Friday, July 29, 2016

Vacation Views: Buffalo Jump and Big Spring

Some pictures today from two place, both in the Great Falls Area.

The First People's Buffalo Jump is located southwest of Great Falls and is one of the few buffalo jumps available to the public.  They have a fabulous museum and the view from the actual jump gives you a sense of what the Great Plains look like:

Objects may appear closer in the mirror...




Looking from the jump.  Depending on where you stand, it is 30 to 50 feet to the bottom:







Local resident is unimpressed by tourists:


This is Giant Springs in Great Falls.  It puts out 150 million gallons a day at a consistent 54 F and flows as a 200 foot river (The Roe River) into the Missouri River.  The water is exceptionally clear.






Thursday, July 28, 2016

Vacation Views

So I have finally managed to finagle the photos off of my phone of my vacation.

I have been trying to figure out a way to organize or display them, as I was not always the regular photographer (The Ravishing Mrs. TB fills this role) and so there are some odd gaps in my photographic record.  What I have breaks down into 3 or 4 discrete areas and the random photos that seem to defy description.  To that end, I present (as the first installment) Vacation Views:  views of various places on the trip.

From Colorado:













From Wyoming (Parts of far Northwest Wyoming are very beautiful):






Montana:

Montana Tech, Butte:



From the town where we stayed:




And some of the views that are my favorites:

Madison Valley:

Jefferson Valley:


And driving home, a rainstorm in the Rockies in Colorado:


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Intellectual Honesty

So during the drive home during the trip we had "The Conversation" - the uncomfortable one, charged with potential emotional potential and misunderstanding, that conversation that some many dread:

What did I think of the election?

Sigh.  I knew it was coming sooner or later.

How I attempted to approach it - which is how I attempt to approach everything - was not through the the lens of policies or personalities, which tends to be based on the emotions and presumptions of the listener, but rather through the lens I try to live my live through:  Intellectual Honesty.

I believe in intellectual honesty.  I believe that if you hold positions, you must apply them throughout your world view, not just to those portions of the world that you would like to apply them to - otherwise you are nothing more than a child of opinion, no better than the followers of the latest fad.

So I told them  "The question to ask yourselves and others is are you applying your beliefs across the board.  If you consider dishonesty to be lamentable and bad, do you excuse it in your candidates - or do you find reasons to justify it in your mind as being a different issue? This is the difference between those who are adults and those who are children."

Relevant example:  If you believe in the democratic process and the fact that the people voting should elect the candidate, then you as a Bernie Sanders supporter should have no truck with the Democratic party at this point.  I would not say whom you should vote for, only that you cannot support Hillary Clinton who was not truly elected by the voters for the election.  Any other course simply indicates that you have disengaged your intellectual honesty.  And if this is the case, you have no cause to complain of other failures in democratic processes.  After all, you have already conceded it is okay.

Or (to be fair to the other side)  if you believe in true capitalism (Freedom of Capital, best products for the lowest price) then you should question Trump's disavowal of trade agreements while supporting "Capitalism".  If you support true free trade, then to be intellectually honest you either do not vote for Trump or you have conceded that statism in economics - like they practice in China, for example - is okay.

Who am I voting for?  Not telling, of course - we are not political here and I am truly not sure.  But be assured that whomever I vote for, it will be as a result of attempting to be intellectually honest.

At least as honest as I can be given the current crop of candidates...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Backup Key

During our recent trip, The Ravishing Mrs. TB asked a seemingly bizarre question:  "Do you know where the backup key to The Cabin is?"

As it turns out, I did happen to know - my father had told me earlier during the visit.  There is a two step process but yes, I said, I did know where the key was.

"Good" she replied.  "We might need to come up here.  The world is a mess."

My wife has never said such a think before in all our marriage.

I am as hard a Doomer as they come.  I have been seeing the end of everything - or at least the slow, gradual decline - for more years than I can count.  It is a combination of a rather pessimistic view of the world combined with a knowledge of how fragile a thing civilization really is.  But I have never expected to hear this from my wife.

There are a lot of practical outcomes of this in terms of preparation and lifestyle change of course, but that is not really where my thought immediately went on this.  In a way, it made me very sad.

We are in a transition phase - maybe longer than my lifetime to be sure, but a transition phase between what the world was and is to what the world is becoming.  And it strikes that if current events and ways of thinking and acting are any indication, it is not the sort of place that most people ever thought or imagined they would be.

