Sunday, December 30, 2012


This evening the news in Washington about the "grand compromise" will be revealed.  Just in time to meet the deadline. 
The origin of deadline began as a real line in the dirt - restricting prisoners in the Civil War. "Cross the line and you're dead". 

I saw the movie "Lincoln" recently and the politics of this "fiscal cliff" look remarkably similar.  History seems to repeat itself manifested in different contexts in today's modern ideology chasms.  There will be minority of people that will realize this deadline may mean the difference of financial life or death. 

This deadline was manufactured by the politicians.  The new politics is to avoid permanent decisions and instead create laws that sunset into the future - putting the "monkey on a future generation's back" (e.g. Bush tax cuts that expire; sequestration of spending cuts; fiscal debt ceiling etc.)

So expect a decision tonight - to move the deadline, and move the monkey to Congress #113 (12 new Senators, and 67 new Representatives).

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Whispering White

I enjoy waking up to complete white on the ground.  No plow prints, foot prints just a smooth blanket of snow that is freshly falling down.  I decided to drive Jenna into work and the roads were drivable with prudent caution.  It was a wet snow of about two inches and will quickly melt down. 

Things quiet down with cancellation of activities, and people hibernating inside.  Somehow it feels calm and a feeling of peace is whispered in the air.  The melting fluff from the tree limbs provides an intermittent fall of additional white to the ground.

A day inside to relax (for those of us that can) and enjoy the comfort of being surrounded in white.

Friday, December 28, 2012

History Lesson

Some lessons in life come easy but most occur during mistakes.  Mistakes that come with consequences.  That is why making small mistakes with non life threatening consequences early in life yields dividends for the remaining time.  Just think back to any injury, sickness or emotional pain.  Usually that was a consequence of a mistake or poor judgement.  From childhood -touching a hot pan on the stove - to adult - lifting a 440lb drum of liquid from upper body, the physical consequences help etch into one's memory the life lesson.  Pain punctuates the lesson.

Every person you see is a vessel of lessons that they have conquered.  Their stories could help you avoid the pain if you are willing to believe their life lesson.  Yet too often each of us must learn our own lessons in life. We learn best when we experience it directly - even with the pain.

Yet our human body was designed to heal and forget pain (just try to remember the extreme pain of a past injury).  The consequence fades and often we forget (or ignore) the lesson. That is our human condition - it looks stupid but it happens.

It is why history will always repeat.   

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

White Christmas - Unofficially

Today the snow arrived - a little late for an "official" White Christmas.  Officially, Ms. Binns told me (and verified by the Enquirer reporter Cliff Peale), it must be an inch on the ground to be called a White Christmas.  And I suppose it must arrive between the official hours of Christmas Day.  There here have only been six "official" White Christmas in Cincinnati in the last 30 years and only 16 since 1916.  So consider the official "white" title - rare in Cincinnati.

It was a cozy day inside during the sleet and snow. I took a slight break from my chair to try out the John Deere plow that A.M. and I successfully attached several weekend's ago.  All was fine except when right side tire chain decided to uncouple.  No real problem, since only about an inch had accumulated so far - the John Deere worked fine with a single chained tire.

This year is full of unofficial activities.  Instead of the official viewing of the movie "White Christmas" on the eve, we delayed watching it until last night.  With only a 480p resolution DVD, I suppose it's not considered "official" anyway until I invest in the BluRay DVD 1080 resolution.

And to top it off - this evening we will finally get out to see a big screen movie - Les Miserables - again a delay in the official tradition of a holiday flick. 

Hmmm - maybe the timing of Christmas activities were a little off -     off ...icially that is.  :)

PS - Officially it was a foggy Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Morning

I always enjoy my time after midnight Christmas Eve - a quiet house, the midnight clear, and occasionally a light skift of snow on the ground with floating snowflakes in the air (not this year though).  My routine is to begin wrapping all presents after everyone has gone to bed.  This year, I varied the rountine and got an early start - beginning at 10:45 pm after the service at Armstrong Methodist Church. 

