Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Reviews, Reality, and Radar

Tucson, Arizona. Readership and feedback regarding Something Else has grown. Per emails private and comments posted for all to see, reviews have consistency. I respect every remark provided, from the simple correction of a name spelling to Liza’s penetrating analysis that uncovers much. The rabbit hole goes deeper still. Word on the street has become the darkest ever for the future of Tucson’s customized training institute. Contact SAIAT directly (google) for the facts, but the scoop points to closure.

Regarding the reviews and commentary, the key feedback sums to the following:

Tighten the material involving Giffords (severe reduction), politics (moderate reduction), and family (modest reduction) while fortifying economic development rigor and heavily strengthening the workforce development and education content. Chapters 12 and 14 receive glowing remarks.

Before I get to reality and radar, Liza’s analysis warrants publication:

I see this story on three levels. The main story is, in my opinion, a powerful indictment of the local “economic development” community. The story is focused on SAIAT, but x4mr provides a tremendous amount of insight into what is behind the overall dismal performance of that community. This alone is a good story. It’s the kind of story that Frank Rich of the NYT could nail in about four or five op-eds without missing a thing.

However, x4mr’s underlying, autobiographical story is equally important to this narrative. He transitions his career from engineering to workforce development because of a major life event, losing his job as well as witnessing the meltdown of a company that employed thousands of people. While dealing with his own situation, he begins the transition that is driven by his belief that, with just a small investment from the community, many people can achieve far more than they do. His vision and commitment take him as far as the CEO position at SAIAT, where he continues to prove that small investments in training yield large returns. He creates an organization that, because of its flexibility, focus, and resources is able to support a wide range of training needs within the local community. Rather than expand this model, the local “economic development” experts decide to starve it and, aided by a couple of arrogant and malicious individuals with their own agenda, force x4mr out of the organization. The underlying story is one of personal anguish and self reflection.

Superimposed on the two stories is the ever present message of hope as evidenced by, first of all, writing the story. Clearly, x4mr hopes that by writing this story, it will enlighten and perhaps become an agent of change. Throughout the narrative, his testimony gives the reader insight into what is possible when visionary leadership, commitment, and resources converge. X4mr’s mission is to affect the future, not to vent the past.

So, having read the other early feedback, I mostly agree with what has been said. The family related digressions assist the autobiographical component of the story. In other words, X4mr has to develop his own character. Most people would pick and choose pretty carefully here, and I think that x4mr has done a good job in that respect. The digressions also provide relief from the sad story that is unfolding.

I agree with “the Doctor” and I would recommend losing Giffords in her entirety. She is simply not relevant. Perhaps, x4mr, at some later time you can be her biographer. I also agree with “the Doctor” that the political content should be trimmed down considerably. I would suggest treating the CD8 election as your introduction to the blogosphere, allow it to be an enjoyable digression, capture a couple of highlights that interest or amuse you and end it. Remember, this is about YOU.

I mentioned earlier that some of the characters who are central to the story might need to be fleshed out. As a reader, I am having some trouble retaining a mental reference for these people, and they have become interchangeable “cementheads.” I would not hesitate to include some physical descriptions or even unrelated stories about them that support character development. Not a lot, just enough to distinguish one from the other. Kathryn is an example of a fleshed out character.

Unlike Sirocco, I was not bothered by any of the repetition of financial information or other redundancies. Well placed redundancies can help a reader stay on track or even absorb something important that was missed earlier. It’s especially helpful if the material is being read over a period of time as opposed to one sitting.

And, finally, chapter 12 is awesome.

Liza’s remarks are so good in parts they moisten my eyes, but there is more to the story. For now, I will state that Something Else is about REALITY, the truth going on underneath all the bullshit. We have the reality of Iraq, and the BS about Iraq, the reality of health care and the BS about healthcare, the reality of education and the BS about education, the reality of drugs and the BS. The list goes on. When reading the document, pay attention to every time the word "real" is used.

In addition to reality we have the radar that provides our awareness of reality. The blogosphere is as real as your house. How long did I blog under the radar of those involved in the story? When I ran a story about x4mr technology, its inventor emailed me and posted a comment within hours. He is plugged in.

