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January 31, 2004

A Village to Reinvent the Future

I was going to write a review of "Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World" but I am feeling lazy, so why don't you read about it on Amazon instead? All I have to say is that the storytelling is excellent and it is a delight to read. And that Gaviotas is the Wisconsin Idea to the n-th degree- it would not have come to fruition if it weren't for its tight ties to Columbia's universities.

Posted by tbailen at 09:58 AM

Madison ice skating

It is really way too hard to find the web site for finding information on open ice-skating at UW-Madison's Shell. So here's some help: UW-Madison ice skating schedule. Or call (608) 262-4756.

Here's some other skating opportunities around the Madison area:

Indoor & Outdoor Skating

Rollerdrome , 1725 N. Stoughton Road, Madison (east side). Open skating, birthday parties, lessons and special events. Call for hours. (608) 244-7646.

Fast Forward Roller Skating & Skate Shop, 4649 Verona Road, Madison (west side). Open skating, birthday parties, roller hockey, lessons. (608) 271-6222.

Indoor Ice Skating

Camp Randall Sports Center, 1440 Monroe Street. Public skating available most days. Call for times and prices. 263-6566.

Madison Ice Arena, 725 Forward Drive. Indoor skating, lessons available. 246-4512.

Hartmeyer Arena, 1834 Commercial Avenue. Public skating and lessons. 246-4512.

Sun Prairie Ice Arena, 1000 Bird Street. Open year round. Call for open skating schedule. 837-4434.

Posted by tbailen at 08:00 AM

January 29, 2004

Chest Head

Head with chest for a faceLook out. This image will mess with your head. (no pun intended?)

Posted by tbailen at 09:31 PM

January 27, 2004

Salary commensurate to exploitation

Dan's got some good observations about salaries in professional sports. He points out that a person's salary is not commensurate to the social value of his work. My reply to Dan follows.

It is true that most American's jobs have little social value, and that the low paid garbage collector is likely performing a more valuable service than highly paid Tim Bailen is. I think this is due to the fact that the true source of our wealth is from the environment and that right now the thing that comes from our environment that we deem most valuable is oil (and other sources of easy energy.) Some say that the Gold Standard was replaced with fiat money. We don't really have fiat money. We have the Oil Standard. The moment oil dries up our money will be worth a lot less. Until then, cheap energy and its attendent luxuries are what we value. Since we are a Taker culture our jobs somehow revolve around exploiting that resource. The sports professional can be highly paid because he can attract a large crowd. The crowd values the diversion that sports provides. Cheap energy enables the large crowd to show up. Do you think 80,000 people would drive to the stadium every home game if gas were $10 a gallon?

The produce grower in Mexico gets paid scraps. High social value job, right? He's feeding us. Doesn't get much more valuable than that. But it is the packager and the distributor who makes most of the profit, and enables odd professions such as supply chain managers, webmasters, and board of directors. Why? Could it be because they have figured out how to add the valued variable (oil) into the equation? It takes a lot of energy to move produce from Mexico to consumers in the US: transporation, cleaning, refridgeration, air conditioning of the grocery store, electricity for the checkouts and the IT systems that drive them, gas for the clerks to get to work. I'm missing a thousand things, but you get the idea.

Is that the right answer? Probably not. But I think I make it clear that a lot of professions exist today only because energy is cheap and so, for some reason, we gravitate away from jobs with high social value and buzz around with a lot of busywork instead.

This segues nicely to a book I just read, so I'll blog my review of that book next.

Posted by tbailen at 10:55 PM


If you arrived here from Google or some other search engine, click on the link to "Main" to get to my main site. I use this entry in my blog to fish for web surfers to whom I can't give my URL, but I can give them an indexable phrase.

Try this on for size:

"googlebait eclectic moonglow groove"

Posted by tbailen at 09:51 PM

Social style

I am an Analytical Analytical. Or at least that is how my peers at work see me. I'm afraid they are right.

What the heck am I talking about? Recently, I took the Working Styles course offered at work- a one day session to learn about the four different categories that typify how people generally interact socially. The thought being that armed with this knowledge you can tailor your approach when working with people to be considerate of their social comfort zone.

There are four styles: driver (D), expressive (E), amiable (M), and analytical (A). Here's a bad ASCII diagram for you:

Task directed
A | D
ask ---------- tell
M | E
People directed

What my bad diagram is trying to illustrate is that Analyticals and Drivers are task oriented, while Amiables and Expressives are more people oriented. Analyticals and Amiables are more likely to use an asking strategy ("I wonder if we should ask Joe"), and Drivers and Expressives are more likely to use a telling strategy ("Let's get started.")

