October 17, 2006

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.

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September 19, 2006

The Bible doesn't say Christian couples can't enjoy sex or sex-tech

I think that the above title pretty much says it all -- But it is not a lurid message in the least. Pastor Joe Beam of Family Dynamics is trying to point out that it is not a sin in a loving Christian marriage to have and enjoy sex. He backs up his message with book, chapter and verse in the bible. Much of his audiences are married conservative Christians. 

There seemed to be a sense that he was giving a sense of relief to those who might already be having sex, and feeling guilty; or permission to those that feel it might be a sin but are interested. He is not giving or suggesting carte blanche, and lays out some rules that basically must be followed -- no one can get hurt, between married couples, no animals, etc. Does not believe that pornography and to a lesser extent masturbation should play any significant role if at all in the sexual relationship even if done together.

Before I read the article I was thinking that it might be someone on the fringe trying to come to get out a sex positive message. This is sex positive but it is also not a fringe perspective. The audience definitely was not.

This obviously deals with adult themes so be warned before looking at the videos of this talks and interview. Article and video on MSNBC. Article and video on Wired.

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September 11, 2006

Strands of Understanding or Clarity?!?

As is suggested in my Bio, I am a single father of three kids (Grant, Rachel, Paige), two dogs (Scruffy, Sakima) and a kitten (Simba). I live in Napa, California (USA). I have a girlfriend of two years, Svea. This, I suppose,  is the beginning of one strand.

Maybe it will be the beginning of getting some clarity or meaning in my life. Maybe it will also help me identify what my faith or spiritual journey is or is going to be. A strong "faith" has not been a major or even minor part of my life. I would say that I am not without questions and desire for something as yet undefined. However, I would say that I am a "spiritual" person, but it is difficult to build a community with others in this area if one cannot easily define themselves in relation or context with others.

I find myself looking for and needing a sense of community, and it does not seem to be popping up in other areas. Work, kids, even external family. Exploring faith is a place where people of different backgrounds can come together and explore and hopefully add meaning in their lives. I see my meaning coming from more than a faith focus. But this seems to be one area that is calling to me.

I am trying to be careful not to talk about religion. While that is an obvious subtext to the above, I have had some mixed experiences relative to organized or institutional religion. I find that adding that view just gives me too many reasons to abort exploration. Having a love of history that includes some of the actions taken in the name of religion is enough to make many people do an about face. At the same time, it is difficult for me to deal with people that have unquestioning faith. Faith for me is about a journey. Someone that blindly walks the path is just as easy to veer from it. Checking for directions seems to me to be a good thing.

As is suggested in my Bio, I am a single father of three kids (Grant, Rachel, Paige), two dogs (Scruffy, Sakima) and a kitten (Simba). I live in Napa, California (USA). I have a girlfriend of two years, Svea. This, I suppose,  is the beginning of one strand.

Maybe it will be the beginning of getting some clarity or meaning in my life. Maybe it will also help me identify what my faith or spiritual journey is or is going to be. A strong "faith" has not been a major or even minor part of my life. I would say that I am not without questions and desire for something as yet undefined. However, I would say that I am a "spiritual" person, but it is difficult to build a community with others in this area if one cannot easily define themselves in relation or context with others.

I find myself looking for and needing a sense of community, and it does not seem to be popping up in other areas. Work, kids, even external family. Exploring faith is a place where people of different backgrounds can come together and explore and hopefully add meaning in their lives. I see my meaning coming from more than a faith focus. But this seems to be one area that is calling to me.

I am trying to be careful not to talk about religion. While that is an obvious subtext to the above, I have had some mixed experiences relative to organized or institutional religion. I find that adding that view just gives me too many reasons to abort exploration. Having a love of history that includes some of the actions taken in the name of religion is enough to make many people do an about face. At the same time, it is difficult for me to deal with people that have unquestioning faith. Faith for me is about a journey. Someone that blindly walks the path is just as easy to veer from it. Checking for directions seems to me to be a good thing.

