Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday

Are you a cyber consumer or did you shop on Black Friday-  maybe both?  Someone said there are two types of people -" those that use time to save money and those that use money to save time".  I just checked my email and no less than 12 emails directing me today (Cyber Monday) to specials to buy. 

Was it a coincidence that today I also had many "web site busy or could not be found" messages during the day?  I think there are alot of Cyber Monday consumers.

I must admit most of my purchases this year will be on-line and shipped to the house.  I'm just not a shopper and prefer to avoid the lines and the crowds. 

So which person am I? - saving time or money or maybe both.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Punishment in Hell

I've always said my punishment in hell will be sitting on the floor with thousands - no millions of Christmas lights tangled together and partially lit.  And one by one I am required to take out a burnt bulb and replace it with a good one.  Once the half non-lit are fixed the other half flicker and go dark. 

This year I said - NO (and it took great courage to fight the frugality).  I said "I don't care if only half are lit - I will throw the entire lot away and - YES buy new strands.  Naturally, it wasn't until 8:30pm  that I decided this - where should I go to get CHEAP lights? - all the discounters will be closed.

Since I vowed this year not to make setting up Xmas miserable, I determined money was no object.  I would buy them at the local drugstore.What and to my surprise on the day after Black Friday there in Walgreens was 100 lights on special  - buy one get one free - $3.99.

So the price of not entering Hell - $17.00 for 800 lights.

Friday, November 27, 2009

On the other Hand

I just finished watching Fiddler on the Roof – the 1971
classic musical adaption of the very successful Broadway musical.  Tevye’s famous line “On the other Hand” is a
wonderful example of the tension in the story of honor, duty and tradition.  How appropriate after just finishing
Harvard’s Michael Sandel’s  PBS three DVD
series on Social Justice.  Sandel’s
Socratic style of teaching created the same Tevye – “On the other Hand”
dialogue between the students ---   a
point/counter point exchange.  And the challenge of defining moral justice - doing what is right - is an ageless debate between the political parties - right and left.

How important it is to see “the other hand”; “walk in others
shoes”; “seek first to understand”?  And
once you see the other hand -- is compromise a weakness or strength?  

Erasmus said “In the land of the blind the one eyed man is
king”.  So in a land of amputees, which
hand rules – the right or left?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Are you Awake?

The phone rings - your deep sleep hears some kind of alarm -  as you roust yourself to consciousness - becoming aware it's not the alarm as you pound the sleep button furiously. Now logic enters the semi awake state and you determine maybe the phone is ringing (since the sound is still piercing your brain) -  you fumble to stop the sound of that awful phone - place the receiver to your ear and hear a muffled voice say "Are you Awake?

WHAT!!!!   %&!#%#   NO!!!   I'm not awake.  But now I am - because of a rude phone call at 7:44am.  Thanks for the thoughtful question and lovely wake-up call.

So what's your calling etiquette?  No calls before 8am and no calls after 10pm - standard protocol.  On Weekends and Holidays - 10am - 10pm. 

PS - Don't ask me that question -  because obviously I'm awake now - Just get to the point otherwise my answer is "Are you Stupid?"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Law of Giving and Receiving

Gravity is an indisputable law - right?  Unless you have lived in space all your life.  So what about the Law of Giving and Receiving?  You ask - I never studied that law in science class - What is it?

Is it -  "It's better to give than receive"?  Live to Give?  Give to receive your Tax deduction?

No ----   this Law is simple and is only proven by actions in your lifetime.  It is not provable in a book.

"You will always receive more than you give" 

This law works two ways:

(1)  Don't give and you will still receive more than you give. (review your Mathematics course on properties of zero)
(2)  Give abundantly and receive abundantly.

As we approach Thanksgiving  -  Try giving Thanks - you may receive more than you give.    IT WORKS!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Loss of Service

How many bars are on your phone?  The new vocabulary for the all important communication network.  My phone (the hand me down from Jenna) is a Verizon LG Envy. It will tell you verbally when there is a "Loss of Service".  Forgetting I had it on in Church today - right during the quiet time of prayer my phone spoke up and said "Loss of Service".

