February 05, 2010

Journal Excerptables



Had lunch yesterday with the good Father Deacon, as they call deacons in the Byzantine Catholic church. He suggested that the lack of a decent government among former French colonies (New Orleans & Haiti) is a legacy of the fact the French weren't into staying and building lasting settlements like the English were, which is why the Indians sided with the French during the French & Indian war. Interesting. Hadn't thought of that before.
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Read via Steven Riddle an interesting column on how most books are bought not so much to be consumed as stockpiled, and how the thrill of finding them is a joy quite separate from that of reading them. The thrill of the hunt, as it were, and a common avocation in our materialist age when "getting" is emphasized over "being". When I was younger I thought of myself as anti-consumerist even though I did collect things in moderation - baseball cards, stamps, books. I wonder if the collecting impulse is different from the consumerist impulse.

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There is precious little objective about work objectives, but what fascinates me is how they rise and fall like German reichs. For years they laid nearly fallow, being perfunctorily performed in the least unctuous manner. Now they seem revivified. It's probably partially a function of how much free time my boss has, which he has in abundance such that he's actually scheduled three meetings for each of his employees; one to discuss possible objectives, a second to review preliminary choices and a third to discuss the final choices. The third meeting is so extraneous that it rivals the extraneous makeup of Tammy Fae Baker.

Meanwhile, the objectives themselves seem self-evident to the extent they're not meaningless. New tasks spring up constantly throughout the year which either replace or subsume existing objectives. And yet my boss is positively giddy, as if he'd just discovered electricity instead of the same types of things I've been working on for the past couple years. But then it resonated in my head: that we are to take our jobs seriously, ourselves not. Not vice-versa. And so it occurred to me that he's merely following the right prescription: take your job seriously, even if it has its silly moments.

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Was driving past a really, really poor area of town. It's full of houses built around the turn of the 20th century, some with boarded up windows and having the general feel of neglect and misuse. (I can't drive by these roads and not think of my brother, way back when, driving around with his friends in a bad neighborhood blasting classical music.) I longed to drive down one of those roads to look around, to experience the other. Instead I noted the name of the first road, and the second: Yale and Princeton. Oh the irony.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Ah, yes. Annual objectives. The process of ignoring what the process tells you to do and trying to get as close to what the process should tell you to do as the process will let you.

When that's done: on to long-term goals!