Monday, August 31, 2009
This picture was taken by David M. Alexander in the early 1980s on Jack Vance's boat in San Francisco Bay. Alexander has hereby released his copyright to the picture and has placed it in the public domain to be used for any purpose and by anyone who wants to use it, as long as he is credited as being the photographer. Hayford Peirce 20:16, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Daily Thoughts 8/31/2009
This morning I was at the mechanics for my car inspection which passed. I sat in the waiting room and finished reading The Management Myth and The Practice of Management. I even had a chance to write the rough drafts on my thoughts on these two books. The waiting room had coffee, but no donuts. I guess they are trying to save money.
The Management Myth Why The Experts Keep Getting It Wrong by Matthew Stewart.
Matthew Stewart has a Ph.D. in philosophy. This is both the story of how he became a business consultant and a critique of the practice of business management. Mr. Stewart uses his background to attack the foundations of management theory initially focusing on Frederick W. Taylor and Elton Mayo, both who are considered to be cornerstones of the concept of "scientific management." He does not critique Edward Deming or Peter Drucker, however.
The book can be funny, pointed, and acerbic. He has quite a bit of bile for consulting. He makes some very irreverent claims; the moment a consultant says the word strategy you start paying money and the real purpose of consulting is to do the things which a company cannot do by itself but knows needs to be done. There are points where the book became hard to read because there was so much angst.
We learn about hunting whales or clients flush with cash. Simple principles like the Pareto or the 80/20 Principle allow consultants to create self evident truths they can charge for. The world of consulting that Matthew Stewart describes is one of excessive pay, venality, and a focus on short term business gains above all else.
The book attacks many of the accepted ideas in business. He points out most business gurus rely on past data from successful companies to make their points, there is a utopian streak in the idea that workers will accept lower pay and higher performance, and points out numbers often don't predict the future.
If you can take a lot of angst, black humor, and a story of greed and lawyers you may like this book. Matthew Stewart ultimately successfully sued his employer for not paying him to be let go from his consulting practice. If you also want a very pointed attack on the underlying assumption that business management is reasonable and an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) is useful read this book. It pricks and deflates many assumptions.
The Practice of Management by Peter Drucker
Peter Drucker claims to be the father of modern management practice. When reading his books, his ideas come across as being authoritative and sensible. They also seem more philosophical to me than anything else. A lot of his thoughts are focused on ethics. They also seem to have become the standard practice in many modern corporations. I am not sure this is completely a good thing. If you read books on Japanese lean manufacturing and Edward Deming's quality circles, they are very different than what Mr. Drucker is saying.
You can quote what Peter Drucker is saying very easily, he is a wonderful communicator. Some quotes are "In hiring a worker one always hires the whole man," and "Whatever the manager does he does through making decisions." These quotes have a nice feeling to them.
Peter Drucker focuses on iconic American companies that were very successful in his time, General Motors, Ford, IBM, and Sears. Now, General Motors and Sears are not doing so well, but they were excellent at that time in history. The book shows how things change. As ideas are adopted they are built on further.
We learn about the place for the professional in the scheme of management as well as the worker and manager. We learn a lot of truisms like managers must manage. There is little that can be directly refuted. There is also a slightly utopian streak. People should work at peak performance and money is not the best motivator for employees. These are common beliefs held by many managers.
If you want to understand many of the ideas behind management practice read Peter Drucker. You may not agree with it, but it seems to set a standard for business practice across industries.
I spent quite a bit of time reading both of these books. They are often quite insightful. A lot of it is just learning the language which is being spoken. I think sometimes when you read this material, it helps clarify what people are saying. There is a professional language attached to business administration and public administration degrees which often uses coded meanings which are not always apparent to people who are line workers or professionals.
I spent some time this evening reading a bit of Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I also have the novel, Fire by Kristin Cashore on hold. Both of these are young adult fantasy novels.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Arents Cigarette Cards W.Somerset Maugham, From New York Public Library Digital Gallery
Daily Thoughts 8/30/2009
I finished reading Songs of the Dying Earth Stories In Honor of Jack Vance, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Jack Vance is considered a masterful writer of science fiction. He is 93 years old and still writing. His style is very interesting. This collection is an excellent collection of writers. It includes many of the best writers in fantasy living today; George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, Dan Simmons, Robert Silverberg, and many others.
In addition to lots of short stories, there is also a novella, The Guiding Nose of Ulfant Banderoz by Dan Simmons. Each stories starts with an introduction about the writers and ends with a short summary of their experiences reading Jack Vance. Some of them are quite interesting. I learned that Jack Vance was very influential with roleplaying games, having set the background for many magic systems. This is an article by Gary Gygax about Jack Vances's influence
The setting of The Dying Earth which these stories are written in is fantastic. The sun has grown dim, the earth has grown old and is now strewn with ancient ruins and the roads are filled with strange and terrible creatures dangerous to man; the deodanth, the pelgrayne, giants, ghouls, twk-men (little people who ride dragonflies), and other beasts. Magic (a kind of super science) has replaced the science of old and the world has become decadent and filled with superstition.
