Service of Good Sportsmanship vs. Winning School Sports

November 20th, 2014

Categories: Good Samaritan, Good Sportsmanship, Sports, Winning

cross country fallen 2

The intransigence of Minnesota state officials about an incident involving the “no help” rule in a recent cross country race inspired the conversation on Rick Wolff’s “Sports Edge,” his sports parenting program on WFAN radio one recent Sunday morning. Two girls who stopped to assist another runner were disqualified and were not credited with finishing the race.

Wolff explained the reason behind the rule: Should a Good Samaritan move an injured cross country fallenrunner, more damage than good might result. At the same time he thought that being disqualified is a big price to pay for doing the right thing. In a typical cross country course there are plenty of tripping hazards–tree roots and such. Each case should be taken up on an ad hoc basis.

Before Wolff asked his audience what they thought he shared a few other examples in which, unlike in Minnesota, the officials bent the rule.

  • In Memphis, runner Seth Goldstein noticed that a fallen competitor’s lips were turning blue and his eyes were slipping up into his head. Though runners ahead of him kept going, Goldstein stopped. Goldstein knew CPR from his lifeguard job and saved the other man’s life. He was pronounced a hero. Tennessee officials recognized the run.
  • In Ohio crowds encouraged officials to change their decision to disqualify after cheering two girls who had stopped to help a competitor. 

cross country 2And Wolff’s callers?

  • Some felt that the difference between the Tennessee, Ohio and Minnesota incidents was crucial: There was an adult by the side of the runner in Minnesota who told the girls to keep going and they chose not to. The callers felt that because an adult was alerted and on top of the accident, there was no need for the girls to stop.
  • Others said that our litigious society was at the bottom of the rule in the first place. If a do-gooder caused a fellow runner to require knee replacement surgery, for example, because he/she helped up the competitor prematurely, lawsuits might ensue.
  • Another said that he didn’t consider helping a fallen fellow competitor was good sportsmanship but rather, good “humanship,” and should be encouraged. Yet another said he would hire the Minnesota girls who helped over the winner of a race any time as he appreciated their attitude.

Should student athletes be encouraged to consider the greater good over winning? Would that make them misfits in today’s society? Should sports officials stick by the rules no matter what as the Minnesota officials did?  

cross country 4

Service of a Famous Name: 21st Century Fundraising & Avery Fisher

November 17th, 2014

Categories: Fundraising, Lawyers, Music, Uncategorized

Avery Fisher

Avery Fisher

I’m terrible at remembering names of people and places although those I’ve heard for eons–like Avery Fisher Hall [photo right, below]–fall off my tongue. When I read about how Lincoln Center was planning to attract the mega funds it feels it needs to update the hall my keyboard beckoned.

avery fisher hallThe Broadway World news desk wrote: “In a milestone philanthropic agreement that will help ensure the future of one of the world’s iconic performing arts spaces, the children of the late Avery Fisher – Nancy Fisher, Charles Avery Fisher and Barbara Fisher Snow – today joined with the leadership of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to announce that they have entered into an agreement to enable the renaming of Avery Fisher Hall.”

Danika Fears wrote in the New York Post: “After threatening to sue, Avery Fisher’s heirs agreed to let the performing-arts organization drop his name in exchange for $4.5 million more than the original $10.5 million the Fisher Electronics founder donated back in 1973.”

Some colorful example of inflation, no?

fundraise 2Fears continued: “Now Lincoln Center can tempt another well-to-do donor willing to sink serious money into a planned $500 million overhaul in exchange for their name being emblazoned on the building.”

I wish someone with that kind of money would give it, ask the Fisher children to return the $15 million to Lincoln Center and leave the name as-is.

I have issues with the concept that to attract big bucks an institution must offer the naming option, though this is beside the point and a distraction to the current situation.

I wasn’t tickled with Avery’s children for accepting money in this regard. Plus I’m surprised that the Fisher lawyers didn’t make it clear, when the original donation was made, how long the hall would sport Avery’s name and/or under what circumstances it could be erased. This move doesn’t seem like such a great precedent for attracting the next big donor: “Give us multi-millions and we’ll chip off your name when we need another injection of cash.” And what about the loss of branding and cost of new stationery, new domain name and so on?