As anticipated, Something Else punched through the barrier between cyberspace and the street. Some of the characters in the document have discovered it, leading them here. Of course you had to find your own way.

Welcome to a bigger reality.

At the risk of stating the obvious, you do realize this is Web 2.0. Future events can be published here and integrated into the document.


Blogger Sirocco said...

It will be interesting, however, to see if the next step is taken -- do changes actually occur on the street because of what is read here?

7/12/2007 8:49 AM  
Anonymous ovd said...


You may also have the outline on a book covering the history of CD-8 (or Congressional Representation of Southern and Southeastern Arizona.) From Udall to Giffords?

7/12/2007 9:04 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...


Regarding changes actually occurring as a result of my writing, as I say in the updated 15, I am very pessimistic. I had hoped that nastiness was directed at me personally, but apparently that wasn't the case.

The newspapers have seen it, but they probably won't write anything until it closes. When it closes, they might use material from Something Else or even refer to it.

It is feasible some venture capitalists are preparing to pounce. I won't, but someone who knows what I know with about $125 grand could grab the server room, rooms 1 and 2 for about $4k/month and have positive cash flow within six months easy.


Interesting idea. Now that the faucet is running, I can't shut it off. Eventually I'll publish something.

7/12/2007 11:57 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

I knew there was another layer (or layers) but I didn't quite get it. Remember my comment about director commentaries on movie DVDs?

7/12/2007 5:21 PM  
Anonymous the doctor said...


I won't put words into x4mr's mouth, but I can just about promise you that he thought very much of your comment.

He posted it directly in the story, and he thanked you at a prior post. Somewhere I read a warm thank you. He said he thought of you as a friend. I don't think he says that very much.

Anyways, what no one has said yet, and I imagine he is waiting, is what I pointed out a month ago.

He posted those posts back in February, March, April, KNOWING he would link back to them in the major publication in July.

See what I mean? He didn't "just happen" to post "historical markers".

He posted them FULLY AWARE he would link back to them.

His first marker if I'm not mistaken was EIGHT months ago.

For what it's worth, I also really liked your review and thought it was very insightful. You have no reason to feel insecure about it.

I also know that I am just scratching the surface.

Don't worry, x4mr. I am not a stalker. But this is really quite interesting. You are changing the document every day, I think. A week from now Giffords might not be in it at all.

7/12/2007 8:43 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Seriously, there are parts of this that I won't get without explanation. I'm okay with that. Do you understand the choice of years (1963, 1968, 1981, and 1993?)

7/12/2007 9:04 PM  
Anonymous the doctor said...


I don't know, but I think these chapters are very important to the deeper message.

I noticed that all of the chapter headings are in bright red, meaning danger and stress (I think), except for Chapter eight, which is a friendly blue, and the year chapters, which are a purple color.

Also, the year chapters have nothing to do with the surface layers, and the years are in italics and go backwards.

1993- Clinton took office (growth)
1981- Reagan took office (separation of church/state, everyone admires the governor)
1968- RFK, MLK were assassinated (everyone in the dark)
1963- JFK was assassinated (vision is meaningless).

I just made that up. x4mr will tell me I'm crazy, I'm sure.

I don't know.

7/12/2007 9:32 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

Heh, I've been trying to figure out the (potential) meaning of the years as well ... I had thought about each of the events you cite, but hadn't tied them to the possible underlying meanings. Very clever, I like it, even if x4mr comes back and says you're crazy.

7/13/2007 8:24 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Most interesting, all.

You are anything but crazy. Your insight, like Liza's, goes far, and you are correct that I am cleaning the product. It will continue to improve in many respects.

I had never thought about the years corresponding the political events, and they don't. Your speculation, though, is fascinating.

Someone via email is hitting me up for the semantics of the pseudonyms. FH, DF, Floof and so on.

Sirocco looked for a correlation between initials and real names. For most no correlation exists. I am more creative than that.

For the semantics of the initials, think funny. I trust you have the cerebral horsepower, given a good cup of coffee and five minutes of introspection, to come up with an interpretation of DF. After that, DS should not be hard, nor FH.

