Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Monday, September 26, 2011

Houston, We Have A Touchdown

One year ago today, I posted the post that set a train of events in motion for the the concluding chapters of my life. Well actually the post had really nothing to do with it other than announcing to myself through the blog that it was time to consider retirement.

Navigating The Finite, Sept. 26, 2010, Have Enough 

I used a unique approach to retirement, I call it the flying condom method of retirement planning.  The what? you ask.  Yes the flying condom method of retirement planning.  It is based on the old and not too good joke, "Hey did you hear about the flying condom?"  "No." "It got pissed off."

How the FCRP method works, is that you pretend that retirement doesn't really exist.  You make absolutely no plans, consider nothing, ignore the fact that the clock is ticking away and sooner or later you are going to have to make a decision.  Always put that off to some fuzzy date in the future.  Well why would you do that?  Well let's see...first you go to elementary school, then middle school, then high school, then college, and then you get a job, then you get married, then have kids, then maybe another job...and then you retire.  And then you what?  Think real hard...what happens at the end of retirement?  Well you get this really neat party, a beautiful box, and a ride in fancy Cadillac station wagon out to a small piece of real estate that you bought when you were 33.  Yes that's right! It is the end of the road. Good bye Mr. Chips and everything else.  So you see I sort of viewed retirement as the ribbon cutting ceremony on the final chapters of a story guaranteed to not end well.  I would not be heading off to tour Europe or buy a vineyard.  I was pretty much going to go into a state of semi-poverty and race my resources to the grave.  So I had a tendency to handle this like I handle that appointment for a colonoscopy...I am going to jump on that first thing next year or may be in 5 years.  Some time.  And then I got pissed off.  Read the post at the link above.  You will see the condom being launched.  "Houston, we have lift off!"  Yep, that's I go into retirement with as much thought and direction as a pissed off flying condom.

I checked the numbers...they were better than I thought.  I went to a financial planner.  She rigged me up with a good plan, and yes, you can do this.  You have the resources.  My financial planner was a God send!  So then I moped around from last September until May being pissed off at work, being pissed off at being old, being pissed off at mortality, and truth be known being frightened of change.  What if I don't like retirement?  Will I have enough money.  Am I going to be 90 and eating dog food?   Other people look forward to retiring and are in a great mood in their last few months.  Me?  I moped around for 7 months in a pissed off, frightened, depressed swoon.  Why be happy, when you can mope around and make an ass of yourself?

So April 29th came and I retired. Walked out the damn door and didn't look back.  Prince William and Kate tied the knot and off we went in our own little trajectories.  I wrote a post on May first:

Navigating The Finite, May 1, 2011. First Day of Retirement  

In that post I describe being in mid-trajectory in my pissed off flight into retirement.  Where would I impact the Earth?  In the land of retirement bliss or retirement terror?

Several weeks ago my wife said something to me and it reminded me of a guy at work of whom I haven't thought of for a while.  Immediately my mind thinks "Damn I need to get with him about those special gauges."   A moment later this huge sigh or relief floods over me and I thought "No, I don't!" and I started to laugh.  And that was the precise moment when it occurred to me what retirement is like.  Imagine having an open drum of shit, and you have to carry it around 24 / 7.  If you wake up in the middle of the night to take a leak, you pick up this open drum of shit and carry it into the bathroom.  If you make love to your wife, that open drum of shit is next to the bed and you can still smell it.  You go on vacation, you carry that open drum of shit along the beach.  Yep, you are on vacation, but in the background is this constant litany of worries and things to do..."don't forget to make reservations down at Augusta, you have to order that polymer adhesive, don't forget to send the water samples off to the lab, you need fittings, you have to order a 3 1/4 inch socket, place the PO request for the test on the thingmajig, finish the rev of the test spec, oh shit you forgot that quote, hand it in on Monday late, remember to get with Ed for the test this, remember that, don't forget it is rug cutting time on the whosi-whats-it, order the PLC, call the contractors....on and on in a never ending list of demands, needs, ship dates, and quality improvements.  On April 29, 2011 I set that open drum of shit down and walked away from it, and never looked back.  I miss some of the people, but I don't miss that drum.

