Archive for November 2012

Cat Bathing as a Martial Art

Some people say cats never have to be bathed.  They say cats lick themselves clean.  They say cats have a special enzyme of some sort in their saliva that works like new, improved Wisk – dislodging the dirt where it hides and whisking it away.

I’ve spent most of my life believing this folklore.  Like most blind believers, I’ve been able to discount all the facts to the contrary, the kitty odors that lurk in the corners of the garage and dirt smudges that cling to the throw rug by the fireplace.

The time comes, however, when a man must face reality: when he must look squarely in the face of massive public sentiment to the contrary and announce:  “This cat smells like a port-a-potty on a hot day in Juarez.”

When that day arrives at your house, as it has in mine, I have some advice you might consider as you place your feline friend under your arm and head for the bathtub:

—  Know that although the cat has the advantage of quickness and lack of concern for human life, you have the advantage of strength.  Capitalize on that advantage by selecting the battlefield.  Don’t try to bathe him in an open area where he can force you to chase him.  Pick a very small bathroom. If your bathroom is more than four feet square, I recommend that you get in the tub with the cat and close the sliding-glass doors as if you were about to take a shower.  (A simple shower curtain will not do.  A berserk cat can shred a three-ply rubber shower curtain quicker than a politician can shift positions.)

—  Know that a cat has claws and will not hesitate to remove all the skin from your body.  Your advantage here is that you are smart and know how to dress to protect yourself.  I  recommend canvas overalls tucked into high-top construction boots, a pair of steel-mesh gloves, an army helmet, a hockey face mask, and a long-sleeved flak jacket.

—  Prepare everything in advance.  There is no time to go out for a towel when you have a cat digging a hole in your flak jacket.  Draw the water.   Make sure the bottle of kitty shampoo is inside the glass enclosure.  Make sure the towel can be reached, even if you are lying on your back in the water.

—  Use the element of surprise.  Pick up your cat nonchalantly, as if to simply carry him to his supper dish.  (Cats will not usually notice your strange attire.  They have little or no interest in fashion as a rule. If he does notice your garb, calmly explain that you are taking part in a product testing experiment for J.C. Penney.)

—  Once you are inside the bathroom, speed is essential to survival.  In a single liquid motion, shut the bathroom door, step into the tub enclosure, slide the glass door shut, dip the cat in the water and squirt him with shampoo.  You have begun one of the wildest 45 seconds of your life.

Cats have no handles.  Add the fact that he now has soapy fur, and the problem is radically compounded.  Do not expect to hold on to him for more than two or three seconds at a time.  When you have him, however, you must remember to give him another squirt of shampoo and rub like crazy. He’ll then spring free and fall back into the water, thereby rinsing himself off. (The national record for cats is three latherings, so don’t expect too much.)

—  Next, the cat must be dried.  Novice cat bathers always assume this part will be the most difficult, for humans generally are worn out at this point and the cat is just getting really determined.  In fact, the drying is simple compared to what you have just been through.  That’s because by now the cat is semipermanently affixed to your right leg.  You simply pop the drain plug with you foot, reach for your towel and wait. (Occasionally, however, the cat will end up clinging to the top of your army helmet.  If this happens, the best thing you can do is to shake him loose and to encourage him toward your leg.)  After all the water is drained from the tub, it is a simple matter to just reach down and dry the cat.

In a few days the cat will relax enough to be removed from your leg. He will usually have nothing to say for about three weeks and will spend a lot of time sitting with his back to you.  He might even become psychoceramic and develop the fixed stare of a plaster figurine.

You will be tempted to assume he is angry.  This isn’t usually the case. As a rule he is simply plotting ways to get through your defenses and injure you for life the next time you decide to give him a bath.

But at least now he smells a lot better.

Origami Architecture

 

