Saturday, October 18, 2008

You Aren't REALLY Listening.

Let me start off by making a glittering general statement and blanket coverall assumption like I have done so many times:

We all think we're pretty clear communicators.

Here's the reality:

We aren't.

Even the best of communicators struggle in some of the seemingly simplest situations. For great examples look at people's close relationships: Good friends and family. And what are the two things that make those situations hard? 

For one we don't just communicate with our words. We communicate with metamessages. For those of you who don't know what a metamessage is, it's the message we send to someone behind what we say. It can come in the form on inflection, body language, facial expressions, or implicit positions that the other party supposedly already knows about. And, it's obvious to see why that would tend to complicate things more often in a close relationship. Your close friends and family know you. They know your tendencies, opinions, attitudes, etc. And, while you might think that would help them understand you better, often times it just gets in the way with what you really want to say.

The second problem is intrinsically related to the first. Instead of focusing on what you're saying, or even allowing you to speak, a close friend or family member will "interpret" using what they believe you want to say, or what they believe you are thinking. This means that they take a position on what you've said before you've said it, or if you've said it, they aren't hearing what you said, but what they think you wanted to say.

So, having identified the problem in this part of the blog post you might expect me to give a remedy. Well, I don't have one. I could blather on about how we should temper our use of preconceived notions about close friends and family so we actually hear them, instead of hearing what we think they are saying, but there's no clean cut way to do that. I'm sure we're all going to run into brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, grandparents, in-laws, and friends who will not let us say our piece, and when we do say it, they will have thought we meant something else. That's just life. But, perhaps if you've found yourself with this problem, you can refer them to this post so they can at least identify that what they are doing, and maybe give you a fair shake. 

That being said. It's not just their problem. It's yours too. And mine.

PS - I sure hope my brother reads this.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Baseball Gods

Have you ever met a mortal God? 

Have you ever met a mortal God that plays baseball?

Ok, maybe it's not fair to ask whether you've met one, but perhaps you've seen one before. They are rare, and often have strange names. I saw two last night:

Covelli Loyce "Coco" Crisp and David Jonathan "J.D." Drew.

You probably weren't watching, but if you were it didn't look good for the Red Sox last night. Down 7-0 in the seventh inning of an elimination game in the American League Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox looked anemic. For the third game in a row their starting pitcher had imploded and they were down 2-0 in the first inning, then 5-0 only in the third, then 7-0 in the 7th. I was flipping channels in between BYU's game and the Sox. Both games looked very bad to me. BYU was down 23-0 after the first half against TCU, and the Red Sox looked to be goners for this year, going down without much of a fight, Tampa Bay players playing with huge grins on their faces ready for a World Series showdown with the Phillies.

Then something miraculous happened. With two men on, the energizer bunny of the Sox team, 5' 6" Dustin Pedroia hit a single and got the Sox on the board. Only one at-bat later, "Big Papi" David Ortiz, who had been without a home run in his previous 61 at-bats hits a towering shot to right field. All of a sudden the game is 7-4. 
The next inning with 1 man on, JD Drew, God among men, clutchest man to ever live comes to the plate against the Ray's reliever Wheeler. Well, let's just say it wasn't Wheeler's night. Drew crushed the ball and made the game 7-6. But, if that weren't enough (and it wasn't) Wheeler got 2 outs and looked like he was going to wrap things up when my favorite outfielder/chocolate cereal came to the plate. Coco Crisp. After battling for 10 pitches, he sliced a beautiful single in play with Mark Kotsay at second and tied the game at 7-7. Coco was tagged out trying to extend his single to a double, but the damage was done. 
But, it looked like it wasn't going to be the next inning as Justin Masterson was pitching with one out and 2 on in the top of the ninth. Then, quite masterfully, Masterson induced a grounder from the Rays' go-to guy, Carlos Pena. One 4-6-3 double play later we were all tied up in the bottom of the ninth.

The Rays' little boy of a man JP Howell was pitching. And, he managed to get two outs, but not before 3rd baseman Evan Longoria botched getting Kevin Youkilis out at first on a routine grounder. The ball went into the seats after Pena couldn't hang on to the errant throw. Youk took second. Then Jason Bay (supposedly Manny's replacement, but a lot better of a person) steps to the plate. The Rays manager Joe Maddon decides to intentionally walk him, bringing up once again JD Drew, with his career 4-7 average against lefty JP Howell. It was lefty versus lefty. And my money was on the baseball God whose name rhymed with 'Screw."

