Entries Tagged 'Philosophy' ↓


So, yesterday was a terrible day in history. A 20 year old murdered his mother 7 other adults and 20 young children… 5 year olds.


The news is filled with stories of tragedy and examples of the worst behaviour of people, and I confess I usually consume this information with indifference. A tsunami kills thousands, eh, that happens. Bloody conflict around the world isn’t even interesting enough to anyone to bubble up in our media outlets.

Somehow this was very different. I’m not ashamed to say I cried, Hell I’m still crying. But beyond crying I’m trying to think about how I can change. What can I do to prevent this from happening again. This is not the beginning of a post about gun control. It’s about people control.

I suspect there will always be the occassional individual that defies all logic and prediction that does some horrible thing but I have to believe that most incidences are preceeded by something we could notice. But, even more than that, there are millions of less sensational transgressions that hurt our friends and neighbors. Each of these chips away at the foundation of our society.

I’m guilty of a behavior of indifference. It has many masks: None of my buiseness; beyond my control; that’s life; etc.. but no matter what I’ve called it, it’s indifference to the plight of others. In another case, I really did feel as though it wasn’t right to be “nosey” or to “gossip”. I still agree with this, but suggest that I could demonstrate genuine interest in peoples lives, especially my neighbors who make up the community in which I live. Maybe if I can learn to genuinely care about them and thier lives, I can positively contribute to thier lives… and they to mine…. maybe it will catch on, maybe people with care about and for each other, maybe this will help avert another tragedy or many tragedies perhaps not so newsworthy.

I hope my neighbors are patient as I learn to be a busybody. I’m sure I’ll be akward at it, since I spent my whole life avoiding it.

I ran across this… I think I wrote it… maybe not… I like it.

It’s far easier to earn your disdain than your affection…


For too long, we are of the mind that our love must be earned… this may be true of respect, but it is not of love.

I have missed it in the teachings. It has been there since the very beginning of my learning.

As a child is born with his mother’s love, so are we born with the love of God. And it has been His teaching that we love one another. We must embrace one another as we would our own children… with patience, compassion, and love.

A tall order, I know. One that I must write, because I have yet to demonstrate. However, this must be our goal. We must strive to love on another. If not, we are doomed to extinction.

Revenge begets revenge and hatred begets hatred. Feuds last generations beyond the reasons for them…


may he who is without fault cast the first stone…

Ok… so at the risk of being an absolute hypocrite I’m writing about Tiger Woods, and his current public problems.

 There are a few things about it that perplex me.

 1. I can’t believe its such a big story… if he were a preacher or politician, I kind of get it, but he’s a golpher… What is the big deal? Personally, its a big deal… but why is it getting so much public attention, why does it capture the attention of the public? I suspect that if it were Tommy Lee (or some other Rock star), it would not be a story… Johnny Damon wrote a book, where apparently he detailed his truly awful attitude and actions (unless I was duped, I did some searching and couldn’t really find enough info. to believe what I read)…


 Now, I’m not going to go buy “Idiot” to see if Johnny Damon really did write about that stuff… I don’t really care, it’s his problem. But I bring it up, because there wasn’t much uproar about that… now Johnny Damon is not the face of baseball, and clearly not the baseball equivelent of Tiger… also baseball has all kinds of other distractions (steroids), which golf doesn’t…

You’ll have to forgive me for being predjudiced, but I’ve always thought that golphers were womanizing playboys, and that only those that couldn’t handle it were outed (guys like John Daly).

 2. I like to think that I’m an empathatic person… and while I’d love to sit here and judge the man like everybody else, I simply can’t. I’m a little afraid to say then next thing,  as I’d like the world’s view of me to favorable. More importantly, I’d like my Wife’s view of me to be favorable.  However, I will never be confronted with the temptation that someone like Woods is, and to be at least a little frank, I’m glad. As much as I’d like to believe that I have the moral fiber and the character required to keep my integrity, I feel fortunate knowing that it will never be tested as much as if I were outrageously rich and famous. I don’t offer this as an excuse… It’s not my place to offer excuses, or to even suggest that there need be an excuse… it’s none of my business… but I would ask this… think about all of the things that you desire and lust for, and think about, and just imagine that they were all within reach, nearly all the time… and I know that some of those things are things you shouldn’t have, for one reason or another… how well would you do in avoiding the temptation?

Oh… wikipedia, how I love you….

So… here is an example of wiki wandering….

 I was doublechecking a quote from the Gettysburg address to make sure I got it right… I am writing a blog about the Constitution. In particular about the 2nd ammendment. So, I was also looking for State Constitutions, many of which predated the US Constitution, and I came across a page showing the Massachusetts Constitution.