  1. Get template:
  2. Tools:
    • #2 Xacto knife (or simular)
    • Cutting mat or scrap cardboard
    • Scoring tool
    • Metal ruler
    • light weight cardsock
  3. Print the template on to the cardstock. If you don’t want the crease lines or outlines to show in your final model, you can draw the image on to the paper with a pencil, allowing you to erase the lines when completed.
  4. Since I lost my ruler, I’ll be freehanding my cuts. I recommend using a ruler to keep the cut lines straight, especially the longer ones.
  5. Let’s get started!
  6. Cut out the 3 windows
  7. Cut the top, bottom and center of door. Score the “hinges” I’ve folded my doors up to allow you to see what the final result is. Don’t open the doors yet to keep them flat and out of your way.
  8. Cut the 2 long sides (top to bottom). I’ve tucked the knife through the 2 cuts to highlight them.
  9. Cut out the cross and the roof lines. The roof stops at the inner verticle lines. I’ve tucked a piece of white paper behind the cross and roof to highlight the worked area.
  10. Cut the inside edges of the stand-offs. Do not cut the small horizontal lines. The small verticle lines at the edge of the roof line are part of the stand-off. Look at the next picture and the final picture if you are not sure.
  11. Score the top and bottom creases of the standoffs. You will do this on the right and left side of the building
    .
  12. Score the ground crease
  13. Score the bottom of the church.
  14. Carefully fold the creases to allow the church to pop forward.
  15. Fold the door outward a bit.
  16. Done!
  17. The real trick to designing OA, is figuring out where to put the stand-offs to allow the model to stand on it’s own. You can do multiple layers as well, but need to consider how deep each one has to be. If you want to design your own, start with something simple, and work your way up! Good luck!

I Am Your Customer

I Am Your Customer

Satisfy my wants, add personal attention and a friendly touch, and I will become a walking advertisement for your products and services. Ignore my wants, show carelessness, inattention and poor manners, and I will simply cease to exist, as far as you are concerned.

I Am Sophisticated

Much more so than I was a few years ago. My needs are more complex. I have grown accustomed to better things. I have money to spend. I am an egotist. I am sensitive. I am proud. My ego needs the nourishment of a friendly, personal greeting from you. It is important to me that you appreciate my business. After all, when I buy your products and services, my money is feeding you.

I Am A Perfectionist

I want the best I can get for the money I spend. When I criticize your products or services, and I will, to anyone who will listen, when I am dissatisfied, then take heed. The source of my discontent lies in something you or the products you sell have failed to do. Find that source and eliminate it or you will lose my business and that of my friends as well.

I Am Fickle

Other business people continually beckon to me with offers of “more” for my money. To keep my business, you must offer something better than they. I am your customer now, but you must prove to me again and again that I have made a wise choice in selecting you, your products and services above all others.

– Author Unknown

Habits 1-3

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” 

by Steven R. Covey, PhD

Plan – Present a brief overview of the Covey material, once over from 20,000 feet, with light cloud cover.

Goal – Cultivate interest and conceptual understanding of the material.

Objective – To get you to look into the 7 Habits ideas,

(My hidden agenda: I need help mastering this material! You can’t just read this stuff and internalize it. It helps to teach it and interact with others about it.)

My authority to endorse the 7 Habits? The reasons for my successes can be expressed in terms of living the 7 Habits. Conversely, the reasons for my failures can be expressed in terms ofnot living the 7 Habits.

Outline:

Paradigms and Principles

Paradigm shift – Paradigms are frameworks for looking at the world (Galileo’s solar system, Newton’s laws of motion, relational databases, object oriented programming).

Character is primary, personality is secondary.

(character ethic vs. personality ethic)

No quick fix.

Perceptions – They way we see the problem is the problem.

Principle-centered: “The Character Ethic is based on the fundamental idea that there are principles that govern human effectiveness – natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real, just as unchanging and unarguably ‘there’ as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension.” (Covey p. 32)

Values are maps – maps are not the territory.

Principles are the territory.

Seven Habits Overview

Definition of habit – (see diagram, Covey p. 48)

Intersection of knowledge (knowing why you should do it),

skill (being able to do it),

& desire (feeling like doing it).

Effectiveness lies in the balance between production and production capacity Example – story of the farmer and the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Need to balance physical, financial, and human assets.

Maturity continuum dependence to independence to interdependence

Habits 1, 2, & 3 create private victory, moving you from dependence to independence. Habits 4, 5, & 6 createpublic victory, moving you from independence to interdependence. Habit 7 encircles the whole.

Private Victory

Habit 1. Be pro-active (Principles of Personal Vision)

Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.

Act vs. be acted upon – The opposite of pro-active is reactive

Listen to our language

Take the initiative

Responsible = response able

Circle of Influence vs. Circle of Concern (see copies of diagrams, Covey p. 81 – 85)

Habit 2. Begin with the end in mind (Principles of Personal Leadership)

Is the ladder of success leaning against the right wall?

Everything is created twice

Mission statements – Personal, family, corporate

Identifying roles & goals

Centers – see copies from Covey p. 119 – 124.

Habit 3. Put first things first (Principles of Personal Management)

Time management matrix

_______________________________________________________________

Future Journaling

Take a blank page in your Planner or journal, enter the date at the top, one year from now, IE: Nov 19, 2013, and write in the present tense. Write your thoughts as if you were reflecting back on the year that has just passed, and during which all your goals were met!

