Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Letters to Editors

I rarely read Editorials or the letters to Editor (which are usually a counter point of view).  I prefer to see those magazines and newspapers that show two side by side Editorials that show opposing points of view together.  The term "fair and balanced" has even been abused by the famous Fox News Channel.  Fair and balanced is really a split screen between Fox News with OReilly/Hannity and MSNBC with Olbermann/Maddow.  When I toggle back and forth to each of these channels I get irritated at both.

Jack Painter just sent me a draft of an Oped piece he intends to send to the Enquirer or Community Press.  I broke my rule and read it - after all he is a good friend.  It was well written but I wonder who really reads it --- does it have any impact ---  will it just create an counterpoint piece in next week's paper.

Some argue that certain Editors have been vetted over time and that their views are worth reading and spreading to the uniformed masses.  Maybe so - but I think if you want to speak about an issue - don't quote me some editorial,  instead show me your research and how you have studied the issue.  I want your view not the view of your favorite editor who thinks just like you.

So - I will continue to avoid Editorials.  I like letters to Editor because that is you and me writing back - sort of like blogging. By the way aren't Editors just professional bloggers who got A's in English?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Lost Thanksgiving

Yes -  I've already spotted some Christmas stuff in retailers.  Sams Club alreaady had some basic stuff out - maybe last years inventory - but regardless some stuff.  The old rule of thumb was this was never seen until close to Thanksgiving - trying to capitalize on the Holiday shopping for the day after Thanksgiving.

Now retailers are attempting to beat the other with getting their merchandise out sooner.  Susan will put all of her Christmas out on October 18.  That has moved up from the old days of doing the weekend after Halloween. 

Does the consumer really care?  Does getting it out early really make a difference in retail sales? 

From the retailers perspective it does.  Inventory is all about turns.  Most  Christmas merchandise  is shipped and received in October so why have it stored where it can't sell.  Better to have it on the floor ready for those early bird Christmas shoppers (I had those people who are so proactive) and with the ability to generate cash flow in October and November. 

But for me - I miss the excitement that builds when Christmas isn't put out until Thanksgiving.  The reality is that we can just forget Thanksgiving and now we move from Halloween directly to Christmas.

I wonder if there were presents, candy or costumes for Thanksgiving if we could revive that Holiday?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

David and Goliath

Or in our case The Laurel House vs Nordstrom.  After weeks of front page coverage on the grand opening of Nordstrom it is finally open.  I stopped by to see the store on Friday and indeed it looked like Christmas shopping volume.  I'm sure the flew other store employees in for the opening and at times it was difficult to determine who was the customer and who were the employees. 

The Laurel House had a Pandora Trunk show coincidentally on this opening day event and it did well.  Our celebration was to get out of town - just got back from Lexington and a wonderful evening meal at Shaker Village. 

So  David is fearlessly attacking Goliath head on - with community press banner ads and billboards - yes billboards.  It's funny how competition brings out the best in all of us.  Yes the American way - competition creates the excellence in operations that keeps our country number one.  Will Nordstrom put some folks out of business - yes we saw that first hand when we saw the owner of Julia's working on the floor Sunday for Nordstrom in the designer women's department. 

So The Laurel House is not about to defeat Nordstrom  --   but the competition will help to make everyone improve.  That's a win - win for the consumer.

Friday, September 25, 2009


When is the last time you wrote someone a letter? -  not a note -  a bona fide handwritten letter?  I remember a speaker Dave Philips brought in at Arthur Andersen to talk about client service.  I used to carry around a small laminated card with some of the meeting take aways (naturally it is filed somewhere probably up in my attic).  But the summary was (1) we all need "strokes" of kindness (2) It's ok to give strokes  (3) It's ok to get/accept strokes.

So how does this relate to letters you say?   I remember his example so vividly.  He asked the question - when you get home what is the first thing you do?   The answer for most of us was get the mail out of the mailbox.  Sort through the junk mail. Find the handwritten addressed mail and the return address. Feel good when you get a letter from a friend or family member -  HENCE a "Stroke".

Now we have virtual "strokes" -  texting, voice messages, email, instant messaging, cell phone calls.  But which of these are the more powerful "strokes" - the more lasting strokes? 

Do you keep those meaningful letters?   I do.  And I bet there are a number of letters you have penned that are stored somewhere (maybe and attic) by someone else ---- Preserving your stroke.

