Saturday, June 30, 2007

Booknote: How to Be President

Williams, Stephen P. How to Be President: What to Do and Where to Go Once You are in Office. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2004. ISBN: 0-8118-4316-5.

This little book is a guide to the daily life and routines of the U.S. President. Want to know who does your laundry? This book will tell you, and it will remind you to pay your bill at the end of the month. I had no idea the President was responsible for paying for the laundry service. However, there are a good number of free perks he or she gets. Find out why many Presidents usually keep the same barber as the predecessor even though they can get their hair done by anyone they want. From how to behave in a formal state dinner to taking a vacation away from it all, this little book will tell you what you need to know for when you make it the White House. Overall, it's a nice little book, written in a casual format with many little sections, FAQ's, etc. It is interesting and very entertaining way to learn about how the President works and lives.

Friday, June 29, 2007

My Peanuts Character

Hey, we made it to another Friday, and it is the end of the month as well. So, you two readers out there know odds are good I am posting some silly quiz results. This week we are going with Peanuts. I mean, everyone likes the little comic strip, right? Anyhow, here are my results:

Which Peanuts Character are You?

You are Franklin!
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Found via A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy.

Booknote: The No Asshole Rule

Sutton, Robert I. The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't. New York: Warner Business Books, 2007. ISBN: 0-446-52656-8.

Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Business, management, organizational behavior.

Dr. Sutton did not set out to write this book, according to his Introduction. But after publishing an article in the Harvard Business Review that got a lot of responses, he went ahead with it. The rule is quite simple: No Assholes in your workplace. Don't tolerate them. Don't put up with them. Don't bring them to your workplace. However, there are times when you are already stuck with the asshole(s). The book will define the term, tell you the damage these assholes do, and explain how to enforce and maintain the "No Asshole" rule. This book is here as well to help those who are stuck with such assholes, and yes, they deserve to be called assholes. We know who they are, and no other word will do them justice. And by the way, assholes don't have to be loud and obnoxious. You have to watch out for the ones who do their damage under the radar, so to speak. And by the way, assholes know no gender; men and women can be assholes. See the first chapter for how to identify assholes.

So you know, we all have our asshole moments. As Dr. Sutton says, if you have never acted like an asshole, send him an email and let him know how you managed that superhuman feat (11). But those brief moments are the temporary assholes. The ones we are worried about are the certified assholes. Those are the ones that take being an asshole to an art. Look for consistency. Dr. Sutton writes, ". . .if someone consistently takes actions that leave a trail of victims in their wake, they deserve to be branded as certified assholes" (11-12). Also, assholes are not to be confused with people who may just be a little aggressive. Dr. Sutton does remark that constructive conflict in an organization is a good thing. Here, though, we are talking about those mean people who make it a sport to demean others in lower positions than they are.

Now, why is this issue significant? Dr. Sutton writes,

"Every organization needs the no asshole rule because mean-spirited people do massive damage to victims, bystanders who suffer the ripple effects, organizational performance, and themselves" (27).

Dr. Sutton also gives guidance on how to cope if you are stuck with asshole(s) at work. One of the techniques is the concept of reframing. Dr. Sutton writes:

"Some useful tricks include avoiding self-blame, hoping for the best but expecting the worst, and my favorite, developing indifference and emotional detachment. Learning when and how to simply not give a damn isn't the kind of advice you hear in most business books, but it can help you make the best of a lousy situation" (131).

A lot of business gurus out there simply spout the virtue of being passionate about your workplace. Well, that is very overrated.

"All this talk about passion, commitment, and identification is absolutely correct if you are in a good job, and are treated with dignity and respect. But it is hypocritical nonsense to the millions of people who are trapped in jobs and companies where they feel oppressed and humiliated--where their goal is to survive with their health and self-esteem intact and provide for their families, not to do great things for a company that treats them like dirt" (136-137, emphasis in original).

Dr. Sutton expands on the point about detachment. In fact, one of the strengths of this book is that he explains everything in very clear terms, and chapters offer good summaries of what you read. There are also plenty of illustrative examples. Additionally, he also reminds us there can be an asshole in everyone of us, so, remember, the first step is recognizing you can be asshole. From there, you can work on not letting out that boogeyman. Overall, a great little book. It is an easy read. It is straightforward and direct. It is now a matter of deciding whether to implement the rule or not. And if that is not an option right away, gradually working towards some solution then, or at least living to fight another day., even if it means eventually doing it someplace else.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I go to listen to Pandora and. . .

