One of the advantages of being sick is that you can make excuses for not shaving. I have been preserving my beard for what will, by tomorrow, be four days of growth…..a virtual forest of dense thick growth. I plan to start the new year with a near-virginal shave…made even more so by the fact that the remainder of my Method shaving “kit” arrived today – Hydrolast Activator, two bottles of Aromatic Tonics, and the highly touted Aftershave Conditioner. This will give me an opportunity to try a “fully loaded” Method shave with all the accoutrement….an excellent start to the New Year.
Jacques Boisvert was a legendary figure in the pharmaceutical industry; reputedly the youngest senior appointment for a major company when he became Director of Marketing for Ayerst Pharmaceuticals in the mid 1970′s at around age 32 (a virtual geriatric case by today’s standards, but unheard of then). He went on to a number of top-level positions including President of Bristol Myers Squibb Canada (again, I believe, the youngest ever). Jacques had given me my first corporate job back in 1978 and we kept in touch sporadically over the years from his various international and local assignments. About 7 years ago I got an appointment with him (he was General Manager, Novopharm Quebec) in order to discuss some possible business collaboration. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years, but he looked fit and youthful as ever, despite his 60 years (he continued to play very serious hockey in a “midnight” league).
After being received by his secretary I was shown into his cavernous office, where Jacques was sitting at his great expanse of a mahogany desk….without a shred of paper, or anything else on it, not even a computer. After chit-chatting and reminiscing a little, I teased him about the absence of a computer….extolling its virtues as an indispensable tool. He responded that everyone was on his back to get one and that he had finally relented and they would be installing it shortly.
About a week later, I saw him again as a follow-up to our earlier meeting and there it was…a brand new state-of the-art system with all the bells and whistles. Jacques was working at it, but he was obviously not happy. When I complemented him on his new acquisition he just grunted and then faced me to talk about business. He loved to talk and share his ideas.
A month later, there I was again in his office, presenting some ideas regarding our collaboration. But something had changed. There was no computer, and his desk was once again an impeccable and stark slab of highly-polished wood. “Hey, what happened to the computer?” I asked. He gave me a very earnest look, and said:
“The computer was great and it taught me a very important lesson. It helped me realize what my true role is in this organization as its leader…and it isn’t working on a computer. My job is very simple. I am there to vision the future and to inspire others to help fulfill it. Anything that distracts from that must go”.
I have reflected on that answer all these years and I can say that it was one of the most important Leadership lessons I learned over my career. Of course, the underlying message that less can be more if it is properly aligned with your life objectives and value system is the theme I will continue to explore in 2008.
Sadly Jacques passed away a couple of years ago from cancer at around age 65.
I haven’t had a cold in two years (to the day almost), and I thought I would skate into 2008 without one. But it was not to be. Anyway….Please Please, Please….if you are sick, STAY HOME – do not go to work, do not attend parties, do not go to movie theaters. There are people out there immuno-compromised with all manner of life-threatening illness and medical treatments, for whom your cold could be deadly. And you may not even infect them directly, since the person you give it to may (will) certainly pass in on.
So, the last couple of days of 2008 are being spent under the “blankie”, watching TV and eating chicken soup…..for both me and my wife.
My friend Philip recommended a wonderful web site called Art Limited – a central point where artists using a variety of media (photography is a big one) can display their work and receive comments from others. Free to join, display and comment. The site also has a link where your work can be offered for sale. First class site.
I’ve been looking at a lot of the photography and am amazed at the level of image manipulation with Photoshop and other programs. It seems to me that “straight” photography is almost in the minority. And I’m not talking the normal image controls photographers have always done (even before digital imaging) such as contrast, brightness, burning in, etc. Today, most of the images are so “tweaked” that they are an art form in themselves…although I’m not sure they can be called “Photography”…maybe “Digitography” would be a better term. Check out this image for example. Terrific! But what the heck is it?