So write a letter today to a loved one.  It can be deep or just surface level.  I Garen-tee that it will have impact.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What me Worry?

"Who of you by worrying, can add a single hour to his life?" ......    "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of it's own."  
So the question is - does each day have a finite amount of absolute worries?  Patrick McManus talks about the "Worry Box" in his book the Good Samaritan Strikes Again.  I like his postulation - "People possess a certain capacity for Worry - no more no less".  If true that says on any given day we add up all the people and we get the absolute value of all the worries in the world.  So it could be that worries is a function of population growth.
I like the thought that the older we get the smaller our worry box gets.  Even though the baby boomers are getting older and worries are decreasing, the overall population growth means absolute worries may be growing - it depends on how fast the worry box shrinks with age.
I know my worry box is smaller than Susan's.  If fact, I tell her I'm glad she worries so much because that releases the pressure on me to add to my worries.  And how does one quantify the magnitude of a worry - which worry is bigger than another?  Is your worry more important than my worry?
Bobby McFerrin wrote the song "Don't Worry, Be Happy" -  I can just hear it now in my mind!  A great song with the perfect score and lyrics - the 1989 Grammy song of the year.
So today can you close the lid on the worry box?
"In your life expect some trouble;  When you worry you make it double; Don't Worry, Be Happy - Be Happy Now"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Being there - virtually

As many would know - I have been on a kick watching concerts with my new surround sound system.  It started with the Eagles Farewell Tour I  and has continued with Hell Freezes Over, Moody Blues, Doobie Brothers, James Taylor, Billy Joel, the Irish Tenors, Norah Jones, Roy Orbison and tonight Elton John 60: Live at Madison Square.

I'm intrigued with the crowd shots. This one was full of celebrities. And naturally everyone was standing for most of the concert.  Clearly being there virtually by watching on the Blu-ray is ok but can never duplicate the live experience.  But there in lies the cost benefit.  For me the cost is the tickets, the hassle of getting there, fighting the crowd, and standing the whole time. 

I didn't go to many concerts as a result and rarely go to live sports events.  And those that I have, it's hard to even remember the energy and recapture the moment.  So the advantage of DVD is the convenience, the time shifting, and ability to repeat.  The disadvantage is you see only what the camera recorded - no real freedom there.  But most of these productions are great, showing a variety of angles, crowd shots, close-ups, far away pans etc.  

So I vote for the comfort of the easy chair at home, PCM 5.1 Surround Sound, Sony 50 inch HD 1080i played on the Playstation BluRay.  I finish the concert - walk 100 feet and go to bed.

Just End It

One of the hardest things in life is deciding when to stop doing things that you have been doing for years.  Whether it is a habit, a job, a daily ritual, anything.  It's like what I would find in the corporate world looking at computer reports, procedures and policy.  They get put in place - usually do to an exception, customer problem, supplier issue, poor quality etc.  And they live on forever.  I would ask - why do you continue to produce this computer report - and many times could get no logical reason.  "I do it for Frank"  -----  and Frank what do you do with it  ---  " I check if for accuracy and sent it to Joe"  ---  Joe how do you use it?  ---   " I don't I just file it for reference if a customer calls"  ---  When was the last time a customer called?  ---   "I think it was about a year or so ago".

Even with this dialogue, it was difficult to convince the client to quit producing the report.  So it is with our own reports, daily procedures and policies.  When is it time to stop?  

I wonder this year if we will renew our box seats at the Masters Tennis after 18 years of ownership and 10 years of volunteering?  The longer the habit - the more difficult it is to change -  to stop or even modify it's use.  Very difficult to pull yourself out of the trees to see the forest.  Maybe I need to hire a consultant :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Day of Fall

Officially Fall starts at 5:00pm. Unofficially it starts on the NFL opening day or maybe the Network Season Premieres. So what are we Falling from?  I guess the summer heat, the green leaves on trees and out of bed from sleeping too because the cool weather and changes in darkness.

Fall is also called Autumn -  I think I'll start using that word - "Autumn is my favorite time of year".  The key "holiday" in autumn is Halloween.  I still remember that Accenture event I was at in 1986 in St Charles, Ill at the senior manager school.  A psychologist was speaking to our group about life balance.  He started the speech out asking the audience what are the two most exciting Holidays for kids.  Naturally the answers were Christmas - first; and then ......... Halloween.  And what day was it - October 31, 1986 and where were we - not at home enjoying the moment with our kids.
What a way to let the audience know that we were "out of balance".

