Trump Resistance Led By Women

I have in recent weeks come to more respect the bravery of women. They have seemed to show a level of courage sorely lacking in many of us men.
I speak specifically about the courage liberal and conservative women are showing in their approach to current presidential initiatives. From Susan Collins, to Elizabeth Warren, to Lisa Murkowski, to Allison Grimes; all seem to be willing to thwart presidential initiatives in numbers that don’t seem to be reflected in the male population.
From the protest of predominantly women the day after the inauguration to now it has been women, who seem to be leading the anti-Trump charge. They have made mistakes along the way, (such as disenfranchising right to life female marchers) but by-and-large it is women of all stripe that have been leading from the front.
This isn’t to suggest that women who support Trump aren’t brave; how could they be otherwise. They just aren’t the point of this note (maybe I’ll chat about them later).
My only point is the Trump resistance seem to be led by women, while men who should be in the fight sit on the sidelines, seemingly waiting it out until the tide changes, stays the same, or ebbs.
It is at least interesting.

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First Night On Stage

Last night, Thursday 18 April 2017 was the first night the cast of “The Maltese Duck) hit the Reedy Point Players stage in Delaware City, Delaware. I’ll talk more about the actual stage in a different post, but it has a proscenium arch and I love that word.

Kate and I (co-directors) watched as the Sherry Stricko, Brooks Black, and Nicole Pierce took to the boards. Since we are a few weeks from the June 17 “One Stage, Many Stories” event, the stage was empty. We got a bench and a few chairs from a back room and simulated the set.

Kate and I blocked the movement on a white board before coming to rehearsal, but we wanted to run it through without blocking to see what the actors did and see if an “organic” blocking was better.

Glad we did.

The actors surprised us with some imaginative things we had not considered; it was really quite beautiful.

Kate and I gave some initial notes and the blocking changed a tad and the actors used different emphasis on their parts. It all went better the second time around.

Being first time directors, Kate and I were a bit hesitatnt to give notes because we figured the actors knew more than we do. On the way home, we talked awhile and had an epiphany.

Part of our job is not only to create a production in line with our vision, but the actors are counting on us to make sure they have a safe place to apply their craft.

Part of making the safe place is to see things they can’t because they are right in the middle of what they are doing and don’t have an outside perspective.

Lucky for me, I chose great actors so my life is easy, but that idea of keeping the stage a safe place is pretty important stuff.

Husband and Wife to Direct First Play: Can Marriage Survive

Here’s the haps.

My wife and I are going to direct a play together. Neither of us has ever directed anything before, but I entered this playwriting contest and in order to get it staged you had to have a director, but you could direct it yourself.

So anyway I put out some feelers and people couldn’t fit it into their schedules so I am doing it. And then I thought it might be cool if my wife and I did it.

That starts this afternoon. My plan is to blog about this for the next few weeks until show time on June 17th. It’s a one act entitled “The Maltese Duck and will be one of several The Reedy Point Players will put on in Delaware City.” It’s a semi-comedic mystery.

More to follow

OPENING COMBAT SLOTS TO WOMEN: LEVELING PAY BY DRIVING IT DOWN

The recent announcement by US secretary of Defense Ash Carter to open all military occupations to women signals another step backward for wage disparity and gender equality. This is not the good news for which women have been waiting. Rather, it is deliberate sleight of hand to eviscerate veteran benefits, keep military wages low, and provide budget relief to a cash strapped pentagon.
Like any other snow job, it doesn’t sound that way at first glance – it is the second and third glances that should keep soldiers and potential soldiers of both genders marching the floors at night.
For the past few years the president and congress have been reviewing military pay, veterans benefits, and retiree plans. Each of these reviews have one thing in common – spending less money on military members.

You can dress it all up anyway you choose, but in the end it is about controlling costs while maintaining personnel numbers.
That’s why the Sec. Ash’s announcement is both brilliant and diabolical.
It goes like this.
• The greatest resistance to pay changes comes from the people thinking eviscerating wages and benefits will drive recruiting, retention, and readiness down.
• Women have been lobbying for inclusion in combat skills for decades (probably with good arguments).
• Opening all combat skills to the entire population more than doubles the number of potential recruits for combat skills.
• The readiness argument will be destroyed as there will be no drop in filling combat slots.
• Women will join combat skills at a high rate and thus ameliorate the need for better military compensation.
• Simply there will be an abundance of potential workers in combat skills keeping wages artificially low.

The great irony is of course that introducing women into combat units is supposed to level the playing field in career opportunity. Unfortunately, the only thing it will probably do, is ensure an upside-down pay equity as everyone earns less in direct compensation and benefits.