So I think I have touched down back on Earth, and I think it is in the land of  retirement bliss.  Do I have enough?  Not sure yet.  Gasoline went up about $1.00 a gallon since my post last year.   I notice more money going to super market.  We are not rich by any means, but we are not destitute either.  I think financially we will be OK.  I sleep better, I feel better, and I am not pissed off.  I love retirement.

One thing I forgot to mention above, and would like to do here, is thank several people for giving me some kind words of encouragement both here on my blog and in private emails.  VW Busman and the Old Baguette, you guys were a God told me not to fear, that I would love retirement...and you were right.

You can read all of my retirement related posts at:

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Note! Click on photos to view in full size.

Tis a sad thing to see a robust Irishman turn into a little old Jewish grandmother schlepping around with a mahjong set.  One of the hazards of retirement is a susceptibility to new and strange interests which led to my curious cultural metamorphosis from a robust Irishman to a Jewish grandmother!  Hold on, not so fast…as Irishman go, I am not very robust, and fat chance that I will ever be as smart as a Jewish grandmother.  They know a lot more than how to make a curative chicken soup.  If you don’t think so, check out the complicated hands on a National Mah Jongg League score card!  They don’t call mahjong the game of 1000 intelligences because it is simple.  Yet oddly enough, it can be simple enough to keep a dumb old Irish bastard entertained for hours. 

"Sextant, you nice boy. Quit chasing the shiksas and come
play some mahjong." 

Until about two months ago I had only heard of mahjong in two contexts: 1) from Jewish kids talking about their grandmothers when I was growing up, and 2) a shareware computer solitaire game from the early 90s.  The suburban neighborhood in which I grew up back in the 50s and 60s had many Jewish families.  The kids would talk about their grandmothers and aunts playing mahjong.  These kids seemed to be in awe of the game, but were never allowed to participate.  One kid was routinely banished from the house when his mother’s female relatives would come for their mahjong party nights.  It seems that the old girls didn’t want my buddy fingering up the tiles and interrupting the game.  That sounds terrible to modern sensibilities, but back in the 50s kids were often banished from house.  There was so damned many of us—most being the products of failed contraception rather than the carefully planned bundles of genetic perfection who will be play dated, extracurricular activity-ed, coached on their SATs, and groomed into this perfect statement of excellence of both the parent's genetic fitness and parenting skills, and for whom anything less than acceptance at Harvard would be considered a major catastrophe.  Yeah we were just kids, allowed to be kids, with our own social norms and justice.  It was a different, safer time back then with a neighborhood full of watchful mothers, like Ann that lived at the bottom of the street, that kept us from killing each other and having strip tease shows.   My mother had her card parties, and I had better not be hanging around other than to use the bathroom “and don’t pee on the seat, damn it”.  The thing that amazed all of us kids regardless of what games our mothers and their female cohorts played was how they could conduct the game with their jaws flapping non stop.  The cacophony from these cackling hens was enough to drive kids and husbands the hell out of the house.  The odd thing about all this mahjong that was going on in the neighborhood was that while I heard about it, never once did I ever see anyone actually playing it.  I had no idea what the game was other than it was something like a card game but played with tiles—and, weirdly, the mental image I had was the ceramic things glued on to the bathroom wall!

From 1970 until maybe 1992 there was a hiatus in the word mahjong filtering into my dim witted brain.  Then I ran into a shareware solitaire game for DOS computers.  The object of the game was to eliminate 144 tiles piled up in a pyramid by pairs.  There are four of each tile which means that you have two pairs of each type of tile to eliminate (for instance 4 norths,  4 red dragons, 4 flowers).  Cool game.  Then from the early 90s to the beginning of July this year, there was another mahjong hiatus for me. 

