Sunday, May 13, 2018

Graturday - Moms

One of the most underappreciated jobs in the world is that of mother. Teacher. Therapist. Coach. Peacemaker. Referee. Travel Agent. Logistician. These are just a few of the roles that come together in the role of mother.

My mother deserves the credit for a great deal of my moral development. She taught me the importance of considering the effect that every one of my actions would have upon others. While I have certainly not always been successful, I have always striven to live up to the standard she taught me of try to make the world a better place.

Both I and my daughter's mother (also known as my wife) love our daughter with all of our hearts, but Amy takes care of her in some ways that are unique and special to her. She connects with her on a level that only a mother can. She works with her on art and other skills which I personally lack. I am deeply grateful that I found such a good woman to be the mother of my much beloved child.

In general, on this Graturday (written one day late on the Sunday that is Mother's Day), I am thankful to all the mothers out there doing incredible, unrecognized but vital work to raise the best children that they can, and, in the process, making the world a better place.

Thank you to moms everywhere, and especially to my wife Amy, the best mom right here.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

What David Collins Doesn't Know About Downtown Groton

"I never knew Groton had a downtown." This is how David Collins started his column in yesterday's edition of The Day, prompted by the new signage that is now up on Interstate 95, discussed briefly in this article.

For those who are not familiar with Groton, Connecticut, it is a town with unusual geography. In the 19th century, it was split between Groton Bank, which was the portion of Groton on the bank of the Thames River, which was densely populated and supported by the shipping industry, and the town of Groton, which was the rest of the town's 45 square miles, was sparse farmland with occasional villages.

Annotated map of Groton from Google Maps.
Apologizes for the business pins. No way to remove the ads.
As it developed, an area around Long Hill Road near exit 87 off I-95, just outside of Groton City, which Groton Bank would ultimately come to be called, became a center of shopping and commerce. The proximity to the highway, I presume, made it an attractive location for mid-century developers, providing the five strip malls which dominate the area now known as Downtown.

A short way further down that road, one finds Town Hall, the major town field Poquonnock Plains Park, the Public Library, Groton Recreation Building, and the Groton Senior Center, which forms something of a municipal district.

Zoomed in on Downtown Groton. This map is about a mile
from one end to the other. Town Hall is at the far right.
Long Hill Road is at the far left.
As my regular readers may have notices, I love dictionary definitions.

down·town
ˌdounˈtoun/
NORTH AMERICAN
adjective
adjective: downtown
  1. 1.
    of, in, or characteristic of the central area or main business and commercial area of a town or city.

    "downtown Chicago"

    synonyms:centralmetropolitanmetrourbanMore
adverb
adverb: downtown
  1. 1.
    in or into a downtown area.

    "I drove downtown"
noun
noun: downtown; plural noun: downtowns
ˈdountoun/
  1. 1.
    the downtown area of a town or city.

    "the heart of Pittsburgh's downtown"

    synonyms:city center, (central) business district, urban core; More

While we often think of Downtown as referring to an urban center, "Downtown" is really just the core of business and commercial activity in the area, which is what Groton's "Downtown" is, thus why it is called Downtown Groton. While towns like New London, Norwich, and Westerly have more traditional 19th century style downtowns, Groton, like Waterford, has a post-war style downtown area, built along the 1950s and 1960s concepts of separating various forms of zoning to different parts of town: commercial here, residential there, industrial in the other place.

Long Hill Road is affectionately referred to as Hamburger
Hill, because there are actually at least half a dozen
places along the short stretch of road to get a hamburger.
Some of the burgers are better than others.
As it turns out, that form of zoning creates a dependency on cars, prevents neighbors from interacting, and generally causes a colder, less connected community, but that's a story for another day. The point is that Groton has what it has, and what it has is a vibrant, thriving, suburban-style downtown area.

Downtown Groton contains 5 main shopping plazas plus a number of other freestanding businesses and smaller plazas. Within and near Downtown, a shopper can find nearly anything they seek, including groceries, clothes, Post Office, auto dealerships, a hardware store, hobbies and entertainment, pet supplies, and more.