Jenna and Ellen saw me hiding the presents under the tree this year - "busted' they exclaimed - as they headed out the door at midnight to house sit/pet sit for the neighbors.  No longer can I be sure they will be in bed before midnight.  In fact this Christmas morning (or with teenagers it will be the afternoon) they won't even be available for me to wake them up (must be how empty nesters feel).

So after the quiet completely settled in at our house, I poured a glass of egg nog and rummaged up some cookies -  no longer do I have the Santa snacks already neatly arranged under the hung stockings.  The Cuckoo clock ticking in the background punctuates the passing of another Christmas and it's cadence methodically draws me back to memories of Christmas Eve pasts.  Each  a comfortably copy - yet different in details.

Merry Christmas to all - and to all a good night. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

All I Want for Christmas

Reading the Wall Street journal today, I marveled at the half page ad "Mastering Differential Equations - The Visual Method".  A limited time offer 70% off if ordered by January 3.  Regular price $254.95 now $69.95. 

Well - I wonder how big the market is for this DVD series taught by Professor Robert L. Devaney (Boston University)?

The pitch:

"For centuries, differential equations have been the key to unlocking nature's deepest secrets. But now, with the aid of easy-to-grasp computer graphics, a highly visual method exists that can start a committed learner on the road to finally mastering this beautiful application of the ideas of calculus."

Wow - hold the door! Don't wait another second to get your copy ordered.  Sure to be a best seller!


Here's your ordering link:  use priority code 65108

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Freedom from Fear

Fear is the opponent of Freedom.  The fear of terrorist attack, nuclear attack, domestic violence, future health care, financial ruin, unbridled media, environmental abuse, corporate shenanigans, immigration, alcohol and drugs, gambling, prostitution etc.   The list of moral and safety concerns is endless.  Each of us has the choice of living out of fear or living for freedom. 
Every regulation invented for the "common good" has roots in individual fears and reaction to perceived evil.  The result of free will is the existence both good and evil.   So where is the balance in the fight of good against evil?  It lies in the golden mean of individual freedom.   
And how do laws and obedience influence us?  Laws and regulation are established to create boundaries and definition of good and evil.  But it is the individuals free will to decide to either be obedient or not (good or evil).  Every law is a boundary established to restrict free will.  More boundaries - less individual freedom.
We have the choice - create more laws out of fear or create freedom from eliminating our fears.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


WisnerFamily          December 2012

This, the twelfth year of Wisner Christmas letters, chronicles a life full of treasure (or treasurers - Emmaus, Cincinnati Bridge Assoc. and I.H. Boosters).  Neither  silver (the hair) nor gold (the investments) make up our treasury - it's each family member's  new talents,  educational achievements, and service in life's purpose. 
Read  on to discover the new deposits for the year:
Jenna (Laborer) -  She has discovered that 6am does exist - in her PCA role at University Hospital - starting literally at the bottom. But she can lift up her nose and be proud of her Nursing     Scholarship and a future career path to the top of service to others.  Twelve  hour work shifts were only a bump in the road this year as 21 became a sobering entry into adulthood.

Ellen (World Traveler) - Taking advantage of Mother/Daughter and Father/Daughter trips, Ellen entered the frequent flyer club with flights to New York and Toronto - I guess straight A's does count for something.  Cheers to her art and exotic fingernail designs.  The Voice in choir, and no longer a Mat to be stepped on, 13 has been a year of skill not luck.  After all, getting up on water skis is an accomplishment.

Susan (Life Master) - Or is it "Master in Life"?  Don't call her a schmuck in cooking  or bridge; or a twit in her technology skills.  Her tweets are never "On the Fence" and her rotten Apple now provides a Window of financial compatibility.  As Lay Director for Emmaus Walk #108, she continues to be the spiritual head of household and masterful pray- er.   Without a new hobby, maybe the Hobbit will suffice for next year.  

