Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reminiscing about New Orleans

New Orleans is a sexy place if you're into music, food, and have an active imagination. It's so Gatsby-like. I can relate to Daisy as crazy as she was... N'Orleans makes it easy to live in the moment, because no matter how fast you peddle, you don't get anywhere. The only way to advance is to accidentally run into the right person. And then play hard-to-get because that person also wants to "meet the right person". Then you got to be street-wise or you'll lose it all in a heartbeat. Good training ground for life.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

True nature of existence

If you would like to reveal the true nature of existence you have to move away from your familiar ways of perceiving reality, for example knowing that opposites such as meaning and no meaning dwell in the same moment, while for the mind it is always either this or that.

If you need to have a confirmation that there is absolute meaning in order to have a meaning in your life, your life is meaningless.

If you do not have a space left in your moment to wonder about meaning because it is filled by your experience, your life is meaningful.

What Not To Do At Meetings...

From Fast Company: "Don't Meet Like That..."

Status Update staff meetings are best done one-on-one, it's a waste of other's time; besides, they are boring and ineffective. What to do instead? Try these ideas:
  1. What are the key outcomes we are on the hook for? How will know if we are achieving them?
  2. What are the risks we face? What should we do about them?
  3. What is the data we wish we knew about our business? Is it knowable? How will we find it? If it is not knowable, what scenarios should we plan for?
  4. What stupid stuff are we doing? I would have this as a staff topic at least twice a year. Grit always creeps into the gears, and old habits lose their usefulness. Question them.
  5. What has changed in our market, business, or customers’ markets and businesses? What does that mean for our plans?
  6. What process or infrastructure improvement would have the biggest impact on our ability to deliver?
  7. What has become harder and easier in our work and business? What should we consider changing?
  8. What should we all be learning about this year in addition to our core work? What do we want to be better at, or smarter about next year?
  9. Who in our organization has done something remarkable that we should recognize?
  10. Who are the stars in our organization that we should be investing in developing?
  11. Who/what groups should our team be communicating, networking, or improving our brand with? How should we do it?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Raw Orange and Blueberry Cheesecake

This looks so yummy - may not be low in calories, but most likely healthy enough for a dessert.
No dairy, no flour - I have to try it just out of curiosity...
Find recipe here.
Click here for more raw dessert recipes.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Art of Small Talk

I am comfortable in silence, and I have no trouble connecting with people, but I really wish I had the skills to be able to talk to anyone, anytime. Fortuitously, I came across a book this morning about "small talk" - something in which I could use some improvement.This is what I learned:

1) Small talk is the gateway to deep talk which is intuitively obvious, but something I did not realize before.

2) There is a technique that has worked on me from people expert in small talk: make eye contact, smile, exchange a greeting including names, remember the other person's name (hard for me as I am a visual person), ask open-ended questions such as, "What do you think about...?"

3) Use an ice-breaker such as, "How did you become interested in...?" or "What would you do if you weren't doing what you do...?"

To sum up, be a good listener and show an interest in the other person's ideas.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I have a wish to go to London, Paris, Prague - what to wear?

I decided today to work on my positive thinking. Lately, I have been reading the news too much and it is depressing. Now I want some of my "innocence" back - at least, I want to  keep my hopes and dreams alive. To start, I decided to go through my closet and start downsizing. Then, when I discovered that my favorite outfits have yet to be worn, let alone enjoyed, I decided to model them so I wouldn't forget to keep my dreams alive. 

Positive living

Whenever you are given an ultimatum that says, 
"if you don't do this, then we will have to do such and such," 
it's best that you just let it go and move on. 
Otherwise there is always another, "and this, and this, and this"...

-- Esther Hicks

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Republic (Plato)

From a review of the Republic (Plato):
The Republic is a dramatic dialogue, not a treatise... of the city-soul analogy.

On Justice

Socrates concludes that justice includes helping friends, but says the just man would never do harm to anybody (not even an enemy).

Socrates asks whether the ruler who makes a mistake by making a law that lessens the people's well-being, is still a ruler according to Thrasymachus' understanding of justice and injustice: "justice is what is advantageous to the stronger, while injustice is to one's own profit and advantage".

...Socrates' assertion that an artist (ruler) is someone who does his job well, and is a knower of some art, which allows him to complete the job well. 

Accordingly, Socrates defines justice as "working at that which he is naturally best suited," and "to do one's own business and not to be a busybody" (433a-433b) and goes on to say that justice sustains and perfects the other three cardinal virtues: Temperance, Wisdom, and Courage, and that justice is the cause and condition of their existence. Socrates does not include justice as a virtue within the city, suggesting that justice does not exist within the human soul either, rather it is the result of a "well ordered" soul. A result of this conception of justice separates people into three types; that of the soldier, that of the producer, and that of a ruler. If a ruler can create just laws, and if the warriors can carry out the orders of the rulers, and if the producers can obey this authority, then a society will be just.

I think that the difficulty is in knowing exactly just what is a "just law".

I believe that humans will eventually learn how to control an enemy without harming the enemy - it will be an art - the art of survival.

