Archive for December, 2006

I got a new wallet for Christmas….so I had to clean out the old one.

I had a ticket stub from the Empire State Building (which I never remember visiting, but I guess I did. I did go to NYC a few times.) There is a receipt from when I visited Albert Einstein’s house in Bern, Switzerland: Entry fee 2 Swiss Francs.

“Alaska Employment – Fishing Industry. Earn up to $3,000 – $6,000+ per month. No experience necessary. Male/Female. Age 18 – 70. For information call: (206) 971 – 3512 ext. A53812.”

I remember putting it in my wallet at Clemson right when I was about to graduate. I must’ve called, because I wrote “talked to Linda” next to the number. I’ve since seen on TV a little about life on those fishing boats. I don’t think I missed out; however, I did talk to a guy once who did it and said the money is real and it was the best summer of his life.

I have the combination to the equipment locker of the Rockmont gym. That piece of paper is almost 10 years old. I used to go shoot basketball after all the kids were asleep and since the counselors locked up the balls after the day, I needed the combination.

I have tons of old phone numbers, the ink blurred by moisture and the paper mildewed. I bet none of those people live there anymore. It was before cell phones though, so I had to carry everyone’s info around in case I needed to call….which I rarely did.

I have Gloria’s phone number from Holland. Pete told me she is still playing music in a band in Lexington. I have Anne Marie’s phone number from Spain. I wonder where she is? Last I heard she called off her wedding and was doing investment banking in Germany.

I have a contact number for St. Barts in Charleston. They are a boat delivery service. I thought I wanted to be a sailor. That was before the Mediterranean, before I learned about salt water and sea sickness.

I have the first few lines of a poem I penned the weekend I graduated from Clemson over at the lake. They are so faded I can barely read them now. I did sort of fancy myself a poet for a while. I wasn’t very good though.

I have the email of Brendon Jones, a philosophy major from Oxford I spent a little time with in Morocco. I wrote about him once in this post. I just wrote him an email. We’ll see if the address is still valid and/or if he remembers.

I have Peter’s address when he lived at the chateau in France:
30570 Valleraugue
Gard, France
ph: 4 67 82 25 12

I remember I tried to call him and the message said some crap in French I couldn’t understand. The girl I was living with at the time in Taiwan (Merrilyn) happened to speak French and told me the message said “the number you are trying to reach has been changed”.

The new number was:
04 67 82 26 33

I have this poem too….which I certainly did not write:

The raindrop whispered to the Jasmine, “keep me in your heart forever”.

The Jasmine sighed, “Alas,” and dropped to the ground.

You see……the raindrop landed on the jasmine, but the raindrop was too heavy for the delicate flower.

That is sad.

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Perhaps the most frustrating, subtle, and brilliant strategy ever devised in human relations is the “The Aiken Solution”. Everyone uses it, but few realize how powerful and universally applicable it really is.

George Aiken was an old-school, state’s rights, conservative Republican from Vermont. He counseled both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon on Vietnam, but they never listened. “Declare victory and get out,” he said.

Declare victory and get out. The simplicity is astounding. You can’t argue with it because of its illogic.

It does not have to be a lie….though it is certainly a reshaping of the truth. It can snatch victory from defeat, except unlike REALLY snatching victory from defeat… this case you are INVENTING victory from defeat.

To use a sports analogy…..if you win the Super Bowl on a last second field goal after an unlikely interception, then you snatched victory from defeat. You celebrate big: uncork the champagne, smoke the cigar, have the parade, get the trophy, etc. etc.

But what if you missed the last second field goal after an unlikely interception? And you celebrate big: uncork the champagne, smoke the cigar, have the parade, get the trophy, etc. etc.

The two paragraphs read similar. You still had the parade. You still drank the champagne. You still have the trophy. In a few years, who will remember that the score seemed unfavorable at the time? All that matters is that you won!! You’re a champion baby!

If that was slightly confusing to read, that’s why the Aiken Solution is so brilliant. But you think, “Who is dumb enough to buy that strategy? Everyone knows what the score was right??”

No. In real life there is no score. Often success is subjective, the outcomes distant and the evidence hard to verify. Then you really can declare victory.

