Simple But Not Easy

A Flying Oval Office

In the days before our present high tech means of transportation, whistle stops were how US Presidential candidates reached the potential voters. One of the famous news photos was of  Harry S. Truman holding up a copy of the Chicago Tribune with a banner headline stating “Dewey Defeats Truman” and was taken on the rear platform of a train, Wednesday, November 3, 1948, at the St. Louis Union Station. Contrast that mode of communication with the May 1, 2012 television speech to the nation which President Obama broadcast live from a US military base in Afghanistan.

What used to be person-to-person and fairly straightforward has become a blinding confusing of sound and images. We are inundated by candidates debates along with every form of electronic advertising imaginable. If any one got any real clarity from such furor, it would be a miracle. The flow of information, authentic or false, via the Internet, cable TV, global positioning satellites, cell towers and even video billboards on the side bulletins in big cities continue to make communication more and more complicated.

What does it mean for the human spirit that the information flow is non-stop, that “Everybody’s talking’ at me. (and) I don’t hear a word they’re saying”? It means I hear, well,  “only the echoes of my mind”.

That isn’t enough to nurture our spirits. We need to open ourselves to others’ voices so we can find our own. We need to  hear their story so that ours makes sense to us. Filtering out just the right words and exchanging those thoughts honestly with one another is simple but not easy at all. It is, however, well worth the task.


Caring is not that complicated

“I miss you, my kind and gentle brother. Peace be with you. Micah 6:8”

These few words popped up on my Facebook wall one day last week and gave me pause.

They came from a somewhat unexpected source, a colleague that I was just beginning to know when I left our mutual workplace. We had shared many moments of humor just for the fun of it but also as a coping mechanism. I always respected his professionalism and saw in his work that he really cared about his clients.

So really, it should not have surprised me that he made contact this way some weeks after we had parted. This is an example of who he is.  Regardless, it made feel very good and cared for by a friend that I also cared for.

Which begs the question, why do we make such a big deal out of reaching out. Sure, flowers or gift certificates or invitations to coffee, clearly say “I care about you”, but consider the many almost too simple ways that one can give another person support and love.

The point is, we have the capacity to give someone a boost. Having been on the receiving end makes me want to do more of that. 

Thank you, friend.


How hard can being a boss really be?

8 Signs of an Extraordinary Boss

While driving  around in my Senior Advocate duties for my congregation, I heard a couple of radio comedians talking about “not having a boss” and what that meant for a creative person. Then they talked about program directors always second guessing the on air personality. Most of us however, can’t really get away with not having a boss but wouldn’t we all be more creative were the so-called bosses more human?

Writing for, Geoffrey James recently discussed this very thing. In this article, 8 Signs of an Extraordinary Boss, James makes simple but essential points about managing others. For example, these five were personally closest to home:

  • A company is a community, not a machine.
  • Management is service, not control.
  • My employees are my peers, not my children.
  • Motivation comes from vision, not from fear
  • Work should be fun, not mere toil

Now if you are a boss or if you are wondering why the misery of working for one, you will want to read the article. He is getting at something that would make a huge difference for companies. Simply put, it sounds just like the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  As the paragraphs above hint, you can’t be the traditional task master and expect for things to work most efficiently.

When I begin writing these posts a couple of years ago, I had quite a bit of this information handy on this topic but about 99% was from the downside. I am sad to say that over the last year I have collected more negative anecdotes than a good month of Dilbert cartoons.

What if each supervisor or manager decided, starting this coming Monday, to simply treat each person with whom they come in contact like a valuable, competent, colleague instead of an underling? I wager that it would take very few days of the work week to change the whole aggravating culture that is so common in the workplace.

James contrasts what he calls the “average boss” vs the “extraordinary boss” Where do you appear in that scenario?

Oh yeah, and isn’t really time to banish the word “boss”? That would be start.

Slaughterhouse Five & “So it goes”

Slaughterhouse Five

Kindle can be inspiring especially for those of us carrying around our devices. It hadn’t been my recent searching on Amazon I might not be rereading Kurt Vonnegut 

Kindle can be inspiring, as the ad says,  especially for those of us who always have our devices near by.

For example, if it hadn’t been for a recent Amazon Store search, I might not be rereading Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five  and would not remember too much about Billy Pilgrim and Tralfamadore.

