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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Blogging Goals

From Wayne Hurlburt writing at Blog Business World comes several ideas on how to improve your blog conversations:
Blogs are about creating and nurturing conversations, that lead to making connections, that in turn lead to business or personal relationships. While not all bloggers are able to make those connections, let alone build relationships with their readers, the potential for doing so exists.
Read the full posting here.
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Monday, February 27, 2006

Long Tail Wags the Dog

Dan Bricklin (father of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet) has an excellent analysis of the long tail and which products will survive and why.
Check it out!
In areas where results are often customized to people or situations and that can't be addressed directly in advance, such as when there is a high value to most users of at least some user-generated material, "open" general purpose systems that address all these niches will dominate.
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Sunday, February 26, 2006

John Seeley Brown

John writes on the intro to his section on Creating a Culture of Learning
Organizational learning and knowledge sharing have held out great promises, but have failed to deliver the goodies. Why? And what can be done about it? I claim a lot. But first we must understand how learning and creativity actually happen inside an organization, how IT can support them (which it doesn't today), and in general how and why knowledge both sticks within an a community of practice, but seems to readily leak out along the pathways of external networks of practice. Coming from PARC ,you can imagine I have had a lot time to reflect on this problem.
Note: This is not a blog but it is chock full of good information. Plan on spending sometime here.
Thanks to Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users for the link.
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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Dilbert's Wisdom

There’s no such thing as good ideas and bad ideas. There are only your own ideas and other people’s. If you want someone to like your idea, tell him he said it last week and you just remembered.

You can estimate the time for any project by multiplying the number of idiots involved by one week and adding the number of capable co-workers times four weeks. (The competent ones are busier.)

Do these resonate with you?

Have you seen these around your workplace?

You can find more of these at ?IC@TomorrowToday.Biz in Mike's posting on Scott Adam's Wisdom for Graduates .

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Thursday, February 23, 2006


FASTCOMPANY's new issue features the FAST 50, a selection of those moving and shaking the world with foresight to take advantage of the real opportunities.

For example:

By spring of 2010, each dawn will see a startling robotic performance in the Mojave Desert, north of Los Angeles. Just before sunrise, thousands of broad, mirrored dishes will wake in unison, their faces to the east. Each will be as wide as a school bus is long; arrayed in perfect lines for miles, they will track the sun all day, feeding power to the hungry city. After sundown, the dishes will pivot back to await the next dawn. "It's going to be like a ballet," says Stirling CEO Bruce Osborn, the man responsible for putting the dishes in the desert. "Way cool."

Beyond cool. Revolutionary. For the first time, solar collectors will generate electricity on a scale only coal, gas, or nuclear plants have managed. Not kilowatts or megawatts, but city-sized gulps of power, hundreds of megawatts. "The magnitude of this is mind-boggling," says Osborn.

You can read more of the solar power project here.

I'd post more about the FAST 50 but due to the way they make their content available on the web, only the first 6 of the 50 are available today. If you subscribe (or buy a copy on the newstand), you get a code that will provide access to the remainder today. Otherwise, you wait until March 14th to get at the full issue on-line.

If you don't subscribe, I would recommend considering a subscription. I find it one of the most interesting business magazines. You could also pick up a copy on your local newstand.

Enough of the sell pitch. Note, I don't get anything for this (nor do I want to), there is really interesting stuff going on that is highlighted in the FAST 50.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Redefine your cage, or break out!

From Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users comes this wonderful quote:

From a fascinating article in the new print issue of Seed Magazine (my new favorite):

"Eight years after Gould defied the dogma of her field and proved that the primate brain creates new cells, she has gone on to demonstrate that the structure of the brain is incredibly influenced by one's surroundings."

One of the most interesting (and, in hindsight, "doh!") discoveries was that one of the main reasons researchers kept finding NO evidence of new neuron development in their test primates is because they kept them in an environment which shut that process down. In other words, it was the caged-living that stopped the neurogenesis process.

