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Monday, March 31, 2003
At war with words... 
A couple of times a day, it gets impossible to reach blogger.com, where my daily thoughts are kept. That's because several of the blogs coming out of Iraq are stored on blogger as well, and generates enormous amounts of traffic. The most popular are Where is Raed? supposedly written by a young man living in Baghdad, and Kevin's site from a photojournalist reporting alongside the troops. It's amazing how something as simple as a daily blog can create so much interest; so much controversy. They touch our lives so much more than just clogging up the blog circuit. I think because it puts such a human face to this otherwise sanitized and prepackaged war, which conveniently fits between talk shows and reruns of the Simpsons.

Raed and Kevin both bring the situation "home" for me, and in some stange way make me feel safer... perhaps because I can't hear those sirens, or see that smoke. I feel the safety of distance.

Perhaps when this is all over, we'll see their faces on the next Ricky Lake, then go down to the local Barnes and Nobels to attend their book signings. At least I hope it can be something as strange as that... and not the reality they face tonight. Raed and Kevin, wherever you are tonight, may you both live to return to a home that is safe and free from harm.

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7:16 PM

Sunday, March 30, 2003
It's just like riding a bicycle... 
Actually it was exactly like riding a bicycle, because it WAS riding a bicycle.

Someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that summer wasn't due to start for several months. Of course that didn't stop me from going to the beach to ride my bike for much of the day.

I started the trip by Malibu, where the Hollywood types came out to get a head start on their "base coats," rode my way past the tourists wearing more weight and less clothes than perhaps fit and ended up at Muscle Beach, where the overtanned exhibitionists had more ripples than the ocean.

The sun beat down intensely. Being someone who burns when someone leaves the light on, I didn't have much of a chance. I applied SPF 30 enough times to reach the triple digits, but as I type this, I can feel those pesky places I missed. Nature finds a way to get into the sneakiest of places.

This was quite a physical day over all. Besides the bike riding, I went to the gym twice... yes, twice. Before and after. Crazy I know, but it was a warmup, and a cooldown... and a place to wash off the sea, salt and silliness of the day.

Something to help me sleep well, before another long week ahead...

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10:49 PM

Saturday, March 29, 2003
The price of identity... 
Flash back to one year ago... I got a letter from Western Union stating that their database had been hacked into and that I should change my credit card immediately. No one actually got into MY account, but I didn't take chances. What a major hassle... and a lesson in just how entrenched credit cards have become in our lives... internet, gym memberships; heck, even my drycleaner needed to change their records. It was a pain to be sure, but a successful aversion of disaster.

The second time with them wasn't so lucky. Someone in Macedonia tried to transfer $200 out of my bank account. I had to close my account before it posted that amount, plus change all my info again... not to mention several hundred dollars in Insufficient Fund Fees when my automatic payments hit the closed account (too many details to bother with here). The culprits also used my identity to make further attempts on other people's credit cards, which continues to haunt me as their credit card companies call me to investigate. Let's just say I'm glad I filed a police report the day it happened.

The point of this whole story is that there was a class action lawsuit for the first incident (see, I wasn't the only one who got affected by the hack, obviously). Today I got a check for all my trouble...

A whopping $1.00.

That's right... for the price of a burger... or a minute of long distance... I got compensated for my identity.

Sure is nice to know what you're worth.

I wonder what I'll buy with my check... maybe somebody else's identity? I'm sure I have millions of people to choose from.

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10:39 PM

Friday, March 28, 2003
Who turned off the power? 
"We're telling you what to say so you can be empowered."

Those words rang over and over in my head since the morning. As the document was handed out, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. You mean if I say EXACTLY this, I will be empowered? It wasn't a bulleted list of points needing to be made, it was a script. Saying these words here? The words YOU wrote? These will empower ME...?

Now I'm all for a consistent message. If everyone understands things differently, we're can get into trouble. I also appreciate suggestions and samples. I wouldn't even mind if the script was labelled "sample" but it wasn't. If these words came from them, as a message of solidarity, I'd be very happy to forward it off. That wasn't the case. They wanted these words to come from us.

So where is the empowerment? Is there also a script for us to say how empowered we are? Are we even allowed to discuss empowerment?