Suggested Reading List

  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey; published by Fireside Books ISBN: 0-671-70863-5
  • Principle Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey; published by Fireside Books ISBN: 0-671-79280-6
  • First Things First by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill; published by Simon and Schuster ISBN: 0-671-86441-6
  • Autoimmune Illness – Playing the Hand Life Dealt and Winning the Jackpot! by Barbara j. Mascio; published by Harmony Publishing ISBN: 0-9653612-4-1
  • The Holy Bible (or any spiritual literature)
  • The Three Phase Manual by Scott Ohlgren; published by NaviQuest Corporation
  • Connections: QII Time Management by Roger Merrill
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

I am an entrepreneur. I hereby give up my right to complain, base my life on what is not working, feel overly sorry for myself, indulge in a rich tapestry of excuses — and instead, commit myself from this day forth to the active pursuit of what is working. When problems occur, I don’t go into denial about it, but use them as springboards for becoming more resourceful. I can afford no more than 10 minutes per day for whining. Any more then that is costing me my dreams.

Signed and dated:

From “The Three Phase Manual” by Scott Ohlgren

Habits 4-7

The Public Victory

Moving from independence to interdependence
Habits 4-6

The Emotional Bank Account plays an important role.

Emotional Bank Account

  • Easy to Withdraw
  • One Withdrawal can wipe out many deposits – can even go in to the RED!
  • Basis for Trust

Six Major Deposits:

  1. Understand the individual
  2. Attend to the Little Things
  3. Keeping Commitments
  4. Clarifying Expectations
  5. Showing Personal Integrity
  6. Apologizing Sincerely when you make a Withdrawal

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

6 Paradigms of Human Interaction

  • Win/Win
  • Win/Lose
  • Lose/Win
  • Lose/Lose
  • Win
  • Win/Win or No Deal

Habit 5: Seek first to Understand

  • Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood — or — Don’t prescribe before you diagnose!
  • Use Empathic Listening
  • Diagnose before you prescribe
  • Don’t use autobiographical responses.
  • This Habit is smack in the middle of your Circle of Influence!

Autobiographical responses are:

  • Probing
  • Advising
  • Evaluating
  • Interpreting

Habit 6: Synergy

Definition of Synergy
Synonyms

  • 1+1=3 or 4 or 100 or …
  • It is the basis for Principled Centered Leadership
  • Fish for the 3rd alternative
  • Value differences! (IDIC)

Habit 7: Sharpen The Saw

  • Principle of Balanced Self-Renewal
  • 4 Dimensions of Human Nature
  • Physical (Exercise, Nutrition, Stress Management)
  • Social/Emotional (Service, Empathy, Synergy, Intrinsic Security)
  • Mental (Reading, visualizing, Planning, Writing)
  • Spiritual (Value Clarification & Commitment, Study & Meditation)
  • Balance in Renewal
  • Synergy in Renewal
  • Upward Spiral – Learn, Commit, Do, …

The 7 Habits

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think win-win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

Activity Matrix

Urgent Not Urgent
Important

I

  • Crises
  • Pressing Problems
  • Deadline-driven projects, meeting, preparations

II

  • Preperation
  • Prevention
  • Values clarification
  • Planning
  • Relationship building
  • True re-creation
  • Empowerment
Not Important

III

  • Interruptions, some phone calls
  • Some mail, some reports
  • Some meetings
  • Many proximate, pressing matters
  • Many popular activities

IV

  • Trivia, busywork
  • Some phone calls
  • Time wasters
  • “Escape” activites
  • Irrelevant mail
  • Excessive TV

Superman/Superwoman

No, this is not wedding announcement. But a hint of what each of us can be. Superman (and his lesser known cousin) can exist in each of us. (I’m NOT going to get into which one you want to pick. I am just NOT going to go there!)

Well, since this column is related to the Seven Habits, what do I mean? Think about it for a moment. Other then the super powers, what is the most notable characteristic of super heros?

Give up?

Try a little harder …

OK?

PURPOSE

One word. Two syllables. Seven characters. Not much ink on a standard piece of notebook paper, even with how large _I_ write. One word, but so-o-o-o much meaning.

Purpose gives meaning to life. Purpose gives direction. Purpose provides motivation. Purpose is POWER. Think about a powerful person you know, not necessarily in a political or monitary sense. Powerful people create change in society. They are people with a personal vision and mission.

Psstt! (whispering) You want to know a secret? … Come over here…. (talking conspiratorially) We all can have it. Yep. All of us.

