Friday, July 30, 2010

Time after Time

I've been circling the paradox of time in daily readings of Peter Kreeft. He specifically contrasts Chronos with Kairos - both Greek words with time implications. Chronos (Father time) is the sequential and quantitative measure of time while Kairos is the qualitative and undetermined period of time (a time in between) - a time in which something special happens.

Memories (which have recently dominated my time) are a time shift. "Memory gives a second life, a supernatural life to the past... it changes the meaning of the past; it transcends the law of cause and effect."

I liked his concept of the Flood of Time overwhelming the Dike of Memory.

Memories are magically charming as they are re-painted in the present over and over again.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Decision to Change

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Real Honesty

"To be honest", he added to his statement. Should you believe that previous conversations may not have been entirely honest or that the person was silent purposely about the matter? Where does diplomacy end and honesty begin? Is there such a thing as a "white lie" or partial truth? Or is is black or white --- real or unreal?

Telling the truth is something we grow up with and learn with the issue of relationship management. The comedy movie "Liar Liar" dealt with this (although I haven't seen it because I dislike John Carey movies). The truth hurts or as Jack Nicholson said in his famous line of "A Few Good Men" - "You can't handle the Truth".

Can you handle the truth?

"Our deepest desire is not for the desirable - but for the real - if we are honest" Peter Kreeft

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Be a Good Example

My Mom was always telling us to "be a good example". Today in a discussion about Philanthropy Mike and I shared the question of whether giving is learned or inherent in people. I'm afraid it is learned like most things.
I liked Warren Buffet's answer to Willow Bay (Huffington Post) on how to raise of generation of children who really want to take on societies problems.
Warren Buffet Response: "Well.. they will follow by example. Well I mean not every child is going to do that. But generally speaking
their parents, they start out as their heroes anyway. They want to do what
their heroes do.  You tell me who your
hero is and I’ll sort of tell you what you’re going to do.  If they see you behaving in a certain manner,
I think they are likely going to pick up on it."
So "walk the talk" - be a teacher - be the hero and set the giving example.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Magic of Technology

"Even technology participates in magic, for it is the extension of our magic wands". That quote from page 59 of "Everything you ever wanted to know about Heaven ... but never dreamed of asking" by Peter Kreeft.

Just think about how the Greeks and Romans would have reacted to a video camera - it would be supernatural and a sign from the Gods - magical.

Fast forward 2000 years and video/audio wrist watches Dick Tracy were envisioned- so the imagination contemplated what is now available today - not magic just extensions of 1950's technology. Star Trek envisioned "beam me up" and the Holodeck virtual reality and today we have supersonic transport and 3-D TV.

What would you call magic today?

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I was walking the perimeter of the Councilrock property and noticed the strange green spiny walnut coming from various trees. I immediately picked it and cut it open taking it inside to ask Susan if she knew what the tree was. She immediately knew it was a buckeye.

Naturally I took my newly acquired awareness and jumped on the internet to find out more - the history, why Ohio, and what could be done with the nut. Since the nut is slightly toxic, the best use was as a good luck charm - maybe to help rheumatism . The tree officially became Ohio's state tree on October 2, 1953 but the use of the term in referring to OSU or Ohioans had much earlier roots and traced to William Henry Harrison's 1840 presidential campaign.

It's hearty nature and difficulty to kill gave early settlers pride in being called Buckeyes. Now that I have lived in Ohio for almost 40 years - I think I can call myself a Buckeye.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hot Summer Inflation

Today will get above 96 degrees and will be the eight day to top 90 - add another 4 at 89 and you get one of the hottest summers on record with August yet to come. I don't want to even think about my July utility bill after looking at June's 30% dollar increase. Naturally as a business analyst, I wanted to see the detail reason for this inflationary variance - 5% usage; 25% rate based (I ignored the mix variance).