Was this God's subtle way of saying that my actions may be entering a "Loss of Service" for the next week?  Afterall it was just after Rev. Nathan Custer had given the analogy of how we can become like Black Holes - totally focused inwardly sucking in everything and everybody - light, happiness etc.  As he jokingly said - we become not #$%@ Holes but B- Holes.

When we lose outward focus we lose our desire for service.  Some don't realize that service to others is really a way to service ourselves - maintain an attitude of gratitude - to be Thankful.

I am thankful for the reminder - my phone, Nathan, and others that nothing could be worse than a "Loss of Service".

God's network always has full bars - ready for service.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Ellacellation -  "The mistaken belief that
repeatedly pressing the elevator button will make it go faster". 

That was a sniglet from 1984 - humorous creations of words that Rich Hall felt
should be in the dictionary. I'm reminded of that sniglet every time I enter an
elevator.  In fact the Elevator conjures up many thoughts:

(1) Elevator etiquette -  Looking straight ahead (no eye contact) and
complete silence during travel time

(2) Murphy's Elevator Corollary  -  The person in the back of a
crowded elevator is always the first one to exit

(3) Premature Elevator Entrance -  Jumping into an elevator headed in the
wrong direction

(4) Elevator-itis -  Thinking about your actions if the Elevator

In 1971 I had the opportunity to visit Poland (during the Cold War and Soviet
domination).  I have many funny stories and observations about the
trip.  One of which was the humbling experience I had when being critical
of the Polish designers of the high rise dorm we were staying at in Krakow.

My room was on the 9th floor.  As I entered the elevator I discovered
there were only buttons for the even floors.  So I diligently pressed 10 -
got out and took the internal staircase down to my floor.  I figured - how
dumb; how poor; how shortsighted in design.........   And yes, I did
this for two days before one of the students informed me I should "round
the corner" and take the second bank of elevators targeted for the odd
numbered floors.

So to this day in Poland the joke is circulating ----- "Have you heard the
one about the dumb American and the Elevator ...............

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The other day Jenna asked me if I ever had long hair.  Of course - since I was a product of the fads, rebellion and peer pressure of my high school days in the 70' s.  Naturally my style was a compromise with my parents and the hair was not allowed below the neckline and had to be groomed (another way of saying clean and combed).  So what do you call that hairstyle?  A moderate hippie?  A mop top 60's Beatle? Just long enough or short enough to distinguish male from female? 

I remember distinctly when I decided to go completely short in style.  It started after I joined Accenture (then AA).  Somehow the topic of time management came up with an Audit manager in the Louisville office.  He said he saved alot of time in the morning by having a short haircut and not blow drying his hair.  BINGO - I discovered an additional three minutes of sleep (worth GOLD to me).

Now rethink the benefits of being bald.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's in Your Wallet?

A marketing phrase for one of those credit cards.  But pull out your wallet right now and determine what is really in it.  Is your wallet like mine and George Castanza's exploding wallet  (Seinfield - Season 9 Episode 12 The Reverse Peephole) ?

For guys the back pocket wallet may be the source of back problems.  But I can't change the habit and feeling (now for over 40 years) of a wallet in my back pocket.  Which back pocket do you prefer - right or left; buttoned or unbuttoned?  Mine - right pocket - unbuttoned.

Losing your wallet ranks up there in the top three stressful situations in life.  And it's not because it is just money and credit cards in the wallet.  What else in there is so important?  Maybe pictures of loved ones; your insurance cards; important addresses; secrets; key electronic card entry; library card; tickets;coupons; and the all important Driver's License (by the way while you are looking at it right now - check the expiration)

There is rarely a time my wallet leaves my side - sleep, exercise, shower and even in those times it is nearby. I guess wallets have gotten smaller over time. Will technology finally make the wallet go away?  Will cell phones replace the wallet?