This is a world of trickery, debauchery, and magic. Wizards wander this world with names like Cugel the Clever, Rialto the Marvelous, and Lixal Laqavee. These are stories of cunning, trickery, magic, and debauchery. There are terrible spells like the prismatic spray and elemental and magic servants which serve the wizards. The characters survive by their cunning. They also seek the pleasure of wine, song, food, and dance. Jack Vance played the banjo and the kazoo.
There are magical towers, libraries full of spells, ancient ruined cities, dangerous inns, and woods full of monsters. The language is florid full of complex adjectives, odd sounding nouns, and strange names of far away places. The writers who wrote these stories do a good job filling the flavor of the settings.
The book is 670 pages long. It is published by Subterranean Press http://www.subterraneanpress.com/ which produces high quality fantasy works. Many of the chapters start with a fantasy illustration and the pages are bordered with simple lines. The cover and interior illustrations are done by Tom Kidd http://www.spellcaster.com/tomkidd/ . It is a well designed, entertaining book to read.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. Classic horror.
Daily Thoughts 8/29/2009
Today was another day to lay around and read. It is after all my vacation. I read some more of Songs of the Dying Earth Stories In Honor of Jack Vance. It is quite satisfying to read. Very relaxing.
I also drove to the Queens main library. I did not find what I was looking for a book on librarians and graphic novels. Still, I did go to the main library. I also spent some time driving around all over. I have to do the New York State Inspection for my car on Monday.
Today has not been particularly productive but it has been relaxing. A chance to read and think.
Friday, August 28, 2009
I am enjoying reading Songs of the Dying Earth. My favorite short story so far is The Final Quest of the Wizard Sarnod by Jeff Vandermeer. It is a truly strange tale with miniaturized people, blimps, and magic. Jeff Vandermeer has a real ability to describe the fantastic in vivid ways. I have read many of his novels. His website is quite interesting. http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/
I am still reading The Management Myth. I am learning often the main reason that people use consultants is that companies are often unwilling to do what needs to be done because of internal politics or mismanagement. Consultants are often hired to do what companies already know they need to do. It is like so many things in this world.
The second thing I learned today from reading The Management Myth is that the moment a consultant says the word strategy he is going to come up with a plan that will cost you a lot of money. This is one of the reasons I like this book so much. It can be unexpectedly morose.
As I am reading The Practice of Management, I have come across another truism. It seems like Peter Drucker's statements have become the accepted ideas behind many modern businesses. The latest truism is that the best investment you can make is in people. I don't know if this is completely true. If people don't have the tools they need, they simply can't be effective.
My access to the egalley on Netgalley for The Case For Books, Past, Present and Future by Robert Darnton has been confirmed. Now, I can start reading the book. I like reading about books. There is something comforting in the written word. Eppecially if the written word is by a librarian like Robert Darnton.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/27/2009
I took some time to go to the main library of the Queens Public Library to look at the Scott 2010 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. I had received a number of volumes of stamp books which were sent to me by my family. So, I spent several hours going through the multi-volume set looking at stamps to see if any of them were valuable. Very few of them were. Some of them cost as much as $2 each. So, they were not particularly valuable. But, they were fun to look at. There were stamps from lots of recognizable countries like Afghanistan, Togo, The Congo, The Cayman Islands, the United States, Canada, Germany, China, Monaco, Japan, and many other places. In addition, there were a few stamps from the Sheikdom of Sharjah, Umm Al Qiwain and Reunion three places I had never heard of. It was entertaining. Reunion is an island off of Madagascar. Prices are not listed in the Scott catalog. There are so many obscure countries in the world today.
It was very much like searching for a mythical pot of gold. I am not quite sure what to do with some of the stamps. I am wondering if I should just lock them in a closet somewhere or try and find someone who will trade them for comic books. Price guides are often inaccurate. They don't reflect what is often hard to find properly. I have spent quite a bit of time looking at The Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, 39th Edition. The comic book price guide misses many of the underground comics and independent comics. It also does not cover fanzines very well. Still it is the standard guide. It is kind of fun doing this. It appeals to minutiae.
There are so many different catalogs of antiques produced by a variety of companies. The two big catalog producers that are most popular are Warman's and Kovel's. Nostalgia has its place. It is fun to remember childhood sometimes. Unfortunately, real antiques are well outside my price range and I am not that fond of the kitsch you often find at garage sales and flea markets.
I am still reading my books each day.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/26/2009
I took a walk up to my local library. I am sitting here typing away while looking at the computer.
I am still reading both The Management Myth and The Practice of Management. I am beginning to think many management books are more about ethics, philosophy, and the way you treat other people rather than scientific thought. A lot of the material does not come across as being extremely logical. I like reading The Management Myth because some of it is very funny; almost sublimely ridiculous. Some of the nonsense which is being described is rather entertaining.