What will you be doing this Halloween?   Time to think about your balance.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Taxing Behavior

Social Engineering begins with taxes.  Can you change human behavior with taxes?  I think the answer is a resounding no and yes (micro and macro).  First the no (micro level) -  look at the regressive tax on gas, cigarettes, alcohol, purchases, and I'm sure there are others.  So do these taxes prevent you from driving, smoking, drinking and shopping at the mall? 
So what about the yes (macro level). How about not living in Ohio for 6 months?  How about a business moving somewhere just to have lower taxes?  How about investing in Muni Bonds?  How about avoiding estate taxes?
Funny - we accept the taxes at the penny by penny level and politicians like that because it is "hidden" from our day to day view (sales tax, excise tax, payroll withholding- that we can thank Milton Friedman for that idea - , ss tax, medicare tax, vehicle registration, etc. 
I think about the time I consume thinking about taxes, preparing my annual taxes, planning for future taxes.  Such a waste of productivity.  That's the real tax - taxing my productivity.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gadget Month

I think each year when fall comes, I get in gadget mode.  It must be related to watching football, new fall TV line-up, and more indoor entertainment.  So while Ellen and I were playing Wii in the movie room, I began watching NFL football on the big screen but in standard format -  ugh!   The fuzzy screen made me sick.  Now my Dell projection screen has HD capability but I would need an ATSC tuner down there.  I have one standard VCR/DVD combo player and one component DVD player hooked up down there.  So what I would need is to replace the component DVD with a DVD player with an ATSC tuner.  Or is it time to just break down and get the HD package from Time Warner?

Then that got me thinking - why not get a DVD recorder (since I am too cheap to get a TIVO or DVR).  But alas - these do not record HDTV - just standard with upconvert.

And then I think - will I really go downstairs to watch football?  Not really that is just a movie room.

So I will continue to put it on the wish but not really needed list.  If I come across a cheap DVD with and ATSC tuner, I will get it for downstairs for the odd chance that I want to watch HDTV (the network channels) downstairs. 

Also, I will continue to evaluate getting a DVR for my system upstairs.  Really that is the next step in upgrading my complete system upstairs.

Maybe some of this was also driven by Rich telling me about his Netflix download/streaming box he bought for $99.  I will need to factor that into the analysis also.

Just shows you - no matter how many gadgets you have - there are more to consider.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Take a good look at your sock drawer.  Is it well organized?  What about those missing pairs?  How do the socks get in there?  What are the primary colors?  How do socks get retired? What pair is the most under utilized?

I'm lucky enough to have the advantage of placing dirty socks down a hamper and presto they show up back in my drawer - magically by Susan.  But over time a singles begin to accumulate.  It is this strange belief of mine that if I keep the single in there long enough its partner will appear.  But alas it hope is futile. So when do you take the major step and retire the single completely - to trash or rag box?  For me the time frame is years. 

By the way, where do those missing pairs go?  This is one of the strange mysteries of life.  My theory is there is a warp zone near every dryer that captures the single.  Maybe those singles are clinging desperately to a pant leg attempting to break out of the sock cycle of hell - attached to feet, dirty, wet, dry and banished to the drawer only to do it over and over again.

Today I took the time to repair :)  my singles where I could find a match.  Yes somehow my automatic sock re- supplier  (Susan) had skipped the knotting step and even paired two singles with different colors.  This process error was discovered yesterday when I looked down and found one dark blue and one black sock on each of my feet.  Three years ago when this happened I retired all dark blue socks completely.  Somehow a pair must have found it's way back to the drawer.
So with meticulous and careful viewing in natural light, I attempted to pair the correct blacks together.  This is not an easy task.  I can be grateful to Susan for her diligence and eye for detail.  So the one blue pair is now enter the world of rags.Unfortunately I had no courage to retire the other single pairs.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Here comes da Judge

New Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor debuts in the audio arguments during the First Amendment case that has pitted proponents of campaign spending
limits on corporations against an odd coalition of conservative
advocates and free-speech purists including the American Civil
Liberties Union and Reporters for Freedom of the Press.

