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January 2004


Art Sharing
Sunday, December 14, 2003

Everyone enjoyed good company, good food, tree decorating and a moment of spiritual peace. Art sharing consisted of : Bob Olson reading a snowy Christmas story from his new book Rich Memories With a Christmas Spirit. Bruce Taylor reading “Alternate Reality 359.0”. Pippin Sardo demonstrating a jota done to the Spanish dance from The Nutcracker (in costume). Roger Pankey gave everyone a jar of Christmas jam. Ho! Ho! Seiko Olson played the kokarina (a small Japanese flute). Roberta Gregory showed us the animated cartoon Episode 306 of Life’s a Bitch. Sala Sweet says, “Let’s build Peace” Michael Graves says, “11:11 Time to wake up!” Elizabeth Pankey states, “The day Saddam was caught. Hurray! May our service people come home soon.” Carl Sloan, Lida Sloan, Judy Smith and her daughter, Karen Stein, Bear Lightfoot, Becky Oosting, Lynn Emmert, Kim Thompson and Tom Bennett completed the audience.

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A Christmas Poem By Dean Koontz

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Christmas Eve

Did you see reindeer on the roof?
I did, I did, and I've got proof.
I climbed up high, I slipped, I slid.
I almost fell and broke my lid.
I almost tumbled loop-de-loop.
And stepped right in some reindeer poop.
I've got the proof, I do, I do!
See, it's right here on my shoe.

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Comments From Bruce Taylor


The last FOKUS/Open House was awesome--at times eighteen or so people showed up for the event which started at two pm and went until ten. It was great to see people I hadn't seen for a while, good to see people who had never been to a FOCUS meeting before. Some I wish could have shown up--and therein is the rub.

When talking to people about FOKUS, I've heard from more than one person, something like, "I can't show up--all you people are successful and I'm not." Inwardly, I sigh, and try to explain again what FOCUS is all about, but sometimes people are just too threatened. And that's sad. Because it's not that people are successful who come to FOKUS--that's the icing on the cake. People become successful in their own minds, defining for themselves what success is or is not, by sometimes coming _to_ events like FOKUS and being exposed to creative people who are healthy in the way they express their creativity: with safety, no games, no put-downs, no judgement, no comparison to another to find one less creative/succesful than so and so, or more creative than so and so. That isn't what it's about. In such a toxic atmosphere, creativity dies the way it originally died when exposed to parents or models who also had their creativity is squelched and people pile on themselves The garbage that was piled on them.

What FOCUS tries to provide the atmosphere of inquiry, support and encouragement that a healthy family would provide. All I am is the catalyst for this, trying to provide a place, a setting, that I, myself, wish I would have had when I was growing up in my own toxic family. Family toxicity-is hardly unusual.-The problem is, unless you are exposed to non-toxic people who are trying to be creative you can't know any other way to experience creativity. You continually repeat a pattern of feeling not good enough, shamed, embarrassed, self-conscious, defeated, scared, etc.

FOKUS came into existence to overcome toxic defeatism. Given how many people showed up at the last FOKUS/Open House, I feel success--not my own personal success,-but success for the FOKUS endeavor - allowing people to come together like a tribe, or family. Allowing people to rediscover the joy of creativity, re-connecing with themselves and others--without the fear of being shot down. I do hope this will help some folks feel safe about exploring FOKUS and seeing what 2004 might bring to their own creative ponderings. To all our friends, new and old : We really like you and look forward to seeing you at FOKUS-again.

Again, some things to remember about FOKUS: we are not a critique group. If you want to share and want feedback, that's fine but you gotta let us know what kind of feedback you want. Otherwise, you'll get a round of applause (anyway) for letting yourself be seen as the creative person you are. No one is required to participate or to share. Sometimes what is helpful is to come to a FOKUS meeting and get to know us. Limit your sharing to l5-20 minutes. FOKUS is wanting to connect with people, sharing interests in creativity.

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Editorial Comments from Bob Olson

The Al-Qaeda School of Business Management

Orange alert! 2004 arrived without terrorist catastrophe. Our anxieties may be soothed, but the scant Homeland Security budgets of American cities drain while we await the next attack. Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda is very efficient in psyching us out. “Psyched out” we do a fine job of undermining ourselves. That’s one Al-Qaeda strategy. I’m more fearful of another. In response to “9-11”, we have allowed our wrath to trigger ill-conceived government policies allowing vested interests and corporate greed to corrupt and devastate the American way of life. Is this the second Al-Qaeda strategy? Do selfish American businessmen attend the Al-Qaeda School of Business Management? It seems so, for their behavior meets Osama’s goal “to destroy America”.

