Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. Unfortunately, I saw too many of this next type of manager during my days of corporate employment. I never knew quite what to make of them, except to wonder who was sponsoring them.

MOTW: Over-Hyped Manager

This manager arrives in a whirlwind fashion with lots of fanfare, expert credentials, and sterling testimonials from other assignments. Therefore great things are expected from him/her. Unfortunately absolutely nothing changes except to get worse during his/her tenure and the staff is left scratching their heads and wondering what hit them when Over-Hyped Manager leaves to his/her next assignment, typically an even higher, more important post with lots of visibility.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weekend Haiku

Harvest moon-
walking around the pond
all night long.

Basho (1644-1694)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Beauty Beats

Beats Antique video of Beauty Beats. Enjoy and happy Friday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ohio stadium like you've never seen it before

I heard this gentleman interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered the other day and I had to track down some pictures of his magnum opus. This is quite incredible, not only for the sheer size of the task, but because the Legos themselves are not curved. The man who built the replica of the stadium, entirely out of Legos is Paul Janssen, an Ohio State University professor of physiology and cell biology. He built the horseshoe-shaped stadium out of 1 million Lego pieces and it took him approximately four years between planning, collecting pieces and building to complete the project.

The mini-stadium can seat only 6,000 Lego people — that's thanks to issues of scale, not Janssen's work. As he said on the show, Lego people are not to scale, "they are pretty wide for their height."

I have a new appreciation for Lego building and what it entails after helping my young boys put together several Lego construction projects. This man really dedicated himself.

You can hear the NPR interview here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

South Florida's newest piano bar

I saw this on the news last night. Only in south Florida. This gives new meaning to the term piano bar. Who put it there and how they did it remains a mystery, and no, they are not taking requests.

Update. Mystery solved.

McDonald's University harder to get into than Harvard

In China that is. Apparently Harvard accepted about seven percent of its applicants last year while McDonald's U. in China accepts only one percent of people that apply. It would seem that with that stringent a selection criteria you are pretty much assured a job if you graduate. Oh yes, and the food is free.

Happy Birthday

To The Great One. Wayne Gretzky turns 50 today. Best hockey player ever to hit the ice, bar none.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bob Marley's last concert

Bob Marley performed in concert for the last time in Pittsburgh in September 1980 before he succumbed to cancer the following year. Next month the recording of Marley’s final performance will be released, titled “Bob Marley & The Wailers—Live Forever.” Here is an exclusive listen to one tune from that final performance, the uplifting Jamming, via Speakeasy from the WSJ. Scroll down in the article and you can play the tune.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. This next manager grates on one's nerves, but the good thing is he/she is not around that much.

MOTW: International Manager

This manager is a distant relative of Traveling Manager and is not to be confused with Culturally Different Manager. International Manager is culturally the same as his/her staff, but lets everyone in the office know he/she is supremely important because of the amount of international travel he/she engages in. Common conversation starters include:

“Boy, the showers in Heathrow airport just don’t compare to the ones in Honk Kong’s first class lounges.”

“I wonder if there’s a higher status than Executive Platinum these days. I must be getting there with all the miles I’ve flown this year.

“Sao Paulo and Santiago are just way too smoggy during the rainy season.”

“Mumbai was so crowded last week when I was there that I could barely hear myself think.”

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Two years of blogging

Today is the two year anniversary of The Night Canopy. Here is what I posted at the one year mark. At the time I did not know if I would have enough inspiration to keep on coming up with MOTWs (Manager of the Week) on a consistent basis. Well, here we are two years later, and I have not missed posting an MOTW on each and every Monday. Hopefully I can keep it going. Thank you for stopping by.

Weekend Haiku

The old pond-
a frog jumps in,
sound of water.

Basho (1644-1694)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rolling in the Deep

Adele performs Rolling in the Deep. She is one of those rare artists who sounds just as good live as in the studio. She rocks. Enjoy and happy Friday.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Uncle Vik at it again

Vikram Pandit has announced a management shakeup at Citi, the main result being his "enforcer" John Havens has been appointed president and chief operating officer of Citigroup. This means Havens will assume the day to day management of the firm and answer directly to Uncle Vik. Other changes include James Forese being appointed chief executive officer of Securities and Banking and Citi Vice Chairman Ned Kelly is to become chairman of the ICG.

