Saturday, December 03, 2016

Evening strum

Trying not to get sucked down into the endless maelstrom of post-election dread and fear, of late I have been playing the guitar more and more. After years of hands softened by playing my old classical guitar (which I wrote about now north of a decade ago here), I have taken up with the Gibson sunburst guitar that Mary's brother George left for me in the attic in Larchmont. The neck is narrower, the frets closer together, so it feels tight on my stubby hands, but I'm getting there.  They key thing has been to put the classical guitar in its case so that I am not tempted to pick it up.

Also, the strings are steel (or some kind of metal) rather than mostly nylon, so it's harder on my hands, so I am developing callouses on my fingertips, which is good but wierd after all these years of soft hands.

I've been learning more songs too. For a long time, my repertoire has been fairly limited. One thing that's been helpful is finding resources on the so-called interweb which have all the lyrics and chord progressions in the songs. Makes things damned easy. Another boon granted my by Al Gore's mighty creation is guitar dudes on YouTube showing licks and ways of holding one's hands in non-obvious (at least to me) ways to facilitate moving between chords. That has meant unlearning many decades of muscle memory, not a quick and easy thing to do, especially with the limited time I can/do make available for playing.

My repertoire has been expanding to include John Prine, Neutral Milk Hotel, Sharon Van Etten, etc. One important thing I've tried to do is write down songs that I've learned. I did that, but I forgot where I wrote it down. Sigh.  I know Google docs would be a good place, but keeping track of all one's Google docs is a chore in itself.

In general, the challenge of multiple file management constructs is a whole nuther kettle of worms, worthy of a blog post of its own.

Now to take Graham to martial arts and read Buffett's 1990 Letter to Shareholders.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Narrative and warmth

The other night I was hoping to watch  Next Generation with Graham, but he said he didn't feel like it. I was a little upset, and he came over and gave me a hug and apologized. Mary suggested that we watch Dave Chappelle's segments from his hosting of SNL, and I reacted negatively at first, thinking that it would surely be election-related and therefore stress-inducing, which was precisely what I was trying to get away from.

But we went ahead and watched it.  We sat down on the couch with her laptop and pulled up Chappelle and leaned against one another, and I calmed down. As always, he was transgressive, wise, funny. We watched all the sketches he was in, and while they weren't as good as Season 1 of his show from the Comedy Channel, what is? That is an extraordinarily high bar for anyone.

Mostly I got what I needed. I sat on a couch with a family member and shared a narrative while touching their body, which is all I really needed to get out of myself.

Admittedly, when Graham and I watch Next Gen (or when Natalie and I watch The Crown, for that matter), we have the additional element of some very serious couch-slouching and a blanket, but this was with Mary, who will not be leaving me within a few short years to go to college. So in that sense it was even better. It is hard to get her to sit on a couch and watch things with me.

Monday, November 28, 2016


Was just reading the reading reviews/recommendations at the end of Nick Murray's monthly newsletter for advisors. He is always primarily positive and hortatory in his reviews, and he reads broadly -- if in a right-leaning sort of way.  It always makes me want to read more. The effect is not unlike that of Buffett praising all of the wonderful managers of the portfolio companies of Berkshire Hathaway. It just makes you want to keep going.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Thanksgiving is almost over, which means that I am emerging from a tunnel of activity into a couple of weeks of relative calm, Christmas notwithstanding. In the last month I have had: the election and canvassing, the death of my uncle Marty, going to a conference of Russian Studies people in DC last weekend, my old field, where I felt like I was very much on the outside looking in, and now the holidays themselves. On top of just doing my job.

Also my lake-owning HOA's annual general membership meeting, where I, as a member of the Board, faced a little bit of challenge from frisky members of the general population who have issues with some of the things the Board does.  Which I get. I shield you from most of this stuff, gentle reader, because it is boring and deeply provincial, but contentious at times. Older people worried about money, liability, erosion, blah blah blah. If I could step back from it with sufficient distance -- as I will in future years once I am able to rotate off, it could be interesting. For today, let's just call it a distraction.

I will note that this meeting was the week after the election, so that people were still generally pretty freaked out. Which was entirely appropriate. Even now, coming up on three weeks later, it is so hard to figure out how to react to the rise of Trump. Does he represent a general Existential Threat to Democracy and Civil Society As We Know It, or has he just been fucking with us and he's going to pull back and become pragmatic now. Certainly empowering a guy who seems that psychopathic and putting the nuclear football in his hands is scary.

