8 posts categorized "Random" Feed

Nordstrom's Employee Handbook — short and sweet - (37signals)

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

via 37signals.com


I found this by accident. I find it very interesting on a lot of levels.


And yes, this is my signal that I am back to blogging. I will try to put out two posts a week. I really want to finish a draft of my book so I can finally put it down one way or another so that is getting most of my writing time. 

Because of that, there may be some weeks where my only posts will happen on Mondays. I will endeavor to have one post on Mondays and one on Thursdays. 

15 things I've learned in 15 years of marriage

In honor of my fifteen year anniversary today here are fifteen things that I think I've learned over the last fifteen years:

  1. Marriage is the greatest thing I have ever done. My life is incredibly enriched because of my marriage. I am a different and better man because of my marriage.
  2. Marriage is the hardest thing I've ever done. For anyone who has ever been married, I doubt I need to expand on this one at all.
  3. Marriage has taught me the meaning of the word selfless
  4. Marriage has taught me what it means to ask and accept forgiveness.
  5. Marriage has taught me that just because you can, doesn't mean you should
  6. Marriage has taught me that sometimes I love you means sitting holding someone's hand or hair while they puke.
  7. Marriage has taught me what it means to be vulnerable.
  8. Marriage has taught me what it means to dig deeply into the really painful places of our hearts
  9. Marriage has taught me what it means to know you will always have someone next to you, who will walk with you.
  10. Marriage has taught me what it means to have almost nothing but your lovers hand in yours and know that's enough.
  11. Marriage has taught me what it means to have someone next to you, offering to walk beside you while you walk the what you believe may be the darkest days of your life.
  12. Marriage has taught me what it means to have someone walk into a room and take your breath away.
  13. Marriage has taught me what it is like to watch someone grow and succeed and feel like you're succeeding.
  14. Marriage has taught me what it is like to watch someone give you their best and in turn make you your best.
  15. Marriage has taught me what it means to have a soul mate. I know this idea isn't a popular one today but yes, I believe that my wife is my soul mate.

The best person I know

This is my wife. IMG_5217

In a few days, she'll be completing her college education.

A few days ago, she started her graduate degree.

She's the most amazing person I've ever met.


No exaggerating.

I could talk about how her entire life, almost everyone told her she wasn't smart enough to actually finish school or that she wasn't that smart at all and how she's overcome all of that.

She inspires me. The fact that she has overcome those voices is one of the reasons.

But there's more.

Eleven years ago, she gave birth to our first child.

She has successfully turned a closet of a fitness center into a multi-site conglomerate. When the owner of that closet turned true business wanted her advice on what to do with the business, my wife accurately predicted that the model she was using would fall out of favor with the public and she should sell while the selling was good.

The owner refused.

They parted ways.

The business fell apart as my wife predicted it would.

In the last four yeas, my wife has successfully run our office business and done the lion's share of the business work for the business that I co-own with two other people.

She has been a parent to three amazing girls and one awesome boy. She went to school while being pregnant and doing all of the above.

She is involved in our community and the lives of those around us.

When I was in graduate school, she put wood floors in our entire upstairs.

And, they look amazing.

She's changed faucets and done a thousand other things around our little corner of the world.

In the last four years, I've watched her write papers with a child crawling up her back or while breastfeeding.

She's not slept because of sick kids and still handed in her assignments on time. She's pulled a GPA near perfect 4.0.

She's not missed a parent teacher conference or a major event of her kids life. She's supported me and helped to make me a better person.

Let me tell you about her character.

She's compassionate, and loving. She's gracious and kind. She can process her own emotions and thoughts in a way that never ceases to amaze me. She's loyal.

She wants to grow and be better.

She's an outstanding mother.

She's an incredible wife.

She's strong in body, mind and character.

She is literally the anchor for this world.

I could write for a long time but I won't. If she finds this post, she'll already by mortified.

I will end with two things.

She has taught me what it means to love someone completely by loving me with 100% of her being.

This post is to simply celebrate her and all that she is to me and our family.

I look forward to working with her someday as a fellow counselor. I can't wait to see what the rest of our story unfolds.

She is truly the best person I know.



Hi, I'm an Introvert

So I often have a fun conversation. It goes like this:

Me: Well, I'm an introvert

Them: No, you're not. That's impossible. You speak in front of people and you don't mind talking to groups.

