Wednesday, March 31, 2010


When I took flight lessons, the method of teaching was the "attitude" method of flying where the air speed indicator was covered during takeoff and landing.  The attitude method uses outside reference vs instrument reference as the primary source of altitude information.  My uncle who retired as a Major in the Air Force and flew many military and combat missions thought that method was crazy - use the data and technology available.

I personally liked the concept and use similar techniques in my Bridge bidding.  Instead of using precision in high card count and length of suit -  I like the "attitude method of bidding".  Of course this frustrates both my partner and opponents and for most is termed - "bad partner bridge".

O well -  I guess they should check their own attitudes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Connect the Dots

As a statistician, I know that coincidences and random connections are more prevalent than the human mind can comprehend.  Conspiracy theories and our constant desire to connect cause with effect is just human nature.  But there is something mysterious about when the "dots connect" in our brain.

I just finished the book - "Give to Live" by Douglas M. Lawson who referenced Dr. Oliver Sacks book and the movie Awakenings (which I watched last night).  And as the movie began ----what do I hear - my favorite artist Randy Newman's music.  Earlier that evening I had watched the PBS documentary about the "Lobotomist"  and  Walt Freeman so it was a sobering night of seeing the challenge of treating mental illness.

So in my brain several "dots connect" - it feels interestingly coincidental.  I have been spending time reading, researching the brain and happiness - so it really isn't random after all.   

So what picture will emerge as the dots connect?

Monday, March 29, 2010

BIA - Precision

BIA - Biometric Impedance Analysis is one of the most accurate ways to measure your percentage of body fat.  I discovered this in my educational journey of attempting to "program" our new high technology bathroom scale.   Long gone are the days of + or - five pound analog scales.  Enter the digital tenths with body fat, bone mass, and water percentage data.  

With no instruction manual and hours of internet research, I finally got the scale working (that's another long blogging story and can be seen in my reviews of the Conair Weight Watchers WW-87 scale on  What will I do with all this data?

Information overload is now added to the extra pounds of overload.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Flow - Go with it

While driving back from Kiawah, I was listening to the audio book "Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman.  He referenced the psychology term "Flow"  for one of the features of Happiness in the present (vs past and future).  I always used the term "in the groove" and Paul Heagan (my Vistage buddy) uses the Rock Bank term "in the Zone". 

I like the term flow  (coming from metaphor of water current carrying you along).  So when are you "in the flow"?
For me it relates to mathematics, research and problem solving.  I lose track of time and there can be a feeling of comfort in the process.  Other times include a sunny afternoon, completely quiet setting with the wind blowing in the trees. 

I remember the psychologists talking to the senior managers at Accenture during a training session about work and life balance.  He said - find the place that heals you.  To me that is a part of flow also.

Go to your place of flow.

Friday, March 26, 2010


March and the beach means kites to me.  Even amateurs are able to get the kite up and flying continuously.  This year we thought ahead and purchased the kite from Ted's Toys - the local retailer.  Buy local is the Madeira mantra - as the retail sales in February and March languish.  Too often, I forget to buy vacation stuff and end up paying resort prices for the simple things - like kites.

How convenient the kites are today.  Fully assembled with plastic struts and long tails.  Within seconds the kite is up in the air flying high.  The turbulent winds of the beach do require some maneuvering - so some skill is needed. 

Soaring in the air - with your head looking to the sky.  March about to end - and with it another spring break.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I have always loved creating sand sculptures on the beach.  Even knowing the wind and ocean will eliminate the hours spent creating the structures.  It reminds me how temporary we are in the ebb and flow of natures tide.  How the methodical and seemingly infinite movement of water will bring everything back to minute particles of sand perfectly flat and smooth on the shore.

Most of my structures aren't even close to resembling a castle.  Usually just a mountain or hole surrounded by a moat or valley.   My shovel is typically just a plastic glass and also serves as the mold for the towers (assuming some wet sand that will stick together.

It's always fun to return to the point of construction to see the ruins.  Sharp lines become smooth; Big holes become shallow; Tall mountains become mounds; and in time the everything returns to the beginning.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

It makes my mouth water to just read the words - Cinnamon Rolls.  A tradition on vacation - the girls and I splurge each morning baking cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  As the aroma fills the kitchen with the accompanied smell of hot coffee - the vacation day starts off with smiles and a welcome tummy.  Yes today was day two of Cinnamon Rolls in Kiawah.

