Entries in Values (9)
Today a friend and I biked from the zoo down along Rock Creek to Georgetown. We each had a daughter behind us in matching plastic transport seats clipped on the back of the bicycles. It was beautiful weather and quite a pleasant way to spend a morning. We stopped at the waterfront in Georgetown, walked into a plaza area, and leaned our bikes against a wall. We took the girls, aged two and three, to an Edy’s ice cream store. My daughter went for a small cup of mint chocolate chip, with sprinkles. The kids were quite happy eating their ice cream.
A couple of years ago I tagged along with my friend and neighbor Steve to my first and only gun show. I took Steve up on his invitation because I enjoy his company, and because he is something of a gun nut I figured he would be an excellent interpreter of this Virginia cultural event. He drove out from DC, and on the way he regaled me with stories about his own guns as well as his run-ins with other people and their guns.
With apologies to the many charming people who say or believe it, the phrase “everything happens for a reason” is absurd.
I just read about a craftsman who worked appealingly outside of time and technology in Shoji Hamada: A Potter’s Way and Work, by Susan Peterson. Hamada was the most famous ceramic artist in Japan, and, according to Peterson, one of the most important ceramists of the 20th century. I saw a different book, Hamada, Potter (which I have not yet read), on the bookshelf of my aunt Phyllis, who I wrote about in this previous post.
When I was a kid, I read and reread the adventures of Robin Hood and his merry men. I knew every detail about quarterstaffs and longbows and Will Stutely, Will Scarlet, Little John, and Guy of Gisbourne. In third grade, I wore a green shirt and green pants to school day after day because I knew that Robin Hood and his merry men preferred “Lincoln green.” I read different retellings of the stories and came to strong opinions about which were the correct versions.
There is in me something highly resistant to self-promotion and marketing. For years, I have been comfortable—to a fault—with anonymity for myself and with a low profile for my company. It took me years to move from a plain black and white business card to one that had two colors. Most of my company’s business proposals have been simple one page black and white letters. The user-interface for our software and the format of our software manuals have been as unflashy and monochromatic as possible. We have not produced fancy marketing material to sell our products and services. I do not wear a suit and tie to a demonstration. In somewhat the same vein, my humor tends toward self-deprecation. I have wanted success to come from the substance of our work, not from our presentation skills. And it has.
How to live true to self is a subject upon which I have been reflecting a lot of late, as I try to shape my business and direct my life. How to spend my time left on this planet doing things that I want to do, without neglecting practical concerns like earning a living and keeping my employees employed.
My Winter 2004/2005 Issue of Fine Woodworking (the Tools & Shops Annual Issue) surprised me by having an article “Jimmy Carter on Woodworking.”
I incorporated NGP Software on January 15th 1997, after giving up on a search for a whimsical or clever corporate name for a new Democratic political campaign software firm. I started by loaning $10000 to the newly formed entity, wondering how long I could go without a paycheck, happy not to be working for anyone else.