Sunday, April 22, 2012

Notes on a Senseless Tragedy

Chris Deaver, a local musician, was senselessly murdered while working in a pawn shop in Florence, S.C.
I didn’t know him.  I know his fiancĂ© and have spent some time with his daughter. They are lovely. It is easy to imagine their laughter would have been like music to Chris. Now, though, their hurt and sadness coat them like scales they cannot shed.
I imagine myself and HB in their position and my eyes fill with tears.
Police named robbery the motive for the crime but reported the murderer had considered killing before this particular crime. He is a disturbed individual who does not seem to have even an elementary understanding of right and wrong. He is too young to be a “career” criminal, but last spring he made a choice and he is not a victim.
Every element of this story saddens. This editorial tries to pinpoint the source of this sadness.  Everyone knows about the victims, and so this piece tries to turn the tables. It describes the courtroom and one person’s brief eye contact with the accused. Eye contact and the appearance of a slight smile on a killer’s face.  Just 17 at the time of the crime, just 18 now, he is human after all, the writer says.
The sadness in the editorial is apparent, but the writer doesn’t adequately explain what is so sad. The comments on the editorial are equal parts outraged and the scathing. And they have every right to be.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Trust me, I'm a doctor

A bone healing machine. The prescription I received for the injury that ended my half marathon training is a machine that stimulates bone growth.  I have a stress fracture and the doctor prescribed electronic voodoo.
He’s the second doctor I’ve seen. The first took me even less seriously. She just told me not to run. So, after 12 weeks of medically-prescribed rest and CVS-provided-anti-inflammatories, I got a referral to an Ortho.
Dr. Womack is a consultant to an NCAA Division 1 football program. He’s young and could easily be harboring ambitions of an NFL team doc job. He is tall and reminds me of my OBGYN, except he doesn’t know me and I don’t know him.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

In which I piss off a Pulitzer Prize winner

Yesterday I wrote a short story. The first one I’ve written in ten years. It’s not very good, but it’s a start. The inspiration was hearing a story read by a novelist at the Clemson Literary Festival Thursday night. What a great night!
I reconnected with a professor I had in 1996, made some new friends, and snapped a photo with the headlining novelist at a bar sometime around 11 p.m. Thrilled and proud, I posted the picture to my timeline on my public Facebook page. And that, apparently, was not okay.
Or maybe telling him I had done so was the problem.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Not Anybody Like Me

“Would you think he was anybody like you?”
That’s the last line of the story Rock Springs by Richard Ford, in a collection of stories bearing the same name.  I read the story and responded, “nope.”
It was probably 1996 or 97, and I had escaped the suburbs of Northern Virginia to the idyllic college town of Clemson.  And now, sixteen years later, I’m headed back to Clemson to hear Mr. Ford read. I had to remind myself of the name of the story.
Rock Springs was published in 1988; it’s certainly not the work we’ll hear tonight. I think I might be embarrassed or surprised that I haven’t read anything else by Ford. But I’m not. The world of literature is so vast. And he’s not anybody. Like me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An Open Letter to the PGA Tour

Dear PGA Tour,
I don’t mind that Augusta National is a men’s club. I don’t mind that the CEO of IBM was not offered membership to Augusta because she’s a woman.
I’m a woman and I’m told I’m supposed to mind. I’m the mother of a daughter and I’m told I’m supposed to mind. Jesus would mind, according to Maureen Dowd. But I don’t.
It’s just sports sponsorship. It doesn’t affect the quality of public education or any aspect of U.S. global military intervention. It doesn't really matter.
Playing Passive Defense
Other people don't seem to mind, either. So far both Augusta National and IBM have been mute on the subject of Mrs. Rometty’s membership (or lack thereof).
But the real creep has yet to speak up.
This is not IBM’s problem. It’s not Augusta’s problem. It’s not a woman problem.
This is the PGA’s problem.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Birthday Resolution

It’s been a week since A Birthday Juxtaposition. In past years I would still be celebrating my birthday. But I’m older. I only celebrated for four days.
Anyway, the juxtaposition put Lady Gaga, ROI, and Generation Flux against one another in an epic (not really) mind map. Mind mapping is a good way to make sense of disconnected thoughts fighting for attention while you’re trying to focus.
I started with Gaga. March 28th was her birthday so I used mine, the 29th, to salute her. I explained her use of fame as a medium like painting or music. I confessed I love her.
Then I wrote on ROI. I am still working on the project to show exactly what impact our team is having on reducing financial leakage. I wrote a formula into which we could plug various measurements to deduce the definitive sum that would be ROI. It looks something like this:
L= T[Is + L]
No, I won’t explain it. And yes, I do apologize to all the legitimate math people who will be offended by my abuse of their symbols.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another GenXer in Flux

I want to break my default settings. I want out of the day-to-day life of boredom, routine, and petty frustration (with a nod to David Foster Wallace, linked above).
I know most people don’t think their desires are unreasonable. Except, when I say mine aloud, the people around me scoff. Audibly.
Some of my favorite nay-sayings:
·         Just be glad you have a job.
·         You may have to take what you can get.
·         Well everyone wants that, but be realistic.
·         If the opportunity presents itself, sure, but it’s unlikely.
·         How will you make money that way?
·         I just don’t see how it would work.
The last one is Cuk, my ROI-model-requiring husband. Show me the plan, give me the proof, explain exactly how it will work and also, what the back-up plan is.
Stick to what you know
Most of these voices come from a traditional economy. The traditional economy looks like this: eight-to-five work day, five days a week, office, cubicle, meetings, Outlook calendars, phone extensions, regular paychecks with direct deposit and 401k contributions.
Stability, right? Not so in 2008. Not so in 2009.
I am grateful for having “survived.” I'm grateful for my employer having “survived,” under incredibly competent leadership, with only a small share of the overall casualties. I know my family was extremely lucky and continues to benefit from the benevolence of stable, profitable companies.
But it’s not 2009 anymore. And I'm moving to Clemson Road.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Come, Gypsy, tell us how much we'll make

ROI models are a lot like fortune telling. Intuition, experience, and observation are the tools used to predict the future. And yet, like any forecast, an ROI (return on investment) model is subject to change.
Getting my husband to agree to anything is like getting legislation through Congress. So I presented an ROI model to Cuk when I wanted to convince him to support my PhD program.
I estimated how much the degree would cost in student loans ($4000/qtr), then I multiplied that over a conservative estimate of how long it would take (5 years). I then researched how much I could expect to earn after completing the PhD (80% more than 2006’s salary) and multiplied that over how long I would be working afterwards (30 years).
The purpose of an ROI model is to convince people that an idea’s payoff is worth the costs associated. Cuk agreed the investment was sound. I enrolled in Capella University’s curriculum for achievement of a PhD in Organizational Management in the fall of 2006.
Take a Chance
What I have learned about an ROI model since that initial attempt is that a complete model must include peripheral costs associated with potential interruptions. These are risks in the ROI model. These risks adjust figures and change the model, rendering it at best inaccurate and at worst a terrible misrepresentation of reality.
For example, the earnings piece of my PhD ROI model is affected by several factors that, in 2006, were unforeseen: 1) the economy tanked in 2008 and employers adjusted their pay grades downward because the market was flooded with talent and 2) unemployed workers flooded universities pursuing degrees, creating a highly-educated talent pool.
See the Unforeseen
Other interruptions include cultural and personal change. For example, from 2008 until 2011, in resounding chorus, workers sang, “just be glad you have a job!”

ROAR!!! Then wait. Repeat as necessary.

I’ve always loved March’s “in like a lion, out like a lamb” dichotomy. On the one side, there’s a fierce restlessness an...