Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Family Additions

Yesterday Serena appeared and our family increased by one. This will be the second time we have hosted a student from China. It just proves that the family can expand and contract quickly. I use the term family because they become and integral part of the day-to-day family functions - dining together, playing together, working together, traveling together.... the list goes on and on.

In fact there is a tradition in our family of "hosting or being hosted". D'Lane and Ann hosted a high school boy from Denmark (I think); Mom left home while in high school and lived with a family until graduation. I have nieces that spent summers overseas with families.

The cultural exchange is amazing and wonderful. I look forward to this experience and hope it sets an example for our children.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blogging - Year 2

OK - Last August 27, 2009, I entered the world of blogging. Now 178 entries later it is time to reflect on the world of blogging. My goal a year ago was to experiment with this technology trend and determine it's value. Here are my observations"

(1) My blog did not become specific to a subject or expertise. This was probably because I was not using the blog in conjunction with a business objective.
(2) At no times did I feel the blog was a burden - or something I had to do.
(3) There was usually always a natural subject of interest to blog about.
(4) Privacy was not much of an issue as I did not "publicize the anyone other than close friends, family and business associates. However it is easily found with a google search on my name.
(5) Tagging the entries was an interesting exercise.
(6) Time spent was an average of 10-15 minutes per blog - 44.5 hours of investment to date
(7) Ability to search the blog was limited - requiring a cut and paste to a cumulative word document
(8) Without search it was hard to remember what I blogged about before
(9) It was fun to try to make the blog either humorous, clever or insightful. I enjoyed the research on new subjects.
(10) By blogging my other journal entries decreased
(11) I did not try any sophisticated links - kept it simple to occasional picture, or hyperlink
(12) It is fun being an "author"

So will I continue to blog. - For now yes. What changes will evolve? That is an interesting question- maybe something to blog about. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Memory, History and Identity

I listened to a very touching StoryCorps on NPR today. Bob Patterson (scroll down to listen to the fourth entry)  and his wife reflecting on his Alzheimer condition. She said "Memories are not who you are" and it hit me like a cold shower. How ironic.
Capturing memories has been a goal of mine. I have recently spent a great deal of time converting my parents 8mm movies, 35mm slides and listening to the reel to reel tapes from the 60's. Last year I enjoyed writing Jenna my MMM - Monday Miami Memories each week during her freshman year. Additionally, I am a pack rat for keeping all kinds of stuff - old letters, emails, event programs etc. Also just look at my 45 tapes of home movies. I have spent time asking my parents about genealogy stuff (kindled by Aunt Nannie's 110th birthday). And how about my desire to watch old TV series like Rat Patrol; T.H.E. Cat; The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Notice I have a tag in the blog for "memories". I enjoy conversations with people that spark a memory in my past or listen to a nostalgic memory from their past. This blog is a form of capturing memories; I write in a daily spiritual journal; I record financial and behavioral facts in my financial investment journal; - all capturing history that immediately becomes a "memory".
Time is mysterious.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rating People

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Birthday Girl #2

Monday, August 23, 2010

Birthday Girl

Ellen is now 11. The time fly's by too quickly. This was a high tech birthday with choices - DVD, Computer, Netbook, Laptop, Surround Sound Headphones and the list goes on. I purposely gave her a birthday of decisions. Should she buy, save, or reuse. Similar to the decision matrix I gave to Jenna on her 19th birthday, Ellen got to feel like the "big girl" with equally challenging choices.

It will be interesting to she what she picks (I completely miss guessed what Jenna would do). What a great study of human behavior - the urge to get, the immediate feeling of consumption vs the delayed gratification of saving. Tough choices at any age.

In the end she really wanted the portable DVD and to defer the decision of what to do with the birthday money, Ellen came up with $170 to purchase the 9 inch portable DVD player. She was thrilled when we unpacked it. And it will be even more meaningful because she spent her own money for it - vs getting it as a birthday gift. Now she can reserve her birthday money for other choices - more consumption or savings (which I match from the tradition handed down from my parents).

So off to bed the 11 year old goes. Happy in all ways - a birthday of decisions.

Tennis Fatigue

After two weeks of tennis - I have hit the saturation point. Even with sharing the box this year, it was too much tennis or I'm getting to be a tennis wimp. Next year it goes back to one week (actually 8 days) with a combined Womens and Mens tournament. The good news - you can only watch one match at a time - the bad news is you pay for all the matches by buying a sponsors box.

Sunday after the finals is always an interesting feeling of fatigue and loss (meaning no more matches to watch) - but also a relief from not feeling compelled to watch more tennis. It's no wonder I pay little attention to the US Open after spending so much time watching Cincinnati tennis.

