Friday, February 11, 2011

AKSE Academy Review

It went well, or at least was well received by those in attendance.  I think the logistics went more smoothly than last year, the subjects maybe a little less engaging, and we were one class short.  Those are the p'shat, the straightforward observations.  Rabbi Einhorn, in his WINGS blog, the OU synagogue development feature, took a more expansive view of events.

He divides events into three components: purpose, execution, and legacy or what I think would be better termed future opportunities that the event creates.  The execution went reasonably well though with many rough spots along the way.  As the person responsible for the core of the event, the classes themselves, I may have set too many restrictions on who may present.  Timing and publicity could have been smoother and more expert.  These components of process are also adaptable to the future.

As the originator of the event, I need to take a more critical look at its purpose and how well the purpose was fulfilled.  Originally the Education Committee wanted to replace the shabbat guest which created a fair amount of discord, financial risk and less than enthusiastic feedback with something easier to do that did not require a lot of investment.  If the speaker can give three talks in three sessions over a shabbat, I can arrange eight talks in two sessions over an evening.  We may not have national renown but AKSE's own people at least have internal name recognition.  A more subtle though elusive motivation lurks beneath this.  The Ghost of AKSE past infuses itself into much of the mindset, making decisions almost habitual.  From the 125th Anniversary preparations to the recycling of the same old predictable composition of the Nominating and Cantor evaluation committees, there is a tenacious effort to conserve what once went better to the neglect of new opportunities ahead and real adaptation to what exists now.  I viewed AKSE Academy as the transition point.  There would be discussions of contemporary challenges of Judaism given by people who had real expertise.  Last year I tapped into the familiar, this year my invitations went to a tier of individuals who were not local fixtures.  That talent which may not seem obvious comprises the uniqueness that AKSE brings to the local community.  In a local Jewish world where excellence and effort beyond threshold often seems elusive and undervalued, AKSE Academy stands out for two hours a year plus prep time.

Where I think we fell farthest from Rabbi Einhorn's recommendations was in linkage of this event to other events for the synagogue which also should carry the theme of excellence amid a more pervasive pedestrian Jewish experience.  This may be a very difficult thing to do anywhere and perhaps even expose AKSE's Achilles Heel where committees are more autonomous than they should be with little intersection of ways in which one group can enhance another or expertise in one area such as food or publicity becomes a transferable component that serves the larger operation.  That is where leadership and perspective separate from management of tasks at hand.  AKSE does pretty well at the execution end, not as well at generating creativity or moving its different components into different configurations by different people.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sleepless Night

Even though I have been up most of the night, making a futile attempt to fall back asleep after a 9PM to midnight snooze, aided by some benadryl, I do not currently feel tired.  Hopefully I will not konk out before the usual work closing time.  Some carryover from my old office took its toll last night and may not be resolved for a while so there may be more sleepless nights ahead.  I could have tried to snooze for another 90 minutes or so beyond my usual alarm wake-up but it is more productive to just accept my wakefulness and start the day.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Me Time

We were intended to work six days out of seven but even on that seventh there are appointments to keep.  Most of us have a good measure of structure into nearly all our days, from when the clock radio buzzes, departure time for work whether we arrive on time or not, to the volunteer organization committee meeting we need to attend at the end of the day to a reasonably structured lights out so we can start over again the next day.  Even our vacations structure our time to a great extent with airline schedules and cruise dining times.

Into each day on my Franklin Planner I include some Me Time, a respite with no agenda, no catch-up and even no particular time to partake of it.  More recently, as Shabbat services became a diminishingly attractive destination, I've tried leaving that seventh day schedule free, admitting that I time it from Saturday wake-up to Saturday sleep rather than the more traditional lichtbentschen to havdalah.  There are some constraints to the daylight hours, it being Shabbos, so no computer, cell phone, writing, shopping malls or similar stuff that would be part of a work week and can easily be postponed until after sunset.  So what have I actually been doing with this unstructured time?  I sleep later, often go to the library in the afternoon, play with the cats a little, read something Jewish, watch TV of the on-demand type, read a few days worth of News-Journals.  After dark, I will go out to Trader Joes or Christmas Tree Shop or watch more TV.  Productive?  Rarely.  Relaxing? Sometimes.  Should it be allocated some day other than shabbos?  Can make a case for it, though there are usually chores to do on Sunday.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Valentines Day Prep

For a basically goyishe day, Irene and I have a fondness for Valentines Day.  It marks the halfway point to our next anniversary, often the divide between our parents' yahrtzeits, the season of massive snow if we are to get any, not to mention a calendar reminder to appreciate each other.  I am usually chief chef, taking care to make something that Irene especially likes though not the same from one year to the next.  I've been pondering the menu but not yet selected anything.  The day itself comes out on Monday this year, the time of her evening rehearsals.  Tuesday is the night before my Grand Rounds so it looks like Sunday will mark the special dinner with gifts and cards postponed until the actual day.  We cannot overlook the practical.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Going to the Doctor

Dr. Tim tells me I've not been there in about two years.  There are some symptoms to address, the discomforts of not quite six decades of wear and tear on the body parts.  Probably some preventive maintenance is in order also.  Nothing overwhelming, just annoying, but due to get checked out.

I've been tired of late, maybe a little down, enough to resume my citalopram supply that I was hoping to avoid as we approached the New Year. Sleep interupted pretty much every night for last month.  Lab work from a couple of days ago should be available by appointment time.  Then a full day in the office and the start of perpetual weekends on call.