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Below are the 13 most recent journal entries recorded in strycher's LiveJournal:

Monday, March 12th, 2007
12:24 am
Recent Thoughts
Just to be clear, I have left my blog in a disarray for a variety of reasons.  First of all, I am not convinced that it is a good idea to put a bunch of personal information on the web and make it easy to steal my identity.  Second, I have doubts about the concept of a "friend" on a journal, as I debate whether anyone thinks much of what gets posted on one of these.  Certainly, I haven't had anyone reaching out to me recently to wonder what's going on in my life or anything like that.

Yes, I'm full of piss and vinegar this evening.  This is to be expected given the recent events in my life.  Life happens, and that's pretty much that.  But if and when I continue to post on here, I would think that you may want to consider, is this just someone I know, or is this someone that I really want to be friends with.  Frankly, if I'm just someone you know and you've linked me because you just like linking people in, you may want to rethink that one.  I am who I am, and at this point, who I am is a bit disgruntled and not particularly friendly towards superficial relationships.

On a different note:

I encountered a website recently called "Something Awful".  This has to be one of the most interesting sites I've seen in a long time.  There is a broad variety of stuff on the site, including some really creative Photoshop and MS Paint creations, and some really interesting conversation.  I highly recommend checking it out.

One bright spot in my life right now is my cats.  A few minutes ago, Oliver climbed up on my shoulders and he's now wrapped himself around my neck like a scarf.  Nothing like a loving cat purring in your ear, snuggling, right before heading off to bed.  He's become a good buddy recently, hanging out with me when the others would not.

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Sunday, November 20th, 2005
1:46 am
50 First Dates
It's been a while since I posted last. I managed to watch 50 First Dates tonight. It turned out to be a surprisingly good movie without being too moronic. I enjoyed the usual trio of cohorts that Adam Sandler brings into most of his movies. I think the underlying romance of the movie is interesting though. Adam Sandler plays a character with a history of womanizing that suddenly falls for a girl with complete short term memory loss. Overnight he becomes a serious beau for this unusual woman. It's not a particularly deep movie, but has an interesting story.

In other news, the end of another semester is rapidly approaching. Another semester gone by, another semester closer to the end of my MBA. Next semester has a more interesting outlook, Corporate Governance and Supply Chain Management.

Current Mood: mellow
Monday, June 13th, 2005
12:00 am

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

15% Upper Midwestern

10% Dixie

5% Midwestern

5% Yankee

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005
12:44 am
Organizational Confusion, Inefficiency and Struggle
One semester down, several to go. Xavier is certainly a challenging program to study my MBA at. Definitely, 11 credits was too many to take in my first semester. This summer already feels a little more relaxing, even though it is not by much.

I have tried thus far to make my journal thought provoking and interesting. I have no idea whether I have succeeded or not. I have enjoyed writing the posts I have written so far. I find though, at this point that perhaps my journal should also include some personal experiences, which it really has not to this point. Why I am going out of my way to explain this, I am not sure, but I felt that it was an important thing to do.

I am struggling to hold my world together. Work has become more demanding, and more challenging in terms of time constraints, but does not seem to be becoming the more well-rounded experience I would have hoped it would as I have proceeded in my studies. Much of what I do is the same old, same old. As I seek out new challenges and opportunities, doors seem to be only cracked, not opened. I do not think that management is strongly focused on advancing me or any of the other employees in my branch. I am not clear on whether this is a function of the state of the business, or an apathy towards the development and advancement of employees. I do know that a number of other employees also seek advancement, and they definitely find the doors slammed closed in their faces.

What concerns me is this: in today's business setting, what makes a company successful and viable is the human talent and resources it possesses. Anymore, an organization cannot simply hire any warm body and hope to succeed. Employees need to be valued, developed, and advanced along their careers. Talent is not inherent in all people, and an affinity towards certain job functions definitely is hard to develop. Some people are really into finance, but most are not. Some people really show talent in technology fields, others do not. Yet, organizations seem to be relatively ineffective at matching up talent with job function, at matching up career path with employee career goals. This would seem to be one of the most important functions within the organization, and yet this strategic function is often low on the list of priorities.