Stay tuned for the next commercial tag line - What's in your cell phone?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Diarrhea Mouth

Not a pleasant picture is it. It's called Shock Jock Blogger.  Who immediately comes to mind when you state "He's got verbal diarrhea?  There is always someone (hopefully not me).  But I'm sure my mouth has had this condition at some time.

Today, was my first SVP Cincinnati Council meeting where I was not the Chairperson.  I was resolved to keep my mouth shut and listen, observe and maybe ask a question or two.

But that fateful time came where I announced " I just have to make a comment ........ I can't keep my mouth shut.....".  But the reality was I didn't just have to make a comment.  It added little value and I had violated my goal.

Listening is an acquired skill that takes lots of practice.  I even found my mind wandering into the land many times of.... here is what I should say - it would be so pithy, so insightful, so interesting to others.  NOT

How much do we talk in a day?

1984 and 2004, nearly 400 university students from the United States
and Mexico wore the recorders for up to 10 days in a University of Arizona study. The researchers transcribed the conversations and analyzed them,
finding that women spoke an average of 16,215 daily words while men
averaged 15,669 words a day. The difference between the two groups was
not statistically significant, and the scientists rounded up to say
that both used an average of 16,000 words each day.

So what would Diarrhea Mouth be?  32,000 words?  

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cloudy and Foggy

I received a great deal of training from Accenture.  In
effective writing, I can remember the Fog Index - a calculation of how
"foggy" your writing  is.   Here's the methodology:

When using these steps to analyze
your writing, choose a sample that contains at least one hundred words. The
"ideal" Fog Index level is 7 or 8.
A level above 12 indicates the
writing sample is too hard for most people to read. I computed my own fog index for this blog (as of 11/16/2009)

1. Count the number of words in the

2. Count the number of sentences

3. Count the number of big words (3 or more

4. Divide the number of sentences into the number of
words..............16.157/1,070 = 15:1

5. Divide the number of words into the number of big
words.............1,685/16,157 = 10.4%

6. Add the result of step 4 to the result of step
...........................15 + 10.4

7. Multiply by
.4..............................................................25.4 x .4 = 10.16


And tonight I was playing around with Clouds - Tag Clouds.  A tag cloud is
a visual depiction of the frequency of words in a document, web site, RSS
feed.  I just tried it on this blog. 
Interesting data – but what do you do with it?  It's a little cloudy.

 So is this blog in the clouds or the fog - you decide.


Dad's Easy Chair

Last night at the SVP Cincinnati event we got on the subject of easy chairs (because of my entry on the  website about the place I relax).  Do you remember your Dad's easy chair?  You know, the one you loved to sit in with your Dad and watch TV.  I remember the Sunday night ritual of watching Bonanza and the privilege of sitting in the easy chair with Dad. Visualize that chair that Archie Bunker sat in for "All in the Family"

Why is it easy?  Because we take it easy in the chair.  In John Ortberg's book - "When the game is over it all goes back in the box" he talks about the most dangerous object in your house - the  easy chair.  "What's so dangerous about this chair is not the things you do while you're in it.  It's the things you don't do - the relationships you never deepen, the people in need you never serve - never see.....  the adventures you never take."

Two guys took this literally -   Larry Walker (1982) strapped helium balloons to a lawn chair and with sandwiches, a pellet gun and six pack of beer off he went - not 30 feet as expected but 16,000 feet into LAX airspace.  Dennis LeRoy (2009) received a DUI when he smashed his motorized easy chair into a parked car.

Both probably said - "A man can't just sit there"

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Becoming a Scrooge

Saw the new 3D version of Christmas Carol with Ellen and her cousin Franny.  The technology was superb and was good enough to keep the 10 year olds slightly interested.  How much of the message really got through is difficult to determine.  The scary nature of it with the ghosts matched my memories of the television version as a kid. 