I also took some time and read the preview on Baen books for Patriots by David Drake which is a science fiction novel coming out in September. The preview consists of the first nine chapters. I also started reading Songs of the Dying Earth Stories In Honor of Jack Vance. The introduction by Dean Koontz is excellent. It tells how Dean Koontz started as a science fiction writer and thought The Dying Earth was a lot of fun to read. The editors of the short stories are also very good, Gardner Dozois and George R.R. Martin. The selection of authors is superb as well; Neil Gaiman, Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Glen Cook, Jeff Vandermeer, Tanith Lee and many other excellent fantasy writers. It is a tome of a book with 670 pages of short stories. I have just started on it and it has already given me a bit of pleasure to read.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/25/09Frederik Pohl just received an honorary high school diploma from Brookyn Technical school. http://www.locusmag.com/News/2009/08/fred-pohl-earns-high-school-diploma.html
I sometimes think of the importance of having a high school diploma. I never finished high school. I tested out with a California High School Proficiency in the 11th grade and went to community college. Personal things made it important for me to be on my own. This is not for everyone. I have a masters degree, despite having not finished high school. This is also true of a couple of my cousins. Frederik Pohl is one of the best science fiction writers.
I like college far more than I liked high school. It is a place where you are going voluntarily to learn. I am even considering going back to college part time to get a masters in publishing to supplement my masters in library science. I just like the idea. New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies has a publishing program. There is quite a bit on electronic publishing which I am very interested in. http://www.scps.nyu.edu/areas-of-study/publishing/ I took the Introduction to Publishing course there and enjoyed it a lot.
For a while I worked at an internet service provider as a sourcer for human resources. One of the things I leanred there was the importance of self education. To effectively run an internet service provider you have to find a lot of people who are into serious self education in lots of technical subjects. The way you moved ahead in these places was to get various computer certifications, A+ computer technician, MCSE Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, MCSA Microsoft Certified System Administrator, CCIE Cisco Certified Internetworking Engineer, Java Sun Certification, A+ Network Security. These certifications were tests to show you new a particular subject. In addition to getting certifications technicians read a lot of computer manuals to stay up to date; perl, c++, and many other programs were popular.
A college degree did not guarantee technical proficiency. I try to make sure there are a decent amount of new computer books. This is also true of many other fields. There are all sorts of certifications ranging from stock broker to phlebotomist.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/24/2009
I am a little past half way reading through The Practice of Management by Peter Drucker. The more I read it, the more it comes across as a philosophy more than a science. I find it interesting that business books are considered to be scientific. Most are not even remotely practical. I would not say that about Peter Drucker, but about many business books. If you look at the New York Times Bestseller list on business many of them seem to be more about wish fulfillment and fantasy than practical decision making.
I have also started reading The Management Myth Why The Experts Keep Getting It Wrong by Matthew Stewart. Having gotten into the first chapter, it looks like it will be entertaining. The first thing which he says is that an MBA is not a guarantee for success in business. He also makes some entertaining statements about popular business books being little more than wish fulfillment. Most people are never going to run a giant corporation, reading these books makes them feel good and motivated. He describes how he became a management consultant.
Here I am at my local branch. It was a pleasant walk outside. The temperature is around 80 degrees fahrenheit and the sky is clear with a light wind. I am sitting at the library computer typing away. There is not anything which I want to check out. I might get a movie. I have not decided yet. Today has been relaxing. I am on vacation right now.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/23/2009
I have been reading more of Peter F. Drucker's The Practice of Management. Peter F. Drucker considers The Cyropaedia written by Xenophon to be the best book on leadership ever written. It is a classic novel about the rise of Cyrus the great in Persia. http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=2085
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/22/2009
I am on vacation right now. I went to Barnes and Nobles and bought a paperback science fiction book, Ariel by Steven R. Boyett. It is a postapocalyptic fantasy novel. Magic comes comes back and all the electricity and gunpowder stops working. It is entertaining so far. I'll probably donate it to the library where I work when I am done with it. I don't keep most of the books I read.
I watched a little bit of 2001 A Space Odyssey on dvd. It is interesting watching it. Before, I did not realize there were no ethnic cast members. Russians, Europeans, and Americans are represented in this film so far. The film has a very anglophile feel to it. The story is still excellent and the cinematography is beautiful.
I finished reading Ariel this afternoon. It is a fantasy novel about a young man who becomes attached to a unicorn. The villain wants the unicorns horn and Peter Garey must protect the unicorn. There is a theme of virginity and coming of age in the novel.
It is also a travel novel. The hero travels on a quest to get to a postapocalyptic New York where the villain resides. Gunpowder does not work, nor does electricity. This is a deus ex machina where the characters fight with swords and bows in a postapocalyptic world.
The author includes an afterword which describes his experience writing the novel and submitting it for publication. The novel was originally released in 1983 and is being rereleased in 2009. It was the authors first novel. There is going to be a sequal released in November. The story went quickly with lots of action, especially swordplay.
I am still reading Peter F. Drucker The Practice of Management. This is not an easy book to read. There is a lot of very deep thinking involved. A lot of the ideas in the book are eye opening and different than what I am used to. I like a quote of Andrew Carnegie's epitaph on his tombstone, "Here lies a man who knew how to enlist in his service better men than himself." The epitaph which was at the beginning of Chapter 13 in the Practice of Management. I will read a little bit of it every day until I am finished.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/21/2009
Today was a nice quiet day. I spent more time weeding the poetry section. There are a lot of books with literary merit, many of our poetry books are part of the Pitt poetry series, the National Poetry Society Awards, the Yale Younger Poets series, and from various university imprints. There are also a lot of recognized names like Allan Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima, Billy Collins, W.S. Merwin, Jack Kerouac, Theodore Roethke and other poets.
