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Joe McCarthy
Helping people relate.
Interests: People, places and things ... and the relationships among them.
Recent Activity
The Netflix video streaming and DVD service announced Thursday that it is switching from a 5-star rating system to a simpler thumbs up / thumbs down system. I've been a Netflix user (and fan) for many years, and love their... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2017 at Gumption
Tara Brach's weekly dharma talks and guided meditations have been a consistent source of inspiration and equanimity for me over the past several years. A few weeks ago, she presented a talk on spiritual reparenting to which I've listened four... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2017 at Gumption
A while back, I wrote about letting go of blame and judgment, following an enlightening "Zen with Len" retreat I attended last January. While the retreat helped me release others from anger I was feeling about perceived betrayals or other... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2017 at Gumption
I've been a hopeless romantic for most of my life, but I am becoming increasingly disillusioned about love. I don't see disillusionment as a negative thing, but as a positive process: letting go of illusions, and thus becoming less romantic... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2017 at Gumption
Years ago, I discovered Validation, a wonderful short film by Kurt Kuenne about a parking garage attendant who validates tickets ... and validates the people who bring their tickets to the window, offering compliments to each person as he stamps... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2016 at Gumption
Many years ago, I experienced betrayal, pain and anger about something that someone did. I did not have the tools or life experience to fully understand my reactions - much less transform them - at the time, and the memory... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2016 at Gumption
I've listened to the most recent episode of NPR's Invisibilia, The Problem with the Solution, three times in three days, crying a little less - and understanding a little more - each time I listen. I believe the emotional impact... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2016 at Gumption
Having just marked my 1-year anniversary at Indeed, it occurs to me that I have not yet blogged about my not-so-new job as a data scientist helping people get jobs. In addition to ending a long (7+ month) drought in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2016 at Gumption
Tim O'Reilly (O'Reilly Media) opened last week's conference on the Next:Economy, aka the WTF economy, noting that "WTF" can signal wonder, dismay or disgust. I experienced all three reactions at different times during the ensuing two-day "investigation into the potential... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2015 at Gumption
I was among 900 attendees at the recent PyData Seattle 2015 conference, an event focused on the use of Python in data management, analysis and machine learning. Nearly all of the tutorials & talks I attended last weekend were very... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2015 at Gumption
One of my principal sources of wisdom is Cherie Carter Scott's book, If Life is a Game, These are the Rules, an elaboration of her Ten Rules for Being Human, which initially appeared (inadvertently unattributed) in Jack Canfield's book, Chicken... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2015 at Gumption
I attended my first David Whyte workshop last month, held at the First Covenant Church in Seattle. The theme was The Harvest of Winter, exploring the challenges posed by difficult harvests and the opportunities they provide for asking beautiful questions:... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2015 at Gumption
@Robb: thanks for sharing that quote - relevant in many ways to the relationship we had with JoJo. Perhaps that belief and trust is another element to add to my evolving pet theory on pet therapy.
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We euthenized our 16-year-old dog, Jojo, last week. A veterinarian came to our house and administered the injection while JoJo was resting in her favorite spot next to the couch, surrounded by her loving family. JoJo had gone deaf, was... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2014 at Gumption
@Robb: I'm very glad to read that increased focus and decreased defensiveness have reduced some barriers between you and your son. My son will sometimes remind me to "Breathe, Dad" when I start getting worked up during a discussion with him, which - when I'm not in a state of high defensiveness - helps refocus the interaction. I hope you enjoy your journey into the mountains with him. FWIW, I just finished my 5th reading of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Robert Pirsig's relationship with his son, Chris - in the context of navigating metaphorical and physical mountains - will be the subject of a future blog post.
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@LH: Wise words, indeed. I am fortunate to have friends - like you - who have helped fill some gaps in modeling the kind of father I want to be with my children.