I wondered if my team would notice the difference in writing styles... I wondered how the people sending the notes out would react when they get the identical note from their managers... I wondered when I was going to start getting mail that I "may already be a winner!"...

Empowerment doesn't come from someone else's words to be puppeted out on command... or when disagreeable actions are silenced.

Empowerment comes when you give others the tools they need, the instructions for success and the ability to find solutions their own way. Today I saw an attempt at two out of those three.

So armed with the tools and the instructions, it will now be spelled EM-----MENT.

  • Empowering Employees through Open Communication

  • Quantifying the "Soft" Costs of Empowering Employees

  • Empowering employees to embrace change: Managers make the difference

  • ........................
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    9:57 PM

    Thursday, March 27, 2003
    Bringing back hope... 
    Sometimes there are little events in your life that slowly wear away your faith, your trust... your hope. You don't always notice it; it just sort of creeps up on you and becomes a nagging emptiness. I was feeling a little bit "quiet" since I woke up this morning and coasted in neutral into the the office. I really wasn't thinking anything about it until we had an all hands meeting for our team.

    The meeting was pretty good, as far as quarterly meetings go. We talked about our accomplishments and budgets, which were all basic quarterly stuff... then we talked about the plans for the next quarter... and it just got me thinking about the future... and the feelings I had about it.

    I had lost a bit of faith.

    That got me thinking about my articles... about all the advice I give to others. Today was my time to take a dosage of my own medicine.

    The game plan for finding hope again:
    • Plan for the future. Having a goal gives you a sense of direction.

    • Learn from the past. Remember what worked before and what didn't.

    • Let it go. Holding onto the past prevents you from moving into the future.

    • Try something different. The old way is for yesterday; the future needs something new.

    • Believe. Hope comes from believing things can be better,

    For the last two days, I've talked about "tomorrow being another day" but only hoping that it would be better. I can't have a hopeful tomorrow unless I'm willing to have hope for it today.

    At least, I hope so.

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    8:55 PM

    Wednesday, March 26, 2003
    Life is like a cookie jar... 

    Today we went to pick up the finished pieces from our day at Color Me Mine, on Thursday. Overall they turned out really nice. I didn't end up with purple mountains or a green house, but I was thinking about how much this experience is like Life. You plan on something, you make it look as close as you can... and you never really know what it's going to turn into until it's done.

    The same thing goes for the events of yesterday. Since today was the first day of Flash Forward 2003, it's just like the finished cookie jar. Two months ago I painted the picture of what today would look like... and now it looks like something else.


    Have a cookie!
    So today, with my cookie jar by my side, I started to paint for September's Photoshop World. I've gotten a little better and setting up the right picture. Hopefully when this thing is done, it'll look brighter and cheerier than today.

    9:09 PM

    Tuesday, March 25, 2003
    Timing... is... everything... 
    Tomorrow is the Flash Forward 2003 conference in San Francisco. I requested that my team and I go to it, yet we heard nothing. I heard several other team's were sending their designers, so I addressed this issue with my management. Seems that all conferences have to be scheduled and approved a year in advance... so I guess that the time for that opportunity was long past. I hadn't heard anything, so I wasn't even aware that there was a time limit. Perhaps the timing was off for everyone... since last year...

    So even though I have no idea where the conferences will even be next year, I made my request for 2004. It's too early now, to be sure, so the timing is as off now as this past year.

    They say that timing is everything and I'm very aware of it today.

    And I'm aware that tomorrow is another day...

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    9:41 PM

    Monday, March 24, 2003
    The price of free speech... 
    Today the talk around work was all about Michael Moore's acceptance speech, where he "freely spoke" against the President and the war.
    "We like non-fiction, and we are living in fictitious times. ... We live in a time where we have a fictitious president who's sending us to war for fictitious reasons."
    He got booed quite a lot from the crowd... the same people who gave him a standing ovation just moments before.
    People expected him to be outspoken... but I wonder if his free speech didn't come at some price.

    I'm a true believer in free speech as well, but I think that there is a difference between free speech and appropriate speech. The right words at the right time can change the world... at the wrong time, and we have to cut to a commercial.