Tomorrow I am going on vacation so I spent a little bit of time making sure everything was in order. We had a rastafarian poet teach a poetry class last night. There were nineteen people there. A large number of them were from the local youth shelter which was a surprise. We also had a business computer class in our computer lab which has eight terminals. It went pretty well.
I am thinking about how to do a graphic novels club. One of our library aides reviews manga. Hopefully, it will be a success. I have to figure out what to do right now for the club. We are also thinking about getting a poet who can slam. I know a bit about poetry, but I think a slam poet might draw a larger group of interested people.
100 best twitter feeds for the librarian of the future. http://ow.ly/kznE
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/20/2009Today, I have been weeding some more in the 800s. I am in the poetry section right now. Sometimes, you find odd titles which are appealing like Untitled Epic Poem on the History of Industrialization by R. Buckminster Fuller. I found it rather intriguing.
I finished reading Dean Koontz's Frankenstein Dead and Alive Book Three. The series was satisfying but a little strange. It is also on the Locus Magazine paperback bestseller list. Dean Koontz has been focusing on writing about odd people a lot lately. The last book I read of his before this series was Odd Thomas. In the Frankenstein books, I can recognize the influence of the british writer Brian Lumley. It is a nice distraction if you want something to pass some time reading.
I read some more of The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker. It identifies the main purpose of a business is to create customers. Businesses do this through marketing, innovation, and productivity. Profit is the end point of doing these things right. The book makes a lot of sense. There is no jargon in this book. It is very different from more modern business texts. There are no charts and statistics.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/19/2009
Today has started out well. I went through the gift romance paperbacks. We get these by the truck load. I found some which are very new in good condition to add to the new arrivals section. Romance paperbacks are the most read novels in the english language. Women read a lot more novels than men. I have been sorting through the gift books and making some decisions on what to add lately.
I did some more weeding in the 800s today. It is a steady slow process. Dean Koontz's Frankenstein Dead and Alive Book Three came in for me to read. It is a nice break from more serious reading. I like the tone of the series.
Sometimes you find odd little things on the internet. Apparently an organization is setting up tables to give away free books in the subway. It is a rather interesting idea. http://www.choosewhatyoureadny.com/
Paul Buckley's book cover designs. It includes a new cover of Moby Dick drawn by Tony Millionaire. I like the covers. They are very interesting. http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulbuckleydesign/
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/17/2009I read some of Peter Drucker, The Practice of Management today. Drucker reminds us that people develop, not inanimate objects. He also tells us that automation does not eliminate jobs, it often creates more jobs with more production, better training, and better pay.
I also made a brief stop into Barnes and Nobles and bought a paperback science fiction book, The Age of Ra by James Lovegrove. It is published by Solaris Books http://www.solarisbooks.com Solaris Books also published Necropath and Xenopath by Eric Brown. I have to watch this imprint because it is coming out with some interesting new science fiction authors.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/16/2009
I am taking a bit of a breather today. I have not done any reading. Mostly, I am relaxing and thinking a bit. Sometimes, it is a nice thing to just relax.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/14/2009
I read some more of The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie. During the book, he disavows his intention to break labor in the steel mills. He even goes one step further saying he went to Scotland so that the other members of the company could carry out what they thought needed to be done in the steel mill strikes. It was very interesting how you could read the steel underneath the smile. He comes across as fair in the way he writes, but history seems to give a very different account of the Homestead Strike than what Andrew Carnegie describes in his autobiography. It was a very bloody, violent confrontation involving Pinkerton security, striking steel mill workers, and eventually the army. The book is written to create a persona in many ways.
I found the book fascinating because it showed a very optimistic view of the world with a smiling outer persona that covered up an incredibly driven person. Even in giving, he sought to further his name. He built over two thousand libraries, many museums, trade schools, university scholarships, art centers, and started numerous endowments. He even became an ambassador. He was largely self taught. He would listen to people then endeavor to teach himself about the subjects he heard about. He was constantly seeking to meet new and important people. Towards the end of his life, he was talking to presidents and emperors and traveling all over the world.
There is a lot about morality in this book. Some of it was hard handed. He avoided "low people", foul language, and demanded very few concessions from the people who worked for him. He also talked a lot about religion and morality. There was a sense that he helped people who were gracious to him and came down hard on anyone who stood in his way.
The writing is very familiar. It feels like he is talking to you directly. It has a clean, proper feeling to it. There is no foul language. He is talking about his accomplishments, but it does not come across as bragging. It would have been valuable if I had read it earlier in my life.
There is a certain sense of indebtedness which I feel to his work. At the same time there is a certain regret in his heavyhandedness. He after all gave the money which was used to build the library I work in.
I started reading The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker. Peter F. Drucker claims that this is the first book to systematically codify modern management practices. This book was written in 1954. The copy I have includes a preface by Peter F. Drucker from 1985. The book itself was published by Harper Collins in 2006. Peter F. Drucker is considered to be one of the most important business thinkers.
