About me

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Insufficient coffee

Something has not been quite right lately. A pot of coffee doesn't do the trick, even with extra and heaping scoops. Maybe it's the water. Maybe it's the changed season. Maybe I need some better UV at the lake.

Maybe I need a stiffer drink.



-- Posted from a mobile device

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lil's 16 candles

OK, so it's been a more than difficult year on several fronts, none of them up for discussion because I'll just sound whiny. Besides, I doubt I'm alone.

One exception is probably Josh, who appears to be in his element, and that is a delight to see. Now, if he'd just send up the periodic smoke signal, it be complete.

So what brings is here just now? Earlier today, I was sorting through bills, making a list of what was not gonna happen this season. That left me grumpy, but an unexpected comment from an e-friend pushed that away.

Time for a shower and an afternoon in the arb. Maybe take some above average pictures. Maybe actually get off the couch.

In the shower, thoughts drift, sail, and surge. Then an abrupt stop on August 14. I'm drawing a blank on what happened that day.

I should be remembering something. The 14th is Lil's birthday.

There should have been a call from me to her during which I sang Happy Birthday, continuing that something my mother started decades ago. All there was to mark the day was my HBD!!! on her Facebook wall.

In the preceeding 10 days, we had a flight to Philadelphia to work in a suit, weekend work in Raleigh, an unexpected report to write using data that were a tad more than gnarly, and a long conference call that I do not now remember.

Oh yeah, the week following was a long road trip to settle Josh into school.

A text message to Lil revealed that nothing happened for her BD, except that her boyfriend took her out. Otherwise, she was just house and dog sitting for her sister.

That Sunday, we did get a nibble together, and she got a wireless router for her rented house. While in Florida, she and I had a lovely afternoon at the beach where she swam with a hurricane while the guards flirted with her and whistled at her, both of which left me seeking the 32 ounce beer at the beach beer shop.

But no mention of the birthday in any manner. My stoic child.






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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mama bought some vitamins

Bro was looking for some salt as he cooked dinner. What he found along the way was a bottle of zinc lozenges that Mama left years ago. Eleven years ago, to be precise. They expired in March of 1998.

The odor was delightful. If you want, I can have some shipped to you for a very modest fee.

I expect he will find more later. If you have an outlet for seriously expired vitamins, we can probably work out an arrangement.




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For want of a fig

Back towards 1980, I got the notion to plant a Black Turkey Fig tree in my mother's backyard. It grew a little, and then my brother mowed it over with the lawn mower.

After my brother moved, the fig returned, very bushy. I was living far away by then, and the fig did it's figgy business by itself.

My brother now owns the house. He mows around the tree, which is laden with figs every year that only the birds and worms eat.

I have never had a fig off this tree. Maybe next year. Figs are one of my fave.

They remind me of my grandparents who had a fig tree growing beside the hen house.




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I finally got some

I decided to try Neomonde on Beryl for a late lunch. I slept too late to get over to Durham for the parade, and this seemed like decent substitute.

Shared the ride down with one of the fellows from across the hall. He was very quiet, probably because of limited English skills. Maybe I should tutor him or something.

Pulling out of the drive, I was reminded that we have a football game today. It took a while to clear all the nonsense. Getting to the hospital would have been a chore.

Y'all really should plan those games for when I'm out of town.

Finally made it to Neomonde. The parking lot was full. There were about ten people ahead of me in the line.

Y'all really gotta learn to eat lunch earlier.

Got me some chickpea salad, blackbean salad, tabbouli, and hommous. Sat outside to gobble it up.

Next time, could you leave that whiny child at home?

Now it's time for a nap. Gotta get prepped for supper with m'bro. Having spaghetti. And maybe a beer.




-- Posted from a mobile device

Friday, September 25, 2009

Still no flowers

A colleague at work received flowers from her husband. I asked about a gay brother, and while they had wondered, she was sure he was not.

Bummer. I'm gonna have to send myself flowers.




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I was hungry and went out for a bite

But I did not run into a chum with a bottle of rum. Yes, I was born to suffer.

So I PowerPointing in PJs. Yes, it's wretched duty, but it holds the fabric of the known universe together.

About 11, I notice that I'm hungry. I need some chickpea salad and maybe a little tabouli. That suggests Neomonde. The one on Beryl. Being prudent, I wait until 1 to lose the PJs for jeans.

Drive over getting gasoline along the way. The freakin' lunch crowd is STILL in my way.

When will this sufferment end?

Come home to graze, which means I write this blog while drinking a first course of buttermilk. London broil will follow.

When I stepped out of the car, I had to dodge this fuzzy worm as it scooted across the pavement. Maybe I should have eaten it for lunch, but the manual suggests leaving the fuzzy worms alone because the fuzz is pointy enough to abraid the esophogus.

