« September 2006 | Main | November 2006 »

October 17, 2006

In the Beginning...

It seems looking into the past can give us some perspective on the future. I guess I might be writing this more for myself than for others. Anyway,  might as well get some of the facts and figures out of the way. Born in London, Ontario, Canada, November 4, 1963 (6 weeks premature) to British parents (dad: English, mom: Welsh). Age: 42 (now, not then). Nearly did not make it, etc.

With parents and younger sister in the Anglican mission field (Father was/is ordained Anglican/Episcopal Priest) in Mexico and Central America until about 4 years old. Came to the US (Los Angeles), moved to Indiana (God only knows why).  Lived in Indiana from about 6 years old to 15 years old. Moved quite a bit until I was in my 20s. Moved to Santa Clara while in high school. I have been in SF Bay Area ever since (Santa Clara, San Jose, and then Napa, CA since 2001).

When we moved to Santa Clara, I ended up going to all boy Bellarmine Prep (High School) in San Jose from 10th to 12th grade (1982). I went to Santa Clara University (where my father taught) -- While I was not very thrilled with Bellarmine, both Bellarmine and SCU were outstanding Jesuit schools. While I started at SCU to get a Computer Science degree, I ended up getting a BA in History degree with a lot of computer science courses (1986). After a few years, I ended up going to San Jose State University (1988) for my MS in Cybernetic Systems (1992) (ironically from the Anthropology and Cybernetic Systems department). About  2 years later, I started a Ph.D. at University of Hull in the UK while living in Napa. In retrospect, maybe not the brightest thing I ever did. I defended in November of 1997, and graduated February of 1998 from the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside. Lincoln School of Management for short. My PhD was essentially in Systems Thinking and Human Values.

I got married in September of 1986 (for an update on this, see here). Worked in the tech industry in various roles for a long while (largely until I started on the PhD). Some of the places were: Olivetti ATC, Sun Microsystems, Frame Technology, Verity, Autodesk, IDG (technology writer). I was also starting to do a little OD (organizational development) and that eventually led to me doing the doctorate. My father is an expert in human values, and I worked with him at various times over the years. In 1994, we started Values Technology which has been seriously up and down over the last twelve years (I am not currently working for VT). Since I was technology savvy, and a growing expert in the area of values, I consulted and also steered the technology development. When I was not working on the technology I designed large scale interventions for values-based OD. The last time I left I was considered chief architect (bridging technology and values). I still advise my dad and company. Other than this stuff, I have taught at the post graduate level -- mostly in the area of leadership development.

Systems thinking and values, two areas, that other than history and technology, have fascinated me. I might add document analysis, but that really is an offshoot of the others. Since high school I had been fascinated by the ways in which values and meaning could be pulled from documents. Metaxio is a current attempt to make this more accessible to others.

In 1999 and 2001, my wife and I had a boy and twin girls -- as with most fathers, they are my pride and joy.

Well, that is probably enough for this entry. It sets up the entries to follow ;-). I am hoping there is a point to all of this!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by mlwhall at 8:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Akeelah and the Bee

Spoiler: I really enjoyed this film. It is something to say when my 6-year old says he likes and wants to be like Akeelah when all he will watch is animated. He then said that he wanted to learn how to spell so that he could win a trophy like she did. He thought the ribbons were pretty cool until he saw the trophy she won at the National Spelling (anything else is a 'big person's' show). I say this because it appealed to both of us as well as others that were watching the DVD with us (the twins fell asleep). Basically, it is poor kid from LA that has a gift for spelling, the relationship with others, and the spelling coach. Others can probably review this better than I, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I have not seen a good film in a while. This one filled the bill.

Tags: , , , ,

Posted by mlwhall at 8:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bill Clinton's Second Act

AOL seems to be having a couple of blogs / journals on Bill Clinton for their Citizen Journalism Daily Pulse Blog. The piece entitled, "Bill Clinton's Second Act" is trying in part to figure out his post-presidential impact and if it is changing peoples' minds. On the whole (so far) it seems that if you liked him before, you will like him now. And if you did not, you probably do not like him now. I think it might be a little while before we can know for sure.

On the whole, I think that Clinton was a good president. I think the positives out weigh the negatives overwhelmingly. Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water. Post-presidency he seems to have had better positive exposure than any president since Carter.  With some exceptions he seems to have been somewhat apolitical. Time will tell but after a relatively low profile he seems to be having some very positive impact. I think that he might be staying out of the political spotlight as to not overshadow any political ambitions that Hillary might have.

