Last Post from England...
... and I'm setting a personal record for myself. I'm all packed, and still have time to get some sleep! 7 hours in fact! I still need to pack this computer, and I'm writing this post which will take some time, but I'm mostly all ready to go!
About a month ago, I visited my cousin Krissy and her family in Germany. Seven years ago when I was backpacking Europe, Germany reminded me of Colorado, and it sill does. The trees, hills, and the air all look and feel like Colorado (with castles).
(Alt Dahn... a set of three castles somewhere in Germany, built on a sandstone ridge)
It's fun having family spread all over the world. My little bro flies through Germany a lot for the Air Force, and it seems like he's visited Krissy more in the last year than he's visited the rest of our immediate family.
Krissy was always one of my favorite cousins. She was fun, and she never acted like she was "cool," but I always thought she was "cooler" than the rest of us. Maybe she just had better fashion, and I made the inference to being cool. But she'd go hiking through the desert with the rest of us, shoot guns, fish, and then at her house there would be pictures on the wall of her posed in her ballet getup.
Her daughter is now one of my favorite kids. She asked what I did, and since she didn't already know what satellites were, I got to explain a new technological phenomenon. With a thoughtful look, she'd say: "I think I understand. It makes electricity, and uses it so people can watch tv, and talk with each other." I had to laugh at the stark difference between her focused "understanding" demeanor, and her free playful demeanor the rest of the time.
It's always fun getting contrasting responses to some of my posts. The previous Snobbery and Academic Research post attracted a heated anti-MBA Response, as well as encouragement to consider a PhD from one of my professors. It's all about what you enjoy doing. This anti-MBA tirade is a good clip.
I went to dinner last night with some friends, who, consequently, started G-Mail and made more money than you can imagine with Google. Without BS credentials, they changed the world. Funny enough- there is actually a negative correlation between millionaires and ivy league credentials. So while some people keep their eyes in theory, others are creating the subject mater for academia to ponder. Its not that I don’t value education, but education and “credentials” are the biggest scam of all time- pay me and you can read a book and talk about it. I have four billionaires that give me their time for free and who find what I am doing in business and in the building industry to be earth-shattering. The real business world seems to view an MBA as worth less than the paper its printed on, in terms of functionality- good for the people who want to climb the ladder, useless for the people who want to build their own ladder. Academic rigor is a cakewalk next to the tremendous fight that it takes to actually build a company. My reason behind this tirade isn’t to deride what you are doing, but just to remind you that the value isn’t the credential- its how you are gaining the capacity to change the world.
I especially like his closing comment emphasizing "gaining the capacity to change the world." I would also temper that with "positioning yourself to enjoy the world." I personally want to earn my existence, and I enjoy improving the world I live in. However I exist to"enjoy" first, and I "improve" (change the world) to the extent that it enhances my enjoyment of being alive. I enjoy savoring the flow of humanity and the accomplishment of others, in addition to my own accomplishments. I think both responders would agree to this, and note how they have chosen their paths in proportion to which they enjoy action and evaluation.
I personally still want simultaneous reincarnation, so we can enjoy all possible balances of living.
I went to see the movie August Rush (August's Rhapsody), and by the end, I really liked what it represented. When you watch it, go ahead and ignore the part of him being a musical prodigy. However, pay attention to him learning to bring the music from his soul, into the world he lives in. That's what people fulfilling their purpose in existence are doing - learning to recognize that life that is inside them, and give it form in the world. It doesn't happen spontaneously. It takes learning, and then it takes follow through to bring it into reality, and make it part of our world... to see it come to life, and share it with others.
In the movie, they used music to represent the kid's soul. In reality, in all of us, it's the presence of Desire, in all its colors and form. He started off recognizing the music in his soul (or, the patterns of his Desires) in the wind, in the grass, and other moving things around him. He wasn't conducting an orchestra with his hands, he was roughly mimicking the flow and patterns of the Desire inside him.
In the movie, they made the kid a Prodigy. They had to so it would be interesting. In reality, we all have to learn, just the way he learned. The process takes time, just like learning handwriting. Try writing with your left hand, and it's difficult... just like writing with your right hand was difficult before you learned. Likewise, it takes repeated effort to learn how to bring to concrete reality the patterns and flows of Desire within us. Sure, some people learn faster than others, but ultimately we all fulfill our lives to the extent we succeed in converting the Desire within ourselves into reality.
Note that Desires are different than Urges. Desires are what make up the fundamental nature of our character. Desires embody the purpose by which we exist as individual consciousness. These come forth in people in different ways. In August Rush, it was through sound. In an engineer, it's the perfect orchestration of materials and forces. In a manager, it's the flowing progression of coordinated activity. In a technician, it's the physical skill of manipulating a work piece. In a counselor, it's the careful unfolding of character, revealing to someone their own patterns of living.
More encompassing than individual activities, the Desire through which we have purpose takes form of in our social interactions with each other. To know others and be known by others, in whatever selective or general nature it may come forth. This is why we need to translate our Desires into the physical world; because it is through the physical world that learn others, and are learned by others... it is through the physical world that we share our existence.
I also went to see Beowulf. That is the most amazing 3-D I could have imagined seeing. And it was actually a good story. The tragic weakness of humanity, combined with the heroic spirit, and the ever present human susceptibility to weakness.
Old Roman ruins. Trier, Germany
Here's another good English band for you: The Kaiser Chiefs. Whenever I go to a concert or a club, I always stuff tissue in my ears. Friends still think it's odd (even though they never notice), but hearing for my whole life is important to me, and it actually makes the sound better, because you can hear it.
Traditional German store fronts. Trier, Germany
Crackers - England has the most useless Christmas tradition I've ever seen. Everywhere you have dinner, they put these "Crackers" on the table. Everyone holds an end, and they snap when you pull them apart. Then there's a paper crown inside, and a worthless two cent gimmick. What a waste of resources.
Schlumberger Company Christmas Party
One thing that Schlumberger does that really is nice, is they have more regular company lunches, parties, etc. I imagine all the legal entanglements with govt' contractors like Northrop Grumman prevent that, but I think they're good for company spirit.
And I'm totally wrapped up with my project. Over the last couple months, I've been training up my replacement, and she's been doing a stellar job coming up to speed, taking over initiatives, etc. In addition to knowing that what i've started will continue under good hands, it's freed me up the last couple weeks to do some work on my thesis.
The scary part is... I've actually been enjoying writing my thesis. I had to go through three framework revisions and outlines before I found a framework that was aligned with my natural writing style. But once I found that, writing has been a breeze. I've enjoyed stepping back from continual implementation long enough to evaluate what has really been happening.
This step back for evaluation has also been good, because it's caused me to follow up on some things I had assumed, but needed to verify before putting in my thesis. Twice, the results were surprising, and the follow up was worthwhile. It's so easy to get caught up in the opportunities for improvement ahead, that it's easy to neglect (to your detriment) the initiatives you've already undertaken. There has certainly been value brought to the company from me stepping back to review things at this point.
It's also been valuable reviewing the six months with my manager in Supply Chain, and the Mfg Manager above him who hired me. The SC manager started just a couple weeks before me, immediately driving strong to change the place. Our candid exchange of perceptions and judgments, and how they changed over time, was really valuable. I've learned a lot from my manager while here... most of it in positive lessons on how to do things right... even though it took me some time to see it all play out.
And so ends my time in England, and my time with Schlumberger. Good friends, good productivity, and good learning.