Public Courtesy…plus Arts, Design, and Life

I wonder how much of our best behavior that we reserve for when in public (and the accompanying corollary of less so for family) is a put on. I imagine some people do feel the need to impress strangers more than those closest to them. And I also imagine that for some, politeness either comes naturally or was beaten into them as a child. I should say, hopefully impressed upon them as a child. Public politeness manifests in interesting ways, and, as my brain tends to work occasionally, I explored an insignificant tangent last week…

Sometimes public politeness can lead to awkward situations. What do you do when someone holds the door for you? As you walk through, do you reach out to hold the door? What if he/she stills holds it? Do you not try to also hold the door open? Doors being doors in a well designed (or actually meeting accessibility building codes) facility, it’s not likely that it takes both of you to restrain it from closing. I’ve seen some contortionist-like positions assumed as people try to keep open a door – or jockey through – without touching the other person. Awkward is an understatement. Of course, you may be polite in thinking to hold a door for one, only to find yourself standing guard for the entire Ninth Royal Mountaineers. Meanwhile, your family is already seated in the theater, wondering what happened to you.

And one would think it only polite in return to say something for the courtesy you may or may not have wanted, but in today’s society that seems less the case. Our youngest (a strapping teen of nearly 14 years) observed last week eleven people take advantage of his courtesy with nary a thanks. Shouldn’t you at least acknowledge the effort? I’m not sure if it is a regional cultural idiosyncrasy or a sign of the times. Sad.

And what is the etiquette for when to hold a door? How far away must the recipient be? A friend offered gratitude on Facebook recently to the person who held the door when he was 30 feet away, prompting an awkward run-shuffle-walk to oblige the courtesy. Perhaps the friend should have been happy for that which could certainly enhance his wellness program by adding three more calories burned? Meanwhile, someone not holding the door when you are {fill in your own number} feet away is the height of rudeness, right?

What about cars? Merging on the highway? Little courtesy there, I suppose…each man for himself…Darwinian theories as applied to roadway interactions. Having lived on both coasts of the USA, north, south, middle, and three of the contiguous corners, and in South Korea, I can say with some certainty that driving courtesies are regional. In New York (the city), drivers are very concerned with making sure that you have seen that the light is turning green and courteously honk their horns to apprise you of such – long and loudly, in case you have hearing issues. Nice of them, don’t you think? In Virginia and south Florida, they show their courtesy by not using turn signals so as not to distract you from your own driving. In north Texas, some drivers take it on themselves to help people stop and smell the roses. Of course, I think it an odd show of courtesy to have so many accidents to slow the hustle and bustle of the commute, but then I’m not from around here, so I guess I wouldn’t understand.

Another car courtesy is one of those “Do I or don’t I?” sorts: parking spots. Two cars, both driving down a row, one clearly (the other…be honest, now) saw the spot first but took longer to get there…what do you do? Take weather and proximity to the entrance out of the equation…mitigating circumstances both, though you have now have the opportunity to help someone else out with her wellness program, whether she wanted it or not. What do you do? And does gender make a difference? Should it? The world is changing and I’ve seen some pretty nasty parking behavior out of seemingly sweet ladies, at odds with my chivalrous upbringing.

Elevators and subways are an interesting antithesis to public courtesy. People will try to cram into an already full car, not just invading but completely overrunning everybody else’s personal space. And as George Carlin observed…not looking at the other guy. Pardon my hand/arm/shoulder/thigh on your … um… I/you can’t help it as I/you just had to get on this elevator/subway car… But, boy, we sure are courteous when someone needs to get off, right?

There are some who, despite the adage to be polite in public, choose rudeness to servers or clerks. More’s the pity. I’ll usually assume that the attendant has had a hard day and try to show kindness. Occasionally, that doesn’t go over well, but then it’s no longer on me. I dislike it when people pull their rude card out instantly, though to be fair, they may be having hard days themselves. Start nice, work down from there if you really want to go in that direction.

Political correctness is sadly a touchy subject. It shouldn’t be. It’s just a way of showing politeness. At least I think so.

The world could use more kindness and courtesy, and I’ve only scratched at the possibilities here. Thoughts?

A Week of the Arts

…sort of…

Dylan and Drew are attending a lecture series on Art and History provided by one of the parents in the homeschool group we belong to. She has put it about 30 hours of research per two hour lecture and after the first on paleolithic art (and history), Andrea thought I’d like to go along as well. The second bi-weekly lecture was on Mesopotamian cultures and art. Great stuff. We’ll miss next week’s lecture as it’s our anniversary weekend and the boys will be at a convention, but I look forward to continuing. I know I’ll get something out of the series!

On Wednesday, we saw Mary Poppins again at the Dallas Summer Musicals. Again, because we saw it a couple of years ago. That Mary was better, but the “Step in Time” piece was still fantastic. In case you ever go see it, I don’t want to spoil the effect, but in case you don’t expect to , I’ll let you in on the secret. Skip this if you want to be surprised, otherwise, hover your mouse over this. We really like DSM, though I wish the acoustics were better in the venue. Looking forward to seeing Lion King again in October.

And Friday, Andrea’s CityArtCal and new partner Connective Hub opened an exhibition titled, “Every Painter Paints Himself: An Artist’s Mind Revealed“. Great art, music and great future partnership for CityArtCal and its artists. And, as seems to be the case in these events, I again had to run out for more wine. Darn.

