Monday, December 26, 2011

Two Apples

Now there are two apples in the family - Jenna and Ellen.  Today was a big day for Ellen.  After saving her money for over one year (and not receiving the expected laptop for Xmas) she decided to purchase the 11.6 in MacBook Air ($999 retail) So precisely at 8am this morning, I drove Ellen to the mall to buy the laptop.  The Apple store was relatively busy but we were waited upon immediately.

Apple's "trojan horse entries" continues to wear at the Microsoft giants monopoly fortress.  The ipod, itouch, iphone, and ipad device proliferation is driving people to Apple - step by step.  A brilliant long term strategy. 

In a rare move, I patiently listened to the English major Apple Store Representative walk me through the one-to-one program, and the extended warranty.  I actually decided to pass on the one-to one program but bought the extended warranty and technical support ($249 less $66 and $50 support visit discount).  The HP Officejet 3054A was $99.95 with a $100 rebate.  So the damage after taxes, rebates, discounts etc. will be over $1,200.   For a 1.6hz processor and 64 Gig, it was a premium price. 

It just shows you that if Xmas morning doesn't yield the electronic gadget you hoped for, just wake up early the next day and get your apple.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas eCards

This year it was difficult to do Christmas Cards since I was out for 8 days with back problems.  Jenna and Ellen created the assembly line and we mailed a few (card, letter, and picture of the kids and dogs, with signatures from all and a brief note).  I violated my own rule of sending a picture without Susan and I in the shot (see Happy Holidays from the Kids). 

This year I also wimped out and used a ecard instead of creating my own customized email Xmas email.  It was a great animated card to "God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen".  I'm actually surprised at how few ecards I received  (20%) vs snail mail traditional cards.  BlueMountain had this great feature to post a card to someone's wall on Facebook - or actually post it to your own wall (which I did). 

Like any good statistician, I wondered how fast traditions change.  For example 20 years ago there were not these Holiday Picture (usually of the kids) Legal Envelope size shots.  For the volume sender what could be more convenient - slap a mailing label on; return address; stamp; insert picture; and send (no note; no actual signature). To bad the picture is dated or you could use any excess for the following year.  Nearly 50% of the cards we received this year were of this type vs the traditional Hallmark folding card.

I suppose the reaction to my BlueMountain ecard is similar to my critic above of the Holiday Mass Mailing - how impersonal!  Where's the investment of time and thought? Why did Garen even bother?

Well - I will survey the reaction and modify for next year.  And if you didn't get an ecard this year - chalk that up to my mis-management of Outlook's address book (and a bad back).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Traditional Wisner Christmas Letter

  Wisner Family   - December 2011
It was Back to Basics for the Wisner's this year, with local activities focused on the simple things in life - family, home, community, and nature.  Our Family continues to be in good health and thankful for another year of time together.
Jenna (20)  - Was it a summer of P.R., or just good grades that resulted in Jenna's acceptance into U.C.'s Nursing School?  Her Entrepreneurial eBay Entry and Incentive In Investing doubled her savings.  And the reduced wait was not appreciated when Jobs delivered the iphone 4s (s - after sister) vs  5.  She hoped for a better statistic, but a 3.9 final quarter rounds to a 4.0 in my book.
Ellen (12) - Her tennis team bravery resulted in an iphone 4 (before s- for sister) with an iron clad data plan.  Continuing in middle school (7th grade) ,  she ignored the middle with all A's and a B+.  Choir and piano are the music of choice.  Cookies, Cupcakes, and Cake pops Consume the Kitchen Counter. 
Susan (>200 pts) - Passing over the bridge into a new civic role and garden - Susan gave the Christmas shoppers an "Aftershock" this year as the doors of Laurel House closed in January (no late start there).  With a heart of gold, Susan continued Emmaus activities, family room decorating, and billboard funding.   Stay tuned for the ultimate issue - the 2012 elections.
Garen (57) - Was it luck or a venue of a brand  (   W   )  new man? Acting like Daniel Boone in the forest, he enjoys  the 5:35am walks in his Woodford Reserve or the Saturday excursions to Grand Valley.   Garen practiced his statistics on Jenna and District 13-D polling this year.  Susan still believes he is full of data.
Bella & Fitch (10 mo) - Nellie's legacy could only be matched with double the pleasure.  With weekly Federal Express packages of fun, these two siblings make the WWF look like amateurs.   Rocky and Rambo are now just pussy cats in comparison.
Traditions come (three apple trees in our forest) and Traditions go (ATP Tennis box seats) but family, friends and community remain our connection to a purpose.  We are grateful for each year of growth and our prayer is that your seeds planted today bear the first fruits of tomorrow.
         Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
                  "Anyone can count the seeds in an apple .... 
        but only God can count the number of apples in a seed."   
                                                                               Robert H. Schuller


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Political Holiday Dejavu

The political holiday games are again in action (see Dec 21,2009).  Today as I recovered from my self inflicted back ache, I decided to listen to Cspan Radio for the House debate and dislike over the Senate taking their toys and going home for Xmas.  So the blame game continues - everyone gets in front of a microphone to blame each other - point the finger and exert their retoric into threats. This time the threat is about taxes, unemployment, spending and doctor pay -  Dejavu!

The term bipartisan is used and misused by both sides.  The facts are, with the Tea Party Independents, there is no sense in using a word with "bi" in it - it should be tri-partisan support.   Getting three people to compromise and agree is something our system of government has not yet figured out. This is the new governance model that we will be living with for a while.