A passing of innocence of sorts.

Which happens to all of us at some point, I suppose.  At that point, it is better to prepare for the worst and be surprised.

But always know where the backup key is.

Monday, July 25, 2016

I Am Back

So I am back.

It was a good two weeks.  So much happened in the intervening period time (to me - I am aware that significant events took place and are taking place even as I type).  Some of the highlights:

1)  Montana is insanely beautiful.  We spent hours and hours driving to and from and hit a lot of the state.

2)  We stayed in a place that was 20 miles in either direction from a town that had a grocery store and 90 miles from a "city"  with chain stories.  Amazing how little I missed them.

3)  Temperature was in the high 80's during the day but feel to the mid 40's at night.  Guess what?  I found out that I do not miss humidity at all.

4)  I had a great deal of time to think - about the world, about myself, about what I want and need to do.  Hopefully that will come through in the coming days.

5)  Yes, I am ready to move.  And maybe, I am moving The Ravishing Mrs. TB in that direction too.

6)  Most importantly (at least in the short term), I have a new job.

(Insert excited emoji here)

It is an equivalent laterally move pay wise (essentially they pay for benefits so that was deducted from my salary), but this will drop my overall income so less taxes.  Of greater gain is the change in title and environment (from Manager to Senior Director and at a much smaller - 20 person - company).  Best of all, it is half the distance and reverse commute so I estimate (besides halving my gas and maintenance and extending the life of my car 50% and thus avoiding a new car that much loner)  I will get 5 to 8 hours a week back in my life.  I cannot put a price on that kind of time.  And regular bimonthly paydays again as well, which makes for all kinds of excellent budgetary planning.

So to summarize:  I got a new job, had an amazing vacation with my family, and came back to only having to face two weeks at the current work environment.

God has been amazingly good to me and mine.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Fin de Siecle

Last day of vacation.  As you read this, I am probably rolling through Wyoming at this point headed home.

One thought that has occurred to me as I was setting this vacation up and then as events in my own personal life developed is that everything is sort of reaching a crescendo of sorts, a fin de siecle, an end of the age sort of thing.

Maybe not right at the moment I walk back into my real life of course, These things never come together quite as cleanly as we would like to imagine.  But there is definitely a sense hanging over me that the next turning is around the corner, that the last seven years or so have been a long transition, partially from The Firm but also from being buffeted in my career field to actively choosing my course in my career field.

I am excited about the other areas of my life as well.  The last seven years has been truly amazing in terms what I have attempted to do and learned to do.  Even within these areas, there is a sense of moving forward towards greater ability and (hopefully) greater autonomy.

I would not say that future looks bright.  I know enough not to say that.  But I can say that the future looks as good as it ever has.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

On Fishing

One of my regrets is that I have never kept up with fishing as I might have.

I grew up fishing with my maternal grandfather, who was a mighty fisherman.  My earliest memories of fishing were in Montana, fishing for trout not too far from the cabin that I am staying at while we are there.

We fished for trout in Montana and for Bluegill and the occasional Bass in Old Home.  He would patiently take me out, teach me how to bait the hook and set the line (sinkers and bobbers for a young child), pull them in, and then clean them.

He taught me other things through fishing as well:  patience, a willingness to be alone and silent, of enduring until you reach the final goal.  Being responsible where you fish.  And fish as much as you need, but eat everything that you catch.

He tried to teach me how to fly fish but this was almost at the end of my fishing life and I never really took to it the way I did earlier. I drifted away from fishing after that as high school and then college overtook my time and interest.

I have never really been interested in fishing here in New Home; catfish and bass do not interest me all that much (and I am not really a fan of them, especially catfish unless blackened or fried).  But trout....trout is still something worth fishing for.

I have seen my friend Jambaloney's posts on his fishing over at Framboise Manor and makes me hungry again for those times of silence and patience and the possibility of fresh fish at the end of it.

Perhaps hungry enough to try and learn again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Planning Out The Rest of My Career

As I posted two weeks ago or so,  one of the factors that I have noticed creeping into my own life is a lack of continuing education on my part, largely driven by my distaste of aspects of my current career.

Which brings up a second sort of useful question:  What does my career path forward look like?

