February 26, 2002
Rush and Delaware

Tonight as I stood at Rush and Delaware streets, the full moon appeared from behind a gauze of black clouds. Perfect and beautiful.

I expect a lot from people and I expect a lot from myself. This is generally viewed as a positive trait for an editor type like me. "I'm a perfectionist," I say, and I get jobs that way.

But when am I expecting too much?

And tonight, I caught myself giving a lecture to Athena about the importance of getting the conference reg piece done by next week. Knowing it probably isn't going to happen. And then all sorts of nightmare scenarios if it doesn't happen on schedule flashed through my head. But in reality, if it's a week later, it will be OK. We'll manage.

If I can give other people a break, maybe eventually I can give myself a break too. When I need it.

Mondo '77. If this log had a theme song, this would be it.

Posted at 10:20 PM
February 25, 2002
Neighborhood Appreciation

I went on an impromptu rampage through the neighborhood tonight in search of brownie mix tonight. Amazingly enough, however, you apparently can't buy brownie mix anywhere but a grocery store--which was not within a 3-block radius of the el stop. However, I did learn a few neat things about my neighborhood:*

1. The Happy Food Spot on Lincoln carries six different kinds of orzo. They also sell CRUMPETS. I didn't even know what these looked like, but in the package they looked a little like small English muffins.

2. The German deli further up on Lincoln sells all kinds of stuff, much of it I can't even pronounce. They force their salesgirls to wear little lace tiaras in their hair, though, which has to be a sticky negotiating point. I was impressed by the bread on racks by the door, especially "Land Brot," whatever that is.

3. I don't know why this disappointed me, but Walgreen's did not sell brownie mix. There was a nice-looking recipe for chocolate chip cookies on the back of the cakemix box, but they didn't have chocolate chips, etc., etc. I could feel this saga spiralling endlessly out of control, so I went home.

Don't even get me started on the quality of the "grocery stores" near my office. Looks like it's peanut butter cookies for us on Wednesday.

Came home and there was a message for us to go to the neighborhood association potluck next Tuesday. Ordinarily I would avoid these kinds of events, but these days any event I don't have to plan, finance, promote, or write about sounds good to me. At any rate I'd like to know a few more people around here. The anonymous generic nature of my parents' apartment complex creeped me out a bit.

Maybe this will give me the impetus to do some stuff around my house and building this spring. I'm tired of endless working and never achieving anything but words on a screen, or on a page.

Today would have been George Harrison's birthday. Amazingly All Things Must Pass has its own .com suffix now.

The Chicago Tribune ran a story today about how all the New York literati don't want to do the group book read that Chicago did last fall with To Kill a Mockingbird. Alas they did not reproduce online the photo in the paper of the mayor flailing in a furious blur like a serial killer. The caption says he's "amused" but I don't see him smiling.

*Yes, I admit it, I have lived here for six months and am still in discovery mode. This may go on for several years.

Posted at 08:41 PM
February 16, 2002

The Internet is a funny, funny thing.

One of our contributors recently wrote what seemed to me to be a riff on the flying habits of geese. She then applied the lessons we can learn from the geese to what our members can do to further the association.

This was fine if a bit cheesy and I didn't give it any more thought until I received an unsolicited electronic newsletter on leadership the other day at work. One of the articles was titled "Lessons from Geese."

I thought this sounded awfully familiar, so my editorial instincts kicked in and with some trepidation I checked it out. Sure enough, there were the exact same goose facts. Examples:

"As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an "uplift" for the birds that follow. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. "

It's not the first time I have worried about plagiarism at my magazine, although it's always awkward. To be frank, a lot of people don't seem to understand that it's wrong to take other people's words and use them as your own. (They would understand that if they had been in my high school English class, where we were threated with hellfire and torture, not to mention our permanent records, if we so much as THOUGHT about not attributing an idea.)

I nearly called the author to discuss it when something stopped me and made me Google the phrase "leadership~geese." Sure enough, there were 11,000 matches!

You'd be surprised how many people have picked up this story as a leadership piece.

Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The United Nations Development Programme.
Healthkick, a martial arts newsletter.

There's even special interest groups, like the Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese.

And you can find out all about Canada Geese in the media here.

And don't forget to HONK.

The ideas are most commonly attributed thusly:
"Lessons from Geese" was transcribed from a speech
given by Angeles Arrrien at the 1991 Organizational
Development Network and was based on the work of Milton Olson.

But I couldn't find any independent authoritative confirmation that any of this was right. Many people have just dispensed with Milton altogether and attributed the ideas to themselves. Nice. One researcher who tried to confirm this notes, kind of obviously, that tracking down the original source is a "wild goose chase."