Garen (Gardener) - No, it isn't a spell check error, but there was a calculation error with the eight foot sunflowers  he planted ( stick with planting pumpkins).  Garen found no Mammoth of Gold in the keen land of Vegas or the weekly football family pool. Instead, he  found a segway to treasure in daily  I.H. Boosters  bank deposits.  He is now officially a smarter alec with his HTC Windows phone (maybe he will find the perfect sleep app - or CPAP).

Projects at home included a new gate, flowerboxes and energy independence (no more oil).  The Reds were close but with a disappointing outcome (e.g. baseball and election).   However there were no family blues around trips to Chautauqua, Keeneland, NYC, Toronto, Vegas, KS, TN and IN.   Everyone is healthy and one year older and wiser (or spellchecked  -  Wisner).

As those close to us approach and pass 60 years (you know who you are! ), we are reminded of the brief time together.  A dozen Christmas letters of memories are just moments behind, yet a dozen more will seem to pass by even faster in time.  It's not a race to the finish line - it's a marathon with friends and family to the eternal treasure line.
                 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year  

"Sure, Twelve is still our number .....and each day it's the number of times I'm thankful there's such a thing as family."
                                      Kate Baker in "Cheaper by the Dozen"                                           

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Half the Sky

Source: Half the Sky
Our choice of Christmas/Holiday Cards is easy each year, since beginning in 2000 we have always purchased our card supply from the non-profit that Susan and I so passionately support (Half the Sky). 

Named after the Chinese proverb "Women hold up half the sky", Jenny Bowen's spiritual light was ignited in the cause for children (primarily girls) in Chinese Welfare Institutions.  Her journey to China started three years before ours and has multiplied exponentially in outcomes and impact.

Sending a card from Half the Sky each year, reminds me of how much one person can do with the help of others. When the needs seem overwhelming ...  changing one person at a time can multiply the good forever.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas App

This weekend the snail mail Wisner Christmas Cards/Pictures/Letters were sent.  This is the twelfth year of composing a family letter - a project I have come to enjoy.  It is a way to reflect on the year, document certain milestones, and think about the importance of family, friends, relationships and time. 

Each year, as I begin to compose the new letter, it is fun to read the old letters - textual video stories. Interestingly no year stands out,  nor could I rank the years (which of course is what any statistician would do when given twelve items).

One side benefit of this self inflicted tradition (or as Susan would say obsession) of letters, cards and family picture is keeping my technology skills current.  The digitization of the content to send to 75 -100 people (who probably don't need yet another email during the holidays) has allowed me the chance to understand html issues, cell phone display, embedding musical files, avoiding spam filters, email stationary, outlook address issues, animated cards, facebook interface, etc.

What's next in the Christmas greeting technology innovation?   You tube, iphone app, holographic 3-D - prepare yourself  for the ultimate Christmas App!

PS   Dec. 22, 2009
       Dec. 24, 2009
       Feb. 24, 2010
       Dec. 23, 2011
       Dec. 25, 2011

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lurking Values

My personal mission statement has evolved when I began thinking about it during a Covey exercise that I participated in when Accenture put their entire management team through the Stephen Covey Seven Habits training (1993).  The other day J.Y. sent me his personal strategic plan, which included not only a mission statement, but his Vision,Values, Goals, Objectives and Measures (and all on one concise page).  Boy, did I feel inadequate in my strategic consulting background by ignoring all the additional "required" strategic planning methodology documentation outputs. 

I concluded I needed to "step it up" in my Life Planning consulting capabilities (thanks to J.Y.)

Every time I have worked with clients on Strategic Planning the question arises - what's the difference between Mission and Vision?  Which comes first and why do you need both? The best answer I can come up with is the Vision is more the future dream (possibly unattainable) while the mission is the day to day management of activities, priorities, and trade-offs you make as you strive for the dream. Which comes first is not important - however stay tuned as I ponder what my Vision is.