This is mainly a re-shuffling of resources already at the executive level. A lot of good talent has left or been sent packing from Citi and Uncle Vik is trying to placate private shareholders now that he is out from under the government's thumb so to speak. Uncle Vik has praised John Havens as one of the principle levers in the turnaround of the firm. My question is, what turnaround? The stock (C) is still hovering around the four and a half dollar mark and I personally have been waiting years for it to go anywhere close to where it once was when Citi was the venerable money making machine of the past.

Contrary to my take, Prince Alaweed of Saudi Arabia, a very prominent Citi private shareholder, praises Pandit for his work thus far.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Business Jargon

One of the things that annoyed me the most when I worked in a big company was exactly what this article points out.

I would consistently cross paths with people who would talk in these unfathomable cliches and who were typically highly regarded within the organization. Such people were the inspiration for several of my MOTWs, (Manager of the Week) including this one, this one and this one, among others.

The one thing the article fails to mention which I noticed happened in the company I worked for was what I would call the word of the moment. This was a phenomenon whereupon some word would come into vogue in the company and suddenly that word would be thrown around in conference calls, meetings, presentations, etc, by people wanting to sound important and in the know.

One such example was the word "robust." This word mysteriously appeared in the company's lexicon and suddenly became ubiquitous, being thrown around at all times, such as, "Our product needs to be as robust as possible" or "That model is simply not robust enough to present to senior management" or "Our talent management process needs to be more robust."

And just like that, being robust was a requirement for everything until a new word du jour came along and robust became passe. How long it took to become passe was predicated by the seniority of the people using the word. The more senior the people using it the longer it took to fade away, but eventually it would and a new word would take its place.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hispanic or White?

The other day at the doctor's office the woman at the reception desk asked me this question.

"I am updating our files, are you Hispanic or white?"

I honestly did not know how to answer. I am descended from Hispanic parents and I am also white. I asked, "Can I be both?"

"I don't know," she answered, "There are two separate boxes."

"Well, what are you?" I asked.

""I'm Hispanic," she replied.

"But what color is you skin," I asked.

"White," she answered.

"That's just like me, so pick whichever box or boxes you like."

"I am going to tick both boxes for you," she said.

"OK, thank you," I responded.

I guess that day, at the doctor's office, I was both.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. This next manager does not really hurt anyone. Much time is spent in analysis and discussion, and while the manager spurs thought, not many tangible results tend to be produced.

MOTW: Case Study Manager

Usually a graduate of an Ivy League school, Case Study Manager approaches each and every problem through the eyes of academia. Generates a lot of discussion with his/her staff by asking open-ended questions that lead to lots of disagreement and opinions. More often than not the solution arrived at, while sometimes a good one, remains on paper and is never implemented.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Weekend Haiku

Face of the spring moon-
about twelve years old,
I'd say.

Issa (1763-1827)

Friday, January 14, 2011

O Fortuna

Last weekend we went to see a chamber version of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana in an intimate setting performed by an excellent ensemble called Seraphic Fire. It was fantastic. In honor of that performance here is Orff's signature bookend piece, O Fortuna, with the Latin lyrics.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

There is hope for humanity

An eight year old girl's microphone malfunctions when she is singing the national anthem to open a hockey game. What happens at about the minute and a half mark gives me hope that people are still decent in this country. When a woman cackles at the unfortunate turn of events, someone quickly shushes her and then the crowd kicks in. The girl, while obviously nervous doesn't miss a beat. Kudos to the hockey fans who had her back.

The things you learn watching T.V.

I don't know how I will ever use this information I gleaned last night from some wildlife program, but did you know polar bears can smell a seal up to 20 miles away? I guess possessing such an acute sense of smell is a must when living in such an inhospitable landscape.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Conversations in flight and the virtue of immobility

Last month I went on a business trip to a far land which caused me to spend many hours in many airplanes. Typically on planes I try to keep to myself, but on such long trips inevitably there is some conversation which arises between you and your neighboring passengers.