 On the page about the Massachusetts Constitution, it says that Chapter 5, Section 1 is specifically about Harvard College. So I clicked on Harvard College. The Harvard College page says that Harvard University is a private college founded by the Massachusetts legislature… confused about how a private anything could be founded by the public government, I read on.. (I have to admit, I was secretly hoping for an angle that would guarantee acceptance to the Kennedy School of Business, and free tuition to boot).. so I read on…  It talks about the College and later the University, and John Harvard, and Fancis Eaton of the Mayflower… At this point I became bored with the founding of Harvard, and interested in the Mayflower… how many people were on it? Would I recognize the names? So I went to that page… I wasn’t on the page very long… long enough to find out that it to 66 days to cross the ocean, and that it was almost half crew members… when I noticed a notation for the dates… Old Style and New Style… I followed this to a page that explained the transition from Julian Calendar to Gregorian Calendar. The Julian calendar had too many leap years, basically… Portugal lost 10 days in October the year they converted (went from Oct 4 to 15th in one day)… I wonder if that had a big effecton payroll and taxes? Anyway, so this led to some information about non-european contries and thier use of lunisolar calendars, which led to the discovery of the Japanese use of eras… now is the era of Heisei… in Japan it is Heisei 21 now… Heisei is the name by which the current emporer of Japan will be know after he has died. For some reason, it’s not socially acceptable to call the emporer by this name while he is alive.

 So, basically, if you want to find out more about social graces required while in the presence of an emporer in Asia, just look up constitutional law, and follow where it leads…

…life is short

So, I’m thinking today about what I want to do. I feel that its really important to accept death. Without death there’s no limit. I suppose that’s where the phrase deadline comes from.

So, aknowledging that we all will die will effect me how?

Knowing full well that no matter what I do, the end will come. Further acknowledging that with each passing moment some opportunity is gone, what do I do?

? What do I care how I am remembered? It seems like something I would care more about now than posthumously

If I don’t care how I’m remembered, is there any point in pursuing goodness?

I feel that my joy is the number one pursuit of my life. As much as I’d like to be in pursuit of more admirable goals, I have to believe that I’m incapable of setting anything ahead of this selfish goal. The saving grace is that my joy can’t exist independent of others. While occasionally I feel some satisfaction at the pain of others (a vanquished foe on some level), I can’t claim to enjoy another’s pain _ though I may enjoy things that cause pain, like fishing, its not because of the pain that I experience joy. On the contrary my joy is inhibited whenever other’s sense of joy is diminished. It is the collective that brings the greatest joy.

My joy is at it’s greatest heights when it is shared with others, or better still when my actions result in the joy of others. So, it seems, this selfish pursuit seeks to rectify itself and preserve my decency. If I could experience joy without regard for others, I imagine I would be truly evil.

So back to the original thought. Life is short.
There is a deadline.
I want to experience as much joy as possible.
My joy is directly dependent on the joy of people around me.
My joy is greatly heightened when I percieve I have spread joy.
Therefore, I must want to spread as much joy as possible.

Ok. Sounds really nice. But kumbaya and campfires come to mind and clearly that’s not the deal.

More to come…

So, I’m getting ready to buy a car

Karen and I have a 1 month old now, and its probably time that I purchased a car… Having a 2nd car would be convenient for many reasons.

 I was in the process of getting a year old Mazda 3 hatchback, when the dealer tried to slip in an extra $500 or so of charges and fees. That really was more that I was willing to pay, so I walked… After already spending a day at the dealer and then having to make a second trip to pick  up the car, only to find out that the deal was still in negotiation, I became frustrated with the whole thing and reminded why I don’t have a car in the first place – they are a constant source of frustration.

With all the money and attention that a car demands, you would think it did more than just bring you from here to there…  The average new car costs $27k (USA today 11/16/2005) and the average home costs $185k (RealEstateABC.com 2004). That means that the average new car costs more than 10% of what the average home costs… now most people don’t buy new cars, but still… A cars depreciation is unbelievable, where as home prices generally go up (at least, eventually).

 Anyway… so I’m thinking about the car, and I can see that there are a lot of cars that I might like for under $10k, but with high mileage. Then I saw a bunch of cars that I would like for really cheap (under $6k) with very high mileage… Then I saw some classic cars and it got me to thinking….

 People buy and restore classic cars.

If I buy a car for $15k with 60k miles on it, am I getting a similar value to what I could get for $6k with an extra $9k invested in it?

 If I replace the brakes, transmission, engine, clutch, seats… how much would that cost?

 Does it make sense to get one of these $1500 cars and fix it up?

Anyway… I still have to think about it.

The Law of Deadlines

Today is week -15 for the Marine Corps Marathon. What that means is that I have 3 weeks to lay down base mileage, before I begin the ramp up to marathon performance level. I know this because I have a reminder that pops up on my Blackberry and my Laptop every Monday morning telling me what week it is. I placed the reminders in an effort to encourage myself not to fall behind.

So here I am, its late, but not TOO late, and this brings the topic of todays blog.

