community Service means Business!

12 January 2008

Attention: Multitasking Versus Continuous Partial Attention

Continuous partial attention and multi-tasking are two different
attention strategies, motivated by different impulses. When we
multi-task, we are motivated by a desire to be more productive and more
efficient... In the case of continuous partial attention, we're
motivated by a desire not to miss anything. There's a kind of vigilance
that is not characteristic of multi-tasking. With cpa, we feel most
alive when we're connected, plugged in and in the know. We constantly
SCAN for opportunities—activities or people—in any given moment. With
every opportunity we ask, "What can I gain here?"

10 January 2008

Black History and Germany - Afro-Germans
Black History and Germany - Afro-Germans
from About German Language

Of the 82 million people living in Germany an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 have some form of African heritage. Germany's blacks fall into several historical and ancestral categories...



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Of the 82 million people living in Germany an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 have some form of African heritage. Germany's blacks fall into several historical and ancestral categories. A few...


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My Name is James

What's My Native American Name?

My Native American Name Is...

Milap Kajika

My name means: Charitable One Who Walks Without Sound

Stephen R. Covey: How to strike a work and life balance

*How to Strike a Work and Life Balance
by: Stephen R. Covey

Q:* What can happen to you when you allow yourself to become out of balance?

*A:* One of the main implications of being out of balance, however you
define it, is that you neglect other areas of your life; family, health,
etc. are often some of the first. When you become so addicted to only
dealing with your urgent tasks you don't think there is time for the
non-urgent. You think that there will be time to deal with them later.
But often, when you ask people what they feel is most important in their
life, things they really want to accomplish, they are things that take
time and long-term investment. By the time these things become urgent,
it's often too late to affect them...

The Lost Art of Cooperation

*The Lost Art of Cooperation
by Benjamin R. Barber*

What's gone wrong here? Why, as a nation, are we so obsessed with
competition, so indifferent to cooperation? For starters, competition
really is as American as apple pie. America has always been deeply
individualistic, and individualism has presumed the insularity and
autonomy of persons and, thus, a natural rivalry among them. Capitalism
also embraces competition as its animus, and America is nothing if not
capitalistic. Even the American understanding of democracy, which
emphasizes representation and the collision of interests, puts the focus
on division and partisanship. There are, of course, democratic
alternatives. Systems of proportional representation, for example, aim
to ensure fair representation of all parties and views no matter how
numerous. But our system, with its single-member districts and "first
past the post" elections, is winner take all and damn the hindmost, a
set up in which winners govern while losers look balefully on, preparing
themselves for the next battle.

The squeeze on the middle class-By Lauren Barack, MSN Money

*The Squeeze on the Middle Class
by Lauren Barack, MSN Money*

Income statistics don't tell the whole story. Across America, people
seem to be making better salaries year after year. The median household
income has risen from $36,847 in 1967 to $48,201 in 2006, according to
U.S. Census Bureau inflation-adjusted data. Though the bureau doesn't
define "middle class," the income of the middle half of the households
in this country now seems to fall roughly between $25,000 and $95,000 a

The problem is that "middle" and "median" incomes no longer seem to
provide the kind of comfort and security that Americans have become
accustomed to. In most parts of America, a $48,000 annual income isn't
enough to fund a comfortable life -- dinner on the table at 6 p.m., the
kids watched by a safe and affordable caregiver, a guaranteed summer
vacation and a nest egg accruing so that, at age 65, Mom and Dad can
look forward to their leisure years worry-free.
*More:* **

9 January 2008

Beyond Thinking Different to Doing Different


*An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
Author: Bruce Mau (1998)*

1. Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is
different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live
it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and
the willingness to be changed by them.
2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all
agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of
unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you
stick to good you'll never have real growth.

Alex Frankel | Undercover Marketer

*PUNCHING IN: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Front-Line Employee.

