Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hope in the Air

Rev. Stover referred to Emil Brunner's quote "What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life" in his message today titled "Good News and the Living Hope". 

This was a relatively early Easter this year - the first Sunday after the full moon following the March Equinox.  The earliest Easter would arrive March 22 and the latest Easter would be April 25.  The Eastern Orthodox Easter will celebrate Easter on May 5th and varies between April 4th to May 8th.  When they varied Susan and I would celebrate both and I have great memories of attending the Russian Orthodox Easter services. 

With multiple dates of celebrating Easter it just means March to May fills the spring calendar with good news and hope in the air!

Happy Easter ....  today and through May 5th.

PS -  This afternoon Ellen and I watched the Hunger Games again.  A sad depiction of a society of the future.  President Snow begins to worry about the actions of the heroine (Katniss Everdeen) and the impact she was beginning to make on the spectators.  He says:  "Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.  A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous.  A spark is fine, as long as it is contained ....... so contain it!

That's the point - secularism can't "contain it".  It is the meaning of life!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Old Paint Inventory

Ellen and I painted the shelf we made on Wednesday with her Grandpa Wisner today - dark purple to match the trim of the light purple room she has.  The challenge was finding the old paint that was used to paint her room.  Off to the garage we went, searching the 25 old cans of paint that are stacked neatly in shelves that have never to be opened in over 10 years.

Every home in America has a place where left over building materials are stored - bathroom tiles, wall paper, roof shingles, old bricks, wood trim, and old paint.  Of course most of this material is not marked and is several generations old but still stored "just in case".  Even a paint can with less than one inch of remaining paint is dutifully stored for that touch up job that never gets done.  Likely there are paint cans that were inherited from the prior owner of the house.

Luckily we found the purple paint.  The paint contractor had good "standards" and had 'dabbed" a splotch of purple on top of the can so the color inside was readily apparent.  And since her room had been recently painted (about a year ago) that can was actually on the top shelf and visible.

Part of the reason for old paint inventory is the harm to the economy of disposal.  Sawdust, cat litter, or sand can be used to absorb the old remaining paint or there are paint hardener packets that you can buy also.  I have many of those sitting on the same shelf awaiting the day I get the courage to throw away the old paint.

Why courage - well as a self confessed junk collector, I can always say that I have some touch up paint available -  if I can just find it in the 25 cans of unmarked paint.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Password Dictatorship

Today was Surface configuration day.  Vana and Dayton had purchased a Surface for Mom and Dad, so today I was helping them configure it. 

The challenge becomes the password.  In the spirit of privacy and security we are encumbered with password choices - but not really a choice.  After two or three attempts, I finally read the small print - requires 8 or more characters using lower and upper case with a minimum of two alpha, numbers and one special character.  Also the any derivative of your name was not allowed in the password. That's no choice! That is Password dictatorship! .....  and guaranteed to be forgotten.

Add to that the irritation of trying to remember your old passwords.  Yes - we are all alike - written on some scraggly piece of paper in not particular order are all the user ID's, passwords and special things we are asked to record upon sign-up of a web site or warranty agreement.  That paper is faded with several things crossed out (when the site mandates we change the password).  In fact, it's not one piece of paper it is a collage of varies sizes of paper, yellow stickys etc.  And in that collage it is impossible to find your password.

Now to increase privacy a choice (five or six available) of a secret (or sometimes three questions) questions are needed.  AND even more security is a phone number to be texted with a special code in case a new and unfamiliar device is accessing the site that is not recognized (too bad for those people without texting capability).

So where does this all lead?  Another piece of paper or entry into your password collage and more wasted time trying to get access a harmless, non critical web site.

PS - My prior password rants:  August 11.2012 Is it really you?
                                                  April 24, 2012   Password Please
                                                   March 1, 2010  Password Please

Sunday, March 24, 2013


The definition of Righteous is:  (1) Morally upright; without guilt or sin. (2) In accordance with virtue or morality: a righteous judgment.  (3) morally justifiable: righteous anger.

