Reading from the end.

Edward O. Wilson’s small work Genesis: The Deep Origin of Societies can be summed up nicely if you read from the last chapter to the beginning. Wilson argues that social interaction is related to the size of a species’ brain size.

I don’t know if I agree with this or not. Wilson provides a sketch of evolutionary biology, beginning with cells and ending with homo sapiens.

A nice, easy read for an introduction to evolution and biology.

Why be a traitor?

So maybe I’ve walked or driven over the location of the house where Benedict Arnold owned in New Haven, CT. Maybe I did the same of the house where he lived before New Haven. Why would people mark the location of a house of a man who is the most vilified of the American Revolution?

Why did Benedict Arnold become a traitor? History tends to gloss over this question. I had a client who was telling me about learning about Arnold in class. After they told me what he had been learning, I asked if they had discussed Arnold living in New Haven and what he did for the Continental Army before his betrayal?

Guess what answer I got?

Betrayal doesn’t happen overnight. Keep that in mind.

Read The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold by Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Spit like a Tommy Gun

Dear Eunice Hunton Carter,

I wish I had a chance to meet you and I want to get a copy of the picture from the cover of the book your grandson, Stephen, wrote about you.

The picture of you standing and holding the floor at a Republican convention, refusing to yield, is awesome. The picture is what drew me to the book. You stand out with the white ruffled collar and as you look closer, the dignity and poise become clear. I especially love the finger pointing down, showing that either you aren’t going anywhere or are calling someone to come and speak directly to you. Again, I would have loved to witness that confrontation.

Stephen’s book really struck a chord with me in a way that few books, especially biographies, ever really have. I may not have been there on your level, I don’t foresee myself ever working for a federal prosecutor, but I can only imagine the frustration, disappointment, and criticism you received and experienced. You made your choices. I just wish that you had left more of a personal record like journals and letters. Did you have them and throw them out, burn them, or chose not to keep them? I would love to know what you thought about what happened in your life.

What you thought would be such an inspiration. For women the word “ambition” can still be a dirty word for many different reasons, even among other women . You had it and never hid it and no matter how imperfect you were, I admire that. You never stopped and I admire that as well.

You obtained a position that many would envy to have yet were left with the “women’s issues” that ironically brought down a gangster that seemed not only untouchable, but invincible. This is something not even the best script writers can come up with.

I can only begin to imagine the sense of mourning and disappointment to want so much and even after giving up so much in time, family, and energy to be passed over it. Again, the reasons for this can only be guessed at. Stephen does an awesome job framing this and working through the possible reasons and rationale behind certain decisions. Yet we will never know the real reasons.

I’ve had my share of working tirelessly for people only to be publicly humiliated and shunted aside. For me this has led to showdowns in parking lots, nasty social media exchanges, nasty phone calls, etc. The story about the tea party made me laugh as I have been in similar situations. How did you handle this? On to Plan B? I know that’s what I would do. Onwards and upwards.

By the way, I went on the Internet and saw pictures of your house on Jumel Terrace. Gorgeous.

Wherever you are, I thank you for the inspiration.

Sincerely,

Angela

It’s Always Groundhog Day

I didn’t see the movie “Groundhog Day” when it first came out yet saw it years later and finally watched it again last night. I realized I missed a lot of the subtleties and the message the first time. Yes, Phil the Weatherman gets the girl but there is more going on.

Culturally, people always refer to this movie when they talk about things being the same and repeating over and over but the entire context and message is being overlooked. So was Phil the Weatherman really trapped for something like 12,000 plus days until he got everything right? Or did he just figure how to work the system he was in until he got everything “right” and changed his attitude? Or a combination of both?

We are all part of a “system” or many systems in our lives. Think about how many systems we come across daily. Our whole education system is set up to send us out into one of the many workforce systems. Our medical system, government system, debt system, financial system, religious systems. We can’t survive without them and wouldn’t have many of the daily services we rely on, like our electricity, plumbing, first responders, and roads.

People I talk to always complain about being trapped by “the system”. Some systems are not going to change because the people who work in them don’t want change or change comes slowly. Some people deal with the system in their own way, either by being negative or overly compensating. How many times have I gotten nasty responses and nasty looks when I say “just deal” because there are people and situations who are never going to change? Just wait until someone leaves because eventually change will happen. We each have our own situations like that. Just deal, ask for guidance how to change the situation, and keep going for now. Change will come but not in the way you usually want or can predict.