On this trip the subject of airplane crashes, one which I tend to dislike engaging in when I am flying, was brought up by my neighbor and so at one point I felt obliged to ask him, "If this plane were going down right now, what would you do?"

"Have sex with anything that moved," was his answer, (although his language put it a bit more coarsely than that as I seem to recall him dropping the f-bomb) and then he inquired, "Why, what would you do?"

I looked at him and replied, "I would keep perfectly still."

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. This next manager makes everyone nervous, including him/herself. The best thing he/she can do is switch to decaf.

MOTW: Hyper Manager

Drinks caffeinated coffee all day long and can’t sit still through a five-minute discussion. Over time has developed a lot of facial tics and walks around the office poking his/her nose where it does not belong, thereby reducing productivity ten-fold. Opines vociferously on any topic. Tends to have staccato-like delivery when he/she speaks.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Weekend Haiku

looking for a place to stay;
hanging wisteria.

Basho (1644-1694)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kradeva brez vere & Soba 102

Perpetuum Jazzile perform a mix of two pop hits in their native Slovenian. They also perform in English, Portuguese and Spanish, all flawlessly. Boy do I love these guys and gals sound. It's all a capella along with their beat boxer and they are all individually miked. Their harmony sounds great and you can tell that they are enjoying themselves as they perform.

The posturing by the lead singer, Tomaz Cor, is a bit of a satire on the pop star, Jan Plestenjak, whose songs these are. By all accounts he considers himself a bit of a ladies man. I hope his sense of humor is well developed too. Enjoy and happy Friday.

If you want to hear them in English check out this dynamic rendition of Toto's Rosana.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Autism study deemed a fake

If Andrew Wakefield, etal knowingly published their findings with data they knew to be false and/or suspect then this is one of the more egregious medical missteps committed in recent memory. Because of their reports, misguided celebrities and parents spoke out and made decisions which caused measles, mumps and rubella to make a comeback in places where these afflictions were all but wiped out. I am glad we did not succumb to the hype but rather had our children vaccinated.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to "the man with the rubber face." Rowan Atkinson turns 56 today. Although I am not that big a fan of Mr. Bean, I absolutely loved the Blackadder series and thought it was pure comedic genius. Incidentally, Hugh Laurie, whom many Americans have come to know because of the popularity of the medical drama House, was on some of the Blackadder series and was marvelous as a dimwitted royal.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Did you know...

That dolphins sleep with one eye open? I guess that is what needs to happen when you swim with the sharks.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

MadTV: Arnold Parody

One of my favorite shows on television was Mad TV. Their comedy was second to none and they had excellent performers. In my opinion this show blew the doors off of Saturday Night Live. Alas, Mad TV is no longer on the air and SNL continues its existence. Anyway, here is one of my favorite skits from the show, a parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I watch it whenever I need to laugh out loud.

Monday, January 3, 2011

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. This next manager is a low level life-form which given a chance will purloin even the most rudimentary of thoughts from your stockpile and use them to his/her advantage at some point in time. Do not be surprised to see your ideas presented as someone else's when this manager is around.

MOTW: Cut and Paste Manager

Natural plagiarism and above average skills with a mouse are this manager’s calling card. By recurring to every fount of information available and rearranging others ruminations, pithy comments and innovative thoughts into emails and written communiqu├ęs, Cut and Paste Manager survives and flourishes by consistently producing what seem to be well researched and thought out position papers on any conceivable topic. Careful scrutiny of this manager’s output can tend to be his/her undoing as it will eventually demonstrate that not one iota of original thought or production has ever emanated from him/her. Even worse, Cut and Paste Manager has never bothered to credit or cite his/her sources.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy new year. May 2011 be a prosperous undertaking for you. Above all, enjoy!

Weekend Haiku

A shortcut:
up to my knees
in summer rain.

Buson (1716-1783)