What does it take? Not much and a lot. The not much is what you already have: A brain, a body (healthy or not, hmm, probably could say that about the brain, too), an imagination, and dreams. The a lot is also what you already have: drive, determination, and the REST OF YOUR LIFE!

How do you get started? Easy – start dreaming. Decide what is important to you. Plan for it to come true. And execute, execute, execute!

In other words, Habit #2: Begin with the End in Mind, and Habit #3: Put First Things First.

You practiced Habit #1: Be Proactive when you decided to take that power for yourself.

Another little secret: No one has the power to take it from you!

If you decide to be a superman or superwoman, there is no Kryptonite except yourself. No one can take it from you, unless you let them. Hmm… That means … if you have a purpose in life, and you are proactive, no one CAN stop you. Unless you let them.

Guess what? You have just become an unstoppable force in the world.

Wow! We just gained a second power! Maybe invulnerablity is not to far off…

Consider the story of someone who had a major impact in my life. A man with a purpose in life, who not only make a difference in life, but make a difference in how he died.

When I first met Coach Delserone, it was in an art class. Little did I know how important this man was to become. Coach Delserone was a good sized man. He was very much like the football players he coached. Big, strong, quick on his feet. He also had a heart, a mind and a powerful mission.

Over the years, I went from Jr. High School to High School and I saw him everyday in my art classes. Im not an artist, but he never let that stop me. He encouraged the meager artistic talents I had and praised me when I was able to do something that exceeded my limits and grew, no matter how small it was.

He was the same way on the football field. He never referred to the team as “the team”, but “my boys”. He helped the football players who were in trouble. He never had an ill word for anyone. He was an inspiration to us all, in quiet ways. We celebrated with him when he had his first child. His son. You could see the family values he had for “his boys” , were there in his home life. The football team adopted Coach Delserone’s son, as if he was one of them.

Time passed, Coach Delserone’s son was two years old. We were all struck by a terrible blow – Coach Delserone was diagnosed with Lou Gering’s Disease. This is a terrible wasting disease that slowly destroys your voluntary nervous system, and continues into your involuntary system, leaving your central nervous system intact, until one day everything shuts down. Your body slowly betrays you, and you are fully aware of what is happening to you. A terrible disease.

Coach Delserone was diagnosed at having about 6 – 12 months to live. We were all in shock.

Coach Delserone always told “his boys”, his son, his friends, and his students, “Never Give Up.” That had always been his motto. This is important.

I graduated and went on to college, but I stayed in touch with another teacher who was Coach Delserone’s friend. I later learned, that he lived on for several years. Even when he was forced to live in a wheelchair, he kept coaching. Even when he did not have the strength to lift his hand to shake yours on greeting, his eyes never lost their fire. He became an inspiration to us.

In his last year of coaching, his football team played against Hubbard, our biggest rival and State Championship contender. In the week before the game, the school almost held its breath. There were no banners, there were no slogans, just one phrase was almost whispered: “Win it for _him_.” When our team entered the field, it was in almost silence. No one expected us to win.

Hubbard never knew what hit them! Because one man had a mission in life to help others, this team with no chance to win, but a meaningful purpose, literally slaughtered a team that should have run right over them.

I could go on from here, but this man, with only voluntary control of his eyelids, with the help of his wife, wrote a book.

When I got word that he had died, I cried. I still almost do, whenever I think of it. Some in sadness, because the world lost a man I would call a saint. But mostly in awe and inspiration of what can be done in life, if you never let the fire go out.

Find your purpose, and make a difference. Be “super“.

NB: Special Thanks to Carolyn Hennings for editing assistance, especially on such an emotional issue for me.

Burn out

A common problem in our field. I’ve seen it chew up many good Systems Administrators over the years, and I’m sure it will take a corresponding toll on the NT SEs as well. Why?

No matter how good you are, there are always more fires, more machines to install/upgrade, more users to assist. It is the classic problem in just about any customer support position. No wonder SAs have a history of only being in the field for about 2 years, or in a company for 2 years before moving on. (I can not speak for NT SEs, but only time will tell…)

Long hours, fire fighting, unhappy users, emotional labor, and stress all add up to burn out in time. How do we avoid this?

By following the “Principle of Balance”. In the Seven Habits parlance, it is the core of “Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw”. Habit 7 ties all of the habits together and builds the strength we need for our lives. It also can renew and rebuild a life that has seen a few, or too many, hard knocks.

