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Tomorrow is Labor Day in the United States. Unlike the rest of the world which celebrates May Day, we wait until the very end of summer and we don't give those who truly deserve a rest a holiday.

Can we in honesty say this is a rest from our labor when our fellow citizens do not?
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When it comes to the latest managerial trends and cutting edge breakthroughs, the traditional law firm is twenty to thirty years in arrears; especially in areas of generating revenue streams and talent retention.

The larger regional firms and AMLAW 200 firms, that is over a hundred attorneys, seem to be slowly adapting; which is to say that the survivors of both the dwindling regional firms and, figuratively speaking, the AMLAW 50.

The mid-sized firms are profiting in this age of adaptation, that is between ten and thirty attorneys, focusing on a small core group of staff with a precise targeted clientele. It is not a matter of adaptation, rather finding a market with ten to twenty year projection for that market. That is, until their clientele finds breakthrough technology or methodology and compels the mid-sized firms to adapt; which will result in smaller firms or less mid-sized firms.

What is left are the small law firms. The most prolific of all law firms in the world. Two to five attorneys, one or two paralegals, possible a secretary and a support staff. In order to survive, a small firm uses a lot of creativity to compete or complete with the case demands; compatible technologies, or templates, or personnel juggling multiple roles. However, that creativity does not lend itself to finding cutting edge breakthroughs or utilizing the latest managerial trends to retain and groom talent or generating more revenue with less effort. What occurs is the same trends as the larger firms - obtain more clients to generate revenue without greater technology or breakthroughs. This leaves a smaller staff to produce a work product at the same level as a larger regional firm without the personnel or technologies, at a greater fragility of financial loss. Case in point, my workload is four times the average workload of my colleagues - with a cap of fifty hours a week in pay but expected to bill roughly one-hundred and twenty hours a month. Without more effective technologies that fit into a small firm without an active IT department, without additional personnel and with only one full-time attorney. The mathematical calculations, regarding input versus throughput versus EBITA, would make any business consultant shy away and declaring this venture a pig.

Almost makes a person want to say, "would you please, make up your silly little minds?!"
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As I read the various blogs, journals and tweets I notice there is a curious dichotomy that spans countries, cultures and languages: Hope and despair.

The despair is fairly simple to find, the feelings after a long holiday season of such bright lights, giving and feasting; or the lack thereof. The theme of hope is more subtle.

In all the feeds I have read so far, some of the subtle themes for hope are:
Hope that the winter will end and spring will bloom;
Hope that life and prosperity will become greater than the previous year;
Hope that a better life and direction will transpire in the coming year;
Hope that the meaning of the particular holiday you celebrate will have a deeper or more profound meaning;

Some may even have far flung hopes of:
Universal peace, brotherhood or fraternity will break out;
or, some disease will hopefully cured in our lifetime;
or sense and reasoning will suddenly come to our politicians and justice in pure tranquility become reality.

However, what is never written, but present in the undercurrent of the writings is this:
Hope that pressures of life will ease;
Hope of food on the table;
Hope that our relatives and family not irritate us;
Hope our employment will remain in tact;
or in the alternative, a better situation becomes reality;
Hope that in our advocations and hobbies, we find a small modicum of peace.

None of these hopes are new, in fact you only have to look to the Hanukkah blessing:
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe,
Who has sanctified us with His commandments
and commanded us to kindle the hanukkah candle.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe,
Who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe,
Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this moment.

Or to look to the latin hymn:
Veni, veni O Oriens,
solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas,
dirasque mortis tenebras.

Veni, veni, Rex Gentium,
veni, Redemptor omnium,
ut salvas tuos famulos
peccati sibi conscios.

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadow put to flight.

O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven's peace.

This is the reason we have such hope, the underlying theme of the Holidays are hope. To remind us to dare to hope, to keep our hopes alive and sustain our hopefulness until the next year, in the deep of winter when our hope seems lowest.

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Today is the anniversary of the death of Padraig, Bishop of Munster, Leinster, and Connacht.
It's origin is a Christian Holiday, which became a Catholic Holiday and reprieve Lenten obligations1, which has translated into a Secular Bacchus Holiday.

I believe the following sums up the sentiment.

Perhaps it was the same when Christians began seeing Rabbits and Eggs supplant the Cross and the purple muslin; or when the Founders of America began to note the celebration of the 4th of July more about celebrating than remember about freedom.

With a little discomfort and a little longing for how it was.