    On the personal front, I witnessed a whole room full of free speech. In a middle manager's meeting, we openly discussed our feelings about the recent review process. I can't be free in my speech here (because I respect the confidentiality of the closed door) but needless to say, there was a lot of heart felt conversations that flowed freely.

    Will these words be heard by the Powers That Be? Will they set us free, or bind us to our future? Or will they end up as worthless, empty words?

    Time will tell how much this free speech will cost...

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    9:17 PM

    Sunday, March 23, 2003
    Keepin' up the upkeep... 
    It's very important to keep ourselves in good running condition. After all, it's the only vehicle we'll have for this lifetime. So today was my care day... laundry, gym and a haircut were the highlights of my day. OK, so that doesn't sound very glamorous... but I didn't label today "keepin' up with the Jones" (who are these Jones, and why do they have everything??).

    I enjoy the upkeep really. Considering the alternate of falling apart...

    And I also updated my web site tonight too... a least one article. So I'm also keeping up with the gurus too...
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    10:12 PM

    Saturday, March 22, 2003
    Send in the clones! 
    This was one of those days that I could have used a couple of "me's". Unfortunately I got myself committed to a web meeting today and couldn't make it to TWO parties that I was invited to. The parties were both a bit of a drive and probably would've tired me out in the long run... but they would've been those "good tired's" that you get after you enjoy the day.

    So while the sun shined outside, and others partied on, I worked. In the long run, I think the work will be worth it..., but it wasn't as much LIVING life, as it was IMITATING it.

    Tomorrow is partiless, but I plan on making it a better day for the only me I have.

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    9:04 PM

    Friday, March 21, 2003
    No time for the present... 
    Sometimes you have one of those days that are like two different days. There's the day you planned, and the day you have. That's the kind of day I had.

    I don't know how the day just flew past me, but before I knew it the video equipment sat unused, and not even completely set up for the day's plan. I believe it was John Lennon who said that "Life happens when you're busy making other plans."

    So today just sort of happened.

    The best thing to do when this happens is just to go ahead and move the plans to the next day, and take note of what happened in your real world.

    Then move on...

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    10:06 PM

    Thursday, March 20, 2003
    My hand in the cookie jar... 
    As promised over the weekend, today the team and I went off for a creative afternoon at Color Me Mine, one of those paint-it-yourself pottery places.What really made it fun for me was not just that the team got together for something creative, but also that each finished piece so accurately captured the personality of the person making it. We had the tea pot turned into a horse, the minimalist bowls with just "honey" and "babe" written on them, and the name mug with amazing colors and style that kept getting that "one more thing." It was a moment of being truthful to yourself... and for me it was a treat to be among these true people and their art.

    As for me, I went with the cookie jar. Not that I need to eat more cookies, or even know of anyone who will want a jar... this one just "spoke" to me from the shelf... so I decided to speak back to it. Looking at the four sides, I thought of the four seasons (not that Southern California HAS seasons, but I'm from the East Coast, so I can still remember what they look like). For the lid, I decided to put the four phases of the moon. I didn't sketch anything out... just looked at the jar to see what what should be there. I just sort of winged it.

    But I gotta tell ya... "Cinnamon Toast" and "Mocha Java" looks an awful lot like "Carrot Juice" and "Mango Surprise" when put on the palette together... and with all those names, I wasn't sure I was still in Color Me Mine, or stepped out to the local coffee or juice bar. No wonder I was so hungry by the end of the whole experience.

    They look a lot alike on the cookie jar too, so I bet Mango is going to Surprise me, along with my Cinnamon mountains and Carrot trees, once that puppy gets cooked. It should be quite a piece of "art" when we pick it up next week.

    When I was done, the team asked me why I hadn't made myself a "Gurustu" jar... and although I have to say I'd love to have my own cookie jar, this wasn't the time for it. It seems that every moment I don't spend at work is spent during Gurustu Time... this time was just for ME... the painter, the artist, the person. So what if I end up with purple mountains majesty and amber grains of sand? I gave myself a gift today... a day to express "me" in a cookie jar... and for that I give myself a hand...

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    10:17 PM

    Wednesday, March 19, 2003
    I have class :-) 
    I went to one of those MANDATORY management training workshops... you know the type, "we're going to teach you how to be a good manager, or else." This was a really good class though, and I enjoyed the day quite a bit. The instructor was very dynamic and funny, which really made the day go by.