I would not want to be a Judge.  The entire controversy of confirming Sotomayor based on the fear of whether she would be true to the "fidelity of the law" seems ridiculous to me.  Judges are humans and the ability to be impartial is always framed by our experiences, our point of view and the "log in our own eye". 

Today we studied Matt. 7 in Bible Study.  Jesus has always taught empathy, and seeking first to understand.  The challenges Judges have is when to stop listening to evidence and make the ruling. Both fortunately and unfortunately it is a yes or no; black and white; on or off.  Judges wear black, interpret the gray world.

We call them "Your Honor" as they have the solemn responsibility to interpret the law.  So I suspect in a Judge's vocabulary there is not a right or wrong law -  It is just THE LAW.  So the 64 dollar question is when a Judge believes the law is wrong - how do they rule?

Matt. 7: 1-2
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The season finale of America's Got Talent got me thinking about the how we define talent.  Yes - it took 4 seasons before I really got interested in this show (assuming is was just a knock off of American Idol which I was never really interested in).  How I got hooked was in a channel surfing experience I happened upon Kevin Skinner's performance in the 4th Season of this show.  Like the British version of Susan Boyle (who by the way was on the Season Finale of America's Got Talent last night), I also figured Kevin Skinner was an American media setup to compete with the British media blitz that Susan made in her performance.

So I followed Season 4 and the Cinderella story of Kevin Skinner - by the way he did win the Million Dollars.
Should he have won?  My heart said yes - my critic is his performances slide down hill from the first. 

So what is talent?   My definition is that it is discovering your gift from God and trying to excel at it.  Kevin has a musical gift ( maybe not the best in America), and the courage to try to excel at it.  That's what I think America was voting for - we love the Cinderella Story -  rags to riches.  We love the entrepreneurial spirit and try to reward it as a populace. 

What's the Edison quote? -  "Success is 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration".  I think this applies here also - just substitute Talent for Inspiration.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September Seasonal Change

What is it about September that lowers my motivation?  Is it the temperature change?  Change in sleep pattern? The moving from summer schedule to fall school schedule?  Is it the pending October 15 tax extension deadline?
Since I have done a written journal since October 2006, I have documentation of my emotional valley for both 2007 and 2008.  The excuse for 2008 was Hurricane Ike (Sept 13, 2008 to Sept 20, 2008) with no power at the house for a week -  that's solved now with our generator.
I have never been a study of biorhythms but decided to look at my graph today:


Check out the green line (Emotional) and see the valley - 09/16/09.  Coincidence or reality?  Now look at the composite of unique pairs of Intellectual, Physical and Emotional:

Mastery - Intellectual and Physical - Athletic ability and learning physical skills 
Passion - Physical and Emotional - Motivation to act, drive and sexual peak
Wisdom - Emotional and Intellectual - Presence of mind, understanding the important things in life
This chart indicates I am just coming off a medium low of Passion (motivation). 
So what does this all mean? and knowing the information what actions would you take?
Like watching the weather - all I can do is let it pass.  But if you believe the chart I should challenge someone to tennis  on Tuesday October 13!
Thanks to  (how appropriate) for the charts.

PS -  For the mathematically inclined:
Physical = sin(2*pie*t/23 days)
Emotional = sin(2*pie*t/28 days)
Intellectual = sin(2*pie*t/33 days)
Where t = number of days since birth

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Books and Movies

How many books and movies do you spend time on in a average year?  I think the answer will amaze you.  But we never really get the statistics.  Well I've been recording books and movies on Linkedin and Facebook respectively so maybe by end of the year I will have my stats (you know me it's always about the numbers).  I remember Bill Gates book "The Road Ahead" said that one day we will have a microprocessor on us that records everything we say, see and do -  but who will summarize the statistics?  And just like my frustration with every finding anything that I filed physically - how do I find it?  Search engines and digitizing everything was supposed to solve that -   Not really,  once it is in my computer hard drive, I can forget it just as easily.

I tried those super search engines only to discover they just bogged down my performance until I gave up and deleted them.  My desire to record my books and movies was to easily find the answer to ....   that reminds me of a good book that I once read ......  now what was the name of that book;  who was the author?

Already I have 53 books on Linkedin -  and no search criteria or ability to see a list (there are 6 pages to scroll through).  And what about the books not recommended?  Do I enter those also?

