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This and That - Blog Blurb
Diary-Mentality. A webpage may sometimes lack "personality." In the age of computers (not of Aquarius) more than ever the usage of uniform text fonts results in a uniform face, less and less individual appearance. To change that, pictures can be of great help, providing a relaxing element among plain text and catching the eye right away. What has always attracted me were those images that would mix fact and fiction, visually creating an alternate reality, consisting of a combination of elements that would play together using a surprise or simply joke approach. On the other hand Blogs, those web logs about this and that (one-way chatting about not too important little things), are "the" Internet art form to share thoughts anonymously or just write stuff off your soul, instead of building up a communication back log typically late at night, when there are not too many around for talking rather than just sleeping. Especially if one of your hobbies is reading, another may become compiling the gained information into new formats and weighting its relevance using a personal comment or reflection like a columnist, and as a side effect preventing to forget also those little things that had been once relevant to yourself. It may on the one hand be some "Diary-Mentality," writing your own history, or simply having to do with age, starting to look back more often when there is more to look back at. When it may happen to you that around 16 years have passed until a Business trip would bring you close to some relatives again, this is one of those things when you start thinking about age. Taking time to lean back and think about things and lessons learned from them. As the saying goes, "Haste makes waste" anyway. And then you may find one way or the other to digest these resulting impressions, here is one. This time writing a Blog about Blogs. Strange, isn't it?
Managing Life in Today's World - Gallery of Thoughts
Business Language. After discussing the background of above mentioned pictures and the concept that may stand behind a Blog itself, let me add some reflections on today's world, again trying to mix the "unmixable," phrases from Business Life with daily questions and maybe at first glance banal, but in the end not unimportant situations. Looking at photographs of preferably happy children in product advertisements, promising similar situations as a side effect of purchase, or just in photo albums, also online ones found on the web, makes me sometimes think about values in life as such, about the effort behind maintaining a family structure aiming at this happiness and what it needs to achieve the same feeling inside, behind the always shining facade to your personal self once and for all not "You failed" but "Well done (this time at least)."
The Gift of Time. One aspect is that you got to be there for each other and give one of the biggest presents nowadays, which is "time." Plain time to be there for each other in good or bad, easily said, the harder actually done. For what is the service level of a family or friendship? Are we on call 24/7 or just from 7 to 11 like opening hours of some gas station? And here we go a little deeper this time... What is the answer to the ultimate quest, comparable with the search for the Grail by the Knights of the Round Table or the Knights Templar, captivated and extinguished on Friday the 13th (back then in October 1307), synonym of bad luck since: What is the meaning of life? To be stronger, faster response times, don't miss new developments, be up to date? Questions over questions, old ones, phrased in new language only.
Handshake Contract. here must have been a time where the word "please" used to be enough, no contract necessary when getting married, as part of risk management to be prepared for the eventuality of later divorce. Just believing in the promise made in front of the Lord to stay together "until death does us part." Old fashioned, isn't it? No escape from the maintenance contract, no legal back door, hidden way out from the beginning. That reminds me of writing some of my first computer programs, a confirmation prompt – yes or no - often standard before executing processes or calculation, well let's say running them which sounds less cruel. What I did was building in another step, having the question "Are you sure?" being followed by the next one "Are you sure that you are sure?" to double confirm something critical.
Self Motivation Skills. Still, there may be disillusion as expressed in the Meat Loaf song "(I can see) Paradise by the Dashboard Light" with the plea: "I swore that I would love you to the end of time! So now I'm praying for the end of time..." What is more critical or crucial than living together in harmony? There are no "problems" with human interaction, just challenges screaming for better relationship management. These days an increasing number of people do not practice religion any more, but a lot of them still pay visits to esoteric shops to somehow please this inner uncertainty and attraction to the supernatural. Parallel, there are offers of motivational work shops, a big business nowadays, and trainings on one of the most effective tools: Self-Motivation. Is the world mainly materialistic or spiritual, and what can we get out of either one?
Sometimes you may feel like exploring new ground... or like hiding.