90% of the Worlds Cinnamon is produced in Sri Lanka from this small evergreen tree bark.  One teaspoon of Cinnamon has more antioxidants than a full cup of pomegranate juice.  So I can now justify it as a healthy breakfast -

Ignore the butter, and heavy icing on top :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crows Feet

There are 19 different types of smile - but only one natural or "genuine" Duchenne smile. 

The theory of this smile is that you can't control or "fake" the muscles that create this type of smile (named after Duchenne the scientist that studied these muscles).  Look for raised cheek and crows feet around the eyes. Dimples are not an indicator as that muscle is voluntary. 

So the crows feet on your aging face when not smiling indicate past happiness.  Forget the Botox. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Landmark Legislation - Now Law

It was November 8th when I blogged about this Health Care Landmark Legislation - and tonight the saga is near completion.  The details are not worth repeating - the actual bill voted tonight -  HR 3590 concurs with the Senate amendments (or better titled the Senate Bill unamended). 

At 10:48 pm  the vote passed - 219 to 212 (doesn't add to 435 because there are 4 seats vacant).  All 178 Republicans voted Nay with 34 Democrats.  It will become law once signed by President Obama - probably Tuesday.

Does time heal all wounds?  Stay tuned for the November 6, 2012 blog.

One Person - One Equal Vote

Ohio is projected to lose two representatives in Congress after the 2010 census and apportionment  - as the retirees rush to maintain residency in Florida and jobs move to other states.  Ohio's representatives (now at 18) was as high as 24 in the 1960's  (Florida has double from 1960's 12 to 25 today and 27 projected). 
I decided to research my emotions of "Congressional Barons" with facts.  There have been 86 "Career" politicians in the House and/or Senate (some are no longer alive) with tenure of over 36 years (Robert Byrd at age 92 has the record of over 57 years).  Term limits would avoid the need to have mandatory retirement rules.

The Constitution stipulated the Number of Representatives shall not EXCEED one for every thirty
Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative. Today a Representative speaks for an average of 650,000 people.

I would guess some of the desire to keep representation at about 1 per 30,000 in the late 1700's was due to communications, territorial travel time etc. etc.  I personally like the 1700's ratio because it also creates a neighborhood representative mentality.  

 I think it is time to apply better technology to our system of
representation. For certain votes we should just allow the individual to vote their opinion - not secede this to a third party.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Congressional Barons

I was reviewing a draft speech by Jack Painter to be delivered on April 15th when I was overtaken by my own passion of what I think is wrong with Government today - too many representatives in office too long.

We have traded a Monarchy for a system of "Congressional Barons"  (Jack came up with this term during our conversation).  I strongly believe we need term limits and would rather accept the risk of inexperience over the temptation of power created by longevity in office.

Even my own years at Accenture proved to me the vaguaries of time.  After about 3 years at a client, I began to be ineffective.  I would talk like the client, think like the client and begin to narrow my vision into the client's tunnel of darkness.

The Health Care vote is moments away (Sunday is the ETL - Estimated time of Legislation).  The Congressional Barons will convene from their smoke filled back rooms. They are not elite, secret, rich power brokers like those depicted in "Captain and the Kings".  No they are our voted in representatives voicing our collective territorial vote.

Open to our input; collecting the views of their constituency; voting the way the majority of us would want on the issue at hand. No differences, No exceptions - BAR NONE  -  or is it Baron?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Coonskin Hats

My brother and I both had the coonskin hats and re-enacted the Alamo in many backyard settings. Fess Parker (who died today at age 85) is the etched icon in most of the baby boomers brains as the true Davy Crockett. 

Coincidentally last night I watched "The Boomers" CNBC program by Tom Brokaw where it mentioned that 5000 coonskin hats per day were selling.  The Boomer years 1946-1964 first hit over 4 million births in 1954 and didn't drop below that level until 1965
I'm more interested now in the "Echo" generations - babies of the boomers.  Using the magic 4 million birth number there are two "echos"  -  Births from 1990 - 1993  and 2000 - 2009 (so far) with 2007 as the all time record of 4,317,119 new USA births (beating out 1957's record of 4,308,000).   