Read the full posting to get all the details.

Then redefine your work space, make your environment life enhancing, not life threatening!

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Asacker with 2 challenges

Tom Asacker writing at A Clear Eye has two challenges for the blogosphere today.
Check them out here!
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Political Parody

From an email circulating on the net... I love parody!

A story about a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys and their lives over the years.

Thanks for forwarding Brian!

CoComment Role

From Frank Paynter writing at Sandhill Trek comes this confessional on the where's, why's and overall rationale or thought process behind his links or non-links to give credit where it is due. He quotes from Doc:
I think it's both right and responsible for bloggers to point to their sources, especially to other bloggers. It's also essential to recognize the abundance of excellent sources that aren't in some search engine's "A-list". Finding and crediting those sources is one of the things I've always liked best about blogging.
Yes, the web is glorious enabled for links. I admit to getting lost following links sometimes. A bunch of my discoveries are found this way. Maybe Google's search reporting could help me retrace my clicks but there are times that I do not think I could do it the same way twice. And Frank says it politely:
Here's the deal.  Sometimes I get sloppy. 
So here's the opportunity. The blogging tools should be more complete to allow the activity of blogging to become more effortless. 
Blogger does not permit catagories, so I write multiple blogs.
I use Qumana to make this writing easier. I have all the edit, linking capability I had in the Blogger editor and now have tags enabled with a click.
Blogger does not enable trackbacks, so I use Haloscan.
I used to complain about the lack of diversity in Blogger templates but with some searching and help from my readers, I found a new and useful 3-column template.
And along comes CoComment. This slick tool can help Frank keep folks aware of his visits. Frank's audiance maybe able to start reading between the lines of his comments to see what is coming. Oh, that can be scary. I am not sure how far to go on that!
You will see where I go and comment because those comments are now magically captured in the left column. Over time (as more folks use CoComment) then this will get even more interesting as the other comments in the stream on that blog (now, where did I leave that comment?) will be easily trackable. Hurray for CoComment! Comments were not worth much more for tracking than bread crumbs were for Hansel and Gretel.
To help enable the use of CoComment:
1 - get an account.
2 - if your own blogging software has a setting to have comments come up in a pop-up window, change it. CoComment can't handle popup window comments.
Enabling comments to be tracked in your trail around the blogosphere will help folks really see all of your conversations and help you keep track of the conversations you participate in.
Of course, this assumes that you want all those visible. It is your choice to use CoComment when you want (assuming that blogging software is enabled for CoComment).
I endorse CoComment. It helps me live well here on the long tail.
And someday, there is always hope for this eternal optimist, these tools will come in a single package. Now wouldn't that be nice?
Would you add something to this toolkit?
What tool do you use in your daily blogging?
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Saturday, February 18, 2006

New template today

What did you do?

Yes, it was about time. I needed I new look.

Work is busy or quiet, on or off, in or out, up or down, debit or credit.
Hey, all technology is even ones or zeros. You get the idea.

So the new template is color themed black/white.

But rest assured, I will continue to try and walk the line, between, amongst, around, above, below, etc.

With your help via comments, emails, and overall cooperative collaborative inspiration of course!

So that said: what do you think?
Is this a keeper?

Let me know.

PS - with a little luck both Passionate Runner and Steve's 2 Cents will get new looks this weekend also.

PSS - and many thanks to Thur Broeders for the template!

Education budget

From David Warlick at 2 Cents Worth comes this meaningful proposal to adjust the Bush budget proposal.
I think that Bush should propose a 25% increase in education adding 15 billion to the approximately 60 billion that is currently available for national education programs.
I wholeheartedly concur and not just because my wife teaches kindergarten or that I started as a teacher (once upon a time).
The education of our youth determines our future. This budget proposal has its priorities all wrong. These priorities need to be corrected. It is up to us to do something about it. I have come to realize that I can no longer sit idly by. I will do something about it.
Will you take action? Write to your Congressional representatives! Blog about this!
If we want to be life long learners, we need to walk the talk!
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Friday, February 17, 2006

More Love for Friday

The guys at OK/Cancel are so cool with their comics. I love how they can condense an issue to three frames. Such skill. I know it takes work. I have read their process. It is work but good stuff.