Economists continue to say there is no inflation and the economy is in deflation or de-leveraging. Well the consumer may be creating the image of deflation by not buying certain inventory (thereby creating excess capacity) but that is a direct result of job loss and/or individual pockets of inflation for the inelastic demand goods like utilities, gas, food, telecommunications, and yes---- cable (after all when you stop going out to eat - you stay home to watch TV).

I have been relentlessly reviewing the "little" pockets of monthly consumption - memberships, subscriptions, dues, credit card fees and finding places to save (maybe that is another form of de-leveraging). All of that is healthy for the economy because the consumer re-evaluates value for price across all substitutable domains.

So the economy continues to cool as the summer hot inflates.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Key to Age

Dad mentioned that he could determine age by the number of keys a guy carries in his pocket - as he looked at my key ring. "The older you get - the less keys you carry".

More keys might me more responsibility; more stuff; less wealth to rely on other key holders; need for security; and the list goes on.

Kids love keys - just give one to an adolescent and watch their fascination. When you find a random key the first thing that pops in my mind is treasure - opening the treasure chest.

Maybe Dad's quote makes sense. If you keep the treasure chest open, no one ever needs the key.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Apple a Day

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Unusually Uncertain

Ben Bernanke (Federal Reserve Chair) testified today about the "unusually uncertain" economic prospects. That's alot of "U" s and "Un" s. As a statistician, I have been intrigued with uncertainty (or risk). Measuring uncertainty comes in two parts - Type A - those variable that can be measured from statistical methods and Type B - those variables that are assigned a probability distribution.

So how do we measure the added comment unusually? That's where the UN come IN. UNusual is the opposite of USual - that which is common or regularly observed (normal). In a bell curve that would be the center of the curve - average. Or should we be talking about the mode - most frequently observed?

I'm uncertain :) - which is usual.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Picture Phone Evolution

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tuned in - Empathic Listening

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Talent vs Character

At the All City Vistage Meeting, Adam S. opined that "We value talent more than character" as we discussed the King James decision to play for the Miami Heat. Amazing - we are endowed with talent (although there is an argument that developing that talent is our doing) but character is learned.

How many of our "heroes" are there because of their talents. We talk about the top performers, in sports, entertainment, academic, politics, business, etc. Our expectation is that these top performers automatically have (or should have) character. Time and time again we discover the weakness of these individuals when character is needed.

Unlike talent, character is hard to measure. We know when we see it - but it is hidden until those key moments. Does character come in volume - or is it black or white, there or not?

Name the people of character you know - make them your heroes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Birthday Expectations

Friday, July 9, 2010

Best Advice

Warren Buffet (one of my favorite sound bite guys) was interviewed by Willow Bay of the Huffington Post and asked what the best advice he got and from whom. He credited his father with teaching him how to live (as he was stalling for time to think what to say). Then it hit him what his father really had given him - UNCONDITIONAL LOVE!

"The power of unconditional love. I mean, there is no power on earth like unconditional love. And I think that if you offered that to your child, I mean, you’re 90 percent of the way home. There may be days when you don’t feel like it — it’s not uncritical love; that’s a different animal — but to know you can always come back, that is huge in life. That takes you a long, long way. And I would say that every parent out there that can extend that to their child at an early age, it’s going to make for a better human being."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Looking Back

Alan said he wasn't interested in converting all the old movies and pictures of his parents. He really didn't like looking back that much. That thought caused me to ponder my current obsession with digitizing my parents old stuff, my collection of all the old letters, file after file of memorabilia from events, kids drawings etc.

Then I re-read the daily devotional on July 1 from the book "Daily with King" - The Advantage of Going Backward. Philippians 3:13 says "Forgetting those things which are behind" vs Revelation 2:5 "Remember therefore from where you have fallen".

Memories are filled with the same emotions of the present - joy, sorrow, gain and loss. Your choice is to concentrate on the positive or the negative. History is the best teacher - an old adage or quote that springs into my mind. It teaches us how to live our lives going forward.

