On Being Foreign

This article in the economist is pretty helpful in understanding how we’re living our lives these days.I owe Denmark a giant apology. Spain as well. Recently I figured out that one of the main reasons life has been so difficult over the past 2 years has been that we are foreigners. I know this doesn’t seem like much of a revelation, but it actually is. In the beginning of being an expat, you see yourself as “on an adventure” and it can be quite frustrating just how unadventurous figuring out how to get home heating oil delivered in your new host country can be.But the main point here, is that I want to apologize to the people of Denmark and Spain. I can’t say I was a gracious guest. I complained all the time about how strange and difficult a place it was, (and is with regard to Spain). When in fact, it’s not difficult for Danes in Denmark, no is it difficult for Spaniards in Spain.I suppose it might be difficult for Danes or Spaniards in the USA, but I know for a fact, that most of my complaints have been not about the place where we’ve been living, but about the context of being a foreigner.Odd, and obvious little realization. Felis Navida. Gød Jule. Merry Christmas

Transparency is good, but scary

Is Victoria pulling her weight at work?

Recently I posed the question to my LinkedIn network, “What do you think about an open Salary policy, total transparency in compensation at a company that is less than 40 people, is this a good idea? Or a recipe for disaster?” The response was an overwhelmingly…


But i cannot believe how much a firecracker this quesiton was.  So many people felt compelled to answer it.

It seems like people think that Salary Inequality and transparency are like Priests and child abuse scandals, let’s not talk about it, and let’s just accept that it happens.

If we address it by making it public, it will destroy us.

I find this attitude puzzling.  So do a few other people.

Alexander Kjerulf, Penelope Trunk

At Ignite, we didn’t have a total transparency policy, I mean, we didn’t post salaries on the intranet…but we did talk about them openly, and every one knew the overhead rates, and the billing rates.  I though that helped, especially when it came time to talk about pay cuts due to falling revnues.  But hey, our pay scale was pretty fair, and was closely tied to billing rates, so it was easier.  But I first thought of this 6 years ago…when the Boeing Air Traffic Management division was laid off. The  Company president went through the overhead rates in explicit detail.  I found this had a huge impact on how people felt about the decision.  It didn’ t help if you were one of the ones getting laid off, but it did make clear that the reductions were not just management whims in a stcok market slump

Besides ! Also, if Suze Orman is in favor of it, it can’t be that evil and scary ?   Actually 1 of the comments privately messaged me that it migh have a positive impact on Gender Inequality in Salary.  If that turns out to be provable, what more reason do you need.  Its not just “unfotunate” if you have Gender Inequality going on in Salary.  In the United States, it’s illegal.  Eliminating illegal practice through transparency is probably worth having to work hard to define a fair and equitable compensation strategy.

One colleague, (a european whose family comes from a former Soviet Block state) even told me it was Communist!  Since when, did open and transparent equate to Soviet Totalitarian Communism?


Ezra’s Casket

Ryan working through things

When our baby Soren was stillborn a few years back, one of the most cathartic experiences I had was working with our friend and master carpenter to build a tiny casket from some Brazilian wood, with pegs and glue only.  Rami helped me make it pretty ornately, but it was no bigger than shoe box.  I was heartened to read our friend Ryan Sherman’s Memorial blog about Ezra who passed away this year recently where they described the funeral.

 Particulary I though about carrying the casket together as a family. And having no hearse. And Ryan building the casket.   How good.  I think it must have helped with the grief.  

Cella and Josiah and renee all helped with the pegs in the final part of putting Soren’s casket together and that memory will always help me when I feel sad.   http://ezrasherman.blogspot.com/2009/02/snowy-burial-day-february-26-2009.html


My favorite inscription, I used to walk the cemetery behind my grandparents house in Knoxville, TN a lot.  I visited at least once a summer if not more.  The cemetery used to scare the crap out of me at night, their backyard was separated from the graveyard (some graves going back 200 years or more) by a small hedgerow.  But in the daylight I would wander around, trying make peace with the dead.  I think If i let them know I was an alright kid they would make sure to leave me alone at night.Remember me, as you pass byAs you are now, so once was IAs I am now, so you shall bePrepare for Death and follow me