Monday, November 21, 2005

Benjamin Franklin: Geeke Or Nerde
Charting Your Virtues...All 13 Of Them

"I had them put in some low lights," ~~ Benjamin Franklin

This past weekend was odd in that I kept receiving telephone calls from the people that provide me beauty services. The first call was from the hair stylist to pass on that another stylist had "quit" rather abruptly (I later heard "fired,") and "what does it all mean", keeping in mind that my stylist recently had a house built on the Eastern Shore and is commuting back to the Washington area mid-week to work. I'm asking myself how much longer they will be around. Then my manicurist called to tell me she's quitting and moving to a new upscale spa where she will have better pay and full health coverage, but concerns over losing clients and would I be following her and so forth (yes on the following), and then I heard from the skin esthetician who called to say the owner of her shop was moving to New Hampshire where her husband is being relocated for work, and the owner will be managing the salon from there. We went over her concerns about someone trying to manage a long-distance business and how long that situation would last before it collapsed, affecting her future business and would I be following (yes), and thus it went so that by this morning I was thinking of blogging a piece about the transitory nature of beauty services and how we either stay or shift and how often the shifting is done with some cross over back and forth to the same salons and spas, and the whole incestuous networking of the beauty field as a career. I was googling around this morning looking for a photograph of an old-fashioned chart made up of multi-colored pieces of string to show the confusion of these transitions, and while I was searching I stumbled onto something that sent me into an entirely different direction. When I told Direct Current about these changes in the game plan, he told me I was suffering from "BADD: Blog Attention Deficit Disorder."

It would appear Ben had trouble with
keeping his mouth shut and being messy

What altered my writing plan was this. I stumbled upon a photograph of a chart that Benjamin Franklin created to track his success in fulfilling life's 13 virtues. By further research I learned that Franklin devised this plan when he was 20 years old. Quoting from The Bible, Phillippians 4:8 : "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,think of these things." (King James Version). Taking this idea and running with it, Franklin created a list of 13 virtues:

1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.

2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or your
self. Avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to o
thers or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.

6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unneccessary actions.

7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting th
e benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleaniness in body, clothes or habitation.

11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring. Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.

12. Tranquility: Be no disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

From everything I read, Franklin followed this plan until late in his life, mapping out on his charts whether or not he had succeeded with his
day. He tracked out his progress by using a little book of 13 charts. At the top of each chart was the name of the virtue, and the chart had a column for each day of the week, with thirteen rows marked with the first letter of each of the virtues. At the end of each day, he would review his day, it's successes and failures, and he would dutifully make a circular dot mark next to the virtue for each fault he believed he had committed that day: his ultimate goal being, of course, to have a chart that was mark free. I've read that at first he found the pages covered with dots, but as time went on he began to see the dots diminish. To quote from Wikipedia, "He eventually realized that perfection was not to be attained, but felt himself better and happier because of his attempt."

Ben Jah Man Flow Charts His Day

What a nerd! If they had pocket protecto
rs in the 18th-century, you just know Franklin would have been wearing one. I'm surprised he didn't take it further and use different colored inks to mark his levels of failure: blue (not too much off the mark), black (about average), and red (whoa!). Little gold and silver stars when he had a bang-up day of success. If Franklin were alive today, I have no doubt he would have been the inventor of the emoticons. :) I loved the idea that he always had these projects going, checking his progress and knowing he was falling short of perfection, still ending up better than when he started off. Franklin would have been an amazing software engineer. Binary code was meant for him. He could write (wait for it) Benary code. And you just know he'd be at every Trekkie convention. It's logical. ;)

14. Vulcan: Live long and prosper.

** Once again, I must credit the wonderful brother with the great Photoshop work on Mr. Franklin.


Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Ben and the other founding fathers are so very interesting to me. I think about what a huge world it was during the 18th century, how vast and wild was this continent. Descriptions of the terrors of trying to travel into the Ohio Valley by Washington and others are amazing. Early on in "His Excellency" Joseph Ellis describes Washington's first brutal experience in that wild country which includes the French trying to double cross him, but the native Americans knew French better than Washington, so the chief of the tribe GW was trying to negotiate with, to illustrate what was going on with the French, decapitated the French translator, plunged his hand into the skull and pulled his brain out, offering it to Washington right on the spot. Washington was something like 21 years old. If you haven't read the book, check it out. Wow.

