Here’s the third installment of my little story, the first and second of which are here and here, respectively. As before, the term “X” is used in place for a certain real name.
Our little company was now under new management. In the months to follow, our respective jobs remained more or less the same, but the interactions within the office grew both peculiar and contrived.
For example, in the arsenal of psychology tools our new owner “X” pulled from his new age bag of tricks, there was something he called “pacing”. During these pacing exercises, everyone in the company would stop whatever they were doing (to the chagrin, I imagine, of customers calling in to place orders or get technical support) and pair off, two by two, and face one another while sitting in chairs. One person would speak, and the other person would “pace” them – - that is to say, the silent person would mimic the body language of the other party. This was not to be done in a mocking way, but instead was assumed to build empathy with the other person. (more…)
(I dedicate the following post to Iggy, who has made service to dogs an important part of his own life): For over a week, I was alone. This is highly unusual, since my life is greatly intertwined with the lives of my wife and children, so I feel somewhat at sea during the extraordinary rare times that I’m on my own. However, over the course of July 3-4, we all got back together, one by one.
Upon picking up my little girl from a week-long gymnastics camp in rural southeastern California, the reunited family began driving north again. My wife got a text message from another parent who had left the same camp and was headed south through the Mojave desert. They saw in the desert a dog walking aimlessly. Since the dad driving the car is, like me, a tender-hearted sort, he pulled over, and the dog immediately ran under the car for shade. They got him a bowl of water, and he lapped it up. (more…)
I’ve mentioned my fondness for the late painting teacher Bob Ross in the past, but it’s time to devote a post to him. The irony is that I can barely draw a stick figure. I have no interest in creating art, but I’ve always found watching artists at work to be supremely comforting. As guilty pleasures go, it’s probably fairly harmless. (more…)
I’ve lived in Palo Alto since the summer of 1984 (it only just occurred to me typing these words that this is my 30th anniversary here – maybe I should get a cake or something). Think about how much the world has changed since then; in 1984: (more…)
“So how come you never buy stocks?”
That was the question “ryans” asked me at SlopeFest. I tried to offer an answer, but I didn’t have a good one. I’ve thought about this a lot over the years. Some possible answers might include….. (more…)
“Well, you see Willard . . . In this war, things get confused out there, power, ideals, the old morality, practical military necessity. But out there with these natives, it must be a temptation to be god. Because there’s a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. Every man has got a breaking point. You and I have one. Walter Kurtz has reached his. And very obviously, he has gone insane.”
Many of you probably heard the news yesterday that teachers unions received a nasty (and well-deserved) blow from the Los Angeles Superior Court. I grew up in a fiercely anti-union household, and as a child, if I did a poor job making my bed, my mother would scowl and angrily say, “Union Worker!” I knew at that point I damned well better do the bed properly.
Mercifully, as a businessman, I never had to deal with any union issues. I did, however, at one point have to grapple with a salaried employee who, years into her employment, decided to get cute and threaten a state case to retrieve overtime wages based on the idea her job should have been an hourly one. She did not prevail. But it deepened my dislike for any prospective interference of the state into such matters. (more…)