. . .and I find that today the station is taking a day of silence to protest the recent results of RIAA lobbied arbitration rising fees for Internet radio. Most Internet stations from the looks of it are joining the protest as well. I don't know about the rest of you out there, but I certainly don't want to lose Internet radio stations, which often are a first place to listen to some good independent music, and for the most part are labors of love, just because the big bad RIAA wants to squeeze more money (nothing wrong with money per se, just the greed). They are urging listeners to take some time and contact their legislators to sponsor the "Internet Radio Equality Act." See below for information, then take a moment to contact your local legislators:

Monday, June 25, 2007

So, what's your global IQ?

Now, as I was taking this, it was a bit of a humbling experience. I do have to say that some of their questions do border on the kind of trivia one would find on a board game. Other questions are the type you would know if you are at least somewhat well informed. I did learn a few new things, and I found myself surprised by some of the answers with reactions such as, "oh really? I thought the number would have been higher/lower." Anyhow, I was humbled indeed with a final score of 48% for 130 questions (which puts me within 51% of respondents taking the quiz). And by the way, at 130 items on various categories, it is quite gruesome. So, go ahead, give it a try, and no, you are not allowed to Google answers before you press the submit button.

Find the article by John Meacham, "What you need to know now," of Newsweek.

Get the quiz.

By the way, there are other polls and features along with the article that may be of interest as well.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Booknote: Saints Behaving Badly

Craughwell, Thomas J. Saints Behaving Badly: The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil Worshippers who Became Saints. New York: Doubleday, 2006. ISBN: 0-385-51720-3.

Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: History, Christian hagiography

This book is a small collection of stories of saints. The author brings together brief stories of various saints. He shows the saints as the flawed humans they were who went on to become saints. Though the author seems to favor the notion that these men and women strove for sainthood, personally, in some cases I have to wonder. For instance, St. Augustine, one of the greatest saints of the Catholic Church, was quite the playboy and philanderer, going so far as to ask God to grant him chastity and continence, just not yet (so he could experience his sinful life just a bit longer). Actually, I remember learning that little tidbit somewhere in Catholic school. I always wondered about that; it seemed awfully convenient to me. I guess I was on my way to becoming a bit of a skeptic.

At any rate, no need to do any deep theological ponderings here. This is a light and entertaining book. The chapters are short and brief, and overall, interesting to see what some of these guys and gals did before they achieved their sainthood. Maybe one way to look at it is how one of the book's reviewers, Raymond Arroyo (quoted in the book jacket) sees it: "If these folks can make the cut, maybe there is hope for the rest of us." If you want to learn a bit about the saints and to do so in a light way, this may be a good book for you then. While clearly geared for Catholics, I think other readers might find it interesting as well.

The Nostalgic 5 Songs Meme

I got tagged for this by Woody, so here goes my attempt. Now, Woody twisted it a bit to suit him. Since I do listen to Pandora, I may try it his way next time I have the player on. In the meantime, here is the version as Woody got it, via Ruminations.

The rules then:

1. Go to the Billboard #1 Hits listings (scroll down and you’ll see them separated by decades on the left in the sidebar)
2. Pick the year you turned 18
3. Get yourself nostalgic over the songs of the year
4. Pick 5 songs and write something about how these songs affected you
5. Pass it on to 5 more people

My year was 1988. I am not too thrilled with the songs for that year, even though, overall, I am an 80s fan. Thanks to YouTube, I was able to go back and revisit some of them. So, my five choices:

  1. George Harrison, "I Got My Mind Set On You." It's a silly and simple song, but it still brings a smile to my face. I like the video's setting, because, for some reason, I want a reading room just like that. I love also the squirrel with the pipe for a saxophone.
  2. Terence Trent D'Arby. "Wishing Well." "Kissing like a bandit, stealing time. . ." I loved that line. The beat was also one I liked; it would put me on a nice mellow. A nice slow tune. I think songs like this led to my interest later in life in music along the lines of techno, trance, electronica, and similar.
  3. Rick Astley, "Never Gonna Give You Up." I happen to like Astley, though I like his song "She Wants to Dance With Me" much better than this one. Anyhow, Astley was popular around the time I started dating my better half, and it would be on in the Student Union on Fridays quite a bit. I am sure as heck not giving her up. By the way, for some reason, I liked guys who wore suits and ties (yes, I like Huey Lewis and Robert Palmer too, for instance).
  4. George Michael, "Faith." No rocket science here. I just like the guitar and the song. The organ music at the beginning is always nice. Then again, I sort of still like ecclesiastical sounding music (a hangover from my Catholic upraising from which I am recuperating. I am very happy in my heathenism these days). And hey, the song just has a good beat.
  5. INXS, "I Need You Tonight." Hmm, INXS, what is there not to like?
There were a few other songs I liked that did not make it to the top Billboard that year.

