Ten Years On

It was a dark and stormy night …

Ten years ago, I started Barataria with that perfectly awful line. It was indeed a cold, dark evening in April filled with a sense of anxiety. Where has all this gone in ten years? You be the judge.

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Ex Machina

It’s been a long day.  As the 10th anniversary of Barataria approaches, it’s time to refresh and renew.  This piece from nearly ten years ago is possibly even more relevant today.

When people talk to each other, there is a social code of acceptable behavior. When they interact with machines, there is no such code. If there is a machine between two people, the rules seem to not apply as easily, and people often act as if they are dealing with a machine – because that is what they have in front of them.

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Final Thoughts

What more is there to say before we get this dreadful election over with?

No matter what, the sun will come up on Wednesday, November 9th. We will all go about our daily business even if some parts of the results aren’t finalized yet. America will survive and everything will be largely OK.

But one thing will be different. We won’t look at each other quite the same way again.

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Formal E-Mail – Tips & Concepts

Long ago in a High School far away, we were all taught how to write a formal business letter. It included the date, return address, and all the pertinent information needed to either file it away or write a reply. It also had a standard format, not terribly different from the standard five paragraph theme.

Today, everything is done in email. Everything. The sorting and replying are automatic, the formality is limited, and the attention span of the reader is probably short. What is the right format for a formal email to a client or prospective employer?

There is no right answer. I have been asked this by many clients over the years, and I have my own format that seems to work. If you have your own, please share with us and let’s see what we all come up with.

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Happy as a Pig in Something

Cliches
Good ways
To say what you mean
Mean what you say

– Jimmy Buffett

In the heat of summer, it’s time for a re-run.  This is from 2008.

Anyone who’s written a book has heard it from someone: “You need to get rid of a few clichés”. What? I can’t have any of those, I avoid them like a very contagious disease!

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The Race is Hotter Than July

The next two weeks will set the tone for the rest of the Presidential campaign. In fourteen days we will know just how everything is going, from the themes we can expect to carry through to November to the polls telling us how the horse race has started.

How will it shake out? If you’re a Republican, you’re probably hoping it won’t be a disaster. Democrats have their own fears for a disruptive show, but appear to be better prepared for a traditional convention bounce.

Here’s what to look for over the next two weeks.

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The Faith of Bach

The violinist was hired to play Christmas music in the atrium of Capella Tower in Minneapolis over lunch, but he clearly felt he could add a personal touch. He placed it up above the crowd where it echoed off the glass and marble, the light hand on a single violin piercing consciousness with the Prelude from Partita #3 by JS Bach.

I walked over slowly, bowed my head, closed my eyes, and allowed myself to be transformed. For a moment I wasn’t there or any place with earthly cares – there was this tremendous sound, the man whose craft propelled it into the air, and myself. When he was done I quietly, almost apologetically said what I could. “Thank you.” It wasn’t enough, but it was all I had. His response, equally respectful of the moment, said more. “My pleasure.”

This was a meeting not between any two people but between the two of us who, I am sure, share a religion. It is a sense of spirituality that comes from the gut strings of a fiddle and echoes not just through marble halls but through our hearts and minds every moment we can allow it. This is a sense of faith in the order of the universe given to both of us, skilled and unskilled, by JS Bach more than 260 years ago.

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