Archive for the Random Thoughts Category

Back to the Future

Posted in Random Thoughts on October 28, 2008 by barbararuth

I fought my aversion to crowds and went to three music festivals – Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Slow Food Nation, and Outside Lands. I felt extraordinarily relaxed. I felt as if people and events there focused on the present and future. Work these days involves a deadening focus on the past – clerical drudgery that reduces activity to a predictable, “controllable” set of procedures.

I miss fitness training. Despite the sameness of the daily routine, workouts (mine or clients’) pulled my mind and senses into the immediate moment. Strangely I am missing high-technology, too. The next release, the next feature change, the disruptive change anticipated … focus on the future.

Most frustrating – I work in animal welfare right now, a field that desperately needs a future. The sensibilities and authoritarian attitudes are a century behind and the business approaches stuck well behind the millenium. All while the body count grows. Still the most minor innovation is squelched, and a stifling, blundering hierarchy smothers everything.


Interesting Paper — a lot more sober than its title

Posted in Random Thoughts on September 14, 2007 by barbararuth

I enjoy this paper from a Stanford house mate of twenty-odd years ago.

Beyond Capitalism: Leland Stanford’s Forgotten Vision


The Drawing Board

Posted in Random Thoughts on August 13, 2007 by barbararuth

I’m back in the corporate world for a stint. Happily, I will be working under some of my ideal conditions: from home, over email; interfacing primarily with a single person, who himself is a member of a small team; writing material for an educated business audience — marketing stuff, but at a level I can dive into intellectually.

I dream of a “breakthrough,” a point at which I have a solid, marketable occupational identity. What that would mean is not that at any given time I could predict the next project but that I was free from ever having to consider taking on a generic office job for a low-but-regular salary.

I Miss Jerry

Posted in Essays, Random Thoughts on August 1, 2007 by barbararuth

A few months ago on a melancholic evening, I typed “I miss Jerry” into Google and came upon this post on a blog called Viki Babbles. It captured much of the sentiment I was feeling at the moment when I did the search. In the current episode of the lifework crisis that never ends, I’m finding I miss Jerry more and more. The Grateful Dead amplified the centripetal forces of my life; not having found a replacement, my sense of struggle to stay centered is more acute than it was pre-1995.

My values have not changed since I can remember having any, perhaps age seven or eight. The way I have expected to manifest those values shifts over time — I suspect it continue to do so as long as I’m alive. It was in that great Rorschach test I took with the Dead that I came to solid understanding of what they are.

Herewith, the values of my life and work — so plentiful in the community that Jerry’s self-expression spawned:

Adventure — I feel most alive in the midst of journeys whose ultimate outcome is a mystery. 

Learning — As long as I live I hope to continually encounter new people, experiences, and ideas that change my understanding of life.

Fellowship — I crave contact with other human beings where intimacy is possible and defined roles are secondary or absent.

Beauty. Beauty ain’t always pretty. The word can take adjectives like “terrible” and “fierce,” too.  Grateful Dead tour was often that. I think Robert Hunter said it best when he remarked that during the best shows, “blood drips from the ceiling.”

Movement — I want to keep travelling from place to place and enjoy freedom of my body to relax and flow.

Happy Birthday, Jerry — wherever you are!

Cynic’s dictionary

Posted in Random Thoughts on June 14, 2007 by barbararuth

Good organization: an abstract structure for concentrating resources, systems, and power and joining together individuals rooted in their consciences, intelligence, and knowledge in service of collective goals

Evil organization: an abstract structure for concentrating resources, systems, and power and employing the energies of individuals unhinged from their consciences, intelligence, and knowledge in service of the (sometimes unspoken) agendas of parties with no clear accountability.

Silly Post About Gilligan’s Island

Posted in People, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized on May 9, 2007 by barbararuth

As someone who grew up watching a lot of TV, I am always intrigued to discover the perspectives of early TV stars who grew up without it. I love their sense of wonder about something that is for me so mundane. It is corny and sweet, but I am touched by it. From the personal site of Russell Johnson:

“I have received mail throughout the years from young viewers from all over the
world, year after year, who were so influenced by the Professor’s smarts that they
became science buffs and are now Real Professors, Doctors and Scientists.
It makes me proud . . .

Believe it or not the cast of Gilligan babysat some of you, many a time in your
lives. The little boys and girls that we, the cast, baby sat are now serving our
country, putting their lives on the line for us everyday of their young lives.
Makes me proud of you . . .

Now, many of you with children watch Gilligan along with them. You laugh together.
All of it fills my wife Constance and me with major affection for you.
I am delighted to be a part of all your lives.”

I think it must be pretty nice to look back over your 80 years and feel that you were part of something new in the world and that made a lot of people happy, even a little happy.