I like Daniel Taylor's description in his book "Creating a Spiritual Legacy" -  "Human beings are values-soaked creatures.  We cannot think, speak, or act for more than a few minutes at a time without revealing a value - a preference for one thing over another or a ranking of priorities ....  every choice we make announces a value.  I choose this and not that because .... And in every because there lurks a value."  Hmmmm - writing down my actual historical values (vs my hopeful future values) may reveal things I prefer to stay hidden away in a lurking fashion. 

Actually, I do a decent job documenting each of these annually (with help from A.S. at Vistage).  Vistage provides me an annual planning and accountability opportunity with annual "spotlight" presentations.   Also yearly in December (we will do this again on Thursday) A.S. challenges each of us to write down annual Goals/Objectives/Measures. The problem is these are too tactical (being annual) and not strategic enough (hence my decade planning presentation last month). 

Are you planned out yet?  Maybe Patience (or  is it Procrastination) is one of my lurking values.  :)

P.S.  M.L. my Vistage Buddy (if he didn't say this he should have) humorously described my obsession with life planning.  P-ersistently   L-ooking   A-t   N-avel  (P.L.A.N.).

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Non Material Life Results

Stick to the important things; "Don't Sweat the small stuff";  ABC classification of Inventory; The rocks in the jar story; and the list goes on.

"Basically, 20% of what you do brings about most of the results in your life..... and 80% of what you do is pretty much wasted time".  Kerry Shook "One Month to Live".

Countless times I have read self help books about focusing on the important things in life.  Don't let the details override the big picture outcomes desired.  Yet, we all get caught up in the 80% and let that consume our worry and attention. 

I can get caught up into this when I am balancing spreadsheets and doing accounting work.  Clearly an accountant/bookeeper is rewarded for his (or hers) attention to detail - balancing things to the penny. Yet, the CFO is rewarded for looking at the "materiality" of the numbers. 

I remember my first lesson in this while at Accenture/Arthur Andersen.  One of my first jobs was testing the Florida Software Systems Mortgage Banking System at First National Bank of Cincinnati. I discovered that on a loan payoff the computer system was doubling the escrow payments and  the Bank was remitting too much escrow to the customer. I approached the audit senior with the issue and he thanked me for the observation (saying the bank would quickly correct this problem) and told me it was not material to the overall audit. 

Mistakes happen - money can be lost, time can be wasted.  It's up to you to determine if it is material.  Most of it not material - move on - correct the mistake and focus on the future results in your life. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

b-Lame Leaders

Blaming someone else is not leadership.  When negotiations are difficult, leaders emerge with creativity to find a way to move forward.  Leaders understand that leading is neither dictating, demanding  or directing - instead it is discussing, describing, and developing. 

The fiscal cliff continues to play out in the media with blaming rhetoric.  Threatening statements are awash with each side criticising each other saying time is being wasted.  "My way or the Highway" is the adage that comes to mind.

To lead means that others will follow - respectfully, willingly, and productively. A promotion (or election) does not make you a leader.  A title to your position doesn't automatically mean you have the skill of  a "leader".  We define a leader only after there are overwhelming followers (not 50% followers). 

It is only after the fact we see who the true leaders are.

Remember that lame is the result of b-lame.   I hope our politicians figure this out.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Who Built it?

During the height of the 2012 Presidential campaign, the Republicans jumped on the opportunity to take words that President Obama said and use them effectively to contrast political ideologies. 

Two sentences (taken from a speech about working together) inflamed the Conservatives -  "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."  You can read the whole context of the speech here:

President Obama goes on to infer that it is the Government that creates things (e.g. the internet, bridges, putting a man on the moon etc.). 

So while the exact words are taken out of context - the political ideological differences are correct.  Where is the emphasis - on the individual ("I" and "You") or the government ("We" and "They")?

Trouble is......... both  parties assume the wrong grammar .......

The reality is God Built It!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

For Better or Worse

Yesterday I had my "annual" holiday reconnection lunch with H.B. who on Friday turns 85 years old.  H.B. and M.E.B. were our neighbors when Susan and I lived in our Condominium.