I currently work on one of our premiere service offerings. I definitely have a talent at it, and am a hard worker. Yet it does not align with my career goal, except in the fact that it gives me experience in an area I would enjoy managing. Will the management opportunity ever appear? Who knows. This is the dilemma I struggle with. Other people have untapped talents and would be very interested in entering into this service area, but are blocked because the company does not want to release them from their current function. Why? Because managers do not like change, and do not like to replace good workers with unknown variables. The problem is, the organization will lose that employee eventually anyway, because they will find work elsewhere doing something they enjoy. Why not keep that talent in-house? This confuses me.

I spent many years studying the behaviors and decisions of managers around me, always tempered with the perspective of learning from what they do, what their successes are, and what their failures are. I continued that study as I began and finished my Bachelor's degree. Now I am progressing through my MBA, and I struggle because I feel I have learned a lot from these managers, but have failed to move onward in my career despite my extensive experience and knowledge. Is it a personality defect that holds me back? Unlikely. I think it is the status quo, and the determination of ineffective managers trying to maintain it even when it is not in the best interests of the business.

I am a complete maverick. I break the rules, I rock the boat. I say the things that others will not say, I do the things that others will not do. Out of this maverick behavior, I have had many recognized successes. I am, by all accounts, a valued employee. Yet I think managers fear that, with power, I will disrupt their status quo and shake their world up. Surprise surprise, I would definitely seek to do that, within reason. My most hated phrase in business is "We've always done it that way." Why? Because it lacks the committment to total quality and continual improvement that all organizations, whether for or not for profit, should have.

I think the end result is that my employer will ultimately stagnate and struggle for many years, and may go through a number of reorganizations and downsizings, before the mother organization wipes out the remaining vestiges of the former organization and makes us simply another branch of the mother organization. I see a future where XGS, Inc. becomes simply Xerox, and our prior ineffectiveness gets brought into the ineffective Xerox whole. While I do not think that Xerox is in a downward spiral, I do feel that it has a long way to go to be able to effectively compete in its various markets. I think what has held Xerox up for so long is the constant innovation and development of new core competencies out of which it can charge premium prices to make up for its ineffective pricing on mature services and products. However, that can only get you so far. Innovation is good, but without sustainable business practices and efficient processes and policies, an organization will become bloated and cost heavy, and unable to compete in a global marketplace.

So, I wait. I hope that before I complete my MBA opportunities will arise that will allow me to advance within Xerox. But that hope may be an empty hope. What the future holds is uncertain and vague. However, armed with experience and an MBA, I should be able to kick down some doors elsewhere and find an opportunity that I will find challenging and fulfilling. One can only hope, dream, and work hard I suppose.
Thursday, March 24th, 2005
1:30 pm
Shroud of Turin
Teacher Claims Shroud of Turin Is Fake
Wilson's Web Site
Porter's Webs Site

Do you believe that the Shroud of Turin is real or not? Does it affect your faith?

Wilson argues that the Shroud is a fake, though he has no scientific evidence to support it. However, even if it is fake, Wilson claims that it does not affect his beliefs about the resurrection. He believes Jesus died and arose, whether the Shroud of Turin plays into the reality of that event or not.

But what about you? Have you ever heard of the Shroud of Turin? How does it affect your beliefs?

To me, the New Testament and Jesus' life do not have to be scientifically proven for me to believe. Likewise, the flood, the Garden of Eden, creation -- these are aspects of my faith that I believe because I believe, not because you can prove them to me scientifically.

How often we get hung up on scientific evidence and the need to prove or disprove aspects of our faith and Christianity. I am still young, but I am fairly certain that that is not the point of faith and belief. We are supposed to believe, sometimes in spite of direct evidence to the contrary.