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September 7, 2006

'Bones' and Faith

I would say that in many ways that my approach to faith has been a lot like that of Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brenning on the Fox TV Show, Bones. (Bones is a forensic anthropologist on loan to the FBI for certain cases.) If it is not logical or tangible, then it must not be 'real'. She and her brother were orphaned at a young age (or so they thought). But it turns out they were not, and that her mother's remains are found. And it is likely that they (the parents) were on the run in some fashion. So fast forward a few episodes and (unrelated to the story line) she is brought by one of the other characters (Seely Booth) to the grave site. She is awkward and her clinical nature gets in the way. But ultimately she begins to ask some of the questions to which she wanted the answers.

Without going into my fascination into these types of shows (CSI(s), House, Bones, etc.) I think this almost clinical approach to religion has crept up from past. I am a 'PK' (or preacher's/priest's kid) -- there is some similarity between PKs and Army Brats. (My father's an Episcopal/Anglican priest.) As the generalization goes, usually you either end-up cynical, or religious; wild or quiet, etc. I kind of went the cynical and quiet route. I suppose if this type was actually act out too much they would. It does not allow you to get to sprititual or faith bound for a good part of your life. But as soon as add this idea of spritual there seems to let in the idea iof god some other supreme being. The logic side takes a lot of time debunking all the possibilities. It creates conflict. I think that I am going through this conflict at the moment.

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December 1, 2005

Wish I could figure which one of these I was!

Mister Snitch has an interesting take on what is needed for a popular blog. It is a very good analysis. I only wish I knew which one I am...
 
 
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November 30, 2005

The Flu is not just Achoo!

A pandemic's second front - Editorials & Commentary - International Herald Tribune

The possibility of an avian flu pandemic is real. In America, President George W. Bush has sensibly proposed a substantial investment to detect, identify and contain the virus, when and where it begins human-to-human spread.

It is mind-blowing to me -- we have the potential of a major disaster (and I do not mean the Tsunani ro Katrina) that has the potential of spreading death over the world, and no one seems to notice. It is the Avian Flu. I talk to friends and they write it off as a product of the government and drug companies. while the above might not be trustworthy -- we only need to the early part of last century that the flu can do real damage (Spanish Flu). the possiblility of devastation is huge. I am not sure of the answer but people should not be passive in this!

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November 4, 2005

The way of Board Governance?!?

This article in Businessweek by Peter Burrows, talk about how HP is now going to require that Board members to win a majority of shareholder votes. It is interesting almost 'HP way' approach to looking after shareholder interests. However, the board can refuse the resignation. In this post-Enron, Sarbanes-Oxley world it is nice to see this gesture.

It is not quite an earth-shattering move, but it does suggest that there are some leadership moves that are occurring and maybe this will catch to other organizations.

I do not think that this absolves HP of the Compaq merger, but it is at least a start.


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October 25, 2005

Colleges and "American" Values

Top 10 Colleges for American Values-
"Choosing the Right College: The Whole Truth About America's Top Schools," by ISI Books has been published since 1998. It seems a little unnerving that people would choose schools on something as nebulous as "American" values.  I guess what they are speaking to is the idea of tradition and the "ideal" family. As one might guess, most of the top 10 are from some religious background or influence.
 
I must say that I have not read the book, but I saw nothing in the discussion of it to suggest that there is a clear definition of values. It seems to be a synonym for tradition, conservatism and religion. I believe that anyone should be able to choose an educational direction for themselves or their kids. For me, it is just the seemingly presumptious way in which the books suggests.
 
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October 19, 2005

Interesting Rumor

Interesting little article from NewsMaxRumor: Cheney to Resign; Rice as V.P.
I could definitely see something like this happening. We will know soon enough. I do not necessarily like her poltics but for some reason, I have always been emamored with her. Maybe part of it is that she is from this area (SF Bay Area -- Stanford), or that she is smart as a whip. For that matter, both she and Hillary seem to be more intelligent than the average politico. She seems to have some leadership ability, however, if this plays out we will now for sure ;-) .
 