I like the idea of donating money in the name of someone else–a deceased relative, a good friend. I’ve done this myself.

How do you feel about Lincoln Center’s fundraising techniques? If you had the money, would you name an institution after yourself or, in the example of a performance space, the name of a worthy industry celebrity or maybe someone who isn’t famous like your wonderful Uncle Joe?

fundraise 1

Service of Crafts Worthy of the Name

November 13th, 2014

Categories: Arts & Crafts, Color, Creativity, Simplicity, Uncategorized

Modern American Table by William Robbins,

Modern American Table by William Robbins,

Craft show aficionados know what to expect when they visit a great one—fashion, jewelry, textiles, woodcraft, glass and ceramics for starters. What they don’t know is how the artisans and artists they meet will translate their visions, skill and creativity into their specialties. These surprises make a visit—and purchases–worthwhile.

“Woman, Head on Knee,” by Bob Clyatt, Raku-fired stoneware.

“Woman, Head on Knee,” by Bob Clyatt, Raku-fired stoneware.

It’s time for my client’s American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn, November 22-23, the weekend before Thanksgiving. For the second year the show, in a borough increasingly recognized for its artistic talent, is at Brooklyn Museum.

Spoiler alert: I have illustrated this post with some of those surprises.

The Brooklyn Museum show inspired a museum series—the Art of American Craft–that provides the appropriate showcase for the master crafts my clients, Joanna and Richard Rothbard, select for their shows. Next year they’re adding two additional events, one with the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford Conn. in April and the other at the Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, NJ, in October.

Beth Farber, Elizabeth Farber Designs,

Beth Farber, Elizabeth Farber Designs,

Museum series and craft show co-founder/director Richard Rothbard asks: “How many museum visitors make the connection that what they see in exhibitions found its origins in the work of artisanal craftsmen like the ones in our shows–designers of ceramics, jewelry, furniture, glass and fashion?” Coincidentally, concurrent with the craft show, Brooklyn Museum is running an exhibition “Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond,” featuring 35 artists who live or work in the borough, on view through January 4, 2015.

If you visit the craft show, your fee will cover general admission to the museum and its exhibitions which is a lovely gift. 

Do you own/hold precious a handmade fashion, table accessory, cabinet, table, sculpture or handmade decorative object that you’ve bought or that someone’s given you? To what museum exhibitions do you gravitate: Fine art, posters, drawings, fashion, decorative arts, jewelry, sculpture or what?


Andrea Geer, Andrea Geer designs,

Andrea Geer, Andrea Geer designs,

Service of Book Reviews

November 10th, 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

Bookshelf1wasting money 1


By reading a great review I usually learn more than whether or not I want to order a book. I wasn’t disappointed by Louise Richardson’s, “In Security,” about James Risen’s book “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War,” [Houghton Mifflin].

Richardson points out that the author is a prize winning reporter for the paper in which the review appeared: The New York Times. She wrote that Risen’s “focus is not on the ravages of war wrought in the countries invaded by the United States and its allies, but on the United States itself. This is a story of war proliferating, personal ambition, bureaucratic turf wars, absence of accountability and, always, secrecy.”


  • “$20 billion was sent to Iraq with little or no oversight and without any clear direction on how it should be spent.”
  • “Pallets of cash were distributed at will. Today $11.7 billion remains unaccounted for. Much of it made its way into private bank accounts; apparently $2 billion is hidden in Lebanon.”wasting money 3
  • “A Pentagon report found that in the decade after 9/11, the Defense Department gave more than $400 billion to contractors who had been sanctioned in actions involving $1million or more in fraud.” One swindler fooled the CIA into believing it could decode messages from Al Quaeda which the organization denied once he was exposed and the “Pentagon kept working with him and the Justice Department tried to prevent any information about the scheme from becoming public.”secrecy


Richardson also points out the book’s weaknesses. For one, she felt that sources of information and statistics weren’t always credited. For another, she felt that Risen blamed a company that received $1.8 billion in government contracts when it was the government that was responsible–it ordered the service–and last, that he didn’t identify some members of the press who stir “up public anxiety for private gain,” though he identifies “self-appointed terrorism experts” who do. [She made clear that she counts neither Risen nor his employer among this group .]