    The class focused on issues facing IT managers, and what makes a good manager. What was interesting is that when asked to define what we do as managers, a long list of TASKS came up (especially "writing and reading emails"), yet when we were asked to describe what the best manager we ever had was like, we talked about QUALITIES... Integrity, Trust, Empowerment, Being Present...

    They made it seem like there's really a difference between the two, but I pointed up in the discussion... "The great managers had to do the same things we do. They still had emails and meetings and performance reviews. The tasks were the same for good and bad managers alike, but it was HOW the good manager performed those tasks that let them accomplish great things."

    I realized in this class that I'm already doing a lot of the stuff that a great leader is supposed to do (we also discussed the differences between a Manager and a Leader). I even shared some of the "tricks" I use to the gang...
    • Have breakfast meetings instead of lunch meetings. Lunch is on their time, breakfast is on yours. It makes them feel like they're "cheating" all the while getting the same work done

    • Have offsite staff meetings. I gave away the fact that we meet in a coffee shop every Friday; and everyone loved the idea... so I think the place is going to be busy this week

    • Manage by wandering. Walk the floor; make personal contact with everyone; see how they're doing; ask a lot of questions; listen.

    • You can afford rewards more than you think. You're limiting yourself if you think you have to buy something expensive, buy a lunch or give time off, all of which isn't always allowed by management. You can control someone's work load, lightening it up for a little while. You can also afford a kind word. A simple, sincere "thank you" at the right time can make a lasting impression that money can never buy.

    There was also a few things that I learned:
    • Simplify your instructions. Don't assume that the person you're instructing really understands what you're saying.

    • Think beyond your assumptions.The rules say one thing, and you fill in the rest. There may not be all the restrictions you think are real.

    • Don't be afraid to look around. Don't get so busy with your own tasks, you forget that there's stuff happening all around you. You might actually learn something by seeing what others are doing.

    I also came up with another saying thanks to this class... "Creativity may not be defined, but it must never be confined," which for me means to allow others their right to create, even when you don't understand it.

    This was a day worth being present for.

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    8:49 PM

    Tuesday, March 18, 2003
    Our limitations need imagination... 
    You know that saying "we're limited only by our imagination?" Well, it's a great saying and all, but it doesn't tell us what to do when we actually run into one of our limitations. Mine today was a very physical one, meaning more a matter of physics, then a matter of body, but it's a limitation never the less. I've just run out of space!

    No, I haven't gained that much weight... I haven't collected too much junk... I don't need to break up with anyone to find more "me" time... I just realized that movies are too big to fit on CDs. Well, durrr.... I know they invented DVDs, but I don't have a DVD burner, thank you very much. And I know they're not that much money at the local electronic store... and I know that I could also just put a req in for one at work... but I would like to accomplish something this year, so I need something more instantaneous in its gratification.

    So when I ran into this problem (lucky for me, still early enough into the project) I realized I need to stop what I was doing, step back and come up with Plan B. It sounds pretty solid, and can be applied to other things in Life... so here goes:
    1) Stop pushing until you have a new plan.
    2) Let go of the original idea; it's no longer useful.
    3) Break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
    4) Salvaged the original INTENT.
    5) Think creatively for better solutions to that intent.
    6) Go back a few steps.
    7) Go to Plan B
    8) Don't look back and wonder if Plan A was better.

    Remember, we don't get judged on what we "intend", but rather on what we actually "do."

    Plan B might actually be better... and just think: we'd've been limited by our own imaginations, had it not been for our own limitations.

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    7:50 PM

    Monday, March 17, 2003
    On the cusp of commitment... 
    There's been a lot of angst-ridden activity swirling around these past several days. The video/computer refusing to work, behind the scenes activities revolving around the film festival, and all the talks about Iraq and the troubles in our world...

    When driving back from a festival meeting, I thought about what this day was about... and that's when I realized that I'm living on the cusp of commitments. The video FINALLY started to work today, which means tomorrow I actually have to get back to the original work I was supposed to do. The festival is getting their content together, so I have to put it together on the web... and today on the news, Bush has given a 48 hours ultimatum; meaning, the whole country is on the cusp of a commitment to war.