I watch companies do it every quarter when they release earnings. No matter what numbers they release….whether above or below expectations, they will paint a positive picture of the previous quarter while outlining the challenges, and say that the business is sound, and the next quarter will be even better. They won….simply because they said so.

People don’t know what to make of the Aiken Solution, so, if nothing else, you can throw up a smokescreen to buy yourself some time. It takes a while to catch on to.

Bush used it well in Iraq. “Iraq is linked to Al Qaeda.” It turned out it wasn’t…so he used the strategy, ignored his defeat and declared an unsubstantiated victory instead, “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.” They didn’t… he just declared a different victory. “We are bringing freedom to Iraq.” They haven’t done that either since Iraq is all but at civil war….so he might literally declare victory and get out this time. That’s what the Baker Report should’ve suggested.

So the point is that it took most people years to figure out what Bush was doing. Some knew sooner, some later….but all the same: the strategy works and people use it all the time.

Start watching….you’ll notice it. Anytime anyone just blatantly disregards reality and declares it something else…..they’re using it. Sometimes we don’t even know we’re doing it.

I read a study the other day that asked why people lie. One of the their primary, and very interesting, theories was that lying developed not to manipulate other people…..but to manipulate ourselves. We tell ourselves what we need to hear to get through the day…..and the brain gets so used doing it that the practice spills over to what we say to other people.

Not sure how true that is…..but is interesting….and I just won the Super Bowl!! You can too if you like.

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Drinking a moderate amount of alcohol

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I can say I’m playing a lot of tennis. I can’t say that I’m playing all that well….but it does give me something to do and actually takes up a fair amount of time.

Christmas is coming up!!! I can’t say I’m all that hyped. I like Christmas…the decorations and festive atmosphere, but it isn’t the same as when I was younger. Everyone thinks that though…I don’t know why I just bothered to say it??

I applied for the MBA Enterprise Corp this year again. I tried when I first got out of B-School and they turned me down. I wanted to see if they would accept me now. They did. I got a “preliminary” match in Bosnia and Azerbaijan. I can’t even point to those countries on a map…although I suppose I could get close.

I told them during the interview that I would not accept any placements in Sub-Saharan Africa. They asked why and I told them about all the ragged travelers in Egypt and Morocco that had come up from the Dark Continent with horrible stories. That isn’t very professional….but it was true.

The MBA Enterprise Corp is like the Peace Corp for MBA students. I think I’ve said that before…but in case you forgot like I did, I just said it again. They partner with governments, NGOs, or large consulting firms on various projects from micro-finance, to international marketing efforts, to process improvements…etc, etc.

I am not going to do it, although part of me still wants to. I kept asking about what people did AFTER their 1 year placement (its 3 months of language training and a one year placement…so 15 months). They said the majority end up working for their host organization or get a job abroad through whatever network they create while working. I don’t know if I want to do that again. Its such a bizarre lifestyle.

On the flip side, I don’t know how much longer I can keep up what I am currently doing. I’ve been at it for a little over 2 and a half years now….its really not that long I suppose. I had a 1 year question moratorium and six months in India. I have issues.

I need a plan. I have one to be honest, but plans are only as good as your willingness to execute on them. Motivation is the problem.

I interviewed today with some people for a different position inside my company. I have done that enough times now to shrug it off without a hope. You just keep trying because you don’t know what else to do.

Drinking has lost its fun too. I notice that the more unhappy I am the LESS I drink. I guess that is a good thing as alcoholism is a low quality lifestyle.

I watched Superman Returns last night. I had already seen it though…when it was called Superman. I thought they would try to do something original with the character or throw a twist in. They didn’t. They special effects were cooler though.

Alright….that’s enough. I don’t even like listening to myself…which is a first.

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Actually, they are George’s pictures, but as you can imagine they look the same as mine, which I am too lazy to post. He did a better job than I would’ve anyway.

Here is the link.

George took his camera everywhere, while I could never bother to get mine out. He had a very small, nice camera in a waterproof case. It rained the whole time we were there and, while I certainly do have some pictures…..I don’t have nearly as many as he did. I don’t have any from rafting.

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