Design and Designing

Still distilling Scott Trent’s Right: A New Design Perspective for Business Innovation, I read Managing as Designing (edited by Richard Boland and Fred Collopy), as it was referenced in Trent’s book. A collection of academic papers stemming from a conference in conjunction with the opening of the Peter B. Lewis Building (designed by Frank Gehry) at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University in 2002, I can’t really recommend much from it on the matter of its title. I think that some looking to it for insight into management might fall into the trap of perpetuating the left-brain right-brain myths that persist. Still, I found a handful of information nuggets that I thought worthwhile.

I do think that effective management should use all available resources. And recycle old theories. Something that becomes passe (think Deming‘s Total Quality Management) still has value and may come around again in a changed form. This is yet one more tool in my toolbox to help me do a better job.

One thing that stuck with me from this book was the theme of vocabulary being limiting. The editors state that

The familiar vocabulary of management brings premature closure to problem solving by, for instance, shifting focus to discounted cash flows and calculations of cost and profit, almost before a design process had begun.

Even in my non-business municipal experience, I see that happening, albeit with a different vocabulary that I need to find a different vocabulary for.

I’ve got more design research to do before going back over my notes and giving Mr. Trent feedback on his book. Deep breath.

The rest of the week’s bookshelf

I was reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea out loud to Dylan and Drew for their Teen Book Club when we ran out of time (even with an extra week’s extension), so I finished it myself. I guess I never read the unabridged version I thought I had when I was a teen myself. The language was pretty rich and Verne’s novel read more like an encyclopedia of marine life than the futuristic fiction I apparently misremembered. I’d like to read more of Verne in the future, but I don’t know when I’ll get to them.

I also read Robert J. Sawyer’s Calculating God. Aliens land on Earth looking to examine congruence of mass extinctions that happened on several planet systems simultaneously. Fun, easy read, though not without the kitschy ending. I got  kick out of the comments (Along the lines of “This really made me think!”) Sawyer did manage to include some not insignificant science in his science fiction.

I’m still working on Design Thinking and I want to get to Tom Peters’s The Little Big Things. And maybe work another Arthur Clarke in before March is gone.

Into each life, some life must fall

While Andrea is away assisting in an extended family life matter, I recovered from a re-root canal. Pain in a supposedly dead tooth grew to the point where I couldn’t take it (and those of you who know me, know that must have been considerable given my pain tolerance.) X-rays confirmed an abscess deep up in the jaw. So, I had another root canal done. Through a crown. The follow on pain was worse than that which prompted the dentist visit. Oh, and as I have a resistance to anesthesia, I started feeling the pain again halfway through the endodontist’s procedure on Thursday. Jeez, the re-shot had me coming out of the chair. And that’s what I was recovering from more than the rest of it. Still am.

Which brings me to an interesting business concept: I’m thinking I should get on Kickstarter and raise some capital so that I can invent two weapons for the military. The first will be a simple paper cut gun. Everyone knows how much they hurt and it should be cheaper than a full metal jacket round. The second (obviously), will be a tooth pain gun. Aim it at the enemy and he/she’ll be crippled. Damn but tooth pain has to be the worst.

As to the other “life”, I’ve had persistent neck pain since last May/June and I finally had a few tests done when all the standard therapies didn’t improve things. I had both on the same day…first an EMG – electromyogram. Needles and a mini taser so the doc could check on whether or not the pain came from carpal tunnel syndrome. The short answer was no. But not without some nasty shocks to confirm.  The MRI says I have three bulging disks. Good to know there’s a real cause, though not what I was expecting. Hopefully the specialists will figure out what needs to be done to fix that.


Still with several new to try from the World Market trip, after the Victory Stout, I next had the Liberty Ale from Anchor Brewing Co. our of San Fransicso. I wasn’t all that impressed initially, but the cherries undertones grew on me.

As I’ve stated before, I’m not much for lagers, save for bocks. I tried the Paulaner Salvator Double Bock and while it was not bad (for a lager), it won’t be a repeat. The alcohol content is impressive for a beer (8%), but it was a tad thin.

I can certainly recommend the Brown Ale from Brooklyn Brewery. Malty, sugary, an overall good brown ale.

Finally, I got a six of Rahr & Sons Iron Thistle, a Scottish-Style Ale. This is one that grows on you, and is better when warmed. The near-charred malt flavor doesn’t come through until the temp increases. I discovered that when I set it aside mildly disappointed to work on dinner and was pleasantly surprised when I resumed drinking it. Recommended.


{I don’t get many comments on my blog posts. A few on climate change, more on Robert Anton Wilson (didn’t think I could not work him in to a post, did you?), but very few in all. Maybe this next bit will change that. Out of courtesy, I’ll warn you this part may offend you…you may want to skip it. Or not.}

Constitutional considerations

I’ve drastically reduced the airing of my political opinions in other internet spots, but I’ve had about enough of one particular subject to last me my lifetime and then some. I think the second amendment is a lingering link to a barbaric past that we’ve not only not outgrown, but we are succumbing to New Dark Ages trends that are reeling us further backward. It will be impossible to get rid of the guns in this country, but I wish we could and that amendment should be repealed. That doesn’t make me a “bleeding heart”, but if you think it does, then you really don’t know me.

One response to “Public Courtesy…plus Arts, Design, and Life

  1. Pingback: Ain’t that a kick in the… | Random (and not) Musings

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