When someone is interviewed, you never know what you will get. There’s enough unknown about what questions will be asked and how they will get answered, that it’s a bit of gamble when it comes to quality. This collection of interviews is consistently good. It’s organized chronologically, so it’s interesting to read how the choice of questions and answers evolve over time. One question that got asked a lot is something along the lines of, “How does it feel to be the only Black woman writing science fiction?”

I particular enjoyed when Octavia Butler shared her journey on how she became a writer and about her process. It does help a bit if you have already read some (or many) of her novels. The interviewers do ask about details and the characters in them. (For some, these may be spoilers.) I don’t think it takes away from the experience if you haven’t read her books and it may make you want to read more from Octavia Butler. That’s the effect the book had on me.

Title: Conversations with Octavia Butler
Editor: Consuela Francis
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Copyright: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60473-276-4

Ben Carlson is a professional financial expert who has written a book that teaches you to avoid scams by sharing stories about those who fell for scams. And as everyone knows, it’s always better to learn from the mistakes of others.

Carlson has done his research and presents the viewer with a wide range of stories. He mentions the story of the South Sea bubble which gripped England in the 1700s, the story of the man who “sold” the Eiffel Tower, Bernie Maddoff, Enron and many more.

The book’s short chapters are well-written so that you are effortlessly learning some valuable lessons. Importantly, he discusses the reasons people for fall these scams. Most of us won’t be investing millions of dollars in some fraudulent business venture, but we still run the risk of spending our money poorly. For me, this book makes me want to read more of what Ben Carlson has written.

Title: Don’t Fall For It
Subtitle: A History of Financial Scams
Author: Ben Carlson
Publisher: Wiley
Copyright: 2020
ISBN: 978-1-119-60516-4
https://awealthofcommonsense.com/

Todd Rose’s personal story could be a book in itself. Going from a high school drop out to getting his Ph.D and teaching at Harvard is quite the turnaround story.

In “The End of Average”, Rose debunks the universal application of averages. The book is divided into three parts. Part I: The Age of Average explores how averages came to be and how they have been applied in the past and today. Part II : The Principles of Individuality demonstrates a superior framework for understanding people. Part III: The Age of Individuals shows a way forward to a better world.

This is one of those books that will change the way you look at the world.

Title: The End of Average
Sub-Title: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness
Author: Todd Rose
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright: 2016
ISBN: 978-1-553-44343-713-4
Publisher’s Website: http://www.harpercollins.ca
Author’s Website: http://www.toddrose.com

As a child, growing up in a religious home, I would often find myself in church on Sundays. During the Orthodox Christian liturgy there are a number of times where bowing occurs. For example, at one point the priest (facing the congregation) asks for everyone’s forgiveness. He bows while asking and the congregation bows in return. Of course, bowing is common in many (or maybe all) religions. But, what about bowing in other settings?

In my limited historical research, it appears that bowing was once a common greeting everywhere. In the West, it seems to have only survived as a head nod and a gesture to so-called royalty. (By the way, I’m not a royalist.) I’ve travelled in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong and I was always pleased to see bowing in some everyday situations.

The current pandemic is changing how people interact with each other. With that in mind, I would like to suggest that we bring back bowing. See an old friend on the street? Start your interaction by bowing to each other. Just finished a meeting at work? That’s a perfect time for everyone to bow. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t still situations where you should shake hands, fist-bump, high-five or hug. My point is to consider if a bow is more appropriate first.

Another reason I like bowing is that it is a natural expression of mutual respect. (One of the reasons, I’m not a royalist is that respect is only supposed to flow one way when you bow to a “royal”.) Along with everyone working together to keep the world healthy, being respectful to each other will make the world a better place, too.

If you are the kind of person who is always thinking about how to make things better at work, then “Rebels At Work” is for you. Written by Lois Kelly and Carmen Medina, two seasoned “rebels”, it covers quite a bit of territory in less than 150 pages.

Sometimes, books that bill themselves as “handbooks” are not quite that, but this one can definitely be used as one. Based on real world experience and backed up with science, the authors provide mentoring — in book form — for those of us who would like more success in our attempts to improve culture and processes at work.

