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Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Modern unbalance

By the rate of divorce in corporate settings, I am confident - as if I had a doubt - that sardine life is not good for the spirit. With bad spirit after a long day going home and continue to behave with empathy, courtesy and a genuine care of how did the day go of the once loved one, can be difficult. Hence, there is a high divorce rate - or adultery, as the wedding ring is a surrogate indicator of maturity - in corporate environments. But this is only an indication that something goes wrong. Modern demands of having - whether money or fame - cancel the needs of being. And the turbulence of hard working people private life is only an indication of how unbalanced our modern life is - if there is any private life at all.. We are constantly stressed thin for time, always doing the things we have to do, not necessarily what we want to do, we are becoming masters in compromising. The older we get the higher the compromises. We at some point forget where we started. The greatest danger is when we convince ourselves we chose this life and we like it. And then we drug ourselves with pointless dinners with equally unhappy - yet unaware of their unhappiness - friends. Or home with DVD box sets. And we live the same day over and over and over again. And then on weekends we show off our 4WD in a crowded ski or beach resort (in this case, also the new silicone)
So there is no balance. Achieving one goal to the expense of all others is definitely not a happy life. Achieving all goals and then the world would be filled with Obermans. We are definitely not there yet - at least not as a species.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Oscars

I am gutted that Benjamin Button did not win best movie - or at least adapted screenplay. I mean how better can a story get????
On the ohter end, I have not seen Slumdog Millionaire but...anyways promise to see it
Of course I was happy that Heith received the post mortem oscar, that was given - I mean his performance is one of the best ever in any role. The sad thing is that he is not there and I don't think that he will ever stop being missed
Penelope rightfully got the oscar, Kate most probably (have not seen the reader but she was brilliant in revolutionary road). Sean not sure about his oscar as I have not seen the movie, but what a brilliant actor he is - we dont need an academy award to tell us that.
However, if I had to give my own oscar for most captivating cinematographic experience, I would gladly give it to 24!! (my home theater makes it cinema-like)

Congrats to all :-)

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The curious case of Benjamin Button



Ever since Tender is the Night, which was the first Fitzerald book I have read, I knew that the guy was a genius and he immediately became one of my favorite authors ever. I shamefully admit that the fact that he had written Benjamin Button escaped me. Only when the end titles fell on screen and his name appeared it hit me. Of course!!! It had to be him that wrote this book which a team of people with extraordinary talent took to heart and produced the masterpiece that Elena and I watched last night. So brilliant that I feel way above my league here. Sometimes people in the presence of great talent feel particularly small. This is how I felt last night. Elated as well. I have to add that both Elena and myself kept crying for at least the last twenty minutes. And not that silent sobbing. I don't think a movie had touched me so much since the 'Dead poets society' which I had watched seven times in one month about eighteen years ago.
The three hours of the movie did not bother me at all. After all, it is hard to fit eighty years, two world wars, the loneliness of seamen, the emotional and intellectual growing of the protagonists, and the modern history from glory to gloom of one of the world's most culturally interesting cities, in three hours. The superb acting of the entire cast, the craftmanship of the photography director, the costumes, and the gentlemanship of the director gave justice to Fitzerald's original story. And what an originality did the story nurtured...A guy is born old and the older he gets the younger he looks. How many times have we wished that this happened to us? How many times have the old told the young 'Oh I wish i had your age with my experience.." Difficult to count, ain't it? Fitzerald's story reminds us once more to be careful what we wish for.
The strange story of Benjamin Button deals with a lot more than the actual strange story. It is a story of absolute love. The love of M. Gateau for his son who creates a clock that makes time go backwards. The love of Benjamin's mother who just before she dies saves his life - it was latent that the father at the moment of birth had every intention to kill the child. Instead he leaves it at the door of another loving woman, Queenie. Queenie gives all her love to Benjamin and she teaches him how to love equally strong. Benjamin's love for Daisy, Daisy's love for Benjamin and her daughter, and so on
Everything that has happened in this movie is out of love or lack of it.
The fingerprints of the modern protagonists are all over the movie. Julia Osmond, the daughter, Caroline, was a young beauty in Legends of the Fall, a movie with Brad Pitt a few years back. She looks much older now and he much younger. Katrina is present along with the imminent catastrophy of New Orleans, the city where Brad Pitt has made home for his family after the hurricane. Kate Blanchett is as Benjamin refers to her in his diary, the most beautiful woman in the world, who then calls Benjamin (Brad) perfect from her hospital bed in Paris after her accident. This was a moment of loud laughter in the theater, since she included the thoughts of the entire female audience world wide.
There is also a lot of hope in the movie. Caroline stayed with her dying mother in the hospital withpout worry, hoping that the hurricane will pass. The sunrises that Benjamin would take his people is also a great symbol of hope. But of all the symbolisms, the colibri was for me the most powerful as in this movie it symbolized infinity due to the orbit of its flying wings. The infinity of power of love and hope. Hope for reaching out a dream. Even if Elizabeth crossed the channel at 63. Her message of hope was clear.
I know that a lot of people loved this movie and there were others who did not like it. People whose' opinion I respect hated Pitt's performance and the length of the film. I think Pitt was loyal to Fitzerald's portraying of male characters - low key, intelligent, private, loyal, but somehow they can end up self destructive or self loathing. It is the women characters that are flamboyant and colorful and in a way direct the fate of the men who love them. In my view, the strongest character was that of Queenie whose love for an outcast was so strong that reversed his fate. And Daisy of course, whose beauty was second to none and her love for Benjamin lasted her entire life - without her knowing it for a great part of it.
It was an absolutely great movie and although I have not seen 'Slumdog Millionaire' I would have it as a winner tonight. For one thing I don't see it easily to have a better story to tell.
I give it top marks and I will definitely watch it over and over and over again.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Sadness and Hope

