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At this late point in my ETS career I didn't expect Management nor Human Resources to take me up on my last post's offer to share my meaning of appreciation. It is, after all a simple concept… right? But someone asked! Thank you for the opportunity Cole, though none of this will be a surprise to you. I've already mentioned that to show appreciation, the simplest, easiest, most effective way is to, well, appreciate something or someone. That's sincerely appreciate, not appreciate in the Harvard Business Review sense where you learn how to appear sincere so people follow you willingly.

What might work best is a demonstration. I'll write about a few things that I appreciate and maybe, by example, what I was talking about regarding my bauble will become clear. And if I'm right, nothing I say will be a surprise because I'm merely writing down things that I've felt and responded to, in some cases for 15 years. It should all be obvious.

First, Molly Kline. I don't know anything about Molly. I don't know if she's married or single, has kids or not, lives thirty miles away or lives across the street. I don't know the difficulties she may have just getting to work. What I do know is that Molly smiles. I know that any time I've asked Molly a question she has provided an answer. Neither are common reactions to me. Especially considering that Molly provides answers, guidance, and support to quite a few other people in ITS besides me. And she's been pleasant and understanding about all the crap a bitter old man can dish out. Thanks Molly. When you ask How are you doing? you sound like you actually want to know.

Next, but in no order other than random selection, is the ETS Radar O'Reilly Barb Smith. I know more about Barb. Barb is raising kids, responding regularly to a widespread and complex family, working while her life partner works a different shift, and she still gets to work before 8 am. She stays till after 6 pm. That's dedication. I sat on the floor playing cars with her boys back when the youngest wouldn't speak to strangers. We built forts in the hall of Computer Building on Saturdays while Barb struggled to finish paper work that other people's concerns kept her from finishing during the week. I've raised a daughter close to Barb's kids in age. I understand when Barb says her family is her number one priority, but that just means sometimes you have to make the job take precedence. Thanks Barb. I hope your kids find great jobs, too.

I have known Brian Young for less time than anyone else that I could list. He's much younger than I am, much more educated--different in a lot of ways, but the guy can finish most of my sentences. He has a daughter like I do. When he talks about her, I feel every word. I feel it too when he talks about the needs of faculty and the promise of education; his work, his dedication, is completely selfless. It's common sense. Brian speaks with the most passion when he talks about faculty passion: their dedication, their excellence. Occasionally he speaks with equal passion about hamburgers, but really, for the most part, it's faculty. Really. Thanks for what we'll call sanity, Brian; you've kept the past year bearable.

These are a bit long. Sorry. Nobody has time to read so much. I'll try to be brief. Or at least briefer.

Kim Winck taught me how to use a scanner. She was an old hand at computer imagery before I knew how to turn a computer on. Ever since then, I've been able to depend on her visual sensibilities. She's organized, she's meticulous, but mostly she's an observant eye and an incisive, reasonable opinion. My work was always made better by her involvement. Thanks for all of that, Kim; but mostly for your friendship.

Although Tara Caimi was taken from our group soon after she started 10 years ago, we've collaborated several times since. She does her job, I do mine; she respects whatever I do and I have the luxury of being able to sit back and trust what ever she does. What a joy that is. Another artist who wants nothing but to be the best artist she can. Tara, you've introduced me to writers like Jeanette Walls, Abigail Thomas, Frank Conroy, and Sara Pritchard and you've helped fill my library with wonderful literary gems. Some of them written by you. Thank you.

When I talk about Pat Besong, it's easy to mention the humor and easy going viewpoint that he brings to projects. Everybody loves it. Unless you've worked with him, depended on him, or asked for his help, you might miss his calm resolve, his resourcefulness, and his massive skill set. Pat will always find a way. Thumbs up.

Even though our paths should put us in the same place most of the time, I haven't worked with Derick Burns very often. He does large scale stuff and I do small scale stuff. He works with a broad population, I work with one professor. He has an easy manor, while mine is often volatile. Yet in the end we see the same goal. Derick achieves with compassion, understanding and humility. I hope ITS gets to tap in to the talents I've been able to see during quiet moments talking with Derick. This is a good man. And in any zombie movie, he'd be alive at the end.

What could I say about Gary Chinn that isn't obvious? Tremendous intellect, excellent taste, wonderful wit, loving family, funny hair there in the front where it sticks up. I may have worked with Gary only a couple of times, but really, to be around Gary is to be understood and appreciated. You make the neighborhood. Thanks, man.

How many years has it been since I've worked with Brian Shook? We used to share a cubicle. At 6 am the second floor of Computer Building was empty except for two guys. And we were squashed in a cubicle sitting four feet apart. If you have a daughter, Brian is the guy you want her to grow up to marry. Smart? sure. Driven? that too. But there's something else about Brian: a warmth? an inner strength? Nobility? Peace?

Regardless of how busy Mary Janzen can get, every time I've knocked on her door and asked for help she has stopped to give me help: an opinion, a ruling, an insight in to editorial standards. Very gently, Mary nailed it. Every time. Thanks Mary; lucky for me not everyone knows the depth of your knowledge. Too bad for TLT and Penn State.