H.B. retired early at age 51 and so I naturally asked him what retirement was like for 34 years - and especially what M.E.B. thought of his retirement.  He said,  "For Better or Worse", but not for lunch". 

I think "second half" transitions are extremely difficult on relationships.  For the female this happens usually when the kids are gone (empty nest time).  For the male, it occurs on career retirement.  Like any major milestones in life, neither party really can predict their mental state when these big transitions occur. 

Working to a new equilibrium is critical to making the second half - more better than worse.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Merry TAX-mas

The "Fiscal Cliff" is 28 days away and the House Republicans are presumably painted in a corner by the President and the Democrats.  It is "reality news TV" playing out sound bite by sound bite.  A ridiculous public display of amateur negotiations and negotiators.   A stalemate based on a single issue -- TAX RATES on Incomes over $250K.

If you look carefully at the tax tables you will quickly see that this is not a fight about INCOME TAX RATES - it is really a fight about CAPITAL GAINS and DIVIDEND TAX RATES.

Look at the tables:

Individual Income Tax Rates
Tax Brackets (2012 Dollar Amounts)Marginal Rate
Unmarried FilersMarried Joint Filers
OverBut Not OverOverBut Not Over20122013

Long-Term Capital Gain Rates
Maximum Rates201220132013 (including Medicare contribution tax)
Long-Term Capital Gain15%20%23.8%
Qualified 5-Year Capital Gain15%18%21.8%

Dividend Income Rates
Maximum Rates201220132013 (including Medicare contribution tax)
Qualified Dividend Income15%39.6%43.4%
Ordinary Dividend Income35%39.6%43.4%

Notice that the INCOME TAX RATE changes are nominal. The Married Joint Filers from $17,400 - $70,700 INCOME TAX RATE DOESN'T  EVEN CHANGE!!!!!!  regardless of what is done. The other brackets are up only 3% - 5%.

But look at the CAPITAL GAINS and DIVIDEND TAX RATES -  up 8.8% - 28.4%!!!

So the Republicans and Democrats waste time talking about spending, debt ceilings, medicare, social security, growth, jobs when the "show stopping" negotiating issue is Unearned Income Tax Rate.

It's time to state the obvious!  What will Santa deliver on Tax-mas?

Addendum:   Just a clarification -  My observation about no change is on the rate in the $17K-$70K bracket - not the total taxes on income.  Rates are at the margin but everyone pays the  5% increase for the first  bracket  $0 to $17,400 - or $870.  So if you made (married filing joint) $70,700 and the Bush tax rates expire then your taxes would increase 1.2% or less than $2.50/day - just over the cost of a large coffee.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Grateful Place - Heaven Entry #6

Describe your "grateful center" ["God's Joyful Surprise" by Sue Monk Kidd].  Each of us has such a center in our lives - a time and place where we were free of all the grasping and grabbing, all the pushing and shoving, all the disapproving and dissenting.  An appropriate place to retreat to during the Holiday Stress.

"Find the place that heals you", was the phrase I heard in one of my training classes about work/life balance in Accenture (see March 28, 2010).    "Your peaceful place allows whispered prayers and thanksgiving to flow" ["Prayer" by Richard Foster]. 

I like Foster's suggestion to try to live on entire day in utter thanksgiving. Balance any (and every) complaint with ten gratitudes, every criticism with ten compliments.  I have my own practice of writing down five things I'm grateful for each day (since December 3, 2007 and now starting it's sixth year and a new Volume IV) See 87th blog entry "Practice an Attitude of Gratitude" on December 16, 2009.   I asked Mom if she would join me in this "trained habit". 

On December 3, 2010 I ended Volume II with the "Top 10" things I was grateful for after reviewing the first thee years of entries - you could say that was my "grateful center":

(1) God's messages to me (Spiritual Growth)
(2) All my entries about family - Susan, Jenna, Ellen, Parents, Slanta Family, Murray Family, D'Lane/Ann & Family, Vana/Dayton and Family
(3) Nature's signs of God's Presence (The Seasons)
(4) Health of All
(5) Social Venture Partners & Vistage
(6) Friends and Relationships
(7) Home; Office; and Feelings of Security
(8) Library;Books;Movies;Concerts ... Intellectual Stimulation
(9) Memories - Blogging;Journals

and the top choice .......   A Loving Spouse

Find your Grateful Place - each day, each year, for a lifetime of peace.