Who knows what they will decide on the Shroud of Turin, whether it is authentic or not. But for me, it does not really matter in terms of my belief.
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005
10:38 pm
West Wing
And so the social commentary continues. Topics for tonight included:

  • Raising the Federal minimum wage
  • Abortion
  • Religion as a criteria for electing officials
  • Corruption in government
  • Corruption in political campaigns

So raising the Federal minimum wage, that is a big issue, but something that surprisingly our real politicians seem unwilling or unable to do anything about. I continue to wonder why we are not talking about a "living wage," but perhaps that will be another episode.

Abortion -- I am not even going to touch this one.

Religion as a criteria for electing officials. Corruption in political campaigns. Interesting topics. I am not surprised that people are concerned about the morality of their elected officials. I am not particularly surprised that they are interested in the worship habits of their elected representatives. What I am surprised at is that the populace are so easily sucked in at an obvious photo op where an elected official, such as President Bush, makes a point of obvious religious behavior, without any true demonstration of their faith. I think that it is easy to stand in front of a camera and microphone and talk about Christian values, but where are those values when you sent our troops overseas to fight a war we did not need to be fighting at that time, if at all? Where are your Christian values when it comes to giving to charitable organizations? Do we really believe that Bush gives until it hurts? When is faith going to be what it is supposed to be, instead of a tool to get more votes?

What an interesting and thought-provoking evening of television it has been.
8:56 pm
Social Commentary
I find it interesting how "coincidental" things can be sometimes. With Terry Schiavo being one of the hottest news items, we find that tonight's eposide of American Dreams is about Jack's decision whether to keep his brother alive on a respirator after a brain-damaging accident. I wonder whether this is intentional or not. Interestingly, Jack relays to his wife verbally that he wants to be taken off the machine if it happens to him.

So what is the message? Are they commenting on Terry's right to die? Or are they commenting that she should be saved?

West Wing has a habit of commenting on the social/political issues of the day. They seem to be very current on what the issues are, and they have a distinctly liberal view of how the problems should be solved. And perhaps they are not so incorrect about their assessments. Surprisingly, the real government does not seem to take its cue from West Wing, no matter how right their commentary on the issue may be.

Television and the movies have a profound ability to communicate about social/political/economic issues. These mediums have the ability to reach a broader spectrum of the masses than even the news does, and they do it subtly, almost submliminally. We watch, eyes glued to the screen, and usually only later (if at all) do we analyze that which we have watched. Particularly among our youth, peoples' views are formed based on what they watch and are conditioned to accept based on what they have seen. The power that television and movies have over the masses is unbelievable, and almost scary.

Do I really think that people are so mind-numbed that any idea professed on the TV is automatically accepted? No. But when you watch it over and over, on show after show, movie after movie, you become conditioned to the view, to what you are watching, and gradually a greater acceptance for it sinks in. Once upon a time, a television show about a gay person was unheard of. Now, one of the most popular TV shows is Will & Grace, which has two gay main characters. I do not think that that means society as a whole has become significantly more accepting and understanding of gay relationships. But given time, who knows what will happen?

So almost 30 minutes later, and they did pull the plug on Jack's brother. Commentary? I suspect so. But will the right people hear this message, and take it to heart? Unlikely. Sadly, most people who watch this episode will fail to draw the correlation with Terry Schiavo. What a shame.
12:07 am
What an interesting year to belong to......

You Belong in 1974


If you scored...

1950 - 1959: You're fun loving, romantic, and more than a little innocent. See you at the drive in!

1960 - 1969: You are a free spirit with a huge heart. Love, peace, and happiness rule - oh, and drugs too.

1970 - 1979: Bold and brash, you take life by the horns. Whether you're partying or protesting, you give it your all!

1980 - 1989: Wild, over the top, and just a little bit cheesy. You're colorful at night - and successful during the day.

1990 - 1999: With you anything goes! You're grunge one day, ghetto fabulous the next. It's all good!

