There’s the Cliff. Step on the Gas.

April 22, 2010

Bullwinkle assured Rocky, “this time for sure,” but he never pulled a rabbit out of the hat. We’re no different.

I was meeting with a fund manager the other day, talking about a project that’s in trouble. The people assigned to the implementation, or at least one group of them, simply haven’t done the job as needed. There’s no particular reason to believe they will ever do the job in a way that yields success.

However, he said, the project is simply too far along to make any changes. And so, he’s about to pour more money into a venture almost guaranteed to come up short, ignoring the reality that a team that failed to produce when the job was easy is highly unlikely to become fully productive now.

As a commonsense kind of guy, I found this curious. Perhaps something was lost in the translation, but it appeared that my discussion partner was dooming himself to failure.

“I know the Epsilon Omega Zeus Team (not their real names) hasn’t come up with good ideas and they don’t seem to know how to implement the plan, but we’ve already invested so much time and money, I can’t risk replacing them,” he seemed to say. “So, rather than accepting reality and changing course, I’ll just hope for a miracle.”

Now, this example should have all of us feeling just a bit smug and superior, because we’d never do anything this dumb. Except, of course, we would. And we do.

We issue the same ultimatum our teens have failed to acknowledge or fear in the past, confident that “this time, they’ll know I’m serious.”

We try the same crash diet we’ve failed to follow for 20 years because, “this time, I’ll have more will power.”

We present the same ineffective sales pitch for the 50th time, because “the first 49 customers didn’t really understand it.”

“I know the tire is flat,” we say, “but the next one might go flat as well, so I’ll just keep rolling on this one. Perhaps overheating it will cause it to re-inflate.”

There are times when life is predictable and orderly, when we know what to expect and can actually see the future. The right path, and the easy one, is to accept reality and avoid future regret. Too frequently, and foolishly, we choose to ignore what we know to be true and continue on the road to failure.

Deny now. Pay later.

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That Synching Feeling

April 17, 2010

For the past two weeks, the grandfather clock has been chiming exactly in time with the clocks on the DVR, the microwave and the oven. I’m actually getting a thrill out of looking up at the digital displays to see them flashing double zeroes as the chimes herald the new hour.

There’s poetry here, along with a reminder about the textures and cycles of life.

Analog clocks, whose arms advance steadily and cannot retrace their past, mirror our lives. The orbit of the hours reflects both the cycles of nature and the paths that bring each of us back home. The sweep of the second hand echoes the relentless beating of our hearts.

Digital time is coldly efficient and speaks only of the now, arrogantly announcing its data without any offer of context. Set the clock a minute fast or a minute behind and it will lie to you, boldly and confidently, forever.

Maybe I spent too much time listening to the ballad of John Henry, but I find myself rooting for the flexible and the fallible over the precise and lifeless. And so I am greatly cheered to see the clock I assembled from a kit 30 years ago matching the soulless diodes behind the glass.

One of these days, of course, the grandfather clock will falter, or surge, and the period of synchronicity will end. Like watching the earth’s shadow pass across the moon in an eclipse, we know the moment of exception will give way to the unremarkable routine.

In the meantime, it’s a pleasure to recognize and appreciate when things are simply going the way they should. If the clock was broken, or five minutes behind, I’d notice. How much more enjoyable it is to pay attention when everything is running smoothly, as well.

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Ignore Those Lying Cheating Bastards

April 12, 2010

Jill and I disagree on a lot of things, but we’re trying to live with it. After all, if both of us agree on everything, then one of us is unnecessary.

And so, in the interest of collegiality or the fear of being identified as the extraneous partner, we will sometimes have discussions in which we do not see eye to eye, neither at the beginning nor pause of the never-ending argument conversation. And I will pretend that it’s okay.

But, still, it vexes my soul.

It is difficult to understand how I have remained married for 34 years to a person so foolish and vain and, dare I say it, Godlessly un-American, that she still fails to see everything my way. And you all know that my way is the way God intended. Sad to say, SHE is everything that’s wrong with America.