This is round about an excuse to share their comic for Valentine's Day:

Every day is a good one to share your love. Just use better lines than shown here :-)

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Public Service - Fraud Alert

As part of our regularly scheduled programming, we now bring you a public service alert.
This has some relevance to me, more so recently since I switched from AOL to gmail as my primary email service. The amount of s p a m that has continued to arrive in the gmail inbox is incredible. The alerts from "my credit union" service to validate my account information has grown. Used to arrive once a day, now multiple times a day. Used to come from some unknown person now I am getting it from Brittany Spears and other celebrities.
Do they think I am more likely to open the email if it is from Brittany?
So finding this on the Secret Service web site was interesting on the one hand; I guess they don't just protect the president and on the other for the nature of the deal these folks are trying to perpetrate.
Read it and be aware. Stay alert!
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Check out the other links

Sometime when I don't get to post here it is not because I don't have something to say. Sometime I am busy posting on my other blogs and run out of time.
Yes, I could do better time management. I am working on that.
So sometime, if you do not see something here, check out the other links where I write.
One of the other things I am working on is a new 3-column template which will incorporate the RSS feeds of my other writing into the template.
So it will be easier for you to make one stop and see what's new.
Stay tuned!
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Monday, February 13, 2006

Monday Morning Memo

From the Monday Morning Memo from the Wizards of Ads:

Would you like to have a secret retreat from the buzzing noise of daily life in the 21st century? Are you prepared to take a journey that will move your mind to another place, another time? Today I'm going to tell you about four
non-fiction books and not one of them has a plot.

But don't let that fool you.

I do highly recommend subscribing to the memo.

I find it a great way to start each week.

I believe these books have now been added to my "To Read" listing.

Circle Recognition

From Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People calendar for 2006:

Another excellent way to become more self-aware regarding our own degree of proactivity is to look at where we focus our time and energy. We each have a wide range of concerns --- our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt. we could separate those from things in which we have no particular mental or emotional involvement by creating a "Circle of Concern".

As we look at those things within our Circle of Concern, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. We could identify those concerns in the latter group by circumscribing them within a smaller "Circle of Influence"

By determining which of these two circles is the focus of most of our time and energy, we can discover much about the degree of our proactivity.

I like this concept. I added my 2 cents to create this diagram of three circles.

The center circle, Ownership, recognizes that there are things that once we start them, they are ours. We can ask for help but the responsibility for them is purely ours. Making your marriage work, raising your children, paying your taxes, finding meaningful and satisfying work... no one else has this responsibility but you.

The second circle, Influence, picks up from Covey's thought and for me recognizes that there are things in this area that should not be ignored. You will notice some changes in the topics that I will write about due to this realization that I have come to recently. Some of the political issues locally and nationally have too much potential to affect the future that I and my family will face, the time has come to put them in the scope of my action. I will not venture willy-nilly into this area. It is fraught with all kinds of dangers but I can no longer just sit idle when there is a call to action.

The larger circle, Awareness, recognizes that the world is a rather large place. We do need to focus on our Ownership and Influence space but we can not ignore the wider world. Awareness most of the time should be sufficient to avoid some surprises coming from there.

As this first pass on the circles, you will note that I have not put any particular items into the circle diagram itself other than talking to some as examples of what would go there. I want this concept to linger a bit, settle in, play with the thought of it before taking the next step and starting to pin specific items to the circles.

The idea that this would be an evolving diagram is intriguing. How does one create the diagram and almost recreate it at each significant event? The softness and changeability of the web should provide some flexibility in this area.