End Note:
1= It was with certain interest that both Pope John Paul II and the Archbishop of Canterbury both gave specific permission for the Irish of Tulsa to break Lenten obligations for 17 March which have not been rescinded.
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There’s been a lot of talk about Justice lately. From dear friends seeking Justice over the debasers and fools whom are directly responsible for the ills of the world, or at least Just power & means to correct the matter once and for all. And what about a Government declaring that Justice was served in the death of man. Or the citizens of Syria or Libya wanting a Just and free society from their Leaders which exercise Justice in a swift and sure manor.

In all the rhetoric about Justice, I wondered if anyone, Citizen, Subject, or State, understands what the word Justice really means? And if you really knew the meaning, would you honestly want to seek Justice on another?

The concept for Justice comes from Roman Law or Jus, meaning to have, "Power, Privilege, or Capacity (of control) over another Person…."
Think about this for a moment, the Power over another person’s life; their person, property, or family. How would you exercise such power?

Would you conjure Jus abutendi or the right to exercise power in any manner you see fit? Having your way through unrestricted and limitless force. Even with the noblest of intentions, could you wield such power and not declare jus dicere - "I AM the hand of God!" - That you are correct to exact power and dominion over those whom you declare beyond the pale. Isn't that called Retribution?

Or would you strive for Jus naturale, or to exercise power in positive governess in A communi observantia non est recendendum from the common rules for all, there shall be no departure.
Not seeking your way only, but acting for all to benefit. Striving for others to follow Jus ex injuria non oritur, if they seek to change an ill or want in unity; for good cannot rise out of doing harm . And, unselfishly, allowing for the possibility of losing today even with the noblest of intentions, so that all will gain tomorrow. So that you, in the end, become self-enlightened.

Which do you choose?
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In Russia, I've learned not to take many things at face value; but there are times when you see something that leads to the conclusion that something dreadful will happen.

Case in point:

McDonald's Closes Its Doors in Crimea
The Moscow Times - Apr. 04 2014 12:56 Last edited 12:56

Stringer / Reuters
McDonald's has suspended operations at its three restaurants in Crimea indefinitely "due to manufacturing reasons independent of McDonald's," the Ukrainian branch of the U.S. fast-food giant said.

Restaurants in the cities of Sevastopol, Simferopol and Yalta have been closed but employees will be allowed to take up their old positions at other branches in Ukraine, McDonald's said Thursday in an online statement, without elaborating on the reasons for the closure.

The statement also said the company had offered to cover relocation costs for workers and their families, as well as housing for three months following the transfer.

Severance pay would be available for those employees who declined to leave, the company said, adding that it hoped to reopen its restaurants in Crimea "when such an opportunity" arises. The offer of a relocation package for workers suggests that the company does not expect to do so any time soon, however.

About 500 people have been laid off as a result of the closures, most of whom intend to look for new jobs in Crimea, Itar-Tass reported, citing out-of-work employees.

"We got advance notices, but we couldn't believe it until the last moment, we love our jobs and it was a big shock to us," one former employee said.

News of McDonald's leaving Crimea was mostly received well by Russian Internet users, with several commentators on the Ekho Moskvy website saying that Crimeans will now get healthier, while some remarked that Russia's fast-food restaurants did not have much to offer in terms of healthy food either.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the outspoken leader of the Liberal Democrat party, or LDPR, also welcomed Friday's news, telling reporters he would do all he could to bring about the closure of McDonald's restaurants in Russia, Interfax reported.

"I call upon local LDPR organizations to arrange pickets outside every McDonalds branch," Zhirinovsky said, adding that once the "soul" of the fast-food chain had been destroyed, he would seek the removal of Pepsi Cola from Russia as well.

It's the last paragraph that is most chilling. Directly targeting Multi-national companies corporately based in the USA. LDPR is very right of the United Russia party and alliance with V.V. Putin. This may lead to other indirect, far right, actions.

This at a time when American business interests should be stronger with Russia not weaker; which as a curious note, shortly before the Crimea issue, our Ambassador resigned his position.
I do not see this ending well.
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For little effort and great return, social media like LinkedIn or Twitter has become a boom for networking people for business, such as potential customers; or propounding the latest Business theory or consultant-life-business-spiritual coaches pet pitch to a broad audience.

Which can be like a coin toss for information:

One the one sides....
I have enjoyed meeting a host of professionals whom I have had great discussions (or called, politely, fools). And have found interesting leads on new opportunities - which is really great.