    This will be the third major war in my lifetime. I wasn't old enough to be involved in the first one; and was too old for the second one... and now, well, never mind how old I am. I sure wish that we had some better solution for peace besides war. I know it's ideological... bordering on liberalism... but being a man of peace, I wish that the whole world could create peace as much as everyone claims they want it.

    To be on the cusp of commitment to Peace would really be something to see... over the next couple of days I'll commit to my work and my passion... and just hope and pray for the day of peace to arrive.

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    10:31 PM

    Sunday, March 16, 2003
    Special Report - My hometown makes it to CNN 
    I grew up in a small town, so it took a large explosion to get anyone to notice.

    Thirteen injured in New Jersey tank explosion. Saturday, March 15, 2003 Posted: 12:28 PM EST (1728 GMT)

    I spoke with my Mom on the phone about it this morning...

    "Laast noyght I hear this lawd exploooosion. It shook de howse. I thawt it was terrawrists! Then awl these newscaastahs from New Yawk come in. It's veery ster-range. We hav no worter for tha dawg."

    I'm glad no one was hurt. Turns out one of the people in the building hurt a strange noise and told people to get out, that it didn't sound right. Thanks to that no one got killed.

    Such drama, In town they'll be tawking about it fer dayz.

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    6:59 PM

    Saturday, March 15, 2003
    Nature called... 
    You know that song, "It Never Rains in Southern California"? Well, they didn't play that one on the radio today.

    The rain started during the early morning hours and maybe stopped for an hour's break all day. The commitment to downpour seemed like nature was behind schedule and just decided to drop its entire load in as short a time period as possible. I didn't see and dogs or cats though.

    When I was younger, my mom would always say that the "sky just opened up." I imagined my mom catching a glimpse of heaven, so I'd keep looking up to see the opening, but I just couldn't see past all those clouds!
    Little Stuart: Where are you looking? I don't see any opening!
    Mom: Close the window, Stuart, the seat's getting wet.

    I was getting my eyes examined today, when the heaviest of the rain was coming down. Outside cars were like speedboats down the street; their wings of water spreading out behind them. People were covering themselves with newspapers and inverted umbrellas. One man stood out to me though. He was sopping wet, but walking slowly. He walked through the river that used to be the crosswalk; in no particular hurry. He wasn't crazy by any means. He was just totally accepting of his wetness. He might have put up a fight some time ago, but now he just gave in to it.

    The skies didn't open on him. He opened on the skies. I envied him... just a little.

    He was free.

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    8:44 PM

    Friday, March 14, 2003
    Breaking the Block... 
    Writers are the only ones who get blocked. Anyone in the creative realm, every once in a while, sits and stares at a blank space and sees nothing. Sometimes there's nothing more painful than Nothing.

    Of course there was no shortage of "war stories" at our team meeting this afternoon. Staring at the computer screen, the blank canvas, the white paper... different pairs of eyes each time, but all of them seeing emptiness. It's enough to question your sanity as well as your talent and you very livelihood.

    This time, it's creeping into the team because of outside influences. Basically the people around us are just crazy! Dilbert-esque moments have been seeping into our safe little (creative) world and pressuring us out of our (creative) minds.

    I really don't think it's terminal, but it is serious enough to get my attention. Next week I plan on a few (creative) strategic moves to free us up from the blocks that bind us.

    When needing to break a block, here's a few things that I plan on doing:

    1) Work through it. However painful, sometimes just working on it slow and steady-like helps to break through.
    2) Change the scenery. We might go off somewhere to do the work... another office, the park, who knows...
    3) Do something else completely. I have an idea for a side trip on Tuesday, if we can get away...
    4) Brainstorm with others. Even though we had a team meeting today, we might call another one just to bounce ideas off one another.
    5) Quiet time alone. I also don't have to force the issues. I can leave everyone alone for a little while for them to sit with their own thoughts.

    Plus, I'm open to suggestions.

    In order for our minds to be free, we must not be confined by anything, including our attempts to free ourselves. Creative accidents are welcome, provided no one gets hurt.

    I'm actually looking forward to the possibilities.

