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Work/Life: Mountains and Stocks and Dogs, Oh My!

The weekend is on its way, and as always I should be life-ing as opposed to working, but when the stock market takes as big a hit as it did yesterday it just gets my mind going. I do have plans with my wife and daughters on Saturday, so maybe, just maybe, I won’t give into the “my parents grew up during the depression” madness that still plagues me today. It’s like that scene in “Annie Hall,” where Alvy Singer is eight years old and obsessed with the idea that the universe is expanding. Despite reassurances from the adult world, he knows something bad is coming.

The weekend is on its way, and as always I should be life-ing as opposed to working, but when the stock market takes as big a hit as it did yesterday it just gets my mind going. I do have plans with my wife and daughters on Saturday, so maybe, just maybe, I won’t give into the “my parents grew up during the depression” madness that still plagues me today. It’s like that scene in “Annie Hall,” where Alvy Singer is eight years old and obsessed with the idea that the universe is expanding. Despite reassurances from the adult world, he knows something bad is coming. The fact that it’s light years away is not important—what’s important is utilizing one’s God-given right to worry about things one can’t control. And, as any good workaholic knows, it’s just not right that there should even BE things beyond our control.

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To take my mind off the impending recession, I reflected on the recent passing of Sir Edmund Hillary, he of the getting-to-the-top of Everest first game. By all accounts the guy was reserved and even withdrawn. According to the occasionally fact-checked Wikipedia, he had to rely on his future mother-in-law to do the proposing when he wanted to marry his first wife (whom he lost to an accident). And, the guy kept his phone number in the listings for his entire life, apparently enjoying chewing the fat about his adventures with those who were actually brave enough to call. Can it be? The man who provided a symbol for getting there at all costs was a homebody who was never happier than when he was having tea and watching Jeopardy? Of course, his son went onto to become a climber (we leave that word and its double-meaning hanging there), conquering (ditto) Everest in 1990. So maybe there’s a little bit of dysfunctional overachieving going on there. After all, if you can’t count a famous mountain climber for your work/life metaphors, whom can you count on for them?

Finally, the news from Budapest is about some computer software being developed that will interpret the needs of dogs based on reading their barks and other noises. I don’t know about you, but I’m fairly clear on what my dog is communicating, as it usually involves food, a walk or the urge to either destroy or mate with another canine.

So, let’s get going on this same software for humans! Think of how much easier life would be if a little LED screen could tell you that the grunt your boss made means he’s lost all faith in you, or let your spouse know that when you say “hmm,” you’re really saying “I wasn’t really listening, but do go on.” And boy would it come in handy during presentations. When the guy giving the Power Point clears his throat, and your hand-held sensor device reads “b.s.’ing his way through this,” you will have an edge over everyone else in the room. Well, at least those who don’t already know the guy giving the Power Point is full of it.

There you have it. A potpourri of topics to heat up your next cocktail party. Which I hope is soon, because, really, you need to relax.

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