TK Lee stops by and when he leaves, I always have more to think about. He doesn't give me work, just insight. TK thinks longer and harder about the things I think long and hard about. Curiously, it's often just what I needed to talk about. We've never worked together on a project, actually. It would have been epic.

I think it's important that none of these folks would be surprised by this post. I could be mistaken, but I hope that throughout my lifetime I've made positive feelings as well as negative feelings clear enough at all times. There's no need to hire someone to feed the rabble, and there's no lexan involved.

5 Comments

None of it is a surprise, but it is all great to read. Each account made me smile and nod along. I've only been here for close to 15 years, but have known at least half your list since my first days in the Computer Building. Friendship in the workplace is tough -- and at times I'm not sure friendship is the right word, but I am using it. You spend time with people at work more than in most parts of your life ... even family time is probably a smaller percentage of your time. You learn about people and you appreciate who they are, how they make you grow, and so much more. That has happened to me my whole career at PSU. I could and should do the same as you have above.

The surprise you may have is that I could write a paragraph about you in a very similar style. You'd wave me off and say, bah. But every word would be true. I could easily tell you that you have always been sincere, open, and honest with me and for that I have a deep respect for you. I could tell you that the kindness you show to my children puts you in very rarified air for me. I could tell you that your blog is still one of the few that I read on a regular basis because I like it and learn from it. I could tell you that watching your pride as you talk about your daughter brings a quiet smile to my face. I could tell you all these things, but I worry you wouldn't count them as sincere, when there is nothing further from the truth.

Thanks for taking the time to demonstrate your point and perspective. I do appreciate it.

Hi Dave,

I just saw this post and wanted to thank you sincerely for the kind words. It has been enlightening working with you over the years, and I do think of you as a design mentor (whether or not you're comfortable with that label). You've always been generous with your knowledge, talent, and time, helping others to grow while fostering the integrity and quality that is so intrinsic to your work. I am looking very forward to seeing what unfolds as you spread your wings from here.

T

Dave,
I think I can say that it should come as no surprise to you how much I value our friendship, enjoy our talks, respect and am somewhat in awe of your talents, and just flat out enjoy your company. You have often told me to write down a lot of my "insights" into how I view entertainment, art, books, etc., and I have told you that blogging just isn't my forte. That is true, but another reason I prefer to chat about it as opposed to writing it down is that those interactions with you are aspects of my day that I look forward to the most. As corny as it may sound, I have found a kindred spirit in you that I would much rather share those conversations and "insights" with than put them down somewhere else.
And there is still much more to come in the days, weeks, months, and even years ahead. I think the biggest fear I have is that my inner geek is going to spontaneously combust when we get to the summer of 2015 with Star Wars, Avengers 2, and Justice League all coming out. I just pray you stay out of the splash zone if I do explode. :)

you're correct, dave. your note was neither a surprise nor necessary. still nice to hear, though, that someone's perceptions jibe with one's own. and while I won't ever claim to totally understand anyone, I have a handle on some parts of your personality that I greatly admire.

the obvious one, that you share with brian, is a willingness to walk through life with principles that must be followed. not when they are convenient or rewarding, but always. it will come as no surprise to you that strict adherence to principle can make life difficult at times. it may cost friendships or opportunities. inevitably, it will cause people to wonder why the person in question won't just stop being stubborn and go along with things.

but there's also a lot to be admired about walking such a path. most folks, myself included, will equivocate ourselves through life. situational ethics and all that. it's not anything to be proud of, but it's so much easier than re-drawing lines in the sand. what's better? don't know. all I know is I can't do what you do. but I wish there were a lot more people who could.

I'll end with an obvious statement: I'll miss our chats. I have the best intentions to earnestly try to like the next denizen of your cube, but don't really expect to. I doubt they will want to talk about fonts, or chris ware, or the ideal time for steeping pressed coffee. I wish you'd decide to stick around, but I understand and respect your reasons.

Dave, my friend.

It was when thinking of people with your sensibilities that I gave feedback to the ITS Awards Committee of: "You have to tell people that they will be receiving one of these awards - you cannot just surprise them with a 'come to the front of the room' announcement."

But alas, not every suggestion is heeded, nor everyone's sensibilities taken into account. But just because we can't change the nature of a bureaucracy, doesn't mean that we shouldn't keep reminding it of what it has the potential to be in it's purest form - a democracy with a goal. Sometimes you just have to be brave enough to look upwards, and call it like you see it.

In that way, you are inspirational. I hope you know that I appreciate you. In a genuine, because-you-think-the-way-you-do, not in a despite-your-edges kind-of-way. You, and people like you, keep the world balanced and honest and ... thinking.

I chose to create a blog account today just to put my thoughts on the record.(I've held out the whole time since the forced blogging of 2006.) But to do that for you is only a small sacrifice in my privacy principle. And you are worth it-and more.

Even though I don't get to see you often. I love knowing you are there, and would have something intelligent and well-formed to say on most any subject.

Please keep in touch.
-C-

Penn State
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