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Archive for January, 2009

Against The Gloom

“…the truism born of the last national economic cataclysm in the ’30s still obtains: When people fear for their futures, they like to gather in a dark room and stare at a screen, holding hands against the gloom.”  -David Carr, The New York Times

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Whatever – T.S. Eliot

“Whatever you think, be sure it is what you think; whatever you want, be sure that is what you want; whatever you feel, be sure that is what you feel.”  – T.S. Eliot

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I’m a communicator by profession. Given any particular assignment on any day of the week and I’d likely write the pants or skirt off all comers. I’m not bragging (seriously, that’s not how I roll). While prophetic masters of English and grammar may sneer at my writing style or delivery, it’s effective, it’s efficient and it exceeds the objective whether telling a story or conveying the most mundane sorts of information.

But hiding somewhere in the high cliffs of Mount Communication is a deep crevasse. One that waits to swallow me whole (and has from time to time). For it seems while in my day job I can communicate the socks off my staff, my peers and my superiors, I fall down in a crumpled mess in most other areas of life requiring communication.

One salvation that makes my failings more palpable, if not even acceptable, is I’ve learned it’s not just my problem. I’m not alone as a communicator by day and a suffering, hopeless fool by night. Seems others in my profession balk when it comes time to deliver the goods interpersonally outside of the 9 to 5 window.

We’re in a world of technology and we’ve succumbed to text messages, e-mails, tweets and blogs as our crutches to convey thoughts however personal or crass. Stories float about about terminations delivered via e-mail, breakups completed with a text and who can forget the parent posing as a teen on Facebook ridiculing a youngster into submission resulting in suicide.

So on this notion, I’m joining the minorities in the real world who still prefer good ol’ face-to-face conversations and phone calls to exchange information. Sure, I’ll still write e-mails because it’s the way the world works, but it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to get things done.

Cheers to you all. Thanks for reading.

-finis-

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As I recently shared with someone who means a great deal to me, if there were one singer/songwriter’s CD that I was allowed to have on my iPod, I’d select David Gray’s, “White Ladder” record. So many good tracks on that effort.

There’s a silver lining on all aspects of our lives, no matter how hard you question, wonder, or worry. No matter how dark it may be at any given moment. If we just remember and keep a watchful eye open for it.

Here’s Gray’s “Silver Lining.” No one sings it like he does.

Lyrics

Take this silver lining
Keep it in your own
Sweet head
And shine it when the night is
Burning red
Shine it in the twilight
Shine it on the cold, cold ground
Shine it til these walls
Come tumbling down

We were born with our eyes wide open
So alive with wild hope now
Can you tell me why
Time after time they drag you down
Down in the darkness deep
Fools and their madness all around
Know that the light don’t sleep

Step into the silence
Take it in your own
Two hands
And scatter it like diamonds
All across these lands
Blaze it in the morning
Wear it like an iron skin
Only things worth living for are
Innocence and magic, amen

We were born with our eyes wide open
So alive with wild hope now
Can you tell me why
Time after time they drag you down
Down in the darkness deep
Fools and their madness all around
Know that the light don’t sleep

Woah, wooah

Time after time they drag you down
Down in the darness deep
Fools and their madness all around
Know that the light don’t sleep
Know that the light don’t sleep

-end-

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I’ve experienced love.

There was the first love – a crash course in coping with feelings and emotions and discovery. It included moments of intense happiness, anger and jealousy and selfless giving as we both attempted to understand how humans think, act and react. It was as much a coming of age as any first love could have provided.

There was the need-based love. One in which I was young and afraid to be on my own in life. Loving someone who offered security and safety, and who paid attention to my needs, made perfect sense. It was a love glued together by the sheer need to survive each day, pay the bills, feed the kids, work hard for very little, and rise the next morning to do it all over again.

Then came the wanting love. The lust-filled, up all night, reckless, obsessive love. Founded on ill-conceived reasoning, we overlooked the clear and present differences among us, refused to talk about anything that may upset the carnival ride, and convinced ourselves we could conquer anything. This fire cracker, chemically imbalanced love was a house built on stilts facing a hurricane force wind at every turn.

No one has the mystery mastered. Only God knows why some couples make their love – as dysfunctional as it may seem to the observer – last for their lifetimes, while others cut and run at the first sign of marital unbliss.