Mind you, this comes from a humble blogger who as a kid grew up with semantically handicapped initials.

7/13/2007 9:54 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

Too funny, MF, I had not thought of that before.

For DS, I can guess "Dip Shi*" but can't guess FH, DF, or Floof. Floof looks kind of like "effing fool" with fool spelled backwards.

I thought about the same political events for the years but did not make connections to content. Especially 1963, where x4mr references Shakespeare:

Life is but a walking shadow
A poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more
A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

Also, he quotes Faulkner, author of "The Sound and the Fury." All of this seems intensely personal and unrelated to JFK. Yet, the years can't be random choices, especially THOSE years.

7/13/2007 12:19 PM  
Anonymous the doctor said...


(gasp, gasp)


oh god, that is hilarious, er, serious funny.

I'm still laughing. It's hard to type. Hah!!!!

I'm gonna have to re-read the whole thing now knowing what the initials mean. That's too good, x4mr.

I can help you, Liza. How can you get DS but not get DF? Just replace the word. FH rhymes with stuckhead. HILARIOUS!!!!

7/13/2007 12:37 PM  
Anonymous the doctor said...

whoops, the d is for dumb, not dip.

I could be wrong, but I think I'm right.

They're too good to be wrong.

7/13/2007 12:40 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/13/2007 2:17 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

No, I am sure you are right doctor. I had reached the same set of answers and came here to post about it, but you beat me to the punch. :)

Still not sure what X stands for. I suspect it has a different set of "roots" than those three.

7/13/2007 2:19 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

"X" probably means unidentifiable, or vague. The guy has no distinguishable personality traits, bad or good. He's a waste of DNA, that's my guess.

7/13/2007 5:29 PM  
Anonymous The Linguist said...

I visited the x4mr blog and tome for the first time recently. The provocative material tantalizes and delights. I appreciate x4mr’s alliteration and grasp of semantics as evidenced by his listing The Tyranny of Words most prominently among favorite reads. Something Else warrants considerable reflection. I believe I can shed further light. X4mr tells the truth when he speaks of a rabbit hole.

Shall we proceed further down the hole?

My pondering supports Liza’s view on the year chapters, which serve as signals to x4mr’s deepest revelation: It is not about its content. If not, then it is about "something else." The paradox of the assertion points to the "else" the document addresses at deeper layers, a paradox noted superficially as $45 is $45 except when it isn’t in the blue chapter.

X4mr stratifies. For humor, he stratified stupidity and food. Long ago, less humorous, he stratified knowledge. In Something Else he stratifies reality. We have the grounded reality of the SAIAT organization, a "REAL training center where REAL workers are taught REAL skills for REAL jobs" contrasted with "the cloth," his reference to the ineffective economic development rhetoric on which the southern Arizona community has squandered public dollars for minimal results. We also have "certain folks with a certain perception" able to perceive a higher reality from which guardian angels can descend. A reality beyond normal perception surrounds us.

At the global scale, we have Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and other talking cloth, and in Tucson we have Snell, Smith, Mouch, and others talking cloth. The former have the surge. The latter have the blueprint. Both declare with conviction, "We are making progress."

They talk their talk and commit carnage. Tying to Iraq, x4mr states, "They hacked me to pieces like an animal in a slaughterhouse."

The Doctor has observed the longitudinal nature of publishing time-stamped content for purposes of later reference. Few can avoid the conclusion that x4mr is serious when he claims to have been trained in outside the box thinking. He possesses direct knowledge that transcends thought, a certain perception, distinctions regarding the formation of new mental models and levels of awareness (part of the knowledge stratification).

Returning to the year chapters, all feature the same question inside different contexts at different depths: What else is there?. Ranking by depth, we have 1968 context (where to turn?), the 1993 context (what is life as a word?), the 1981 context (what is life as a purpose?), and the ultimate question which concludes the work, the 1963 context, cutting us to the existential core.