And then there's the Supreme Court.

I will try not to let this devolve into another election-related screed. I already tried that, with limited efficacy, and that is a genre in which all too many in the chattering class have indulged ourselves, all of us seeking to sum up what happened in the Most Profound Manner. Clearly what is needed is greater listening and focus on forward-looking action.

And there you have it, unawares, the election has interjected itself back into a reflection which I had not intended to focus on it. Sigh. Meanwhile, my task list overfloweth.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Namesake

Our old neighbor Gideon mentioned on Facebook that he was taking a break from social media and was going to read novels and walk his dog for a while.  That sounded fairly prudent for me, though it is tough for me to do so, and I have cats.

In any case, I thought he was right about reading a novel, so I went for one that I've had on my shelf for a while -- Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake. Mary and I had seen the movie when it came out, and rightly so, as it's good viewing, so I needed for the film to fade in memory to make the book worth reading.

For the first two-thirds of the book, it was difficult to separate the book in my mind from the Trump election, first the focus on coming to America and assimilating (a frequent theme of Lahiri's, which she handles well), and then the protagonist's path and mine began to intersect: college at Yale, then living in New York City, having girlfriends who expose you to the rarefied aesthetic of the cultured Manhattan elite. It all read like an elegy for a time and place that whose face has been ripped off by the election.

But now that the main character's dad has died and he is processing that loss, it has become emotionally real and proximate, something else the author is good at, at her best. So I read on.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

In the attic

Trying to resist the temptation to offer endless reflections on America after the election and what it means. But I was just up in DC and it was pretty surreal. I'll leave it at that for now.

We've been trying to integrate Graham into more and more household chores, especially carrying stuff, to help make in grow sturdier. Amongst the stuff that we have taken into our household since granny and David moved into their retirement community is a "rebounder," or mini-trampoline, which was in the rec room. But we already had one. I figured it's not bad to have a second one, because history has shown that after lots of bouncing from the kids (Natalie enjoys it too from time to time), they do wear out. So I wanted to put it in the attic. After stalling for a while due to personal idiocy, I finally figured out that it wasn't that hard to take it apart enough to get it upstairs.

Thus I had Graham help me get it up to the attic, the new attic up above our master suite (the old one having been blown out to get us the cathedral ceilings in the "nave" of the house). Once we were up there, I realized that Graham had never been up in the attic before, so we hung out up there for a few minutes. I could tell he was into it. I discussed the insulation and the HVAC unit and anything else I could think of. Attics and basements are special kinds of places, occupying unique niches in the imagination. But you have to go up in them to get that groove.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Bad conscience

Yesterday in the rec room I made time to work on a chore that I had been putting off for a month or so, so I turned on the TV in the hopes that there might be a soccer game on.  There wasn't. Instead, there was coverage of communities digging out from the continuing effects of Hurricane Matthew, and another show with some attorneys talking about what people with flood damage needed to do to assure they got paid by their flood insurance.

This brought a couple of things to mind. First and foremost, that while many of us are focused on the fallout from the election, there are others who are digging out from even more immediate things.

Secondly, on a different level, I thought that while those who were first responders to Hurricane Matthew were perhaps more likely to have voted for Trump, that it is Democrats who are committed to working on one of the key long-term causes of the tragedy, to wit, global warming.

A Trump voter on Facebook challenged me on my removal from the lives of those most devastated by the new economy, saying that I lived in a bubble, which is a charge that has been levelled at many Democrats living in highly educated areas on the coasts and in population centers, and I and we have to admit that there is a lot of truth to this. But, at the same time, it must be owned that this is part of the nature of a global supply chain. That doesn't just mean that widgets are made in Dongzhu and screens in Taipei and garments in Lahore and complex engines in Spartanburg. It means that climate change scientists, neurophysiologists, and product and project managers are found in Cambridge, Copenhagen and Chapel Hill, and that to get and keep those jobs they have to focus and work their asses off. They don't just hand those jobs out. A listening tour of Youngstown doesn't help them solve the problems they need to address to stay employed.