Today was another solid day. We had a reference meeting in the morning to discuss reference sources. I also did a little bit of weeding, made sure the new arrivals section was in order and printed out my orders for next week. There was a big event outside for the kids and teenagers with music, a magic show, a clown, music, and prizes for the summer reading program. It ran for several hours.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/13/2009
Today has been another steady day. I did a bit of weeding in the 800s and sorted through the gift books putting in slips for material that needed to be added. Enough has been done lately with the new books for everyone to be caught up, so we can do the secondar activities. I also put in some slips with descriptions for repairs that needed to be done for some of our older books. Things have been shaping up steadily.
I read some more of The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie. So far, it is the story of a steady rise from being a messenger to being a telegraph operator, to working as a railroad clerk, to being a superintendent of a railroad at an early age. There is a mix of religion, a focus on clean living, and a desire to understand great literature.
The book, The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker has come in for me to read. I will probably start reading it when I finish reading about Andrew Carnegie. I took a look at Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. The book is positively enormous. It is the kind of book which would take a couple of weeks to read at the minimum. I am going to ponder when I will read it.
On the way home, I read some more of The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie. There are a few things which stand out in this book; an unrelenting focus on excellence and quality, a reminder to do what others have not done yet, and a focus on cleanliness, quality tools, and orderliness.
Tomorrow, I plan on going through all my email communications to look at what I have promised; sometimes, it is good to review what you have said. It is easy to forget your promises or lose track of what you think you are supposed to be doing.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/12/2009
I rather like the Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie so far. The book can be read for free online at http://www.wordowner.com/carnegie/ . I am hoping that I can learn something useful from it. I rather like the quote from Robert Burns in the first chapter, "Thine own reproach alone do fear."
I put the Dean Koontz's Frankenstein; Book Three Dead and Alive on hold to read. It is on the Locus Magazine bestseller list for paperbacks. I enjoyed the first two books in the series.
This morning, I pulled out books to be sent to the bindery. It is part of a slow process of cleaning out the technical service storage area. Most of these were older books, some rare, that were not replaceable. There is still some material to be mended. I think by next week we will have made the area much better organized.
I also double checked my orders for duplication with the public access catalog and ordered a few books that needed to be replaced because they were damaged. I am still doing weeding in the 800s.
I read some more of the Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie. He talks about Emanual Swedenborg and quotes Confucius which is rather interesting. Here is a quote about libraries, " The fundamental advantage of a library is that it gives nothing for nothing. Youths must acquire knowledge themselves. There is no escape from this."
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/11/2009 Today has been another quiet steady day. I started weeding the 800s which is the literature section and made sure the older books were removed from the new arrivals section. I took some time to read some more of Keeping Customers.
I am considering buying all of Charlaine Harris's mass market horror paperbacks. They are on both the Locus Magazine bestseller list and the Publishers Weekly bestseller list.
I spent some time looking through our purchase alerts for items with a lot of hold requests. I picked out some large print items that have multiple holds and a few fiction titles.
I read some more of Keeping Customers on the train. I find this book fascinating because of the way language is used. There is a language that is almost nonsensical which surrounds business management and consulting. Staple yourself to the customer, go to the war room, and look at the workflow charts to help determine the way to achieve TQC (Total Quality Control). It has this rhythm to it which at the same time shows command as well as shows wild confusion. I can understand how this kind of language encourages excess and highly risky decisions. At the same time it is both the language of highly successful companies like General Electric and at the other extreme Enron.
For me, some of it is like reading Alice In Wonderland. A lot of the business management books make absolutely no sense, especially from the perspective from someone in the nonprofit sector working to help other people. There is an incredible drive to profit. At the same time it has this really motivating, energizing quality about being goal driven. There are some books on nonprofit management, but not that many. For example, Peter Drucker has a few books like Managing The Nonprofit Organization on nonprofits, but is mostly focused on corporations. So what happens is people who work in nonprofits often generalize reading from the for profit sector to the nonprofit and government sector.
How do you generalize ideas from books like Keeping Customers into a nonprofit or government setting. You can take some ideas, but most things are simply not applicable. It is useful insofar as helping people find material to read who are in a business setting. How do I even judge or rate the ideas in this book? I am not sure I can or should. I could review it, but there are parts of it that I don't understand. It is very interesting reading. Some of the parts that are most interesting are the parts that are least applicable. I find it intellectually stimulating.
The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie came in for me to read. I think this is the book I will read next. Our library is a Carnegie building. He donated the money to build many libraries throughout the United States. He also was a steel magnate. I am hoping it will give me some insights into why he gave money to have so many libraries built.
Monday, August 10, 2009
"Where next?" Edward Frederick Brewtnall (1846-1902) . I liked the image.
Daily Thoughts 8/10/2009
Today has been another steady day. I finished weeding the 700s on the main floor and am going to start weeding the 800s. 800s is literature and poetry. It is used a lot in our library. It is probably the closest part of our collection to an academic collection. There are a lot of university press titles in this part of the collection. We buy a lot of books on writing, poetry, and literary criticism.
We are slowly clearing out the storage area for technical services. There are a lot of gift books that need to be processed as well as books which either need to be rebound or replaced. I like sorting through gift books. I find it relaxing.