Is it a beautiful area with quaint New England charm? No. Is it a downtown hub of commercial activity, absolutely.

Citadel Game Cellar has something
going on almost every day.
While it largely lacks mixed use development (two small mixed used developments are in the downtown area), and its suburban nature would stretch the definition of the term "walkable," I often walk the area. I frequently walk from my apartment to the Citadel Game Cellar, one of the best game stores I have found in the country, with events happening almost every day.

While Downtown Groton leaves quite a bit to be desired, it's not an embarrassment either, bringing millions of dollars of economic activity to the town and tremendous revenues onto the tax rolls.


In discussing the Downtown designation, Mr. Collins says:
It turns out, I discovered after a search of the town website, the term downtown used for that section of Route 1 was sealed in a 2006 planning study for the town, which envisioned all kinds of mixed-use development around the old shopping centers — development that, of course, never happened.
The Groton Strategic Development Plan envisioned that construction of more housing and an effort to make the area more "walkable" would transform the area that the study authors conceded, because of its age and design, "can no longer compete as a traditional suburban-style shopping destination." 
So, as the authors note, it is a tired, old shopping district. And all the development they envisioned that would make it into a downtown has never happened. Still, that's the downtown interstate travelers will be directed to, about the worst of what Groton has to offer.
Let's talk about what we can find in the "worst of what Groton has to offer."

In this stretch you can find American, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Japanese, and Chinese food.

This one plaza has Indian, Japanese, and Thai food, plus an
Indian grocery store.
The newly refurbished Groton Shopping Center is 100% occupied, including a well balanced mix of businesses.
In this plaza, you can work out, buy groceries, buy clothes,
and get a new set of spark plugs.
Even the most run down of Downtown Groton's plazas, Groton Shoppers Mart, contains many of the key businesses that, while not revolutionary, are the backbone of a commercial district: Big Y, Starbucks, and Gamestop. Even though the properly is somewhat in limbo because of owners who cannot agree on what should be done with it, it still maintains a relatively high occupancy because of the demand for businesses to serve the growing economy of Groton.

Groton Shoppers Mart suffers from having too many owners
who cannot agree on how to manage, improve or sell it, so
it just kind of exists.
For those who are not familiar with redevelopment initiatives, they tend to move slowly. This is partly because they are complex and involve many players, and partly because there are many ways that they can go fantastically wrong.

There are basically two ways to cause redevelopment occur on privately held, developed land. The town can create incentives and try to get buy-in from the land owners, or they can try to use eminent domain to claim the property and force the changes. The eminent domain solution has certain problems.

Certain problems with eminent domain.
That means that the developers have to want to make the change. It takes years to research and develop a plan, then there is the process of getting buy-in from the land owners. Then it takes years more to make the plans to implement it, financing must be raised, and finally action is taken.

Did anything happen within the years shortly after 2006 that might have deterred that process?

Oh, yeah, that.
I didn't move to Groton until 2014, so I don't know the full details of what happened around that time, but, given that the Economic Development Commission and the Office of Planning and Development are working to execute today that very same concept of mixed use development and modernization in Downtown, I would surmise that what we are seeing is simply a situation in which a good idea is moving at the speed of government, interrupted by a terribly inconvenient financial crisis that rivaled the Great Depression.

Downtown Groton is the second area of the town that will become a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in order to help finance these developments. TIF is a brilliant policy in which future tax revenues can be used as guarantees against loans for infrastructure necessary for development. The financing is procured by the developers, not the town, and the developer is responsible for it, but they are able to use a portion of the increased tax revenues to pay off the loans. The town only pays if the development happens and the tax revenues increase. The developer gets the loan paid for them as long as they hold up their part. Everyone wins, most of all the people of Groton win.

It must be very difficult to write a weekly column, which would explain why Mr. Collins failed to do even the most basic research into the current situation. Research which could have included asking his colleague who wrote an article on the EDC tour which ran in the same issue as his column.