I'll never know for sure.

So I stooped down to take the pick. Way down. Snap. Then I stood up.

Way too fast, and found myself stumbling back against the car. For as stone cold sober as I was, I'd likely have failed the policeman's physical sobriety test for that 30 seconds.

That has not happened in a long time, and I put the blame directly on Neomonde on Beryl.

Mental note to self: Never ever again go to Neomonde on Beryl for lunch on a weekday.




-- Posted from a mobile device

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A walk revisited

My walk from last weekend generated some discussion among people, and I decided to revisit the moment.

This time there was football traffic to dodge while a family of some description played what appeared to be tag behind the Kmart.

First, what is it with the people here and banana peels? They leave them everywhere. I hope they know to not come running to me when they slip and break a leg or something.




I'm glad you were able to gather your clothes. Bear in mind that the Kmart has more on sale if you need, but you'll probably have to go into the buildind, not just cruise the perimeter of the parking lot.




I like Mike's lemonade too, but the grass is not where I'd keep the bottles. What if a wayward bug crawls in and gets stuck or something? Do you really want that on your conscience?




This really flatters me, but I can look in the mirror and see that I'm not much of a Slim Jim anymore. BTW, the box was empty.




I do not know what makes an ice bag ready, but this one was. It was also empty.




This one is a puzzler. Remember we're in a parking lot. And about the marketing...these are personal wipes. Is that as opposed to communal wipes?




What can I say? It was time for a self-portrait.





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Coffee filters

The last time this happened, it involved kudzu blossums. I never knew such existed.

Now it's coffee filter sizes. Today in FoodLion for the first time in my long 56 years, I am presented with the choice of 8- or 7-inch coffee filters.

Being me, I picked the larger. It seemed prudent.

If it happens twice, it happens thrice. I shudder to think.



-- Posted from a mobile device

Dins and a flick

OK, so a lovely soul ripped me from my work a day world and pushed me out into a world where people actually have fun.

We went to Neomonde for dins. It was her first time, and I got to eat the leftovers. Stuffed, I was.

Then to a flick. I live beside the dollar movie, and you'd think I'd be there every night. If you did, you'd be wrong.

We saw the new Star Trek. I give it a thumbs up. However, it could have been better. The dependance on effects to the expense of writing was lamentable. The romantic involvement between Spock and Uhura was unnecessary. The respective youth of the resulting Enterprise crew was unexpected.

I'm glad for the evening out. It was the first in well over a season. FHs are important that way. I'm also glad for the flick. Dins was the best. Gonna go back for more sooner than later.




-- Posted from a mobile device

Friday, September 18, 2009

Stars on Thars

OK, so a peep amused herself using my birthday bling from some time back. Besides, I needed to quit dithering on an evite.

This left me remembering how I get up at night looking for the bathroom. At this point, I really don't wake up for the moment.

You should also know that I usually leave the light in the bathroom on. Why is that? I travel so much that I often wakeup not knowing where I am or why I am there. This means I need a guide to the bathroom.

Think going to the light.

Regardless, when I get to the bathroom at 3 a.m. to pee, my eyes are not ready for the light. What I see in the mirror is usually a group of orange and brown quarter-sized spots on my head, sorta like those of particular space aliens.

This used to disturb me.



-- Posted from a mobile device

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My grumpy weekend

This has not been my best weekend. There are several reasons for that, some of them people, but the big player was the sinus infection that keeps hanging on. These things can be tough, and I'm pretty sure this one is fungal-related, which means it's pseudoepinephrine for another week or so. Cipro would just bounce off.

Saturday, I read Orientation by Rick R. Reed, and then stared at the TV until past midnight. I wish I could develop a tenth of Reed's facility with the language and, better, story telling.

Today, I piddled around, thought about going to the lake, didn't, and finally went for a short walk. As you might know, I'm prone to find odd things when I'm out and about. This walk was no exception.

At the end of the drive, I turned left without thinking. That was probably a natural aversion to walking past the theatre and it's parking lot with cars going and coming without much looking, likely due to the howling children riding along who would have been better served by a nap this afternoon than some cheap flick.

Taking the left meant I was going to hike the edge of the Kmart parking lot on Western. This is not a problem. The lot is huge and the patronage meager. My only challenge would be to avoid the screaming teens offering five buck carwashes. In that regard, I was successful.

However, I found some of your clothes in the grass. What should I do with them?





Noodling along, I discovered a Rotella T gallon oil jug in the kudzu. Rotella T is an oil used in diesel engines. I've been through barrels of the stuff, though marketed under a house label. My diesel truck used four gallons of oil, which I changed every 10,000 miles. The filter was changed every 5,000 miles. Don't you feel whole knowing that?