So maybe the desire to inventory everything is futile.  The wonder of the brain is that it remembers only that stuff it deems important and you have little control over the items.  So often I say -  I'm putting this here so that I will remember it - HA HA.  and good luck.

Wasn't there a movie  or book about that?    I just don't remember.  :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bankruptcy - Financial or Personal

The Business Courier reports Ohio is ranked 7th in the nation for Bankruptcy (business and personal) - 5.61 filings per 1000 residents up 20% for the year ending June 30th.  How does one react?   Compassionate or Critical?  Either way it's not just financial -  and it's not just business ----   IT"S ALL PERSONAL! 

Ever story is a personal one with ripple affects around their personal and professional network.  It's tempting to talk about the cause - the job, the lifestyle, the money madness, the risk, the list goes on and on.  But like any problem, "you are where you are" and today is the time to look forward.  Those in bankruptcy are being forced to do the Five and Five Exercise  (from yesterday's blog).

I can be thankful for the legacy of my parents and grandparents in teaching me money management.  The stories my Grandfather mentioned about the Great Depression; my Mother's stories of growing up poor but happy; the recessions that affected my Dad's employment ....  they all go on to frame my money personality.

And it is my responsibility to pass that legacy on to my children.  We have so little time with them as children and I hope my kids see the correct 5 items of value and save their money for times like now.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Five and Five Exercise

From the book -"The Cure for Money Madness":

Name the five biggest purchases you made over the last five years.  How often and how much do you still use these items - and do they mean as much now as they seemed to just before you bought them?

Now name the five things you really value out of all the things you have -- both material and nonmaterial possessions.  Assume you have to give away everything except these five.  What are they --- the top five things you will hold onto no matter what?

Why do this exercise - to determine if you can tame your money monster and find your sufficiency.

I would even change the exercise to be----- name your top 5 all time wants that involved a purchase or expenditure (something beyond what you need like a house, car etc).  You can list a need if it combines the need with an extra "add-on want" (like buying a Cadillac vs Buick).
And for the value of things -   list 5 material possessions and list 5 nonmaterial possessions.

So what are mine (and some combined with Susan):
(1)  Big Screen TV, Blu-Ray and Surround Sound System -  2007-2009
(2)  Remodel Kitchen and Family Room (extras  Thermador, Remote Fireplace, Generator) - 2009
(3)  Masters Tennis Box Seats (1991-2009)
(4)  Dell Large Screen Projector (2003)
(5)  Weber Grill (2006)

OK now the 5 material possessions I would hold on (not in order):
(1) Oriental Rug -  Because it was payment for a consulting job I did and an antique investment of value
(2)  Daredevil Comic Collection -  after 40 years of collecting the 500th  issue just came out
(3) My Home Movies and Picture Albums
(4) My Laptop Computer- because it has emails from loved ones
(5) Masters Tennis Box Seats - if it continues to draw family and friends together
And the non material possessions:
(1) My Health
(2) My Family
(3) My Close Friends
(4) My Love of Learning
(5) My Pets

So what does this tell me? - The real meaningful things can't really be bought with money - they are the things that come with investment of time.  They are primarily relationship related and life (memory) related.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Anniversary - What year was that?

Each day is awarded another anniversary memory  -  and they accumulate a long history of "what happened on that date".  So what makes this day in history meaningful to you?   Do you celebrate that memory or feel a pang of loss?  Today - 9/11 will always be marked for our generation (like Dec 7th for my parents) as a visual memory of catastrophic man-made event - planes flying into buildings.  Most of us will remember exactly where we were - will that memory fade - maybe some of the details but not the feeling.  And probably the date will always remain in memory - 9/11/2001. 

Few dates are etched into your memory - that is the exact month, day and year.  Your Birthday, Anniversary, family birthdays and maybe friends.Some have better memories than others about these key exact dates and whether you remember all three (month, day and year) or just the month and day. Luckily technology is here to help us.  As an example I have in my palm pilot dates with year of all my family's birth, marriage, death.  That pretty much defines the events of life down to the simple three. 

What world events (events you didn't participate in) do you really remember - vividly and know the exact date and year it occurred?   I remember where I was, what I was doing on several key events -  the Kennedy assassination,  Regan attempted assassination,  moon landing, first shuttle explosion, 9/11 terrorist strike - not many 5 events.  9/11 is the only one where I remember the month and day - because how it is titled.  Will I remember the year in 30 years?