Alex Frankel is a curious marketer and writer—a dangerous, but fitting,
combination. He became curious to "know whether the strong corporate
cultures that companies bragged about were really as great as
advertised." But instead of quenching his curiosity by researching this
topic from the outside-looking-in, Alex went the inside-looking-out
route as a front-line employee to tell this story.

In order to tell this story from the front-line employee perspective,
Alex went undercover as a UPS package-delivering employee, Enterprise
Rent-a-Car insurance up-selling associate, clothes-folding Gap employee,
Latte-slinging Starbucks Barista, and Apple platform-converting sales
evangelist. You can read all about his brand adventures while in the
trenches in PUNCHING IN: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Front-Line

Surrender and Joy in the Pursuit of Excellence

from Urban Monk

A Prison of Their Own Making

Eric Grey of Deepest Health, a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, told of the patients he had seen in clinic. Some of them have built up “such a heavy head of negativity and even hatred towards their own bodies because of some disability or illness they become their own biggest barrier to healing.”

A perfect example – they have trapped themselves in their own negativity; a prison where they are their own keeper. In the medical field, it is increasingly accepted that a patient’s emotional state is intimately connected to their physical state.


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via The Urban Monk by Albert on 1/9/08

There have been many excellent questions raised at the end of the previous post, Surrender and Joy in the Pursuit of Excellence. I have no definite answers, but I’d like to give my perspective on them here – and encourage my readers to give theirs in the comments section.

A Prison of Their Own Making

Eric Grey of Deepest Health, a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, told of the patients he had seen in clinic. Some of them have built up “such a heavy head of negativity and even hatred towards their own bodies because of some disability or illness they become their own biggest barrier to healing.”

A perfect example – they have trapped themselves in their own negativity; a prison where they are their own keeper. In the medical field, it is increasingly accepted that a patient’s emotional state is intimately connected to their physical state.

Koh Samui

A depressed person, despite words of courage, despite going to a doctor, is silently crying inside – “What do I have to live for?” Is it any wonder, then, that someone with a strong zest for life will have a higher chance of recovery? This much is common knowledge.

Yet this trap is easier to see when it revolves around our body. But it leads to the question: Why can’t we see that this applies to the every other area of our lives?

I don’t care anymore!

Eric goes on to describe patients who have simply resigned themselves to their fate. They simply stopped fighting it, and refused to go for treatment.

Such an important point! It was one that I missed out on in the initial writing of the article. It really struck me, because I was in that situation, many years ago – I know what was going through their heads. “What’s the point?” they are asking. “Nothing works anyway!”

I struggled with depression many years ago. It felt like everything was wrong with my life – I was a mere twig, tossed around by a raging hurricane. I felt powerless to do anything, and so I just gave up. All I did was sit in my room day after day, ruminating endlessly, swinging between anger and despair.

This attitude isn’t surrender. My example is a strong one, but it applies just as well to subtler forms of “giving up”. Another hidden form of negativity – that is all it is.

The trap of anger

Which leads perfectly to a point brought up by Kirsten of Circe’s Kitchen. She thought that anger could fuel a drive to change one’s life. And she was right.

There are many traditions out there which give a ladder of emotions. Despair – self hatred, apathy – universally rank at the very bottom.

The ladder rises up towards what we call the positive emotions – courage, peace, happiness. But right in the middle are the breaking points – the barriers that one has to break through – and the trickiest one is anger.

The problem with anger is two-fold. The first: the moment my despair swelled towards anger, I got afraid. From the weakness of apathy, there was a sudden surge of energy, and it felt uncontrollable, a wild horse I had not tamed.

This energy was let loose in the form of destructive behaviour – shouting, slamming doors, road rage, and driving at dangerously high speeds. It seemed that despair, moping around at home, was much more acceptable. And so I dropped back into it – at least there was no chance of hurting anybody. I never knew it was something I had to break through.