What do you think?
How would you define your circles?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Franklin - Smart Growth - Considerations for Dean College

Dean College revealed an audacious plan for consideration of its own future and growth in Franklin. This has created something of a local controversy. Two of the more controversial proposals call for the college to obtain the Davis Thayer school building and to work with the town on plans to consider closing a section of Main St to improve the safety of the Dean students as they cross from one side of the campus to another. Safety is always a good reason to consider something, even if it is out of the ordinary like closing a part of Main St. Plenty of discussion should ensue to explore the options for improving the traffic flow in and around the campus. As hard as this might seem on the face of it, there is potential for a win-win, if we get the folks to the table with open minds.
These seems to be a more difficult task on the Davis Thayer proposal. Certainly the school is fully utilized and the school district is struggling with capacity. New schools have come on-line recently yet, each school in the district still has 'temporary' (or modular) classroom buildings that are heavily utilized.
''We still need that school. I don't see that happening anytime soon," said Town Council chairman Chris Feeley.


Town Councilor Carlo Geromini said the college's relationship with the town over the years had generally been positive.

''Dean has been one of our greatest assets," said Geromini, whose two sons attended the college.

But he agreed with Feeley that selling the elementary school to Dean would be the wrong move for the town.

''Schools right now are pretty much crowded, and to lose one of our schools, I don't see that right now," Geromini said.

I urge caution on this particular proposal. I grew up in Pawtucket, RI about 20 or so miles south of Franklin. I urge Franklinites to recall what happens to them as they drive down Route 95 to Providence, RI. as you cross the MA line into Rhode Island, you prepare to navigate the infamous S-curve in Pawtucket.
This S-curve is a permanent legacy to a similar stand off by the Pawtucket School Dept when Route 95 was being built. The Le Foyer Club was located on Fountain St. Le Foyer was a hall for the local French club. Joseph Jenks Junior High School stood on Broadway. It was an aging facility (very similar to Davis Thayer) but heavily needed by the school department. Route 95 construction tried negotiating with each group, the Le Foyer and the school department to purchase one or the other to allow Route 95 a smoother road through the city. Neither was willing to budge. Route 95 was then built to go around each obstacle creating the S-curve.
It wasn't too long after that the city did indeed have to replace the school and at the time had to go finance it alone having passed up the opportunity to get some funding from Route 95 to help defray the costs.
See the parallel to Franklin? No, there isn't a major highway being built through downtown but Dean is already there and needs to expand. Franklin needs space to provide an appropriate educational environment for its growing school population. Is Davis Thayer the best solution for Franklin's educational future? Only as a bargaining chip in negotiations not as an ongoing facility.
What do you think?
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Franklin - Smart Growth

My home town is the spot light of an article by Bryan Urstadt in the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine (free registration required) today:
The next boom in real estate may have started with a wrecking crew. The target was a single abandoned furniture warehouse right in the center of the once-thriving downtown of Franklin. What went down with the warehouse may be the whole idea of living in a huge house on gobbled-up farmland in the suburbs and spending the better part of your life behind the wheel of a car.

Some good practical thinking went into the proposal and work being done by developer John Marini. He should take credit for exhibiting patience and persistence in pursuing his vision. As outlined in the article, the local zoning requirements grease the skids for 'standard urban devleopers' but makes developments like these take a 'special track' which adds time and cost to the ultimate project. Not that I am advocating for a greased skid on this side of the process either, there needs to be some fairness for all processes.

Because of the zoning laws in Franklin, building in the dense Smart Growth style is more difficult than a zoning-tailored project. “Most towns want 40,000-square-foot single-family lots,” says Marini. “But in the center of a town like Canton or Franklin, I think you should be able to build on 2,000-square-foot lots.” In Franklin, the smallest ready-made zoned lot is 5,000 feet. Less than that, and developer permits are in the time- and money-consuming “special” category.

