Time Passing: May 2014

May 28, 2014

The month of May 2014 is coming to an end, never to be experienced again.

I suspect that I am not the only person who collects colourful picture paper calendars that mark the passage of time. My daily workplace currently has five, most of which seem to have some identification with the actual month. What these calendars show, and where they are from, tells a fair bit about me, about the images that I want to see during the day and about the choices that colour picture calendar producers make.

So here are the photos that I have been staring at during the past month:

From my “New York 2014” calendar: “The Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, with the Manhattan skyline in the background”, appears to be at sunrise, as the photo is, I believe, facing east.

May 2014 NY calendar

From my “New England 2014” calendar: “Marina in a cover in Chatham, Barnstable County, Massachusetts” – a bright sunny day with lots of small sailboats at a dock and on a beach.

May 2014 New England calendar

From my “Dartmouth College 2014” calendar: The “Bauner special collection library”.

May 2014 Dartmouth calendar

From my National Rural Health Alliance 2014 calendar: a helicopter and motorcycle cattle drive in the dry Pilbara remote region of Western Australia.

May 2014 NRHA calendar

From my San Francisco 2014 calendar: Golden Gate Park.

May 2014 San Francisco calendar

Perfect is the enemy of the good

July 28, 2013

“Perfect is the enemy of the good.”

I found myself saying that in two business meetings not long ago.  I am not certain where or when I had first heard that statement, nor what exactly stimulated my saying it.

What I meant to say at the time to my colleagues at the time was that once something is good and it works, it’s time to complete it, that attempting to achieve perfection can delay a project, an activity or an event so long that you can lose its timeliness.  And that perfection is sometimes not possible, so it can be fruitless to achieve it.

But where did the statement come from?  I had no idea.

According to Wikipedia, that not-100%-reliable-source that we tell our university students that they must never, ever quote, the phrase is commonly attributed to the French writer and philosopher    Voltaire  (also known as  François-Marie Arouet, 1694-1778), whose poem  “La Bégueule” (1772) first lines read:

Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien
Dit que le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.

Which is translated as:

“In his writings, a wise Italian
says that the best is the enemy of the good.”

Related concepts are the “Pareto” principle or “80-20” rule and the “law of diminishing returns”.