She recommends policy makers should read “this important and powerful book,” as should anyone, she feels, who wants to evaluate where we are today terrorism threat wise [since 9/11]. It should be a pleasure  as earlier in the review she describes “Risen’s fast-paced, accessible prose and his finely drawn detail make the book read like an implausible thriller.” [She laments that it all appears to be true.]

Are you shocked by:

  • The amount of unaccounted for money in these examples?
  • The gullibility of the CIA and the fact that the Pentagon kept working with a conman all of which was dusted under the rug by the Justice Department?

Are you angry that your tax money is being spent this way and that nobody was looking in spite of our incredible debt? What should we do about this?  Do you enjoy reading a good book review?

wasting money 2



Service of Executing Your Franchise

November 6th, 2014

Categories: Inertia, Vote

vote here today

The gymnasium in which I voted this week was filled with everything but voters. On the perimeter of the giant space were many long tables representing election districts—each had three poll workers–and toward the center were desks with pens to fill out ballots and a few scanners against one wall. I mentioned the dearth of voters to the poll worker at the scanner stations. She told me I’d just missed a slew of voters and that at one scanner alone, she bet that there were at least 60 ballots.

While that might be a hefty number at 9 a.m. in a small town, I voted in midtown Manhattan. I was used to meeting my neighbors in lines, short and long. There were none.

empty voting boothThings weren’t much different in Ohio, according to Fox 8 News in Cleveland. The station reported unofficial estimates of 40 percent of registered voters who cast votes this election in the Buckeye State.

On Google I saw a Star-Ledger headline: “NJ’s voter turnout in 2014 midterm elections may be record low, early figures show.” The “Vermont hits record low voter turnout.”

Daniel Nussbaum on predicted for California the lowest voter turnout “in the modern era.”

whinerI’m tired of hearing “there’s nobody I like” or “it doesn’t matter whether or not I vote.” If all these powerless people got together imagine the impact they might have!

Speaking of inertia, Staten Island voters picked as their US Representative a fellow who is under indictment for tax fraud. It will be his third term. If you didn’t like his opponent or would rather eat glass than vote for a member of another political party, perhaps your Uncle Fred would be a better choice? To write in a name in New York you color in “other” in the appropriate section and write in the name of your candidate. No doubt it’s just as easy in other states.

I wonder how many of the people who complain about their town, city, state or country vote. I get the feeling that those who bother are either extremists, naturalized citizens who know what it’s like to live in a place where they can’t vote and those whose family tradition recognizes the importance.

So much money is spent on the process already that clearly throwing more of it to turnaround apathy won’t jumpstart voters.

Was my polling place a fluke? What will it take to energize and engage citizens here? In whose interest is it when people don’t vote?

excited people

Service of a Timely Partnership: Tourneau Just in Time

November 3rd, 2014

Categories: Education, Repair, Training, Uncategorized

watch 4

Sohpia Hollander’s story, “Time Tinkerers: Finding a Future Repairing the Workings of Watches,” she wrote about students who are saved by a time-honored profession: Clock repair.

A partnership program between a school for kids who’ve not made it in traditional high schools and the Tourneau Repair Center in Long Island City trains the students. Of 25 from the Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School who finished this program–twice a week for two months–Tourneau employed six. Hollander quotes one student who “couldn’t focus and felt embarrassed asking questions or speaking in groups, he said. ‘I felt I was a kid with a hoodie on his head,’ he said. ‘I thought I didn’t have much to say.’

“But seeing the inside of watches sparked questions, he said. He was astonishedwatch 2 by the sheer number of parts. He found a new ability to concentrate as he tinkered with the tiny pieces. Understanding watch innards has become as addictive as a new videogame, he said. ‘Now I can take something that’s broken and fix it,’ he said…. ‘It’s a good feeling to solve other people’s problems.’”

