Saturday, July 30, 2011

Email Chain Letters

It amazes me how many people participate in the email chain letters.   Some statement that if you send this letter to five or seven of your friends you will acrue the luck of whatever is written.  As a rule of thumb, I never forward these letters - regardless of the message. 

However it is nice to receive an email from someone who was touched by a message of sprituality, good. or humor (I'm on the fence about political emails).  These emails indicate someone is thinking of you when they read the email.

Susan sent me this "gift" today - worth sharing.

Eight Gifts That Do Not Cost a Cent
By: Author Unknown

   But you must REALLY listen. No interrupting, no
   daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.
   Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the
   back and holds. Let these small actions demonstrate the
   love you have for family and friends.
   Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your
   gift will say, "I love to laugh with you."
   It can be a simple "Thanks for the help" note or a full
   sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for
   a lifetime, and may even change a life.
   A simple and sincere, "You look great in red," "You did
   a super job" or "That was a wonderful meal" can make
   someone's day.
   Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.
   There are times when we want nothing better than to be
   left alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the
   gift of solitude to others.
   The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word
   to someone, really it's not that hard to say, Hello or
   Thank You.

Friday, July 29, 2011


As the August 2nd debt ceiling deadline approaches, I have started watching the House and Senate debates on C-SPAN.  With cameo appearances by President Obama each participant (now four with the informal Tea Party group) attempts to play chicken. 

In a two party game of chicken  each player is in a car on a collision course driving on a one lane road with a bridge.  Once you enter the bridge ramp there can be two outcomes -  crash head on or divert into the water (also considered fatal).  Sucess only occurs if one of the parties swerves before the bridge (one win and one loss) or both swerve before entering the bridge ( a tie). 

In this negotiation, Obama and the Democrats are in one car and the Tea Party and Republicans are in the other car.  It is hard to determine who has their hands on the steering wheel. 

My belief in watching the proceedings is that they are already on the bridge.  The real question is whether the crash is head on or one of the parties still diverts and crashes into the water. 

Or - who will jump out of the car hoping to save themselves?  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Heat to Death

Yesterday I said "I don't worry that much about the heat,  freeze to death - yes; but not the heat"  In fact, I said we are a nation of wimps.  I can remember the hot summers without airconditioning.  That was what fans, sprinklers, and airconditioned movie theaters are for. 

So I was shocked this morning to hear on NPR the New York Health Commissioner Tom Farley say, "More people die from heat each year than from all other natural disasters".  WHAT - the data skeptic in me doesn't believe that!

So a quick search on the internet yielded the following table and equally skeptic researcher:

So even though my point appears correct about the risk of cold - excessive heat is a close second.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Screen Savers and Themes

What is on the screen of your computer when you are not busy in a window blogging?  What theme? and during the pause in "computering" (that's my new word) what screen saver appears?  There are pictures all around us - in fact we put them there.  Framed shots of love ones on the desk; pretty scenes or artwork we enjoy on the walls; and the selected theme/screen saver picture on our computer.

The new Microsoft search engine - Bing always has very intriguing high definition/high quality pictures on it's search screen - versus Google's white space and search bar.  But even with the beauty of the picture, it is not the home page for my Explorer startup. 

And how often do you change your theme and/or screen saver?   Ellen is notorious for placing new scenes and pictures on Susan or my computers when unattended.  It is always a treat to be surprised with a new picture.  In fact, I think a killer app would be an automatic changing of themes and screen savers weekly based on "best guess" software and recent browsing history.  Like the stealth way cookies in your computer tell web sites what advertising you should be looking at (that should be a project I research someday).

Jenna showed me her Mac screen that fills with virtual water and on movement of the computer the water jostles back and forth.  There is always someone inventing a new innovative desktop. 

Interesting ways to keep our computer always on --- awaitng our activity.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rollin on the River

Last night we celebrated the final quarter grades for Jenna, Paul and Ellen by booking a river dinner cruise on the Cincinnati Belle.  What a lovely evening.  The Reds were playing so the lights were on, the crowd was cheering, and the jumbo-tron in high definition as we approached the final docking at 9pm. 