While he was a solid, progressive democrat he was also a consummate politician (and one hell of a campaigner). He would reach across the isle when needed. He wanted to build consensus and get things done. Now that he does not have a "personal" political agenda, it is much easier for him to partner with whomever makes the most sense. He still knows how to command the world stage. Recently, taking the stage with Laura Bush for "play pumps" in Africa (an initiative she is spearheading) at the kick-off for his Clinton Global Initiative roundtable. This is cause for which he is donating millions. He also partnered with President Bush, Sr. on post-Katrina clean up efforts. Let's not kid ourselves, he likes the spotlight. But he also seems to take that light and point towards areas of need.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by mlwhall at 8:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Can It Really Be a Disease?!?

Health, for the most part, has not been a major problem for me. But there have been some significant markers. The one that I think most people do not understand and for which I am only just figuring out myself is the disease of depression. I do not want to suggest that everyone that has been depressed is suffering from a disease. I think it is a lot like alcoholism, not everyone that drinks is an alcoholic, but there are definitely alcoholics and if they are to function they need to manage the disease. Depression manifests itself in much the same way. From what I understand, clinically if one has at least three major episodes of depression they are considered to have the disease. I certainly qualify on that count.

Treating the disease is not straight forward, either. Taken to the extremes, psychiatrists and other MDs want to prescribe drugs, and psychologists feel that it is more of behavioral thing and that it can be shifted through therapy. Different things work for different people, but to me it seems that it tends to be a combination of both. I find that I can get depressed when things are otherwise OK, but it can increase if there are negative situational factors in the environment.

Depression is in much the same way. I am not sure that all doctors even see depression as a disease. But if you look into the pathology of it, you start to see that it is. Depression is, for many people, the moody teenager that will grow out of it;  the temperamental artist that must suffer for their art, etc. These characterizations can often deflect the insidious nature of the beast. Jeffrey Kramer, in the book, Against Depression, helped me to see this as a disease and the pathology behind it. The funny thing is that as you see it as a disease it becomes a little easier to treat. In some ways it takes away some of the stigma. I probably do not need to go through the litany of problems that plague a person suffering from depression: wrecked marriages, relationships, suicide, problems with jobs (getting and keeping them), drugs and alcohol, on and on. Marriage, job problems, self esteem and to some degree alcohol seem to be my issues. I would say that from an outward perspective that I cope with it reasonably well. It is the profound sense of wanting to hide from the world that really hits me.

It sneaks up on you and those around you. And it comes up in places that you do not understand, or would not expect. You suppress it one place, it comes out another.

I grew up as a PK (Preacher's/Priest's Kid). My father was/is an Episcopal (every where except the US they are considered Anglican) priest. For this and other reasons, we moved quite a bit. Being a PK is a little like being an Army brat, but different. They tend to be wild or quiet, conforming or not. I was kind of the quiet, non-conforming type. Being a little bit of a smart alec did not help either.

It seems that PKs that move around quite a bit, particularly quiet, non-conforming types, fitting in and getting friends did not seem to help much. When I did get friends we would move away. I know that is one of the most painful issues of my separation and impending divorce from my wife is that while we were working on it, we let relationships with good friends atrophy.

It seems that from a fairly young age, I was getting setup for anxiety and depression. In hindsight, I go back and forth on the nature versus nurture. There are definitely some behavioral things that occurred, but I am also of the belief that brain chemistry plays a role. They say that anxiety and depression often have genetic roots. My father is a psychologist, so he essentially does not seem to agree, but I see much of the behavior that I have also in his.

I guess that net issue is that I suffer from depression, and that it is relating to where I am now.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Posted by mlwhall at 7:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Boing Boing: Ambien awakens persistent vegetative state victims

Link: Boing Boing: Ambien awakens persistent vegetative state victims.

I find this item interesting -- I have been using Ambien for a while for sleep -- since I have issues with depression, and the doctors think it is a good idea to get good sleep -- I can see why. It does help...I try not to take it very often -- and at lower doses, but it is useful. I guess I really do not have any eye-opening comments on this but I found that is tolerable, I do not get a 'hangover' for the most part and does not seem to be addictive as I was afarid it might -- however I am talking relatively low doses here...
Tags: , ,

Posted by mlwhall at 7:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack