Thursday, August 29, 2013

Time, why you punish me....

Time. We've all heard songs speaking of time:

Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce

Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is? by Chicago

Time is on My Side by the Rolling Stones

Time after Time by Cindi Lauper

Time for Me to Fly by REO Speedwagon

Feels Like the First Time by Foreigner


Time by Hootie and the Blowfish.  " Time, why you punish me..."

Time, why are things going so slow? Remember as a child, we couldn't wait. Couldn't wait to get our drivers license, couldn't wait to graduate high school, to start college, to graduate college, etc; all rites of passages all marked by time. 

Then there's wanting more time.  "..there's not enough hours in a day."  "I wish I had more time to read, to exercise, to spend with my children....more time to spend with my parents...more time to get work done...deadlines and commitments..."

And more time, more time to spend with those that leave us too soon.  "I wish I'd spent more time with her/him/ them..."

Keeping time and spending time, wanting more of it and hoping it would move faster are all topics of discussion  in Mitch Albom's poignant novel, The Time Keeper

Albom, best selling author of Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson, Have a Little Faith: A True Story, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day tells of three stories that become interwoven teaching us of one of life's most important lessons.

His book reminds us of how "we fret over missed chances, ...inefficient days, long we will live and how by counting lifes moments only lead to counting them down."

"Of how in yearning for what we lost, we forget about what we have; how time isn't something you give back."

Spare yourself an hour or so and read Mitch's book. You may find its less punishing to live life One Day at a ....Time.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Better Hurry...Jobs, Jobs, Jobs...

The US Jobs report came out today showing improvement in the unemployment rate but jobs added were less than the estimates.

But this post isn't about jobs, per se.  It's about jobs as in Steve Jobs.

The movie on Steve Jobs' life is due out August 16th with Ashton Kutcher portraying the iconic founder of Apple.  Not sure about the casting but yea better hurry and read the book, August 16th is just two weeks away.

Here's my 11/10/2011 post on the critically acclaimed best selling book by  Walter Isaacson:

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, it's all about Jobs!

No, this isn't a political rant about the economy, but jobs were prevalent in 1955. Unemployment was 4.4%; which is less than half what it is today, a small restaurant with golden arches opened and Mr Potato Head received its patent a few years prior...and the world welcomed onto this planet a boy named Gates and another named Jobs. The former in October, the latter in February. No Potato Heads here. Gates and Jobs would change our world. Columbus discovered the Earth to be round. Jobs transformed it into the shape of an Apple.

Walter Isaacson opens our eyes to the core of Apple, revealing the politics of one of the worlds largest and most successful companys. Politics that we who live in the corporate world have come to love and hate, more so hate, but it's the nature of the beast.  Isaacson, through detailed interviews and access to friends, enemies and Jobs' himself, reveals the petulant personality of Steve Jobs, his family life and the wrath of his work ethic.

From his chastising of subordinates during one on one meetings or in front of an audience to his slashing criticism of  ideas only to return a week, sometimes a few days later explaining an idea he thought of, when in fact it was theirs to begin with.  Jobs held a unique perspective on management, style and vision. One day berating people, the next, crying, literally, over the simplest things.

By providing Gates' opinion after each Apple product release, Isaacson perpetuates the friendly yet competitive and contentious relationship between Jobs and Gates, helping the reader understand their different personalities, motivations and philosophies.

Jobs' had a way of willing things or ideas to fruition. Ideas that his best engineers said couldn't be accomplished but then miraculously would. A concept throughout the book called, reality distortion field. One could argue this way of thinking led him to struggles, particularly in his battle with cancer, that he couldn't overcome. Electing not to be more diligent in health matters and continue his eccentric diet and lack the common sense to follow the direction of medical professionals as well as close friends and family.

Job's clearly is a genius. Not smart, as Isaacson states, but a genius and there's a difference. History will define Steve Jobs in the same category of those before him. Those that had such an impact on how we live that leaving him out of the mix would be an insult to his legacy. Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, etc.

Did Apple promote a God-like complex with Steve Jobs?  This notion passed my way during a discussion with a friend and fellow reader.  Let's look at Coke for instance, do you readily know who their CEO is?  IBM? Pepsi? Proctor and Gamble? If the CEO of Proctor and Gamble quit, would P & G fail? Not likely, nor will Apple, but it is an interesting concept where as the CEO of a company becomes so prominent that  it becomes more about the CEO than it does the company or its product.  So, is it all about Jobs or all about Apple? As Jobs goes, does so go Apple?   But what is the future of Apple? Is his innovation and vision for the future ingrained deeply enough to sustain the growth Jobs' drove during the last decade?