In the end I was left with what to do with our little column. I ended up adding a sentence to the effect that "These ideas have been widely circulated on the Internet in leadership circles, but the original attribution is unclear." Honk.

Posted at 02:22 PM
February 14, 2002
It's Parsley

I went to Journalism school with a guy named Eric whom I have subsequently lost track of. We were grouped together as freshmen and seemed to bump into each other every year at random. We continued this way all through school and onto the IDS staff.

I was recruited onto the copy desk by Ruthie, about whom a rather unkind but not entirely dubious story was circulated. Apparently at an IDS party, a drunken Ruthie had pursued Eric around the room with a sprig of parsley, acting like it was mistletoe. (Why she wanted him to kiss her is beyond me, but that's the story.) Eric was always very sensible and he would have none of it. As the story goes, he shut her down with a very calm, logical response: "Ruth, it's parsley."

I'm sure Eric, wherever he is, has gone far in the world because he is able to point out when something's mistletoe and when it's parsley. The farther I go in life, the more I find I value this ability. Indeed, more and more often I find myself required to do the same. And I find myself dealing, conversely, with people who want to insist the opposite. ("Anne, If you would only look at it you can see that it LOOKS LIKE parsley, but it IS mistletoe! Seriously! " etc.)

And they usually insist this in e-mail.

Resulting in even more misunderstandings and confusion. At best.

I'll say it to anyone's face: Ruth, it's parsley.

Serendipity: I typed "parsley" into google and found this Web diary by Amy Lester, married to Andy Lester. Hey, I know these people!

Posted at 11:22 AM
February 12, 2002
Thinking of You?

Went to Bloomington this weekend. Walked around in the sun, enjoyed the semi-warm weather, caught up with some old friends. It was a good day.

My official business of the day was buying a birthday gift and card for my dad, whose birthday is the 15th. Buying the gift was no big deal, but when I went to buy the card, I found out that Greetings, my favorite card store ever, was ON FIRE that day and had, indeed, pretty much burned to a crisp. No one was hurt, thankfully. But it looks like all of those paper products are toast. I don't know why but I've never found a card store I like as much as I liked Greetings. Hope they come back.

So I went on to Viewpoint, a claustrophobic and heavily scented card store. Lots of Mary Englebreight-gacky merch. With some difficulty I found my dad an appropriate card.

I also noticed something bizarre. Since Sept. 11 there's been an apparent surge of demand for patriotic greeting cards. Now you can send someone a picture of the flag, or the Statue of Liberty, or some other red-white-and-blue motif.

It puzzled me. Who sends these cards? And who gets them? If you receive a greeting card that says "God Bless America" on the inside, what message does that give you? What does it say about the person who spent 3.95 plus postage to send it to you? I can't think of a more impersonal, generic message--not even "get well soon" which presupposes that you know the recipient might be sick. If you send me a "God Bless America" card that means...you know I'm American? Might as well just send me my tax forms, at least I'll use them.

On a related note, I thought about sending my dad a George Bush card, but he might not appreciate the humor. And, sadly, a Bill Clinton card isn't really that much better. George represents many things I don't agree with, but Bill is just kind of tacky.

Posted at 01:03 PM
February 08, 2002
Elvis is Everywhere

"When I look out into your eyes out there,
When I look out into your faces,
You know what I see?
I see a little bit of Elvis
In each and every one of you out there."

A couple of weeks ago my administrative assistant came to work with her face all swollen because of an abcessed tooth. I sent her to my dentist and she got some antibiotics, but now that the infection is gone she needs to have the tooth removed. I asked her about it yesterday and she admitted sheepishly that she's putting off having it done because she's scared. (And who wouldn't be?) "But Jesus will give me the strength," she said simply.

I know her well enough that I didn't go "eewwww! Religion in the workplace!" as I might once have done. It really wasn't an icky moment. What crossed my mind was this: She's waiting for Jesus, but my faith is in modern chemistry.

This morning another Jesus-related incident: On an old tape (yes, I still listen to tapes, I'm an analog girl in a digital age) I enjoyed listening to "Hook's Brand Jesus" by Modern Vending. The whole hook is "I found Jesus at Hook's" (a now defunct Indiana drugstore chain) "....underneath the almonds." I always liked that song.

Which made me think of a completely dissimilar song, possibly the BEST song ever, "Elvis is Everywhere." Ah, the sailing Elvis! Captain Elvis!

What does it all mean? I dunno. But the sun is shining and spirits are high, so there is a fragile feeling of hope today.

Posted at 08:57 AM