Hollander reports that watch sales and production are brisk but that there are only six repair schools today as compared to 50 in 1955. She quotes Terry Irby, technical service director at Tourneau who told her that “If they didn’t make another watch, I think there’s enough work for another 50 years.” He admits there aren’t enough watchmakers. Where Irby works, some of the watches are in the $36,000 range. You’d want to take good care of such a piece.

Hollander continued: “Pablo Gonzalez, 19, enrolled in the program’s first class last spring. He was flunking his courses, clashed with his parents and hung out ‘with a bad group of kids,’ he said.

“‘I was really going downhill,’ he said. ‘Everything was going wrong.’ But he found peace in the three-dimensional puzzle of hundreds of miniature watch pieces. He began experimenting with other activities, learning how to play handball and rediscovering his love of skateboarding. ‘It makes you confident about what other things you could do,’ said Mr. Gonzalez, who was one of the first program graduates hired by Tourneau.”

Do you know of other such programs? Do you agree that while small, this apprenticeship approach, multiplied by businesses around the country, could have the kind of impact we need to get back on our economic feet?

watch 5

Service of Natural Beauty

October 30th, 2014

Categories: Art, Nature, Uncategorized

Natural Beauty

Some things need no enhancement—nature is one of them. In Sarah Cascone wrote about a so-called artist who uses national parks as her canvas in “Street Art Comes to National Parks—Is It Vandalism?

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

If you want to know the name of this person or what her “art” looks like you’ll have to link to Cascone’s article because I don’t want to give her name more publicity or “work,” which she signs “creepytings [sic], visibility. According to Cascone, “the National Park Service has launched a vandalism investigation since defacing or damaging national park property is a federal misdemeanor punishable by jail time.”

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Cascone continued: “In her travels this year, ________[the artist] has left her unwanted graffiti art in at least 10 national parks, including Yosemite National Park in California, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.  ___[the artist] has taken down her photos from Instagram. On her Tumblr, ___[the artist] admitted ‘i dun fucked uuuuuuup,’ while defending herself against critics she accused of ‘mansplaining.’” Mansplaining refers to a condescending tone and choice of words some men use when explaining something to a woman.

Cascone credits Modern Hiker for breaking the story: Good for them!

When it comes to art, do you think “anything goes?” Does this woman’s act fall under “freedom of expression?” Do you think that she should be made to remove the acrylic paint she used to deface rocks in national parks? Should she serve jail time?


Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park


Service of ASAP

October 27th, 2014

Categories: ASAP, Uncategorized, Work

do it now

I’m careful not to rush a person if my deadline isn’t imminent so that when I say I need something urgently, I hope that they take my request seriously. Some people say they need everything “right away.”  So I was drawn to Rob Walker’s “The Workologist” New York Times column, “What ‘ASAP’ Really Means.”

Walker responded to Eugene who complained that he stayed late to finish a project that came with an ASAP request “only to learn later that the project sat on someone else’s desk, ignored for days or weeks afterwards.”

hurryWalker wrote: “You get a request to fill out a report — or whatever — ‘as soon as possible.’ You consider how soon you might actually be able to do it, given everything else you’re dealing with. Then you add some extra time.

“And so you respond: ‘Sure, no problem. I’m finishing some other deadline work at the moment, but I can have that for you by the end of Friday.’ (Obviously, you shouldn’t get greedy. Saying you can do it by the end of the decade is a nonstarter.) In the age of email, it’s a good idea to close with something that concretely pushes responsibility back to the request-maker: ‘I’ll shoot for that unless I hear otherwise from you today.’”

working lateThe first time I said to my boss’s boss that I couldn’t meet an “I need it now” deadline was a shock to me which is why I remember it so clearly. It was 4 pm when he sauntered into my office [I was the lowest person on the totem pole]. He’d no doubt heard that I was at my desk until at least 8 almost every night. He handed me a folder and said he needed this job done by first thing in the morning.