Take for example, Sam Walton. Walton was clearly the face of Walmart. But there was so much more to Walmart than Sam Walton. Walton was a retail visionary and changed how America and the world shopped.  Walmart has lasted beyond Sam's passing.  Full disclosure, I worked for Walmart (Sam's Club) during Sam's tenure and after. It did change. Changed in respect to employee benefits and workplace environment. Gone with Sam were many employee benefits, a less employee friendly environment.  Will the vision and innovation of Steve Jobs diminish at Apple now that he's gone? Will the tense, volatile environment change now that he has passed and will the innovation and growth sustain itself. Was his management style the catalyst that drove Apple to success?

Two other examples, Howard Schultz and Michael Dell. Dell's last name alone gives you a hint at what company he founded. Schultz?  Starbucks.  Both executives and founders left the company as did Jobs, albeit involuntary, but each came back after the company struggled only to rejuvenate their respective companies.  Starbucks to all time high stock price.

Comparing Jobs with those mentioned maybe like comparing apples and oranges. But in Jobs' case, only time will tell how far the Apple falls from the tree.

His college acid dropping days, personal hygiene and diet, illegitimate child and coincidental, serendipitous encounter with his biological father are anecdotes you would expect from a biography but much more intriguing and fascinating here. Author of classics on Einstein and Franklin, Isaacson brings much credibility to his book,  it's very believable, where as some biographies fail  due to access or salacious innuendos.

Steve Jobs always wanted the last word and Isaacson allowed him to do so. In reading the biography, you'll never view Apple products the same way again.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

And the Oscar goes to ...The Help and HeLa

Updating to a post from early last year:  As you read further down, The Help and HeLa now have one additional thing in common, not only are they both excellent books, the former being fiction, while the subject of HeLa being a non-fiction, they are now movies.  Well, almost.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, (HeLa) is in the very early stages of becoming a movie. Oprah's production company and HBO are collaborating.

You'll learn more about Henrietta later below but Rebecca Skloot's book is  highly recommended. A biography on Henrietta, her family, life and science, it's an extraordinary book!!!

Here are a couple of links:

 Rebecca Skloot's Website

Information on the Movie.  It's a bit dated but searches didn't result in any more up to date information from reputable websites on the progress or status of the movie. However, according to Ms Skloot's twitter account, no release date, perhaps production may start this year(2013).

Older post:


Having read the The Help by Kathyrn Stockett this past year, I was anxious to see the movie. So upon an unseasonably, warm New Years eve, I clicked on the remote and off I went, back into the 1960's in to the age of racial tension, assassination and the world of cleaning ladies and house maids.

As one fellow reader and movie goer pronounced to me, 'you'll love the movie, the way the characters are so brought to life and the casting is wonderful'.  I couldn't have said it better myself. The movie adaptation was one of the best, especially the cast!

I don't claim to be a prognosticator, but with the results of the Golden Globe awards being a precursor to the Oscars, my money is on The Help to clean up at least one category on Sunday night.

Now you may ask, okay, I know about the book and the movie, The Help.  But what is HeLa?

Best known in the science community, HeLa is the name given to a strand of cells that continue to grow and multiply, providing medical research the unprecedented ability to explore cures for cancer, polio and many other diseases.

Much like the story of the maids in the Help, HeLa has its own story to tell. Thanks to Rebecca Skloot's decade long research, those absent from the medical research field, now know the true story of HeLa. A story that needed to be told.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, isn't as much about science as it is about the love for one's mother, family, self dignity and pride.  Dying of cervical cancer in the early 50's, Henrietta unconsentingly and unknowingly provided cancerous cells to doctors and researchers.

Expecting these cells to die away like so many do, researchers were shocked to find they didn't. They continued to grow and live. What did these cells offer science you may ask? Henrietta Lacks' cells provided the basis to help cure many diseases ...

Skloot's writing not only tells about the life of these cells but what became of them, who they came from and why they've so effected each and everyone of our lives. People are alive today because of the HeLa cells were used to develop cures for cancer. That in itself is why the story needed to be told.

Interjecting factual events at Johns Hopkins, questionable ethical activities within the medical community, the stories of fraud and Supreme court cases signify the importance of Henrietta to the world.

The Lacks family for many years desired to learn more about their mother, how she lived, how she died and all that was left for Deborah, Henrietta's daughter, was a few strands of hair, a bible and the home-house where Henrietta was raised. All the while as their mothers cell's catapult research into a multi billion dollar industry while they can't afford their own medical insurance.

So in what the movie, The Help, provides us in entertainment and the state of society in the 60's,  Henrietta Lacks gives us something more important - - life, deserving of an award in her own right.