I wouldn't know what it's like to write a weekly column like that. I only have experience writing a daily one.

Graturday - Thankful for So Many Friends

In today's weekly gratitude article, I'd like to express gratitude for the great many wonderful friends and supporters I have.

I have had one particular occasion this week to be reminded just how many good people there are out there looking out for me.

The most pronounced occasion was early this week when I received an email from Watch City Steampunk Festival informing me that ConCardia would not be welcome there. Within 12 hours of our sharing that information, Watch City Steampunk Festival had received numerous emails of support for us from people who had heard what happened and were outraged.

Back in early April, I wrote an article entitled Hurt, in which I discussed how hurt I was at the fact that some people whom I thought were trusted friends had turned on me. But the fact is that I was suffering from a lack of perspective. While one or two people have unexpectedly left me, hundreds of people continue be there for me and my family. Some of them do so quietly and others do so publicly, but the important thing is that we have an incredible community friends who we now know beyond a doubt will be there for us.

And, we will always be there for them. That's what a community is: people who can count on each other, and I count myself truly blessed to have such a wonderful community, both online and in our local area.

Discovering just how much love is in our community made me realize that I do not have room for hate and anger in my life. There is too much good for me to want to focus on the evil.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Steampunk Worlds Fair: The Way It Could Have Been

Author's Note: As always, these articles are created with the best information that I have available at the time. Should you find factual inaccuracies, please email me at feedback@michaelwhitehouse.org and I will work to correct the article to be more accurate. 

As an additional note, the purpose of this article to discuss a specific alternate way that events could have gone which would have resulted in a more desirable outcome for all involved. This article is not intended to discuss whether or not people were right to attack Jeff Mach and his company, nor is it discussing the allegations at all. It is discussing what actually happened and the results thereof. Other articles may address those other issues.

I woke up quite rested this morning for the first time in a long time. I woke up at 6:00 AM, but I fell asleep at 9:00 PM. That's the key to a good sleep: not waking up late, but getting an early start. Like sleep, the outcome of many things comes out of how it began.

For those who are not familiar with the company, Jeff Mach Events was a company that ran geek events primarily in the New Jersey area. Their main events were Wicked Faire (a general geek festival), Steampunk Worlds Fair (the largest Steampunk event in North America), and Geeky Kink Event (an event which is accurately described by its name). In all, they ran 7-10 events per year of various types.

On March 13th, I had the unpleasant duty of announcing to the Steampunk community that Silver Phoenix Society would be stepping away from running Steampunk Worlds Fair and that, as a consequence, the event would likely either not happen or not happen as they expected.
But to really understand what happened on March 13th, let's rewind two months to mid January.

At the time, Amy and I were rank and file department heads. In fact, until I was invited to a department head meeting, I didn't even know that we warranted the title. We ran the Info Desk, sold merch, and ran ConCardia at the events. We didn't talk to a lot of the other staff between events. I spoke to Jeff as much as I needed to for my role. Amy was hired to be his "assistant", but that mostly just meant some simple office work like assembling rooming lists and updating the social media Buffer feeds.

It seemed like just another week, but what we did not know was that the house was full of gas just waiting for a spark to ignite it.

That spark, as it turned out, was a post from Jeff Mach seeking new staff and volunteers. Jeff's detractors seized on this, screen-shotted the Facebook post and placed a caption on it warning that no one should work for that company because it mistreated people. From these small pebbles the avalanche began.
I became aware of this on January 23rd when I first started seeing the posts. The posts were on the pages of former staffers who had previously and publicly declared their desire to see Jeff Mach and his company destroyed, so I perceived this to be nothing more than an attack by those who had promised to do so, but it was much more complex that that.

History and Alternate History
The best way to give a good understanding of what happened is to discuss what should have happened. I have spent a lot of time pondering how this could have turned out right. Nobody wanted Steampunk Worlds Fair to fail, so why did it fail? What they wanted was for Jeff Mach to be out of it, but they didn't understand that you couldn't transfer ownership of an event from a debt-loaded company to new operators 10 weeks before the event was to run. Even we didn't understand the full complexities. No one had ever attempted anything like this before.