The Disc Jocky on board announced the various celebrations as we traveled upstream - 50th Anniversaries, 23rd Birthday, return from Afganistan, recent engagements ...   As we stood on the bow headed into the evening breeze, Susan and I couldn't help but reminisce about the various river cruises we have taken on the Rhine, and the Danube.  We both agreed that future cruises would be in our plan.

There were many boaters on the Ohio this Friday night.  As the various types of boats passed by, it was instinctual for everyone to give the boater wave.  Even the shoreline fishing parties would give their greetings. Everyone happy to be Rollin on the River.

"If you come down to the river
I bet you gonna find some people who live
You don't have to worry if you got no money
People on the river are happy to give"  Creedence Clearwater Revival

Friday, July 15, 2011

Infinite Infinities

As a kid, I was fancinated with infinity which probably is why I got an extra degree in Mathematics.  Pondering infinity can lead some into an uncomfortable zone of a great spiral of never ending logic.  In fact, it takes discipline to pause in the journey of pondering infinity.

Infinite series were intriguing in mathematics.  I remember my first revelation of "different sizes" of infinities when a professor asked the class which infinite set was larger?  The number of irrational numbers (fractions) between zero and one OR the number of positive integers from 0 to infinity.  My response - you can't quantify infinity.  Wrong (sort of).

Using the principle of matching -  match each integer ....  2, 3 ,4, 5 ...   with the following fractions  1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5 .......    Consequently you have matched every number (integer) in the infinite set of integers with specific fractions in the infinite set of fractions between zero and one.  YET  you still have all the other fractions between 1/2 and 1 available (e.g.  2/3, 3/4, 4/5 etc.).  SO the infinite set of irrational numbers is a larger infinity - in fact infinitely larger. :)

Just think there are an infinite number of small and large infinities.

PS -  For the astute - I forgot  something.  You first need to match THE ONE in each set.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Well Spent Moments

I'm reading the book "Peace and Plenty" by Sarah Ban Breathnach that is all about Financial Serenity (and written primarily for a female audience).  It is a wealth of advice in the two most challenging things in life - managing time and money.  I liked her comment about the relationship between the two - "Not having money doesn't mean we can't have well spent moments everyday...  We really spend very little [TIME OR MONEY - my insertion] on the things that make us truly content. The things that matter most are priceless".

She uses the word "things" purposely - and then follows up with time related activities to explain - moments of connection, kindness, laughter, encouragement, inspiration, coincidences, ..... and I will add blogging :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

War Games

The second "day trip" with K.C. was to Yellow Springs Ohio and then to Dayton with a tour of the Airforce Museum at Wright Patterson Airforce Base.  I've been there several times and naturally Uncle Maurice and his boys all flooded into my memory.  How much more interesting the viewing would be with Uncle Maurice giving commentary on the exhibits. 

So it was natural as I was browsing DVD's, I picked up and viewed last night "Fly Boys".  Based on WWI early pilots, it had many colorful scences of Dogfights among the Aces.

While watching this movie, I remembered the countless hours of playing the Milton Bradley game "Dogfight".  With the special cards for Barrel Rolls, and Loop to Loop.  How fun playing the game with Mark Wells at Grandma & Grandpa's house in Stillwater, Ok.

War games are an important part of military training.  Simulated battles and stragegy prepare the soldier for both the knowns and unknowns.  The early games - Dogfight, Avalon Hill etc. for the boys are now replaced with high tech computer simulations - "Call of Duty, Halo etc.

Passing through the hangers at Wright Pattterson Airforce Museum the technology of War and the sacrifices of the men and women put a somber tone on the memory of war games.  Not just a plastic red  Fokker or  green Sopwith F-1 - these restored planes were the real thing - even some bullet holes of reality.