Mahjong Solitaire For The Kindle
I was fiddling around Amazon and I found a Kindle Mahjong Solitaire game for 99 cents.  Well I remembered liking the shareware game so I bought it.  Then I showed it to my wife and she wanted a version for her Nintendo DS.  So we start playing Mahjong Solitaire.  Then my wife asked me if there was a way we could play this together, and I told her about the Jewish kid’s grandmothers playing it.  So we looked up mahjong on Wikipedia.  Wow!  Look at this!  This seems pretty neat, but it has nothing to do with the solitaire game.  Mahjong is very similar to the card game rummy, but is played with tiles using a variety of Chinese characters instead of cards.  Not only is it the game of Jewish grandmothers in the US, it is a gambling game of Asian street thugs, and a popular family game through out Asia.  

So then we started reading about how to play the game.  It requires four players.  Well that almost killed it for us, we wanted something that just the two of us could play.  But for some reason I become intrigued with the game—it must be my inner Jewish grandmother.  So I kept reading about it.  Well the first thing you have to decide is what version you want to play.  There has to be a zillion different versions—none Irish!  Well yeah I am an Irishman but also a Yank so I guess I want to play the American version.  Suddenly things get very murky.  The American version uses complicated hands that change every year.  You have to have a National Mah Jongg League score card which are published annually. The NMJL must have a team of effective copy write lawyers, because without a card or an authorized book to teach you, you are not going to learn American  mahjong.  There is very little information on American rules on the internet. Oh yeah and you have to have four players.  Ah to hell with it, let’s just play Rummikub dear.  Truth be known, I don’t really like Rummikub, my wife is a master and she slaughters me every time we play.  Despite this running batch of disappointments, I kept snooping around on the Internet and then I ran into a website by a guy named Tom Sloper.  The one thing I gathered rather quickly from Tom’s site is that Mahjong can be extremely difficult and confusing to learn.  Then I ran into Frequently Asked Question Number 10 at the Sloperama:

Paraphrasing quite a bit, and tossing out wall construction, here are even simpler rules:

  1. Set out all your mahjong tiles and remove the jokers and flowers. 

  2. Turn the tiles face down and mix them up.

  3. Push the tiles into a pile.  Leave room for another pile of discards.

  4. Everyone take 13 tiles for their hand.  Keep your hand concealed..

  5. The object of the game is to get four melds of either three of kind (7,7,7 or N, N, N) or a three tile strait, consecutive numerical run (6,7,8) all of the same suit and a final matching pair.  The 4 melds make 12 tiles, and the pair make 14.  You win with no discard. 

  6. Each player picks up a tile from the pile one at time in turn and either discards it face up, or if it can be used to help make the standard winning hand above keeps it and discards another tile face up.

  7. Other players can claim a discard for their hand but only if it completes a meld (which must be shown) or a completed hand.  If no one wants the discarded tile, the next player picks up from the pile.

  8. The hand is over when the first person yells mahjong and shows a proper winning hand.

  9. Scoring:  Everyone bows their head toward the winner and reverently says OOOOHHHHH!.  Alternate Complex Scoring.  On a sheet of paper write down the winners name and a hash mark.  At the end of the game the person with most hash marks next to their name gets to keep the score sheet.
Yellow Mountain Import's Mahjong Cards, $7 on Amazon

Don't forget these are the very simple rules and much has been left out, but they will get you started.  All rightey!  I can handle that, and why do you need four players?  "Ok dear let’s buy a mahjong set."  We looked on Amazon.  Holy mackerel.  $85!!!  I don’t think so.  We might play this once and never look at it again.  Well here is a travel set for $20.  Well what if we do like it and the damn travel set is too chintzy?  We have blown ¼ of the price on a set we don’t want.  Even at that $20 is a lot of money to spend on a game that you may hate.  Whoa!  Look at this…Yellow Mountain Import's Mahjong Cards for $7.  They are just like standard playing cards except that there is a lot of them and they are printed in the mahjong suites.  They are the same as the tiles but are cards.  And guess what?  That is all you need to play mahjong.