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    8:50 PM

    Thursday, March 13, 2003
    Five minute easy installation... 
    Those are four of the most terrifying words to me... I've been working with computers since 1985 (sheesh!) and every time I see "five minute easy installation" my heart sinks. That's code for "you're going to lose your entire day and some of your hair." Today I got about 10 minutes worth.

    I worked from home today... figuring I'd take advantage of the quiet to capture and edit all the video I've shot over the last couple of days.


    8 am to 10 am - Downloading drivers
    10 am to 11 am - Trying to get the computer to capture ANYTHING
    11 am to noon - Searching, searching, searching, reading support pages, searching
    Noon to 1 pm - Downloading trial versions of other software (oh, sorry, download only ONE trial, since the computer slowed down at this point)
    1 pm to 2 pm - Eat something besides my own angst; work on something else.
    2 pm to 3 pm - Capture video with trial software. Try to figure out why it's not capturing full screen.
    3 pm to 4:30 pm - Searching, searching, searching, reading support pages, searching
    4:30 to 5 pm - Work on something productive.

    I'm still not sure what to do about it. You'd think that I'd be used to it by now... or that I'd find something else to do besides struggle with it. I guess that while some people have their 15 minutes of fame, I've got my 15 minutes of pain.

    That leaves me with only five more minutes of easy installations...

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    10:05 PM

    Wednesday, March 12, 2003
    Stop the presses... 
    Life has its ebbs and flows... its growth and its reductions. Today was a day of shrinkage...

    Meetings got cancelled, a video project I was helping on got canned, the person doing that project figured he didn't need my help to learn the software after all and in one minute a different project went from big-bigger-biggest... to "Stop the presses!! We're not doing it anymore." Well, that took more like five minutes, because we slowed down a little at "biggest."

    Some of today's events were disappointment, others relieving... but not every seed grows to be fruitful. So for the remainder of the day, I just went about my business.I put my energy into the things that COULD be done, not the small things that have been left behind.

    Stop the presses? Maybe a little... but as for the rest... press on!

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    9:23 PM

    Tuesday, March 11, 2003
    Time is also relative... 
    I was buried in *work* today, and only surfaced a couple of times to eat, handle an emergency or two, then go home. It's amazing how some people will tell you that the day just drags on, while you wonder where everything disappeared. They say it's a good sign when the day flies by... but today I'm not so sure.

    I *worked* today... answering emails, creating and printing reports, updating our database, both the content and under the hood. Some of it was important... improving processes, blah blah blah... and some of it was just the "blah, blah, blah" without much improvement. It's amazing how much *work* you have to do in order to get anything done.

    The reason I keep emphasizing it as *work* and not just "work" is because so much of today's activities seemed unnecessary. I wrote about three report today just to re-emphasize points made a long time ago... or to generate proof that last's year's predictions are coming true already.

    Time may move relatively slow, or fast... but in either case, it's gone. My day was lost to ****work**** and I just hope that the return on this investment will be well worth the effort.

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    9:38 PM

    Monday, March 10, 2003
    Relatively speaking... 
    Had a very long meeting tonight at work, regarding our yearly reviews. Because of my commitment to confidentiality I can't go into any details about it. It just reminds me of the the review process we went through at another company years ago.

    For that we go back seven years... to a thing known as "Relative Distribution." This idea was one of the worst idea I had ever encountered. In it, each person was rated in relationship to one another. No matter who you were, you would be rated a 1, 2, 3 or 4. Each group had to have at least one person in each category. That meant that if you had four people who were all better than the rest of the company, someone would still be a "4" ... equal to the lowest in everybody's group. Talk about back firing. Morale hit an all time low; and teamwork, which this company touted as its best quality, was out the window.

    Now tonight's meeting wasn't like that, but some elements rang a similar tune.

    You have to be so careful when you compare people to one another. I believe that people should be measured against their goals and their commitments, in line with who they are, and all they can be. I believe everyone can be star performer, if given the right tools and nurtured to their own potential. I know that not everyone is at their best now, or even in the right job... but I don't see how comparing them to other people will make that a better rate.

    It will be interesting to see the outcome of the actions that took place today. Relatively speaking, I'm not so sure it's the right path.

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    9:43 PM

    Sunday, March 09, 2003
    It ain't in the stars, so what's their excuse? 
    OK, usually when I have days like this, someone invariably tell same about how Mercury's gone into retrograde. Well, according to Astrology on the Web, that ain't now... so what's up?

