Saturday, February 21, 2015

Life's Perceptual Fraction

We have a management program at work based on conceptual models grouped into a series of themes. One of the models is called the Perceptual Fraction which posits the way an item is viewed depends on its relationship to other items. For example:
  • Fork over $1,000 for a car stereo? No way. But include a $1,000 audio package as part of a new car purchase? Sure, OK. I'll finance it! 
  • Pay eight bucks for a bottle of beer at the local grocery or liquor store? Hell no! But go to dinner and add a local microbrew high gravity stout to your tab? Hey, it's cool supporting the local brewers!
  • Year 1 raise is 8 percent. Year 2 is only 4 percent. Uh oh. But what if average year 2 raise for everyone was 2 percent?
From a management perspective, the model says a manager should (1) understand if a change will even be noticed and (2) put the change in the right context when it will be noticed.

I recently notched a half-century and am not ashamed to say so. I am, however, reluctant to say I fully comprehend what it means. Am I half-way there, two-thirds of the way along, or living on borrowed time?

I know I react differently to things at 50 than I did at 18 ... or 25 ... or 40. Maybe my denominator has just grown larger so that my 'perceptual fraction' isn't as affected relatively as it once was. Impulsive reactions years ago seem to be replaced by more intentional, deliberate actions today. Well, some of the impulsiveness remains - just not as much.

Generally speaking, I'm not a big birthday guy. Every year, I just view the day as one day more than yesterday. But I'd be lying if I denied that this one has made me think a bit more than I did at 30 or 40.

Over the last few years, I've blogged about all sorts of stuff. Music, faith, travel, parenting, racing, beer, idiocy of others, home improvement - just to name a few subjects. I imbibe in all of the above and am average at best in most of them.

Several years ago, Tommy Womack wrote and recorded Going Nowhere (and was included by co-writer Jason Ringenberg on The Scorchers' Clear Impetuous Morning). The refrain is:

I'm going nowhere, just going nowhere
I can't see tomorrow, but I'm leaving here today
I'm going nowhere, but at least I know the way

Those few lines still make me laugh - but they also resonate with me perhaps more now than at any point of my life. I'm confused about many things, and I stumble about working on all of them these days. Yet I figure I'm still trying to keep life in a forward gear vs. reverse.

I've honestly tried to be a good pop. Perfect? Shooooot, there's no such thing as a perfect parent. But so far, so good in all material respects - without trying to be too prideful about it or overly optimistic about where things go from here. Regarding my son, I've blogged about such things as:
Yet, its really hard to think how quickly time flew from this...

... to this 15 years later later ...

And now the boy ... err, young man will hit 20 this year. Twenty!

My daughter is killing it academically and has convinced me to shut my pie hole when she sets her mind about committing to something.
  • Middle school: "You haven't taken tap or ballet, and we're not sure you'll make the dance team squad." "I'll practice." Boom, she makes it.
  • Middle school: "You haven't gone to any sort of cheer or tumbling camp. You sure you want to try out for cheerleading?" "I'll watch YouTube." Boom, she makes it.
  • Band: "You want to march with with the high schoolers as an eighth grader? It's awfully hot at band camp." "I can do it." Boom: done.
  • High school: "You want to march in drum line?" "Yep." "Done, I have full confidence you can handle it."
A few other perspectives of late - things that ever entered my mind a quarter-century ago:
  • My knees are shot, I'm overweight, and my doc now lectures me about my blood pressure. On the up side, I still have a full head of hair with only a smattering a gray around my temples. Take that, you younger, graying, balding dudes I see jogging regularly.
  • Newspapers - I concede that like many I've bailed on the paper version - yet I regularly reference old ones through Google News Archive and my local library. Yet how will the news of today be archived for future researchers to study - from an availability perspective and without retrospective editing.
  • A nervous I do and I will suddenly became half my life with a ring on my finger. Dang.
  • Twitter has become a dark place. I'm grateful for the accounts I follow and that follow me. I've avoided being directly engaged with the ugliness and hostility that seems to permeate it but I see many others hit with it. It'll eventually strangle Twitter.
  • I grew up listening to my parents' LPs. Some I liked - many I didn't. But I  remember the albums, and a lot of their preferences influenced the music I now enjoy. They also knew (and didn't like) my preferences of KISS, Boston, Rush, Frampton, Aerosmith, AC/DC, etc. As an adult and parent now, technology has altered the paradigm for my kids and me. I listen to most of my music on computer speakers, in the car, or through ear buds - away from others. My kids do the same. Result? Neither side knows much about what the other is listening to. Upside: They'll create their own interests. Downside: They'll have no memories of what their old man listened to in their childhood.
  • I realize how naive - maybe even just plain dumb - I was as a teen. Over time, I became open-minded - then skeptical - then cynical. The last few years, I "peaked" at cynical and reverted back to a blend of skepticism and open-mindedness. I just hope I don't become a naive, vulnerable dope again in my later years, and I earnestly pray I never become a bitter curmudgeon.
All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
 of a miracle too good to be true
All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary

to everything in life you thought you knew
All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary

'cause sometimes the target is you