Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Folly of Leaders

In case anyone's following this blog, here's a great article about the Washington D.C. public school system's current struggle to improve its station. More to the point, the article deals directly with personality driven reform - a topic I have been wrestling with since I started the H3P.
To sum up, no reform or movement of any value (regardless of arena - politics, education, business, etc.) can survive as a result of an individual's Vision alone.  Successful movements are sustained through the careful (read slow) implementation of systems engineered to uphold the original vision. To succeed, any human effort must be taken from the realm of personality, charisma and heroics and placed squarely and securely in the realm of systems. Systems of course make for boring copy and rarely elicit the passion and ardor of the lone heroic reformer.
To wit - the struggle of Michelle Rhee and the Washington DC Public Schools. As Ms. Rhee struggles to improve her school district, she is perceived as being the lone driver, ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the schools. This is of course a gross oversimplification but, so long as Ms. Rhee is perceived to be the heart and soul of education reform in DC, anyone opposed to the reforms will operate with a clarified objective: remove Michelle Rhee. An objective which once reached will signal the collapse of the movement and an immediate re-trenching of the status quo.
I'm not trying to argue for or against the reforms as presented in DC. Rather, I am utilizing the situation in DC to try and understand the follies of leadership in America. These situations seem to play out quite often in the USA - a strong idea surfaces, one person or group champions the idea and struggles internally with issues of ownership and authority over the idea, the battle becomes political and personal rather than practical and objective, positions are taken, enemies are made and reputations are made and destroyed regardless of the actual idea in play.
I've begun to see it in my experience: hospitals fight for dollars to the detriment of real work, non-profits spend big money on marketing, people jockey for hierarchy...
The situation in DC is unfortunate in that a groundswell of support for reform is becoming apparent, but the inertia of the current system is equally present. Sending up a juggernaut like Rhee in the hope that her velocity will pull us all to the next level is foolish.
An old Turkish saying I learned from an employer who was trying to convince me to work overtime for no pay applies here - "If you make something good throw it into the ocean. If the fish don't understand it, god will."


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Mentor Headlands - Beach

It was windy at the beach that day.
The Mentor Headlands Triathlon went off this AM.
I think this marked the water entry.
Danielle and I are back to normal life after having pretty much been gone for wed for much of the past 6 months it seems like. We had a fantastic time at the wedding - see the pics below - but are happy to be back out exploring our state.
One thing we really miss about the East Coast are the beaches. Singing Beach, Wingaersheek, Plum Island, the Cape, Martha's Vineyard, and on and on.
While we've found some places to jump in the Lake like B&L's Vermilion home and up at the Snake, we hadn't been able to find a good long beach with loads of people and places to explore.
Standing on the jetty defining Fairport Harbor (to our left.)
So, this morning we packed up and took off for Mentor Headlands - about 35 minutes Northeast of our place in Cleveland Heights. Having been to the beach at Edgewater and Huntington in Avon, I expected more of the same, trucked in dirt, 30 yards of beach and a huge parking lot.
But lo and behold we found a real beach! The beach is more than a mile long, the water is perfect temp (around 72 F) and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Will be returning many times with more pics.
In the dunes
D in the waves. The water goes from green to deep blue to grey. Very pretty.

Zoar, Ohio

The hibiscus in Zoar was enormous.

This is Doug Fouts, Revolutionary War re-enactor. We met him in Zoar, a beautiful little town about 1.5 hours south of Cleveland. Zoar survived as a communist village for 100 years. Now it's full of B&B's, antique shops and guys like Doug.

Lincoln Boulevard

This is a view into our neighbors' backyard. That tree (a sour cherry) is one of my favorite things about their backyard - besides the blue kiddie pool and the pink stroller - those are Fiona's things and she is also one of my favorite things about the backyard. The light in the early evenings shines through this tree in the most beautiful way. This view sort of describes my life right now.

Wedding Pics

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Lincoln Blvd. Collage

Our neighbors, Lyman, Shannon & their daughter Fiona made a great graffiti montage on the walkway up to our house. I had to capture it and present it before the rain hit today. I just made it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Drink Responsibly - St. Clair & W. 3rd

East Flats - Looking West

I took this using my new Fuji Instax 200, on Friday, Sept. 25, 2009 at 8 AM from the roof of my office building on the corner of W. 10th and St. Clair, Dowtown, Cleveland, Ohio.

I'm using a Fuji Instax for the time being, which is a fun little instant camera Fuji is selling to pick up the Polaroid market segment floating out there with nothing to do since Polaroid folded.
Downside is that film costs @ $1.10 per pic.
I'm waiting on a new Panasonic GF1 so I can get back to taking hundreds of pictures. Literally hundreds.
Film's expensive.

Cleveland - Downtown

This is the Shoe Doctor. He performs both minor and major surgeries (his words) in the lobby of the Arcade on Euclid Avenue (right across from E. 4th.) He changed my mind about the value of a good shoe shine. Here's why.
I haven't participated in third party shoe shines too often in my life - twice now, actually. Normally I'm pretty stoic about shoe health.
Those days are over.
Thanks to a few dreadful months in close contact with Neil McCabe at the Somerville News, I knew a quality shine, up to DInfoS standards was not only elusive and difficult to judge but the shine itself was subject to governing arcana, bandied about by army nerds and ditto-heads. Like a waxed up White Whale, army issue shoes, shined up for hours, inspired metric lunacy, entire theories and methods and debates and side-taking and all sorts of wasted time.
Neil being Neil, he completely alienated anyone within earshot of such a story. His passions turned quickly into hysteria and a respectable shoe shine took on the sheen of a symptom of a much greater madness.
As a result, and I do blame Neil for my shoe-shine anorexia, my shoes have remained untouched by anything other than a quick silicon grease-up before weddings or important meetings.
But I had an important event this past weekend. My fiance, Danielle Santiago, had her first performance with the Cleveland Orchestra as a member of its chorus this past Saturday evening at Severance Hall. It was glorious. The orchestra performed Beethoven's 9th. Afterwards, the crowd gave them a standing ovation for a full seven minutes. Five curtain calls. Amazing. So I needed my shoes in fair-to-middlin' shape.
Enter the Shoe Doctor.
I wandered over to the Arcade, where I knew a couple of shoe shiners rented a chair and was immediately greeted by said doctor.
"Shine 'em up!" he said.
"Let's do this," I said.
He applied conditioner, gently admonishing me for not having the sense to have applied it immediately after purchase.
He worked the leather with his fingers, applying layer after layer of polish.
He wrapped his fore and middle finger up tight in a cloth to massage the polish into the leather and bring out the shine.
He buffed with a damp cloth, giving the buffer a quick snap as it bounced off the toe of the shoe.
And slowly, steadily, the shoes transformed from dried out, beat up, painful reminders that I needed a new pair of shoes, into shining examples of my intelligence and personal good taste.
I was stunned.
All the while this was happening, the Shoe Doctor was busily defending his territory, protecting his personal customers from poachers and interlopers hoping to rent a chair in his district.
The Shoe Doctor changed my relationship with my shoes. He revived my sense of art. I think he may save the space program.
He comes highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Holmden Ave - Tremont, Ohio

This road spills straight down from the ridge into the Cuyahoga Valley. It dead ends into Quigley, just across from Arcelor-Mittal