Most large retail companies like Kmart sell the cardboard packaging to recyclers. Food Lion was about the first to do so in this area. If I heard correctly a something I might not should have heard, the income to Food Lion from cardboard recycling is equivalent to the company's net profits.





Did you lose this four of hearts? When I was 16, I bought a pack of cards at the country store near our house. Tink Campbell ran it. When my parents saw the cards, they made me return them. Playing cards was a sure way to wind up in hell. I never learned to play cards of any type, and also never found much interest in learning.

I'm pretty sure hell is not filled with Texas Hold 'em players unless there's something else going on, so it's likely my disinterest is baggage rooted in that lie from my parents. There's probably more of that baggage elsewhere.




I've never known a time when this Kmart was not here. However, it had to be built at some point, uprooting the lives established in the area. You never know what mysteries lie just inches beneath your feet.

Barring a bird dropping a seed directly by the fence, I suspect this bush with orange fruit in the fall was a part of someone's yard sometime way back. The trunk is certainly thick enough at the base to suggest some age.

Do you suppose that somewhere a silent granny is rocking on her porch remembering her special plant by the old house, the one given to her by her husband on their third anniversary, the one with the beautiful orange fruit in the fall that the birds liked so much?




I grew up having to hate morning glories, though I secretly thought them especially pretty.

This one somehow missed death by Round-Up. It sprouted and took root where all the other plants were dead. A single tendril now reaches for the fence. In a very few weeks, the vine will start it's life growing in it's place. Shortly thereafter, before even the first blue blossum appears, the frost will kill it.

I know how that plant will feel that soon to come October night.




You might remember the banana picture I posted last week or so. The banana is gone. The peel remains. I suppose it will until someone cleans up.

That person will call the peel trash, and few, if any, will argue. Even fewer will pause to see that without the peel, we'd never have the banana.

No, I have not been smoking banana peels.



Posted from a mobile device

Friday, September 11, 2009

Clabber Girl

Clabber Girl is brand of baking powder. I've used it. It's perfectly fine. Google will find you all the Clabber Girl information you'd ever want.

It's the name the attracts my interest. There is little in clabber that suggests anything good to most people.

That was a different story before the advent of pasteurization, especially in the South where clabber often made a breakfast food using many of the flavorings you'd use on oatmeal now.

Google will also find you all the information about clabber that you'd ever want, short of a sample from my refridgerator.

As you know, I make a form of clabber that is quite similar to cultured buttermilk because I start the clabber with a sample of cultured buttermilk.

What interests me the most is the I could do the same thing with yogurt, and all those people wretching over the clabber would be licking their lips for some homemade yogurt.

Go figure.



-- Posted from a mobile device

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jim issues judgment

First, I am about the last person to render judgment, especially if it's about what you eat, but this time, I'm making an exception.





If you eat bananas and jalepeños for lunch, you need help, and here it is.





Go to the gas station. Get some roller dogs and a fountain Coke. I prefer diet. Get an extra Coke for your colleague who couldn't leave work.

Eat the dogs standing in the parking lot. You may use whatever topping you prefer. Today, I had slaw because the saurkraut was out.


Posted from a mobile device

A review of Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life

Gallagher, W. Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life. New York, NY: The Penguin Press, 2009, 256, $25.95, Hardcover.

A version of this review may appear in Personnel Psychology in about a year.

Review

Reading this book for review has presented a serendipitous opportunity for personal reflection. Bear with me a moment while I describe what happened.

Toward the end of the summer of last year (2008) on a Thursday afternoon, I reached closure on a project about three hours before I had planned, leaving me with a brief moment of down time. The project had been long, complex, and not particularly interesting, and I had been exercising a variety of outlets to keep my head sufficiently fresh to stay wrapped about the work.

To celebrate my three-hour respite, I hopped in the car and drove to the local convenience store for a fountain Diet Coke, one of my greater vices. I stepped out of the store, 64-ounce cup in hand, and walked across the parking lot to my car, which was in the shade of the aged oak tree that somehow managed to survive the construction of the store.

I was not in the moment as I walked, what with my head still stuck in the fading rigor of the project. Nonetheless, the tendrils of boisterous yelling started to make their way into my consciousness, and as I approached my car, I turned toward the sound to see what was happening. My eyes fixed on a blue sedan coming my way with four 30-something men, somewhat bereft of teeth, hanging out the windows shouting sexual epithets and making obscene gestures, all for my benefit.

I was not sure how or why they had singled me out for this moment of bullying, but they had, and my attention focused on them, that moment, and the car arcing towards me, all now in slow motion for me. Years of training in pugilistic arts left me prepared for what might happen, though I knew if they had firearms, I was likely a dead man standing.