http://www.contra.gr/Soccer/Hellas/Superleague/AEK/230911.html

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Shame and prejudice

The last 2 years that I moved back in Vrilissia I have been buying my pet supplies from a particular old and outdated pet shop simply because the lady that run has dedicated her life in helping stray animals. In late 2008 she retired. The shop is now run by the owner. Not an animal lover as the retired lady but out of habit i kept going there. A few days ago when I went for my weekly shopping she asked me if I knew someone to run the shop in the afternoons so she does not have to do it. I told her I knew someone that I could recommend on her competence, loyalty and morality. She was excited. Really? Who is she? I told her my cleaning lady, a very sweet 23-year old albanian girl. Then the oh so shameful happened: She frawned. And gave a really ugly grimace originating from her prejudice against immigrants, especially albanians. That of discust and dismissing it without even blinking. I was so ashamed. To be of the same nationality as she was..
Needless to say, she will not be having my custom again. Prejudice walls will not fall if all of us do not make it our own purpose.

Monday, 2 February 2009

The problem of overdelivering

When I had my first official performance appraisal as an employee, I was already 29 years old! I had to go to the UK for me to work with people who engage in what is widely known as an appraisal review. I did not think much of it back then, I thought it was a waste of time. After all, how dared anyone criticised the quality of my work? After all, I am perfect!!!!!!
I always gave people what they asked me and in most jobs I held I would give them more than they asked me. During my consulting years, I would spend days and nights awake to make sure to meet that deadline without charging the extra time to the company and hence to the customer.
At my first official performance appraisal, I was in for a big surprise. There it was in bold letter, my first official negative criticism. I overdeliver. When I first read it, I thought it was a mistake. Of course there were about 10 strong points for me and 3 negative. The other two were behavioral characteristics, mainly related to stress. For many years though I could not understand whY the overdelivery was under the negative part. I thought that the guy - my manager - just had to write something down.

Eight years later, I understand why overdelivery is a major drawback. First, you don't get to bill the customer for extra work. Major problem in any business. It is like giving away things for free.
It is ok to lure the customer but for a paying project it definitely is not. Then, everything we give loses their true value. If for instance we pay 100 euros and we expect to have a two-person meal with one bottle of wine, and for 100 euros we get the meal, the wine but also the theater tickets, the next time we will have to pay for the theater, that will not go down quietly. Hence problems occur

Overdelivery also means when someone is giving away things the other one did not ask. At least not in the quantity - or quality - that they are given. Or the timing. Everybody wants to have clean running water off their tap. They want to be able to consume that water whenever they are thirsty. They don't want the water to run all the time off their tap.
If there is running water twenty four/seven, chances are the appartment at some point will flood. Not to mention a huge bill and a very bad environmental practice.

It took me many years to understand and realize why it was wrong, and why it is even worse to expect the other to deliver - let alone the over part - in relationships. It is like taking people for granted, them or their wishes.

Setting the frame straight in a human relationship is as important as keeping ourselves within the scope of comissioned work. In both cases people will have to know what to expect and we must not go beyond or below expectations because the balance will be lost. Once the balance is lost it will be very hard to restore.

For this reason I have found that it is important to have a 'contract' to establish the roles and the expectations in a relationship straight from the start. Unfortunately, I have failed to do that outside of a work setting, but I am trying. It is true that for one thing feelings are harder to control than deliverables, but expectations should not be that more different to manage than any contractual obligations if addressed explicitly and agreed by both parties.

Just a bit of food for thought.

Sometimes, less is so much more.

Pugs are the superior creatures in any planet

Don't you wish you were hot like Frankie (the Pug)???
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Pugs talk!

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