Me: That's because I'm not shy. But I get my energy from being alone or with a very small group of people. I don't get it from large groups or being out at all.

Them: Well, I don't know....

It almost always cracks me up. I get it. They have these preconceived idea of what an introvert is and I don't fit that preconcieved idea. But it's because they have introvert and shy confused.

Last week my family and I went to Chicago. My daughter won an essay contest and the trip there was free (ish). So we packed everyone up and trekked off to the big city.

It was cool. I was so excited to spend time with my family. I was extrememly proud of my daughter.

And yet, I don't know that I'll be in a hurry to go back.

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to go on a camping trip with a bunch of guys. Parts of it sounded really cool.

Sitting around a fire. Reading. Time for reflection. Doing "guy" things, whatever they are.

But I didn't go. Why?

Well, I was driving down this one road on my way home one night from work (I do a lot of driving) and I realized that the idea of being on a camping trip with that many guys sounded awful. Why?

Because I'm an introvert.

My wife and I attend a faith community in our town that we really enjoy. The fabric of our community is woven into and through the fabric of our family. But we do this one thing that drives me crazy. I mean bonkers crazy. I have to be creative in how I get around it.

We do this thing called forced community. We take a few moments from singing and they want you to hug or high five or shake someone's hand.

I don't like touching people. I don't like people touching me. Unless, I know them pretty well. Why?

Because I'm an intovert.

You want me to talk to strangers? No problem. You want me to teach to a large group of people? No problem. You want me to build relationships with strangers. No problem. Almost every third place that I end up in, I end being known by name and knowing many people name. (By the way, third place is just my attempt at being cool by calling a coffee shop a different name in modern parlance).

Now, I get it, there are a lot of people that would really love the big city (even introverts).

There are a lot of people who dig "forced community" and would love going camp with a ton of other guys. There are people who would get all sorts of energy out of standing in front of people and that doesn't make them worse or better than me.

It just makes us different.

I know it's kind of considered "cool" to be an introvert right now and I'm not trying to wade into that mess.

What I am trying to do is clear up a few ideas.

First of all, not every introvert or extrovert is exactly alike. Even in these subsets of society, there are subsets. It's just how it works out.

As people, we want things to be easy and simple. Clear. We spend most of our energy fitting people into labels and boxes. I'm not against labels, my wife has too containers that look exactly alike; one is used to clean your oven, the other is used to keep food from burning in a pan. Mix those labels up and people will die. That's bad.

Here's a really simple test for you. What energizes you? The answer to that will help you understand whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.

Secondly, we need to stop confusing shy with being an introvert. Yes, some shy people are introverts, but so are some extroverts. Whichever "vert" you are, it isn't a disease and it really shouldn't be all that limiting. I am afraid that too often we are more concerned about labeling ourselves so that we can figure out what we can't do as opposed to better understanding what we can do.

Some people are never going to like going to some big events (the idea of concerts just grosses me out) and that's OK. Some people will always love them. Fantastic. Good for them. I'll look for them on the TV from the relative quiet of my living room.

What about you? What "vert" are you?


Pain is a path, maybe the path to wisdom

Most of us are not so wise. Fearing the pain involved, almost all of us, to a greater or lesser degree, attempt to avoid problems. We procrastinate, hoping that they will go away. We ignore them, forget them, pretend they do not exist. We even take drugs to assist us in ignoring them, so that by deadening ourselves to the pain we can forget the problems that cause the pain. We attempt to skirt around problems rather than meet them head on. We attempt to get out of them rather than suffer through them. This tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness. Since most of us have this tendency to a greater or lesser degree, most of us are mentally ill to a greater or lesser degree, lacking complete mental health. Some of us will go to quite extraordinary lengths to avoid our problems and the suffering they cause, proceeding far afield from all that is clearly good and sensible in order to try to find an easy way out, building the most elaborate fantasies in which to live, sometimes to the total exclusion of reality. In the succinctly elegant words of Carl Jung, “Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.”

Peck, M. Scott (2012-03-13). The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (pp. 16-17). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.

Academic Writing distilled....