Harry S. Dent in his 1993 book "The Great Boom Ahead" superimposed the S&P 500 data with USA Birth Rates (lagged by 46 years - the end of the peak spending years) - called the baby boomer spending wave theory.  Jenna born in 1991 is right in the middle of the first echo and in three more years will start her own spending cycle (age 22 -46). 

Be patient - a new spending wave is coming.  I hear the echo.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

SelfHelp Junkie

I confess - I am a self-help junkie. I read all kinds of these books, listen to speakers and spend time thinking about my life.  I wonder if that is a form of being self----ish or my way of growing spiritually?  In my Vistage presentation, I used the term PLAN - Persistently Looking  At Navels.  Is this what I am doing as I continue to map and monitor my financial, legacy, physical and spiritual activity?

All this relates to whether you can create a catalyst to change yourself.  I have said it takes a "life event" (normally outside your control) to really change you in any material way.   Habits and the normal routine are difficult to break away from.  Self control is the word and answer to peace.

So maybe I'm a Self Control Junkie - a constant challenge.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Day

I remember as a kid pinching people today who were not wearing green.  Wikopedia states that the color for St. Patricks Day was originally blue.  It's good they changed it because we don't want kids having a blue day. 

Ellen is always asking me my favorite color - at least 60% of the time I spontaneously respond green.  However I don't have much green in my wardrobe as I picked out an outfit to avoid getting pinched today.  So why green?

Maybe the subconscious idea of the slang term - "Give me some green".  At Accenture we called the staff "green beans".  My business and SVP's focus area is environment - so maybe green enters the picture there.

But in the spectrum mnemonics--  green is right there in the middle with it's own initial.

Roy G. Biv 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On Hold Hell

Technology has created a new challenge - calling the tech support line and waiting "On Hold Hell".  I just experienced that as I called Cincinnati Bell Telephone Zoomtown DSL support to ask them to "retrain" my modem to a faster speed.

Our DSL speed at home after testing was holding at less than 500kbs download - and not enough for quality streaming for (Garen) and the Disney channel (Ellen).  The modem had been "trained down" in speed one rainy afternoon when I had called regarding internet connection problems. The good news is after I finally got through to the rep, I am now at 2.4meg per sec. download speed.

But that result is only because - 1)  I waited 3 hours on hold (YES  3 HOURS).  2) I was smart enough about what was going on to convince the rep to "juice up the modem" vs take their 1 hour troubleshooting step by step approach.  I pity the novice user attempting to solve this speed problem with tech support.

So (as Craig Ferguson on the Late Late Show says) - What have we learned?

(1) There is a Hell - and it is being on Hold with Technical Support (add to this the India accent for the outsourced call center).
(2)  You are paying good money for internet speed and don't even know how fast you're going.

Monday, March 15, 2010

38 Year Decisions

Each Monday I send a letter (yes a handwritten letter) to Jenna at Miami (Oxford, Ohio).  Included is a Monday Miami Memory (now on #15) typewritten that describes my decisions 38 years ago as a freshman at Miami.  Some were good -  some were bad  and some took 38 years to determine the outcome -  some still remain unresolved.

Wisdom is really just the time to look back and see the outcome of past decisions.  Can that wisdom be passed on to another generation?  The optimist in me -  says "yes".  The practical me says - "very little".  What might have been a good decision 38 years ago is a function of too many variables - the environment of the time, the practices of the time, the pressures of the time ...... the list is endless. 

I've always said in business that any decision can be made successful with enough time and money.  The relative correctness of the business decision then becomes a measure of the efficiency of time and money.  Life decisions are similar (viewed through the lens of time and money) but not quantifiable. 

And - my decision today may not have 38 years of incubation left. Not enough time available to make course corrections.   So now it's time to get the decisions correct -  maybe that is Wisdom.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Electronic Signatures

Signing things is the acknowledgment of your "mark" - your word, your agreement, your acknowledgment, a contract. For those illiterate and unable to write all that is required is a mark (usually an "x") that is witnessed by someone.
Enter the world of technology.  Now we sign key pads at retail stores and "sign" with electronic signatures.Sometimes the electronic signature consists of a check-box acknowledging you read the agreement (does anyone really read all those software agreements?).  Some people have a digital representation of their actual signature on their emails.  Outlook has digital signatures, digital ID and certificates (and I've never used them or had something sent to me with these options). 
I just finished helping Jenna with her 2009 taxes (an experience she dreads) and the e-file/i-file requires electronic signatures consisting of last years AGI and/or a Pin. Contrast that signature requirement with Fidelity who wouldn't let me scan a document with my handwritten signature and send it via email to them - it had to be a fax of the document.
The most famous signature of all will never be electronic-  or is it?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Out of Bed