I love to go to the National Gallery and look at all those paintings of the land from that time. It was primieval, wild, mysterious. It was really different than Europe! Getting through the day was hard work often at the survival level. Those founding fathers were tough.

Then I look at their portraits, dressed in their foppy outfits and wigs and powder and I think, whah?? What must it have been like to being an 18th century European-ish American living on this wild land? The disparity is really intense. I can see how the psyches of these guys would turn towards the controlling side of things. There was no controlling nature or the people who already lived here; they had no choice but to put on their white tights, powder their hair and hope for the best.

And speaking of beauty, what is up with fashion from the 18th century? Were the fashion designers swigging Absynthe by the bucketful or what?? Yikes.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

I wonder if Ben kept a chart on how many chicks he bagged?

9:41 AM  
Blogger Sharkbait said...

You can always count on Phil to bring it all back to reality for ya.

He probably had a system for that too. Either that or he didn't so there was no need....but he was a man, so it's pretty much inevitable!

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding those last comments: given this propensity for meticulous summaries of his daily life, I shudder to think of how he might have dissected his sexual conquest experiences. A bit of a chilly fellow.


10:02 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

I am sure Franklin would have kept such a list, Phil: "Used venery for the health of myself and others." Dot, dot, and DOT...

10:06 AM  
Blogger Megarita said...

The lowlights comment made me spit coffee. Oh wait, did you write something else?

11:04 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Probably some special notation when he got freaky with a servant in his bed-chamber or something.

"Thou may not believeth this happened, but I give you my solemn oath that every verse of it is true..."

12:45 PM  
Blogger always write said...

Wow, that's some list. Too much maintenance for me. Mine just says,
1. Don't lie, you suck at it;
2. Try not to sleep with your ex again; and
3. Remember how much is in your checking account.

4:41 PM  
Blogger playfulinnc said...

Cleanliness cracks me up. I heard he was a slovenly, stinky bugger.

4:58 PM  
Blogger ThaiMex1 said...

I can see the similarities of Ben Franklin to Capt James Tiberius Kirk -- both were 'ambassadors' and both could boink the wimmen with ease. I agree with Grince and everyone else that says that Bennie-boy musth've kept records of his conquests...the same way Cap'n Kirk probably used his computer to log in his Star Dates..."Computer, personal log..."

9:17 PM  
Blogger Velvet said...

As an Non-Religious person (Agnostic, Atheist, whatever you call me,) I think all people need is a damn list like that to remind them of how to behave. It's a guide for how you want to live your life. No need for all the other fancy church stuff.

11:36 PM  
Blogger A Unique Alias said...

Mister Frock is very scary.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Kathryn Is So Over said...

You've been called out!

10:21 AM  
Blogger DC Cookie said...

I wonder what his chart looked like during his womanizing tenure in France...

11:39 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

thaimex, do you think Franklin was also forced to battle his good friend Thomas Jefferson to the death?

2:50 PM  
Blogger ThaiMex1 said...

To Phil:

"Live long and prosper, Ben-Spock."

"I shall do neither for I have killed my Constitutional Cohort, and my friend."

5:43 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Live long, but not too long, and prosper, but not too much, if you're going to listen to BF

8:15 PM  
Blogger Smash said...

Franklin was amazing. I'm gonna start my chart today!

11:06 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Franklin amuses the heck out of me. As for Reya's comments...."snort." Ain't it the truth?

P.S. to Mass. Glad you're back home. What a sad business you're going through.

2:12 PM  
Blogger marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

International Politics Dissertation

1:57 AM  

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