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October 9, 2005

Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible

Hmmm-- very interesting article in the Time of London. The catholic church has begun to say that parts of the bible are inaccurate or untrue. In the article, Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible, go as as far as to suggest passages that are untrue or true. I have always found the book of Genesis to be fascinating. It is here that some of the confilicting accounts are brought up and therefore at least one has to be untrue.
 
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August 22, 2005

Iran

Reading the beginning of an interesting article in the SF Chronicle about Sean Penn and some colleagues spending a few days in Iraq.

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Iraq and Constitution

Now that Iraq is transitioning to their constitution. They are going to need as much help as possible. When you think about it, the American constitution was a tough enough thing to agree on and pull together, with the help of some very bright people in a simpler time. When you consider the factions, etc. It is amzing that they have made it this far. Especially since you have to figure that the U.S. has been keeping itself busy "advising". The thought of all this boggles the mind!

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July 1, 2005

ITtoolbox: Thoughts on Ethics

James McGovern in his piece "Thoughts on Ethics" raises some ideas on ethical approach in an area that often thinks of itself as amoral. Brings up culture as a component of the ethical process. This is right on the nose.

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January 25, 2005

Darwin, DNA, Chaos and Meaning

This and other thoughts from Martin Hall

We hear about values in values in many contexts and we will go into some historical contexts in the next chapter. However, we hear about values: family values, organizational values, societal values, religious, moral values, etc. But many times they are hard to understand because the context is not understood. Values are personal and but they also need to be accessible. They need to be meaningful. The challenge is create meaning for the individual while also providing meaning for others to understand and interact.

The closer that we can come to discussing personal values in a universal context the more effective it can be. Looking at values from the perspective of the pursuit of science can be effective at looking at values in a more universal, more accessible context. The more we can agree on what something means (even if we disagree on its importance) the better possibility that we will have better communication, better relationships and more meaningful organizations.

If we begin to understand values, and at least agree on the definitions of values, then we can measure. Measure values! Can you really do that! Well, in the proper context you can. We will go more into the idea of measurement later, but the idea of identifying something and being able to see if it changes is very important in the pursuit of science. While there are some areas such as axiology (Hartman, etc.) which are trying to turn values into a science, we are going to explore the strong contexts in a more metaphorical context. As you will see these contexts are very powerful in creating a language for the effectiveness of values in organizations.

While we will talk about Aristotle and others in a historical context later, it can be good in setting a context of how a Darwinian view of values is important to getting the proper context of how values play an ongoing and changing role in our lives and the organizations within which we work and interact. Aristotle may have had the first attempt to vocalize values concepts. He saw leaders as needing about half a dozen attributes for excellence. In many ways he was one of the first leadership development mentors. He was an advisor for Alexander the Great. His context was leadership development, but there were obviously other things that drove peoples' decisions at that time, such as simple survival. In the intervening years, there have been more values as the way in which we have interacted with the world has become more complex.

Values have evolved in a manner that might be consistent with Darwinian concepts of evolution. Think of the Cave man personal survival, family, relationships, power, etc. Moves to hunter/gatherer created need for stronger relationships. Communities came together to deal with the increasing need for specialization so that duties did not have to be duplicated and more could be provided....this is where the valuing process starts to get more diverse. As groups come together to achieve common but diverse objectives there is more needs or aspirations involved.

Aristotle voiced some of these. Likely there are things that were valued historically, that are not valued now. Or they have evolved into something that is more significant to our time. But as religion, philosophy, science, politics, exploration, economics all grew so did those things that people would value or aspire to.

We have evolved from the cave man to the six to twelve values of Aristotles day to what be considered a number well over 100 (we will cover this idea later). Not only the did the development of values frameworks develop, but there is process of evolution and survival of the fittest that comes out of how the individual and organization grow and maintain themselves.Lets look at Darwin for a moment. Before Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species (1859), he took a trip on The Beagle. It was here that he discovered many things that lead to his ideas and concepts such as the process of natural selection. In the Galápagos Islands, he found that similar creatures on different islands had developed differently apparently based on different environments even though they were only miles apart.