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Awards and Desktop Momentos

Where are all  those desktop momentos?  Boxed carefully in my attic above the garage - dozens and dozens that have not seen the light of day for 8 years.  I think that is what the office is really for - storage and presentation of the  desktop memories.  Some are paid clutter, others are awards, others presents (family, friends, suppliers, clients etc.) but I have now accumulated 8 more years of this stuff.

Why is this on my mind?  Today's Vistage Award - "In recognition of Garen Wisner Honoring your committment to growth.  Member since 2004".  A beautiful crystal glass etched item with Vistage World Medallian.  Awarded  today at our monthly Vistage meeting, seven of the founding members of our 1107 Trusted Advisor group were given these awards. 

So it sits proudly on my roll top desk among the Miami momentos, Interact for Change and my Stock Orb. 

Where will it go next? - well on any office move or clean-up it also will find its way to a box in the attic to join the other office historical momentos.  The memory lives on in my head - but its physical properties reside in my attic.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Electronics Nostalgia

Susan asked me to troubleshoot her sound system at the store.  I had a mismatch set of equipment - my 1971 Radio Shack Tuner, an acquired 5 Disk CD changer, and some Samsung Surround Sound Speakers.  The Radio Shack equipment was about to bite the dust.  One toggle switch for the cassette tape (yes that was high tech in those days - Dolby Noise Reduction) had been damaged and consequently proper contact with the main speakers was not occurring and the sound was scratchy. 

I replaced the tuner and CD changer with the Samsung DVD 5 Changer Surround Sound tuner.  All is well at the store now - she had been putting up with the static sound in speakers for over 2 years.

So now what to do with the TV downstairs with the blown out speakers.  I took the Radio Shack tuner home and did the macho thing.  Open it up and try to repair it.  The repair consisted of eliminating the toggle switch and direct connecting the wires - no more tape input.  Next get an old DVD player and after an evening of repair the downstairs TV is set to go.

But the tuner had some other casualties.  The Stereo/Mono switch no longer works and for some reason the Phono switch wasn't playing well from the old DVD (had to route through L2 of the VCR).  Blew some fuses on the light up display and who knows what else.

But it works for what I need - TV, VCR and DVD in a spare room.  And it gave me great comfort to still see the 1971 Radio Shack Tuner live on.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Connected World

We're all connected.  Today emails from Accenture alumni (John Craig and Peggy Zink) connected again in various ways.  John's daughter is working for Imago - and SVP Cincinnati investee.  Peggy is now working for Cincinnati Works - connected through Dave Phillips and Kim Crawford (the old CFO).  And my attempt to connect Dean Truitt (now back in Ohio) with John and my Dayton old client buddy David Ray.  Then in a call to Glenn Bitzenhofer about his daughter looking for a non-profit to work at - I mentioned Peggy and he said - I know Peggy she goes to the same church as I do --  such a connected world when you are attached to good people.

I'm really interested in how Facebook, Linkedin, Plaxo, Twitter and all the other Social Networking will make a difference in connecting us all.  Even blogging can be a way of tuning in and out of individual's lives.Although I am cautious about informing anyone about my personal blog.

There is something comforting about making connections.  Each time this coincidence occurs it make you feel good.  It's like when you are at a party or meeting someone new for the first time.  As you are chit chatting you compare life experiences - places you lived, children, occupation, who we know, where we went to school etc. etc. Why - because we are all looking for commonality - something in common that connects us personally with each other and allows the conversation to move smoothly from acquaintance to friendship to deeper relationship.

I am always intrigued with the "six degrees of connectedness" principle.  We are here to help and to be helped - interdependency.  A connected world gives us that good feeling both ways.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Relaxing

There is something special about Holiday - even more than just everyone feeling relaxed and putting work on the back burner.  Maybe it's that extra hour of sleep that gets everyone in a calm and better mood.  Maybe it's the Family events or special cook-outs that create a loving atmosphere.  Ours was marked with a great meal with the Isetts and playing Probe (a 1960's board game) late into the evening.