Belying my earlier post on robots, I suspect that my career field will at least be viable throughout my working career (in my world defined by another 20 years or so).  The rather unfortunate reality is that while I can improve on my current skill set and knowledge my ability to directly migrate over to a completely new career field (at least, one I would have to do rather than want to do) is rather limited.
I think I have one, maybe two more moves in me.  This is predicated on the concept that at least one of those moves would be for a career related reason and one for a final relocation reason (no idea what that would look like).  I am sensitive to the fact that in my own personal world we are in an era of transition: quite likely within 10 years there will only be two of us back at home. This creates certain options that may not be apparent now.

In the happiest of worlds (or at least the happiest I can come up with)  I have two more positions, each of 8-10 years, ending in some form of executive management.  I believe this to be within my power:  in my line of work (at least currently) experience still merits a certain level of respect and desirability.

If I start with that as a thought - and assume that I find two positions that I enjoy - I can begin to work backwards with the knowledge base and experience base that I would need (yes, it really is rather that easy). Throw in some language study (keep the options open) and I may have the hint of a working plan.

But what of Ichiryo Gusoku, my philosophy on living and sustainability, you might ask?  Legitimate Question. I believe that a plan of this nature preserves my options for this, assuming that (for now) I keep them in a tight circle around feasibility and what I can do given my location (Cheese and Garden Yes, Bees Maybe, Larger Livestock No).

I find it exciting, in a certain sort of odd way.  Having a sense of purpose and control can bring some level of calm to the chaos and inevitable lack of control of so many parts of one's career.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Differently

Sometimes I wonder
what I would have done differently
given the chance.

It is hard to know:
Would I have stayed as a Japanese major
instead of coming home?
Would I have stayed with my first girlfriend
instead of saying "Let me try something else?"

Would I have gone back to school a second time?
No school, no Ravishing Mrs. TB,
no marriage, no children.

Would I have continued to teach instead of
doing what I do now?
No travel, no New Home, no writing,
no iai.

Hard to know are the paths not taken;
easy only to see all the mistakes looking back.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Rise Of The Machines



One has often heard the discussion of the increasing attractiveness of robots in the fast food industry as the agitation for higher wages for what were once considered entry level jobs has occurred.    But in an article from The Burning Platform, guest author Fred Reed posts a rather inclusive listing of where robots currently are:

"Navy building autonomous sub-hunting submarine.Robots deliver food to your door. China’s use of robots set to surge. Amazon uses 30,000 robots in warehouses. AMBER lab robot jogs like human.Japanese farming robots.  Burger-flippingrobot. World’s first sex-robot. China’s robot cop. China’s road to self-driving cars. Bloomberguses robot story-writers. In theme park, robotsmake food and drinks. SCHAFT unveils new robot in Japan. Boston Dynamics has several ominous robots paid for by the Pentagon. Robot does soft-tissue surgery better than humans. Robotic KFC outlet in Shanghai. And of course everybody and his dog are working on self-driving vehicles."

(Add Amazon here is as well with their robotic warehouses)

But with all of those, I do not believe I have ever been quite as vaguely discomforted as I have by watching the video above. It is about 3 minutes.  Watch it.  And then give us 10 years, and tell me where you think we are really going to be.

The more futures I see, the more bleak they seem to appear.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bastille Day



Prise de la Bastille by Jean-Pierre Houel (1735-1813)

Perhaps not unreasonably, I find myself much in The Storming of the Bastille, which is today.

I have a sense that we are moving towards uncharted ground, both as a nation and as a world.

I do not say this happily, by any stretch of the imagination.  "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" said John F. Kennedy.  But I fear that the combination of rhetoric and animosity shared (at this point) by all sides leads to nothing but sadness.

"Is it a revolt?"  asked Louis XVI the morning after the Storming of the Bastille to Duc de la Rouchefocauld, to which he replied "No sire, it's not a revolt, it's a revolution."

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

On Hiatus

Greetings, readers of the Fortyfive Nation!  As you are reading this, I am (hopefully) on the road.  For what, you might ask?  For family vacation.

We have not taken a true vacation as a family in...hmmm...4 years?  5?  We have certainly done things and even occasionally gone places overnight but have not actually gotten away in some time.

We are going to Montana for about a week overall, with two days driving on either side.  I am making the whole trip with Na Clann; The Ravishing Mrs. TB will be flying up to met us for part of the time and then fly back.

What are going to do?  Driving.  Lots and lots of Driving.  Museums.  Yellowstone, of course (very excited about that - I have not been in 30 years).  And seeing my parents.