In the book  "Emotional Design"  Don Norman posited that movie theaters are our desire to virtualize and transform ourselves into the story (ever since I read that in his book I have sat in the front of the theater).  Now with 3D this virtualization is another step closer to this visualization.  The Holodeck in Star Trek - The Next Generation is the ultimate step forward to the vision of simulated reality in entertainment.  In that version YOU can be Scrooge and experience his journey.

Are you interested in becoming a Scrooge? Which kind -   In print, Two dimensional B&W, full color 3D, or holographic simulation -  or are you a Scrooge in reality?


Friday, November 13, 2009


When the word Masters is used - what exactly does it mean?

Life Master (Bridge); Masters Degree; Master Chair (Vistage); Master Craftsman (Medival); Master of Arms (Naval); Chess Master; Masters Tournaments (Tennis and Golf); Master Lock; Zen Master
As a verb - to master clearly has a powerful meaning - rule, conquer, overcome.  And as a title it implies the best skills - a singular copy - one of a kind.

I think the named "Masters" know that they are not the best and are even uncomfortable with the title.  I remember the orals for my own Master Degree - I left the room feeling how little I knew about the vast subject area.  I was in awe of those people with more knowledge -  the Ph.Ds  ( from the Latin - Philosophiae Doctor).   So I guess Doctors are a level above Masters. Julius Erving must have figured that out and accepted his title of  Dr. J.

I humbly ask that Mark Longnecker begin referring to me as Dr. G.   

 The G. Whiz Ph.D. blogger :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Legislate Morality

At lunch today I said "You can't legislate morality".  Does that disqualify me as either a Republican or Democrat?  I have always leaned the Libertarian way and I would assume this quote would be consistent with that affiliation. 

My best example of this was Prohibition from 1920 - 1933.  So you pick the vice and determine if legislating works.  Maybe it's like home security systems - it keeps the amateurs out but the real thieves can always beat the system.
So those who are pro legislation say - it's working for the majority of the people.

My view is when you tell someone they can't ....  you are prohibited ....   don't ......   it is human nature to rebel and want to break the rule. The younger you are, the stronger the temptation.

I think the right place for impacting morality is in the family.  So how about legislating the "family" issues.   NO - I'm against that also.  Culture and family are an extension of our individual rights. 

Oops - I violated my rule of blogging - pontificating on political issues. 

Maybe there should be a law prohibiting that :)


So how many keys do you carry around? Can you name what each one is for?  I have nine keys on one ring ( with a pendant that says  "Dad, I Love You Please Drive Carefully- from Jenna) and my Cadillac key on a different ring.  So what's on the ring:
(1) Outside Office Door Key, Inside Office Door Key
(2) Outside House Key Front Door; Inside House Door Key
(3) Laboratory HCBC Key
(3) Church Key; Jefferson Center Key
(4) Small Key to some unknown lock - desk, filing cabinet something small
(5)  And who knows what the nineth key is for??????

I remember going to an antique store here in Cincinnati to find a skeleton key for the 18th Birthday Box I gave to Jenna (a Heart/Key and Poem).  There was a display with hundreds of keys.  Think of the volume if every adult carries around just 5 keys each. 

I feel sorry for all those stranded keys - you know the ones that sit in a drawer awaiting disposal when someone finds them and can't remember what they are needed for.  All those extra keys to houses or cars you used to own.  And how about all those missing keys - the ones you lost -  where did they go?  And before hotels started using credit card entry - think about all those stranded hotel keys. 
And the purpose?  - to keep people out.  The reality - to lock you out.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Read to Lead

I went to Miami University's Lecture Series last night featuring Historian and author David McCullough - "Leadership and the History You Don't Know".  His ending message was READ, READ, READ.  All our important leaders regardless of educational background were voracious readers and studied history.  They were not self-made men - they were the product of many others - their parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors and they were products of the history (that they were reading) before them.  "You are what you read" - said McCullough.  WOW - that is something to ponder and why my mom said "Don't read those trashy comics".

