December 2007

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December 16, 2007 O #

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.

August Rush

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.

December 19, 2007 W #

Chasing the Sunset

I always like flying into the sunset. The cloud formations are beautiful enough to make flying worth it just for the view, and perpetuating the sunset for hours is just relaxing. My flight from London to Boston spent the last few hours with the sunset, and now my flight into Colorado is again chasing the sunset.

It reminds me of Lake Tahoe. I spent the summer of 2000 in Reno, and from May to December of 2001 in Reno. I loved driving up to Lake Tahoe after work to go mtn biking, and savoring the sunset before driving back down to the desert. Lake Tahoe / Reno consistently had the most beautiful sunsets of any place I've ever lived.

One of my good friends from Reno, April Meservy, wrote this song around that time, which always reminds me of my time there - Canyon - Appropriately, she titled the demo album "Somewhere Between Sunsets."

December 26, 2007 T #

Bunking Bronco

It's always good stopping into home for a week.

My Mom took the time to scan our old pictures into the computer. It's fun looking back.

"Bunking Bronco "

"Bunking Bronco" used to be our favorite game when my Dad came home.That's me toppling over the top, Greg in the strong position, and Justin with a heel hook around my Dad's nose.

And this is Brandon's first fish, caught at a pond nearby in Michigan. Justin barefoot and tan, Greg managing the training of the new fisherman, me with the crazy shorts and socks pulled up, and Brandon beaming with his new accomplishment.

December 27, 2007 W #

On my way to Dubai, and then Pakistan

Liberty Fighting Against Terror

At this moment, I'm sitting in a café in the airport at Amman, Jordan, where I was watching the Jordanian news, without sound.

A commercial came on, with a few cars charging through a mid-eastern town, guns flying out the windows. The cars stopped, and a variety of typical Islamic terror dressed guys step out, shooting up the town, kicking around the kids, while the town folk run for cover. Then a religiously dressed Muslim walks up to them, calm, bold, and alone, in the middle of the street. The gang holds their guns on him, not firing, but caught off guard by this guy who isn't running afraid. Moments later, other Islamic men calmly walk out from the doors behind him, and join him in calm defiance - like Martin Luther King Jr. They join arms, and the terrorists cower back as they march forward together; apparently overcoming the terrorists with their peaceful defiance. There wasn't any sound, and I certainly couldn't read any of the Arabic, but a web address came up underneath the Arabic script: www.noterror.info.

Terror Fighting Against Liberty

Minutes after that commercial, I turned my head to the other corner, and saw the BBC Headline, also without sound: "BENAZIR BHUTTO KILLED: Opposition leader killed in suicide blast." 15 others were killed, and I just now saw text saying she was shot in the neck just before the bombing. It's still scrolling at this moment, 5:45pm here in Amman. Benazir Bhuto, what little I know of her, comes from a strong political heritage in Pakistan, was twice the Prime Minister before Musharraf took power, and has been an influential player in the upcoming elections this January.

The Ongoing Conflict

The stark contrast brought forth in the two corners of this café in the Amman airport seems symptomatic of the reality of the struggle at hand. It is a very real, very present struggle between those who believe in liberty, and those who seek to militantly impose their own will upon others. It's not a religion that is intrinsically destructive. It's the mentality that opposes liberty (which is presently embodied in a religion) that is destructive.

I praise the ideal portrayed in the www.noterror.info commercial. We need people striving for this ideal, even when the outcome isn't peaceful victory as in the commercial, but a deadly bombing as just occurred in Pakistan. We need people brave enough to stand up, and risk their lives - because the really are risking their lives - and they may loose their lives, as Benazir Bhutto just did. But they're relying on others to carry the ideal of peaceful liberty forward, so though they may loose their lives individually, we will not loose our liberty and lives collectively.

I was glad to see this commercial played in an Islamic country, on an apparently mainstream news channel. America and our western allies cannot conquer terror alone. We can fight it, but I don't believe we can entirely defeat it, alone. We need Islam to fight terror within itself. Even vehemently anti-abortion Christian conservatives lash out against fanatics who terrorize abortion clinics, and thus the religion keeps itself in check. The world needs Islam to likewise keep its extreme factions in check, and I praise efforts like this commercial on Islamic turf.

I thank the US Troops and Security Agencies who have successfully kept Terror off our own soil, unlike London and other Western areas, and especially countries where Terror is an internally derived weapon. Islamic Terror is still trying to militantly destroy Western prosperity and liberty. In the short term, we cannot let up our defenses against Terrorist efforts, or they will destroy the liberty we have earned.

However, I believe that militant conflict will never lead to anything more than short term solutions. I believe the long term solution must come through economic integration. I want to understand these countries so that, in whatever way I can, I can support the economic integration of the populations of these countries, so we don't have to continue sending soldiers to fight the short term wars waged by militant factions. Christianity evolved from a religion with death wielding factions (Crusades) into a religion dominated by the ideal of Liberty (American Christianity). Islam is going through a period with militant factions, and the religion as a whole needs to likewise evolve past this militarism. I believe Liberty is the optimal state for human association, and because of this, I believe the good people of Islam can overcome their oppressive factions. I believe through the proliferation of Liberty, humanity will come closer to our optimal conditions for living fulfilling lives.

This is why I'm interested to see cities such as Dubai, and visit the country of Pakistan. Dubai has become a global business center, leading the Arabic world in economic ties with the West. Pakistan, as the 7th most populous country with 165 million people, with over 80 million under 20, has a growing middle class and economy. 80% of Pakistan's oil comes from outside the country, so their governing powers can most effectively increase their own power by developing the global economic competitiveness of their country. I believe this is the soil upon which the long term war with Terror can be fought and won. However, as demonstrated minutes ago, Terror is still a destabilizing force.

This is a personal web page. Things expressed here do not represent the position of my employer.

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