Phil the Weatherman had to figure this out and in the end worked it to his advantage. The people who were around him weren’t going to change, Phil had to change. There are some days none of us would ever want to be trapped in, myself included. Yet Phil went from being an awful jerk (sarcasm aside and sarcasm can be a life-saver sometimes) and trying to kill himself to understanding that he had to work with people on their level. Phil realized he had to understand them and find what made them happy and made them tick. Did he like all of them? Probably not. Yet it isn’t about liking, it’s about understanding. And when you can’t understand, at least try to work with them where they are now and then the future “nows”.

Will it get you the person of your dreams? That’s a Hollywood ending. Will it get you somewhere you never thought? I would venture to guess “yes”. So if everyday feels like Groundhog Day, take what you can, save it, learn from it, and make the best from it later on.

Be like Eliza….

I’ve never found history boring and have found the more one learns, the more there is always to learn. (The same can be said of science and other “subjects”, or areas of learning. Yes, math is included in this.)

Last night, even with a hockey playoff game going on in the background, I finished Tilar Mazzeo’s work Eliza Hamilton.  Eliza’s life was a Shakespearean type drama and Greek tragedy rolled into one. Eliza was born into the Schuyler family of New York, who were cousins to the Rensselaer family. Does this name sound familiar? Eliza’s father, Phillip, fought in the Revolutionary War and was one of George Washington’s top generals. This is how she came to meet Alexander Hamilton.

Mazzeo divulges into Eliza’s life before and after Hamilton and how her life afterwards was always under his shadow. Mazzeo also goes into how history isn’t always what we think it is and there is always much more to each story given. Mazzeo goes deeply into the Maria Reynolds affair: did it really happen and was it a cover up for something else going on? The whitewashed history books don’t talk about people’s fiances and back door dealings that all of the Founding Fathers partook in. Mazzeo’s biography of Eliza is only the third of fourth book I’ve read that tackles this subject. The two best history teachers I had were the only ones who discussed this and Hamilton’s link to the Crash of 1792.

Eliza not only lost Alexander in a duel. Her oldest son, also Phillip, was killed in a duel shortly before Alexander was. Eliza dealt with situations and events most people could not picture today yet she survived and preserved what she wanted to preserve of Alexander’s legacy. Eliza also took her grief and made it into something positive.

Be like Eliza.

Siracusa by Delia Ephron

I began reading this book while sitting in a parking lot waiting for a wake to begin. I just needed something different from all of the seriousness and sadness going on. I actually wanted to finish reading this book, something that rarely happens.

Two couples decide to go on vacation together and their secrets, their past, and their problems follow them. The ending you don’t see coming and the big reveal is only one line that you may miss if you skip ahead.

Enjoy. Siracusa will have you hanging on for more.

Under My Notebook (Answering Seth Godin)

What will they tell their friends?

I usually carry a notebook and pens with me wherever I go. The notebook is filled with math calculations and notes about my resume clients’ work experience.

What I can’t carry with me is what other people have to say about me.

I was at a meeting for a group I’m involved with the other night and one of the women there was talking about her own business and how she hates marketing. However, marketing oneself is a necessary evil if one wants to run a business. Yes, marketing is tough but the people who do it constantly, be their true selves, and without being jerks come out the best.

Women have a difficult time with this because of the caught-in-the-middle attitude of society. Other women don’t like women who are straight shooters and men don’t like women who “brag” and stand up for themselves. A business owner has to find their crowd and find the people who support them.

Doing what I do, I have to be a straight shooter. I had to tell a resume client this week their email address wasn’t too professional and come to find out they had another email account they hadn’t been using. I’ve fought it out for my clients with parents, teachers, and even principals. Being a straight shooter and asking the tough questions gets things done and reveals insights.

What will they tell their friends? I usually find this out on social media. As much as I beg and plead for referrals, my best ones come from people referring me when a third party is asking for help. It takes them less than 10 seconds to tag me and write a few words. I jot everything down and save it and put it on the landing page for my website. Then I have it to share with anyone who wants it.