I never really liked history - so his message was interesting.  McCullough mentioned many societal references to ignoring history - living in the present.  He refuted the comment -   "It was simpler times back then".  No - history is the true teacher. For history is not about what, why, when and the sequence of time - it is the who.  Who were they, and who are we now?  It is the story of people, relationships and how they acted in their part in the record of history.

So what script are you reading?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

220 - 215 Landmark Legislation

Last night 11:15pm was landmark Legislation started?  The House voted on over 1990 pages of Health Care Reform Bill #3962.  It made me wonder - what is landmark legislation?  Naturally PoliSci majors have raised this question for their Masters Thesis for some time.  Renowned authors have written books about this and the range of significant legislation is from 16 laws to over 300 laws in over 200 years of deal making.

From the 45th to 107nd Congress (1877 to 2002) there have been 39,630 Public Statutes.  That is an average of 176 per year although the more recent years the average was 233.  

I watched some of the debate yesterday and it was timely after seeing Charlie Wilson's War on DVD the other night.  The quote -" Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them made" - Otto von Bismark is correct.  We herald our system as the best - but watching it in action is ugly.  The art of compromise is not easy and I doubt many would call this latest bill a true compromise.

So the majority rules - for now.  Luckily we have a Republic and phase two of sausage making begins and the Senate gets their "kick at the can" and then to committee and conference.  A bill before Xmas - don't hold your breath.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I know conceptually it is all just stuff.   I am damned with the "pack rat" gene on top of that.  So throwing away stuff is hard. 

But too often with stuff comes memories.  That may be why it is difficult for me to physically throw the stuff way - I feel I am throwing away memories.  Case in point - the material my parents recently gave me (folders with Miami U material) has given me the opportunity to write down (and send to Jenna) my Monday Miami Memories each week in a letter.  There are many details, I would not have remembered without that old stuff.  And a detail sometimes spurred another memory chain.  Obviously the details are not critical to memory - but they are links to a full web of memories.

But where do we keep all this stuff?  I like George Carlin's quote - "A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it".  The bigger a house the more stuff we accumulate.  The more houses you have the more stuff you can hide away.
And the more locations and stuff you have the more you can get frustrated never finding it when you remember you had it at one time.

So what is the solution to stuff?   Limit the input (e.g. acquisition); Limit the space; Give it away;

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Market Timing Insanity

Yes - I know that trying to time the market, pick individual stocks and beat the index over the long long term is insanity.   There is plenty of literature that shows it takes 30-40 years to "prove statistically" that your performance is better than just passive investing in a total market index.
Albert Einstein said " Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  Sort of like the early rounds of Bll Murray in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day.  As I said to Mark Longnecker at lunch - market timing is a LOSERS GAME.
My early performance (while not 30-40 years) may be part of the statistical literature.  Since I keep meticulous records (although past tax returns are the best source), I have 20 years of data.  While my net performance including today's unrealized capital gains is positive the revealing issue is the amount of time I have spent investing over that 20 years.
Since 1989 I have 2,585 round trip trades.  I have had countless legal mailings from either bankrupt companies, shareholder suits etc. etc.  I have recorded hours of transactions in software, spreadsheets, turbo tax.  I have journaled my trading history and analysis in no less than 15 - 100 page notebooks.  I would estimate over the 21 years I have spent over 9000 hours of time looking at the market and doing my personal investing (much more recently).

When I put that amount of time into the equation and put it into an hourly rate I am making about what a decent programmer would make knocking out code.
So a rational person would say - the return on your time is ridiculous.  You should passively invest and use your time in higher yielding activity.  That same person (not me) would say Practice what you Preach. 
And that person is sane :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Solid Rock Memories

Today I was fortunate enough to meet the School Bus with my 10 year old.  Like my oldest, I always played the "kick the rock" game of soccer prior to the Bus arriving.  The tradition continued as Ellen asked if we could play the game (even though it was wet and cold).  We did - and she won.