On the flip side of this coin....
I am overwhelmed by every pundit propounding pundit-ity prolifically - that is more Gurus Consultants and Coaches speaking their message to a broader, global audience.

To the point your neurons feel like screaming "overload, overload, please log off your brain!"

What seems to be missing between the deal-making and the message pundit-ity is reflection.
Has someone really fact-checked the info the Consultant is pitching?
Is that information really useful?
Or, before you speak, have you really though about the ramifications of your message?

Perhaps this is the meaning of media, to cause you to think - then react.
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I dislike changes to my comfort in Winter, especially changes that will make me very uncomfortable by moving from warmth and conform of my fireplace, my blanket, and my dog - into the cold winds, cold precipitation, and cloudless cold skies. There had better be an excellent reason for going away from my comfort is my usual retort and reply. Sometimes, it is necessary for obvious and pre-planed reasons, such as the warm dog under my blanket suddenly feels the urge to relieve her blatter or bowels because it is 6pm and we always walk at 6pm. Uncomfortable but you know it must be done.

Sometimes, those who brave the cold with solid trepidation brings the warmest outcomes; such as going out in the snow so you can purchase & make from scratch hot cocoa with generous home-made whipped cream. Such as for friends whom you do not see very often and for whom this would make "the cockles of our little hearts" warm.

You might be thinking in either case, why didn't you think of this earlier? And my answer is: Sometimes, we have the time but not the inclination, and sometimes we do not have lead time to plan for sudden changes.

This is particularly true when planning strategy for yourself. Sometimes, you don't have the luxury of fully planning ahead for sudden changes in market conditions, technology trends, or overall competitive forces; nor do you have the capability for fully map out all the risks.

I have been reading today some market intelligence from London, England and New York City, USA. This culminates three weeks of very cold snowy winds of changes which I hoped I was incorrect. I have had the time to reflect on the intel, but have elected nor had the inclination to act immediately. Yet now, I still do not have the inclination to act, but if I don't act soon, it will mean being out the the cold - perhaps literally, and edged out of the market.

Meaning I must career wise bundle up from head to toe, and go out into the cold snowy winds of change in order to build a warm future for later - with my fireplace, blanket, and dog (after her walk).
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It may be old-fashioned, antiquated, and perhaps not attuned to modern mores, but it is still quite apropos to invoke the ancient salutation on this day of "MERRY CHRISTMAS".

To one, and to all.
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I have enjoyed re-reading in-depth Nassim Nicholas Talib's book "Anti-fragility: Things that gain from Disorder" now that I have the enjoyable opportunity to analyze books for my own pleasure. I quoted this book often in my research papers on what one should or should not do with regards to technologies and risk. It was a delicious twist of the proverbial knife into the dull recitation of Harvard, Wharton, or Stanford based sources against the practicality of how business operates in real time conditions. There was also a sense of two ironic factors whenever I quoted Talib's books:

-The first thing I find ironic, is the fact Dr. Talib is a Wharton (MBA) and University of Paris (MS & Ph.D) graduate; a man from a privileged family whose occupational goals was to be a Philosopher. Distinguished lecturer, successful trader, influential writer.
Someone whom I would have easily discarded as full of themselves and a dilatant.

-And yet, the most ironic, is Dr. Talib has constructed singular messages that bare a semblance of reason because it is simple. One of the messages, particularly regarding his fellow researchers and academic researchers in particular is more modeling and construct of theories than actual "tinkering"; that is doing and not making models.

This is why I appreciate Dr. Talib's work. He saw in the real world all the constructs did not apply, but real tinkering and doing was more effective, and tangible to fully appreciate risk operation by investment in their application, or to "have skin in the game".

Think about this for a moment: You do, you fail, you succeed, then you write about it; or you see others failing, you learn from those fail around you, and you capitalize. This is how business should operate because you have real capital invested in the outcome - i.e. skin in the game. You don't seek the constructs to frame how to fail, you can do this easily without the extensive research. But that seems to be a devastating issue, only theory and not real doing. For example, Harvard Business School, flatly, boasts that it instills in its' graduates a theory based background. Not a practical background, but only theory.

Even my own alma mater Walden, describes their graduates as "Scholar Practitioners", which I now find lacking. We are exhausted theories with some application to real world situations. But should this be the opposite, Practitioners whom then become Scholars.

Albeit late in the game, it has changed my perspective doing.