Big Brother's Shoe Phone. In 1984 George Orwell's fantasies, written in 1948 about a world in which "Big Brother is watching you," were dug out and re-released. Reading the book then, the described situations felt strange to me, so far away, somehow grotesque or "Kafkaesque," just not familiar and in sync with life then. Now we are closer to that fiction, thinking of cell phones all over, which can be (mis-)used to locate people nearly everywhere, and in much better shape than the old "Star Treck" communicator or shoe phone of the "Get Smart" agents in those late 1960's/early 1970's Sci-Fi TV shows. Living in a world where telecommunication connectivity and faster transportation brings us closer together requires more focus on intercultural aspects as well. How do we bridge differences between cultures and instead regard them as valuable additions to each other, rather than standardizing and globalizing everything or giving up parts of former identities for going with the herd in these - more and more technology dominated - times? There is computer control and microchips hidden in almost everything from cars to washing machines (which we were made aware of the more as part of the year 2000 software adaptation, simply referred to as Y2K projects). We regard access control by fingerprint or Iris formerly only known from James Bond- or "Spy Hard"-type movies as not too unusual any more.
Electro-Smog Pollution. And the old biblical Revelations prophecy about the number 666 seems to be all over in form of Barcode labels in the supermarket (if the 3 barcode separation lines really stand for a 6 each) and the Internet (if www in Hebrew really means 666). These days a major Credit Card company advertised the claim "Cash is stone age," using the Flintstones cartoon characters for support. And thinking of the age of online transactions and plastic money there is only a small step to the old saying "plastic food for plastic people," then meant as a parody on fast food, and these days with a more serious background when we don't even take time for preparing healthy meals. Again, some try to compensate resulting decay with new chemical or technical development. Civilization diseases may appear and while we are aware that strong radiation (as from the first micro waves) or magnetic fields (as from telephones resting nearby on the night stand) are not too healthy, and may up to stimulate extraordinary cell growth, we of course tend to ignore the possibility that increasing electro smog in the end may be one of the factors causing a higher cancer rate. A situation known better to those heavily smoking and hoping to be among the spared ones in the end, rather not ending like a colleague of my grandfather, who apologized for teasing the non smokers, in the hospital with lunge cancer then. Gambling becomes very bad news, if your life is at stake. But isn't there so much new development on the medical sector to help us out? Is it frightening? No, this is progress, going along with astonishingly positive revolutions in medical treatment and surgery, which as a side effect is overaging the so called civilized countries, but in the end every big blessing has a course, hasn't it?
Delay, I must Say. Time Management is another catch line these days. A way to more efficiently deal with challenges in terms of addressing and resolving within an adequate piece of time, a portion of your life. Do you have a minute, only a quick question, it will take just a moment… Those typical excuses to steal time vary from legitimate to unnecessary. On the one hand there must be always space for the unexpected, improvisation in exceptional situations. While on the other hand there are many things that could be just properly laid out in planning and pre-defined in their approach, to reduce the stress-factor when they (re-)appear. No straight answer, inconsistency and contradiction, as usual. It may feel like a sorry with a but, like a thank you note with a hidden complaint, like a system without a reason behind. In order to cover additional tasks it is often necessary not only to delegate, shift to someone else, but make yourself redundant in a way that things properly function without your supervision, control and interference, without completely losing connection though. Being committed to a quality aspect can be very helpful here, but it is as important to make meaningful compromises.
Cost of Hesitation. Varying from one situation to another, there is no overall recipe on how to invest your time. There may be ground rules to help improve your own approach, but there is no magic trick, no one size fits all here. To have an eye for critical situations wants to be well trained. But there is more than meets the eye, there is more behind it. The entirety of logical influences, a good or bad feeling on the matter, the guts to take a decision at all - and then stick to it. And then what counts is again the individual and the particular decision. In theory at least.
Waiting for a table at Blue Water Grill... patience rules in life.
When in a Hurry, Slow Down. One day I saw an advertisement for a time management seminar with the startling title "Wenn Du es eilig hast, gehe langsam - When you are in a hurry, walk slowly." Have you ever noticed that when you are nervously pushing things against all odds, they may take twice as long? For in the end it is not a matter of how fast you do things, but how efficiently. Especially avoid the cost of hastily made, wrong decisions, as related to my favourite motto: "Haste makes waste!" Or as I like to explain once in a while, when pushing back on some last-minute notification: "In Austria we may do things more slowly, but for that we start earlier!" Planning and foresight rules. Do all things last minute and your last minute will come sooner than you think! Now I have to go for I am in a hurry...
Drowning in Progress. Finally, it is easy to criticize, overeasy like an egg, but the more challenging to help motivate each other to find the best common practice to deal with our changing environment, evolving or "evoluting" faster and faster away from the known and familiar. Being a backbone in a changing world and giving a grip to others is a good motivation for life these days. Support for those inner screams for help of people that feel they are drowning in a torrential river of changes and require a navigation aid among new developments, also referred to sometimes as improvements to make life easier. Like the Internet. Period. (For now.)