Overall, lets be honest: the global elite works its ass off. Yes, their lives look glamorous and sounds exciting: flying here and there, eating dinners, taking meetings in tall buildings in capitals. But it is stressful as fuck and people are away from their families, they stay up late at night and work on weekends. It is not as fancy or stable as it looks on Facebook. Hotels suck, airports suck -- and getting up at 4 in the morning to get to them sucks even worse, being away from your family sucks.

Sure, people do it for their families and it's nice to have the validation that comes from earning money and competing at a high level, and there is a sense of achievement and challenge, but it ain't all fun by any stretch of the imagination.

I know I know, cry me a river. Blech.  I thought this post was going to integrate better to a bigger theme. I guess my point was is that everyone is occupying fine niches within a global supply chain of ideas, with a goal of producing more and better stuff and services for everyone, and/or addressing big issues that impact people globally. And then resting and trying to see their kids.

Good thing this is just a blog.

Monday, November 07, 2016

The desire to strike

Graham got lost this evening after pick up from ultimate, which is to say I couldn't find him. It was getting dark, and cold, and I ran everywhere looking for him, from Phillips over to Estes where the car was, back to Phillips, then I thought maybe he had walked home, so I drove home, but he wasn't there. I was panicked. Finally I got a call from the office at Estes. By the time I finally  I wanted to hit him, which is something I have never done. A remember having the same feeling when Natalie crossed highway 1 somewhere north of Santa Cruz where there were a ton of windsurfers around. She was distracted and almost got herself killed, and I yelled at the top of my lungs. Then I wanted to hit her.

And I wonder, is this natural desire, primal fear for your child which morphs into anger when danger is passed, or learned? There was an occasion when I walked in front of a car in a breezeway at a motel at Myrtle Beach sometime in the 70s, I guess I was hit by it and dad was furious and I guess he hit me. Leslie remembers it much better than I do.

So I do have an emotional precedent which I can't quite untangle.

Anyhow, I calmed down, Graham and I went home, and later we watched the first episode of the last season of Next Generation, which makes me a little wistful.  But we still have all of Deep Space 9 and the Voyager in front of us. Plus probably more that I've never heard of.

By now, it's bedtime, and tomorrow it's back out in the streets for the Democrats.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Recent dreams

Yesterday morning, in hotel by the Neuse River in New Bern for Marty's funeral, I awoke from a dream in which I had suddenly come into possession of a number of nifty old sports cars. Two of them were similar English cars from the 60s of some make I couldn't remember, two of them were similar vintage Maserati convertibles, and then there was a Porsche or something thrown in for good measure. They weren't in all that great shape, somehow they weren't that valuable, and I knew I didn't need that many sports cars and didn't want to take care of them, so in my dream I was trying to figure out the best way to get rid of them from a tax perspective.

What a pathetic version of a mid-life crisis dream.  I should have been out tooling around in those bad boys, letting the wind blow through my hair. I didn't even envision Mary in them, because I know she doesn't like wind messing up her hair while driving.

Then this morning, I had, for the second time I believe, a dream in which I lost a tooth.  Not all the way down to the root, mind you, and there was no pain.  It was just like one of these big fillings a dentist jammed in there sometime had crumbled.

I think that my subconscious has a decidedly glass-half-empty view of the aging process right now. It would probably be better if I had been able to make it out to the soccer field this weekend, where I am able to connect with the youthful mojo. Even though even there younger peeps are getting by me more. Which argues for playing in the 40 and over or even, dare I say it, 50 and over league. But I'm still loving Rainbow and our team in particular.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Canvassing in Garner

Posted this in Facebook already. Might as well stick it here for archival purposes.

I spent three hours or so walking a subdivision in Garner yesterday. Knocked on 40 doors. People home in maybe 14 houses (roughly in line with labor force participation at 62.8%). If the population had not been so mixed, it would have been distinctly Trump country. Split levels and colonials in need of paint and power washing. Campers and motorcycles under dirty tarps. Almost all had blinds drawn and shades pulled down. The smell of cigarette smoke wafting through closed doors even in some empty houses. Many multi-generational households, at least judging by who was nominally registered at the address.
With a few exceptions, not a lot of enthusiasm for Hillary out there, despite the fact that I was knocking on safe doors. Maybe it's because most of the people who were at home were out of the labor force, or else worked crappy shifts. One young African-American guy was like "I ain't votin for her, what's she going to do for me?" Nice enough guy, though.
This year, every vote must be won.