    The DVD refuses to work with the tri-colored wires (that's "RCA" or "Composite" to the technogeeks), the microwave only wants to work when you push the "dinner plate reheat" button, the black ink in the new printer doesn't want to work... and my Gurustu.com email seems constipated and refuses to release any of my emails (I've tested it several times, and it's the only one not getting mail).

    I've found a few workarounds to get me by... the S-Video cable makes the DVD look really good... I reheat a lot of dinner plates in the microwave... I realized that that blue tape on the bottom of the printer cartridge is actually supposed to COME OFF... and I've redirected my mail to other addresses (anything that came in the last couple of days are still out of reach, but it's not the end of the world)...

    So I guess the theme for today is... I need upgrades more than I need retrogrades...

    The day's not over yet... what else needs to be fixed I wonder?

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    3:22 PM

    Saturday, March 08, 2003
    Keep up the upkeep... 
    Today was one of those busy weekend days... cleaning up, going to the gym... my usual. I've been noticing a bit of aches and pains lately. Nothing major, just that "oomph" sound that I never understood my parents saying when I was younger. While nothing debilitating, it got me thinking about this body I'm in. Until I kick out of here, this is it... this is the one shell I'll be in for (what I hope will be) a long time.

    I plan on staying active for as long as I can, but it's amazing to think that we have one body to take us through til the end. One little crick in our health and we can be stuck with it for years.

    The body is an amazing thing. We have the ability to heal so well, after cuts, and even catastrophic illness. Yet we still have wear and tear. Our bones wear down, our arteries weaken... even the little stems of our cells get shorter (For you really geeky people, you can read all about "telomeres" here). That's what did Dolly, the cloned sheep, in...

    Basically, Life is designed for us to be here a limited time. We'll probably find ways to prolong it, but the really important thing is that we take care of what we've got while we got it. That, and really enjoy each moment between now and the time our stems run out.

    With that, I think I'll get up and go get something to eat.... oooomph.

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    7:07 PM

    Friday, March 07, 2003
    We don't have time to be unique... 
    Driving to a park to have have lunch with a friend, we drove past the newly developed strip mall and mega retail stores. He remarked about how every new store is some bg chain, and I replied "we don't have time to be unique."

    Wow. We don't have time to be unique. Even that thought caught me by surprise.

    As a society, we've become so busy that we need to be served quicker. "No time to browse, just give me what I need and let me get out of here." Our food is prepackaged, our store shelves lined up the same, everything needs to be where we can find it.

    Yet with all that mega-standardization and blanding (which is branding ad infinitum ad boredom), we've lost something more important... our our unique character. Every town is starting to look alike... forcing us to eat alike, and dress alike, until we all melt into the American Pot.

    There's an easy solution to prevent yourself from just being another stew in the pot... it's take the time to be yourself. Slow down, don't just stop in for a quick burger, fries and toilet paper... go to the places you like to go... express yourself the way that feels right for you.

    Nothing wrong with stew, but I prefer to be Stu...

    How about you?

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    6:07 PM

    Thursday, March 06, 2003
    Movers, shakers, talkers and hangers.... 
    Went to another Film Festival meeting this evening. There are a number of people who have really done "things" with their careers -- produced movies, won emmy awards, cast major motion pictures -- and there are a lot of talkers there as well. In my latest article Don't Pursue, Do! I talk about how there are just some people who like to talk the talk... without ever making a single step to walk it. That was a different group I was talking about, but the same types of people are everywhere.

    Talking to some of them after the meeting, I got a good sense of who's who. The people who won the awards seemed very reserved, while some of the others went on and on about things that you just knew weren't true. You could tell that some people were just hanging on for the ride. Oh well, as I've said before "everyone is fine just the way we are." Everyone will bring to the event what they can, whoever they are.

    We'll just have to see how we go on with the show...

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    11:42 PM

    Wednesday, March 05, 2003
    Focus on Preconceptions... 
    I noticed a little something about myself today, after giving "advice" to someone else about the very same topic. At work today we video taped people talking about the company and "integrity," "growth," "opportunities" and the like. During a break I told the interviewer to be careful of preconceived ideas of how it should go. Typically, whenever doing a documentary, it's very easy to shape the show the way you want it to... and when that fails, you can always edit it in such a way as to prove your point. I just advised to keep all questions open ended and really listen to their responses.

