Sunday, October 28, 2007

Avoid Boring People

Thanks to Dan Reed, I ordered a copy of "Avoid Boring People" and had a chance this afternoon (or should I say, made time) to sit down and start reading it. While it's obvious that he has not patience for those not as intelligent as he is, his "rules of life" including avoiding boring people (and he also references scientists who are boring at social parties . . . ). It's a retrospective of Watson's life - written after he wrote his books about his vital work with DNA.

I have tried to better understand science through the context of writing grants for the local education service center through which I do some of my history grant work. And I met Dan Reed as part of a committee we're both on for the National Archives and the future of electronic records. Dan is amazing as bringing the conversation to a 'consensus' of either mutual agreement or disagreement but, most importantly, ensuring that the conversation moves forward instead of getting stuck in circles. It's amazing to watch the non-science aspects of his personality within the group dynamic. And it's definitely an approach I can learn from and I'm sure it's part of what propelled him to North Carolina to work for the larger good.

I've been at the farm this weekend and my most proud accomplishment is getting the generator working again without having to call expensive repair people from over 100 miles away. I had lost track of the time I had checked on it at the actual generator and discovered the oil was once again low - I can't imagine how that happened given that I know I haven't checked it in a year. After attempting to decipher the operation manual among the maze of electrical diagrams and multiple, multiple warnings of electric and shock hazards leading to death, I went outside and checked the oil. Then, I found the switch that allowed it to be off, on, or auto. If I want it to kick on when the electricity coming to the house ceases, I guessed right (after re-consultation with the manual) that auto was the correct setting. And, then, on the inside switch that also sets the time it self-tests each week and runs for 20 minutes so it's ready, willing, and able when it's actually needed (most likely in below-freezing temperatures accompanied by howling winds), I worked with the diagrams and re-re-consulted the manual how to set it to auto-test each week and hopefully on Sundays late in the mornings. One of the early challenges upon completing the farm house in 2002 was a generator that went off at 3am on Thursdays. Given that I am a light sleeper, that meant that I was up for the day. If only I had realized how easy it was to re-set.

I've also had time to reflect on the loss of one opportunity last week and a new opportunity the week earlier. While it took awhile for the earlier opportunity to sink in, I am now at peace with no longer having the latter opportunity. I'm pretty stubborn and sometimes have to be knocked around a bit before I head in the right direction. But I have faith I am getting closer to the right destination - or sho I say the right next destination, since I have now figured out the cycles and processes of life are not usually endpoints even when my Type A personality strives (and wishes) to find them and accomplish them. As my brother has stated several times, telling me I can't do something is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. I just need to decide which red flags to challenge and which to ignore or, if not possible to ignore, to manage as a normal part of life.

I have some more grant reports to write and the ever-present grading to do next week along with a trip to Topeka to become a foundation board member.

Another decision made this weekend was to enjoy the great fall weather and working outside. Breaking limbs into sticks and watching them burn in the chiminea is great therapy. My eyes are still causing problems but I'm not going to lose the fall to them - esp. when the doctor mentioned that it may not disappear until we have a hard freeze and it may be something that just corrects itself with time if it's not allergy related.

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