There is a scenario in which this could have turned out well for everyone: a form of negotiated settlement. If Jeff Mach had agreed to be bought out of his company before the great angry mobs of the Internet were brought into things. Of course, this would have required there to be two parties to form an agreement. The department heads of the company were speaking regularly and could have agreed to something, but who was there who could have negotiated for the other side?

Elise Potenza
As it turns out, there was one person who was playing both sides to the middle and could have facilitated such an outcome: Elise Potenza.

We later discovered that she had been orchestrating things in a significant way on both sides, either for vindictive purposes or as part of a play to take over the company, the details of which we'll discuss tomorrow.

Elise was on the Consent Team in 2017 and was privy to all the personal allegations against Jeff Mach. She was in regular communication with the former staff who were working to see him brought low. She may have been feeding them information during the crisis in January, and she certainly leaked the confidential chat log which was the action which most directly led to the decision to step away from Steampunk Worlds Fair.

She and her boyfriend Jakal Blackwell had also been on the Executive Committee in 2017, so were privy to a great deal of operational information and would have been able to leverage that perceived authority.

How could it have worked?

On the Thursday one week prior to Wicked Faire, in January, she could have contacted all of the department heads to a meeting of vital importance. At that meeting, she would present the accusations which had been made public as well as any other information that she was able to share. She could then have presented anonymized versions of any other accusations she was privy to. Naturally, she could not include names or identifying details, but simply broad strokes to give us the picture. She might have also explained that she knew that strong forces were assembled to take down Wicked Faire if action was not taken.

At that time, this meeting would have contained the same people that the actual department head chat contained. Most of that staff was there to do a job for the attendees. We wanted the events to continue, for the people to have a safe and fun event, and to go back to our lives on Monday having had a good weekend. How that happened wasn't terribly important.

She could then have presented some kind of buyout plan. It could have taken any number of forms from a non-profit to a group forming an LLP. The purchase would have been funded by a fixed payment over time from the new company to Jeff Mach, similar to the agreement that was almost adopted in February.

People having fun at Steampunk Worlds
Fair, which will no longer be running.
The response from the department heads, after some initial pushback and sharp questions, would probably have been, "OK, whatever, that's above my paygrade. See you next weekend."

Elise could have then told her friends on the other side what was happening and gotten them to call off the attack dogs as the process wound slowly through the legal channels, allowing the events already on the schedule to continue successfully under transitioning management.

Why would that have worked when we didn't listen to Elise when she assured us that she had some kind of evidence?

In this alternate history, rather than saying more or less "I know something you don't know, so you need to trust me," she would have shared what she knew.

I Know Something You Don't Know Makes a Poor Argument
Since Elise was on the Consent Team, it might be asked why we did not take her word that there were serious allegations and action needed to be taken. We didn't trust her because she was not trustworthy due to her past actions. She had used dubious information to remove a superior so she could be promoted into his former role.

A couple years ago, Noah Smith was the highly competent and very effective Company Manager of Jeff Mach Events. There were some supplementary tasks that he was responsible for, such as human resources and other technical business duties which he didn't do a great job of, but that was Jeff's fault for giving Noah duties for which he was not qualified, rather than Noah's fault for not being able to do them.

Noah did a fantastic job at something Jeff had never been able to do, leading the company in a way that led the staff to feel appreciated and like they were part of a well organized team.

Elise wanted Noah's job. She wasn't actually qualified for it in temperament or experience, but she wanted it nonetheless. She knew two things that would help her get it:

1) She knew that Jeff Mach took consent violations very seriously and tended to give credence to the accuser over the accused regardless of evidence or lack thereof.

2) She knew that Noah Smith had seasonal depression and as the winter approached, his ability and desire to deal with stress diminished.