So we ordered the cards and a book on Mahjong from Amazon.  Me being cheap of course, I threw in another book to get the order over $25 to use the super saver shipping that saves you shipping and handling costs, but your stuff comes via a slow boat from China.  Well that turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise because while we were waiting for the cards, I found several websites that explained Old Hong Kong Style scoring.  
My Score Sheet. Click to see full size. 

So I made up a spread sheet (not for the calculations but just as a form) that made it easy to keep score for two rounds of play.  Technically a game in Old Hong Kong mahjong is four rounds of four hands for 16 hands total.  Sorry but we can’t sit through that much mahjong.  We have found one round of four hands or perhaps two rounds which is 8 hands to be a nice game, so this score sheet works great for us.

We finally got our cards.  With only two of us playing, using my home score sheet, we had a blast.  We played two nights in a row and decided we wanted a real set.  Well I had been looking at sets and decided to go with Yellow Mountain Imports American set  from Amazon for $85.  A big factor in that decision was again we could get the super saver discount and save about $16 on shipping. Edit 10/14/11: Apparently Yellow Mountain Imports and Amazon must have parted company.  This set is still available at Amazon but it is not eligible for the super saver shipping.  

Yellow Mountain Imports American Set In A Red Wood Case
The artwork ain't great.  See the all the tiles at Amazon.  

One thing to realize when buying a mahjong set, you can use an American set (152 tiles minimum-- with jokers) for both American play which requires the jokers, and traditional Chinese play by removing the jokers and extra tiles.  A traditional Chinese set (144 tiles--no jokers) can not be used to play American style.  As such I would recommend Americans to buy the American style sets, even if the intent is to play traditional Chinese.  You never know where your interest may go.

 We also bought a mahjong table cover from Yellow Mountain Imports.  It is sort of like a thin carpet with a grippy rubber backing.  It is beautiful, protects your table top and your tiles, and gives your game some class.  $20 at Amazon or Yellow Mountain Imports website. It comes in 4 different colors, but we like red the best.

We received the set and were wowed.  The case and racks are simply beautiful.  The tiles have a very nice weight and feel to them.  The art work is nothing to write home about, but overall it is a very nice set and certainly worth $85.  

Well in the process of looking at mahjong sets, I made the fateful mistake of looking on Ebay.  Terrible, terrible, terrible mistake.  I fell in love with the old vintage Bakelite / Catalin plastic sets from the 1920s through the 1960s. 

Vintage Butterscotch Bakelite / Catalin Tiles

Unlike the modern sets which are predominately white acrylic or melamine the older sets are a yellow / orange color best described as butterscotch and are made of either Bakelite or Catalin plastic.  The art work on these tiles are stunning.  I just fell in love with these old sets and had to have one.  Hmmmm!  Easier said then done.  I think I am about 20 years too late. 

A woman named Amy Tan wrote a book called The Joy Luck Club in 1989.  It was about a mahjong club and was actually written in the style of the 16 hands to a game.  The book engendered a movie and that engendered a renewed interest in mahjong.  I can’t find the reference now but somewhere I read that a movie (not sure if it was Joy Luck Club)  featured women wearing bracelets made out of mahjong tiles.  So now you have two different types of market demand pressures on old mahjong sets, collectors and crafts people who buy up sets to make jewelry.  I will be very honest, the latter really pisses me off.  You want to make jewelry, fine, buy up modern replacement tile sets for $21.  Don’t buy a lovely old Ten Flowers, Met, or Tyl sets and destroy the tiles for stupid bracelets that will end up in the trash in less than 5 years when the dictates of fashion move on to some other silly bullshit fad. Yeah I am pissed.
The Dots From My Vintage Set

Well I tried bidding of about 5 different older classic sets. I lost every one of the bids, I wasn’t even in the ball park.  So I could either up the money that I was willing to spend or down grade my tastes.  Well I down graded my tastes and got a lovely, not that old of a set for a little over $100.  It is not one of what I would consider the classics, but it is a nice set and I am quite pleased with it, and pleased with the cash that is still in my pocket.   Comparing some of the other sales I have seen, I did good.  One set, even newer than mine, and I think worth less, got into a bidders war and finished out at well over $300.  That is just pure crazy.  People end up paying huge prices for attractive joker stickers.  The sellers have to be laughing all the way to the bank. 
The Bamboo With Perched Pheasant # 1