I don't yearn for the past to return. I enjoy the past to recall good feelings that will last.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

HDMI, HDCP, DTS, Digital Dolby

Are you confused enough on your TV viewing technology. My family room system is so complicated (even with my own hand written instructions) that it is a wonder any new person at my house can watch normal broadcast TV. There are times it takes me 30 minutes to set up the system (e.g. Bluray HDMI player with DTS 5.1 Surround Sound using Headphones).

Case in point - Last night I was attempting to turn off the Playstation (which toggles on when even a light dust rag travels over the switch) only to discover no picture would appear through the Surround Sound switching receiver. After 2 solid hours of "system testing" to localize the problems (i.e. is it the TV, PS3, Surround Sound, Cables, or incompatible HDCP settings between the PS3 and TV), I finally turned to the internet for help. BINGO!

There was page after page of discussion items on faulty HDMI issues. Was it a surge, a PS3 firmware upgrade; a TV HDCP compatibility issue - one site said "don't waste your time just use component cables?

I took the advice and punted - purchased $14 PS3 to component cables. Now this evening I will spend another 2 hours figuring out how to get DTS 5.1 surround sound.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Acts of Kindness

Susan said two people called the house we did not know complimenting Jenna -and me - I hope :) - on the well written letter published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on the 4th of July. It was a good feeling of affirmation. And a good lesson in showing the power of the act of kindness and recognition of others. It also confirms my belief and trust that people are genuinely good and want to do good for others.

I hope when I arrive at the pearly gates, that I will see all the acts of kindness that I have deposited in others accounts. And that this exceeds the sins and mistakes I have accumulated over my life. Maybe this is the one area where you should think of life as a balance sheet - so that you are incented to perform as many acts of kindness as possible.

What act of kindness will you perform today?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Two Franklins Ago

This July 4th I am two Franklin's lighter. But it was worth the fun of seeing Jenna and Paul's reaction to the Cincinnati Enquirer article "What's Great about America" and their claim to fame. Both got published. Luckily mine was published also or I would have never lived down the memory.

It was the best money I have spent in a long time. First to see the next generation's comments about our Country. Second to experience their feeling of accomplishment and reward in being published. Funny how simple a reward (mine and theirs) can be (although I'm sure the money they got will be put to good use).

Thanks also to Jack, who called to compliment Jenna on her thoughtful points and who felt her's was the best.

Another memorable July 4th.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tricks of the Trade

Productivity is the right preparation, the right tool, the right process or technique, and the right person (meaning experience). And knowing the tricks of the trade can save hours.

Today demonstrated that to me as I attempted to drain the hot water heater and adjust our system to lower energy costs. Our system is complicated by multiple heaters, a continuous circulating pump, and water filters. When the kitchen sink no longer had any pressure, I was stumped. What had I done wrong? Time to call the handyman/plumber (Jerry).

The solution was simple (for those master plumbers who know the tricks of the trade). A simple filter on the faucet was clogged with sediment that had broken loose during my draining of the hot water heater. And the power of the internet was demonstrated again. I just searched on "low pressure for kitchen faucet" and the answer immediately popped up.

Maybe tricks of the trade is another definition of a Master (see previous blog November 13, 2009).

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Weary Worry Index

I dubbed our current state of affairs as "The" Weary Economy". Officially the recession started 12/2007 and NBER has not declared whether this is a double dip recession or a single continuous recession. Either way it is getting old talking about the economy, jobs, government spending etc.

In the 70's the term stagflation was invented (in a speech by a British politician) to describe the previously unknown situation where there could be simultaneous unemployment and inflation. This phenomenon then was quantified by and economist with index called the Misery Index. I'm not sure he thought ahead about deflation and it's impact on the index.

So I think I should create a term and index for this economy (after all I have a degree in Economics).

The Weary Worry Index - Construct a complete list of your worries (i.e. Terrorism, Taxes, Immigration, Social Security, Health Care, etc.) Identify any worry that started since 12/2007. Compute the % of total worries. Subtract this amount from the drop in your 401K since 12/2007.

Now you can compare the Weary Worry index to the Misery Index - if greater --- then move directly from recession to depression.