Deadlines are a major factor in my performance. But how does a deadline influence me, and perhaps others?

There are several types of deadlines.

 1. Deadline that is truly impossible to meet: This generally serves to aggrivate. If it is imposed by some higher power, and it is very clear that it cannot be met, my first instinct is to ignore it and put efforts into preparation for the consequenses, if any (generally an unrealistic deadline is indicative of little planning, and, if things are right with the universe, little importance.) However, in those cases where 0 effort toward the task is unacceptable, a token effort will be put forth.

 2. Nearly impossible deadline. Though a deadline alone is not enough to drive performance, I think the nearly impossible deadline is the best scenario. There is a certain clarity that comes from a monumental challenge. And while stressfull, these have the greatest potential for greatness. If I can envision making the deadline, and see the value of the work, then the barely-in-reach deadline will drive optimum performance.

3. The right on target deadline. This should be the best. But often this simply leads to slippage until it becomes the barely-achievable deadline. In many cases though, depending on the mix of other deadlines, this is optimal, getting sober, quality results.

4. The padded deadline… padding can have a very cruel effect. One would think that the padded deadline is the easiest to make. I would argue that it often isn’t. The feeling of complacentcy lingers thoughout the project or task. There is a sense that since this item does not have urgency, then it is not a priority. This discussion is going to quickly turn to priority, but first to finish this thought. The lack of urgency persists even when urgency exists. It is in the “plenty-of-time” folder in the mind from start to finish, or at least from start to chronically late.  The bigger the padding, the slower the reaction to the urgency.  Forgive me, I’m an engineer, but it is very much like the overshoot on a convergent controls scheme… hmm…. that works for me, but how about a more universal analogy? Ok, its like driving a boat (may not work for everybody, but it’s the best I’ve got).  It takes a moment for the driver’s actions to translate to motion with the boat. The driver turns the wheel, and the boat goes straight, (the slower you go the more pronounced this is). When parking a boat, the driver turns the wheel hoping something will happen. When nothing does, he turns the wheel more. All of a sudden something happens, the boat turns, but it turns too much. He has to learn to anticipate the response, so he doesn’t overcompensate. It’s the same with the throttle. The boat will rev up, but kind of sit there, until it lurches forward. The novice boatsman will find parking the boat very challenging because they will overturn and overthrottle constantly, because they are reacting with too much force, too late. Often this is the case with the padded deadline, reacting too late.

 So priorities….

 Deadlines drive priorities. Priorities drive deadlines.

Can they both be true?

Sure, in a perfect world, where everything was resourced and priorities were established in a timely manner,  and deadlines were “real”.  But, in the imperfect world, it really depends on the governing philosophy. My philosophy is that priorities rule the roost. Priorities should be reviewed continuously, and adjusted as necessary. There will always be a need to determine how to best use resources. There will always be a need for prioritization. The question, ‘is this the most important thing that can be done right now?’, must always have the answer ‘yes’. As with everything there are exceptions. I would venture to say that many tasks that are very close to completion should be completed first, regardless of priority. It is practical to continue something that has momentum. There are some cases where everything must be abandoned for the critical task. But for instance, if it will take 3 hours longer to wrap up something, but there is a new #1 item. If the new #1 item is a 10 day item, realistically, the 3 hours won’t kill you and its better to complete the task before moving on. (It makes no sense to flip-flop priorities, there has to be some “common” sense applied).

 This principle is VERY important. Because, what happens often, if common sense is not applied, and strict adherance to the #1 priority is applied. The inefficiency of abandoning tasks snowballs. As a result the #1 priority continually shifts, until everything is hopelessly urgent. Sometimes a sacrifice is necessary, and there is no way to justify it though priority (as least in the simplistic sense). It is the mastry of this subtlety that makes a good manager.

 What about the no deadline item? Extreme padding and no deadline can have a many results. The most important result is that the deadline doesn’t matter. Something else is driving the work. (Something else should always be driving the work in conjuction with a deadline, a deadline alone only means that a date is met, there are always other criterea that describe quality.) If there is a desire to have the task(s) completed, a deadline is necessary, if not, then with all the other driving elements in place, perfection will be pursued. As perfection is only attainable in the imagination, this pursuit will continue ad infinitum. This can be a good thing, or a bad thing. It depends on what the intention is.

It was good to relieve myself of this. I’m sure its crap. But it was nice to stretch the noggin a bit this morning.

Honing my skills

I want to write more. Hopefully volume will lend itself to skill.

I probably spend more time reading what I have written that I do reading anything else. Its not indicative of ego (I don’t think) but of my desire to get writing right.

 One thing that has always amused me is how easily the same words can have different interpretations. Of course I can’t think of an example at the moment, but when I run across something, I’ll come back to it.

 Anyway, the point is, I’ve started, the toughest part. Let’s see where it goes.