To make some generalizations, drivers are results and time oriented, and value process. Expressives are often quite creative and can bring a lot of energy to a group. Amiables do not like conflict and value relationship building. Analyticals like a lot of structure, and to get all the facts so they can make logical decisions.

Each quadrant is subdivided into four other quadrants so that you may fall in various places within a quadrant. For example, a Driver Amiable is in the upper-right up the Amiable quadrant. It means that the person is primarily an Amiable, but exhibits Driver traits as well.

The Wilson Learning company has developed and administers the Social Styles survey. I gave a survey to five of my coworkers who I have worked with extensively in the past. Wilson compiles the results to tell you what your social style is.

I sent a thank you to my coworkers who were kind enough to fill out the survey for me, and also told them a little bit about what I learned in the class:

I can definitely see how Analytical Analytical describes my social style:
-perceived as a listener
-perceived as being steadfast in purpose
-unemotional and businesslike
-approach new people with deliberate caution and care; not extending yourself until comfortable, then establishing strong bongs

I can see how analytical traits belong to me:
-hates waste; desires progress
-likes to share information
-values organization
-desires validation
-approaches problems with a focus on facts and logic
-desiring to discover and solve problems

But I do not believe that belonging to that category necessarily means that I have strong analytical skills. I desire strong analytical skills, but darn, that's tough! =)

Analytical Analyticals (or any "double-double" style for that matter) are often perceived as being inaccessible or hard to relate to. But 3 of you felt that I was moderately versatile, 1 of you felt that I had strong versatility, and 1 of you felt that I had very strong versatility, meaning that I have a decent ability to help people feel comfortable when they are interacting with me.

Additionally, I like to think that I have expressive traits- I'm a dreamer, and I like to think that I am creative.

All well and good, but I got a lot of crap for typoing and saying that I like to form "strong bongs" with people instead of "strong bonds." Matt replied and said it sounds like it's time for a drug test. Brian replied and wondered where he could get some of these strong bongs. He showed up at my cube a few minutes later with a bag of Fritos. Heh.

Anyway, Analytical Analytical is a crappy, lonely place to be. Avoid it if you can. I'm trying to get out. Let me out!

Posted by tbailen at 09:13 PM

January 22, 2004

Software For Your Head book review

In last month's post on Vision, I first mentioned the book "Software For Your Head." My Software For Your Head review is up on Amazon. A repost of it follows. I'm mostly happy with it except for my example of why I think the book is tedious. While I was reading it I saw lots of places. Under the pressure of writing the review and not spending too much time on it, darned if I could find any stellar examples. Oh well.

The material in this book was derived from years of intense experimentation with real teams. This experimental nature really appealed to me and so I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, the book does not feel polished and so that experimental nature really shows through.

The lack of polish is a result of poor editing, not necessarily poor experiments. My main gripe is that the sentences and paragraphs are just too hard to read- there's no flow. "By accepting or practicing a lack of integrity, you leave the better parts of your presence behind." Sentences like these make me feel like the authors pulled "eureka!" type statements from their bootcamps and plunked them down in the book naked. The surrounding material often doesn't support complicated statements like these well, and so the complicated material is that much more ambiguous. "What are they trying to get at here?" is the sort of question I found myself asking too often while reading the book.

I disagree with the statement in the Richard Dragan review that says this book is "long on theory but consciously short on any practical examples." SFYH is *mostly* concrete things you can do to foster a team that is engaged and strives for excellence. However, it puzzles me that the book does not provide any anecdotes from their bootcamps that support the protocols they are proposing. I think the material would have been a lot more friendly if it would have stepped away from technicality now and again to illustrate the material with examples: "this one time.. in bootcamp.."

I see a lots of parallels between the ideas from Covey's "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" and this book. Covey does a great job of explaining how highly effective people operate, and SFYH implements many of their habits in its patterns. Additionally, Lencioni's "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" does a great job of illustrating a dysfunctional team and I see a lot of synergies between the dysfunctions outlined in that book and the problems that SFYH aims to address with concrete things you can do, and mindsets that you must take.

Despite my criticisms, there are lots of ideas in this book. I happen to like a lot of them. The way you think about how you work will be different after reading this book. It's just a shame the authors didn't express their ideas more clearly and more succinctly.

Posted by tbailen at 10:41 PM