I've been also keeping up the current events display. I added a few books on stem cells to the display today. I also pulled out some books from the "new arrivals" section to put in the main collection.
I read a little bit more of Keeping Customers on the train here. The authors are writing about how sales is increasingly being combined with technology. This means items that are being sold are being customized for the user. This leads to more consultative selling and longer relationships between the seller and the buyer because of increasingly longer service and maintenance contracts.
I also picked up two more books to read; Halo The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund and The Management Myth Why Experts Keep Getting It Wrong by Matthew Stewart.
I tried to read a bit of Halo Fall of Reach but could not get into it. The opening exactly matched what it was like playing an arcade game when I was a teenager. Because I don't play Halo, I must not get the book very well. It seems like the kind of book where you finish playing the game and when you are the subway, you can't play the game so you read the book instead because you are so totally sucked into the game you might have a hard time thinking of anything else. For me, it did not click. I am sure that it would click for Halo players though. It reminds me a bit of the kind of book which a hardcore Star Trek or Buck Rogers fan would read after watching five hours of television reruns.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
In Search of Excellence Lessons From America's Best Run Companies by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman
When this book came out in 1982 it was a bestselling business book. The copyright on the book I read was 2004. This book has stood the test of time. I found out about it when I was reading How The Mighty Fall by Jim Collins. Jim Collins wrote the bestselling business book, Good To Great.
There seem to be a lot of worthwhile ideas in this book. It is not just a collection of 43 top companies, and eight business success principles backed by a ton of statistics. This book is full of entertaining examples and implementable ideas.
The writers counter the idea of rigid organization charts, pure numbers, and closed door management styles. The book reminds to be close to the customer and pay attention. The authors make the claim that it is more important to pay close attention to what people are doing than to go to extremes of reward or punishment.
The management examples in this book come from real companies. Hewlett Packard uses MBWA (Management by Wandering Around). Proctor and Gamble use the principle of limiting most memos and reports to a single page. Both of these are things I see every day where I work.
There are some striking almost counterintuitive ideas in this book. The authors claim that focusing on pure numbers leads to cost cutting but not necessarily improvements in sales. The cost of customer service and sales preparation are often hard to quantify.
This was an entertaining book on how to improve business performance. The authors claim the main source of business improvement is human factors; customer service, action orientation, values, entrepreneurship, productivity, and openness. The book was very easy to follow. There was an extensive bibliography and index. Reading it was informative. It made me think.
Daily Thoughts 8/9/2009
Last night, I stayed up late reading Dean Koontz's Frankenstein City of Night. I found the book to be quite compelling. There is also a graphic novel of the series. I rather liked the website http://frankenstein.deankoontz.com/
I read some of Keeping Customers this afternoon. One of the key ideas that came across to me was that it is necessary to keep customers coming back and create a feedback loop where they tell you what they want, you provide it for them, and then they come back and ask for more.
Today, I did my exercises and watched Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson. This dvd was from 35mm films restored by the UCLA film and television archive. There is a booklet which comes with the films I watched this weekend which describes the films. The Voice of Terror was released in 1942, Sherlock Holmes is hired by an inner government group to find a saboteur broadcasting over the radio. He must stop the continued destruction of ships, factories, oil wells, trains, and munitions. It was a bit different watching this film. The director of the film added some war propaganda and a few very pretty blonde women to the story to make it more appealing.
I decided I wanted to get a better grip on the underlying concept of management. There are a few books which I think speak the language. I put a few books on hold, The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie, Peter F. Drucker The Concept of the Corporation and The Practice of Management. The Practice of Management is supposed to be one of the first books to look at management as a separate disciple. I also am going to try and read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I could never really get into Rand's books that much. I have already read The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker and Good To Great by Jim Collins.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
This book is a set of two novellas and a short story. Brian Lumley is a good enough and popular enough writer where almost everything he has written gets published. He is a British Fantasy Award winning author. There is a touch of the analytical in his writing. He adds a bit of espionage, skulduggery, and historical analysis to weird tales about things from other worlds, mythical beasts, and horrors from the ancient past.
The main character, Harry Keogh, is a psychic who can speak to the dead, a necroscope. However, he also has a very deductive mind much like a detectives as well. The way Harry talks to the dead is rather interesting. Often the dead make references to many things which have happened in the historical past.
In the first novella, The Dead Travel Slowly, Harry contends with a thing from the ancient past. Lovers have been disappearing from the woods for many years. I especially like when Harry visits the local museum to uncover newspaper stories about the creature. There is a sense that Brian Lumley took local settings in the English countryside he had visited and put them into his story.
The second novella has Harry Keogh talking to dead pirates in a graveyard. It includes references to Port Royale, Edward Teach (Black Beard), and viking raiders. It is clear Brian Lumley read some pirate stories to make the stories have the original flavor. It is a story of lust , greed, and something terribly strange.
The stories are interesting because of the strange creatures, historical allusions, and skulduggery. This is a nice way to spend several afternoons reading. It is pure escapism. The stories are more suspenseful and entertaining than scary.
Daily Thoughts 8/8/2009
Today has been slow and quiet. I went and dropped off my library book. It was a pleasant walk up the hill and back.