Labor Day marks the official ending of summer.  Last night it went out with a bang - first the WEBN fireworks and then at 6am this morning some of the loudest thunder I can remember followed by a downpour of rain.  Today will just be a laid back day of rest followed by taking Jenna back to Miami.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Colossians 3:12-15

Is it all just coincidence????  Many would say yes - you decide.   In my Friday morning Bible Study we are reviewing the book - "One Month to Live" by Shook.  This book I just happened to see in the books on CD when I was making my annual trek to Wilmington NC to see Rich McCord.  I like listening to it so I checked it out and read it and used it daily for my own daily spiritual time (back in February).  I suggested it to my Friday morning Bible study and on Friday we were covering the second week - Love Compassionately and specifically the chapter on Forgiveness.  We spent some time on Colossians 3:13.  So here is the coincidence.  Last Thursday I was looking for a movie for Ellen and I to watch together - hoping to put in practice one of the suggestions of the book - spend more time today with the loved ones you would want to spend time with if you knew you had one month to live.  So I pick out this PG movie called "The Secret Cave".  I was too busy to watch it last week, but since Jenna was home this weekend I suggested we all three go down to the movies room and watch it.  Jenna had homework to do so it was just Ellen and I watching.  The movie had some deep messages but was a mystery that would keep children interested.

Lo and behold right in the middle of the movie the pastor in the movie recites Colossians 3:13.  One of the deep messages hidden inside.

Colossians 3:12-15  KJV
12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, and also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Philips Modern English
As, therefore, God's representatives, purified, and beloved, put on that nature which is merciful in action, kindly in heart, and humble in mind.  Accept life, and be most patient and tolerant with one another, always ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone.  Forgive as freely as the Lord has forgiven you.  And, above everything else, be truly loving, for love binds all the virtues together in perfection.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Miami Vs UK

College Football is here and Miami's first game is Downtown Cincinnati at the Paul Brown Stadium.  Jenna is back for the holiday from Miami and it's good to see she is working hard at school.  This year the tickets are in our name and a great thanks goes to Jeff Crawford for introducing us to John and Mary Ann Luecke (Class of 44).  It was this introduction that caused us to attend Miami Football games for over 20 years.  And likely is why Jenna grew up thinking of Miami fondly and decided to pick Miami as her single choice of school to attend.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Microsoft Dodges a Bullet - Maybe

Well the computer saga may be over.  After a day of tuning, adding memory to 2 gig, and my road testing, Jenna's flawed  HP Pavilion DV2310US is running like a top.  But in reading reviews and attempting to find blogs with advice, I'm convinced this model is a lemon.  Just shows you a Lemon Computer with an Unliked Operating System is Apple's best marketing campaign.  Will Jenna be appeased and use this one, or will she continue the research and desire for an Apple -  stay tuned.

Then Susan entered the picture while obtaining a new charger for her cell phone, the Verizon rep told her about the new $199 Laptop with $39.99/mth internet access.  RATS - and I'm stuck until 6/16/2010 with my Sprint access at $61/mth (with tax).  Apparently the offer was sweetened when the rep said the laptop is free if you buy a blackberry phone for $149.  Actually I can't wait to see the competition drive down wireless data access even further. 

I will say all the technology tinkering has gotten my gadget temptation at an all time high.  If Jenna picked the Apple or Verizon alternative, I would gladly take over her laptop now that it is tuned so well and deep six this Acer that I am on.

Oh - I did create a history of my laptop purchases:

8/16/02  - Circuit City buying a CPQ1510US for $2,103.98  Paid (9/28/04) Radioshack service center $40 to look it over after 10 months of thinking it was broken- currently it's screen is malfunctioning
11/7/03  - Circuit City buying a CPQ2195US for $1,249.99 with $250 rebate that I didn't get (long story)
11/7/03  - Paid for 3 yr service agreement $284.16  (and ended up using it once on 6/11/07 after spending $40 for new adapter)
6/09/07 -  Jenna and I buy together HP DV2310US with $100 or $150 rebate?
6/09/07 - Paid for 3 yr service agreement $329.99 and used twice already for hard drive, motherboard, ethernet connection new battery
11/2/07 - Bought from Wyborski an Acer Walmart Early Black Thursday special $348.00 Bought 2 gig memory in 2/09 for $40
9/4/09 Bought 2gig memory for $33 for HP DV2310US

So 4 computers and $5K in 7 yrs.This substantiates my theory of buy cheap, buy often and buy less than you need.  Also I'm tempted to buy again with Windows 7 -  go figure NOT ONLY MAY MSFT DODGE A BULLET but all this attention could cause me to buy yet another laptop with Windows 7 preloaded.  Why?  Because my other lesson learned is not to upgrade any computer with a new operating system.