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@Robb: thanks for sharing your story. I can relate to the hard work of stripping myself down in the process of determining how best to be a constructive father to a son who does not always act or react in ways I would prefer. The stripping down is necessary, in part, because my son knows me so well ... a consequence, perhaps, of my desire to be as open and honest as possible with him. I am glad you are making evolutionary progress with your own parenting. I'm reminded of Stephen Jay Gould's notion of punctuated equilibrium - periods of relative stasis, punctuated by bursts of rapid change - which is how I would characterize my own experience in parenting ... and I would not be surprised if that is how my own parents would characterize their experience.
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@Scott: thanks for the [additional] encouragement. The courage and vulnerability that you and John Hagel demonstrated in revealing some of the challenges you've faced played a big role in giving me implicit permission to publicly process a fragment of my family of origin issues. Your observation about not being alone reminds me of another one of the benefits I gleaned from 12-step programs. Even though the specific manifestations of addiction and other harmful behaviors vary across several spectra, there are significant similarities in their effects on loved ones (especially children). As Carl Rogers noted, "what is most personal is most general". I look forward to reading more about what you write about fathers and children!
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So many of the feelings I had about myself weren’t really mine, but feelings I learned to have to try and fit into his world. ~ Scott Berkun, Why Fathers and Children Don't Get Along Part of the story I... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2014 at Gumption
@Michele: Thanks for the recommendation of hypochlorhydria (aka achlorhydria) as a potential diagnosis and Acerola (aka malpighia emarginata) as a potential treatment that may be consistent with these symptoms.
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I am further inspired by your expanded personal narrative here. In your last post, I was uncomfortable with the question "How could others help me to achieve even more impact and what's in it for them?", as I interpreted this as being somewhat narrowly cast as a call to leadership [of others]. Through the further details you've shared here, and re-reading your earlier post, I now see this as more of a call to interconnectedness: how can we help each other address our respective needs in ways that are mutually supportive ... a theme I find more resonant (so perhaps this is simply a projection). I share your belief in the power of personal narratives, or as I sometimes think of them, the stories we make up about ourselves, and yet I've been languishing between stories for a while now. Your two recent posts are motivating me to re-engage in more personal reflection, with an enlarged perspective ... an edge perspective, perhaps. Thank you for that.
@Natalie: thanks for your kind words. It does seem that the ability and willingness to consciously direct focus toward - or away from - certain things is a valuable asset on the journey. Best wishes on your own journey!
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I am grateful for the openness and vulnerability you've embraced in sharing your early personal narrative. I can relate to retreating into my mind, and disengaging from my emotions, in response to the challenges of growing up in a dysfunctional family. I can also relate to becoming focused on others' needs and wants, to the exclusion of my own. I find your current narrative personally inspiring, and your invitation to reflect on - and possibly change - one's narrative is deeply resonant. However, I also see a projection bias here - one that is often reflected in the narratives of those who have achieved a measure of success - which I would articulate as "I did it, so you can do it, too". The projection bias I see in - or project onto - your current narrative involves leadership, and specifically, leadership of others. In my own experience of the dance of leadership, I find that there are times and places where I am inspired to lead others, and other times and places where I am willing to be lead by others. I have experienced good leadership and bad leadership (in myself and others). I have also worked with people who do not appear to have any aspirations toward leadership (of others), and while I believe we should all take responsibility for leading ourselves, I'm not convinced that everyone should (or can effectively) lead others. My concern about making leadership of others a criterion in composing a personal narrative is that it may not work for everyone ... but perhaps everyone is not your intended audience. In any event, thanks for yet another thoughtful and provocative post.
Yesterday, I encountered some great instructional posts on programming, Python and the IPython Notebook. How to more effectively teach the concept of recursion (by Gustavo Duarte) How to use the web-based PythonTutor to learn Python (by Philip Guo) How to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2014 at Gumption
@Laura: figuring out digestive issues can be quite the odyssey. Thanks for sharing some of your experience here, and best wishes as you continue your journey.
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