Saturday, September 13

Ode to Jewel, Rest in Peace

Sadly yesterday my family lost one of the best thing to ever happen to it, our dog Jewel. She was a loyal guardian to all and was the best to snuggle with. I have had a hard time putting into words what I am feeling. At first just a hollowness an amazingness at what an animal can do to the human heart. Yet, could not sum up in words.

Finally, I was able to write this much until I started balling again :


Yesterday, the world lost Jewel Oda Mae Avery as she peacefully left this world. Jewel lived a loving 16 and 3/4 long years of simply amazing bliss. She did not cure any immediate aliments, nor solve any great world wonder. Instead, provided something more with endless wonder and joy to the Avery family.

Jewel was a simple dog with more human qualities than can be mentioned. She enjoyed naps, longer naps, and most of all going to bed no later than 9:01pm every weeknight. Her hobbies included being with her Mother, eating a bunch and sleeping a bunch more.

She is survived by her sisters Jessica, whose room was a consistent safe refuge from others; Stephanie, whose varies pets provided untold joy; Molly, who was simply her bestestest of friends; and her brother Jake, who she could never quite remember until his midnight meals. Her father who has secretly pampered her more than anyone else, even if he will not admit it. And, last but most certainly not least, Jewel's beloved Mother, whose love was unsurpassed and cannot be summed in a simple post.

To our best friend, cuddle buddy, sister; with undying love - you shall be missed more than words. So long Jewel, we shall all see you again soon.

Thursday, August 21

"In Memory Of Robin Williams" by Jim Meskimen
They didn’t burn all the pianos
When Fredrick Chopin died
Didn’t outlaw oil paints
when Picasso took his final ride
No one put a stop to baseball
When Mickey Mantle’s time was up
Or banned all Russian novels
When Tolstoy went belly up
On Shakespeare’s death, nobody said
“Now hath arrived the day —
From this point hence let none dare
Put forth pen to write a play!”
We celebrate what’s left
By the departed, it’s our choice
Yet it does seem sacriligeous
To do Robin Williams’ voice
A voice that was designed to soothe,
Soft, deep tones that resonate
And cascade gently outward
From behind a smiling face
A voice that could accelerate
To catch up with the mind
Like shifting into overdrive
To not get left behind
A voice that could change character
Like seconds on a clock
Or hijack nationalities
For a spin around the block
Shift age, shift viewpoint, shift I.Q.,
Whatever’s not nailed down
Destroy, rebuild, destroy again,
A formidable clown
We’ll hear this voice in future times
In reruns on TV,
It will occupy the world wide web
Live on, digitally
We’ll hear its echoes come
From other mouths and other lips
In tributes and homages, and,
Like psychedelic trips
We’ll think the owner’s back again
With his familiar sound
But they’ll all be imitations —
Just an audible rebound
New jokes aren’t in the pipeline now,
Not that the well went dry —
But the jester who possessed this voice
Just chose to say goodbye
With the wealth of joy he left us
We should probably rejoice
But it’s hard to grasp we lost the guy
Who used to have this voice.

Monday, August 11

The Man in the Arena ~ Theodore Roosevelt

It is not the critic who counts; 
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, 
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, 
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; 
who strives valiantly; 
who errs, 
who comes short again and again, 
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; 
but who does actually strive to do the deeds; 
who knows great enthusiasms,
 the great devotions; 
who spends himself in a worthy cause; 
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, 
and who at the worst, 
if he fails, 
at least fails while daring greatly, 
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Saturday, August 9

An Ode to being Radical!

One of the greatest persons I know, Andrew has a new thing where every time he sees me he asks, "So, Jake, what did you learn today?". At first this took me off guard, but after a week of asking I figured it is time that I start thinking about it. So, now, going through each day with a bit more focus on what I am learning was born. Which is actually, a really interesting way of starting this post.

I just completed The Radical Edge by Steve Farber (the Farbinator), borrowed from the great Cashman.

The Radical LEAP!
Where I got into Steve Farber and fell in love with his message(s) on leadership. A great assignment for Mr. Cashman about 8 years ago. I read through the book in one weekend, took a bunch of notes, came back to the book/notes a few times while in college, then the book got a bit dusty and I ignored it for a bit. Cashaman offered me the new book, so I skimmed through LEAP and the lessons were just as relevant as 8 years before.

The Customer is never Just the Customer
A statement that I forgot, but re-realized. The customer, rather what ever the customer/audience is in your life, can never never ever be just a customer. They are your life blood. Whether it was in my political life and the customer=voters, as a student where the customer=students, or now where my customer=students (again); just as amazingly relevant.

Something lost, something found
Now my attempt at a summary which is not really possible (unless I am done reading forever or dying). Both of these book were able to re-energize me in life and trying to be a "leader". Learning every day. Something I may have lost over the past few years, that vigor is back again.