So what, one might ask? After conceding that Vonnegut was one of greatest writers of all time, the answer is that I tend to forget that war has been glorified ad infinitum. This novel portrays, how ever obliquely, the cruel firebombing of Dresden at the end of World War Two  and each time I pick it up, Vonnegut startles me with a moving existentialism. The absurdity of war could not be clearer.

However, to this very day, the government of the United States, in spite all wisdom to the contrary, perpetuates the malignant theory that war  has any other actual purpose than the slaughter of human beings.

Thus, I recommend  Vonnegut’s haunting little phrase when a death or deaths happen, “So it goes”, be written on our hearts. Maybe that way we would not forget that, even if none of us escape it, our government should not be the perpetrator of death.

War, huh, yeah. What is it good for. Absolutely nothing

What’s in a name?

My new friend Alexandra Jump has a cousin named, you guessed it, Alexandra Jump. Plus they both live in Vermont. She told  me how to figure out the online difference but I was still a little confused until I saw her new blue car.  I am just waiting now for her to get her initial plates to make it even easier to spot  her.

My email and user name in several places is GWTNHVT which, obviously I hope, refers to GWT on the border with NH and VT. However, my driver’s license and passport both read WARREN BAILEY-TURNER. So the earthshaking question of the day is where does the “G” come in?

My father’s name was George Warren Turner and when I was born my parents made me a junior. Since they called him George, they designated me Warren. So all was good with G. WARREN TURNER until, in 1979, I engaged in a two hour sensitivity session with my strong spouse-to-be at which point I committed to a hyphenated name. Still, all was still good until the first zillion times customer service people addressed Carla Bailey-Turner as MRS. TURNER. I guess we were a little too feminist for our time (or we just ran into a plethora of ignorance.) Now we are WARREN TURNER and CARLA BAILEY. Only a few times, and too few to care, have we run into that 1970’s mental density and been asked “Are you married?”

So why the “G”? I don’t know. Maybe because it is too complicated to change everywhere online but probably the best reason is to memorialize my Dad who died way to young to appreciate me, my incredible wife and our kids.Besides all that,  if it wasn’t for that George and the times we worked together, this Warren would know nothing at all about hot dog sales.

Why I am writing again

In many of my previous posts you will find meanderings about job search and the meaning (to me at least) of being employed. However, they are old thoughts which would beg the question “Is there anything new in that area?”

There is. I quit what could most likely be my last possible “real” full-time job ever and I feel very free and positive.That is something to write about. Plus I have more actually self determined time to do it.

A more immediate motivation however came from A Jump as her license plate might read. She inspired me to write something even it is lame. So, I plan to tell you about our attending MLB Spring Training games, write a little about being a free lance “officiant” for weddings, funerals and other life ceremonies, and even give you a few spiritual-type mediations.

Hope it helps in the search.

Oliver Stone on fathers and children

My daughter and I watched Oliver Stone’s Wall Street:Money Never Sleeps on pay-per-view last night and maybe the best moment in this story of Gordon Geko’s return came in the very first scene.  As he is released from 8 years in prison for illegal financial dealings, his personal belongings are returned to him. The clerk reads off each item, key ring, gold money clip (empty), watch, mobile phone(!) and the camera pans to a huge device only one step newer than the original bag phone. It is not a spoiler to tell you that he catches up to the times quickly after he is out.

There is however to ponder, while we trudge through the predictable stuff, the simple theme of a daughter who hates her father. She blames for him for the dissolution of their family and especially for the death of her addicted brother while Gekko was in prison. In one scene he tells her of all the things he tried to help his son, which she didn’t know of course, but she still believes that if he had been there it would have been different.

Children will identify with her and parents will, sadly but clearly, side with Gekko for it is the universal dichotomy. The perspective of youth versus age, of the future alongside the past or simply who has time to think about what. Apropos of this standoff, Ustinov is quoted “Parents are the bones on which children sharpen their teeth.” I guess the screenwriter thought it too trite to use the Bette Davis line: “If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent” but you get the point.

It is really not complicated and Gekko says this pretty clearly when he talks about “we are all human” and thus there is no simple explanation for our personalities or our behavior. Maybe the only possible direction is forward toward forgiveness and love.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) – IMDb.