It is sad how many people seem to believe that Hillary's email peccadillos and character imperfections are even remotely comparable in scale to Trump's multi-decade record of evil and general incompetence and lying nature. For hard-core Republicans, it is understood that they are just holding their nose because they want a Republican, but they are having to hold their noses really hard.

Hillary has made some very significant errors.  Asking for specific judicial outcomes from Supreme Court appointees in the debates was, in my view, amongst the biggest.  That is not how the Executive and Judicial branches should interact. But that is my pet peeve. 

I hope to have energy to hit the streets tomorrow.


My attention has been so drawn in to the election in recent weeks that I have found it hard to focus on other things.  Today I am hip deep in Trump country in New Bern.  My uncle Marty, my mother's sister's husband, passed away, and I was asked to be a pall bearer in his funeral.  I was a bit surprised at the request, because I hadn't seen him in many years until a month and change ago, when we stopped in on the way back from the beach to see Faith, my mom's sister, for her birthday.

In life Marty was, shall we say, a strong-willed fellow, a not atypical southern man of his generation. He believed strongly that all people should learn to stand on their own two feet. This was instilled deeply in him by many decades of being a Federal employee. Say no more.

Today at breakfast we were talking about the lake and mom reminded me of the time when, not long after we had moved home to NC, Graham fell off of the dock and into the lake. This before he had learned to swim. It was in the Fall, so it was a little chilly already. Luckily it was in a shallow spot. Mom and Mary were terrified, but Graham was somehow proud of having survived, of some aspect of the experience.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A beautiful fall day but....

So much to do, so many commitments, I am exhausted just thinking about it all.  Graham's martial arts, then a soccer game, then a Halloween party out by the lake.

Plus I have a client situation to take care of, have to get money to somebody in Europe so he can rent an apartment.  Overall, it leaves no mental bandwidth for the reflection it takes to write a good blog post.

In fact, I should make a call right now.

I have to keep telling myself I am living the dream, because in a sense I am. Certainly it will be an excellent day to be outside.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Whistling and annoyance

Graham and I are well into season 6 of Star Trek: Next Generation by now. The plot-generating algorithms for the show, once so fertile, are seeming to wear down a bit, but the fundamental appeal of the characters remains. Picard and Data especially.

One of the highlights for me is when, during the opening credits, when the theme song plays.  I whistle along with it, and it drives Graham crazy and he kicks me and squirms and says "stop it Dad, stop it," laughing the whole time. I laugh too, which makes it hard to whistle. It is almost as enjoyable as singing along to the theme music at the beginning of Parks and Rec with Natalie, but not quite.

Yesterday there was an episode in which Picard becomes enamored of a red-headed space cartographer who is also a very accomplished pianist. There is a lot of very meaningful eye contact and even a fair amount of smooching as these two fall in love and, dare I say it, consummate. This all made Graham rather uncomfortable, and he pulled the blanket up over his head and turned away from the TV screen. Ah yes, the joys of early pubescence.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


I have blogged before about the difficulty I have remembering names sometimes. This is primarily, I think, a function of needing to to meet lots of people all the time, to have a broad "funnel" (as we say in sales) in one's "pipeline," though I worry at times that it is early onset Alzheimer's (which killed my maternal grandmother).

I use the frameworks I have (lists, notes, stacks of business cards, CRM, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) to keep track of people as best I can, but it is hard, and there are natural limits.  First and foremost there is the Dunbar number, about which Gladwell has written, and I think he and it are right:  most people can handle a network of about 150 people, and of course they don't "know all of them well."  Second there is the tendency about which Gawande writes in Being Mortal, that people, as they age, typically don't want to meet more and more people, they want to focus on being close to family and longtime friends, the people who have been important to them in the past. I feel that, that rings true.

And yet, professionally, it is my job to expand the tent of people to whom I am providing service and adding value as best I can. And one needs to have a broad "funnel" to get clients. At the same time, I have to keep honing my ability to help people. Thankfully, at least, the process of meeting people, talking to them, and listening to them typically exposes me either to new problems or to ones I have learned about but my recollection of the specific approaches to and rules around fixing them might be fuzzy, and/or know nothing about.  So I learn more about my job, even if holding on to the specifics of each person I meet can be challenging.

Then again, nobody said it was gonna be easy.