So when love starts to re-emote from the heart, careful examination is the prudent response.  The gentle tugs, the loss of appetite, the chills, and time spent in thought appear suspect. But eventually, you embrace the seconds and minutes that play out in your head.

Our personal Book of Love serves as a guide of sorts. In its contents we’re reminded neither the naivete of first love, nor need-based or hot-lusting love alone sustains us. The love we want is one in which we know whomever we’re with not only accepts every ding and dent in the armor, but caresses these scars for the meaning in each one. It’s created on a whole-hearted desire to walk, run and ride with one another and watch each others’ backs in a way no one else will. And it features a click of happiness, passion and satedness that doesn’t dwindle when the waves get choppy.

Risk, rinse and repeat daily.

-end-

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Unexplained Mysteries

Call it unexplained mysteries of the paranormal or segments from Ripley’s Believe It or Not featuring Jack Palance. Any way you slice it, I’ve been part of some unusual events in recent weeks that I can’t explain in full. Is it life playing out in its own tricky fashion or (zhooooo zhweeeee zhooooo [that’s my eerie sound effect]) is it a force from beyond? You decide.

1) Since Nov. 15, I’ve lost 10 pounds. I now weigh 186 and my favorite pants won’t stay around my waist but, sadly, slip down on my hips the moment I rise from my aileron desk chair. An unrefined look in the corporate environ, but c’mon…my favorite pants can’t hang isolated in the closet. So from where does this weight loss stem? I’ve not changed my eating or fitness habits and these 10 pounds were shed during the feeding frenzy of the Thanksgiving and Cristmas holiday season. A time in which I didn’t deprive myself of food. What gives?  (I’m not complaining. I most def needed to lost the 10 pounds.)

2) Bizarre things have been popping out of my mouth lately. Seems my brain waves send motor neuron messages to my vocal cords before fully thinking about the thought. Out pop the words only to land on the floor.  This happened a total of 27 times since Christmas (yes, I’ve counted). Most recently, at a work event celebrating my departmental VP’s 40th birthday I heard my voice sharing tips on how to make the most of her long-distance relationship with her boyfriend. Unsolicited advice. That’s a career stopper isn’t it. Damn.

3) I liken myself to being an above average dad on the hipness scale. My 18-year-old daughter, however, disagrees. She continues to shy noisily away from my efforts to stay in touch with her world. And God forbid I show a modicum of care for her in a public place, like her Facebook page.  I don’t creep on her page, much, and I’ve learned never to tag her name to a photo I’ve posted on my page that includes her. When did it become acceptable to just chill with the ‘rentals back when I was a teen?

4) Morrie’s, my Mazda dealer here in the Twin Cities, worked on a squeaky wheel for me back in December. The fix lasted about three weeks. The squeak is back and it’s a complete and utter mystery. It’s a cold-weather-only kind of squeak, but annoying as hell. They replaced bushings and tweaked other parts of the front-end suspension initially. Now I think the only way to rid the car of the squeak is to get rid of the car.

I should stand and stretch after writing and editing this piece. But if I do, well, you know…pants.

-end-

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I first met up with Ray a year ago, maybe longer, when his song, “Jolene,” found its way into my play list. There’s just something about his delivery…I can’t quite pin it down. He definitely gets his gruve on with this track, a favorite, from the Gossip in the Grain record.

Lyrics

Baby, it’s been a long day, baby.
Things ain’t going my way
You know I need you here
Here by my side
All of the time

And Baby, the way you move me its crazy.
It’s like, you see right through me, you make it easier,
You please me and you don’t even have to try.

Oh because,
You are the best thing
You are the best thing
You are the best thing
Ever happened to me

Baby, we’ve come a long way, baby.
You know, I hope and I pray that you believe me
When I say this love will never fade away

Oh because you are the best thing
You are the best thing
You are the best thing
Ever happened to me

Now both of us have known love before,
To come on up promising, like the spring, just walk on out the door.
Our hearts are strong and are hearts are kind.
Well, let me tell you what exactly is on my mind.