12:04 am
When will I die?

You Will Die at Age 76


You're pretty average when it comes to how you live...

And how you'll die as well.

12:02 am
Logic Bomb

You Are Incredibly Logical

(You got 100% of the questions right)

Move over Spock - you're the new master of logic

You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.

A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005
11:52 pm
Normal Test

You Are 50% Normal

(Somewhat Normal)

While some of your behavior is quite normal...

Other things you do are downright strange

You've got a little of your freak going on

But you mostly keep your weirdness to yourself

11:49 pm
Friend Type

You Are A Good Friend

You're always willing to listen

Or lend a shoulder to cry on

You're there through thick and thin

Many people consider you their "best friend"!

11:30 pm
Called to Christianity
I think we, as humans, have difficulty understanding what Christianity really is. We spend significant amounts of time trying to interpret and define that Christianity, whether we acknowledge we are doing that or not. So many Christians are convinced that Christianity is clear-cut, black and white. And maybe in some ways it is, but probably not in the ways most of us think that it is.

Let me argue for a moment. If I describe an object as "blue", what "blue" do you picture? Is it necessarily the same blue that I saw? What if I saw sapphire blue, and you perceive it as teal? Have I accurately conveyed to you the exact shade of blue? Even if I were more explicit, without spectral analysis values, accurately describing the shade of blue is next to impossible.

And yet, many people argue that the language of the Bible is literal, even while recognizing that it is translated from a language that has four different words for our single word "love". People believe that the Bible is to be taken literally in its full completeness, except where it would challenge how they live their lives. For example, if you accept that the Bible must be taken literally, you cannot interpret away the myriad of laws laid out in the Old Testament.

Can you really take the Bible literally in its entirety? Can you really abide by everything the Bible states? And is that necessarily the point of the Bible in the first place?

I think the clarity that I have personally found is contained within two statements Jesus made. First, love God above all things. Second, love your neighbor as yourself.

The first statement is pretty clear, though difficult to follow perhaps. It is not easy to always put God first, and to love him above all things. One of the hardest things for us to do is "let go, and let God," yet we are called by God to do so. We may be slow to acknowledge it, but God is ever present, guiding us, molding us into the people he wants us to be, if we would just let him.

The second statement is also hard to follow, and perhaps not as clear when we look beneath the surface. Loving your neighbor does not mean always saying "yes." Sometimes, loving your neighbor can fall into the "tough love" category, where you provide support, but advise a different direction. I have certainly experienced some "no" experiences in my life, both where God told me "no," as well as where friends and family have as well. That does not mean they did not love me -- in fact, it derives from their love.

Part of what got me thinking about this topic is Terry Schiavo. Terry Schiavo, as we are probably all aware, is the topic of heated political debate and judicial battles. While Christians are arguing about her right to life, they are not asking what kind of life it is. Terry is vegetable with no hope of recovery, whatsoever. The news media is an unwitting (or perhaps willing) accomplice in keeping Terry alive against her verbally expressed wishes. Even if she were to continue living, what kind of life is it? Do you really think that she is there, locked up inside, able to enjoy a bedridden life, surviving only by the aid of a feeding tube? Do you honestly think that it is a loving gesture to keep her alive in this state?

Mind you, I use Terry Schiavo as an example. I could as easily use as an example the stranded motorist on the side of the road that you ignore as you drive past at 70mph. Or the homeless person asking for 50 cents for a meal. Or the neighbor that needs help shoveling the snow from their drive after a snowstorm. Whatever the example, do you really love your neighbor as yourself?

Someone proposed to me the "Platinum Rule" instead of the "Golden Rule." Instead of treating others as we would want to be treated, perhaps we should treat them as they would want to be treated. I mean, do you really think your spouse wants to watch all of the same TV shows as you? I know I drive my wife crazy with some of the shows I watch on TV. Try to apply the Platinum Rule in your dealings with others, and perhaps the world will be a little better place in the future.
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