Time to take Graham to martial arts.  Will read Buffett.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Heros and process

A week and change ago a couple of stories were juxtaposed on the pages of the Wall Street Journal which spoke volumes about what we value as a society.  On one side was yet another chapter in the continuing clusterfuck of a story around Theranos, the poster child unicorn with a Steve Jobs clone/wannabe founder, the transformational value proposition ("all your blood testing from a finger prick") the gold-plated board and advisory team (Henry Kissinger, Bill Frist, Richard Kovacevich, David Boies, Sam Nunn, George Schultz), and the most ignominious crash and burn since Enron and Arthur Anderson fell to earth at once. Theranos is the Lance Armstrong of corporations, and, as such, calls to question the general ethos of hero-worship to which we have devolved as a society, the extent to which we are dependent on larger than life figures (Obama, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett) to help us figure out how to do the right thing.

On the other page, a story about the seeming success of grid hardening, lots of money being spent over years of gruelling, slow, thankless process improvement and project management to reduce the amount of power outages caused by weather events and other disruptions. As someone who was first in Manhattan on 9/11, and then in Albany -- hundreds of miles away from an 8-month pregnant Mary -- when the power went out up and down the East Coast in August of 2003 (and yes, we all thought it was terrorism at the time), I appreciate the effort of all the slide-rule and pocket-protector types who made this happen, and totally applauded this story.  It is difficult to pay attention to this kind of work, but it is big, and we all benefit from it, and the government is the only stakeholder that can begin to make it happen.

So let's just keep this in mind, and to hell with all the charismatic shysters like Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos. It don't always happen like that.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mixed feelings

I have recently read stories about how Russia's farming economy has recovered and made Russia a leading exporter of grains.  After all the nastiness that has come out of Russia in recent years -- aggression in the Crimea and Ukraine, violent homophobia, corruption, the assassination of Nemtsov and the repressions of others -- it has become easy to root against Russia on all fronts, even for those of us with a long historical engagement with the region. But I find myself somehow heartened by the idea that Russia might actually have an economic 3rd act that is not related to extractive industries and general petrokleptocracy.

The fact is, Russians are not all bad, and in general people don't understand the sacrifices that the nation made in WWII. Estimates run as high as 26 million Russians dead in the war.  This out of a population of about 200 million at the beginning of the war.  Estimates run as high as 1.3 million of Russians born during the war who died before 1945. Ponder that.

These are big numbers, much bigger than any other nation in absolute terms (I'm not sure how it nets out on a percentage basis).  Gotta hop.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

His struggle is my struggle

Just came to the end of volume 5 of Knausgaard's My Struggle. Surprised though I am, I eagerly await the finishing of the translation of and then publication of volume 6.  Somewhere in there I thought I had gotten sick of it, but then was miraculously refreshed by the narrative's return to relevance.

So over the course of this year I've now spent something like 2500 pages with Karl Ove, and have gone through most of the phases of his life with him, from the early days to the death of his father, with which began the "novel," and to which we have returned at the end of this tome.  I clearly strongly identify with his simultaneous attraction to and repulsion from his alcoholic father, though in his case his dad was clearly "irredeemable," to quote one of Hillary's more ridiculous statements from the campaign trail (if she can survive that, it's pretty amazing). The guy pretty literally drank himself to death, and the hints of violence around his death are never fully resolved. Might his mom have clocked him with a frying pan?  It's not inconceivable, though it's never explicitly suggested either.

The important thing in riding shotgun with Karl Ove is seeing how he reacts.  Let's recount some of the highlights of the last volume.

  1. His dad can't be bothered to show up at his wedding
  2. He gets jealous of his brother having a lively conversation with his soon-to-be bride at a bar, so, getting progressively drunker as the evening winds on, he goes in the bathroom and repeatedly cuts into his face with a shard of glass, but his brother and fiance don't notice till later
  3. His dad dies
  4. Just then, his first novel is published, after years of excruciating self-doubt, writer's block, and self-destructive blackout drinking.  It wins a big Norwegian Critics Prize. He still kind of thinks it's a piece of shit
  5. He descends into writer's block/alcoholic stupor again for a couple of years, and somewhere in there, wasted, he has a one-night stand which later comes out, not good for his marriage, but not (yet) fatal to it
Thankfully, I worked through the alcoholic part of the equation early in life, which helped me keep away from other ladies.  But I get a lot of this cycle. I totally feel him.  And it's hard not to, because he is laying it all out there in a degree of detail that is pretty incredible in every way.