The dialectical forms of government[edit]

While Plato spends much of the Republic having Socrates narrate a conversation about the city he founds with Glaucon and Adeimantus "in speech", the discussion eventually turns to considering four regimes that exist in reality and tend to degrade successively into each other: timocracy, oligarchy (also called plutocracy), democracy and tyranny (also called despotism).
Socrates defines a timocracy as a government of people who love rule and honor. Socrates argues that the timocracy emerges from aristocracy due to a civil war breaking out among the ruling class and the majority. Over time, many more births will occur to people who lack aristocratic, guardian qualities, slowly drawing the populace away from knowledge, music, poetry and "guardian education", toward money-making and the acquisition of possessions. This civil war between those who value wisdom and those who value material acquisition will be in struggle until a just medium is compromised. The timocracy values war insofar as it satisfies a love of victory and honor. The timocratic man loves physical training, and hunting, and values his abilities in warfare.
Temptations create a confusion between economic status and honor which is responsible for the emergence of oligarchy. In Book VIII, Socrates suggests that wealth will not help a pilot to navigate his ship, as his concerns will be directed centrally toward increasing his wealth by whatever means, rather than seeking out wisdom or honor. The injustice of economic disparity divides the rich and the poor, thus creating an environment for criminals and beggars to emerge. The rich are constantly plotting against the poor and vice versa. The oligarchic constitution is based on property assessment and wealth qualification. Unlike the timocracy, oligarchs are also unable to fight war, since they do not wish to arm the majority for fear of their rising up against them (even moreso fearing the majority than their enemies), nor do they seem to pay mercenaries, since they are reluctant to spend money.
As this socioeconomic divide grows, so do tensions between social classes. From the conflicts arising out of such tensions, the poor majority overthrow the wealthy minority, and democracy replaces the oligarchy preceding it. The poor overthrow the oligarchs and grant liberties and freedoms to citizens, creating a most variegated collection of peoples under a "supermarket" of constitutions. A visually appealing demagogue is soon lifted up to protect the interests of the lower class. However, with too much freedom, no requirements for anyone to rule, and having no interest in assessing the background of their rulers (other than honoring such people because they wish the majority well) the people become easily persuaded by such a demagogue's appeal to try and satisfy people's common, base, and unnecessary pleasures.
The excessive freedoms granted to the citizens of a democracy ultimately leads to a tyranny, the furthest regressed type of government. These freedoms divide the people into three socioeconomic classes: the dominating class, the elites and the commoners. Tensions between the dominating class and the elites cause the commoners to seek out protection of their democratic liberties. They invest all their power in their democratic demagogue, who, in turn, becomes corrupted by the power and becomes a tyrant with a small entourage of his supporters for protection and absolute control of his people.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Toys from children's artwork

I love these toys designed from children's artwork! There are a few companies which do this: source1; source2.

Yoko Ono

"Sometimes it's better not to wish and just let the universe take care of it."

Yoko Ono

Discontinued paradigm shift in management

"Now, whether the business schools or managers want it or not, a discontinuous paradigm shift in management is happening. It’s a shift from a firm-centric view of the world in which the firm’s purpose is to make money for its shareholders to a customer-centric view of the world in which the purpose of the firm is to add value for customers."
The shift in management is a shift from shareholder capitalism in which the firm revolves around the manager to a customer capitalism in which the firm revolves around the customer. No amount of tweaking the shareholder model of capitalism can fix it, because the goal of making money for shareholder entails a set of management practices—hierarchical bureaucracy—that are inherently incompatible with the goal of delighting customers: each tweak entails a new set of problems, that sooner or later lead the firm to regress back to the norm of hierarchical bureaucracy."
(Source: Steve Denning)

This is one of the challenges the public service sectors (city, state, federal governments) is facing right now - how to respond to the wants and needs of its customers (the American people), and maintain its organizational status as a hierarchical bureaucracy. Governments were initially meant to be regulators of policy, but now that many functions and tasks are automated, operations are undergoing a transformation. I propose adding values as opposed to adding more policies.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Healthier Eating

Today, I decided to improve upon my already healthy eating habits: I will now embrace eating vegetables and fruits (at least 90%).  I have also started to see the first sprouts of my vegetable garden and the first grapes and cherries on our fruit trees.  I am wondering how tofu fares in raw food diets and whether it is desirable to ingest soy milk. But most importantly, now that I have made a mental/emotional commitment to this endeavor, I am concerned about protein. So I found this list of protein sources for raw foodists:

1. Hemp Seeds
2. Goji Berries
3. Sprouts
4. Spirulian/Blue Green Algae
5. Pure Synergy
6. Maca
7. Avocado
8. Figs
9. Greens and veggies
10. Sprouted Nuts and Seeds

Indian Mango Dal

  • 1 cup yellow lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 mangoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Place lentils in a colander and rinse until the water runs clear. Combine lentils, 4 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and turmeric in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and cook until fragrant and starting to brown, about 30 seconds. Add onion; cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, cayenne and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
  3. Stir the garlic mixture and mangoes into the lentils. Return to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes more. Stir in cilantro.
Per serving: 186 calories; 3 g fat ( 0 g sat , 2 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 9 g protein; 9 g fiber; 398 mg sodium; 511 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Folate (45% daily value), Vitamin C (40% dv), Iron (20% dv), Vitamin A (15% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 1 1/2
Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fruit, 1 lean meat, 1/2 fat