Thanks to wonders of technology, I have decided (rather than break my habit of posting every day) to pre-load a number of postings for my absence.  No idea (at the moment) what it will be on, and it may turn out to be badly out of touch with any major happenings.  For this, I beg your forgiveness.

I am not sure of the coverage between here and there so any comments may take some time in appearing (again, your pardon) and I will certainly try and post if I get the opportunity.

See you on the other side of relaxation (or in my case, endless driving)!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

So Close

So I think I am very close to an offer.

So close.  Trying not to psyche myself out about it:  be too eager, be too impatient.

And especially, trying to keep myself currently engaged.

I find my mind wandering a great deal now.  I am more and more disengaged from most of the activities that I am confronted with.  To be fair, my circle of responsibilities has continued to shrink until all I seem to be doing is answering questions and word processing.  Reasonable signs, I think, that my thinking on the matter is correct and the time has come.  

The challenge, of course, is not to act as if I am almost out of here (and pretty much out of here mentally).  To remain the hard worker, finishing the tasks set before me and planning for future.

Even as I patiently wait for the  world to change...

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Original Twilight Zone

Netflix now has the original episodes of The Twilight Zone.

I have only seen parts of them almost 35 years ago, reruns during the late night Fridays and Saturdays when nothing else on.  I vaguely remember parts of them, or particular episodes.  But I have not seen them since then.

And now I get to relive them in living black and white.

They are wonderful.  I have forgotten how wonderful they are.  Not just the visions they give into late 1950's/early 1960's society (the formal dress.  And the cigarettes.  Everywhere).  The stories.  That sense of old style science fiction back when it really something novel and new and unknown.  The ability to completely paint a tale of slight oddness in under 25 minutes.

(And pay phones.  That only cost a dime.)

And they make you think.  Every one I have watched so far has made me think.  As I was explaining to Na Clann, there was always a slight twist at the end, something that made you stop and take note at the end.

I would argue that it is so different from television of today, but in fact I have scarcely seen television of today in the last 7 years.  But my sense is that we do not nearly do anything as intellectual and thought provoking as that anymore.

Thanks Rod Serling, for your gravely voice and your imagination and your vision.


Thursday, July 07, 2016

A Brief Meditation on Death

Death is much in my mind this day.

I have two people in my larger circle that are both dying or have died within the last week:  one an acquaintance from college I have not seen is 26 years (and would not have known about except for social media), the other one a coworker with whom I am somewhat acquainted with at work.  Both dying of cancer.

It is moments like these that tend to snap one back from the world that we all dwell in, the day to day matters which we get caught up with.  The minor power struggles, the tiny empires we build, the annoyances which attain monumental proportions in our mind.  Almost everything which, for me at least, my day seems to get caught up in.

I have read the writings of those who are dying, both at least on of the people listed above as well as friend I met through the Highland Games that I only knew after cancer had destroyed his palate and he could not talk.  Perhaps not unstrangely, their writings and meditations become largely free of the things we tether our lives to and become about mediations on life, their condition, or their loved ones.
That is about it.

How do I get that perspective now, while I live?  How do I let go of the things temporal and fix them on the things eternal?  Could it be as simple as mediation on life (God for me) and my loved ones (assuming condition should not be covered right now)?

Or is it simply asking the question, every time something comes up, "Is this something that will matter when I am dying?" and making the next move based on that?

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

"No Intent of Wrong Doing"

I have finally given up hope.  I really have.

I work in an industry where any attempt to destroy, hide or lie about information will be treated badly.  As a crime.  Intention has no consideration in that calculation.  Wrong doing - especially hiding wrong doing - will get you into nothing but trouble.

I have abandoned any and all hopes that justice is at all applied equitably anymore.



Tuesday, July 05, 2016

A Thought On Preventable Disease

So my father in law had his left lower leg amputated today.

It was not a total surprise.  He has diabetes (Type II) and had already had his lower right leg amputated 10 years or more ago.  Decreased circulation leads to increased risk of infection.  He had non-healing wounds which would not respond to antibiotics and so....

He came out of surgery as well as can be expected (for which we are all grateful), but the doctors are giving him even odds for healing.

As I mentioned, this was not a surprise.  He has not taken the best care of himself over the years, especially after he was confirmed diabetic.  He will admit it.  And the hardest thing in the world is having someone you love have a condition which you know ends badly and they will do nothing about it.

Is all diabetes controllable?  No.  Type I comes on with no help at all.  But Type II can be very much be lifestyle driven.