Two cases in point:

  • John Q. is a recent college graduate and a talented computer programmer. He was employed, through Temporary Services, for one of America’s most respected corporations and every one of his work reviews was exemplary. That is until the last one. His last review board recommended his dismissal. This board was comprised entirely of new foreign programmers that he had trained. John had no indication of their dissatisfaction with him.
  • Susan L. is a project manager with ten years experience in her position. She supervises a team of ten. Her supervisor is new. He makes no attempt to understand her project and demonstrates an inconsiderate arrogance that undermines the project. This supervisor refuses to listen to Susan, or any of her team. They appeal to his supervisor. This does not correct the poor supervisor, and he retaliates by “outsourcing” the management of Susan’s team. In other words, these workers now have no avenue of complaint for the mismanagement of their superior. Inexperienced, underpaid, temporary or “outsourced” leadership becomes the management. Why is this man working for any American corporation? Is he a graduate of the Al-Qaeda School of Business Management?
  • When I related these stories to a friend of mine (who is a corporate executive) she was not surprised. Her response was, “That’s just the way companies operate today.” These examples illustrate the downfall of American middle-class college educated professional workers. Many more Americans, with or without the privilege of a college education, are unemployed or underemployed today as production, manufacturing, service and even sales opportunities disappear through downsizing and outsourcing.

    I was angered by the “Me First” era in the 1980’s. I distrusted the concept of “trickle-down” economics where “financial reward for the rich was supposed to allow their benevolence to provide opportunities and financial security for us all”. The richest Americans have thrived, while most American workers have lost their income, their benefits and opportunities to improve their future. By 2004 corporate greed has replaced prosperity. The American Middle Class is quickly becoming the New American Poor, while 1% of the wealthiest prosper. The American way of life in our democratic land of opportunity has historically been the envy of others. We have believed that education, dedication, and honest determination will provide opportunity for every working American. This American Dream is disappearing.

    I am very proud of my country and my countrymen. I yearn for the American Dream and salute brave American servicemen and women at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I salute all working Americans. But I want to spit in the face of businessmen practicing the strategies of the Al-Qaeda School. To thwart these strategies our president and congress need to dramatically revise their plan for economic recovery. Otherwise we cannot protect our nation, uplift the lives of workers and preserve our economy.

    Once again, our priorities need to become:

  • Profitable employment for every American. Our economic recovery is not real. We only seem to have a decrease in unemployment because unemployed workers have been out of work so long that they are no longer statistically recorded. Our government needs to provide incentives for American businesses to make a profit employing American workers at a decent wage. We can never have a recovery without putting Americans back to work.
  • The care for our soldiers and their families. Military families should not have to go on welfare (as so many are forced by today’s circumstances). Soldiers, their families and veterans should receive the very best medical care (not inadequate care in understaffed hospitals).
  • Affordable health care for every American with “cost containment” holding pharmaceutical companies and HMO’s to reasonable profits. Our new plan, that has just became law, will increase taxes for seniors (and all other Americans) without providing any real savings for them because special interests are not held accountable. Corporate drug companies and HMOs are the true beneficiaries.
  • To reestablish faith in the stock market. Most Americans should only trust investments when corporations can earn trust by demonstrating that they care for America. Our present short-term appearance of a recovery is deceiving. Investors feel a false sense of security investing in corporations that only seem profitable through downsizing and outsourcing jobs. This allows opportunistic top managers to make millions at the expense of workers and small investors. Only when corporate America practices long-range planning that provides for American workers is our country on the road to a healthy recovery with a worthwhile stock market.
  • The Al-Qaeda School of Business Management must be closed.

    *     *     *     *     *     *


    I’m distressed to read in the Business Section of Seattle Times, Sunday, January 4, 2004 about “improvement” in the Puget Sound economy. Three “improvements” indicated:

  • The construction and sale of million dollar homes.
  • The increased rental of Honey Buckets to facilitate workers on these million dollar homes.
  • Increase in the sales of Humvees (in the $50,000 to $75,000 price range) from 172 in 2002 to more than 298 in 2003.
  • Who are these wealthy people purchasing homes and Humvees? Are they beneficiaries of President Bush’s tax cuts, and/or graduates of Osama bin Laden’s School?

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     Last updated:  March 7, 2002