As Liza noted, Something Else is a profoundly personal. I go further and claim it is a deeply spiritual document written by someone with access to experiences beyond status quo. Near the end he meets with Judy, who saw the marrow in my bones and the root of my soul, language expressing a connection many cannot imagine. No one has mentioned Judy, yet he stated it was the greatest conversation of his entire life. Also note his reference to being at a house with those “certain folks” of which Judy was one, toasting her as she left Tucson. Judy left Tucson physically, and x4mr left Tucson economic development. None of us grasp the skill set that left SAIAT the day he walked.

If you choose to believe him, these "folks" are real.

All said and done, Something Else is the tragedy of a well-meaning, gifted individual trying to help his community translate cloth into the reality of the front lines of economic development. In Chapter Fifteen he mentions the emerging field of "technicians" that translate to reality. X4mr worked as an workforce development technician. The cloth heads didn't understand.

The cementheads, like Dick Cheney, think they will be greeted as liberators. Against certain defeat, instead of resigning in December he assumes a guardian angel role himself to protect the health insurance of a pregnant receptionist. I interpret his May resignation as personal sacrifice in the desperate hope that his departure would allow his successor to obtain additional funding and save the organization.

The doctor and Liza advocate eliminating all material on Giffords. They correctly observe that the actual person is irrelevant, but apparently do not see the symbolic role Gabrielle plays in the story. Born with good fortune, wealth, and a "bright future" without the "blood under the bridge," she represents what x4mr desires but cannot have.

He craves her world, her attitude, her bright future, her optimism. He craves her in every way, but she and what she represents is beyond his grasp. Even if she were the ideal he envisions (which I doubt), x4mr could not be with Gabrielle Giffords even if he could. His battle scars (Chapter Twelve) would rob him of the confidence of keeping her. As others have said, the work improves if the Giffords volume is turned down, but not to zero.

I agree with Liza that the work is about the future, not the past. Its caliber precludes an interpretation of venting, attacking the antagonists, or self promotion.

I found "Guardian Angel" to be nothing less than breathtaking.

Moving forward, I agree with what has been said regarding strengthening the work. Tighten the ancillary, fortify the center, and put meat on the bones of key characters as Liza suggests.

In closing, I am left with thoughts of x4mr’s parents, who must find the document a bittersweet mix of pain and pride, seeing their gifted and well meaning son try so hard and face such adversity. At least at SAIAT, the carnage occurred in dollars, words, and careers. When SAIAT closes, the cloth will blame x4mr to the extent necessary to protect its own interests.

Bloods stains the pavement of the streets in Baghdad and the SAIAT parking lot. Reality is a bloody mess. The dogs are dead, the cloth and the war continue, and he didn’t get the girl.

7/13/2007 9:27 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Linguist, my ass.

You're a navigator.

Who are you?

Are you local? Who developed you?

The unexpected hacking of my machine was nothing. You are an unexpected development of another order. Please email me. Can we meet?

7/14/2007 12:08 AM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

Linguist, that is brilliant ... truly brilliant.

7/14/2007 6:16 AM  
Blogger Jeff Strain said...

I'll admit, as a regular reader of your blog, I first read "Something Else" with a eye for figuring out what the hell was going on in the relevant entries you'd been posting over the past several months. It was fascinating clicking back to these blog entries from your story.

Unfortunately I've been buried in work and other commitments lately, so I haven't been able to read everything as thoroughly as I'd like, but I think everyone else here is spot on with their suggested modifications. I'd probably cut down the Tucson economy discussion too (though it's great to get some background), but that's me talking from my Phoenix-centric point of view. Then again, the more I read it, the more its relevance seeks in. Like I said, I need to spend more time with it.

Having never been a CEO or any sort of executive (big surprise, I know), it was fascinating to read about what goes on day-to-day at this level. I can't say I envy you though.

At my previous company, I taught various courses covering usage of the Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) software we sold. One of my ideas there was to offer other technical classes, particularly in mechanical engineering analysis; I really got into training and tried to figure out where else to take it. You took it to the extreme. It sounds like we have some common interests and ideas regarding economic development through training. It would be great to meet you and shoot the breeze over these interests whenever I get back down to Tucson.

7/14/2007 10:54 PM  
Blogger Zelph said...

Navigator? Developed? Gurdjieff? All sounds kinda estoteric to me. :)

7/15/2007 8:16 PM  

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