took over as host of a little watched show on a crappy cable channel hosted by Craig Kilborn (remember this guy? No?).  He turned The Daily Show into a category all it’s own, put Comedy Central on the map, and collected a Grammy, two Peabody Awards, and 17 Emmys along the way.

Jon, as Stephen Colbert aptly described him, was, “infuriatingly good at his job”. He became a force in American politics and shaped  the national discussion on a range of issues. He called out business leaders for corruption, politicians for hypocrisy, and Fox News for lying.  He became so influential that President Obama called him to the White House twice to consult on media.

He also discovered and launched the careers of some of the smartest, funniest performers you never heard of before the Daily Show, such as: Continue reading Jon Voyage

Mr. Robot Explains Locus of Contol

Mr Robot2
Mr. Robot Recruits Elliot…

Mr. Robot is a great new show on USA channel. If you’re not watching yet, you need to start. Christian Slater plays Mr. Robot, the leader of a clandestine group of hackers named fSociety (think Anonymous) trying to take down a corporate giant named E Corp. While trying to recruit Elliot (Rami Malek), a brilliant young software engineer, Mr. Robot uses a metaphor designed to reach even the most reluctant programmer.

Mr. Robot: “Tell me one thing Elliot: are you a one, or a zero? That’s the question you have to ask yourself, are you a yes or a no? You gonna act, or not?”

Elliot: “You’ve been staring at a computer screen too long homie. Life’s not that binary.”

Mr. Robot: “Isn’t it? Sure, there are grays, when you come right down to it, at its core, beneath every choice there’s either a one or a zero. You either do something or you don’t.“

So Elliot has to decide if he’s a man of action or not. But this isn’t just the ramblings of an anarchistic megalomaniac. There is a whole body of behavioral science around the people who are the ‘ones’ and who are the ‘zeros’.

It’s called the Locus of Control.  Everyone has one, and yours is either internal or external. People with an internal locus believe that their actions control the outcomes in their lives. What happens to them in life, good or bad, is a consequence of their behavior. This puts them in control of their results, by taking ownership of what they can control, and letting go of what they can’t.

Conversely, people with an external Locus of Control believe that life happens to them. Their results are controlled by outside forces, so they really aren’t in control of their outcomes. They often place blame for where they are on the economy, the government, or those who control things because of the power they have acquired. People with an external locus of control do not attack their obstacles, they  surrender to them.

So where are you on this scale. Are you an internal or an external? Are you a One or a Zero?

More importantly, what will Elliot do? Will he take action, join fSociety and help start the revolution that will change the world for the better? Or will he walk away and not be our hero? I can’t wait to find out. I’ll be tuning in to the third episode. If you know what’s good for you, you will too…

What the Golden State Warriors Can Teach Us About Leadership

GSW ChampagneAll hail the Golden State Warriors, Champions of the NBA. The Dubs closed out the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of  the highest rated NBA Finals since Michael Jordan retired 17 years ago.

Despite a league best 67 wins and the third most wins of any  team in NBA history, many NBA analysts did not pick the Warriors to win the title. They said no  “jump shooting” team had ever won, and the smaller Warriors would be worn down and beaten by bigger, more traditional “low post”, “in the paint” style teams.

Not only did the Warriors prove them wrong, they did something no one is even talking about – they actually won two NBA championships this year.

That’s right, the main club won the NBA title last week, and their development team, the Santa Cruz Warriors, won the NBA “D” League back in April. They too had the best record in their league.

How could a team that hadn’t gone to the Finals in 40 years manage to win two NBA Championships in one season? A team with a rookie head coach, that had 22 losing seasons in a row, and only one All Star player in 17 years? Continue reading What the Golden State Warriors Can Teach Us About Leadership