Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mini-factories - What am I going to do?

My father was (and still is) an entrepreneur.

But I am more influenced by the conveyor-belt educational system, and have been, for the last ten years, an employee of a Fortune 500 company. I am well-compensated, but I don't get a sense of mission or purpose from what I do. I do a good job, and provide value to my employer, and there are occasional moments of satisfaction in a job well-done, or in an interesting problem solved. But I have a deep desire to believe that each day's activity is focused in some way on the world's large-scale problems that need solved. And I think that is best done in a mini-factory, rather than a mega-factory.

So what is the mini-factory that I am supposed to build?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Daily email from Oliver DeMille

Here's the daily email thought from Oliver DeMille at the Social Leader:

Since the Great Depression a myth has been growing in America that government is the solution to most problems. In fact, government causes a number of problems.

The government has a vital role in free and prosperous society, but when it goes beyond that role the whole society suffers. Unfortunately, this belief in government as the end-all and fix-all has been popular for some time.

The rise of independents shows that this view is losing ground, especially among generations X and Y (those currently under age 45).

John F. Kennedy said:

"For the enemy of truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived, and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clich├ęs of our forbears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

The comfort of opinion, without the discomfort of thought--that's profound.
Here's another deeply relevant thought, shared by Benjamin Franklin:

"You will observe with concern how long a useful truth may be known and exist, before it is generally received and practiced upon."

Free enterprise works, and deep debts and deficits only hurt a nation. Government spending on non-vital things is nearly always inefficient and ultimately harmful to a society. These truths will eventually be acted upon; the sooner the better.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Second Prince has Survived a Great Battle

Goodness gracious, life comes at you very fast.  My second Prince, who is nine years old, has just survived a great battle.

Two months ago, he tried a flip off a four-foot wall and landed on his back.  He didn't think much of it, but headaches started to be a daily occurrence.  My Queen finally decided to take him to a doctor on a particularly bad day, and they performed a CT scan and found a large subdural hematoma.

We life-flighted from our small town to a large pediatric facility and performed a craneotomy to evacuate the hematoma - the surgery took place yesterday.  They kept him in ICU overnight, and now we're back on a regular floor at the hospital while he recovers from his war wounds.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Deerslayer - James Fenimore Cooper

Having read and enjoyed “The Last of the Mohicans” a pair of times, I decided to read this pre-quel by the same author.  There are actually several books about Nathanael Bumppo, aka Scout, Deerslayer, Hawkeye – they are referred to as “The Leatherstocking Tales.”  I enjoyed this book well enough that I will likely read more of the collection later.

This book is about the introduction of Deerslayer as a youthful hunter, as he goes upon his first warpath with his trusted friend Chingachkook.  It tells of their struggles with an opposing band of Hurons.  In that respect it is true to the form of the more popular novel mentioned above.

The theme of the book is forgiveness, reconciliation, and redemption.  A lesser theme that runs throughout Cooper's books is how we need to act well in the context of our station and gifts in life (i.e. red man’s gifts, white man’s gifts).  The main characters involved the major theme of redemption are members of a family named Hutter who live on a remote lake in New York territory called the Glimmerglass – Thomas, the father, was a brigand or pirate in an earlier career and has settled in this remote place to avoid detection and live out his days in peace.  The mother is long since dead, but she apparently compromised her principles when young to attach herself to this man, and so she dedicated the rest of her life to teaching her two daughters the essence of Christian doctrine in the Bible, in the hopes of redeeming them.  The eldest daughter, Judith, is a rare beauty that in the recent past has let her vanity carry her to some undisclosed impropriety or sin with an officer from the nearby regiment, but feels great remorse for the misdeed and seems to have reformed.  The younger daughter, Hetty, is mentally deficient but morally perfect.

Judith recognizes the goodness of Deerslayer’s character and falls in love with him.  The climax of the book is the captivity, torture, and rescue of Deerslayer from aforementioned band of Hurons.  During the rescue Hetty is mortally wounded.

In the closing chapters it feels like Judith’s redemption might be made complete if Deerslayer accepts her love, but he does not feel the same way as she does.  There is some allusion to her never quite overcoming the transgression from her past and living an ignominious life.  Having read some other works from the same era, such as Nathanael Hawthorne, I recognize the religious and cultural perspective of the time that these types of moral sins can never really be overcome in this life.  I cannot say that I fully agree; I struggled with this conclusion in the book.  But now that the pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction, I long for a return to this moral perspective – it is superior to the levity with which we as a culture treat these matters today.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Power of Four - Joseph M. Marshall III

This is the third book I've read by Marshall.  This one is the basis for a leadership seminar that he has taught all over the place.  I enjoyed his simplicity.

Basically, he uses Crazy Horse and other significant Lakota leaders as a basis and summarizes true leadership in four principles:

--Know Yourself
--Know Your Friends
--Know the Enemy
--Lead the Way


    Every effective leadership approach has the same basic principles, although they are characterized in different ways.  Self awareness is the key - know yourself.  Networking and communication are essential - know your friends.  Dealing with opposition and remaining true in the face of adversity make an integral leader - know your enemies.  And of course, you have to move forward when you know it is right - lead the way.

    I especially liked the chapter on knowing your enemies - he does not limit this to people, but points out that sometimes our enemies can be less tangible, like racism or apathy.  A leader has to dig in and understand their enemy if they are going to effectively engage it.

    This is a short and simple book, and just as good as his other books.  My only negative comment is that he goes off on political tangents a couple of times which are relatively irrelevant, but I certainly don't desire to deprive a man of his opinion, and I see his perspective and comprehend him a little better through hearing what he has to say.