As I begin the work week, there are no major appointments or projects or days off. No trips to the satellite clinic. No conferences to prepare, no evening meetings to attend or not as my hospital obligations dictate, no grandiose plans for the weekend, just activities settling back into their customary rhythms for the first time in a while. There are always chores and there are always my six projects to work toward.
Begin a research project.
Purge my downstairs of papers so I can bring in a cleaning crew.
Develop a real herb garden.
Write my estate plan.
Submit three papers for publication, two Jewish and one medical.
Go on a day trip once a month.
This should be the type of week that allows me to pursue them.
Bingo will continue at AKSE for another six months or so votes the Board, with my vote in the majority, even though I personally regard Bingo as the wrong business for a synagogue to pursue. They do not generate enough revenue from this to defray financial shortfalls in a conclusive way. I concur with a negative voter who commented that the revenue does not justify the effort expended on this and the financial risk of an unsuccessful venture. Yet it is one of the few projects at AKSE that I can honestly say has been thought through in an objective analytical fashion by the people developing it. Its potential exceeds other fundraisers by a little yet is very labor intensive. Getting forty volunteers to help out, including many who have this as their main form of time donation to the synagogue, keeps the needed labor fairly secure to say nothing of the need to engage people in synagogue activities. Yet under best circumstances this is 8% of the congregation's budget. The bulk of revenue comes from dues paid by membership units and from voluntary donations beyond the dues structure. Still, the $8000 start-up investment required the organizers to analyze its potential and its risks, make corrections to inevitable missteps, then reassess outcome.
Very little at AKSE follows that outline, my own project of AKSE Academy included. If the honchos are serious about growth and financial stability, they will have to apply similar due diligence to membership.
AKSE Board Meeting upcoming in a few days. This month's agenda contains one dominant item, whether to continue Bingo as an ongoing fundraiser. My position is currently neutral, but could be influenced by how the last year's experience is presented, or even by its results. Less obtrusively on the agenda will be the announcement of the creation of a Nominating Committee. While funds enable activities, people create the experience of engaging in those activities.
Being a nominal democracy, AKSE's members did themselves in for their own convenience a few years ago when they agree to a bylaws change that eliminated term limits for all officers other than the President. While holding a position for a long time can create expertise, that really has not happened with the possible exception of the Building VP where there has been some turnover. More characteristically, inbreeding stifles the ideas and innovations that are needed to make a place sparkle.
I do not know the composition of the Nominating Committee but can hazard a pretty safe guess that it will contain a small group of the President's A-List, a cadre devoid of anything that has a scintilla of entrepreneurial experience or intent. AKSE will always function as a top down organization as an unintended consequence, despite the very sincere belief of the participants that all members have a stake in what happens there.
On my day off I ended up doing three useful tasks: assembling the snow blower, having my haircut and purchasing four post cards of my home state to send to people I've not connected with in a while.
When traveling to New York last month my path took me through the Bronx, more specifically through the neighborhood of a very likable friend whose career rose over decades and plummeted over months. I'd not known what became of my friend. He largely disappeared from Google searches, either professionally or in communal activities. Yet I thought of him as I drove through the neighborhood in slow traffic that allowed me to look around in the early winter darkness. I arrived at my motel where they had sample postcards on the counter. I took one, penned a brief note the next day but it sat in my living room for a month while I got around to purchasing 29 cent postal card stamps.
My son returned from St. Louis for the first time for winter break. I have lots of medical classmates who settled in the area, most of whom I've not seen or heard of since graduation. One psychiatry friend I kept up with in the early days of practice, marriage, kids and finally the early days of email but again a lapse of about 15 years. I do not know why she came to mind but as I purchased the four postcards of local interest, my first thought was which would be the one to best send her as a greeting.
Facebook has made renewing ties a lot easier. There was, and maybe still is, a dependence on weddings and funerals to bridge geography with perhaps a supplementation from class reunions. With the passage of time, the interests of closest personal friends diverge for a good reason while people who were mere acquaintances at a remote time have emerged as intriguing likable people in cyberspace. Some are caricatures of how I remember them, as undoubtedly I am to them. Forty years, though, provides a lot of opportunity to accomplish things, develop personality or personal ideology, nurture families, and watch ourselves become the dominant generation. All of these things got their start with a boost from the people we knew way back when. With a little luck and outreach we could still know many of them today.
A rare day dedicated to laudable sloth. On my third cup of coffee. It's been a not too busy week with a day off for New Years Day and somewhat quiet in the office, dedicated to some catchup. The latter part of the week and lack of consecutive days off from work for a few weeks made me schedule some real me time or maybe more correctly leave me alone time. Yesterday morning I gave my periodic donation of platelets and plasma. It required me to get up early, eat at a time I normally would not have eaten, then get to the Blood Bank on time for a couple of hours of idle time watching Create TV, which is what I most like to do. It went very efficiently leaving me a chance to arrive at AKSE at my usual Saturday morning time. Mostly I skip services on platelet day but I am responsible for AKSE Academy so I thought I better mosey around and make sure the setup has gone as it should. After some rest in the afternoon, I returned to AKSE to host the event which went well. It always poses a strain on me, particularly towards the final week when I need to accommodate needs of speakers and assign rooms or deal with last minute cancellations. So the following day, today, I just want to do nada, though I really should assemble my snow blower that has been sitting in a box in the garage for three months. Maybe I'll dry-wall the bathroom ceiling, maybe not. No obligations today. No agenda for productivity. Maybe go to Shop-Rite, maybe not. Should soak fleishig dishes, probably will do that. Maybe send postcards to old friends. Things that I would otherwise not do.
I stayed up late to watch the gaudy ball come down over Times Square, had a small amount of low priced but good Spanish bubbly, then departed for a night's sleep to begin tackling the tasks of the coming calendar year. After pondering for a month, there is just not that much more personal upgrading that I would like to undertake. It would be nice to live with less clutter but do I really want to do the things that bring it about? Maximize longevity? Yes, up to a point. Exercise daily, probably not. Write a book for posterity? Maybe. Create fixed time devoted to nothing else, unlikely.
For the first time in a while, I could say that life has been going reasonably well, with the usual stresses but 2011 had fewer crises than most. The relative predictability of job, kids in school a while longer, stable home all create a lull to not want to seek very much beyond that.