Thursday, 28 August 2008

Managers say the darndest things

There is a really useful website titled Bullshit Bingo that is a very good concentration aid during management meetings. The web page produces a five by five grid of randomly chosen meaningless management metaphors ( like "traction", "vertical market", "horizontal market", "hardball", and "leveraging core competence"). You listen out during the meeting and every time one of the phrases is used by someone, you cross it off. When you get a line of five together, you jump up and shout "Bullshit!!" (or not, if you want to keep your job!). It really improves your listening skills.

In a company I once worked for someone I knew actually got a line during a meeting, so it is possible. Other choice examples were when the CEO, in a 20 minute recorded telephone message to employees used the phrase "Moving Forward" a total of 39 times (someone was actually counting!). A couple of other hilarious comments were:

... this new product will really help us to move up the food chain of value-added ...


and my favourite:

The future is now.


If any readers have similar hilarious examples of the darndest things managers say, then please submit a comment.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

No Swimming

Canal Walk, Indianapolis, 27th Jan 2008.

On business in Indy in January, we had a weekend to kill. The folks at the office recommended we visit Chicago, but neither of the two of us, mad Englishmen that we were, fancied a round trip of seven hours in the car to see a city where we wouldn't know where to go. So we found in the hotel room a guide that said the Canal walk in Indianapolis is very beautiful, so we decided to give it a try. Alas, it had been drained for the winter, making the warning in this picture somewhat superfluous. Fancy diving into that!

I shall be out there again next week, and I am sure the canal walk will be beautiful, but I doubt if I'll get to see it, as I'll just be there during the week :-(

And here's the proof that I was really there! Such a lovely picture it might have been!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Archbishop of Canterbury on Gay relationships

From a letter from 2001 between the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams and Dr. Deborah Pitt, a psychiatrist and evangelical Christian:

"By the end of the 1980s I had definitely come to the conclusion that scripture was not dealing with the predicament of persons whom we should recognise as homosexual by nature. I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness."

Good for him!! I agree with the above 100%.

Apparently the Church of England is going to split on this issue, and some Conservative Christians say Williams's position is now "untenable".

Some Conservative Christians need to go back to the Bible and read Matthew 7:1-2.

Some Conservative Christians need to understand the truly horrific abominations that are perpetrated on innocent children, not by homosexuals, but mostly by close family members, and maybe they'd get a better perspective on what's really going on in the world, and not spend so much energy condemning people for an orientation they did not choose.

And if, dear reader, you want to know more about what I'm saying in the last paragraph, and you want to have that better perspective, and if, (most importantly) you have a strong stomach, then read about the horrific abuse that Sophie Andrews endured from her adopted father, in her book Scarred: How One Girl Triumphed Over Shocking Abuse and Self-harm

I am serious - you need a strong stomach, and also most likely a box of tissues to equip you for reading this book.

Continuing his Work

This was a poem I wrote about a year after my father died, in his memory. The image of the half-mown lawn was one I had long intended to write into a poem, but the recollection prompted by the incident at the end was the spark that got the poem written & thus a sad memory got sandwiched between two happy ones.

"Please, Daddy, can you mend my coach?"
Me. Aged five. At the airport. Clutching broken toy.
You, ever the patient father,
Tired from your business trip, complied.

Thirty years passed, and then you died,
Mowing the lawn. For three days I stared out of the window
At the mower's slanting swathe across the uncut grass,
Marking your last path.
Then started it up again, continuing your work.
Felt your last moments in the vibrations of the handle.
Knew your last conscious act;
To halt the mower and save your precious lawn.

Then yesterday, you came to me again,
Through my five-year-old's broken toy,
And for a few moments that spanned the gap of all those years,
I solemnly enacted the sacrament
Of mending a plastic ambulance.

Friday, 1 August 2008

INTP or INFP ? A poem reveals all!

Over at Willful Grace there is a posting about the Myers-Briggs personality profile. As Grace, who is an INFP points out, there are some good things about INFP's (like being very caring etc), and some things that really suck, like having a "subtle tragic motif" running through their lives.

Well, on reading about it, I went and took a Myers-Briggs test, and answered a lot of impertinent Yes/No type questions, and lo and behold, I also came out as an INFP! (Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perceiving).

I guess my "tragic motif" is my penchant for sad music as exemplified in these posts:

No easy fixes, but we can try
Funeral songs ( choosing a song for my own funeral?! How tragic is that ???)
Hunger for Seriousness

But I also seem to remember that I took an M-B test around 20 years ago, during a management course, and came out as INTP (T = "thinking"), reflecting my analytical, scientific, rational nature as opposed to the touchy-feely-liking-depressing-music-caring side.

Perhaps the explanation is in the thoughts I had when taking the questionnaire this time. Rather than straight

Yes No

as the options for answer, what I wanted was:

Yes Meh No

as for many of the questions I couldn't make a firm preference and reasoned it would depend on the situation.

So does the ambiguity between Thinking and Feeling mean that my personality is as follows:

Thinking ................. *Meh* ................. Feeling ?

(emphasis points to my position on the scale).

I don't think so. I care passionately about both sides - the rational scientist, and the feeling, caring person with an embedded minor key. It wasn't really a "I don't care" response, but a desire to push both buttons.

An exercise I once did in a creative writing workshop reveals that these two parts of me are in dynamic balance, and make me what I am. We were told first to draw ourselves "as a tree", trying to embody our character in the drawing. Then we had to write down "I am the tree, and I ..." and carry on writing a poem or piece of prose, that was inspired by the drawing. The tree I drew was quite bizarre (I'm not a good artist!) The left side was angular and geometric, and the right side was curving and wayward, symbolising one the one side, my scientific, rational nature, and on the other, my creative, and artistic nature. The poem followed quite easily from it. The exercise told me a lot about myself, and I was pretty comfortable with it. Here's the poem I wrote:

Tree Psalm

I am the tree
and I have logic engraved in my branches
Around me is evidence
that I assimilate;
making deductions,
forming ordered conclusions.

I am the tree
And my leaves are blobs
Slapped on by impressionists
On emotion's whim
Around me are patterns
Inciting dance
To enhance

I am the tree
and my bark is etched with parallel lines.
Around me is peace
in the perfection of symmetry
joy in the rightness
of orthogonality

I am the tree
and the waves of my roots
are strewn to the mood of the moment
free to explore
where logic loses itself

I am the tree
And when my diverse natures merge

When logic and love are one

I am the Creator.

... well, it's said that INFP's are supposed to be talented writers. Let the reader be the judge of that (only if your MB profile ends in a J).

But the thing that pleases me most about the poem was that I took it to a poetry writers group, whose leader was a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary. Despite all that, he didn't know the meaning of the word "Orthogonality". One up for us scientists!