Righteous and righteousness can be a confusing topic.  "Noah was a righteous man"  (Gen. 6:9)  Job was also described as "perfect" in righteousness, yet Romans 3:10 states "There is no one righteous, not even one". Job was also considered righteous in his own eyes (Job 32:1). But being self-righteous is a derogatory term - being narrow minded and smugly moralistic. Self- righteous is connected with hypocrisy.

Righteous(ness) is used almost 500 times in the Bible (putting it in the top 250 words most used words) and so it would be natural for some dichotomy in interpretation. In fact knowing what is right and wrong - moral or immoral is the challenge of living with others (after all we always think we are right).

Right is opposite of wrong. Add the "eous" and you get the addition of "having the nature of being right".  Add the "ness" and you get an abstract noun exemplifying a quality or state.

Like T.B. said the other day - "I'm never wrong.  One time I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken"

Is that self-righteousness or wrongeousness?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just Sayin

The latest in vogue saying is "just sayin".  In the past few months, I've read it, heard it, and experienced it first hand from Jenna.  It's a sophisticated "in your face" snarky phrase and in the audible form requires a punctuated dialect with a toss of the head and emphasis on elongating "saaayinnnn".  Maybe even a flip of the "talk to the hand" gesture for even more emphasis.

 I'm a little behind the times after listening to Scott Simon's NPR (Dec. 18, 2010) rant on the phrase. Scott says "Saying, "I'm just saying," puts a fire escape onto the end of a sentence. It lets you express a stern — even rude — opinion, but not really. You're just saying. It invites the listener to discount what we've just heard, even as we're reeling from it."

Next time you hear "just sayin" respond "just ignorin". 

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Waking up to 19 degrees makes you wonder about the Spring season (the vernal equinox was 7:02am yesterday).  Last year nature cooperated with the season expectations with record highs in the 80's and the air conditioner running.   How short our memory is!

Proving again the statistical law of "reversion to the mean", this year the March temperatures continue to adjust down below the average lows. 

One thing is certain - March (and Spring) is unpredictable.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Random Bracket Madness

Tonight I entered the Wisner Family CBS Sports Fantasy NCAA Basketball Pool (now in it's sixth year).  D'Lane is the official organizer and the deadline for entry is tonight. 

I finished a great article about the Random Chance of picking a perfect bracket - "Random chance: America starts filling out March Madness brackets for NCAA Tournament".  There are 9.2 quintillion combinations (yes a 9 with 18 zeros) of filling out the bracket.  And even simulating low probability events (e.g. #16 seed not winning) or higher probability events (e.g. one of the first four seeds making the final four) doesn't really help much.  That is why playing in the pool is as fun as betting on a Las Vegas Roulette wheel.

By the way - the real "gamblers" also are careful about how the brackets are scored.  Bonus points for upsets; the multiplier pool (seed number is multiplied by points in the round); greater weight to championship pick; most games picked correctly; and the list goes on and on.

So - here is some advice.  If you "lose" (or forecast a loss based on the early rounds) in the bracket pool - just protest that the scoring was not correct.  Then figure out what kind of weights and scoring will put you in first and proudly announce that you could have/should have been the winner.

After all good marketing is defining your position relative to the measures you pick.  It reminds me of the "spin" in the marketing brochure from HoliMont Ski Resort (after the President's day  ski excursion the family did with the Murrays).
"By most measures, HoliMont is North America’s largest private ski area. HoliMont has over 4,000 members, eight lifts, 50+ slopes and trails, and 140 ski acres. HoliMont is proud of its history, its goals and its members."SO........

By most measures, Garen is the best bracket picker in the NCAA basketball pools he participates in.

"Define the measure - and measure yourself up"  :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Quarter Century Love

Twenty-five years ago it was a Saturday ceremony at the Indian Hill Church where Susan and I declared our vows to each other.  It was a sunny day and a joyous celebration.  Then it was off to Jekyll Island for a honeymoon retreat. 