You are the best thing
You are the best thing
You are the best thing
Ever happened to me

You are the best thing
You are the best thing
You are the best thing
Ever happened to me

Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah,
Now, now, now, now

-end-

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My career in medical device technology began a scant three years ago. But since Feb. 2006, I feel I’ve learned more than I did in my first 18 years in the workforce. And the kicker is I’m learning from some of the smartest people on the planet.

When I joined The Company, I often drove home after a day in the office wondering how I buffaloed the hiring committee into offering me the position. In those early days, clearly, I was a full hat-size smaller than even the most recent college grad who served as Project Specialist I. But I had the job and I wasn’t about to let go of a good thing.

Now, 35 months into The Company, I’ve hit a good stride. I know not only the medical acronyms, but also what they stand for – quite impressive. I know certain details about how heart devices function. I can explain why health care costs have soared in the U.S. in a way most any Joe Six Pack might understand. I comprehend the importance of clinical trials as well as the need to meet regulatory challenges that prove the efficacy of an implantable device designed to save lives.

My career requires me to be a mile wide and an inch deep on hundreds of topics, but because I sit down frequently with people like our chief medical and technology officer (a former cardiologist who left Harvard to join this company and impact the lives of millions of people each year, not just a handful), I’m also able to go deep on the topics that interest me most about health care and medicine. And because I get the honor now and then to hear The Company’s founder speak – (and he happens to wear four or five implants that he played a role in innovating during his time here) – I find it easy to embrace his original mission to help those who face chronic diseases live a full life.

A constant learner with an open mind, this very average Iowa boy who graduated in the middle of his class knows a good thing when he sees it. And baby, I’m surrounded by a very good thing.

-end-

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I’m Open

Open to learn. Open to love. Open to parent. Open to hope. Open to change. Open to passion. Open to care. Open to help.  Open to innovation. Open to failure. Open to success. Open to understand. Open to listen. Open to believe. Open to health. Open to teach. Open to laugh. Open to share. Open to be. Open to faith. Open to watch. Open to wait. Open to opinion. Open to freedom. Open to choice. Open to rights. Open to mistakes. Open to sarcasm. Open to improve. Open to acceptance. Open to kiss. Open to intimacy. Open to risk. Open to work. Open to play. Open to rest. Open to travel. Open to warmth. Open to give. Open to create. Open to act.

Open to live.

-end-

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Elitists feel they have outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or some other distinctive attributes, and therefore their views and ideas must be taken more seriously or carry more weight. In addition, they may assume special privileges and responsibilities and feel they have earned certain rights that others do not or should not have based on their level or position in society.

The proliferation of elitism has been underway since the dawn of human kind. What’s become worse in the past two decades is how many people automatically place themselves into this elitist category with no basis of reason. As populists in society strive toward breaking down the walls and barriers created by the elite (to ensure everyone has the same human rights and opportunities), elites attempt to further widen and deepen their moat protecting their belief that the privileged few have every right to make and enforce the rules.

What’s more, the new elites stem from recent generations of children who grew up expecting life to be handed to them in perfect order – further widening the gap between the haves and have nots. In fact, the common middle class that most of us grew up in, has now latched firmly on to the orbit of the elite.

The hard work our mothers and fathers once performed – the work that made our nation strong – has been tossed out with the bath water in the past 20 years. The yuppies, Gen-Xers and Millenials feel society owes them the vast rewards of life simply for waking up and putting on their socks.

And since elitism endorses the exclusion of large numbers of people from positions of privilege or power, this class in our society is essentially turning its collective head further and further away from its roots – away from the very parents or grandparents who worked two shifts so the family could enjoy a warm home, a reliable car and new shoes as the kids’ feet grew. Today, the 4,000-square-foot homes, Beemers, Audis and Mercedes are not the exception, they are the rule.

I’m sick and I’m tired of 20-somethings and younger walking around with their hands out – like baby birds waiting to be fed and chirping their beaks off until the mother Robin satiates their demands. These kids, our children, are clueless. They lack responsibility, respect and a fundamental concept of what labor is all about.

How are we suppose to begin fixing the recent economic malaise in the United States and globally, when our “most valuable asset,” our best and brightest, are entering the workforce with no concept of what work is all about? The learnings that once came with earning a decent wage for a decent day’s work are gone.

We’ve created the “gimme” culture of elitists and I’ve never been more personally disgusted and disappointed by a mind set than this one.

-end-

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