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April 23, 2006

Attitude as it relates to job performance


Long story short: it doesn't.

Those who believe an unhappy person doesn't do as good a job as one delighted with things as they are — I believe they are simply out of touch with the real world.

Many of the excellent performers I know personally in various fields — as disparate as law, gardening, sales, waitressing, medicine, airline pilot, coffee roaster, upscale real estate broker, and business school admissions committee member — are not very thrilled with what they do.

Some have to fight every morning to make it in, so unhappy and angry are they with their lot.

Don't give me that "Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow" pap — it's a sound bite to keep you anesthetized.

I got through medical school only by riding a combination of fear, uncertainty and well–concealed rage at the whole process.

I left general practice after two years because I was bored to tears and devastated each night when I got home, a combination of emotional fatigue and (short–term, I hope) brain damage resulting from listening to 30 depressed people a day tell me the somatic manifestations of their misery.

But guess what?

Every single practice I worked at during that two–year run–up to beginning my anesthesiology residency (which I absolutely loved every minute of, by the way) begged me to stay and become full–time.

They loved me.

I'm talking five or so different groups around the greater L.A. area including Kaiser, one in East Los Angeles in the heart of the barrio, one in Beverly Hills and a couple others.


You can believe what you like but what they all told me is that I was a doctor who really cared about the patients and the patients — most of whom I'd seen only once or twice during my short stint as a fill–in — told them so.

So drop the "why don't you quit if you're so unhappy?" stuff — it's silly and tedious and simply marks you as just another Kool–Aid drinker.

Me, I'd much rather tell it like it is than live in some fantasyland.

I'm with Jerzy Grotowski, who so memorably remarked, "Daily life involves endless pretexts."


April 23, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

50-Foot Woman Hair Clip


Everyone needs a shower now and then and giantesses are no exception.

The company marketing this is trying a stealth approach, what with putting the device in a grilling supply catalog.

We know better.

From the website:

    Roast Slicing Tongs

    An ingenious way to hold securely and evenly an eye of round roast, tenderloins or french bread.

    Just insert your knife between the cast aluminum tines to slice.

    Holds roast up to 6" dia.




$19.99 (roast not included).

April 23, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'I am interested in what I do. Not what I am.' — Louise Bourgeois


The 94-year-old artist (above) for many years has held a Sunday afternoon salon for artists at her Chelsea [New York City] brownstone, where she's lived for over half a century.

Anthony Haden-Guest of the Financial Times hosted the event two weeks ago, on April 9.

His account, which appears in this weekend's FT, follows.

    Sunday afternoon at the feet of a Big Artist

    New York is one of the oldest modernist capitals, in the sense of being a home to modernism as a dominant cultural force.

    As such it is perhaps second only to Paris, and far, far older than London, which is the new brat on the block.

    So unsurprisingly, New York is also home to modernist institutions, one of these being the Louise Bourgeois salon.

    Bourgeois, who was born in Paris and moved to New York in 1938, makes sensual, sometimes viscerally disturbing sculpture (below).


    She had a retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1982 when she was 71.

    She represented the US at the 1993 Venice Biennale.

    In 2000 the Tate Modern installed her 35ft spider in the new Turbine Hall.

    So Louise Bourgeois is a Big Artist but one who comes out of a smaller art world, a far more supportive one, and she began her salon as a simple artists' get-together.

    It remains in the Chelsea brownstone in which she has lived for over half a century and brought up a family but it became more structured ten years ago, with attendees expected to bring work for Bourgeois to critique.

    I made my third visit the Sunday before last (bringing some cartoon drawings).

    A Bourgeois flower painting from the 1940s hung by the door. Documents - a Jazz Age-period Vanity Fair cover, a likeness of the Dadaist Hugo Ball - were pinned to the walls.

    Pouran Esrafily, a lithe Iranian woman, was using a movie camera as she has been doing every Sunday but two for the last decade.

    It was three in the afternoon.


    There were five artists present and others trickled in.

    Sometimes an older artist shows up.

    Anthony Gormley has been there, as have Richard Long, Nan Goldin, Shirin Neshat and Lucio Pozzi, who had just appeared in this column about the Fluxus movement and was required to read it aloud.