I have been adapting Method shaving to my own skin, technique, climate, etc. For example, I have found that 5 passes is just too much for me, and that I missed the Against-the-Grain pass which is such a Method no-no. So I now find myself using the Hydrolast Cube and Shave Paste as the bases for an excellent superlather…a little thin, but very wet…that does an excellent job of softening the beard. Three classic passes is just right for me, plus a finishing pass with Hydrolast Cuting Balm used all by itself. A fresh Treet B.S blade every time (at that price why not?). The result….a superb shave with almost no irritation as told by the alum block. Finish with The Gentlemens Refinery and a shot of Jade East. Perfect preparation for another debaucherous night of gluttony at Mr. Italo’s.
Looking for photos to use for my new blog header, I came across a series I had dismissed as “uninteresting” when I first looked at them a few years ago. The beauty of digital files (I shoot film generally, but digitize the images for selection and emailing purposes) is that you inevitably run across them again and again, giving you an opportunity to see them in a different light. In the old days with film alone, I tended to print the photos I liked and then the filmstrips disappeared into my archives never to be seen again.
This is a picture of one of our close friends whom we have visited dozens of times over the last 20 years. He is a hermit, i.e. he and his companions (a brother and a cousin) live on their own, outside the confines of a monastery. Their cooking consists of vegetables and beans that they pick from their garden just minutes before being cooked. The taste of truly fresh food is indescribable and so satisfying.
And here’s the full-frame shot of the picture I used for the blog header.
And the finished product….fried potatoes, fried eggplant, boiled greens (horta), tomato-cucumber salad, olives, beans in tomato sauce, and fresh bread…and of course, homemade wine! The biggest problem coming back from Athos into the secular world is that it takes a few days to get used to eating tasteless food again!
I thought that with the New Year coming up it was time for a “fresh” look to the blog. I’ll probably do an update a couple of times a year just to keep things interesting. The “header” image is from a photo I took in the kitchen of a Mount Athos hermit in 2001.
I had a Gen-X shave today, thanks to my daughter who gave me a tube of Extrait d’Olive Shaving Cream from France and a matching tube of A.S. Balm. This is a brushless and non-lathering shave cream, so I approached it with some trepidation fearing that it would not provide the requisite protection from the extremely sharp Treet “Batman” blade in the E.J. Chatsworth razor. True, I was careful, but the cream behaved quite admirably with a solid 8.5 shave on three classic passes and a finishing “freeform” touch-up. This cream would probably perform even better with a Fusion or other cartridge razor (for which, I suspect, it is really intended), so I plan to use it in my travel “quickie” kit. The after shave balm also performed well, absorbed quickly by the skin, and with a mild earthy scent. Thank you Aliki!
Man, the Royal Mail is great. My repaired/replaced (at no charge I might add, hats off to The English Shaving Company!) ebony-handled E.J. Chatsworth razor was shipped from the U.K. on December 19th, and arrived today…5 days during the peak Christmas delivery rush! Meanwhile stuff from the U.S. takes about 2 weeks these days. And not to be outdone….stuff from Canada takes about a week! Still didn’t beat the record from last shipment though….2 days from England to Canada from date the order was placed with TESC.
Its Christmas time and along with sugar-plum fairies, the concept of currency naturally comes to mind. The word “currency” is almost synonymous with money, but in reality it has a far deeper meaning that we may define as: Something of value that you can exchange with others in order to acquire something else of value. So, money is only one form of currency. In fact, money is not really currency…it is rather just a common yardstick for one type of currency. In reality your real currency comes from a combination of your time, knowledge, skills, attitudes, etc……and how you choose to use them and what you value in exchange for them. For example, if you choose to use your currency to make money in order to acquire things, then money and things is a realistic measure of your currency. If on the other hand, you use your currency (time, etc.) in order to visit sick people in the hospital, or to improve your education, or to pursue your Art, then money and things become poor measures of how successful you really are in creating value for yourself. You may still make money, but the money is no longer aligned with what you really value…your true currency as it were.
Confusing money with currency is like a shorter person carrying around a 7 foot yardstick and telling people, “Look, I’m 7-feet tall”.