But so are other things.  Just yesterday, doing some background research for a job interview, I read (via Wikipedia, your mileage may vary) that there are 448 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections every year.  That is new.  Every year.  Not existing.  And, apparently, even one case of gonorrhea increases a man's chance of prostate cancer.

(I know - weird research, right?)

32% of cancer deaths are related to cancers due to (wait for it)  tobacco use and poor physical condition (obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise, overuse of alcohol - again, Wikipedia).

So here is my point:  we know what causes these things.  We know what we can do to avoid them.  And yet, we do nothing.

448 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections a year.  That works out to one in every sixteen  people.  Dear Lord, we know how these things spread.  We know what causes them. And we know very simple ways of preventing them.  We have within our power the ability to, by behavior, greatly diminish them within the population.

And yet we do nothing.

I suppose for some cases there is not much many can do directly, especially in poorer parts of the globe.  But we are the First World.  We are supposed to know better.

Why do we do nothing?  Because it is hard.  Because is means self denial.  Because it may mean living in a way radically different than what we expected or wanted to.

There are many facing health challenges they never intended.  They ate right, lived right, exercised, and the bad news came anyway.  My message is not directed at you.

But it is directed at the rest of us, those of us who know better and can do better and instead do very little.  A lot, this is directed at myself who knows better.

I know we have fantastic medicine and I know we are making progress in fighting all kinds of conditions and diseases.  I work in the industry; it is one of the reasons that I continue to do so.  And there are really serious conditions - ALS, Alzheimer's Lupus, all kinds of CNS and genetic diseases, diseases of the Third World like Malaria and Hepetitus and Tuberculosis - and even Diabetes  - that we need to give attention to.

Can w at least all make the commitment to do what we can to get the easy wins out of the way?

Monday, July 04, 2016

July4th 2016 - The Declaration of Independence

There are not a great deal of traditional posts here at The Forty-Five, but one that I always do is the Declaration of Independence on July 4th as a reminder of why we have a concept of  "The consent of the governed" at all.  The phrase "hat whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness"  has some special meaning this year.


When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the  conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Source: The Pennsylvania Packet, July 8, 1776

Friday, July 01, 2016

The Awkwardness Of Imposed Work Culture

As part of the current job environment, we are going through a "Culture Change". Apparently The Powers That Exist have decided the culture that was here when they arrived was not conducive to the way they wished to redirect the company.  And so, we getting a culture makeover.

Not that I can successfully say no to their opinion.  The previous culture, the one that existed the first 5 years that was here, was abysmal.  Very top down, very argumentative, very looking for people to blame, very stuck on the privilege of executives to overrule.  No tears to be shed over that.

But the make over is all wrong.

The only way I can explain it is imposed culture.  Suddenly we have this team and that team.  Suddenly we have fancy whiteboards and more "cozy" places to meet each other.  Suddenly we are very concerned about the goings on in other locations right across the parking lot.  Suddenly we hear a great deal about making sure people are being used to the best of their interests and abilities.

It is all reasonable, of course.  It just does not seem real to me.

Culture is something that develops organically, not something that is imposed from another source.  That can happen of course (as it is here) but then one ends up with two cultures:  the official culture (the one posted on the website for recruiting purposes) and the actual culture, the one that lives on in cubes and work areas.  They can be quite different with their own sets of rules.

The official culture lives on, of course, and every employee will nominally adhere to it lest they be singled out.  But often such adherence seems to be lip service, the minimum we need to get by.  Change key personnel or executive management and the official cultures lapses, sometimes towards the actual culture - the one where most people live and spend their working lives.

It is awkward not only for the foreignness of it but also for the ambassadors for it. There is usually a sense that this "must" be adopted.  It can be said in the nicest of ways and with a great many incentives, but the bottom line is the same.  Everyone else knows what is going on.  Maybe the ambassadors do as well - but if so, they hide it well.

Am I advocating never changing corporate culture?  Not at all.  As I indicated above, some need to be changed and this is only done by individuals.  But the changes, to be successful, need to spring from  the actual culture (or at least be adapted from them) to truly take root and be adopted - otherwise, like a transplanted organ, they may be rejected at the first sign that they can be rejected.

Do you wish to make a different corporate culture?  By all means, make it - but make it in such a way that people engage in it, not suffer through it.

The alternative?  To have a corporate culture that will end up be a mile wide and an inch deep, ready to give way at the first sign of stress or opportunity.