War is not a Game.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


"It's a Dream, It's only a Dream ... and it's fading now, fading away.
It's only a Dream. Just a memory without anywhere .. to stay" Neil Young

The two best concert DVD's (both produced in 2005) have got to be The Eagles: Farewell Tour I; and Neil Young's "Heart of Gold".  I listened again to Heart of Gold on Saturday and marveled at the number of great songs he performed at the Ryman in Nashville Tenn.  The most touching moment is when Neil Young talked about his Dad (to whom the concert DVD is dedicated to at the ending credits) and his memory.

Bad Dreams or Good Dreams - both fade almost immediately upon awaking from sleep.  I presume they are composed from the memories and connections to the present.  As a child the bad dreams are scary and we need assurance thye are just "Only a Dream".  In fact, I think the Bad Dreams can be programmed to disappear -  with positive thinking and techniques in Neil Young's poetry:

"In the morning when I wake up and listen to the sound
Of the birds outside on the roof
I try to ignore what the paper says
And I try not to read all the news
And I'll hold you if you had a bad dream
And I hope it never comes true
'Cause you and I been through so many things together
And the sun starts climbing the roof"

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sitting Together

Nellie (our Black Lab that passed in Feb. 2011) was an outdoor dog.  Well actually toward the end an indoor and outdoor dog.  When I say outdoor, Nellie (and now Fitch and Bella) have a "doggie door" that allows free access into the garage - which is actually their "dog house".  Nellie would "follow" us around the house by lying near our sliding doors or window in the rooms where we would sit (she would be outdoors and we would be indoors).   It is just instinct to want to be near someone - even if there is no interaction and in the case of Nellie even if you couldn't be directly in the same room.

Today, I am sitting out on our front courtyard enjoying the bubbling fountain, the morning sun rising in my eyes and the sound of birds just after the walk with the puppies.  And there they lay - Bella on the chair next to mine and Fitch at my feet. They have the whole yard to pick from to relax - yet they prefer the companionship of being near me.  No interaction - just sitting together.

I noticed this with Susan or the kids.  There are many evenings that there is very little interaction, yet the comfort of sitting together - each person doing their own personal thing (watching TV, reading, blogging etc.) - is just a part of our instinct also.

I think that is why the social networking sites like Facebook, and Linkedin have some appeal.  It is a virtual world of sitting together.

Postscript: Just to prove the point. Susan just joined me. She took Bella's seat and reads the paper silently.  Just a hi and then we sit together.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Telephony Thanks

J.Y. of the Freestore Foodbank called me yesterday to thank me for the generous donation to the organization.  I began to think of all the organizations that have extended a simple thank you for my gift of money or talent.  Some do it with a letter/handwritten note, or small token of appreciation (book or award), at a meeting, but rarely have I received a phone call from the Executive Director. 

I think each non-profit should split up their donor list among Board members and one of the tasks of the Board is to call each and every donor to thank them for their gift (regardless of amount).  How refreshing to get a call - not asking for money, but instead thanking you for the gift and stating how the organization will use that gift. 

G.B. has done this each year as Chairman of SVP Cincinnati.  So this tradition is embedded in our own non-profit culture.  We also acknowledge our Partners each year in our annual meeting with a humorous presentation of the "Wizzy Award". 

Next time you are on the telephone with someone - a customer, supplier, friend, or family member why not tell them why you appreciate them. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Splitting Heirs

Today I was reminded of the book I read back in 2004 titled "Splitting Heirs: Giving Money and Things to your Children without ruining their lives" by Ron Blue.  It was one of the first books on that I took the time to write a review.  The book had a big impact on my thinking about material wealth and stewardship.  It also reminded me of how my own parents were extremely thoughtful and set the example of many of the traditions I continue today with my own kids (e.g. savings match;  letting them spend the money first - then help etc.). 

The subject came up when B.W. asked the question in our Breakfast Men's Spiritual Group - If you had only 30 days to live who would you give away the money to?  Having read this book - I was prepared with my answer -  "It's all God's anyway - so your only choice is picking the correct "stewards" to carry on your good work".  The best result is to have the plan already in place and communicated to those stewards ahead of time so they are not surprised.  This is where we all fall down - lack of planning and lack of communication.