I'll probably watch The Castle Cagliostro also known as Lupin III which is an anime film. I like to watch films while I do my exercises. I got a chance to watch a little bit of it. I really enjoyed it. This is the kind of movie a teenage boy would really like. It is based on the manga, Monkey Punch and is directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Hayao Miyazaki directed Princess Mononoke which was excellent. This is one of the better anime films I have seen. This is the second time I am watching it.
I was at the mall this afternoon. In the Barnes and Noble window, they had a book with a near perfect title, Madoff With The Money by Jerry Oppenheimer. The cover and the title really fit well. I think it will be something to suggest that we buy. The book is coming out on August 17, 2009.
I have been reading Dean Koontz's Frankenstein A Novel City Of Night Book Two. I read the first book, Prodigal Son a while ago. I will probably read the third book in the series, Dead and Alive as well. The three part series is out in paperback. In this series, the monster who has taken the name of Deucalion is the hero, and Doctor Frankenstein is the villain. It makes for a very nice twist. The setting is New Orleans. Dean Koontz started out writing as a science fiction writer. It feels a little like one of his early novels, except the writing is much better.
I also started reading Keeping Customers published by Harvard Business Review. The writing in this book is very dense, it will take some time to read. There is companion book that goes with this book, Seeking Customers. This is an older book from 1993. The earliest copyright date is 1968. It has proven the test of time. This book about putting customers as the central reason for your business.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/7/2009I am almost done weeding the 700s. We also choose items to be moved to storgage, select things which need mending, and suggest location changes as part of our weeding process. It has been a slow steady process. I'll probably be starting on the 800s with a colleague.
I finished reading Harry and The Pirates by Brian Lumley on the train to work. It was an enjoyable short work. I've picked up a copy of Keeping Customers, A Harvard Business Review Book, Edited with an Introduction by John J. Sviokla and Benson P. Shapiro.
Our bookmobile has been going out once a week to the senior centers. We are getting a lot more requests for large print books. Today, I looked for some books on vikings which one of the older gentlemen requested. We also have gotten some requests on the artist Erte recently.
On the train home, I read The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson. A lawyer rents an office at the location of 221B and receives letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes. One of them contains a mystery. There is only a very tenuous link to Sherlock Holmes in this novel. It reads much more like a suspense novel than a mystery. This combination threw me off while I was reading it. It was not what you expect when you read a story that is tied to Sherlock Holmes. The story was entertaining, but it was not what I was looking for which was a Sherlock Holmes pastiche with Sherlock Holmes characters.
I also watched Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson. This was a dvd of a black and white film. Sherlock Holmes spirits a scientist out of Nazi occupied Switzerland. He must stop Professor Moriarty from getting the scientists invention and selling it to the nazis. This is Sherlock Holmes in the service of the allies during World War II. It had a very anachronistic feeling to it. You usually think of Sherlock Holmes being in gaslight. It was a different take on Sherlock Holmes as a kind of war hero. The film was released in 1942. The film was based on the Sherlock Holmes short story, The Adventure of the Dancing Men.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/6/2009
These are all email newsletters I get in my inbox for the latest information on books being released.
Fast Facts from Baker and Taylor
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to join this one
Michael Chabon has a new book Manhood For Amateurs which is coming out in October. I really like Chabon's books. This is a nonfiction title which should be interesting. He is mostly a literary author.
Today has been another quiet day. I spent some time reading Kirkus Reviews this morning and still have to read The New York Times Book Review. I also spent some more time weeding books. It has been a steady predictable day.
On the way home, I read some of Harry and the Pirates And Other Tales From The Lost Years by Brian Lumley. This is a kind of weird tale featuring Harry Keogh, a psychic and mystic who can talk to the dead. It is not that scary, but it does have some creepy beasts in it with odd historical footnotes. This book contains two novellas; For The Dead Travel Slowly and Harry and the Pirates; and a short story; End Piece: Old Man With a Blade. Brian Lumley is a British Fantasy Award winning author. He travels in the footsteps of H.P. Lovecraft and other writers of strange tales.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I appreciate Mike French who posts messages from the Book Readers Group on Blog Catalog. http://www.blogcatalog.com/group/book-readers/discuss/entry/welcome-15 . I like reading Stella Carter's haiku on Stellascript who is also a contributor to the View From Here. http://stellascript.blogspot.com/ . Both of these people work with A View From Here. Also Jane Turley of The Witty Ways of a Wayward Wife also submits content. She has some amusing things to say. http://janeturleydiaryofamadhousewife.blogspot.com/
This award is given out once every quarter for an exceptional literary blog. At least, I hope my blog is quite literary. This makes for a very nice day. Best wishes to all the writers at A View From Here.
Daily Thoughts 8/5/2009Every couple weeks we have a reference meeting to discuss reference books. I chose Jane's Vintage Aircraft Recognition Guide by Tony Holmes for the next meeting. It has lots of pictures of old airplanes in an A to Z guide. This book covers the period from World War I to the 1970s. Janes is known for its coverage of military and civilian vehicles all over the world. If you want to know specifications for submarines, commercial aircraft, military aircraft, naval vessels, and many other vehicles, Janes provides excellent concise and accurate information about vehicles Jane's is often the best place to turn.