My attention collapsed on the car and men, much as a hawk's vision collapses on it's prey when diving out of the sky. Tunnel vision, as it were, and I knew as it occurred that I had to adjust my sight in this potentially dangerous situation. Now, why is that? It’s very simple. I do not need to be the hawk swooping on the mouse by the roadside only to miss the mouse because my tunnel vision left me unaware of the truck that was about to cross my path with mortal consequence.

It is quite common in martial training for an instructor to exhort the students to pay closer attention to what they are doing, usually because people can be so easily distracted by extraneous and unimportant stimuli. However, as those students progress, they are also encouraged to cast their vision wide as they focus on the opponent before them to see more than the obvious details, or as Musashi in The Book of Five Rings wrote (Mobi locations 574-583 in the chapter “Fixing the Eyes in Other Schools) “...if you fix your eyes on details and neglect important things, your spirit will become bewildered, and victory will escape you.”

As the car grew close, enough so for the men to make good on their threats, the driver accelerated, the men laughed, and the car sped away, down the street, and out of my direct reality, leaving me in my altered state.

Now, let's fast forward to now and this interesting read by Winifred Gallagher, which presents three formal take-aways for me: The two manners in which we pay attention and the one manner in which we promote our attention in difficult circumstances.

The first half of this book is posited on nearly countless psychological studies, all of which are listed at the end in a reference section, and few if any of which are cited directly, at least as we might expect a citation to read, in the body of the text. This lack of direct citation left me conflicted. First, I wanted to see the citation to have some notion that the author wasn't making all this up as she went. However, I also knew, especially after reviewing the references, that if she had followed the usual APA style of citation, the reading would have been disrupted substantially. In hind site, I'm glad the citations were handled as they were, and I suspect those readers who are not steeped in scholarly literature will also appreciate the citations being deferred.

Those who seek to improve their personal and professional performance, who seek to mentor others, or who simply seek to understand sources of differences among people that might or might not contribute to performance but that certainly contribute to perceptions of performance are likely to benefit from the first half of this book. The second half is another story, and although I think we'd all benefit in the prolonged meditation required to come to grips with the underlying meaning of what Gallagher has presented, I do not see much tolerance in the modern American workplace for the time required to bring the meditation to useful fruition. Yes, the ROI would be substantial, but you're not likely to find many decade-long sabbaticals.

As we frame the first half of this book, bear in mind the adage we sometimes use to characterize someone's view of a particular situation: He can't see the forest for the trees. The complaint in that statement is that the person is too caught up in extraneous details to recognize the bigger picture. Musashi described that view as seeing the details and missing the important things. With that said, it's difficult to walk through a forest without paying attention to where the trees are. Otherwise, you walk into them.

We have to see it both ways, a forest filled with trees, if we are to reconnoiter the situation with success.

Gallagher begins this discussion in the first chapter by presenting what she calls “bottom up” attention where your focus is not so much driven by your intention but rather the salient object in your immediate environment, the twittering red bird, the threatening rattlesnake, or the spoiled food in the refrigerator. Our response to focus carefully on novel stimuli that present danger or reward has promoted our survival since the dawning of human time. The men in the car at the convenience store motivated my rapt bottom-up attention.

In contrast to bottom-up attention, Gallagher presents, oh yes, top-down attention. (I found the names of these forms of attention quite distracting for the first while, but in time, I came to accept the names and their usage.) Whereas bottom-up attention occurs often without conscious thought, likely as the direct result of a species surviving in a hostile world, top-down attention requires effort and concentration, and it results in fatigue.

The author's example involves sitting in a park while recording the various species of birds observed. At some point, you'll grow tired of the watching and have to stop to give your eyes and brain a rest. Nonetheless, top-down attention receives equal credit for advancing humankind because it presents the opportunity to decide just what we will later focus on with bottom-up attention. For the angry men in the car, my top-down attention involved an assessment of where other cars and people were, their apparent physical strength, when they would be close enough to make good on their threats, the likelihood that they carried firearms, and the lack of nearby policemen.

As with most human characteristics, an over-dependency on top-down or bottom-up attention can create problems, and the author describes in some detail instances where an individual with a preponderance of talent with the one but a paucity with the other is beset with challenges that can be difficult for someone else to understand. Consider for example, the student in the lab focusing broadly and intently on the design of an experiment such that the fire alarm blares to no effect. (On a more personal note, as an undergraduate student, I was more than once locked in the library because I failed to hear the closing signal. Yes, I could really get into my Physics homework.)