Some day when I get motivated I will attempt to reconstruct the history of my desktop purchases.  That's another long and assorted tale.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cool September Nights

I love the Fall Season - by far my favorite.  Maybe the start of football, the memories of school, the disappearance of my allergies, the smell of burning fireplaces, the wearing of jackets and sweaters - and probably many more.  Late last night I wandered outside to feel the seasonal change - the full moon illuminated the yard, the crisp clear skies revealed the stars.  The soft lights in the office and foyer with loved ones safe in bed, gave me the comfortable feeling of home. The welcome interruption by Nelly the black Lab with wagging tail added to the warm feeling inside of peaceful comfort surrounded by the crisp cool September air.  Nature's noises were present but in a few more hours everything would be quiet. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Jenna's HP Laptop Saga - Will Microsoft take the fall?

I can see most of today will be consumed with Computer repair diagnostics.  Susan delivered the old Compaq notebook as a backup to Jenna last night.  I now have her HP DV2310US with me at the office and I am sufficiently frustrated (I can now understand Jenna's stress level).  So out comes all the documentation.  The Computer purchased from the defunct Circuit City on 6/9/2007 was a lemon.  It had problems that Jenna talked about continuously until I got involved the next year 6/30/2008 and we sent it in (at that time the ethernet connection didn't work, there were power problems, DVD intermittent problems and a bunch of runtime errors on bootup).   The hard drive was replaced (there goes Jenna's data), replaced gad combo drive, repaired ethernet port and tested battery charging circuitry).  .And related to that same saga we did get a new battery on 7/10/2008.

The power problems continued and I had to get involved again two months later 8/6/08The computer was sent back again and they "replaced the motherboard due to bad bga causing power issues". 

Now here we are again - a year later 9/2/2009 with similar power issues and I am about to call the extended service number that I paid $330 on purchase of the machine.  (By the way the machine cost was $930). 

So -   I'm beginning to have pity on Jenna (she put up $400 of her own money back in 2007) on this computer.  This could be the straw that breaks Microsoft's back.  Because you connect hardware problems with Vista and Microsoft - Microsoft may take the fall. 

Stay tuned

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cost of Communication/Entertainment/Subscriptions

Well as i was tuning the Compaq, I discovered two new open networks for Cincinnati Bell Wifi Hotspots.  After bothering a rep to figure out my user id and password (I'm a Zoomtown subscriber) - bingo I was on.  My Zoomtown plan includes Wifi access.  And since my office sits directly over a Wifi hotspot (now at Coffee Please), I guess I could avoid internet costs at my office.

A couple of days ago, I computed all the costs of my communication, news and magazine subscriptions:

Verizon (3 family phones 2100 minutes +txt)    $175/mth
Cincinnati Bell (wire phone, long dist, and internet)  $79/mth  i (internet is $30/mth)
TimeWarner Cable  $61/mth
Sprint Data Access for laptop   $61/mth
XM Car Radio  $10.50/mth
Netflix    $6/mth
Dr Laura Streaming  $4.58/mth
Go-to-my-pc -   $14.95/mth
OnStar  Safe and Sound (two cars)  -  $16.66/mth  (prepay $199/yr per car)
Enquirer Subscription - $15.22/mth
Magazines Susan subscribes to (People, Oprah, and others for her business)- ?????
Security at House -   ????
Yahoo Email (two accounts for POP download) - $1.67/mth  ($20/yr per account)
American Express Gold Card Annual Fee  (Susan has two cards one for Business)  $150/yr
itunes (this seems to be monthly but varies) - $2.66  (YTD thru Aug)
Sams Club Membership - $35/yr

So what does this all mean?   The hidden "costs" of the decision to subscribe can easily add up.  Also some of these just automatically renew.  I'm sure I'm missing some annual or monthly fees.  The communication and entertainment  adds to over $400/yr.  This is what we were predicting in 1996 during the Telecom deregulation.  I'm sure my focus on this has minimized the cost and many people probably spend over $600-$800 per month. 

So my frugal message for the day - watch the pennies spent per month.  This really adds up.  Said a different way - if you could save $10/mth and put in a savings account earning an average of 3% in 25 years you would have $4,471.23