It was a good final - Fish vs Federer that lasted three sets with two tie-breakers. We left at 3pm too tired to see the doubles. My 29th Mens final is history.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to School

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sports Inflation

The obstructed view from the ESPN camera for the Women's Tournament vaulted me into a research project (naturally) of the historical cost of box seats for the Tournament. So this is my chance to record the history of my commitment to watching this local tournament.

After volunteering from 1981 - 1991 (Susan was also a volunteer), the two of us decided to buy two loge tickets (NE corner ) for $200 per seat in 1990. Then we began to dream about buying a box seat (Accenture's center court box seat was $433/seat in 1990). There was a waiting list of 250 to get a box and we thought - "great that would probably be 3-5 years".

Suddenly we were called in 1991 saying a box was available. We gulped and decided to take the plunge. The tournament had expanded seating and increased box seat prices - it was now $500 per seat. Then we discovered Jenna was due to be born in mid- August (I think that is why Jenna came early in July). Luckily we had Mom and Dad as babysitters during the 1991 tournament - it was a very happy memory.

We slowly moved down closer to center court over the years (one away from courtside) when Susan and I decided we should joint the Championship Club in 1995 by buying 2 memberships (mainly because the heat was getting the best of us). Susan also began the process of requesting the shaded North Balcony seats with a formal request in 1996. It took 8 years of waiting but in 2004 we were offered our current location (620 B4).

Now for the punch line - today's seat cost is $1,285. That is a 5.1% CAGR or an average of 8.26% increase. Now the Tournament officials would say we now get top flite Men and Women to play. I say baloney - do these sports folks understand we have deflation and a recession?

This could be our last year. After all there is no obstructed view and complete air conditioning at home watching on ESPNHD - the camera that is obstructing our view. :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Master Tennis Memories

The Women's qualifiers started this weekend and I think this year is the beginning of the wind down (or unwind out) of the tradition of tennis (ironic after my"Traditions Evolve" blog the other day). I have seen every Tennis final since 1981 (that is my best estimate). I volunteered at the ATP from 1981 - 1991; then we got the box seats (the year Jenna was born and we were determined to still go with her in the carrier). So we have been Box Seat holders for 19 years.

I think 29 years almost counts as a tradition and with Jenna's interest, it looks like it will move to another generation (another factor in the definition of tradition). The memories are wonderful - late nights with my brother D'Lane, the rain out and move to Harpers Point; the lighting storm that Susan and I survived; Ellen's fibrile siezure; Jenna at one month old in the box; Jenna and Sarah ballgirls; the tennis groupie; D'Lane and Vana volunteering; Mom and Dad enjoying the Championship Club; Clarks and Painters at the Finals; Paul and Jazz mid week; Julia and Sarah on a cold Saturday morning; Susan crying after returning from delivering Jenna to Miami; the list can go on and on.

Do I remember who won the finals on any given year (even last year)? - NOT. All my memories are about family, friends and the events that surround them. The Tennis event was just the excuse to create the memory.

Family Duty and Honor

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Read the Writing on the Wall

Driving back from downtown, I see the city workers diligently painting gray over the concrete underpasses marked with graffiti. The war on graffiti continues. The vandalism of writing on public property without consent for what purpose? --- Political statement; marking territory; statement of love; unleashing profanity; secret code; or "because it's there".

Jenna was only once an artist on her bedroom wall. Ellen had no incident. Both were creative in marking their skin at different times. Tattoos might we considered a mobile graffiti - although it remains completely legitimate since you are writing on private property - your skin.

The other day Jenna attended with her friend (and Ellen was along for the ride) in the ritual of getting a tattoo. As she was leaving someone said - "Hey Jenna what would your Dad do if you came back with a tattoo"

She didn't have to "Read the Writing on the Wall" for that answer

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Architect vs Builder

We met today with our Architect and Builder (Mark and Scott). They have been part of our team since 1994 and the start of one of Susan & my loves - doing house projects. It is amazing to see the architect and builder interact - the front end talking to the back end :)

Architects in the stroke of a pen take down walls, moves them and reconstruct them as the builder winces and questions the drawings. Meanwhile Susan and I listen to the interchange and attempt to guess the costs by the expressions and amount of ink.

My experience at Accenture taught me the value of planning before implementation - including the hard decision to pay the experts to talk and strategize vs just do it.

I think the best Architects have been Builders and the best Builders have studied Architecture. You need both and both need each other.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Traditions Evolve

Was listening to NPR and out popped this statement - "Traditions evolve". Is that a contradiction? How would you define Tradition? multigenerational, ancient, unalterable ....... Culture and custom are entwined with tradition. I can't help but hear the song by Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof - Traditions.

Evolution is the product of two opposing forces: processes that constantly introduce variation in traits, and processes that make particular variants become more common or rare. So will a tradition un-opposed become so rare it dies?
If so that means Traditions must evolve.
Change is a funny thing - full of ying and yang.