What is Balance in our lives? Quite simply it is TAKING the time, to do all those things you need to do to balance out your life. In our careers and society, with all the demands being placed on us, there will never be enough time to “have the time to do whatever”. If we remember the first three habits:

Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First

They provide the foundation for self-mastery. I believe this is the key. If we have self-mastery, we take responsibility for our lives and actions (Habit 1), know what we want in life (Habit 2), know how to do (Habit 2) and are doing it (Habit 3). By taking the time to decide what we want in life, and setting out course, we will move directly in to Habit 7. If we have purpose, we can not avoid Balance. If we have Balance, we have purpose and mastery. Sound like something an old Eastern Master of Philosophy or Martial Arts would say? Well, that may be true, but it is also the same thing the Christian Bible says. As well as the Koran. And the Tao Te Ching. Not to mention more modern works as well. Why does this keep coming up? Because it works! And builds strong lives and strong people.

If you have that balance, fight to keep it. Balance is never something you “just have”, it is something you have to fight to have. But anything worth having is worth fighting for. This is actually the easy route in the long run.

If you do not have balance, this is the tougher road. It is the one I am traveling.

If you are a fellow traveler on this road, welcome. You have picked a tough one. But one with many valuable lessons and experiences. Some of them I am glad to have had, even though the better road would have been to keep the Balance and proceed forward.

It is tough to overcome imbalance in your life. The problem with imbalance, is that it is an easily self-perpetuating situation. One that can rob you of your personal power. I know, this is the second time for me. I guess I like falling off of wagons. 😉 The first time took a wake up call of Infectious Mononucleosis (mono). I recovered and rebuilt. This time, I fortunately did not need a wake up call, but saw the signs. Unfortunately, this one is tougher. The first time I was not married and a home owner with all that comes with it. Nor was I a consultant, and all that it entails.

Why am I spilling my guts to all of you? Well, I stood in front of many of you and claimed to be a “expert of sorts” on the 7 habits material. Whether or not I wanted the title, I claimed it by standing in front of you claiming to believe in the material. So I have to be honest with all of you. I’ve been out of balance for almost four years, and walking the edge of burn out the whole time. (OK, so I’m slow at waking up.)

Because of this, I am working on getting back away from the burn out stage. Not an easy road. How does one do this?

Well, by getting back to the basics. For me, that is re-immersing myself back in the 7 Habits material. (Now you understand why I am studying the material and encouraging others to do so.) Where do I go from here? For me, it is to return to my various studies, mostly philosophical and spiritual, some physical. In this way I am starting to feed 3 of the four areas we all have, the mental, spiritual, physical, and the social/emotional. The latter one is being partially filled by my wife, Charrie. It is also being partially filled by “talking” to all of you in this fashion. It enables me to give a piece of myself to others. I have a lot of work to do, but I hope this message will help some of you, as it does me. I helps me by reaffirming myself to my purpose and committing myself in front of my peers. I have a lot of work and welcome all of you to join me on my journey. All of you have a journey to travel, and I hope that your journey is filled with Balance and Purpose. (And don’t forget the fun along the way!)

Introduction to the 7 Habits

Briefly, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” (7HoHEP) are a framework to help plan your life. The Seven Habits, in conjunction with other concepts help provide a holistic way of looking at your life, values, roles, goals and relationships.

The Seven Habits are:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin With the End in Mind.
  3. First Things First
  4. Think Win/Win
  5. Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood
  6. Synergy
  7. Sharpen the Saw

These habits provide us a process to move ourselves along the Maturity Continuum, starting with Dependence, moving to Independence, and finally, Interdependence.

Let’s take a short look at this. Starting with Habit 1, we have pro-activity. Proactive is the state of mind that says, “I am responsible for my situation, or my response to it.”

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. Were do you want to go? Not just today, but in the long haul.

Habit 3: First Things First. These are planning and execution. We want to expand, grow, and generally have fun.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win. I will not win at your expense. BUT … I will also not lose to satisfy you. I will not be hard-nosed, nor will I be a martyr!

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, THEN to be Understood. This order is not accidental. By taking the proactive stance of listening first, we allow the other party to express themselves, without them feeling they are competing with us for expression. Once they feel they are understood, then we have all the time in the world to express ourselves. They are ready to truly listen, as we truly listened to them. Now we have a real foundation for problem solving.

Habit 6: Synergy. The whole is greater then the sum of the parts, or 1+1 is greater then 2. We utilize habits 4 and 5 to find a better answer to our situation, thus allowing both of us to get all we wanted and then some!

And finally, Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw. The habit of renewal and balance. Here is where we keep ourselves “sharp”. No just technically, but mentally, physically and spiritually.