If you know me, you know that I think there are very few organizations that take itself more seriously than it should besides Academia.  One may have to write poorly for the interest of academic integrity by referring to oneself in the third person. Or perhaps, the successful writer will engage in obtuse and obfuscation. A while ago, a friend shared this cartoon with me and I thought it was nearly perfect. :)


Self-plagiarism. We've finally gone over the edge

I was going to write about e-readers today. Then I opened my school email and received back from my professor a paper that I had recently submitted. There was a friendly reminder from my professor to avoid plagiarism. Sound awful doesn't it? What did I do?

Did I copy someone else's work and pass it off as my own? Did I quote someone and fail to cite them? Did quote someone wrong? Nope.

What I did was I used one sentence in two separate papers. Now, please understand I'm not railing against my professor. He is just fulfilling his job requirements. He's enforcing a bad rule.

I have often said that I think Academia has lost touch with reality. The stereotype of an Academic is a stereotype because there are too many rules, and regulations that make no sense. They create confusion and cause people who live in "the real world" to scratch their heads and wonder what in the world just happened.

Think about what I just told you. Writing the same sentence twice in two separate papers could be plagiarism. Well, let's look at the definition of plagiarism.

According to my school's own webpage:


Plagiarism is when an author represents someone else's intellectual property as his or her own work (Emphasis mine).  Authors are most commonly at risk of plagiarizing when they fail to adequately cite the original source material from which they took words and ideas. Plagiarism can occur in many forms and can range from a lack of citations to incorrect paraphrasing or actual direct copy and pasting of a source's phrasing into another author's own paper.

According to dictionary.com


the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work, as by not crediting the author:

Then how does one self-plagiarize? Well, evidently you can’t but according to this writer, it violates the “spirit of scholarly research."

Say what?

Now, what is interesting is that I am guessing that almost all academics don't actually follow this rule when they are presenting their ideas. They're presenting those ideas over and over again in many different venues.

And I want them to keep doing that. Ideas are not concrete. They change shape over time. They never leave an interaction the same way they came to it. They evolve. We need them to do that. One paper submitted to me will elicit different responses than the same paper submitted to you. Learning is not an assembly line production, no matter how much we may try to make it be one. It is a living breathing interaction.

The problem is that this rule is saying that ideas cannot change. Moreover, they are attempting to pretend that courses and classes are not alike. That too much of time spent in school is looking at the same material over and over again. How else could a student offer a paper in two classes and the paper be of value to both classes if we take this "infraction" away? What's interesting to me, is that in my case it wasn't even one paper for two classes. It was one sentence for two assignments on the same topic!

Who is being stolen from? Who is being protected by this rule? Academia's own self sense of importance is being protected and that's about it, in my opinion. Thankfully, I am not alone. This writer agrees with me.

Here's a long quote from the piece:

But—practically speaking—the opportunity to reuse a paper might arise only once or twice in a student's career, thanks to the diversity of our course assignments and disciplines. A paper assignment that a student gets in my English class on 20th-century literature won't be anything like her assignment in Renaissance literature—much less from psychology or sociology. Because the content of courses differs so much, the opportunity to use the same paper will happen only rarely.

But when it does, why not allow a student to take advantage of the opportunity? Suppose a student writes a final research paper for an introductory psychology course in the fall semester of her freshman year, and receives helpful suggestions on it from the professor. That same student then takes an English-composition course with me in the spring, and I assign an open-topic research paper to finish the semester.

Why should I not encourage the student to revise her psychology paper, according to both the guidance she received from her previous professor and the new writing principles she has learned in my course? She couldn't merely turn in her old paper; it would have to fulfill the requirements of my assignment. The student would not only get the opportunity to return to a set of ideas she thought she had finished, but the assignment would also reinforce the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge and the curriculum.

No doubt, she might end up doing less work than a student who wrote a paper from scratch in my composition course. But does that really matter?

To borrow a phrase from the late eighties, we need to "stop the madness!!! (uncited)"

So of course, the question is what will I do. Obviously, I want to graduate my program. I've contacted three different people from my school expressing my frustration with this rule. I have written an email to the in house "expert" on plagiarism and cheating. I am waiting to hear back from him. I have written the official APA guidelines page and they have responded that they are unclear about this application of the rule. I will look up the rule in own APA guide manual when I get home tonight.

All of that to say I don't see much I can do except start conversations like this one. Some day, I'll have my degree. Things change because ideas get shared. I hope that my daughter's can go through school without having to deal with this type of absurdity.