Not tagging anyone, since by now, I think most people have picked it up, but if it moves you, hey, go for it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Brief Summary of my mini-vacation 2007

Right after the 2007 Memorial Day weekend (May 29-31), we took a a few days off to travel the roads. We visited Memphis's Beale Street and the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. I wrote about the trip in my personal journal. For blog visitors, here are some links which may be of interest of our short trip.

  • I have posted a small set of photos from the trip in my Flickr. I have included some comments on the photos.
  • In Memphis, I visited Beale Street. I had visited Graceland back in 2003, so we saw no need to do so again. Thus we spent the day in Beale Street. The highlight this time around was visiting the Rock 'N' Soul Museum. It is a Smithsonian Affiliated program. Highly recommended. Other stops in Beale Street: A Schwab's (see the wikipedia entry here), Tater Red's Lucky Mojos (just a really cool store. I am definitely making this a must everytime I am here), and Memphis Music.
  • In Little Rock, we visited the Clinton Presidential Library (library NARA website, center's website). I highly recommend a visit here. The museum itself is great, but the park makes for a very nice and relaxing destination as well. If you want a souvenir, visit the museum store, along Clinton Avenue. Two down, nine to go (ten when they build G.W. Bush's library). Here is my note about my visit to H.W. Bush's Presidential Library, which includes a bit more information about the Presidential Libraries.
  • We also visited Hope, Arkansas along the way. Find out about Bill Clinton's birthplace. See the city's website.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Not quite 100% Nonconformist. . .

. . .but I am working on it. I am not exactly the most conventional dude. I did not really need a quiz to tell me that. In this one, the key question for me was the one about the sense of right. Yes, I have a very strong of right, and it often clashes with other people who think things should be "more gray." Not saying I am not flexible. I can be very flexible and relaxed, but there are times one has to draw the line. Way I see it, they don't like it, tough. Anyhow, here are the results. Not so sure about the aluminum foil on the head though. You won't see me doing that anytime soon (other things on the head are certainly open to discussion).

You Are 93% Non Conformist

You're incredibly strange. And a weirdness like yours takes skill to cultivate!
No one really understands you. And you're cool with that. You just hope you never have to understand them!

Booknote: Big-Box Swindle

Mitchell, Stacy. Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-retailers and the Fight for America's Independent Business. Boston: Beacon Press, 0-8070-3500-9.

Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Business, retail, chain stores and franchises

I picked this up from my library's new book cart, and after reading a few pages, I was hooked. I started reading it that day. Right away, I think this may be a book of interest for some students in the freshman composition classes who at times write on topics about multinationals or big-box stores. The book looks at how big-box retailers basically come into towns, wreck the local economies, and then often leave after a few years leaving behind empty box buildings and shattered downtowns. The author lays out the case of the high cost of big box retailers. Contrary to the jingles advertising low prices and convenience, the reality is that very often the cost is very high in terms of economic, social, and environmental consequences. But the book is not only a case against the big boxes. It also shows how independent small businesses and communities have banded together to keep the big boxes away and create new economies, or revive old ones, to keep money in their towns and thus grow their local economies in the interest of the community. Overall, an interesting reading. It is well documented, and it includes extensive notes at the end of the book.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Color I need

Well, I can certainly use some more energy as of late. Anyhow, it's Friday.

You Need Some Red in Your Life

Red will make you feel energetic, passionate, and determined.
And with a little red, you will project an aura of warmth.
If you want to feel intensely, you've got to get some red in your life!

For extra punch: Combine red with orange or pink

The downside of red: Red can provoke anger or rage. Watch out!

The consequences of more red in your life:

You will feel more enthusiasm for life
You will have the confidence to go after what you want
You will have a lot more physical energy