Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Letter with 'Talvez'


1. "Not in my dream". What I meant was this. I want you physically close to me during the day. Body and soul. And at night? At night I want you entering my dream. I should have said "I don't want you in my dreams only".

2. Talvez, meu amor. Talvez. 

3. Question 1. Quote Gao Xiqing (NRC september 26, 2011): "Why is there no political union in Europe? Because in the south people prefer to work 5 hours a day 3 days a week; in the north people prefer to work 80 hours a week." Questions. Too much generalized? How about China: How many hours do they prefer to work; regional differences;  Tiger Mothers and Daddies in every family?  

4. Question 2. Observation: In The Netherlands the Dutch Ombudsman is a great success. Question: how long will it take before he and his organization succumb under the heavy workload? When goals fade and bureaucracy increases? My prediction: one day we will need an ombudsman for the ombudsman. Deep down this is a variation on Juvenal's (1-2 century AD) theme 'Who will guard the guards themselves'. 

5. Shortcuts. Last week I wrote to you on desire paths as a shortcut. Observation: shortcuts are everywhere around and in us. It's a shortcut when someone steals a car. It's a shortcut when people prefer taking a benefit above working. Free-riding is a shortcut too. So is taking a train, software or music without paying for it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Birds and bees do it. Rivers do it. Let's...

Desire Paths. Do They Make You Smile Too? 

Last week I've been thinking about why desire paths make me smile. Better: make me laugh a lot :)) Ever noticed the eroded shortcuts caused by footfall where constructed pathways take a circuitous route?  The paths usually represent the shortest and/ or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination.

Did you know that those shortcuts had a name? I didn't. I found out only a couple of months ago.

1. The birds and bees do it. Rivers do it! (Here is the life history of a meander.) Look at the bends in rivers. The water that crawls like a snake through the landscape. The play of water and obstructions (rock, harder soil, trees, etc).  And  human intervention when we channelize them.
2. People do it! At school we learn - the hard way - how we have to write and speak properly. And in real life? We play with language. What we write on Twitter and via SMS is a mix of abbreviations, emoticons :) , #hashtags, wrds whre lettrs are missng, different languages, words that make sense in a context, single letters or digits replacing words or syllables, slang etc. In real life we use language most of the time in a shortcut format. Ever read a properly written shoppinglist?
3. Cain and Abel did it! Desire paths are connected to the old story of the two sons of Adam and Eve in the (Hebrew) Bible. Remember the story? Cain is a farmer and his younger brother Abel is a shepherd. Abel is murdered by Cain. The fight between constructed pathways versus desire paths is deep down - since 10,000 BC - the fight between farmers/ settled people/ Cain versus  hunter-gatherers/ Abel.

Why do shortcuts make me smile? Because every-time when we're trespassing the non-constructed soil of Others we are feeding the hunter-gatherer/ Abel in us. Most (who not?) of us live in our time and age settled in houses but ... deep down we long for wandering. We have wanderlust ;) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Script for a film (or book) inspired by 9/11 memorial name panel.


Title: Tag
Subtitle: Amazing story! Courage. Treason. Purifying Love
Summary: Hero for whom the 9/11 events were a Window of Opportunity to Start a New Life
Music: Ana Carolina/ Confesso

Scene 1: Mother with an 18 year old girl at the 9/11 memorial name panel. We don't know who they are. Her hand is connected to 1 name. It's not her first visit. Routine, love and intensity. We can only see a first name: 'Vincent'. Music playing: Ana Carolina/ Confesso.

Scene 2: "Vincentio, will you please show our new guests their room?" asks a wife (in Spanish) to her husband. He small-talks to his guests in fluent English. Country: Venezuela. Husband: tanny, little belly, around 60 years old. Wife: classy, pretty, around 45 years old. The two of them run a little shabby chic hotel near the sea. A little child helps her mother (=  Vincentio's wife).