Concomitantly with how we pay attention is the emotional baggage we bring with our attention. In particular, the authors cite seeming endless studies that demonstrate our propensity to focus on the effects that negative emotions bring to bear on our ability to pay attention, but expanded far beyond our ability to focus, and into our physical ability to see and perceive peripherally. How many readers here have walked on egg shells in the period preceding an evaluation, knowing from experience that management will be far more likely to be swayed by recent events than by a composite year's worth of productivity, and you want to make sure that there are few, if any, negative events in the brief period leading to the evaluation?

As a final take-away, we have a discussion of the manners in which we pay attention when the object on which we must focus is not something that would ordinarily hold our attention. For those readers here who teach, just how do you manage to read 90 essays all written, likely poorly, on the same subject? For those readers who work elsewhere, how do you bring yourself to write that report one more time when the only change from the past ten times is the client's name?

What do we do? We find something else to distract us briefly while we build the energy and focus to dive back in. A lot of managers in this world would do well to understand this point. Your direct report isn't so much goofing off as she is gathering her strength to dive back in, and does it really matter so much how that strength builds as it does that it builds?

When I taught statistics during summer school, I graded those repetitive papers at the community pool. Last week when I wrote that repetitive report yet one more time, I had Twitter, Facebook, and two e-mails running. Like clockwork as my energy faded, I surfed through the tweets and the status updates until my head and eyes had cleared. It would be easy to make the case that I squandered repeated five minutes' worth of company time on superfluous activities, and I'm sure we've all heard such in the workplace. However, bear in mind that report was finished ahead of schedule, and everyone was happy, just as my students never complained about how long it took me to return their papers. (Their complaints were generally about the grades, but that’s another matter.) More to the point, there's absolutely nothing new here: Gathering (e.g., wasting time) by coffee pots and water coolers has occurred in the workplace pretty much since there was a workplace.

Gallagher presents this material in fourteen chapters, including in each countless examples of how personal preference and situation present something positive or something negative to the person's efficiency. Toward the middle, the tone become more metaphysical, and for that reason is less likely to be of substantial use to the practical development of many people. Nonetheless, if you're taking a week off, and you want something worthwhile to read while you're out of the office, Gallagher can teach you something about yourself and others that you likely already knew but weren't consciously aware of yet.


References

Musashi, M. (2005). The Book of Five Rings. (Translated by Thomas Cleary, and electronically reformatted by MobileReference for the Kindle) Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.

A review of Assessing Emotional Intelligence: A Competency Framework for the Development of Soft Skills

Carblis, R. Assessing Emotional Intelligence: A Competency Framework for the Development of Soft Skills. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2008, 439, $124.95, Hardcover.

A version of this review will appear in Personnel Psychology in about the next year

Review

This text represents an output of the author’s PhD research conducted at Macquarie University. The intent was to start with interpersonal skills derived from the emotional intelligence (EI) competencies presented in Goleman (1996, 1998), and then to develop teachable and learnable competency standards for (1) general emotional awareness, (2) the awareness of happiness in the workplace, and (3) the awareness of anger in the workplace. Given that the author received the PhD and a book contract, a few people must have agreed that he succeeded. I am not among them, but that’s more a statement on the current theoretical development of EI than it is about this book.

The cover art for this text presents the reader with a phrenological map of the human skull from which brain organ (a phrenology term) number 35 on the right is removed, probably for the artistic purpose of letting the book title float from the rendered head. I doubt that the choice had anything to do with that removed brain organ being associated with causality, as indicated by one of the charts provided at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrenology. Nonetheless, the choice of cover art left me eager to turn the cover.

Although the 13 chapters and 7 appendices of this text are presented linearly, the development of the subject is non-linear. The stated reason for the non-linear presentation on page 9 “involved the synthesis or confluence of [a] number of interconnected issues or areas of investigation that centered on the three core tasks as follows: (1) defining and selecting competencies, (2) designing the competencies, and(3) developing a method to validate them.” The following page, 10, presents the schematic structure of the book with four broad sections.

The first section in the schematic structure is called “Theoretical Considerations,” and chapters 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, and 11 are included, each chapter apparently representing unique theoretical considerations (e.g., chapter 10: Theory & Methodology of Pilot Study Validation).

The second section of the schematic structure involves “core tasks,” which are (1) definition and selection of competencies, (2) design of competency standards, and (3) validation methodology. No chapters are indicated as pertaining to this section.

The third section is the “construction of competencies,” where the competencies are (1) general emotional awareness, (2) awareness of anger, and (3) awareness of happiness. This section involves chapters 5, 8 and 9. Although the ordering here of the second and third competences, awareness of anger and happiness, is reversed from the initial presentation on page 6, there appears to be no discernible reason for the change other than the alphabetical ordering of the two in the chart. Granted, such is a minor point. However, a consistent ordering of important topics, which in this case are topics that become chapters, assists the reader and the learner, to grasp the material better.