Using this information, in the late fall Elise found charges against Noah. (I'll explain my choice of verb in a moment.) She brought these to Jeff with the suggestion that something should be done. Jeff approached Noah and told him that there were two allegations against him and asked what he'd like to do about them.

Noah surprised Jeff (but not Elise) by saying that if he could get a small severance package, he'd resign quietly. Jeff was not trying to push Noah out and was quite surprised by his reaction. His intention was to investigate the allegations because he worked closely with Noah and the allegations didn't match his personal perceptions. Noah believed that Jeff was taking advantage of his depression to push him out of the company with the threat of a scandal that he did not want to deal with.

Noah left the company, believing that Jeff had maneuvered to push him out. Elise's name stayed out of it. Jeff lost a competent Company Manager. Numerous staffers followed Noah out of the company as he spread the story that Jeff had forced him out, and the seeds took root which would subsequently destroy the company.

But for all the damage, Elise got what she wanted. She was promoted to "Manager on Duty", a job very similar to Company Manager, and a job she took over others who remained in the company with greater qualifications.

There was some question as to whether or not
Noah's departure was due to consent
allegations. This is an excerpt from the Div
Head chat which Elise conveniently
redacted when she shared it with Brenna.
When I say "found" allegations, I do not know where they came from or if they were true, but I do know from something that happened a couple of weeks ago that Elise does not believe they were true. At Dark Side of the Con this past March, after she was fired from Security on Friday night, she decided that the four EMTs on staff were not sufficient and called in a friend to volunteer. That friend was Noah Smith, an individual that she had reported allegations of sexual misconduct against two years earlier. This means that she either knowingly brought a dangerous individual to an event in a staff role (for which she did not have the authority) or she knew that the allegations were false and she lied to Jeff two years earlier to rise in the organization.

We did not know what would happen at Dark Side of the Con in January, but we did have our strong suspicions about what had happened to Noah and Elise's "allegations," which is why we refused to act on her word which we all considered quite dubious.

Who Killed Steampunk Worlds Fair
There are many people involved in destroying this very popular event that we worked desperately to save, but there was one person who was in a position to offer a solution to save it who did not, and that person is Elise Potenza. What was her motivation in destroying the events rather than attempting to buy them? We can never know that. Maybe she lacked the sophistication to see such a solution. Maybe she wanted to let if fall apart so she could step in to create a new company to rebuild from the ruins. Maybe she just wanted to see the world burn. I leave such speculations to the reader.

A Note about Dark Side of the Con: Many conventions do not have any medical staff present. If there is a medical event, they call 911 like anyone else. Almost no club nights have EMTs on staff. Jet, the owner of Dark Side of the Con, went above and beyond to have any EMTs present, and having 4 on Saturday night (5 with Noah) was exceptional. While the EMTs were kept busy, most of the issues they deal with at an event like that are people who have had a few too many drinks. Without EMS, Security would give them some water, sit with them a bit, and walk them back to their rooms to sleep it off. With an EMT present: they check their blood pressure, take a pulse, do a couple other quick checks, then give them a glass of water, walk them back to their room and let them sleep it off.


Monday, April 30, 2018

Deceit Without Lying

Before going on, please read this article from Foxnews.com discussing allegations against Tom Brokaw.

OK, hopefully you read it.

Pop quiz. Is Tom Brokaw accused of "exposing himself to one woman while the two were in his office and asked her to touch him" or having "sex in the middle of the day in his office?"

If you answered yes to either, then you've made my point. If you had to go back and check the article, ditto.

It's no secret that Fox News would like to discredit more traditional news outlets like NBC, and a good way to do that would be to discredit news icons like Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw.

Here we have the allegations about Tom Brokaw behaving inappropriately, and given the nature of his position over the women he is accused of being inappropriate with, these are very serious allegations. However, it would appear that Fox did not feel they were serious enough. What to do?