Another Friend Dies Too Soon

I’ve had two glasses of wine and three Modelos from the local Mexican eatery. My dear friend Timmy and I attempted to distract ourselves from the pain of a friend gone too soon. Alcohol can numb but not anesthetize – unless you are willing to go one step too many.
I am not.
I would love to use the word surreal, but in recent years it has achieve a status with which I am uncomfortable.
Ellen (McGowan) Slattery is gone. I can’t believe it. Like Melissa Torres before her (most won’t remember sweet Melissa), Ellen has left us due to the vagaries of a ruthless illness.
I rage against it all. I ache against it all and I weep, from the recesses of my soul, against it all.
I would have loved to have known Ellen better, even though we travelled the same road for more about 39 years – almost four decades.
She was our prom queen, Chip’s girlfriend. And for me, a hazy peripheral character in the play of life until we shared a cigarette in Chip and Smitty’s room all those decades ago in Browning Hall. A simple cigarette turned into a conversation of a lifetime.
Within two days – if memory serves – and it fails from time-to-time, Ellen’s lung collapsed in, as near as I can remember, a fall outside the student union. (Admittedly I could be wrong).
Regardless of the details, it was at the moment of hearing Ellen had collapsed her lung, she became real to me in the way people do from time-to-time. I was scared for her and concerned. In some way I guess that moment was a rite of passage from youth to adulthood. It’s odd that way.
I ache today for not having taken the time to know her better.
Had I taken the time, I wonder what advice she would have given me so many years ago. I really do. In retrospect, too late as always, she seems a sage. Perhaps I was too afraid to hear what truths she might have laid at my doorstep. I may have been too afraid to act in accordance with her clear moral compass; mine was not nearly as true as hers.
I get distracted – the collapsed lung.
You see until that conversation in the dorm room she had been Chip’s girl, not a real person; perhaps an object – nothing more. And then it took on substance. She knew my name, knew my interests, and knew I was not just that weird guy from Cranston.
When she got hurt, I ached for her and agonized for Chip. Such is the way of transformations, I guess.
And now ALS has claimed another soul – one I wish I knew better. A soul I wish I had spent time getting to know. I ache. I rage. I am inconsolable.
It’s all so sad, yet instructive. It is –of course – up to each of us to glean the messages Ellen has left for us the way Arne Sacknussem did for Dr. Liddenbrock (too obscure? You’ll figure it out).

Throttled By Seminar: Why Outside-In® Has Me Pacing the Floor At Night

Beth Bunting Arnhholt
Beth Bunting Arnhholt, Vice President of Integrated Talent Management for Comcast/NBC Universal

I went to a pretty great seminar last week on Thursday, 29Jan 2015, put on by Outside-In®. Seminar: Influencing Cultural Transformation – One Small Step at a Time. The guest speaker, Beth Bunting Arnholt, vice president of Integrated Talent Management for Comcast/NBC Universal, was captivating in the way of most big thinkers.

There is a seminar axiom I always keep in mind when listening to big thinkers like Ms. Arnholt, “Take the best and leave the rest.” And although there was very little to leave behind from her presentation, there were some pearls shinier than others.

Either her second or third slide haunts me a bit. It was a quote from Edgar H. Schein former professor at MIT and leadership and organizational culture authority – another big thinker to note. The slide defined organizational culture as, “A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way you perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.”

Boy, that’s something. The phrase, “that has worked well enough to be considered valid,” is – while undoubtedly true – enough to keep leaders pacing the floor at night and start smoking and drinking again.

It’s not that something worked well, or is a preferred method, or even a good idea, but rather that it works well enough. Hokey smokes Bullwinkle, that’s terrifying!

I imagine smoke-filled rooms where a bunch ne’er do wells, spend their time collectively dodging proverbial bullets, patting themselves on the back and saying, “Yep, good one! That worked well enough!”

I want to cry when I think of the enormity and truth of the definition. It is so obvious now after listening to Ms. Arnholt why organizational change is the dominion of Hercules and Sisyphus – it’s hard and there is good chance you’ll be run over by a boulder along the way.

Though she only talked for a while, she made some good points about boulder avoidance. There were several points, but as I cut through it all, a lot comes back to the “vision thing.”

Ms. Arnholt said:

  1. You have to define the future, by knowing what you want and why you want it.
  2. You have to spark the fire, by dealing with a present day situation that will get you toward your vison.
  3. You have to fan the flame, by connecting the dots and helping the future grow.

But more than that, I took away from her presentation the same things I learned at the Infantry Officers Basic Course so many years ago:

  1. Identify the end state – what does success look like?
  2. Begin with the end in mind – what are our small steps along the way and how do we measure the journey?
  3. Lead enthusiastically.
  4. Take blame, never credit.
  5. And remember no plan survives first contact with reality.

After having my psyche rattled by her second slide, one of her final slides put it back into perspective. “It’s not getting one person to go a mile; it’s getting a thousand people to go one step.”