I don't walk to the train station as much as I could. Good old unpredictable New England weather gets the prime blame on this one. I live a full mile from the station and try that in a driving rain storm or blizzard. Living closer to the station in this kind of urban setting would be much more convenient.
Is there Smart Growth in your neighborhood?
I'd be interested to know.
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Friday, February 10, 2006

Google Desktop Search - Think about it!

From Tom Smith at InformationWeek comes this blog posting excerpt:

So for me, it's encouraging to see that Google continues to enhance its Desktop software program. I already use it on my personal system and hope to extend that use -- policies permitting -- to my corporate activities. Yes, I'm quite concerned about the prospect of personal information getting stored on Google computers, but there are obvious steps I can take to avoid that, such as taking off my PC any data -- such as financial account information -- that I wouldn't want to be accessible to the outside world. And, for all the concerns that get raised about Google and whether it's becoming the world's biggest snoop, its download page gives clear, explicit instructions for how to prevent Google Desktop from indexing and searching certain the data that you don't want it to. For many users, however, it's likely that won't be good enough and their privacy concerns -- specifically relating to the Search Across Computers function -- will outweigh the potential benefits. (For another view on the Google Desktop Search software, here's a compelling opinion from Preston Gralla of our Networking Pipeline site and yet another, more skeptical opinion worth reading.)

Read the full post here.

I recommend following the links to read the two other opinions Tom references.

Then think about how you turn on Google Desktop Search if you do.

This is another step towards that Google future or futuristic vision.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Brand advice

From a brand master, this advice to really think about...

So if you want to refer to yourself as a "brand" - if you want to play that "game" - then you must understand and accept the realities of the marketplace. Most importantly, the cold, harsh reality that the marketplace doesn't care about you. We care about how our association with you is going to benefit us. Will it make me feel smart? Will it make me feel right? Will it make me feel more connected? Will it help me do my "job?" Will it give me something to talk about? Will it bring me more blog traffic? Will it make me feel less alone?

Am I suggesting that you play the personal brand game? That you try to figure out how to "monetize" your blog writing?  Hell, no. Write because it turns you on. Write because it helps you understand. Write . . . just because.  Or better yet, go for a walk. Play catch with your kids. Relax under a tree. Make a whistle from a blade of grass.


I think I'll write

and run

and do whatever that leads to...


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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Attention blogging women

In case you missed this from Jennifer Warwick, she has some business news and an opportunity for blogging women.
Sorry guys, not for us this time.
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Monday, February 06, 2006

Quotes & Links


I say that the right metric isn't how much it costs to send a mail. It's how much sending a mail is worth! In other words, if an industry-wide .25 cent stamp eliminates spam, it's likely to double or triple the response rate to permission mail. A boon! If you send me 100 emails with stamps, and I read them all, you've spent a quarter. If you can't cost-justify that, you shouldn't be writing to me. If I were an email permission marketer, I'd love this... the same way the DMA should have embraced the do not call list.

Read the rest of his post here.


From Ken Thompson at The Bumble Bee comes 10 tips for leaders and their teams:

    1. Process and Procedure are the last hiding place of people without the wit and wisdom to do their job properly.
    2. There may be no 'I' in team, but there's a 'ME' if you look hard enough.
    3. There's no 'I' in 'team'. But then there's no 'I' in 'useless smug colleague', either. And there's four in 'platitude-quoting idiot'. Go figure.

Read the rest of the post here.


From Dave Pollard at How to Save the World comes this gem:

... feeling guilty for not having yet discovered one's Passion or Genius or Purpose is as fruitless and unwarranted as feeling guilty for not having transformed humanity into what it isn't and saving the world. Hell, I'm 54 and as I explained the other day, I haven't yet found what lies at the intersection of What I love, What I do well and What is needed. So I'm spending my time doing stuff well that's needed, but which I have no passion for, and doing some stuff well that I love, but which is mostly underpaid and under-appreciated. Rather than trying to develop a passion for the former, or  'create' a need for the latter, I need to search harder for the work that I already love and do well that is already needed. I know it's out there.