Yes tonight everyone loses an hour (except those few locations that are on God's time --- Arizona).  And since 2007 it is now the second Sunday in March (vs  1st Sunday in April).  So Sunday at 2am we spring forward to 3am losing an hour - a 23 hr day.  I thought Benjamin Franklin thought up DST (Daylight Savings Time) but in reviewing Wikpedia discovered he did not.

How many clocks will require changing at your house? - and don't forget the car. Thank goodness the computers and phones are automatic.

I always get confused are we going on DST or coming off DST? Springing forward means we are starting DST which means 2/3 of the year we are on DST.  Since that is the majority of the year why not call that regular time and name November to March as Daylight Spending Time (that seems to match the retailers flow of cash).

I know my body takes a while to adjust to the loss of an hour - especially my sleep and internal brain alarm clock.  It will take much more effort to spring out of bed in the morning.

PS - I wonder how night shift works.  So you get paid for 8 hours?

Friday, March 12, 2010


Ellen asked me this morning what Ancestors meant (a word mentioned on NPR when I was not listening and was caught off guard on the context).  I naturally answered ---  "It is your parents, grandparents and so on".  The discussion then morphed into DNA, biological etc.  Then I made the global comment - "We are related if you go back far enough".

So now the statistician pops in -----   The human species is more than 40 generations old - so 2^40th or 10 trillion would be the total possible ancestors. However it is estimated that only 106 Billion people have ever lived  (Carl Haub - 2002) but that number is based on some specific assumptions - birth mortality, life expectancy etc. 

So at point are you and I connected? - what generational pair from one to 40?  Hard to imagine the genealogy chart with 40 tree diagrams with stories of multiple marriages, partners, name changes, etc.  Assuming only the "direct pairs" by the 10th generation you have 2046 "biological parental ancestors". 

Kin, Clan, Tribe, Ethnicity, Nationality, - we are forever "grouping" ---  creating a network.  I like Susan's answer on the Census survey -  

Race:   Human

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just be a Dad

I come away from each monthly meeting of Vistage Group 1107 with a jewel.  This one was from Paul Heagen who shared with us a quote from his daughter - "Just be a Dad".

I am part of the male species that during an obligatory short period of listening - jumps into problem solving and recommending solutions.  Add to that, the Dad scenario of attempting to solve problems without even being asked - we have this great vision of being the expert coach on the playing field of children.  Or maybe the boss giving advice to a subordinate.

So the lesson today is - stop engineering and "Just be a Dad"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

L e t t e r s

I remember reading "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: a memoir of life in death" by Jean Dominique Bauby.  He wrote the book by blinking at each letter as someone recited the letters in  ESA sequence vs ABC.  Of course since Jean was French the frequency of letters (ESA) is different from English (ETA).

I guess Wheel of Fortune, Scrabble, and NY Times Crossword experts come to know the letter frequency tricks.  Even our QWERTY typewriter keyboard was designed with letter frequency in mind. And of course the 80/20 rule applies in letters also -  the top 12 letters comprise 80% of the usage.

I'm not sure how we landed on 26 letters. And what about all the other symbols?

I'm particularly partial to the space. :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Birth- ON THE - day

Susan is a "stickler" for celebrating birthday's  - ON THE DAY.  So when a conflict appears there is the challenge of prioritization.  Not having this point of view - I always felt the birthday is just another day in journey of life - no different than yesterday.  That could be more of a male view since we are a bystander in the process of birth.

We celebrate many holidays for famous birthdays/beginnings - President's Day, Martin Luther King, 4th of July (Birth of a Nation), and Christmas.  Notice President's Day, and Martin Luther King violates the Susan rule - ON THE DAY!

Susan is ON THE cruise - ON THE Birthday.  So I guess I'm off the hook for the celebration :)

Happy Virtual Birthday Susan!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Name Game

If you are a baby boomer and read this title [The Name Game], you are now mentally singing the 1965 Shirley Ellis song - replacing the first letter of your name with a 'B' - 'F' - and 'M'. 