The second problem became clear when I stopped fearing my anger. Like Kirsten said, I used it, this wild stallion, to try and take charge of my life. But no matter what I did – working on my self-esteem, getting back out into the dating world, rededicating myself to my career – the anger was always there. No matter how I tried to hide it, no matter how I convinced myself it wasn’t there, it showed up in every thing I did. It was always there in the background, repelling people, ruining opportunities.

It wasn’t until I had finally broken past the stage of anger that I began to get real results.

If you have given up, then anger is your first burst of energy, perhaps the first time you feel you are back in charge – but sooner or later it will have to be dropped. If it is at all possible, one should drop the anger before one does anything at all. For nothing done in anger, no matter how noble your intentions, will result in anything but more misery.

What do we surrender to?

Evan of Well Being and Health then raised a great question – what do we surrender to? If we surrender to everything, where does compassion, for others and ourselves, come in?

To a very large extent, one’s inner state determines his actions. Inner surrender leads to peace, and from there compassion is a possibility.

Just a minor example, then – recently I had a commenter who was upset with me. He believed I was deceiving my readers by calling myself a monk, when in fact I wasn’t, and he made his low opinion of me very clear.

My first reaction was one of anger, resistance. “What is he, stupid?” I thought. “How is it deception when he found out from my own pages what I was? What a huge hole in his logic! Why is he so vile, so abusive, why is he making such a big deal out of nothing?”

I typed up what I thought was a polite response, and then went about my day. Not long after, I noticed I still had a lot of anger about the issue, and decided to set aside a few minutes to surrender to the anger; accepting it, letting it be, and letting that surrender change to peace.

When I returned to my computer, I was surprised to see just how much defensiveness was there in my reply, even in what I thought was a well-thought out, polite comment.

It revealed to me just how obvious our inner state is to an alert observer. Just a small burst of anger, pushed down and contained, and yet it was right there on the screen for all to see. It struck me how obvious my depression and anger must have been, years ago. No matter how we dress it up, veil it in pleasantries, our internal state flows into everything we do. It is unavoidable.

Compassion from Surrender

And finally we get to compassion. Where does that come in? My final response wasn’t perfect, but it was slightly more compassionate than my initial one. With much reduced reactivity – resistance – I realised that he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

Different people attach different meanings to objects and labels. I had picked the name Urban Monk in a spirit of fun. I was partially inspired by a friend; he was an aspiring hip hop artist and rapper who called himself the Lyrical Assassin. We meant no disrespect, both to monks in a monastery – or to professional hit men.

But just as I felt strongly attached and defensive of my self-image when he attacked me, he felt attached to Buddhism and monasteries. There was nothing wrong with that; he was defending something important to him. With that in mind, I changed my final reply.

Again, this is just a minor example, but one I hope illustrates, however imperfectly, the connection between an inner state of surrender and compassion.

Surrendered action

The second part of Evan’s comment revolved around action. If we surrender to everything, does that mean that action is impossible? Do we take steps to change the situation or remove ourselves from it?

Eckhart Tolle put it wonderfully in A New Earth; surrendered action simply means that you take action according to what the situation needs, and not from your own petty reactivity. My initial response to the commenter was a perfect example of non-surrendered action – I was out to defend myself and thought nothing of anyone else.

Perhaps another example would be best here. Again – a minor one, but interesting because the various states of resistance and their results were displayed for all to see.

I was recently at a barbeque; it was in a public park and the grill was out in the open air. A few short minutes after we started cooking, though, a heavy rain began to fall. We gathered what we could, and ran for shelter.

Once at the shelter, one could see the varying states of resistance people were in – to the rain! Something uncontrollable, unchangeable!

Some people were in extreme resistance; they started complaining loudly about how everything had been ruined, how wet they were, how they knew from the start it was a bad idea. Others were in mild resistance – they were grumbling quietly under their breath. Yet others were just sitting around with a blank expression.

But a couple of people remained happy – it wasn’t a fake happiness, but one that came from simply accepting the situation as it is. And so their actions came, not from reactivity or negativity, but from what the situation needed.