And that is truly ironic.
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Was reading an amusing and somewhat disterubing article from the Ecnomist on both the glut of US Ph.D's and, in some instances, the dumbing down of the research to be confirmed a Ph.D.; and the aritcle suggests, broadly, this may be an entry level posistion with little to no tangleble benifit.

Strange, Dr. Lawrance J. Peter suggested this event happening in 1966. Originally possed by the press and the publishers as humor. I would sumize the joke is on us.
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Sometimes, it can be a challenge to summarize an entire year's joys and sorrows in a single essay. It has been, to be blunt, a hell of a year.

And from what I've read over the past year in other journals, a year of changes and challenges. A few triumphs over high goals meet that would make even Hercules think it's too tough.

Last night, I found the perfect wish that sums up all the changes and challenges of the past year, and the hope for the new year. An old Scottish Song.

So, raise you glass.


Aug. 31st, 2012 01:48 pm
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Have you ever wondered why there is such discontentment in employment? Even today when employment rates globally are at historic high levels, there are employees whom dream of nothing but walking out on their employment situation and bid their tyrannical overload superior a short and acetic adu. Here is a rather funny but quite sad example.

A colleague of mine at the Law Firm of Armand Legg(*) regaled me with a story about how she was appointed by her section to be on the United Way Committee and what happened during the “kick off” meeting; which is the initial planning meeting for the fundraising events.

For those of you who don’t know A) what the United Way is; and B) Why it’s not a good thing; let me explain. First, the United Way is an umbrella organization which raises monies for community based social services. Laudable and noble in its’ efforts. But, those whom are assigned to be on the United Way Committee usually must entice and cajole their colleagues into giving money or organizing events which will produce organizational giving. Normally not a post of honor – like a used car salesperson to an unsuspecting customer.

But, I digress.

My colleague began her tale with the normal chaos associated with a luncheon meeting, finding the line, selecting a plate, serving your selections. No one really wanted to be there, and the lunch provided was really a Pro Forma to foster a sense of camaraderie before the drudgery began.
Then she said something odd and amazing, she said that Attorneys and Secretaries began re-arraigning the chafing dishes, the office administrator instead of directing the staff person who set up the room to bring more tables and chairs, began without a word to change the set up. And the staff person whom was in charge of setting up was left standing bewilderment.

This struck me as odd; I thought, why would you do this during the luncheon? Why not ask the staff person to change if something was not working or had planned in advance to change on the fly?
If this were the only indicator of something not quite right, it would be enough for any business consultant to zero in on the mechanics of leadership and what was missing from the equation.

But it was not.

What happened next was the truest indicator of something rather wrong with the structure under the veneer of paneling. She said, many of the secretaries and staff members began voicing discontent over a proposed change in the buy-in where you can purchase for a monthly donation the opportunity to wear casual clothing on Friday. A lot of resentment poured into the room from this discussion; such as why did the Attorneys win all the raffles and never the staff; why the bidding during the auction, the largest fundraising event during the United Way compaign, traditionally exceeded most staff members budges within the first 15 seconds of bidding? And most galling for the staff was why during the United Way campaign only fraction of the Attorneys participated and nearly all of the staff contributed the work?

These were only the tip of what was disclosed by my friend’s story; there was much more.
But I think you can see the point - that there are some management employer relation issues boiling over. Anyone who has serviced under Arms understands what was wrong; anyone who has worked for a Sigma 6 company knows; or anyone who has worked for a fantastic core-competency company knows what was wrong. And before my conservative friends can make the argument that the Attorneys generate all the revenue, are entitled to the perks, and therefore should make the rules; let me say this, what are the rules the Attorneys are making and are those rules and expectations clearly expressed in writing and in action to the staff? If those rules and expectations exist, why were they not clearly communicated in coaching and in action? And lastly, why did they interfere instead of letting the staff DO THEIR JOB?

Employees want to be lead; want to know where their leaders are taking them; desire to know what exactly their jobs are and what is needed to do the job; and want to perform the job with the leeway to make corrections if something does not work.

It does not happen overnight, and it does not happen without all of management agreeing on a common shared goal. It takes time and long-term commitments.