I look at my vintage set with something that borders reverence and sadness.  It belongs to a dead person, probably a very nice long gone Jewish grandmother.  These vintage sets end up in estate sales, and prudent Ebay sellers buy them up and sell them probably at a huge markup.  It seems sad to me that no one in the family wants grandma’s old dumb mahjong set, and they end up in the hands of a stranger like me, or worse a crafter that will turn the tiles into tacky looking bracelets and necklaces.  I sit at my table and handle the tiles and admire the artwork.  I get a little sad when I think of the games that this set must have experienced.  The laughter, the excitement of a great hand, the chit chat and gossip, and just plain fellowship of people getting together a half century ago and enjoying each others company to clatter of tiles echos through my mind.  This sitting here, touching some poor Soul’s possessions does not seem right.  It almost seems a violation, a breach of trust.
The Dragons

No one in the entire damned family wanted her game?  How sad!  On the other hand, I have her set now.  I am going to clean it up, oil the flippies and the case latches.  Repair the detached lining in the case.  Get a set of vintage betting coins, and replace the missing flower tiles.  I will re-sticker the extra joker tiles.  It won’t merely set it in a closet untouched or unloved.  My wife and I will play with it on special occasions but for the most part we will use our new set.  Wearing the paint off the impressed characters on the tiles is not a huge concern on the new set.  We can buy a complete set of replacement tiles for $21.  The vintage set will be kept as an heirloom…an heirloom that I don’t deserve—its not mine, and I don’t really have any right to it.
Rare green faux alligator case

Every once in a blue moon I will take out the set, handle the pieces, and let my imagination roam to some far off game with funny little ladies setting about a table drinking pepsi and talking about bar mitzvahs.  And I, a not so robust Irishman will be linked to a kindly old Jewish grandmother through 152 pieces of butterscotch plastic.  And probably 20 to 30 years hence, we never know these things, some seller will be pitching on Ebay…”Extremely rare, mahjong set from an estate sale.  At least 70 years old.  Rare green faux alligator case with a not often seen white plastic handle.  152 butterscotch bakelite tiles in excellent condition, 5 bakelite racks with no missing flippies.  Dice and bettor.”  Perhaps tis not such a sad thing at all for an Irishman to revere an old Jewish grandmother.

Flippies? What the hell are Flippies?
These are flippies, in various states of
flippiness.  Flip them vertical to install and
remove betting coins.  Flip then horizontal
to hold the coins down.  They are frequently
missing or broken on vintage sets.  Modern
sets use cheap plastic caps.  

New Set's Wall Of Tiles On The YMI Table Cover

Modern Racks, No Flippies--Just Cheap Plastic Caps
Holding Down Some Really Cheap Betting Coins.

If you want to learn American Mah-Jongg, Sandberg's book below comes highly recommended.  It includes a National Mah Jong League score card from 2004, which is fine for learning and playing the game.  If you want to be current, you will need the NMJL for 2011 (or what ever year in the future) score card in addition to Sandberg's book.  Cards are available at NMJL link below or Amazon.  If you want to learn both American and Chinese Official rules, get Sloper's book.  If you simply want to play a simple casual game of traditional mahjong with the minimal emphasis on fancy hands, don't bother with either book, go to the Hong Kong Mahjong Rules and Scoring link below.

Beginners Guide To American Mah Jongg: How To Play The Game & Win. By Elaine Sandberg

The Red Dragon & The West Wind: The Winning Guide to Official Chinese & American Mah-Jongg. By Tom Sloper


Note:  Some of the links below may offer on-line Mahjong games.  I know nothing about these games and offer no recommendations either way.  I would advise caution regarding any on line game.  My interest in mahjong is limited to non-computer play. 