Go back to the article, and you'll see that there is an article about Tom Brokaw. That article ends with this sentence, "Brokaw stepped down as an NBC news anchor in 2004." Other than a random paragraph that does not seem related which talked about Lauer in the first half, you could end the article at that point because no additional information about the story comes after it. What follows that is a rehashing of Matt Lauers much more serious and gross allegations, which does not appear to have any direct tie in to the Tom Brokaw story above.


So why would they do that? Because they know how people read. Mostly they read on their phones, quickly, while multitasking and not paying attention

When I first read this article on my phone because someone had sent it to me, I had to go back and read it a second time to confirm who had sex in an office.

Four paragraphs discuss specific details without using Lauer's name, meaning that scanning the article, which is the way that many people read, could lead one to conclude that Brokaw had been the one revealing himself and having sexcapades in his office.


While every part of the article follows basic principles of journalistic integrity, concatenating the two unrelated stories together without explanation causes another form of deception.

One might argue that the stories are related because they are both about sexual misconduct at NBC, but it that's the case, why not mention Cosby or other celebrity abusers? Why not mention that the two sets of allegations occurred in different decades? Why not include a paragraph linking the two stories? It's on online article, it's not like there's a word-count limit.

This is not a right-left thing because people on both sides do it. It is done using all manner of topics. It is done to all kinds of people by all kinds of people. Deceit is merely a tool, which anyone can pick up to manipulate you as a reader, and we should all be alert to its use.

Not all forms of deception require falsehoods. Sometimes it can be as simple as framing and presenting the truth in a different way.


Full article text, for reference:
Legendary NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw allegedly made unwanted sexual advances against multiple women in the 1990s, a bombshell set of reports revealed Thursday, months after a separate set of accusations led to the downfall of longtime “Today” anchor Matt Lauer.

According to The Washington Post, Brokaw, now 78, made unwanted moves on Linda Vester, a former NBC correspondent and former Fox News anchor, twice during the 1990s, including a move to forcibly kiss Vester, who was in her 20s at the time.

The report also detailed the claims of an anonymous woman who told the outlet Brokaw acted inappropriately toward her during her time as a production assistant in the 1990s. Brokaw was the anchor of “NBC Nightly News” at the time.

He has denied all the accusations against him.

“I met with Linda Vester on two occasions, both at her request, 23 years ago, because she wanted advice with respect to her career at NBC,” Brokaw said in a statement issued by NBC that was provided to The Post. “The meetings were brief, cordial and appropriate, and despite Linda’s allegations, I made no romantic overtures towards her, at that time or any other.”

Before the accusations against him went public, he actually spoke out about the #MeToo movement on MSNBC -- without mentioning his own behavior. “I do think we need to have a healthier, well-defined dialogue, if you will, and I’m not sure how we launch into it,” he said in December 2017.

A Fox News request for comment was not immediately returned by NBC.

Lauer’s former co-host, Ann Curry, who left amid turmoil inside the network, also said in The Post report that she told network management about complaints regarding Lauer's alleged sexual harassment, in 2012. However, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack previously said there were no formal complaints lodged against Lauer in his two decades with the network.

“I am speaking out now because NBC has failed to hire outside counsel to investigate a genuine, long-standing problem of sexual misconduct in the news division,” Vester told The Post.

Vester spoke of an alleged January 1994 incident in a New York hotel room with Brokaw. She had plans to leave New York ahead of an impending snowstorm but Brokaw discouraged her, she said, and suggested that the two get a drink.

“I only drink milk and cookies,” Vester claimed she said as a way of skirting Brokaw’s alleged intentions.

Former 'Today' co-host Katie Couric told BuzzFeed she hasn't 'reconciled' the Lauer she knows with the Lauer accused of sexual assault.Video
Katie Couric parsing truth from fiction regrading Matt Lauer
“It was the only thing I could think of at the time, hoping the reference to milk and cookies would make him realize I was 30 years his junior and not interested,” Vester said.

But when plans to travel to Washington D.C. got canceled, Vester said, Brokaw tried again in a 3 a.m. phone call to her hotel room.

