Mr. Fluffles

I will be having a little guest this weekend, Mr. Fluffles and I are going to give each other a try-out.
His owner brought him to the vet today, and I tagged along to ask questions. The vet is doing a blood test for kidney disease, which he told us is the most common problems in older cats. Mr. Fluffles is 14, and could live to be over 20.
The vet said he’s in good shape as far as he could tell from an exam. He has certainly lived in a very good home: his current owner has a degree in agriculture and used to run a farm.
I’ll take some pictures, but in the meantime, he looks somewhat like this: grey, fluffy and markings between the eyes.
He seems to have a very mellow disposition, which suits me very well, and maybe we already have a vibe: on the way home, I stopped at the supermarket and without giving it much thought, picked up two kinds of fish. Cat ESP.


Recently, I’ve met two interesting, high-profile people who live in Milton, author Suzette Martinez Standring and Laura Fitton, social media guru aka @pistachio.
They live in parts of town different from the one in which I grew up.
In those days, Milton was balkanized: you might visit other parts of town, but your identity was firmly fixed by your address. Which means that even if those interesting ladies and I were in Milton simultaneously, it’s unlikely we would have met.

Continue reading Milton


It was so cold that even our hardy town naturalist canceled yesterday’s scheduled walk in the woods.
We had more snow last night and might get more today.
I’m sick of winter, and while it’s only January, this splendid piece of prose from the February page of the 1983 Old Farmer’s Almanac still resonates.

Continue reading Mid-Winter

Let Us Define Your Terms

Some corporate cultures in these parts propogate like pestilent hybrids of the imaginary poor white trash from Dogpatch and West Po’kchop.
I had the bad luck to run into a Daisy Mae type a couple of years ago who claimed that because I’d used the phrase “curry favor”, I had accused a manager of sexually harassing another female employee.
The upshot of this is that Daisy eagerly took on the role of Defender of the Company, at my expense. And evidently her handlers were as ignorant as she about the meaning of the phrase, because you could have counted my remaining days there on one hand.
If the young lady or her masters should happen upon this blog, then I direct their attention to the following comments about the British Foreign Secretary and Barack Obama from a recent article in the online version of the London Times:
“Having stood closely by George Bush’s America these last few years as a trusted member of Tony Blair’s inner circle, and then as Foreign Secretary, David Miliband yesterday chose the last 120 hours of Mr Bush’s presidency to say what a disaster his foreign policy had been. ….
Interestingly, if it’s an attempt to curry favour with the incoming US President, it may be as misjudged as the Foreign Secretary’s faint-hearted putsch against Gordon Brown last summer.”
Daisy Mae might think that’s an ackyewzayshun of hanky-panky between a British politician and the next American President, but it ain’t.
Ignorance is forgivable. Stupidity and corruption are not.

If Barack Had Been Barbara

A Twitter colleague sent me a link to an article in the Harvard Business Review “Women and the Vision Thing”.
According to the researchers, women score higher than men in all leadership areas except for one, a quality they call “vision”: “the ability to see opportunities, craft strategy based on a broad view of the business, and inspire others.”
The authors conclude from this that gender bias is, thus, not responsible for limiting women’s leadership opportunities, but rather that it’s a matter of style: successful women don’t fit the “mental model” of a visionary.

Continue reading If Barack Had Been Barbara


I worked most of the weekend, so spent some time over the past two days running errands, keeping appointments and putting aside items for recycling, donation or a future yard sale.
Last night was our User Group January meeting, and it included a visit from one of our New England Developer Evangelists, which is kind of a big deal.
Fortunately, we had a good turnout, good enough that our DE’s guest, another speaker, volunteered to come back to do a presentation in April.
Best of all, at least from my perspective as the person who picked the date and the place, the weather held for us, making it an easy back and forth commute for everyone.
I’d been nervous because there were predictions for snow showers last evening and clear skies today.
As it turned out, though, even though it’s a bright, sunny morning, it’s colder than a well-digger’s rear, and temps are expected to be in the single digits tonight. I suspect that would have demotivated all but the hardiest and it would have been unpleasant in any event, so the meeting date turned out to be okay after all.
The bad news is that I really want to do a transfer station run today, the last stage of my clean-up efforts, and the prospect isn’t doing much for me.
Onward, ever onward.

Paradox of Leadership

A recent Pew Research survey showed that Americans rank women higher than men in 5 out of 8 leadership qualities and equal to men in 2 of the remaining 3. The only quality in which men outscored women is “decisiveness”.
Yet women lag behind in being elected or appointed to leadership positions in government and business.
How did the survey participants resolve this apparent paradox?
Well, much to my relief, the old saws about women being unable to balance work and family responsibilities or not having enough experience didn’t make it among the top explanations.
Rather, the public cited “gender discrimination, resistance to change, and a self-serving “old boys club” as reasons for the relative scarcity of women at the top.”
Amen, amen and amen again.

Success Story

I am a slacker.
I just discovered that one of the people in my high school graduating class, Bob Shillman, is the founder and CEO of Cognex.
Bob is a success from a technical, business and humanitarian standpoint: in 1990, he was voted Inc. Magazine’s High-Tech Entrepreneur of the Year and in 1999, he made a substantial gift to his alma mater, Northeastern University.
Good for him.