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Monday, March 30, 2009

Thirty Four-ward Progress

As I enter the crockpot today, I am finding that I'm thinking of the spot the ball at forward progress rule in football. I'm distracted by my own head's clutter, and then there are other things that are far more important than me writing this, or the crap in my head, that seem to be flooding my brain, reminding me again of just the kind of crap I am cranking out here. So, with that upbeat attitude as I sit down to write this, I am thinking of forward progress and the fact that even when you are being pushed backward while trying to move forward, you still get the spot as far as you advance.

This may just be my attempt at pumping myself up through sports metaphors, which ties into the other realization I had today - that my calling (vocation, I believe it is called by some) may in fact be to integrate sports cliches into professional correspondence and business proposals. I would be some sort of technical/loose metaphor writer for hire, writing things that said nothing in the jargon of both corporate buzz and sports cliche. They would have to be written for actual use though, not amusement. And I think that is where the challenge lies.

Writing Samples for my new Vocation:

Updated Policy for Vacation Day/ Extended Leave Requests

Per stated company vision and mission statements, our team strives to function as one unit, as we all know we are only as good as our weakest link, and we strive to optimize team productivity by always giving 110% out there. Management has seen our efforts, and knows that we are really getting into some good scrums with the work that is up for grabs at the bottom of the pile that is the marketplace. It has come to the attention of our team leadership, however, that we may not be executing what we know how to do well enough to stay ahead of the competition, day in and day out. Some guys have started to get sloppy with the fundamentals, and they expect that someone else will come in off the bench and take care of their work without any negative impact on the team as a whole. Unfortunately, that is not the reality we are dealing with here today. Guys who play in practice - yes, we expect them to know the playbook, inside and out, but there is a considerable difference in the performance of those who have "learned" the plays and those who now instinctively perform the plays as a result of repeated excellence. The whole rhythm of the team is disrupted when someone leaves the game unexpectedly. Guys who may not be used to taking many audibles now have to step up to the line and deliver. And while they do so without fail because they train to win, we ask that all employees, unless they have an illness or unavoidable chronic problem that lands them on the DL, comply with company policy for requesting use of vacation days so that other team members may be adequately prepared to step in and step up during these absences. If you have any questions, please consult with the HR team.
Thank you.

Email Asking for Reconsideration of a Bid for A Contract

Steve,
It was great to have the opportunity to show you what our squad could do when playing at the top of our game this past Thursday. I was disappointed to learn that you had decided to go with another team's proposal for the Windward Corps. Project, but I respect your decision and am proud of my team's effort. I wanted to reiterate that we simply do not have the personnel to be able to come in and execute the plays you would need us to make in that kind of time frame with the budget that you'd outlined. I'm afraid 35 just won't be enough for us to drive that one home, and I really wonder if the other team you selected will be able to maintain a high level of performance and intensity with that type of demand on their squad. I'm going to look over some things here, really take my guys back to look and see what we did here and see if there's anywhere we can tighten our game plan to be able to improve things when we come back out. We'd really like to show you something the next time around, because the guys on my team are putting their hearts in it and really stepping up in the crucial moments here, making key plays for key players. I hope that in the future you might reconsider our proposal and the capabilities of my team to let us really get to work on the boards for you and bring home a W for both of us.
Thanks again for your time, and congratulations to our competition. They set forth a great proposal and I'm sure they'll be tough to beat in the next round.

* * * * *

A "most-emailed" New York Times article today was a profile about physicist and genius Freeman Dyson, and his recent controversial role as that old prominent scientist who thinks Al Gore is over-stating the threat of global warming. More than that opinion, however, this article really painted a vivid and intriguing picture of a genius over time whose biggest bang was early in his career, and whose opinions have become more controversial as time has gone on, but it's a fierce loyalty to the purpose of science that seems to motivate his opinions (and, I'm guessing, a brain capable of conceiving of a lot of possible outcomes at once without exploding). This was one of my favorite quotes:
"Dyson would later reflect that from then on he saw science as 'a territory of freedom and friendship in the midst of tyranny and hatred.'"
To have a love affair that intense with an entire realm of thinking, and to be a master of that realm - wow. WOW. Wow. This gentleman's story is part Harry Potter, part On the Road, and part Flubber, and if it were to be made into a movie I would want it to be made by Fellini. Though, unless Dyson figures out a way to really get string theory rockin' and time travel knockin' (and the article says he's not a fan of string theory), that would no longer be possible. This article is eight pages, but I read it all (again eight pages is not 2000 pages, but for an online article, 4 would be a usual maximum for me, and then only if I'm very bored at work). I do not know why I found this profile to be so compelling, but it definitely fits into the confines of today's theme of forward progress and a refusal to backpedal.

The other thing I very much liked - there's no right or wrong given.

So this is part cop-out because I'm sort of using today to recommend someone else's excellent writing, but this is more a recommendation to admire the subject of that writing and his commitment to science as both an ideal and a home. A lovely, longstanding, fierce dedication.
A vocation. A vocation that is far from ridiculous.




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