Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oscar Pistorius!

Without question Oscar Pistorius is an athlete and human being to admire. His accomplishments as a double amputee (he had both feet amputated below the knee as a child) running on carbon-fiber blades are cause for celebration.

But Oscar Pistorius should not be competing against runners who have no need for prosthetic devices!

I know that my position is politically incorrect. I know that he has shown great courage in his bid to break the boundary between the Paralympics and the traditional Olympic Games. And I know that while he has improved his times he cannot yet compete successfully with world-class runners. So, it can be argued, what’s the problem? He isn’t a threat to anyone.

The problem is that bionic men and non-bionic men are not the same. Yes, they are human beings. But apples and oranges, while both fruit, are not the same. Like it or not, distinctions must be made. It does not denigrate people with special needs to recognize the differences.

There will be a time – sooner than many think – when the advantage will be with the bionic men. There is no way that an unaltered human being will be able to compete with the devices that will be engineered in the future. Then (if I may be allowed) the shoe will be on the other foot.

Disability advocates say that everyone should have the opportunity to live, work or compete on equal grounds, runners included. I agree!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Don't Like It!

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the Washington Mall is finally finished and ready to be dedicated. I don’t like it!

I don’t have any problem with the general approach and the use of stone and inscriptions to portray the essence of what Dr. King stood for. What I hate is the Stone of Hope. It is a stiff, stern representation that has the look of a disapproving parent. Or a dictator. Change the face a little and it could be Mao Zedong or Joseph Stalin.

Humanity is missing from the Stone of Hope. And humanity is what Martin Luther King was all about. So Martin Luther King is missing from the Stone of Hope.

It’s really too bad. A great opportunity has been missed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


My mother Dorothy died one year ago today. It is a good day to remember and honor her. She was a great mother and an extraordinary human being. Now that I think about it, every day is a good day to remember and honor her.

Here’s to you, Dorothy. We keep you in our hearts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Dog Days!

These are called the Dog Days – mid summer hot, sultry days when the world seems to slow down, people go on vacation, and a sense of lassitude fills the air. Here in San Francisco our Dog Days of summer are different – cool and foggy – but weather aside they’re still different from the rest of the year. A snapshot of what they look like:

At the Iowa State Fair a guy is being interviewed on camera. Behind him a steady stream of fairgoers walk by. Almost without exception they are pushing a baby stroller and/or eating/drinking and obesity is rampant. Only in America . . .

Even though next year’s election is a long way away, the silly season for politicians is in full swing. Dog Days or not, they’ve descended on Iowa to eat and drink with the folks and pay inordinate attention to the occupants of those baby strollers. Only in America . . .

This is the time for baseball, the beach, picnics, books that don’t tax the brain, strolling in a park. For those who can’t wait, pre-season football has begun. Seems out of place. Too hot for pads and jerseys. Only in America . . .

Europe is on vacation in August, but there’s no time out for the Dog Days in the rest of the world. Famine and death in Somalia. Suicide bombs and death in Iraq and Afghanistan. Terrorism and death in Pakistan. Protests and death in Syria and Yemen. Rape and death in Congo. War and death in Libya. Repression and death in Zimbabwe.

Looking around, we can be grateful for a peaceful Dog Day. Only in America . . .

Monday, August 08, 2011

Message #15 - Call Time Out!

This is another in a series of messages:

You have too much to do and can’t get it all done.

You’re tired when you go to bed and tired when you wake up.

You’re grouchy.

You don’t see enough of your partner or your kids or other loved ones.

You can’t get off the treadmill.

You need a vacation but don’t take one.

You’re not having any fun.

Call Time Out!

I know, I know. You’ll do it, but you’re waiting for the right time. Well, guess what – the right time will never come. You’ll always have a reason not to do it. And you’ll convince yourself the reason is really important, so you’ll have a valid justification for continuing to be a jerk.

There is no right way to take care of you. First, you need to get serious about it. Given your history that might be a steep mountain to climb. For the sake of argument, let’s assume you can summon up the courage and accept the challenge. Then what?

Find out what works. You might:

n Go away on vacation, even for 2 or 3 weeks, and totally break your routine

n Go away for long weekends

n Stay at home and take weekends off

n Stay at home and take one day off

n Regularly take a few hours and do something you don’t normally do, just for fun

n Join a health club – and use it often

n Exercise, play a sport you enjoy, do yoga, meditate, go to a ballgame . . .

n Anything that will energize you, get your juices going again, and which you haven’t been doing – for whatever reason

You’ll soon know if what you’re doing is helping.

Back in the day, when I was working hard, I found out what I could do to stay healthy physically and mentally, relieve stress, and reinvigorate myself. Whenever it was possible I would take a couple of hours in the evening and have a good dinner and drink some good wine. When I was home I’d usually do this alone with Sandra. When I was traveling I’d either do it alone or with friends or colleagues. My only rule was that I wouldn’t use this time as a continuation of my workday.

It wasn’t always easy. Especially when I was on the road doing a consulting job and dinner would be with people working on the same project. I had to work hard to train my colleagues to stop talking about the client. Once they’d accepted the wisdom of my advice and practiced this new way of living they became converts. I loved it. We improved our effectiveness and had fun in the process.

Give me two hours out of 24 away from it all and I was good to go full out for another day.

I also found that a three-week vacation once a year made a big difference. I would dedicate the first week to unwinding, decompressing and letting a year of non-stop work dissipate. The second week was exhilarating. No agenda. Nothing I had to do. The third week was also free, but now I’d begin thinking about what I wanted to do when I went back to work. These three weeks always were a very creative period of time. It was a gift I gave to myself, and well worth it.

What if you have a 9 to 5 job and are not under any particular pressure at work or maybe you are a stay-at-home mom raising three kids? Does what I’m talking about apply to you? Absolutely.

Why? Because your unchanging routine leaves you bored. You may not need a break because you work too hard. You need a change because your day-to-day activity has deadened your spirit. You owe it to yourself to regain your zest, your enthusiasm for what is available in life.

So my message to you is the same. Find out what works for you and do it.

And to begin, Call Time Out!