“Once in my room . . . I received three phone calls,” she told The Post, citing diary entries she made at the time. “One from a friend, another from a source; the third was Tom Brokaw. He said to order milk and cookies and he was coming over.”

“My career at NBC would be over before it even got going,” Vester said she remembered thinking if she turned Brokaw down. The anchor soon knocked on her door.

“What do you want from me?” Vester claimed she asked Brokaw.

“An affair of more than passing affection,” Brokaw allegedly replied.

“But you’re married,” she said. “And I’m Catholic.”

Brokaw urged Vester to sit next to him on the sofa, she claimed. He proceeded to press “his index finger to my lips and said, ‘This is our compact,’” The Post said she wrote in her diary.

“My insides shook,” Vester said. “I went completely cold.”

Brokaw then allegedly placed his hand on the back of her neck and grabbed her head in order to “show” Vester “how to give a real kiss.” 

"I could smell alcohol on his breath, but he was totally sober," Vester told Variety in a detailed account of the alleged interaction. "He spoke clearly. He was in control of his faculties."

Vester said she forcefully wiggled away from Brokaw in reply.

“I said ‘Tom . . . I don’t want to do that with you,’” she wrote.

Following a brief silence, Brokaw decided to leave, Vester claimed. “I think I should go,” she said he said.

A similar incident between Brokaw and Vester took place over a year later in London, Vester claimed, but she again avoided Brokaw’s advances.

A second woman, who once served as a production assistant at NBC News, claimed Brokaw encountered her in a hallway in the mid-1990s and encouraged her to meet him on the side of the walkway. Brokaw then allegedly held her hands, spoke of how cold they were, and proceeded to place them under his jacket.

“He put my hands under his jacket and against his chest and pulled me in so close and asked me, ‘How is your job search going?’” she told The Post. After replying, Brokaw allegedly suggested the woman “come into my office after the show and let’s talk about it.”

Conflicting accounts over fired anchor
The woman said the implication in the conversation was obvious and she skipped the invite. She ultimately left the network.

Neither Vester nor the anonymous woman reported the incidents at the time, The Post reported.

Brokaw stepped down as an NBC news anchor in 2004.

Curry described in detail the claims against Lauer.

“A woman approached me and asked me tearfully if I could help her,” Curry said. “She was afraid of losing her job… I believed her.” The anonymous woman, Curry told The Post, said she was “sexually harassed physically” by Lauer.

“I told management they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women,” she said.

Lack was not with the network during the time Curry said she went to management.

In interviews with The Post, 12 NBC employees claimed to have been sexually harassed by Lauer, who was fired in November 2017.

Lauer exposed himself to one woman while the two were in his office and asked her to touch him, an anonymous woman told The Post.

Another said they had sex in the middle of the day in his office.

Lauer, who has remained mostly mum following the allegations last year, provided a forceful response to The Post.

“I have made no public comments on the many false stories from anonymous or biased sources that have been reported about me over these past several months,” he said. “I remained silent in an attempt to protect my family from further embarrassment and to restore a small degree of the privacy they have lost. But defending my family now requires me to speak up.

“I fully acknowledge that I acted inappropriately as a husband, father and principal at NBC,” he continued. “However I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false.”

Sunday, April 29, 2018

What's Next?

Every road is the right one if you don't know where
you are going.
A friend of mine posted on Facebook today that they were trying to figure out what the next step in their life is. Since I felt like my answer might be relevant to more than one of the 1600 people I reach with a Facebook post, I thought that I might as well answer it in a column.

I often use an analogy when discussing this question. Imagine you are sitting in your car in your driveway wondering which way you should turn when you drive out. Should you go right or left? Of course, the natural question is "where are you going?" since that will inform the answer to which way you should turn.

If, for example, you decide that you'd like to go to Boston, there are few ways to get there. Some are better than others, but, ultimately, many roads lead there.

It's the same way in figuring out what you might want to do next. What are the big picture goals. Where do you want to be in 20 years? 10? 5? 1 year? People often go to the wrong aspects of this question. They think about geography, jobs, details, etc.