Values both for the individual and for the organization react the same way. We may be born into similar environments but a combination of our genetics and our environment shapes in very specific ways. We will be very much like those around us but we will also have things that drive us that are unique. We all have our own unique configuration. We are attracted to living and working with people with similar likes, dislikes and gifts. However, we are still unique and have our own contributions.

Organizational culture develops in the same way. Organizations are a lot like self-regenerating evolutionary organisms that evolve to meet new challenges or die off. If they have the requisite variety (Ashby) or diversity while maintaining a core they will continue to evolve and continue to be successful.

Organizations may start from the same environment such as the same marketplace but the internal code is different. There are different people in the different organizations. And while people from different organizations may come together for similar reasons, they are all a little different. It is dependent on this code or configuration that defines the culture. The minimal values that are in common give the basis for the culture, and it is the diversity and the clarity of purpose that give the organization capability for success. They still need to have good products and be competitive, but to do this they must evolve.

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Values as DNA for the individual and DNA for the organization

If we are to tie the concepts of chemical reaction and evolution together, genetics can be a strong communicator. Mendel, Bateson and Watson are among those that have been instrumental in our understanding of how a genetic code has a lot to do with how our genes or cellular make up behaves.

From a values context, we inherit from our biology and from our experiences a sense of valuing what we feel is important. This configuration or code is what makes us individual.If we are to think in an organizational context, Values are the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) that codes the genes, humans are the cells, and teams are their manifestation as organs. These all need to come together to have an effective human being. If the DNA has defects it can disrupt the whole being, if the organs have problems it can threaten the viability of the organism. If the whole being is not held together and healthy it will not be able to meet the challenges that it has put before it. And while there may be similarities with other beings (organizations), there still is a sense of self that is different for all others. This is the same for the organization as it is for the individual.

Our relationships are the glue to this DNA. Relationships build human beings, teams, organizations, and marketplaces.

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Big Picture, Personal Focus, Meaningful Environment

The Duality is probably best discussed as understanding the Big Picture but maintaining a connection to the personal focus. What Think Globally, Act Locally means to the ecological and peace movements, Big Picture, Personal Focus, Meaningful Environment means to the Effective Organization. This idea is not new. Senge (1990) touches on it in his seminal book, The Fifth Discipline.

Big Picture

Seeing the Big Picture is about seeing the world as collections elements with interrelated parts. It is essentially seeing groups of things and the relationships between them. The more technical term is systems thinking but it comes in many forms. In a quaint way, it is the specialization of generalization. Complexity and Chaos are just a few of the ideas that come under aegis of systems thinking. Much of western education focuses on specialization, systems thinking does not want to discard that but also wants to integrate some of the Renaissance notions of seeing the connections and patterns among different things such as science and art. It is about stepping back from the incredible volume that we process every day and distilling it down to its essence. Minessence is about mining the essence of complex ideas. This is what systems thinking is about. It is essential for understanding and harnessing the power of the organization and the environment in which it operates.

Personal Focus

There is really no such thing as an organizational value. It is really the manifestation of personal values in a larger context. Personal focus is about getting the individual to understand the role that values plays in their day-to-day life. As we understand our values, we get insights into out own behavior. It is only when we get this insight into our own behavior that we can effectively interact with others, and can begin to understand their behavior. The more I understand about being what I desire and can offer the more effective I can be as a team player. The team is the holograph of the organization in that it is where values are first applied in a social context. It is where personal focus must get applied in a group context.Values are about understanding relationships the more that we make our own values explicit, the more success we can have with our relationships. Organizations are really nothing more than a complex system of relationships.

Meaningful Environment

Meaningful environment is the team, group, organizational or cultural alignment by harnessing the Big Picture and the Personal Focus.

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