Meanwhile uncertainty continues.  We can  100% certain about one thing - until November 2012 there will be continuous uncertainty. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Heaven Board Entry #4

"When a person is born into the world, he may be likened to a piece of charcoal.  Charcoal is soft and amorphous, so when sunlight falls on it, nothing is reflected.  Then, in the crucible of time, the charcoal becomes subjected to such intense heat and pressure that it is transformed into a diamond 'in the rough.' The stone's natural inner design is determined and marked.  The diamond is then carefully cut with many facets to emerge into the precious and radiant jewel.  Then, when rays of sunlight fall upon it, the colors of the rainbow are reflected, creating a magnificent symphony of beauty and radiance."

"So it is with each person born into the material world.  We may feel 'pressed and cut' by life's experiences and by the choices we make.  Then, however, we are 'born' to greater understanding: the humility our soul has achieved begins to reflect the light of divinity.  Perhaps this could be one reason why the God of Unlimited Love created the crucible called earth!  "

"Building Heaven is up to each of us"

Words Taken from:  "Wisdom from World Religions - Pathways toward Heaven on Earth" by Sir John Templeton
Photo by davmirsim's photostream "Cool as Ice" set on "White Rainbow Diamond" uploaded 5/26/2009

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tangled Wire Mess

Usually this time of year is dealing with Xmas wires totally tangled in a mess.  There is something about wires that their default state is to completely tangle themselves requiring the patience of Job to get them straightened.  Jenna has taken on the Xmas lead manager role and now deals with the wires and challenges of partial lit strands of Xmas lights.  I have freed myself of the obsessive desire to untangle and fix the Xmas lights.

However, I received my dose of wire puzzles as I assisted the Direct TV installer with replacing Time Warner cable.  The spagetti stands of coax cable spread around with splitters and signal gain adapters created a complex web of a "whole house wire mess".  With old technology of coax concatenated A/B wire combined with a Time Warner complex installation of a "whole house loop" - this complex configuration had both the Direct TV installer and me completely confused.  That combined with wires in the attic, the crawl space and outside created a matching wire puzzle game. 

After the installation was complete, I decided to create a whole house wiring diagram to facilitate future upgrades or changes back to cable.  Without proper testing equipment and  because the cable signal was discontinued, it was a best guess. 

All of this reconfiguration reminded me of when Dad and I installed the first Direct TV satellite at the Brill house in 1991.  Back then it was $700 to buy and self install - but as a bleeding edge gadget guy - I just had to have it.  Now 20 years later the technology has changed from single signal and one TV/phone connection to multiple satellites, LNB, with SWM splitters to multiple receivers/TVs all connected through a broadband adapter.  And the cost to install was $19.99 ( the $300 normal cost was waived with a 2 yr contract).

I think the tangled wire mess is straightened out - for now.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fair or Fare

In our increasing volume of class warfare discussion the word "fair" is being used constantly.  How much should the 1% pay in taxes?  How much should the 99% pay in taxes?  How much should the "common worker/laborer" make, and what should an "executive" make?  This is really an argument about engineering the disparity of wealth.

The best definition of fair that I can recall is "Either you get to slice the pie how you want and I select the slice I want or visa vera". 

First lets use this method to determine taxes.  You pick the rate and income brackets you want and I will assign the rates to the various income brackets that I want.  If that were the way tax rates were decided then the outcome would be a flat tax - guaranteed.

Next how do we engineer the "fares" - what do we pay a worker for services rendered - or who gets to earn what in the pie.  This becomes a discussion of compassion and responsibility regarding  the disparity of wealth (which will always exist) in a capitalist society.

Here is where the word fair and my definition of fair breaks down.  Lets say that we want to engineer the exact difference between the lowest hourly worker (minimum wage) and the highest paid executive.  Again, if you pick what that difference is - then I should be able to pick which side of that I get paid.  Hence we would have flat incomes.  But that isn't how capitalism works.

So the compromise (which is also a definition of "Fair") is --- to allow a free floating exchange rate of difference between minimum wage and the highest paid executive (something the conservatives like and liberals dislike) we  establish  a progressive tax system to exist (something the liberals like and the conservatives dislike). 

What isn't fair is trying to re-engineer the disparity of wealth both ways - cut the pie and pick your slice.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Accenture Adventures

Last night  was the 11th reunion (unsanctioned) of old Cincinnati Accenture Alumni remembering their adventurous careers.  Something drives us all to return each year (at Arthurs) to smile, laugh and remember the adventures we all experienced together.  For me, it is the chance to see the faces of those that helped me, influenced me, and made a permanent mark on my personal path and the hope that I returned a small amount of what I received from them.

I thanked K.M when he remarked about some encouraging words I had made that had impacted his Accenture adventure.  E.L reminded me of the bleeding edge briefcase mobile phone  that I had used at the 1988 ATP Tennis match as I lamented about my technological regression in owning a obsolete cell phone without a data plan (while everyone else displayed their iphones).  R.F and I laughed about the personnel issues (e.g. hair style) and hidden rules of engagement.  And the stories go on and on.

This re-union has it's own culture - seeded by the shared values, attitudes, goals and practices of the historic growth of the A.S. (Administrative Services) Division of Arthur Andersen (that morphed into the MICD - Management Information Consulting Division; AC - Andersen Consulting; and finally after the breakup into Accenture).

Now there is no organizational goal, or mission/vision/values - just a culture of fun among aging adventurers.