So, as Andrew would have asked : what have you learned today?

Do good.

Thursday, July 31

"sharing your feelings or life story is not a sign of weakness but the ability to show trust is humanity."

Monday, July 28

My StrengthsFinder

One of the new initiatives at SUNY Plattsburgh is the Strengths Test. Starting at Orientation and connecting all the way through student’s campus experience there were be renewed focus on what makes you amazing. Here are is a summary of the initiative and my results.

Trying to sum up the conclusion I wrote this:
I like to consider myself a problem solver (restorative), in doing this I have created a fairly consistent routine (discipline) in order to succeed and accomplish more. In order for my success I need to find a way to empower those closest to me, in fact there is nothing I enjoy more than seeing those around me succeed in every way they would like to (relator and developer). Finally, in attempting to accomplish both my own goals and aid in those around me I attempt to learn from every resource I can; available to me, and attempt to seek the resources that are not immediately available.

After many years of research conducted by The Gallup Organization concluded effective people are those who understand their strengths. These people are best able to develop strategies to meet and exceed the demands of their daily lives, their careers, and their families. An awareness and understanding of our natural talents will provide true insight into the core reasons behind your consistent successes. Your Signature Themes report (below) presents your five most dominant themes of talent, in the rank order revealed by your responses to StrengthsFinder (click here to find out more). Of the 34 themes measured, these are your "top five."

You love to solve problems. Whereas some are dismayed when they encounter yet another breakdown, you can be energized by it. You enjoy the challenge of analyzing the symptoms, identifying what is wrong, and finding the solution. You may prefer practical problems or conceptual ones or personal ones. You may seek out specific kinds of problems that you have met many times before and that you are confident you can fix. Or you may feel the greatest push when faced with complex and unfamiliar problems. Your exact preferences are determined by your other themes and experiences. But what is certain is that you enjoy bringing things back to life. It is a wonderful feeling to identify the undermining factor(s), eradicate them, and restore something to its true glory. Intuitively, you know that without your intervention, this thing—this machine, this technique, this person, this company—might have ceased to function. You fixed it, resuscitated it, rekindled its vitality. Phrasing it the way you might, you saved it.

Your world needs to be predictable. It needs to be ordered and planned. So you instinctively impose structure on your world. You set up routines. You focus on timelines and deadlines. You break long-term projects into a series of specific short-term plans, and you work through each plan diligently. You are not necessarily neat and clean, but you do need precision. Faced with the inherent messiness of life, you want to feel in control. The routines, the timelines, the structure, all of these help create this feeling of control. Lacking this theme of Discipline, others may sometimes resent your need for order, but there need not be conflict. You must understand that not everyone feels your urge for predictability; they have other ways of getting things done. Likewise, you can help them understand and even appreciate your need for structure. Your dislike of surprises, your impatience with errors, your routines, and your detail orientation don’t need to be misinterpreted as controlling behaviors that box people in. Rather, these behaviors can be understood as your instinctive method for maintaining your progress and your productivity in the face of life’s many distractions

You see the potential in others. Very often, in fact, potential is all you see. In your view no individual is fully formed. On the contrary, each individual is a work in progress, alive with possibilities. And you are drawn toward people for this very reason. When you interact with others, your goal is to help them experience success. You look for ways to challenge them. You devise interesting experiences that can stretch them and help them grow. And all the while you are on the lookout for the signs of growth—a new behavior learned or modified, a slight improvement in a skill, a glimpse of excellence or of “flow” where previously there were only halting steps. For you these small increments—invisible to some—are clear signs of potential being realized. These signs of growth in others are your fuel. They bring you strength and satisfaction. Over time many will seek you out for help and encouragement because on some level they know that your helpfulness is both genuine and fulfilling to you.

Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people—in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends—but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk—you might be taken advantage of—but you are willing to accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person. The more you share with each other, the more you risk together. The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine. These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.

You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered—this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences—yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there.”

Saturday, July 12

A Change : Back to Plattsburgh

The idea that life is a circle has never been clearer: I am back in Plattsburgh! And I have a big ass smile on my face :)

It has been an amazingly busy few months, and I have made a (potential) major life change. Moving away from politics for a bit and jumping back into higher education.

It is still surreal to be back; as if I am in an amazing dream and at every point where I should wake up, I am not and it actually gets better. Every hour my excitement grows. I feel as if I am supposed to be here, something not felt in a couple years.

In other news, I have already been visited by some fantastic friends.

I have an apartment double the size of any before. I am in a city I adore. I am work with people I love. Doing a job that sounds amazing.

I have been given the rare chance to make a dramatic change in my life direction. It is going to be a fun year.