So how many names have you bestowed on items, people, or pets and how much thought went into those names? And who can you give credit for your title - and what is it's history?  With whom do you share your name and what images does it conjure?

Nicknames are usually a measure of  closeness when allowed by the individual - Parents to kids, siblings to each other, college buddies to each other etc.  Some names are naturally shortened for ease of  discussion - with initials, and other times the last name is used and shortened with  "The"  added (example Wisner - The Wiz).

"Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of"  Socrates

Friday, March 5, 2010

Changing History

We change history all the time.  What we want to remember, what we choose to document and who we highlight in history automatically puts filters and biases on how history is described.  And the winners of wars are in the drivers seat in teaching history the way they see it.

History can be changed in the financial industry.  A sophisticated term  called "survivorship bias" allows the index to be changed historically. The S&P 500 Index (created in 1926 with only 90 companies) is composition of 500 stocks (since 1957) that changes yearly.  These changes are essentially - changing history by changing the current composition of stocks.  Simply said - don't let the failed stocks penalize our historical returns. 

Technology allows you to change or control history.  Just use the tools, options tab on your browser. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Collective Choices

I heard on NPR the other day someone state that "Our lives are made up of our collective choices".  I visualize this as one gigantic decision tree diagram with an infinite set of "limbs".  Each decision creating a dependency or a previous cause to the effect.  

I remember an annual review at Accenture when I asked a Partner how he made decisions faced with uncertainties and potentially misguided facts.  His answer was very practical -  today's decision is based on available information weighed against the value of new information from waiting another day.  Will more information create a better decision?

So if you could see your tree diagram choices expanded through time, you could conceivably navigate a better path (life) by choosing today's "choice" based on it's affect in time today.  But the tree changes dynamically as new information arrives (others making choices that are unexpected). 

So your life is not just your collective choice - it is our collective choice. The quote was correct using the word "Our".

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Artful Asker

Artful Asker is a term in Dr. Douglas Lawson's book "Give to Live". He states "Philanthropy is the mystical mingling of a joyful giver, an artful asker, and a grateful recipient".   That's a wonderful way of debunking the stereotyped "run for the hills" attitude of people when it comes to volunteering for the fund-raising committee of a  non-profit organization (or Stewardship Committee at the church).

Lawson says the "Artful Asker is the most exciting and rewarding of all [tasks]".  I admit that I historically "hated" fund raising and still fear the job of asking. In business this is the job of selling.  But artful asking is not "selling" - it is the privilege of offering to someone else the "joy of giving". 

Artful askers are the engine of the philanthropic spirit.  Gentlemen - start your engines.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spelling Mistakes

With a mother as a school teacher, I was always in fear of misspelling a word that she would discover.  Some people are natural spellers - I'm not. But technology has come to our aid. Now the computer quickly replaces commonly misspelled words and underlines others not in the dictionary with suggested words.

That brings to mind proper surnames.  What does Microsoft Word suggest for your name?  So---- type in your name (try it with lower case) and look at the suggestions.  garen is garden, aaren, Caren, Daren and Maren.  wisner is wiser, wiener, winner, wisher and Eisner.
Now try it for friends and relatives.  I Garen-tee it will be fun.

Garden Wiser

Monday, March 1, 2010

Password Please

No - I'm not talking about the Allen Ludden 1960's show with frequent guest star Betty White.  Nor am I referring to Season 7 Episode 7 of Seinfeld with "Bosco" - George Costanza's Secret Password ATM Code.

I'm talking about the challenge of internet passwords and the aging demographics of the baby boomers in the ability to remember the passwords.

Technology security consists of your user id, a familiar picture, three secret questions, and finally your password.  How much time have you spent retrieving a password that you've forgotten?  Or worse yet Explorer, Firefox or Outlook has "lost" the "memorized" password you entered ages ago? 

What was to be a quick on-line access has turned into "PASSWORD HELL".  Maybe you tried three times and are now locked out for 15 minutes - maybe completely until you call the 800 customer service number.  Then you find out  the new password or PIN will be mailed to your home in 3-6 days. 

And what about those web-sites that make you re-set the password every 180 days.  Or require one Capitalized letter, one number and one special symbol ---- all in the name of security and identity theft protection.

The list of variations goes on and on and on ..........

The best security systems end up keeping the most informed out -  YOU.