Friday, September 26, 2008

Generations on trial

Political ideologies aside, the two candidates are being measured by their age. Some media sources have decided to emphasize the generational dichotomy and draw conclusions from it. Confused about the issues, an undecided voter might make a voting decision based purely on a candidates age. Some of the reasons to vote young include: Fresh ideas (change), in touch with young peoples concerns, not likely to die soon, hasn't had cancer yet. The reasons to vote old include: Experience, in touch with old peoples concerns, wisdom, a survivor. To balance out the age related discrimination on both sides it is not surprising that Senator Obama chose an older running mate while Senator McCain chose a younger running mate. As the debates begin it is likely that media critics will look for arguments that indicate experience or inexperience, and reveal the vigor of both candidates.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nature vs. Nurture

While talking to a colleague recently, we debated the nature vs. nurture argument. He felt strongly that a person's environment and upbringing are a greater determinant of their behavior than individual personality. I have always thought the opposite, that most people are born with certain traits that determine their behavior. The most convenient answer to this argument is that both play a role. I was reading about David Kolb's Learning Style Inventory which breaks individual learning styles down into four modes. After sifting through the questions on the Inventory I am not surprised to find that I am rediculously dependent on one of the modes(Assimilating) and seemingly incapable in other areas. This is a bit depressing, but Kolb thinks there is hope for me. All we have to do to improve our weaker skills is to try doing those things we are not good at. So if you normally get a nauseous feeling in the pit of your stomach from giving a speech, you should just do it more often. After you are done vomiting and shaking and the panic attack has worn off, you will emerge a semi-confident speaker. I guess it is possible but I'm not convinced.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Talk therapy

In the last few weeks I have been learning about the benefits of talking. I think most of us like to talk, stay connected, thats why almost everywhere you go someone is on their cell phone.....some talking loudly and annoying others. But there are people who don't talk much. I am working on an AST class so I volunteer at a hospital in an activities center where people go for rehabilitation before discharge. One of my duties is to provide one on one visitation to the patients and just basically talk to them for a while. Many patients are elderly and some have been plagued with a long list of health problems. The hospital is not where most people want to be; everything is on a strict schedule...meds, eating, assessments, therapy etc. If you don't feel like getting up at 6:00 to have your blood pressure taken, too bad. If you can't stomach the grey hamburger for lunch one more time...oh well. So in addition to being sick, many are stressed out and they are disconnected from family and friends. So I sit down and ask how they are doing...(sort of a dumb question), and I dig around and try to get to know them a little...something I mastered after years as a hairdresser. Some are a little guarded, but most of the time we make a connection. We share each others company, and for a short time they have a friend and a break from the hospital routine. We talk about anything, and they become people instead of patients. When our time is over, we shake hands and share a smile. Then I walk by another room and catch a glimpse of someone else, I wonder what their story is. Last weekend I went out for chinese food. My fortune cookie read "When you help a friend, you help yourself". I think those cookie people are right.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Good luck, bad luck or just your turn

I have become annoyed with probability lately. My son had surgery a few weeks ago to repair a big hole in his radius (big bone in your arm on the thumb side). How did he get this big hole you ask? Well, no one knows for sure. We have done about 6 diagnostic tests to figure out what caused it but after several thousand dollars the doctor shrugged and told us it was very rare. So we did the bone graft surgery, stapled his bones together and are hoping for a complete recovery. This event reminded me of other weird things that have happened to me by chance: rear ended at a stop light twice and hit by a car going in reverse while parked in a parking lot, 2 emergency C-sections (1-3% chance) and a pattern of adopting dogs who seem to need a dog psychiatrist. Despite these chance events I feel extremely lucky. Most things go right most of the time. I guess my glass is half full. I saw this article (shared item) about probability and personal bias and thought it was interesting.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Standing in someone else's shoes

This week I learned about what it is like to do someone else's job. I work in a small music school and generally work with stacks of paper and a computer. This week I was doing more people management due to the absence of the regular manager (my husband). I have experienced the joy of coaching new employees, handling small crisis, dealing with nice and not so nice customers, and juggling lots of details. Things have gone well for the most part but I am feeling the stress. It could be that I am just not used to dealing with so many people, or that my general Zen routine of bookkeeping has been interrupted. I guess this might be called experiential learning. It could also be called wandering into a pit of hungry lions.