The last section of the schematic structure includes “theory related to selected competencies,” and has two parts, (1) theory of emotional awareness, and (2) theory of emotion. This section is associated with chapters 5 and 6. Underpinning the schematic structure of this book are chapters 12 and 13, which are presented as discussion and conclusion, respectively, though chapter titles are different.

I did not find the schematic structure of the book particularly useful for understanding the text, and this review is structured along the table of contents. However, I suspect that someone planning to wade deeper into EI might have a greater appreciation of the chart than I did.

In chapter 1, we meet the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA, 2001). ANTA (2001) provided a methodology by which the process for the development of vocational competency standards could be adapted for the development of emotional intelligence competencies.

Chapter 2 takes us through the adaptation of ANTA (2001) for use with the development of emotional intelligence competencies. Numerous definitions of concepts of competencies (e.g., performance, attribute, integrated) are presented with ample discussion of each along with commentary regarding why one might or might not adopt each. However, the discussion does little to provide concrete examples that would anchor the reader’s understanding and development, leaving it quite apparent that this text is not where a beginner would start. At this point, it is clear that the intended audience of this text is graduate students deep in the study of emotional intelligence and perhaps EI theoreticians seeking a text that provides an overarching framework.

Chapter 3 brings us to the definitions of, first, key competencies, and, second, the competencies of emotional intelligence. (I doubt the ambiguous use of “competency” here was intentional, but, rather, the unfortunate result of two fields being melded.) Most of these definitions are provided within the framework of ANTA (2001), though other supporting sources are cited. Although key competencies are constructs such as “planning and organizing activities” (page 56), emotional intelligence competencies are represented by those additional soft skills that serve to enhance the performance of the key competency. In addition, it is here that the use of ANTA (2001) to direct the development of emotional intelligence competencies using a methodology constructed for the development of vocational competency standards becomes clear.

Chapters 4 through 9 present the seeming exhaustive exploration and definitions of emotional intelligence competencies along with the development of the three competency standards. Chapter 8 is the chapter regarding the awareness of anger, and it is the longest chapter in the book, though chapter 5 regarding general emotional awareness placed a close second. That the formal construction of a definition of anger received more attention that any other section in this book, especially demonstrably more than happiness, was of interest to me. Of course, the author did indicate that the framework developed for anger was used to frame the chapter on happiness. Nonetheless, I was left wondering further.

We do not need a litany of references to know that anger in the workplace receives far more attention than does happiness. On the corner of my desk sits an employee handbook that expressly forbids harassment, which certainly leads to anger if it is not an expression of repressed anger itself. Such a workplace rule is perfectly reasonable, and I, for one, am glad that the rule exists. However, few, if any, statements directly and specifically refer to employee happiness.

The expense and penalty of anger in the workplace is as well documented as it is well known. The empirical rewards of happiness in the workplace are generally far less discussed, though they are not unknown, and many organizations with perceptive management actively seek to promote employee happiness because doing so generally improves employee productivity and longevity.

To this end, if emotional intelligence can be taught, as is the premise of this text with it’s focus on competencies, then it would seem reasonable that training programs would arise to provide these developmental opportunities to employees. Indeed, one does not have to look far to find workshops in, say, anger management, but where does one find that workshop in happiness management? Although I hesitate to offer my experience as any indicator, I’m not sure that I’ve ever encountered the latter, though I hope that’s just because of my limited experiences.

Chapter 10 initiates the assessment of the emotional competencies, beginning with a validation of the ANTA (2001) methodology. Most of the discussion in this chapter involves the application of various forms of qualitative methodology. Although I have no particular objection to the use of qualitative methods, and I generally encourage their use in work such as this, I would like to have seen quantitative evidence of some form that suggested the reliability and validity of the measures developed.

Chapter 11 continues this assessment with a review of the validation findings. It is here that I begin to shake all over. Now, why is that? With all that has been said about the assessment of emotional intelligence, along with anger and happiness awareness, it seems almost a natural consequence of this work to expect to find adverse impact in the subsequent measures because “the standards may be differently relevant within various industry-, role-, and gender-related situations and contexts. (page 277)” No empirical evidence is presented that would further assess the potential for such adverse impact to exist or to be ameliorated, and it seems reasonable to anticipate that measures in this area would be at risk to contain items exhibiting differential items functioning.

The text closes with two brief chapters that describe the achievements and issues found with the use of ANTA (2001), followed by suggestions for further research. Think a dissertation’s conclusions and suggestions for future research, and you’ll be right on target.