Change Management and Identification of the Critical Path
Leaving the Comfort Zone. There is this old song "I'm going through changes" and it comes to my mind when summing up good and bad things experienced, progress in life, as some may call it. Living in a nutshell is what not too many may ultimately be happy with. Through contacts and advertisements we come to want more (no double 'o' here), yearn for the far away vacation destination and better place for living. One of the first steps there, leaving your hometown, hurts. The roots behind and the unknown in front. Will I ever come back, permanently, or remain in banishment forever? Questions shooting through your head, saddened when occasionally hearing one of those old songs, we had hummed together at a time when a song meant orientation to an outside tough and inside so insecure half grown up. Giving a new home to your family as these early day settlers going west or wherever they expected new hope, a chance to make a better living. Possibly falsely idealizing the time back then with all its own conflict, grief, pettiness, just as it later sometimes happens that we make too much effort around a little thing, not worthy the excitement, as we try to explain to others and ourselves, the most. Friendships too little looked after, in a life's focus on family and work, instead of going out to meet rather taking the kids to bed and later watching a DVD with movie heroes that do what we can't as part of our social constraints. Although we try more and more. Like trying to question things in order to understand them, just spontaneously share a thought (a privilege only a jester had in the old-old days), and on the way to a committed goal avoid resistance through compromise and improvisation in one way or the other (if possible not by using a Magnum .44).
Identification of Essentials. Or just thinking it over again, picking up a beer, half the size we used to order, a brand they do not sell any more in our old favourite place, which we haven't visited in years with friends that are not around any more. Listening to one of these old tunes nowadays, we may hear a comment like midlife crisis, as if we hadn't had one all of our life. In those quiet moments we need to gather new strength to be a good example to and have more patience with the kids. Looking up, although when asked, where they got this habit from to tell bad jokes, giving your name away as well. In a struggle to balance showing the right things and having fun at the same time, which makes it hard sometimes though to stop and just go to bed. One of the things that are most important, and I have seen that being a kid myself, is having an intact family. We may have strong disagreements but they may never lead to a point where we give up this important part of our lives, this reason for living, too proud to go back and look at each other after some discussion, only to end up broken and lonesome later, miss what we had had already. However, in times of constant argument and complaint, it becomes understandable that families break apart. There is always a bargain, whether it is better for the kids to have an intact family on the paper, or protecting them from experiencing constant fight in the own four walls. As they say, "Besser ein Ende mit Schrecken als ein Schrecken ohne Ende - a horrible ending is better than endless horror!" And yes, sometimes a second chance comes along in life. Not always, but sometimes. In case you read this, give it a try to plan. Reflection is necessary to identify the essential, the critical path you should not leave on the way in this project, was it called life? But then plan on holding on to the important things in your life and, if it comes to it, rather let go of the others. So simple. How many lines did it take this time to get to it?
Switching off the Empathy Center. It is simple to come to the conclusion to hold on to the important things in life, for sure. Not so easy may be sometimes to find a way to identify the most important ones from less important alternatives, in order to focus on them. That struggle can be a painful experience. A colleague asked me, whether anything was emotionally bothering me and I wanted to talk about it. I said no. In return, I received the advice to turn off my empathy center. First time I heard that I had one! So I did a short investigation on the topic and the result of my information gathering is the following reflection (another one). As I learned, empathy is the ability to feel the emotion of another person. With some people it is more developed, sometimes they are even consulted by others as a medium to trust and pour your heart out. With others it is less intense, they are less sympathetic up to rather cold. The empathy center, which I had been recommended to turn off, is physically located in the brain, apparently not in the heart. Turning it off (after finding the right switch) is maybe a way to see things more matter-of-factly, undramatically and unemotionally. A form of emotional self-protection so to speak, which some say they achieve by purging certain information, trying to eliminate memories of a specific time period, also good ones. But I don't think that I want to do that. Maybe a list of pros and cons is a good idea again, looking at alternatives in life from a more objective level as part of a more systematic approach. Although pros may include the achievement of happiness and cons the affect on others as well as uncertainty, organizational difficulties and the struggle to overcome all of them. The answer remains hidden deep inside your own self, just like hope. Hope that time will tell and strength will allow us to find the best way. If we are strong enough to go for it and don't break down half way... again.