Scene 3: 15 years later. A grandma (= mother in scene 1) with a mother (= child in scene 1) with two kids at the memorial. The two kids touch their grandpa's name. Grandma tells what happened at 9/11. "When your mum was 8 years old, remember?" Vincent (around 40 years old as a firemen) saved two people before he went for the second time into the building. He was never seen again. The only thing that was found of him was his helmet and his military dog tag. Pictures of the crashing buildings. "He was a hero who gave his life for saving others."

Scene 4: Vincentio's 75th birthday party in a restaurant (= same as in scene 2). Surrounded by his loved ones. Wandering thoughts of him. Pictures of the crashing building again. This time we can see Vincent with a man (broken leg) in the building's staircase. He lost his helmet and dog tag on his way out. Just before the building crashes they are out. Dust and debris everywhere. The two men in a little apartment nearby. Coughing. Sweating. Injured. Watching the first pictures on TV. Vincent: "Pfff that was a near escape." Man: "Sure, it was." Vincent: "I always wanted to have a hotel near the sea in Venezuela." Man: "Why didn't you?" Vincent: "My wife doesn't want to go to the criminal Latin-America. Bad environment for growing childeren.

Scene 5: Vincentio checking out Facebook and Twitter for his first family. Step by step he is getting more information: pictures, names and holiday pictures. Finding out that his first wife died 3 years ago. 

Scene 6: A few months later. Wife 2 dies. Vincentio still lurking on his first family.

Scene 7: New York. Near Ground Zero. Vincentio checking out Twitter on his mobile phone for the latest tweets from his daughter (= 12 year old girl in scene 1 = mother in scene 3). (He learned via Facebook that she wanted to visit this day the 9/11 memorial.) We know that he wants to reveal the secret he carried with him for more than 25 years. Vincent is walking to his daughter. Before their eyes meet a little child drops her doll. He grabs it. While grabbing it, he suddenly realizes that he was too selfish by walking away on 9/11 from his first family. Revealing the truth is not necessarily 'love'. He is selfish for the second time. Truth is an overrated concept. He would really love her by keeping his mouth shut. Take his secret into his grave! His daughter sees Vincent in the tanned Vincentio. Instead of revealing his secret he tells (in broken English with a lot of Spanish words) that he is looking for the name of a friend on the memorial. We see Vincentio walking away. His daughter looks at him shaking her head. She tells her children that that old men reminds her of her daddy.

Scene 8: Zooming out on: Vincentio looking at the distance on a name; name of Vincent on the memorial panel; his daughter walking away with his grandchildren. Music of Ana Carolina/ Confesso again. "I confess (...) there are still surprises, but I always want more (...) I'm not the owner of the Truth (...) I will not steal your time, I have stolen too."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Still there? It's about you too

"Work Expands so as to fill the Time Available for its completion." Still there? Just wait for a moment. It's about you too!

Why did you want to skip this Post? Is it boring to talk about 'to complete work'? You already know all you need to know about this subject? Really?

I'm a manager for more than 10 years. Time and again I hear "We Need More Capacity!" Sure. But having more slack resources, like more 'workforce capacity', is no guarantee that our company would finally have time for all the work that needs to be done. Why not? Because we as species 'homo sapiens' spend our time anyway. Our time for our tasks fills the time we have available. Regardless how much time there is. 8 hours, 24 hours, 40 hours or 80 hours a week.

Did you notice that this applies to:
  • Social media. 1 hour chatting, tweeting or listening to music a day? We can - effortlessly - spend 24 hours on the web talking to our online friends.
  • Lover. Just eating with the two of us. We can look into each other's eyes for weeks.
  • TV. Watching a movie, a soccer game and a whodunit story. Time flies.
  • Books. I could read for days at a row. How about you?
  • Glider club. I could spend every week, at least 2 days with my friends at the glider club. Talking about flying up there. And flying in the blue sky. 
Why am I telling you all this? At work. At home. In our mind. It's not about having lack of time. It's about priorities and urgencies of the things we want to do. It's about making choices. And sticking to them.

One last thing. Ever noticed that the same can be said about money? Our expenditures rise to meet our income. Regardless how much we gain.   

P.S. The laws above are not something I've made-up. It's the first and second law of C.N. Parkinson (1909-1993).