No magic at the dog ranch

I forgot, how exactly he phrased it, but it went something like this:

There isn’t anything magical about what we do. We spend time with the dogs. We feed them regularly, we play and interact with them and we make sure they have quiet and peace at night and when they are tired.

It has been a few years since that first conversation. Our dog has stayed at the ranch numerous times and it has always been a very good experience. She usually gets excited, when we are driving up and she recognizes the environment. Of course she prefers our company, but she does seem very happy there. When we go on a trip without her and leave her at the ranch, we feel good about her being there. I like to think that she is having a vacation of her own.

Then I often think back to that first conversation. They follow a simple approach and it works really well. This does take commitment and consistency on the ranch owners’ part. They have to spend a lot of time with their guests and vacations or days off have become rare for them. Making things simple can be hard work.

The results can be amazing.


The language of money is a powerful tool, and it is also a tool of power. Incomprehension is a form of consent. If we allow ourselves not to understand this language, we are signing off on the way the world works today—in particular, we are signing off on the prospect of an ever-widening gap between the rich and everyone else, a world in which everything about your life is determined by the accident of who your parents are.

Money Talks – Learning the language of finance, by John Lanchester


The idea of disruptive innovation, as introduced by Clay Christensen in his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma is a very popular theory of describing business failures.

These days it is difficult to flip through articles covering the goings on of the technology industry, without also encountering mention of disruption in some context. Particularly in the startup world, the term has become overused, a buzzword. Everyone seems to want to disrupt something, perhaps rightly or wrongly seeing disruption as a recipe for their success.

I enjoy Christensen’s writing; not just for what he has to has to say about disruptive innovation, but also about life philosophy, such as he did in his book How Will You Measure Your Life.

In the recent New Yorker article The Disruption Machine – What the gospel of innovation gets wrong, Jill Lepore delivered a rare and pointed critique of the theory, in particular of the theory applied as a predictive model.

During the short time since its publication, the essay has already sparked lively debate, with the tone of the responses spanning the spectrum from snarky to thoughtful.

It is a missed opportunity, to simply dismiss the essay or worse yet, to focus on questioning the author’s qualifications instead of carefully considering her reasoning. Presumably, the focus should be on improving understanding instead of just defending an idea.

Even Christensen appears to agree that the term has become overused and perhaps misused over time, though he did not otherwise much enjoy Lepore’s essay. In the end, one can hope this debate will continue and result in improving our thinking about why companies succeed or fail.

Ada turned three

As she followed me down a slippery boulder field toward the shoreline of a small river, I could not help but marvel at how much Ada has grown up. She joined our family as a young puppy and has turned into a mature dog, roughly seventy pounds of happy, energetic German Shepherd.

I have known her most of her life and during this time she has become a loyal friend and companion to me. There is no equal to the exuberant joy she expresses when she first sees us in the morning. I wish I were able to show that much enthusiasm for the day, so shortly after waking up. During my childhood, we always had dogs in the family, but none of them were as affectionate as Ada is. Besides walks around the neighborhood and trips to the dog park, she enjoys resting in the office or downstairs around the entry way during the day. She responds to the door bell or seemingly suspicious noises and has made it her duty to caution strangers against unbidden entry.

But it is outside, in the mountains, lakes and streams of the beautiful pacific northwest that Ada comes alive like nowhere else. As soon as we begin getting our gear ready, she senses that a new adventure awaits. Her excitement grows, when we load up the car and once we are on the road, she will remain sitting (usually next to a pile of boots and a pack), staring intently out the back window. Once out on the trails, Ada truly is in her element.

Always eager to chase a stick or a ball or to just run and frolic about, she has learned that these outings can take all day and she can pace herself. Given the chance, she will happily go drinking from a mountain stream or swimming in a lake in the summer. During the winter months, she is overjoyed to discover (seemingly anew every time) the magic of snow and ice. Sometimes bounding ahead, exploring as we go, or following in our footsteps with tired determination, if we break trail in deep snow. No matter what, she brings endurance, strength and eagerness.

We share the struggle, joy and appreciation of the Cascades like we share water and food breaks. I would not ask for a better companion out there.

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Happy Birthday Ada, my beautiful, furry friend! I hope you will have many, many chances to get dirty, soaked and tired all over those mountains in the coming year.