Anyhoo, time to get ready for soccer.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Division of labor

This morning there is an article in the Wall Street Journal  about the science of standing in line. I read it, thinking that it was going to give me some useful answers to that question. Instead, it provided the most basic, thumbnail-level introduction to the thinking behind, history or, and multiple applications of queuing theory, a discipline I had never heard of, presumably a subset of operations research. Really interesting stuff.

After reading the article, it occurred to me that it is much better to have been exposed to a new discipline than to have been provided with answers to a specific problem, because it opens my brain to a new way of thinking about something and gives me a greater appreciation for the overall concept of division of labor, and the value of a well-articulated division of labor across global society as a whole.

Which is to say, to the extent that we can surmount problems of time, distance and -- in non-physical or intellectual disciplines -- siloing, which is the notional equivalent of time and space, we benefit from the presence of extreme specialization.

The trick is to facilitate idea flow across disciplines, to have enough of and the right types generalists and cross-fertilizers -- to bring the ideas of specialists to bear on new problems.  This is one of the quintessential problems of management per se, to facilitate idea flow and achieve a proper balance of generalists and specialists.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Racing in

At an Al Anon meeting recently, someone shared about how his or her child (gotta keep this anonymous) of 23 had recently had a "diagnosis" which had really challenged the parent to maintain his/her composure and serenity.  That's all the detail that was shared, and that's all I need to share.

Sitting there listening, I felt a little teased, the part of me that wants to rush in and fix everything, the part that thinks that -- for some odd reason, that's what I'm supposed and expected to do -- really wanted to know what the diagnosis was for.  Cancer?  An affective disorder?  I don't know why I think it matters, but I was sitting there, yearning within me for the answer, which never came.

Which was a valuable lesson for me. Because this person didn't need for me to race in and save the day, (s)he just needed to share, to speak, to release, and move on. Stepping further back and looking at my reaction, I think it reasonable to say that my fix-it instinct derives from a deep-seeded belief that if I don't try to do something, to fix almost anything (global warming, inequality of wealth distribution, a client's lack of savings), I am somehow worth less, if not worthless.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

A dream, moving forward

Just before I woke up this morning I had one of those dreams.  I had spent some outlandish amount of money, I think it was $5400, fixing something stupid, and I had basically been ripped off and was very ashamed of the mistake I had made. But it was just a dream.

On the other hand, as I push towards the last third of volume 5 of Knausgaard's My Struggle, I had found myself getting a little sick of it. Karl Ove getting drunk, having blackout after blackout, cheating on his girlfriend, basically squandering his student years in the perpetually rainy Norwegian town of Bergen. It was a little bit close to home.

But now they have moved off to Iceland for a semester, Gunvor and Karl Ove, and he has begun to actually get some writing done and have coherent thoughts. Maybe, just maybe, he will break out of this rut. I mean, obviously, he will, and will become a Eurolit sensation, and mostly justifiably.  But this tome and the one before have been at times like pulling teeth.

Hilary (no, not that one, my friend Hilary) told me that, having finished volume 5, she was planning on going back to volume 1. Which is pretty extreme.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Good salesmanship, but not quite

After grabbing lunch at Whole Foods, I stopped in to get my shoes shined. The guy had closed up shop for lunch, but I promised to buy him lunch in five minutes, and he took me up on it. So I went in, took off my shoes, handed them over, and sat down.

But who should come in but JR, from the barber shop down the hall, who stopped in and noted that he hadn't seen me in a while, which was true.  By some standards, I was and am certainly in need of a trim, and if it was hotter outside and I wasn't already running late, he would have had me dead to sights. With the cooling of the days, however, I am less susceptible to the compulsion to buzz, so I decided to hold off for a couple of weeks.

This was, after all, the same fellow who says he's using a 2 on my back and sides, but I'll be damned if it feels as short as it does after Sunny, the Asian woman around the corner, gives me a cut.  I think he actually uses a 3 or even -- dare I say it -- a 4 on my head, as a means of getting me back in there more quickly. 

So I went on my way, though I was impressed and even flattered at the personal appeal. It means something for people to want your business.