Yes, you'll need to read the full post to put this except into the proper context. Don't be overwhelmed by it, this is a worthy posting!


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Hamlet on the horizon

We're heading to Hamlet this weekend being performed by Trinity Rep down in Providence, RI. The Boston Globe review of it is encouraging:
Get thee to the Trinity. Sorry, I swore I'd never use that construction again, but after two disappointing productions of ''Hamlet" in Boston during the past year, it is such a joy to meet up with one so lucid and thrilling that it reminds you why this may be the greatest play ever written.
To be or not to be, that is the question... Hamlet
Do or not do, there is no try... Yoda
What parallel construct can you come up with?
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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Ignore at Peril

Questions arise in many forms, from many sources.
Some are easy to answer:

Why do you run?
Running provides multiple forms of satisfaction; one, of course, the health benefits but more importantly, no matter what else is going on in my life, it allows me to be successful. I go out the door. I travel some miles. I come back. Instant satisfaction. Something is completed that can't be taken away.

Why do you write?
Writing allows me to think. Well, really to think better. Writing especially modern writing, the physical action of typing in a word processor allows thoughts to come alive (I hope) in words that allow me to share the idea. The older pencil or ink writing worked but less so, there was always the distraction of scratching out or crumpling the paper. The thoughts, if tenuous, might disappear in the meantime.

Some are revealing:

What do you write about?
I write on running at Passionate Runner. I write on my work related items here at Passion for the Good Customer Experience. I write on teamwork at the blog Synergy. I write on good blogs at hitchhikers Guide to the Blogosphere. I write on everything else at Steve's 2 Cents.

But what about the big issues?
Many bloggers are readily identified with an issue. I tend to avoid politics. I tend to avoid religion. Ronni writes on living as an elder. Rosa writes on improving your management skills. Dave writes on the worldly issues. Christina writes on art and mothering. Patti writes a weekly inspiration. Jeremy writes on living life today in the context of William Shakespeare. These are just a few of those I read regularly. (I do not mean to slight any of the others I read by not mentioning them here. The point is better made with a few examples. Some other time I'll do something of an "honor roll".)

Are some issues bigger than others?
Yes, I think that there is a relative pecking order. Politics and religion won't much matter if the world climate deteriorates such that the basics of daily existence become life threatening. The worldly issues like global warming rises to the top of the priority listing for me. Then comes the practical sphere of influence of the self, family, community and work. This is where we can and should, in each our individual way, make a difference. If we try, we can succeed. If we don't try, there won't be much to hope for.

So reading the Boston Sunday Globe today I found this article on the scientific research and one man's drive to publish the warning on global warming. We ignore his message at our peril.
Speaking to a reporter from The Washington Post, he (Hansen) put it bluntly: Having raised the earth's temperature 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last three decades, we're facing another increase of 4 degrees over the next century. That would ''imply changes that constitute practically a different planet." The technical terms for those changes include drought, famine, pestilence, and flood.

''It's not something we can adapt to," he continued. ''We can't let it go on another 10 years like this."

I live in New England, well known for cold harsh winters yet it is 50 degrees today! What about the recent earthly happenings just in the US, not to mention around the world: hurricanes, record droughts, record rainfalls... And our government says this is not a problem. Huh.

Am I missing something?

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Proactive vs reactive

From Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People calendar for 2006:
The word proactive means more than merely taking initiative. It means as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.

Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn't it often affects their attitude and their performance. Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them. They are value driven, and if their value is to produce good quality work, it isn't a function of whether the weather is conducive to it or not.

Looking back over some recent posts, I can see that I have reactive moments but I think I am more proactive than reactive.

What about you?

What do you see yourself as: proactive or reactive?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A blast from the past

Here to spin your late night oldies, we go to the archives for the live album by Joni Mitchell, Miles of Aisles and get her rendition of The Circle Game. Grab a seat on the carousel to hear your dreams return.
Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when you’re older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels thru the town
And they tell him,
Take your time, it won’t be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

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