Although I’m glad that the author found a publication venue for his dissertation research, I am not convinced that the presentation found herein will serve to bring new students into the field, not without substantial guidance by someone already knowledgeable in the area. For example, the schematic structure presented on page 10 served no purpose as I sought to organize what the author was attempting to say, and I found an iterative unraveling of the table of contents far more useful as an organizer of this work.

I also anticipated as I started the text that I would finish with a framework for building an assessment, one that would provide numbers for the identified competencies. No such assessment appeared, and I believe this book would be substantially improved by the inclusion of more concrete examples. Of course, such an addition would push the length of the text forward perhaps by more pages than the publisher could permit. However, a serious winnowing of the ancillary descriptions and definitions could easily address that problem, as could the inclusion of some form of workbook.

However, my greater problem here is emotional intelligence itself. First, as I read descriptions of various EI frameworks, I am left with the nagging suspicion that I’m generally seeing some sort of effect, and perhaps an interaction, due to intelligence (g) and personality preferences. Experimental confirmation of that suspicion is available. For example, Schulte, Ree, and Carretta (2004) used scores from the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT; Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2002) regressed onto scores from the Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT; Wonderlic, 1983), the NEO-Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI; Costa & McCrae, 1992), and sex to uncover a multiple R=.81 after correction for attenuation. The authors concluded, “If EI can be largely predicted from other well-known constructs, it’s uniqueness and expected incremental utility for predicting human performance may be limited” (p. 1067).

Second, there are just too many theoretical frameworks for emotional intelligence, and any pair is generally laden with maddening degrees of similarity and uniqueness. This quagmire of disparate theoretical underpinnings appeared to present Carblis with his greatest challenge as he charted the waters in the application of ANTA (2001) to EI assessment.

This criticism of EI is not mine alone. Murphy (2009) in a review of Druskat, Sala, and Mount (2006) states clearly on page 134 “The diversity of models and measures in the current EI volume suggests that the field is far from developing consensus about the nature and the implications of EI, but without an acceptable definition of the construct, we may never know the workplace consequences of high or low levels of EI.” More pointedly, Locke (2005, p. 425) argues that EI is an invalid concept because, in part, it is defined in too many ways.



References

Australian National Training Authority. (2001). Training package development handbook. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia: Author.

Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) Professional Manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. Ney York: Bantam Books.

Locke, E. A. (2005). Why emotional intelligence is an invalid concept. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 425-431.

Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P, & Caruso, D. R. (2002). Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT): User’s manual. Toronto: Multi-Health Systems, Inc.

Murphy, K. R. (2009). Emotional intelligence: A disappointing decade. American Journal of Psychology, 122, 131-139.

Schulte, M. J., Ree, M. J., & Carretta, T.R. (2004). Emotional intelligence: Not much more that g and personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 1059-1068.

Wonderlic, E. F. (1983). Wonderlic Personnel Test Manual. Northfield, IL: E. F. Wonderlic & Associates.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My interesting lunch

I sent email to the work peeps this morning to see if anyone wanted to go to the mall for lunch. No one did. Well, one later admitted to wanting to go for takeout, but by then I had accepted an alternative proposal.

We were going to Inchin Bamboo Garden, which I immediately missread as Itchin Bamboo. The missread became permanent.

We entered by a forested trout stream. I was sad that I didn't have my poles and yellow whole kernel corn niblets. We could have had fresh trout for lunch.


I settled for mixed vegetables with black bean sauce. Add steamed rice. Egg drop soup, far above average, and a perfectly regular egg roll.

It was all acceptably tasty with one exception. The black beans, all six of them. I nabbed them one at the time to show off for the people who were not watching, and then ate them one at the time. I have never tasted a black bean that lucious, not even when I cook it myself.




While dining, I had a spirited conversation with the guest pictured here. She was quite the verbal delight, skilled in many double entenders. I look forward to the return visit.

Yeah. I made this up. Except for the part about the black beans. I could eat another six of them. For the rest, we talked about work for 90 minutes.


-- Posted from a mobile device

Monday, September 7, 2009

Is my bed defective?

Something has happened, and I do not like it. In the last fortnight, I have had trouble sleeping where I've been sleeping just fine for several years.

Maybe the planets are no longer aligned with the stripes.




So where do I sleep now? On the couch. Maybe it's the afghans. Maybe it's the north-south alignment. Maybe it's the ability to have the Weather Channel droning.

The WC should be subtitled the Nap Channel.




-- Posted from a mobile device

A deity's buttermilk

As you might already know, I culture buttermilk from powdered nonfat milk. The result is not really buttermilk, no more than what they sell in the stores is real, but it is one of my favorite drinks.

Real buttermilk would require a cow and someone to churn.

I splash a little buttermilk from the previous batch into the pitcher. Add about half again too much milk powder so the result is nice and thick. And the top it off with tap water, stirring a lot.