Trouble was I was expected at a dinner that evening to celebrate a big family occasion. There was no way I could work late or finish the project in three hours. Further I had seen the folder on his desk for weeks. So I stuck to my guns, said I’d get right on it and would finish it when I got in the next day—but it wouldn’t be done first thing. Nothing happened: I wasn’t fired.

Have you worked with people for whom everything’s ASAP? How do you handle it?

stop watch

Service of Being a Good Customer

October 23rd, 2014

Categories: Customers, No, Service

Demanding customer 3

I imagine that pushy, over demanding customers think that this is the only way to get the best service. The obnoxious approach might work on the spot at retail or in a restaurant because sales and restaurant staff want to avoid a noisy tantrum that would make other customers uncomfortable and spoil their experience.

Demanding customer 2Be ugly enough and the sales person might remember you and see that you wait next time or disappear in the storage room as you approach. The busy restaurant may have a waiting period of an hour for the loudmouth; ten minutes for everyone else.

We’ve all known—or observed–people who feel that they can treat another person abominably because they are paying for a service or because they think that they are important and deserve subservience. In a conversation about such people a friend, with a topnotch reputation in a technical field, said that she wouldn’t stay a half hour overtime for a nasty client even if her boss agreed to pay her a substantial sum. At the same time, she’d stay even longer for a lovely person, even if the boss said that there couldn’t be an extra cent in it for her because he wasn’t charging the customer for overtime, because she was down on her luck.

Demanding customer 1Have you been in the enviable position of being able to give a nasty client/customer short shrift? Do you think pushy, entitled, aggressive behavior wins in the end?

answer is no

Service of Retail

October 20th, 2014

Categories: Media, Retail, Uncategorized

shop in store

It’s too early to predict what the success of Amazon’s first store will be—if it actually happens–as we don’t yet know precisely what the New York City venue will offer. Amazon has gone in this direction before and changed its mind.

Nevertheless, Greg Bensinger and Keiko Morris’s article, “Amazon to Open First Brick-and-Mortar Site The New York City Location to Handle Same-Day-Delivery Inventory, Product Returns,” in The Wall Street Journal, intrigued me, even though it doesn’t share the full picture because the reporters don’t know either.

amazonThey wrote about the 34th Street off 5th Avenue future venture: “The Manhattan location is meant primarily to be a place for customers to pick up orders they’ve made online, but will also serve as a distribution center for couriers and likely one day will feature Amazon devices like Kindle e-readers, Fire smartphones and Fire TV set-top boxes, according to people familiar with the company’s thinking.” Who these people? Are they are the same throughout? Bensinger/Morris repeated this phrase many times.

The article doesn’t mention whether customers will see more product than what you’d see at a Verizon or T-Mobile outlet. To me, along with great merchandising, seeing great stuff is the essential part of visiting a store. The reporters wrote that the “flagship store, would mark an attempt by Amazon to connect with customers in the physical world.” But picking up a box or getting it to my office or apartment the same day I order it doesn’t count as “connecting with me.”

The reporters note the popularity of retailers such as Wal*Mart and Macy’s [down the street from where this store would be] who take internet orders that customers pick up with the obvious benefit of potentially making additional sales. The customer, already committed to a purchase that is low in labor costs–nobody has to restock a shelf—may just buy more. But if there’s nothing much to see at Amazon’s 34th Street location, there goes that advantage.

34th streetI’ve lived for years in NYC and in upstate New York. Pickups in my car at a Poughkeepsie Mall are no-brainers. NYC is a different matter. There are some with limos and drivers, but if you count on getting a cab to drag home heavy things from midtown, depending on time of day you might be waiting a long time.

On the other hand, there are thousands who couldn’t take advantage of delivery because they live in apartments without either doormen or friendly neighbors who work at home and will accept packages. Some work for companies that forbid employees to ship personal items to the office.

Should reporters wait until they get the skinny from a source they can quote rather than going with information from many “people familiar with the company’s thinking?” What do you think of people who leak proprietary information to the press?

If you go out of your way to visit a retailer to pick up a package do you want to see other merchandise while you’re at it? Isn’t one of the benefits of buying online the delivery factor–why would a company need a half-baked retail space?

  flagging taxi

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