I did some weeding in the 700s this afternoon. Right now, we are shifting the audiobooks to make room for the fiction books. Things are moving along nicely.
I am changing the books from the Current Events display with more recent books. Right now, I looked up books on Iran, North Korea, and Iraq as well as healthcare. These seem to have a lot of news coverage right now in the United States.
I finished reading How You Make The Sale What Every New Salespersn Needs to Know by Frank McNair. This book is a book on how to do consultative selling. This book is not about how to write scripts, hard sell, or be combative.
It follows the idea that every customer has a problem which they are seeking to solve and it is the salesmans job to find the solution to that problem. This book focuses on how to listen to the customer, ask the right questions, and taylor the sale to the customers need. Frank McNair uses automotive sales for many of his examples.
There are no secrets in this book. The book describes a step by step process; meeting the customer, listening to them, clarifying their wants, determining what problem needs to be solved, knowing your product, presenting the solution with a benefit, completing the transaction, and followup. This book describes each step with examples, end of chapter questions, and chapter summaries.
The book exudes common sense. It is very easy to follow. It is the kind of sales pitch which would make me comfortable; one based on service, feedback, and research.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Daily Thoughts 8/4/2009I am almost done reading In Search of Excellence. I think I will finish reading it by the end of today. I am looking at another book, Planet Google, One Company's Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know by Randall Stross.
Today was another quiet day. I did more weeding in the 700s. We also had a planning meeting for programming for September through December. There should be some interesting programmig coming up; computer classes, a graphic novel book club, library tours, a display for banned books, some poetry classes, and other events. It was a group effort of which I was a small part.
I looked at the suggestion sheet from patrons and added a few books to my order.
On the train home, I finished reading In Search of Excellence. I rather liked the concept that creativity is innovation which has not been implemented. I started reading How You Make The Sale by Frank McNair. The book is on consultative selling or selling by focusing on solving the customers needs or problems. It is a very customer centric approach. I am learning about the idea of "close to the customer".
Monday, August 3, 2009
Daily Thougts 8/3/2009
Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 has been turned into a graphic novel.
This morning I did some more weeding in the 700s section. I also worked on genrifying the "new arrivals" section, adding signs for mystery, romance, and science fiction. This should make it easier for people to find what they want.
I am still reading In Search of Excellence. There were some interesting points being made in the book. I found the idea that it is sometimes more important to pay attention to what people are doing than punish or reward people rather interesting. There are a lot of ideas like this in the book; managing by wandering around, staying close to the customer, and accepting small mistakes if it leads to more action are some of the more intriguing ideas.
I wrote the monthly report this month. The report switches between myself and a colleague. We follow the Proctor & Gamble idea of putting everything on a single. This means everything has to be very condensed and focused.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I read some more of In Search of Excellence today. The section I am reading is on motivation. They make a few interesting claims; positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement, it is better to have a culture focused on serving the customer than one focused on internal politics, and people need to find meaning in their work. The book is quite thoughtful. It draws from psychology, management theory, and examples from real companies like Caterpillar, IBM, and Ore-Ida. The writing is entertaining.
I tried to start reading Warhammer Elfslayer A Gotrix & Felix Novel by Nathan Long. After the first chapter I put it down. It was predictable and formulaic to the point of being mildly ridiculous. Some books are not worth reading or reviewing.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
This book is about why very successful companies fail. It is not about complacency. It is about a process of self-inflicted mistakes; pursuing growth at all costs, taking on too much risk, excessive pride, making promises that are not doable, and finally succumbing to the inevitable. Jim Collins describes the death of Merrill Lynch, Merck, Motorola, Addressograph, and the decline and rebirth of IBM, Nucor, and Nordstrom's.
The books reminds us that returning to the core strengths of a company and putting the right people in place are more important than hiring outside managers and making grand plans. There are several charts comparing the right and wrong thing to do in a turnaround. The charts were to the point and easy to read.
The main text of this book was 157 pages. It could have been cut down to a 100 pages. The appendixes, notes, and index covered as much information as the main text. The ideas in this book were very clear. I think this book serves as a timely reminder that American companies need to get back to basics.
Joseph Conrad, London, March 11, 1916, From New York Public Library Digital Gallery.
I am at my local library right now. I went and looked at a couple books on writing and speaking this morning; basic stuff like Arco How To Write Research Papers and Public Speaking for Wimps. It was pleasant walking up here. I haven't been here for a couple of weeks. I picked up a copy of a serial gaming novel, Warhammer, Elfslayer by Nathan Long. It looks like easy mindless entertainment. Something to distract me from thinking too much.
This afternoon, I read some more of In Search Of Excellence. The book is writing about how overreliance on numbers can be detrimental. Financial numbers by their nature are designed to preserve capital. They are mainly used to rein in expenditures. Often qualitative factors like customer service and "good will" are hard to quantify even though they bring in revenue. Almost all of the factors identified in this book which bring excellence to a corporation are focused on people. This book is very much focused on the "human factor."
I was looking at Twitter when I noticed this site, Latino Books Examiner. I found it interesting. http://www.examiner.com/x-6309-Latino-Books-Examiner