Let it sit at room temp about 24 hours. Add a very little salt. Stir and chill. Swill as required.

Yeah. I used to take buttermilk to drink in the tobacco field at break time. The people thought it was weird even then.

So why, oh why, must I regale you with this prattle about buttermilk? It's because this glass I just finished might have been the absolute best I ever had. Apparently, the bacteria in the culture are evolving just for me.

Let me know and I'll send you a quart.



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Kudzu in bloom

It's pretty hard to live in the South and not know about kudzu. It grew in the ditch by my grandfather's house, and one of my daily chores was to run the tractor and disk between the field and that ditch to keep the kudzu out of the corn.

However, not once did I ever see the kudzu in bloom. That's probably because I never got all that close, what with the vines harboring snakes, or so people told me.

So today, I went to find the flower we smelled yesterday but didn't find. Little blue petals were all in the grass, but it took some looking to finally find the blooms.

I was astounded to see the blooms on the kudzu. It only took me 56 years to learn that. I really must be a slow learner.


-- Posted from a mobile device

Saturday, September 5, 2009

An unusual response

If you're indigent, begging on the street, I'm probably not the person you want to approach unless you enjoy abject ostracism. As a general rule, I don't believe the handouts do much to help. More to the point, I don't often carry enough cash to help anyone.

Yesterday was different, and it left me thinking.

I was at the local Shell station for a fountain Diet Coke and a roller dog. Stepping out, I noticed a quietly distraught woman standing between the cigarette receptical and the propane tank exchange stand.

Yeah, I wouldn't put those two so close either.

As I passed the woman, I decided she must be planning to rob the store. She was very nervous. Several steps later, I heard a female voice call out a shaky "sir?"

I turned and she asked for help. She was trying to get home in Carrboro. When I asked how much, she said a couple of gallons. I had her pull her car to the first pump, went inside to give the clerk ten bucks, stepped out to tell her, and then went on my way with a thank you.

I think she was real. She didn't present as a con artist, and asking for a couple of gallons as though the act was about to kill her made her seem legitimate. Besides, she was driving a newish minivan.

So I'm ten dollars poorer. I wasn't carrying plastic at the time. She left headed in the right direction to be going to Carrboro. I hope she got there.



-- Posted from a mobile device

Friday, September 4, 2009

I loathe the United Way

Now, before you condemn me as the curmudgeon that I am, let me explain a little. Then you can cast all those stones.

I first met the United Way in the public schools of Sanford County in about 1977. The faculty were expected to participate, and this was made clear by the now dead principal.

Tithing in the workplace offends me, deeply. In response to this principal, I taped the penny I found on the sidewalk to the donation form. Later, the congratulatory note for the 100% participation included the tagline "Every penny counts."

I suppose the damned fool EDD achieved what he needed.

Of course, I cannot count on finding a penny as I need to avoid the nonsense that is the United Way.

So what's a poor and principled queen to do?

She pledges $1000 with deferred payment. It's real simple. The employer gets the boost. The United Way sends me monthly statements, which I ignore. God's in her heaven, and all's right with the world.

At least until the United Way gets out of the work place.



-- Posted from a mobile device

Where did I sleep?

I know for a demonstrable fact that I went to sleep in my bed last night with my little pillow between my knees and the thoughts of just how long it'd take to clear the football traffic dancing in my head. That was 9-ish.

At 1-ish, I'm up for the expected bathroom break for which I rarely even wake up. This time I do wake up as I realize I'm in the middle of my personal open jaw itinerary involving bed and couch. WTF is not a good response when one seeks to promote fragile sleep.

I awoke on the couch between two afghans, t-shirt damp with perspiration per usual, and I have no remembrance of getting there. I am toddlin' Lil waking up on her Big Wheel at the beach. I am me waking up in the hall of the Dupont Circle Hilton at 1am.

I am that sleep walker you never want in your combat squad.

Apparently, I'm also an old fart who now does more than he can remember.



-- Posted from a mobile device

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It lives!

A colleague at work had this lava lamp. When I mentioned Josh's small collection, this lamp was offered up as #3, and I carted it to Greensboro.

When Lil saw it, things changed as she made the case that she was more worthy, what with Josh having two while she had none. I caved, especially as Josh seemed to be satisfied with his current collection, and this little lava lamp went to live at the Tate Street Manor.

After seeing this pic that Lil sent, I see the reason for her fervor. It's the color. Lil grew up in a house full of J-people, people with names starting with J while her's did not. She was the only one named for two grandparents. Her's were the only blue eyes in a sea of brown.

Her eyes shine through in that pic. I'm glad she lobbied as she did. That she did it so well leaves me thinking, and I doubt I'll be the last.




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