Thankfully, I can escape this hell by entering the sanctuary of the blogosphere, cable news and talk radio, where I never, ever, ever have to hear from anyone who disagrees with me. I must admit, it all sounds the same after a while and my vocabulary has shrunk 43%, but I have the comfort of knowing my views are the only views that matter, or even exist.

Better still, I never have to make any effort to improve the state of our great nation, because:

  • 1. This country is perfect and anyone who says it isn’t is a communist, socialist, feminist, racist, tree-hugging, liberal, fascist, megalomaniacal, Obamanation against humanity.
  • 2. It’s not my responsibility to help change things. It’s only my job to call people names and dismiss all their views because (see item 1.)
  • This is the ultimate freedom, the kind of independence our Founding Fathers (not mothers) imagined when they created our best-of-all-possible-nations out of hard work (by slaves), faith in God (Deism Rocks!!) and a steadfast reliance on outhouses and wooden teeth. When men were men and everybody else would have been sitting in the back of the bus, if they had buses, but you get the point.

    And they didn’t bother with contrary opinions, either. Whigs and Democrats and Republicans all had their own newspapers with slanted reports that sounded a lot like political discourse today. Except the Know-Nothings, because, well, that would have defeated the whole purpose, wouldn’t it?

    Sure, there were renegades like Jefferson and Adams who held opposing issues and debated them in a civil way, or our worst president, Abraham (a Jew?) Lincoln, with all his “malice toward none, charity to all,” garbage that inspired the Communist Manifesto. For the most part, though, we kick ass and take names, except that we shouldn’t be taking names if it’s via the Census Bureau.

    We’re Real Americans and we believe in what we believe and we don’t want to hear any crap from people whose opinions differ from ours. We take our guidance from the strong leaders who ignored the naysayers and the whiners; leaders like Hitler and Stalin and Pol Pot and (Attention: This Viewpoint Under Construction.)

    But I digress.

    The whole idea of an “objective” media, beholden only to their readers and their Bolshevik masters, is a fiction of the 20th Century, which finally has ended, disrespected and unmourned. Such a waste of money and resources to print both sides of a story. No wonder newspapers are folding left and right—but mostly left, of course.

    And so we see that Karl Rove is heckled off the stage by leftist protesters and Bill Ayers is uninvited to (from?) a speech after protests by righties. It’s so much more patriotic to prevent someone from speaking than to simply stay home and ignore him. And so much less work than standing at the back of the auditorium with your fingers in your ears and shouting lalalalalalalalalalalala.

    The right gives us intolerance and calls it freedom. The left gives us intolerance and calls it sensitivity. Don’t tell either side that they’ve finally agreed on something….but intolerance is the biggest example of bipartisanship in the United States today.

    Hooray for us!!

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    Happy First Birthday to Me

    April 8, 2010

    It’s my birthday today, in a weird sort of way.

    Last April 8, after well over a year in the clutches of the medical profession, I went in for surgery and awoke to find that I didn’t have the deadly cancer they spoke of as a proven, unmistakable fact until, of course, it was after the fact and I didn’t have it.

    I’ve been more than mildly miffed at the whole process that led to the operating room, although the truth is that I’d do it again. Because, really, it’s better to have the surgery and find out you didn’t need it than to not have the procedure and learn too late that you did.

    Based on normal percentages, about 150,000 people didn’t make it through the end of this day last year, but I did. Even if I couldn’t get out of bed and the drugs weren’t nearly as powerful as promised, I was alive and not dying at any faster rate than anyone else.

    Last April 8, I got my life back.

    One year later, though, I’m taking stock of how I’ve been spending my time, and I’m not even sure I’d give myself a C+ on my performance. What have I done to make this world better? How much have I helped other people cope with situations far worse than I’ve had to face? How much have I smiled, how much have I shared, and how much have I succumbed to the despair of the mundane?

    After one year of being reborn (not the same as born again), can I honestly say I’ve made the most of it…or do I have to sign up for some remedial pleasure classes this summer? Will I look back on April 8, 2011 and give myself a pat on the back, or will I still be giving myself a C?

    Of course, I could be asking this question every morning. So could you. New day. New possibilities. New life.

    Whatever will we do tomorrow?

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    The Road to Ruin Has Great Coverage

    April 6, 2010

    At the dablog…