 Lest you think me guilty of ethnic stereotyping, here is a museum display commemorating mahjong’s contribution to American Jewish heritage.   Project Mah Jongg

Hong Kong Mahjong Rules And Scoring:  Mahjong Time, Hong Kong Mahjong Rules

American style mah jongg resources, score cards, replacement tiles, and new sets: National Mah Jongg League

Wright Patterson Rules.  Mahjong can be as big as a country like China or the US or as small as an officer's spouse's club on an air force base in Ohio. Wright Patterson Officer's Spouse's Club, Mah Jongg.

For a vast collection of information on mahjong try the Sloperama Mah Jongg FAQ.  Be patient, the site is a hodge podge that looks like a tornado hit it, but jewels are hidden within: Sloperama, Mah Jongg FAQ.

Excellent resource for identifying vintage sets, vast assortment of joker stickers, and replacement tiles.  Be sure to click on the Collector Weekly interview, very interesting., All Things Mah Jong

Another good resource for identification of vintage sets and vintage set sales: Mah Jong Mah

Reasonably priced modern sets with good quality and accessories.  NOTE!  YMI is a seller on Amazon. But not all the products are available on Amazon. Check Amazon first for a product, you may get free shipping (super saver) or more reasonable shipping.  YMI shipping from this website is pricey. Yellow Mountain Imports, Mahjong

Mahjong For The Cheap:  If you don't mind keeping your tiles in a shoe box, raiding the monopoly set for dice, and not using racks, you can be mahjonging for $21.00 + S&H.  All you get is the tiles, and really other than dice (available every where for next to nothing) it is all you need. Use the Hong Kong rules in the link above and you are all set. Yellow Mountain Imports At Amazon: Replacement Tiles

Mahjong For The Very Cheap:  Want to mahjong for a third of the cost of the tiles above go with Yellow Mountain Imports Mahjong Cards for $7.00 (same as pictured above).  Very portable. Yellow Mountain Imports At Amazon, Mahjong Playing Cards

Mahjong sets, tiles, accessories.  The have a really cool set of enameled betting coins that I was to get for the new set:  Where The Winds Blow

EDIT 9-19-11:  Here is a great resource for identifying old sets.  See the museum.  You can also order missing tiles from this site. See the tile replacement catalog:

Image Credits:

Japanese Mahjong Wizards. My Hawaiian Home, Wordless Wednesdays, Mahjong

Ladies Playing Mahjong:  The Kitschy Collector Home of C. Diane Zweig.

Kindle Mahjong Solitaire:, Mahjong Solitaire

YMI Cards & Mahjong Set:  Yellow Mountain Imports At

All others: Me

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dysfunctions Of A Team

Image Credit, Amazon. 

I logged into Amazon to see what today's Kindle Daily Deal might be.  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series) by Patrick Lencioni.  $2.99 today, ordinarily probably about $13., The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Well today is the Fourth  Month-a-versary of my retirement so what the hell, I decided to treat myself to a book that I will probably never read.  The premise of the book looks interesting to me.  This guy writes business fiction that teaches the business lesson in the form of a "parable" within the novel.  My particular interest in this book is that it is about teamwork which I found to be a rather interesting subject both at work and when I was taking business classes at college.

My experience with teams at work is that they generally only function when you have a team of specialists that  must provide input because no one else can provide the expertise. When you have X number of people on a team, equally qualified to work on a problem, you will end up with one self appointed advertising executive shouting to the world all of the amazing things this group will accomplish and otherwise does nothing, two people who actually do the all work and X-2 people who come to the meetings either as prisoners or vacationers but offering little in the way of help. But I have generally found that when it comes to taking credit, the team will return to its original number of X members...especially if a recognition dinner is involved and there is a chance to schmooze with the royalty.