For example, written job duties and do they clearly note what is going to happen without any vague language. In those duties, clearly write out what is expected from the staff to encourage optimal performance, and what intrinsic rewards can the staff expect (such as public recognition of their efforts, or a thank you note or card, or just someone saying, “You did a great job”).
Using the luncheon as an example, what were the exact duties for setting up a luncheon and did they have a clear understanding of what could happen if more people showed up (or should they be permitted to show up if the rules were not clearly noted to reply by such a time or don’t come by). From my colleague’s story, it appears none of these questions were asked or written out before the luncheon.

Another point here was why wasn’t the staff people asked to make changes? By doing the re-arranging themselves, they clearly communicated to staff that their actions were not welcomed, wanted, appreciated, or they had the skill to correct the situation. Simple ask bring in more chairs, tables, and serving ware to accommodate the additional people. And if the chafing dishes were not accessible, ask the staff to make the change; that’s what the staff is there for, to ensure the event was correct. In short, HANDS OFF; use your words. Another way to have handled this situation was to advise in advance that some changes may be required at the last minute and they should have the leeway to make changes and corrections as needed; in short, if they see more people than was arranged, let them make the decision to add more and back their decisions with encourage for taking initiative.

Now, not every Law firm will adhere to the principals of leadership. Some will continue to manage as does Armand Legg. But, some will take the lead in the 21st century and focus on more leadership – definition, expectations, and initiative. And those will be the firms to watch out for.
In the meantime, I gave my colleague the name of a great head-hunter.

* = Armand Legg is not a real firm.
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If you will recall from my essay I mentioned a legislation from the World Trade Organization (WTO), called ACTA. If you don't remember, please take a moment to read.

Now that you are read up, let me give you an update to this essay, and one that is very amusing to me.
It would appear that the European Union will not sign this treaty, you can read an interesting story from the UK, here.
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Recently, I was in a discussion regarding justice and likability; and it's easy to take the populists view of judges in the United States. But to you, the discerning reader, I'd like to offer this thought.

We can agree or disagree with any decision, case, or reasoning a sitting judge renders; that cannot be separated from the human experience. Sometimes, the judge associated with that particular rendering is either vilified or canonized in the process; which is also a part of the human experience.

But, when we attach direct affection or animosity toward a sitting judge no matter what that judge renders, we have a situation of unimaginable horror for any citizen to contemplate.

For we as citizens’ loss the appearance & application of justice as blind, based solely on the stronger argument and reasoning with adherence to strict rules of order; not based on popular sentiment or popular ire to rules based on flights of fancy.

And that truly is a chilling thought.
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I was struck with the odd thought over my evening coffee and the latest article from the Harvard Business School Journal, "The trends and scholarly research I am digesting to become the next generation of leaders, will this become at best a fad, or at worst a disastrous trend?!?"

Considering I am a devote of Schott Adams' work, who himself earned an MBA from California State, the thought was not a random flight of fancy, but a creeping fear up my spine; yes, it could be also the angle I'm holding my head, but I'd like to associate the sensation with enlightenment.

The thought occurred while one of my professor's was lecturing on the new philosophy of global corporate responsibility - fair treatment of workers, ethical decisions, and long term planning. The concept of long term planning is not as clear cut as you think. My professor, a graduate of Harvard, amused us with this anecdote. In 1968, Sony Corporation's CEO visited Harvard and delivered a lecture before the School of Business. These young lions were devouring every word and at the end of the lecture, wanted to question a new idea touted as scientific, "The Five (5) Year Plan". One young lion ask the CEO, "Sir, does you company have a five year plan?"

The CEO replied, "No, we do not have a five (5) year plan."

The room was a buzz; these young lions were incensed at the fact here was one of the fastest growing companies in the world, the most skilled in providing the latest technologies and they did NOT have a five year plan?

The CEO interrupted the buzz and said, "Let me finish, please. We do not have a five (5) year plan, we have a 500 YEAR PLAN (emphasis added)"

This immediately invalidated the scientific research on the five (5) year plan; which was replaced by the five year-ten year-15 year plan. A topic which Scott Adams has found delight in lampooning often, especially in Adam’s book, “The Dilbert Principle”.

And now, in my materials, we are discussing yet again long term planning. Not as a Adam_ess humor, but with serious scientific research. Given the Professor’s lecture, my one and only thought was:

To what extent is my thought?

* Do we base the plan like that of many of the defunct Energy Trading companies, which had a 30 year plan, based on profits at the height revenue intake and not averaging overall progress?

* Do we base plans based on American retail giants of the twentieth century? Now facing bankruptcy for changing their long-term goals for short term capital?