They did their best to brighten the mood. They ran out into the rain to pack up what was left behind, they fetched umbrellas from the cars, and began making plans for the party to be continued elsewhere. In doing so, they managed to salvage the night. What if they had resisted the rain as well? Everyone at the barbeque would have gone home unhappy.

It is easy to take surrendered action in such a scenario; it is harder to catch your reactivity and emotions when real tragedy strikes. But it is a must; the bigger the tragedy, the more important surrender is.

How do we know?

And to close off this post, a quick answer to a quick question I got in an email – how do we know if we are surrendered?

There might be other ways, but here is my favourite: Simply be alert, mindful, at all times. Be completely honest and diligent when you ask yourself: how much peace do I feel?

Thank you to everyone else who had also commented – Akemi, Andrea, ReddyK, John Torcello, Adrian, and Life Reflection. This blog would be nothing without you!

Link Love

3 bloggers that I want to highlight today – all three of them have one thing in common: a massive heart!

Paula Kawal runs Journey Inward Coaching – and she’s a really wonderful and giving person. Her posts read almost like poetry, definitely one of my favourite bloggers out there. Here’s a recent example of her work: She’s too much.

Next up is Jenny Mannion from Heal Pain Naturally. Another wonderful blogger, her specialty revolves around the mind-body connection (and a little law that I refuse to refer to by name on this blog, hehehe) to deal with issues such as chronic pain. A recent post, and a powerful one, is Are you listening to your self-talk?

Last but not least is Daylle Deanna Schwartz, from Lessons from a Recovering Doormat. A well chosen name – it speaks to something that many of us have experienced in our past. A recent post shows her talent with words – Let’s be happily naked! Despite the appealing title, it is a great post on our body image, another thing that we all need to know a little bit about.

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NPR : Dead Man Wheeled to Check Cashing Store

Dead Man Wheeled to Check Cashing Store
Morning Edition, January 9, 2008 ·

A man named Virgilio Cintron died of natural causes in New York. And
that left his roommate staring at Cintron's Social Security check.
Police say the roommate wanted to cash that check. So with an
accomplice, he allegedly hoisted the dead man on an office chair. They
wheeled him through the streets to a check-cashing business. Police
stopped them just as they were about to roll in the body for a creative
conversation with the cashier.

8 January 2008

A Safety-Net Hospital Falls Into Financial Crisis - New York Times

Published: January 8, 2008

ATLANTA — Pamela Vaughn is a Grady baby.

Like tens of thousands of Atlantans over the last 115 years — like Gladys Knight, the soul singer, and Vernon Jordan Jr., the presidential confidante; like more than one in three babies born here in the last decade — Ms. Vaughn entered the world at Grady Memorial Hospital, one of the nation's largest safety-net hospitals.

Ms. Vaughn was not only born at Grady, she also works there, as a senior nurse in the diabetes clinic, where many of her patients are Grady babies, too. And now, like thousands of other Atlantans, she is hoping to save the teeming charity hospital that has provided her with both life and livelihood...MORE

7 January 2008

Brand Autopsy: McDonald's battles Starbucks

McDonald's battles Starbucks

Sensing an opportunity to further democratize espresso, McDonald's is moving full throttle into the espresso beverage business. Currently, 800 of McDonald's U.S. locations offer lattes, cappuccinos, and frappes. By 2009, most U.S. McDonald's locations will be selling coffee drinks ranging in price from $1.99 to $3.29. McDonald's believes an expanded coffee menu will add about $1-billion in yearly sales.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal
, Janet Adamy reports,

The program attempts to replicate the Starbucks experience in many ways -- starting with borrowing the barista moniker. Espresso machines will be displayed at the front counters, a big shift for a company that has always hidden its food assembly from customers. McDonald's says it wants customers to see the coffee beans being ground and baristas topping the mochas and Frappes with whipped cream.