Title: Rebels At Work
Sub-Title: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within
Author: Lois Kelly and Carmen Medina
Publisher: O’Reilly
Copyright: 2015
ISBN: 978-1-49190-395-7

 

 

Recently, a letter of Albert Einstein’s was sold for US$ 1.5 million. He wrote it while travelling in Japan in 1922. He was short of money for a tip, so he wrote a letter containing some life advice, which could also be called tips. From the following article https://www.livescience.com/60771-einstein-happiness-letter-auctioned.html , here is part of what he wrote:

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”

It goes without saying that I’m not as smart as Albert Einstein and I never will be. And, I’m not disagreeing with the advice, especially since I had alreay come to a similar conclusion years ago.

But, if I were to say it, would it be less true because I haven’t and won’t have the success he enjoyed? Can someone say to me “sour grapes” and be using the expression correctly? (Do a search for Aesop’s fable “The Fox and the Grapes” if you aren’t familiar with the expression.)

Or, perhaps it is Einstein who isn’t the reliable advisor here. By the time Einstein had written the letter, his place in history was already assured. When discussing the great people of science, such as Newton and Aristotle, you will have to mention to his name, too. So, if he is advising not to pursue success, does it hold much weight? I don’t think so.

Of course, it’s OK if you don’t agree with me — I’m no Einstein!

I was going to write something¬†profound about misunderstanding or finding your place in the world, instead I’m just posting a photo of a bird in a tree.¬† Also, I’m easing back into blogging…

Pigeon in Dollar Tree Sign.jpg

I haven’t blogged much over winter (although I have been writing other things). If I had to state a reason, I could say something about work-life balance, but that wouldn’t make me look good. Instead, I’m blaming the English language.

Let’s face it, there are too many letters in the alphabet. Here’s my theory: if there were half the letters, I could write twice as much in the same amount of time. So, in an attempt to help ALL English speakers, below is how I’m suggesting the alphabet should be.

A – keep
B – keep
C – discard (use S or K)
D – keep
E – keep
F – keep
G – keep
H – discard (I don’t have a reason)
I – discard (use E)
J – discard (use G or maybe I)
K – keep
L – keep
M – keep
N – discard (similar to M)
O – keep
P – discard (similar to B)
Q – discard (similar to K)
R – keep
S – keep
T – discard (similar to D)
U – discard (use O)
V – keep
W – discard (use V)
X – discard (use S)
Y – discard (use I or E for vowels, G otherwise)
Z – discard (use S)

All together there will be 13 letters. (13 is prime number — who could have a problem with that?) If you learned the classic nursery rhyme when you were young, you will see it can be made to work. Try it:

“A B D E F G K L M O R S V. Nov I kmo me A, B, Ds, vom’d o kome and blae ved me.”

I think the history books will show that April 1st, 2018 was a pivotal day for the English language. Of course, I’m available for TED talks and Noble Prizes.

GD Konstantine (a.k.a. GD Komsdadene)

 

I have always been grateful for all opportunities to either start something new or to renew something established. Last year, some people close to me went through some serious health issues. I don’t know what the future holds, but as I see them recovering, I feel that the time for renewal is here. For me, it has also been a chance to refocus on what is really important.

The other day, while walking through the Toronto Botanical Garden, I saw another kind of renewal. Spring bulbs are starting to show their colours. (The photo below shows some of the crocus plants poking out through the ground.) I hope wherever you are, and whatever season it is, you and your loved ones are well and getting better!

By the way, the next post will be a lot less serious.

Spring Bulbs

Whenever I hear someone talk about the “purpose of art” I think of the following quote from Richard Serra:

“If you rob art of its uselessness, then what you are doing is not art,” says Serra, adding: “I’m interested in sculpture, which is neither useful nor functional.”

With that in mind, I’ll end here before I say something useful and this blog post loses its artistic integrity.

The photo below is a sculpture of Richard Serra’s (‘Tilted Spheres’) found in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.¬† (If I remember right, the plates are 2″ thick steel.)

Serra Art YYZ

The quote is found on page 149 in the book “50 Sculptures You Should Know”.

50 Sculptures You Should Know
Written by: Isabel Kuhl, Klaus Reichold, Kristina Lowis, Christine Weidemann
Prestel
2009
ISBN 978-3-7913-4338-9
Website