* Do base companies strategies, in essence, on plundering human beings in other countries at the expense of both forgoing their own citizens and turning a blind eye under the name of governess to human rights violations until globalization equates all parties IN THE LONG TERM?

In this, I do not know. I do know the scientific research has cause more disasterous than realized or rationalized. I do know this, that Scott Adams has penned most of the trends, including long term planning into very pithy commentary. However, the subject of plundering human beings is something even Dilbert would not wish to compute.

For now, putting down my journal and refilling my cup is as long term planning as I wish to tackle.
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"I must stop Christmas from coming, but HOW?"Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Anyone whom has ever read the story, seen the animated cartoon, or the live-action remake will hearken to this words with some amusement. A town in preparation for Christmas Tide with trimming and trappings for festive and merrymaking. A sour and vengeful creature on stopping the merriment. The crime of the century.

This is the premise. An unthinkable crime for its time in 1950. Who would dare to do this, moreover how would dare to interrupt a holiday?

"Your a rotter, Mr. Grinch!" Lyrics by Dr. Seuss; Song by Thurl Ravenscroft
Well, someone dared. Our home was burgled on Christmas Day. Fortunately, the gifts were not harmed, but valuables were taken and the home was placed in shambles. It meant cleaning up and repairing instead of merrymaking. It meant drying tears and keeping tempers in check. It meant summing the Police and filling out reports. Filing proof of claims. And a host of other mundane tasks instead of merrymaking.

But in this, the burglars failed to achieve on goal: They failed to stop Christmas.

"IT CAME WITHOUT PRESENTS?!Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Christmas did come. And will come. We are shaken but have not forgot the meaning. We have replaced one or two items for our son, noting Santa Claus heard his plight and answered. We have celebrated the Christmas with music, food, joy, and laughter. Those items which were taken are just that...items. Transitory bits of pleasure, but not joy.

So, sorry Mr. Grinch, you did not achieve your goal. But, we have a place at our table for dinner tonight if you wish?
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This week marks Christmas North America, Most of Europe, and Africa; what my friends call "Catholic" Christmas, as opposed to Orthodox Christmas. As with either Christmas each nation or tradition has a vast array of symbolic rituals to cement the holiday in our hearts.

If you celebrate Christmas, you have a symbol or ritual. But if you are younger, you don't have the symbolic or ritualistic ties to Christmas.

This thought came about after a conversation with my Son, who said, "really Daddy, Christmas does not have that much meaning to me."

And it is true. As a child, you experience actions which bring you comfort or receive gifts which brings pleasure. Take one or both actions away, and you have disconnect.

As you mature, you find yourself moving beyond actions to reasons for actions. Only then, do you find a deeper meaning in Christmas.
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I am struck with a sense of loss with both the physical loss in my family, and the social/psychological sense of how to express that loss. It has lead me to ponder how does one celebrate the departed's life?

In short, how does one In memoria defunctorum? How does one remember the dead?

In the society I was raised, the dead were just that, dead. No longer among the living once the internment of the body was complete.
Only to be remembered on the reading of the dead on All Saint's Day.

The trouble is, that only buries the pain deeply and when it surfaces, it can be very powerful and debilitating. So it lead me to remember other traditions and their means of expressing grief.

I remember the creole traditions is Chicago, to morn for seven straight days with an emotional outpouring on the seventh day during the funeral. Very cathartic but very intimidating for someone as reserved as I.

I remember sitting Shiva with friends whom mourned for seven days. Swapping stories about the departed and crying and laughing,and in short, outpourning ones heart.

And I learned of a great tradition from the Cossocks. Remembering on the 3rd day, the 20th day, the 45th day, and on the Anniversary of their death. You grieve in stages and relive the pain annually.

I am finding a common thread; let it out for a period of time and permit it to be let out occasionally. This seems to be the most effective way of confronting and accepting the dead. So perhaps, it is time for a change of defunctorum? A small remembrance of the dead, for the next seven days; then remembering and permitting feelings of loss and sorrow to come forth.
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After an 11 year absents from the classroom, I am re-entering at the Graduate level to a brave new world. Before, you could expect the basic research and white-papers, and thesis or capstone only.

But now, you can expect a lot more technological information: MP-3 files with materials or lectures. Streaming Video or DVD semenars and lectures. Filesharing of peer review papers. Email or chat boards for discussion of lecture or notes.

The shear amount of techologies is both amazing and confusing.

And to me, this is entering into a Brave New World.
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