Rocks have lots of memories with my kids.  Jenna remembers vividly climbing rocks on the shores of the Atlantic near the Connecticut home I was renting for three years during my work at SNET.  How interesting what your kids really remember about the time we spend with them.  In some cases, we will never realize what memories they really have about us.

"My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.  My actions are the ground upon which I stand"  -  The foundation, the rock of memories for all.

I wonder if I am creating solid rock memories.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Calendar and Checkbook

Our great audit trail in life is our calendar and checkbook/credit card.  Look at yours for the past year and it will tell your story about priorities.  Who we interact with, what we spend money on, and how our time is spent.  And for me the history bar on the browser tells a great deal also.

Now does the actual follow your plan?  How you want to spend time and money.  Some time ago I blogged about the 5 and 5 exercise (the last 5 big things you spent money on in the last 5 years).  I just sent Jenna the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.  In it he suggests writing down the 5 people you spend the most time with (his exercise excludes family).  That's an interesting exercise also.

So it's the 5-5-5 exercise.  And don't think you can fool yourself because your calendar and checkbook reveal the actual answer - not your guess.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Late Fees

I'm never late on paying bills.  It is a hard lesson to learn but you soon discover that it is one of those priorities that you don't procrastinate on.  The cost of procrastination on this one is very high - to your credit rating and to your pocket book. 

I was just reviewing my Discover Card statement.  Mainly to understand the cash back rewards.  It takes a PHD to analyze all these rewards programs to determine who has the best program.  Occasionally, I will get motivated to understand them and attempt to actually value the points.  It is way too complicated. 

I did miss a billing period for Discover this year - April 2009.  I was too lazy to call to plead for mercy (after all it was my absent minded mistake along with some other good excuse).  The result was $10.88 in interest (on $241.97 prior statement) and $19 late fee.  I never took the time to calculate the APR - but with the next month purchases I estimate I was paying well close to 15% annualized - and that is not the compound rate!!!!).  Then add in the late fee and the cost of missing one bill is astronomical!  You make those mistakes only once every 5-10 years as it takes that long for the financial pain to wear off.

Which is why most of my bills are signed up for automatic debit from the checking account.  In fact I was unaware Discover had this feature until tonight (I just signed up for it). 

So the lesson learned here is - Don't ever ....  ever .....  ever ......   be late on a bill - especially credit cards.  The other lesson might be to avoid credit cards completely - but that is probably fantasy land.

My heart does go out to those people right now whose stress is exponentially increasing as the bills pile up, the due dates keep coming and their financial hardship increases.  How difficult it would feel to be paying these credit card interest rates every month!  What a snowball effect one would get into with late fees on top of interest payments.  With an APR of  15% it would be a real mountain to climb out of debt. I  just looked up the cash advance rate and that is 25%!  and the variable rate ranges from 20% to 28%.

So the lesson is?------  Treat your credit card like a debit card - like cash.  If it's not in the account today - don't charge it.  Not even mandatory stuff - auto repairs, HVAC repairs, grocery store. 


Sunday, November 1, 2009


Another Autumn tradition occurred at the Wisner's tonight by the open fire pit making Smores. It was by Ellen's request tonight after working on the leaves this Sunday.

S'more appears to be a contraction of the phrase, "some more" says Wikpedia.  And I would agree - it's hard to eat just one.

The key to success is the consistency of the marshmallow -  and that is a function of the fire and coals and finally individual taste.  I'm not the burnt type - preferring lightly toasted and gooey inside.  Tonight we tried pressing the chocolate into the marshmallow first to get some melting going. It seemed to work ok.

Lately I've seen some high tech sticks - battery operated that turn at an even rate; some with places for 2 or more marshmallows at a time.  But nothing beats the old clothes hangar where the length creates a bobbing that dangerously gets the marshmallow close to the flames.

Then there is the real high tech cheating - microwave Smores.  This just doesn't count.  If it's not on a chilly November night by the campfire - it is not official.