    Where I discovered my own preconceptions was at the very end, when we taped an executive in front of a very elaborate bookcase. The interviewer remarked how she wished everyone was in front of that bookcase, as opposed to the backdrop that we made (basic drape, tree, that sort of thing... very "public access" in its look). In my head, while we were creating the set, I imagined that the employees would be in a "studio" while the executives would be in their offices. Little did I know that I was putting a price on their position. Originally I thought we'd just tape in the executives' own offices for convenience, but in the little recess of my mind I made a judgement call... and now that I've seen it clearer, I have a stronger focus.

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    8:12 PM

    Tuesday, March 04, 2003
    It's all in the details... 
    Today I set up the set for tomorrow's video shoot. It served as a reminder to pay close attention to detail. On the one side, I was unpacking my equipment that I had loaned to a friend for his business and discovered that the power supply to my wireless mic system was missing. Had I not had other sound equipment, and had this been the day of the shoot, I would've been sunk. On the plus side, the set turned out pretty well... all because we paid close attention to the details.

    The big picture is good, but details make for a better picture.

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    8:01 PM

    Monday, March 03, 2003
    Back to the grind... 
    The work week started again. Most of the time, the Work Life and the Home Life seem like two totally separate worlds. Each has its own set of rules and tasks. That could be a good thing, I suppose. Better than the days when my work and home blurred so much I couldn't tell them apart.

    Today was a "back to the old grind" sort of day. Nothing overly outstanding in either work or home, but I continued on doing my "next steps" in just about everything. That's also a good thing, things its still movement forward.

    The incidents of last week are still there, the wounds are just not as open as they were on Friday. I had a good talk with my manager, who is sincere in his caring and his principles. I don't think there's really much he can do about the misunderstandings, since the events happened at levels above him too. He also has much of a relationship with the designer, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the situation going forward. The designer has gone back to work as usual. The pain of Friday is still there, but being dealt with. So everyone at work seems to be back at their own grinds as well.

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    10:29 PM

    Sunday, March 02, 2003
    A Junky Day... 
    Today's blog came to me while I was carrying out a particularly heavy bag of junk. A lot of time is spent on a weekend just trying to prevent waste from overwhelming my place. Sure, a lot of the stuff comes from the boxes and bags of my own consumption, but it's amazing how much of it comes from other peoples attempts to sell me something.

    They throw their dreams of wealth at you, hoping some of it is gonna stick... and as long as one more person buys into it, the more they are encouraged to keep at it. I've been preapproved so much, I could have bought a small country by now. Instead I'm stuck carrying out reams of paper that could fill that small country.

    It's not the way to go about pursuing your own dreams. If you want to get out into the world, don't just fling yourself out there... because most of your well thought out plans will end up in the trash. Instead be more clever than that. There's so much NOISE out there, that you really don't need to strain your voice trying to be heard over everyone else. Instead focus on doing what you do well, and seek out those that would want what you have.

    When I first started the web site, I added one of those traffic programs. Yeah, I admit it... guilty! But as soon as I realized that those hits were empty, I stopped right away and put my focus on getting my dreams out to the right people. That way, I can save my time on throwing things, and everyone else can save time by not throwing me out with yesterday's coupons.

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    10:16 PM

    Saturday, March 01, 2003
    Catching up... 
    Today was the first day of the busy Gurustu.com weekend -- blog, article, newsletter and personal sections. I got three out of the four together, and hopefully will get to the rest tomorrow. However, part of my old habit has been creeping in again... I've said "yes" to a few things lately that certainly COULD help Gurustu in the long run, but threatens to tire out Stuart in the short run. Add to that a couple of old, unfinished "yes's" and my schedule is starting to look cramped.

    So this "catching up" title is not just about me catching up on my to do's, but rather my to do's catching up on me.

    This recent detour of mine is not too far off my chosen path... it's just more uphill than I really need to take for myself. Time to hunker down, focus and back on track of Singularity of Purpose.

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    9:30 PM


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