    But this Sunday it was younger artists, clutching portfolios and rolled up canvases, apart from a cadaverous man, toting a briefcase.

    "What do you do?" I asked him.

    Esrafily had appointed me moderator.

    I was supposed to ask such questions.

    He replied in French.

    "Art secret," he said.


    Or I thought he said.

    "Secret art?" I asked.

    Maybe so secret there was nothing there? The Dadaists would have liked that.

    "Art sacré" he corrected, politely.

    Sacred art. Stained glass?

    Suddenly Louise Bourgeois was among us.

    She seated herself.

    Her hair was swept back from a strong face.

    The artists approached, one bringing a box of chocolates, another crystallised tangerine slices.


    Among the data supplied by the Venice Biennale had been the odd snippet that "her father would draw Louise Bourgeois' outline on the skin of a tangerine and cut it in the shape of a naked girl".

    Neither the artist nor Bourgeois seemed to have this in mind.

    She nibbled a slice and examined the company through bright, slitted eyes.

    First up was an Italian woman with short, dark-blonde hair.

    She spread colour photos across the table, negotiating the tangerine slice, and showed photo books.

    She appeared in most images herself, sometimes twice or even three times.

    They were based on dreams. How many people in the group took notes of their dreams? I asked, moderator-fashion.

    Two raised their hands (OK - I was one).

    "I never dream," Louise Bourgeois said firmly. She still has a near impenetrable Gallic accent 68 years after arriving in New York.


    Perhaps you sleep so well that you don't remember your dreams, I suggested.

    "How do you know I sleep?" she asked, unanswerably.

    The photographs were handed around the other group while the artist spread out paper sheets covered with minute line drawings of herself, replicated by computer.

    "You are very interested in yourself," Bourgeois observed.

    "And you are not?" the artist asked.

    "I am interested in what I do. Not in what I am," Bourgeois said.

    The final artist showed a big canvas.

    "Very good! Very, very good," Bourgeois said.


    She was singing a French love song as we left.

April 23, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Vibram FiveFingers — Gloves for your feet


From Vibram, the people who make what seem to be the default soles of every good hiking boot, comes this new take on footwear.

Instead of putting their proprietary material on a boot or shoe they've created the world's most tricked-out moccasin.

In four color schemes:

• Black/Grey/Orange

• White/Yellow/Grey

• Black/Black

• Blue/Grey/Yellow (top)


[via Shawn Lea and everythingandnothing]

April 23, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

hammernet.com — 'Everything about hammers you ever needed or wanted to know'


I bumped into this nifty site


while wandering around



April 23, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Throwback Children's Stilts


I remember these, made from empty food cans and string.

Great fun.

Now the materials are 21st–century but the idea remains the same.

    From the website:

    It's old-fashioned foot-stompin' fun as kids balance and walk on these sturdy plastic cups, pulling the nylon rope handles to balance.

    4-3/4"-high stilts have a wider 5-1/4"-diameter base to help prevent toppling.

    In red, yellow or blue — we'll choose for you.

    Indoor/outdoor fun for ages 3 and up.


April 23, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

How to search my archives


At least once a day I receive an email from a reader asking about an item or post from the past.

Now you can do what I do when I need that information.

Go the main Google search page and enter "bookofjoe" and, say, "carry-on" if you're looking for the post about the world's best carry–on bag that you know you saw in bookofjoe.


It's much faster, easier and more effective than entering terms in the search box at the top of my home page.

Far faster than my own proprietary search capability within TypePad.

So now you too can search like a pro.

Or at least, a ranking — if not rank — amateur.

April 23, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Needle Threader


From the catalog and website:

    No more straining to thread a needle!

    It's so easy to get the thread through the eye of the needle with this marvelous helper!

    • The needle is placed into one of the vertical holders (white or black, depending on size).

    • The thread is placed in the "V" next to the vertical holder.

    • Then the slider button is moved towards the vertical holder, pushing the thread right into the eye of the needle!


I like it.

Only one problem: what do I do next?


April 23, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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