P.S. >   It hit me as I was 'tagging this entry" with virtually all of my tags!  This is my Heaven Entry #6!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Curiousity Killed the Cat

Last night I got an interesting tweet/email/text from a Vistage friend (S.B.) "just what are you doing on this movie".  A perfect one liner to capture curiousity.  Now normally I ignore these strange unexplained emails but this on had a url listing as that could possibly be a video where my name was "tagged".

While I have nothing to hide -  I was still curious (it could be that latent desire to be a famous movie star in me).  So I decided to take the bait and click on the url.  Naturally it took me to a screen that asked for my twitter name and password.  I couldn't resist (afterall I don't use twitter that much and have no real followers - at least that I could remember). 

The next level displayed a screen (presumably a You Tube screen) with a box asking me to upgrade to improve performance of the movie but upgrading my Flash player.  At that point I knew I had been hacked! Luckily I didn't attempt the upgrade which would have loaded a virus on my machine.

And sure enough, I started getting emails from any twitter followers saying they had received a strange email/text with the same question (or even a variation  - "what could you be doing on this video".

So I quickly changed my twitter password and tweeted to any of my followers to ignore any strange tweets.

It is amazing how quickly a viral message like this proliferates.  Within hours I have now received another tweet from one of my followers that is identical (so curiousity both killed the cat and all the other cat's friends). Then one from Jenna - another cat slain.

Like cats though - twitter has nine lives (that is if you change your password). 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Receiving Joy

Tonight T.C. and M.C. (two wonderful people, my SVP Cincinnati Partners, and community leaders) hosted a wonderful holiday open house for the Social Venture Partners (SVP) Cincinnati, their friends and other community "givers".  Ruth Jones (SVP International) was at the party helping us celebrate over five years of giving back to the Cincinnati community.

It was a special evening to me personally as I have found many friendships that I would have never received without being engaged as a Partner with other like minded (and "giving minded") people.  You could call it an evening for receiving joy - relationship joy.

I helped start SVP Cincinnati for very different reasons than the benefits I have accrued since inception.  It just proves that giving can return in ways you can never predict. 

There could have been no better Birthday celebration (even though 80 people did sing it to me -  thanks to L.H.) than to spend it with my SVP Partners and their "Social Network"!

Happy Birthday #5 to SVP Cincinnati!

What we boys do!

"This is what we do!"  William Adama vociferously yells as he wins his first Battlestar Galatica battle in the 10 part web series of "Blood and Chrome". 

And the response to Adama by Coker Fasjovik (the co-pilot and navigator) was "Not bad Oscar, Stupid but not Bad".

What a great nostalgia time for me, since I was hooked on the remake of the 1979 series that first aired on SciFi (now SyFy) on Dec. 8, 2003.  I watched the first eight episodes of Blood and Chrome on the web during the Thanksgiving holiday and I look forward to SyFy delivering the complete 1080i version of it on Feb. 19, 2013 (maybe with enough interest SyFy will take a risk on another series).  Boys will still be boys.

The progression of young boy's interest in television went from war series (Combat, The Gallant Men, The Rat Patrol) to the Spy series (I Spy, T.H.E. Cat, Man From U,N.C.L.E, Mission Impossible; The Avengers) to the Space series (I Dream of Jeanie, Lost in Space, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galatica).  Actually I stopped with Star Trek and never really liked the 80's version of Battlestar Galatica.  Like I said boys will be boys

I'm sure this media framed the attitudes and opinions of the baby boomer males interested in war, guns, and "final frontiers". 

This is what we [boys] do!   And the girls respond - Stupid, but not bad.