"You create a little bit more of a theater there," says John Betts, McDonald's vice president of national beverage strategy.

The theater element, of having employees preparing food while interacting with customers, is a major shift in company culture for the operationally-efficient McDonald's system. In the article, Adamy mentions how McDonald's franchisees have been instructed to hire people who are "very friendly."

That's a start to bringing more theatrics to a customer's McDonald's experience, but why is hiring "very friendly" people a new behavior for McDonald's? (Hmm.)

The people component to delivering customer experiences is ultra-important to McDonald's — more important than the actual coffee beverage program. Why? Because Starbucks competitors can replicate products and programs, but they can't replicate people...More

6 January 2008

The stories of Allied Barton Guards


AlliedBarton Security Services is the nation's largest security guard subcontracting company . They employ more than 16,000 of Philadelphia's citizens, more than 90% of whom are African-American.

The POWR (Philadelphia Officers and Workers Rising) Campaign is a project of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice aimed at winning fair treatment and dignity for AlliedBarton guards at Philadelphia-area colleges. You can read more about the campaign here.  

Watch video.

Some of Gang's Killings Race-Based -

In L.A., Latinos Targeted Blacks

By Thomas Watkins
Associated Press 
Sunday, January 6, 2008; Page A02

LOS ANGELES -- In a murderous quest aimed at "cleansing" their turf of snitches and rival gangsters, members of one of Los Angeles County's most vicious Latino gangs sometimes killed people just because of their race, an investigation has found.

Authorities said there were 20 homicides among more than 80 shootings documented during Florencia 13's rampage in the hardscrabble Florence-Firestone neighborhood, exceptional even in an area where gang violence has been commonplace for decades. Officials did not specify the time frame or how many of the killings were racial.

There were even instances in which Florencia 13 leaders ordered killings of black gangsters and then, when the intended victims couldn't be located, said, "Well, shoot any black you see," according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

"In certain cases, some murders were just purely motivated on killing a black person," Baca said.

Digest Books Above Your Reading Level

If you've ever felt flummoxed by the rhetoric in more "advanced" level books, it might be a good idea to employ some equalizing techniques so that you can understand what it is that you're reading. Blogger Ryan Holiday says that the best thing you can do is to remember that you're reading for no one else but yourself. While some bibliophiles would disagree, Ryan says that you might want to ruin the ending to understand the specific themes to be discussed throughout the book. Also, check out reviews to find out what's important to other readers. While reading, if you're confused with a word, look it up. Highlight important passages and take notes.

Before you close the book for good, review your notes once again. Additionally, if you want to broaden your knowledge in a particular subject matter, read related books (often found in the bibliographies themselves). Start connecting what you've read with your everyday life. Ryan says that applying these skills has caused him to "leap years ahead" of his peers. What tricks do you utilize when reading complex books?

AIDS Patients Face Downside of Living Longer - New York Times


AIDS Patients Face Downside of Living Longer

Published: January 6, 2008

CHICAGO — John Holloway received a diagnosis of AIDS nearly two decades ago, when the disease was a speedy death sentence and treatment a distant dream.

Yet at 59 he is alive, thanks to a cocktail of drugs that changed the course of an epidemic. But with longevity has come a host of unexpected medical conditions, which challenge the prevailing view of AIDS as a manageable, chronic disease.

Mr. Holloway, who lives in a housing complex designed for the frail elderly, suffers from complex health problems usually associated with advanced age: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, kidney failure, a bleeding ulcer, severe depression, rectal cancer and the lingering effects of a broken hip....MORE

5 dangerous things you should let your kids do (video)

About this Talk: Video 9min: 20sec.

Gever Tulley, founder of the Tinkering School, talks about our new wave of overprotected kids -- and spells out 5 (and really, he's got 6) dangerous things you should let your kids do. 

Allowing kids the freedom to explore, he says, will make them stronger and smarter and actually safer.

This talk comes from TED University 2007, a pre-conference program where TEDsters share ideas.


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