And, he didn't disappoint. He sandwedged a shot into right field just over the extended glove of Rays outfielder Adam Gross. GAME OVER. Red Sox win 8-7 in the biggest playoff comeback in MLB history since 1929, and the biggest ever elimination game playoff win ever.

I have seen mortal Gods who play baseball. 
Coco Crisp and JD Drew.

Now the most beautiful names on earth. Who knew?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Meet Joe the plumber

Move over Joe Six Pack, now there's Joe the Plumber. 

Last night he was referred to by John McCain in the Presidential debate after a video circulated of him asking Barack Obama about how his tax plan would affect him. His real name is Joe Wurzelbacher, and he hails from Ohio. 

A plumber by trade, he has worked for one company now for his entire career and has been able to work his way up into a position where he can now buy the company he works for. The problem he now sees is that he might be unable to buy that company now given the new tax bracket it would be put in under Obama's tax plan. While he says that 95% of all people will get a tax break, those who make more than $250,000 a year will not. Unfortunately, the small plumbing company makes more than that. Now, it doesn't matter so much that most of that money goes to paying salaries and reinvestment into the companies capital development, it just matters that it makes more than that arbitrary prescribed amount. When asked why he had to work so hard for so long just to get taxed more for his efforts, Obama told Joe that spreading the wealth around will help others achieve what Joe has been able to. 

Here's the video.

The cat is out of the bag. Obama's real policies aren't any different than the tax and spend democrats before him. It's a Robin Hood mentality. 

I'm tired of this liberal conception that tax cuts have to be 'paid for.' Obama's explanation is that if the middle class gets a tax cut, the difference has to be made up somewhere, and so those who have more should pay more. Why does it have to be that way? Why can our government not do with less money and more efficiency? How about instead of cutting taxes for some and raising them for the rest, we cut taxes for all, or leave them at the same rate and cut useless programs from the budget and make the programs that work work better? 

Since when did the idea of taxing your small business owners, managers, and CEOs more make sense? How can you get a sputtering economy going again by inhibiting American businesses from making more jobs available, having more money to invest in workers, infrastructure, and R&D? The truth is, you can't. This is a time when the private sector needs to be encouraged, not discouraged. 

And another note, I love how Obama keeps mentioning how Exxon-Mobile is going to get a $4 billion dollar windfall under John McCain's tax policies, and how greedy it is for having made a record $12 billion in profits this year. First off, since when was being profitable a punishable offense? Do we despise companies that make money? Have we considered the fact that very little of that profit went directly to bosses and employees pocket books? Where did it all go you ask? It went back into the company. Oil exploration is extremely costly nowadays. Most of the "profit" therefore gets put back into ways of sustainable drilling, government leases, Research and Development, capital improvements, etc. 

And, our own government doesn't help the oil industry any by not allowing our own reserves off the coast to be tapped. The claim has been made by Obama that the US consumes 25% of the world's oil yet only has 4% of its reserves. Why is that? Because oil companies are not allowed to drill and discover new reserves. The 4% figure does not have to be a fixed one

I am not saying drilling is the only prescription, but it is an important one. There are more reserves that have not been explored, and we should use our own people, ingenuity, and resources to become energy independent. While we have it, we should use it. That does not mean "raping" our land and oceans as so many eco-crusaders would say; it means doing it in a pragmatic and sustainable way. Furthermore, I know full well that even with discoveries of vast new reserves it will take several years for that oil to get to market. However, that makes the need to drill even more pressing. And, the discovery alone, along with the willingness of the companies to use it, and lack of government interference will make the cost of fuel go down. That is because economic theory is based on expectations. If people expect there to be more oil, the price will go down, even if there isn't any.

If we can create a more stable fossil fuel environment, we can have a much smoother transition to alternative fuels and other sources of energy including wind, solar, tide, and geothermic. It can't be just one way or the other. We need all methods on the table.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Leaders and Followers

To be a good leader, first one must be a good follower. 

If you cannot follow, and run to the beat of your own drum, you set an example that says that you don't respect authority. And, if you don't respect authority, than why should people be expected to respect you as an authority? Of course to be a leader you cannot just follow. Likewise you cannot just lead when you are a follower. Both must be done in concert.