I belonged to a product team that had a leader from marketing that envisioned himself as the head coach of the Steelers.  "Ok, Jane, you are my quarter back. Bob, you are my wide receiver. Sextant, you are my ah? ah?  Well sit over there for now."  What the hell is this guy talking about?  We manufacture large highly specialized, highly reliable heavy electrical equipment that can weigh as much as 90 tons and this guy sounds like an announcer from ESPN, talking a bunch of crap that I know nothing about. I don't follow sports. "OK team! It third and 10 and you are my first string...make me proud!"  Go to hell, Jack, I am not "YOUR" anything. I come here to do my job, but don't give me this "rah rah go team" bullshit. I started working here when you were still shitting your diapers.  Damn, that guy could get under my skin.  Well as you can see I wasn't much of a team player, although many times I ended up being one of the two worker bees. However, True Confession: unless I was directly responsible for something, I tended toward the obviously pissed off prisoner status--that way the pollyannas would generally leave me alone and find some other poor sap to do the stupid tasks.  I quit going to recognition dinners, when I realized that, schmoozing with the bosses in a place that looked like a 18th century French bordello and served food that was undercooked, tasted like hell, had a name that I couldn't pronounce and served with too many forks was really not my thing.  You know, if we would have went to a Pizza Hut, I might have at least enjoyed the meal.  For the most part I regarded these stupid teams as being the result of someone reading too many issues of the Harvard Business Review.      

Then my experience at college. I was in my late 40s, my boss told me that I should take some college courses to show that I was a go getter. Hmmm! Me a go getter?  So I figured business courses would reflect go gettingness without getting bogged down in the heavy math requirements of engineering which is what I really should have been taking.   Every rotten business class I took emphasized a team project and team presentations, and team this and team that.  What a crock of shit. Then for some of these presentation we were required to wear formal business dress. So here I am a middle aged cranky man with a bunch of college kids.  We would set up a meeting, one kid would show up. Divide up the work.  Nothing from any body but the one kid that showed up at the meeting.  The first mile stone presentation is coming up and 4 members haven't done a damn thing.   Then it occurred to me.  I do reports and presentations at work that are far more complicated than this crap and it actually applies to the real world where there is real money and real human life at stake.  Why am I crapping around with these young punks...just do the whole damn thing yourself and be done with it.  I presented my offer to the rest of the group, they gladly accepted.  And that was how I handled team projects for the rest of my classes.  All the rest of the group only had to read their email.  I would send them their part of the presentations.   The day of presentation, invariably four of us would be in formal business attire, and a fifth member (aways a guy) in a grubby tee shirt, reading his part off  the paper that I brought to class verbatim. We always got an A, but we shouldn't have.  The idiot with the tee shirt on should have dragged our grades down.  I hated those stupid team projects.  Yet they seemed to be the hallmark of business education in the late 90's.  One semester, I had a project at work that was turning to shit quick and was going to occupy a lot of my time so I dropped the semester and somewhere along the line decided that I was not a go getter and the only place I was going was out the door when I either got laid off or retired.  So much for business education. It was most intellectually stultifying courses I had ever taken.  
“Franky, Brandon, I am concerned.  Our forecasted
 marginal cost  savings realized from leveraging
 our suppliers in
Singapore is diminished within
 the integral of the flattened demand due to the
 Apple announcement and the increase in production
 from our competitors in
Shanghai.  Did you get the
 power point done? 
Brandon, we have a presentation
in 5 minutes with the team, where are your pants?
  Oh God, you are so like those guys in my group
 projects at Harvard, never ready for presentation.”

So here I am retired and I bought a business fiction book on the joys of team work.  Will I read it?  I may, it is fiction after all, and I spent thirty five years as a character in the fiction of team work.  Business fiction?  Hmmmm.  Maybe some product development team at a publishing house can start pushing the Business Fiction genre which would naturally evolve into romantic business fiction...will his supply curve match her demand curve, and will their hearts meet at the asymptotic saturation?  Which would then of course evolve into erotic business fiction.  And I can expand my book club empire by becoming the grand poobah of the Kindle Erotic Business Fiction Book Club...lessons in business and one night team work that will rip your bodice.