It's too easy to put it off - assume you will get around to it; or think you have plenty of lead time to do this (even if it is only 30 days).  Wrong!.

And doing nothing is not being a good steward - yourself.  After all God's first question at the pearly gate might be - "Who are Stewards you have picked for the gifts I entrusted to you?"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Numbers Nirvana

An Economist in Columbus mentioned a web site that only Economist and Statisticians would love -   Full of numbers changing each second, with demographics, dollars and ratios.  Just looking at the site is mezmorizing.   It even has a "time machine" allowing you to transport the numbers forward and backward.  It is DATA OVERLOAD!!!   Like Willie Wonka in the Chocolate Factory. 

The US Public Debt ceiling of $14.3 trillion is projected to be hit on August 2.  You can use this web site as the countdown - now $14,289,684,000 and counting (8:18am EDT).  The jokers in Congress are focusing on the wrong number. The three numbers to focus on are GDP, Total National Assets, and US Population and their growth rates.

In 2000 on this day the Total National Assets per citizen was $192,589 and today it is $242,521 (a 2.12% Compounded Annual Growth Rate.  GDP per citizen was $33,586 in 2000 and $47,446 today which is a 3.19% CAGR.  So the population is growing at 0.91% and our assets and income is growing faster (this analysis is slightly flawed as it does not take into account inflation).

We should focus on growth rates and productivity - not debt, taxes and spending.

Monday, July 4, 2011

250 Years

On July 4th 2026 I will be in my 70's and celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of our nation.  Only half the time of  the Roman Empire (27BC to 476AD) but arguably longer than the first  British Empire (1583 to 1783) it will be one of the longer running systems in history.  In Wisner history this will be only five or six generations. 

As live spans increase, 250 years may span just two generations in the future.  So what will things look like in 2026 (15 years from now) on this day?  The Indian Hill Fourth of July Parade will still be scheduled at 10:15 am with fireworks at dusk.  There will be plenty of candy, fun and community hellos.  The great recession will be just a memory and we will still be in the land of the plentiful. 

A new generation (our kids) will be our leaders and face the new challenges of the day.  The spirit of freedom will continue to rise and fall ourside our shores and we will continue to be the beacon of hope for others who yearn for freedom.

Happy Birthday America - may you age with Grace.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Voting No

Saturday was a trip Columbus, Ohio to attend the "We the People Convention".  Full of "Patriots" and Tea Party advocates, I went because of Susan's involvement in the Indian Hill Tea Party - now called the Liberty Alliance Cincinnati (which I thought was a bad thing to rename and lose the brand identity).

The best outcome of the day was the samll paperback Constitution and Declaration of Independence from the National Center for Constitutional Studies.  This morning I sat down and read both documents again.  Interesting learnings came from this exercise.  I had forgotten it was 10 years between the Declaration and the Constitution.  That the Articles of Confederation governed our rebels until the signing of the Constitution  on Sept. 17 1787 (which still required ratification and was not unanomous until Rhode Island finally ratified on May 29, 1790).

Of the 55 delegates at the Constitutional Convention (in Philadelphia) only 39 signed the document and some relucantly.  Benjamin Franklin (who signed the Declaration and the Constitution) said: "I confess there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise ...  Thus, I consent, Sir,  to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best". 

From May 25, 1787 to September 17, 1787 (and 10 years of debate prior to 1787),  one of the most important documents of the last 2000 years was constructed, edited and re-edited.  And even with all that time only 71% (39 of 55) of the delegates agreed that it was time to stop talking and vote/sign. 

But it is the very nature of "calling the question" and showing the roster of yes and no votes that is the power of our democratic republic.  And it is the minority of no votes that creates the strength of our system (and probably numerous edits to the Constitution).

Thank God for those who have the courage to vote No .....  and for those who say "Call the question ...It's not perfect .... but let's get on with it ..... we can modify it later".