This is probably not new news to anyone, but it remains important nonetheless. And, this is not just applicable to Presidents, Senators, and politicians. People probably think I refer more to politics at this period of heightened electoral fervor, but I do not. Whether we are speaking of the leadership and followship of mothers and fathers, teachers and students, Assistants to the Regional Manager and Regional Managers, it is no less valuable a principle.

It is possible to teach and be taught as a teacher and as a student. In fact, I would say that good teaching only occurs when there is a healthy interplay between the two. The student must be just as involved as the teacher. And, consequently both will learn together, formulating new ideas and approaches. However, that does not mean the teacher cedes his or her authority and sits as an equal to the student on the subject being taught. It means that the teacher sees that he or she is defined just as much by his or her students as he or she defines them.

So, lead me well and I will follow. Then I will lead you well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Write-in Michael Powers!

The steady march of the oncoming election is inevitable. And, if you are instilled with the concept of patriotic civic duty, you also believe that at least the act of voting is also inevitable. However, you may have found yourself slightly dissatisfied, or even disaffected with your options. So, to that end, I provide you with another option.

Vote for me. Just take the ballot and write in "Michael Powers." 

I can make the claim of true bipartisan goals, and post-partisan ambitions. I can make the claim of truly putting America first, and seeing value in every person from those in the most humble of circumstances to with plenty to spare. 

I will work for you. I will always choose the right path, and not be subjected to a mob mentality. I promise to do the research and get to the root of our problems so that we create long term solutions as opposed to short term band-aids. I'm not interested in getting re-elected. I'm interested in making the future solid. I'm therefore not on a 4 year time table, but on a long term, big vision time table. I will not be subject to whims and fancies, but will be grounded in solid study, firm moral convictions, and belief in the American dream. 

It is that American dream that is attainable for all. But that dream is not made possible by the government, but by you the people. You are what make this country great. America is great in theory, but it is excellent in its practice. There are things in its practice that theory cannot account for and never will. Those are the intangibles. 

In a Powers administration you will not be coerced by general ideas that lead to dangerous ideologies and pantheism. You play an active role, by being your best self. It is not a matter of what your government can do for you as an individual, but what you as a citizen can do to make your government and civil society better. Catch the vision!

Write in Michael Powers this November 4th!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thinking about retirement

I took a test yesterday that measures your calender age versus your "actual age." It calculates how fast you are aging based on your eating habits, exercise habits, hereditary diseases, etc. And, guess what? I'm 8 years younger than the calender says! And, if that's the case, I just got my license to drive a car. But, on another note, that means it'll take me eight more years than the rest of you to hit middle age. Here's a link to the test.

Even though I now know how young I still am, I still can't keep myself from thinking about retirement. And, quite frankly I don't really want to retire. All the men on both sides of my family have pretty much worked up until their dying day. It'd almost be nice to be able to mark it on a Calender so I know when work will officially be over (at least in mortality). But, I can think of certain work impoverished situations that I certainly would not mind.

I would love to live in a cozy cottage overlooking the central California coast. I would have a computer, some pens, paper, surfboards, a garden, and a great kitchen. I could wake up and catch some waves, veg out on the beach a little bit with my special someone, then come back home and write while looking out on the water. Then I could split time with my garden and pull up a bunch of summer squashes, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers and head back to my awesome kitchen and whip something delicious up. That, to me, would be ideal. I would feel accomplishment in writing, and yet still be relaxed and flexible enough to enjoy my twilight years. However, what it would have to imply is that I am good at writing, and that could be easily debated. But, jumping back to this dream scenario, I don't think it would have to be the central California coast. It could be Cape Cod, or the South Shore area of Massachusetts. It could even be Nova Scotia. Who knows? I think you get the point.

Trying to be as pragmatic as possible, what is your retirement scenario? Talk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Good Vibrations

I'm picking up good vibrations. 

There is a weird vibration from time to time that surges through my house. It shakes the floor, the windows, and consequently me and the furniture. And, of course it can only be one thing:

Someone is tunneling under my house. And, that someone is probably a spy. Just like the British and Americans did in Berlin under the wall to listen to the Russians in East Germany, someone is listening to me. And, aside from being worried, I'm actually quite flattered. 

I think that I should pretend that I don't know the spy is there. What I will do is make delicious pastries, roast beef, throw parties, and tempt the spy to come out of hiding. I'll make references to free extra passes to Disney World, extra sky miles to that I can't use to go to Australia because I'm busy, and a new dodge viper I won that I'm going to give to a charity as a tax deduction. If the spy is sane, he or she won't be able to resist.