Ten years ago, I could not have predicted one single element of my life. Not the state I live in. Not my career. Not my family status. Not my income. If you had asked me where I would be in 10 years, I would have guessed every element wrong. But I would have told you one goal: "To acquire money and/or influence to use to do something which creates a positive change in the world."

Although there have been many fits and starts and sideways lurches, I have moved progressively in that direction. I now have more connections than I ever have, and I use those connections to benefit everyone that I can. My income is comfortable, and I publish a magazine which is of benefit to almost 10,000 people. I seem to be moving in that direction.

That one, simple, abstract goal, provided a beacon in the distance so whenever I came to a crossroads and wondered what was next, I would know which way to turn.

Once my daughter was born, a second beacon was lit: providing her every resource and education to achieve the greatest possible success, however she might define it.

This does not mean that I have been perfectly focused. I have spent entire years wandering in the wrong direction, heading down some blind alley or simply forgetting about my greater goals. When I have realized the need for direction, however, I always knew what direction I should reorient myself to, and that has made all the difference.

For anyone wondering what the next step is in their own life, I figure suggest developing your own simple, abstract goal. One statement that describes where you want to end up. Once you have that beacon, you can look at every decision and ask yourself how well it moves you towards that goal.

Under that goal, there are objectives. This is where you get more specific about the things which you know make your life better or more meaningful. If your happiness requires making pretty things and working with plants, then doing so becomes an objective. You figure out what that would take. How much money would it need? Where would you need to be to do it? Who would you need in your life to allow it to happen, if anyone? What education or skills do you need?

Below the objectives are strategies to achieve those objectives. If the objectives require education, the strategy is the big picture plan of how you will get that education. If it requires money, then you strategize how to get that money.

Without knowing where you are ultimately trying to end up, a roadmap is merely an artistic representation of roads. But if you know your destination, then you don't even need a map, just a compass to guide you in the right direction.

An Obligation to Whom

Self discipline is a powerful thing. It is the ability to make a promise to yourself and keep it. If you are trying to get in shape, then you have to make a promise to yourself to work out on schedule and keep to a diet. It can be easy to let yourself slip now and then thinking that it's just a deal between you and yourself. You can cut yourself some slack, can't you?

It's possible to go the other way as well. You can over-obligate yourself.

For example, someone might be expected to write reports containing certain information, but they then obligate themselves to make them completely free of errors of any kind, creating a much higher standard than the one they are given. It is a noble goal, but not if it causes missed deadlines and personal stress.

If a goal is important, and standards are important, then
discipline is crucial, but sometimes we can place too much
pressure for goals which are not critical.
I committed to write 28 articles in 28 days, and I was feeling some pressure to get highly impactful articles out on time. The discipline to write an article a day for four weeks is a very good thing, which I highly recommend to everyone. However, there are certain articles that address very important and complex subjects, and those articles cannot be rushed.

There are 10 articles in draft form which are not ready to publish, and I was working so much on them that I was taking my attention away from other important things in my life.

Then I made an important realization. I asked myself to whom I was obligated to follow this schedule, and I also asked what the obligation really was. The answer to the first question is that I am obligated to myself. The answer to the second question is that I obligated myself to write 28 articles about something, not necessarily articles of Earthshaking importance, but just to keep to my mental exercise routine every day. I also realized that I have plenty of time. 28 days is arbitrary. I can continue the daily writing discipline longer if it continues to be valuable.

Oftentimes the stress that we feel is not simply the obligations upon us, but the expanded obligations we place upon ourselves:
Not merely cleaning the house, but making it immaculate.
Not merely writing a report, but writing a perfect report.
Not merely composing and article, but composing ideal articles.

At times, a close examination of our obligations will reveal that they are not as strict and smothering as we may believe they are. Some things are just not as important or urgent as they feel like they are.

Are you racing to keep up with true obligations or saddled with obligations enhanced by perfectionism?