So today marks "a quarter century" of love - the silver anniversary.  We will celebrate virtually as Susan and Jenna are in Florida (on Jenna's spring break) and Ellen and I are "holding the fort" in Cincinnati.  But Friday evening will be a celebration of dinner and ballet (The Prodigal Son) to commemorate the occasion.

“Love seems swiftest, but it is the slowest of growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.”
-Mark Twain

Monday, March 18, 2013

The E or F Word

Our small group study at Armstrong just finished the "Unbinding the Heart" - 40 days of Prayer and Faith Sharing by Martha Grace Reese.  As she self professes - it is a Book about the E Word - Evangelism  - That Which Must Not Be Named in our mainline churches!  I must admit her exercises placed me outside my comfort zone. 

But the book transforms the negativity too often associated with the E Word into a journey of "supporting sustainable faith sharing in your life".  She challenges each of us - What is motivating you? What difference does being a Christian make in your life?  Answers to these questions ---  hard introspective questions ---  can make a difference in everyone you touch (and you are the only person whose life touches all of the people you know, work with, and meet every day). 

Co-incidentally on Friday, I participated in a small group meeting (SVP Cincinnati) assisting our faith based investee - Whole Again.  The purpose of the meeting was to strategize on Board development.  Whole Again, like all our investees,(and the entire universe of non-profits), are always worried about the F Word - Fundraising - That Which Must Not Be Named in our Board meetings!  Yet, changing the negativity too often associated with the F Word into a journey of "supporting sustainable sharing of the good the non-profit delivers" is a secular version of Evangelism.

Interestingly - the questions are the same:

(1) What is motivating you?

(2) What difference does being a Giver (or volunteer) make in your life?  ....   and in the other person's life?

At SVP Cincinnati, I have borrowed the term (invented by P.H. for one of my speeches) - Return on Life (ROL)

  Therefore -   The benefit of E or F =  ROL

P.S.   I have blogged in the past about the "Artful Asker".  Maybe his quote applies to the spiritual world as well as the secular world:  "Artful Asker [discipleship] is the most exciting and rewarding of all [eternal relationships]"

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Beg a Boon

"Money and the Meaning of Life" by Jacob Needleman has the famous Grimm's fairy tail of "The Fisherman and His Wife" in the Appendix II.  I remember reading the tale in Volume 3 page 93 of the Childcraft  series (The Child's Treasury 1954).  I saved the 15 volumes from the rummage sale before the move of Mom and Dad from Cleveland to Wichita and have moved them diligently with me eight times (in addition to Mom and Dad's eight times).  

A tale of "want" and husband and wife interaction - The Fisherman and His Wife is a lesson in money, greed, power, and finally humility.  In fact the message at the end speaks to me about God and humility.
As for the message for husbands and relationship?  
"O man of the sea!
Come listen to me,
For Alice my wife,
The plague of my life,
Hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!"

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Scr-lls S-- D--d (Dead Sea Scrolls)

Susan and I toured the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit today at the Cincinnati Museum.  That and today's selection of Pope Francis I make it a reverent day.  A contrast in time and location - 400BC in caves of Qumran to today in Rome. 

Technology has played a key role in religious growth - parchment, the Gutenberg Press, and yes the Mac (which was at the exhibit also).  I remember Susan organizing Martin Abegg to speak at the Indian Hill Church Adult Lecture Series (1998).  Martin Abegg was the graduate student at Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati) that took the concordance and programmed a Mac (1991) to produce the unpublished text and broke the stronghold of the Israel Antiquities Authority's  long-standing restrictions on the use of the scrolls.

There were only about 10 or 12 parts of the scroll on exhibit with Leviticus, Ezekiel, and Psalms as the books represented.  The audio and visual commentaries added great color to the other physical items of pottery, coin, clothing and artifacts spanning thousands of years. 

The print was small (big by computer standards probably 16-18 font) and surprisingly dark.  Written in Hebrew, it brought to mind the specifics I learned from Susan in her study of Hebrew - read from right to left with no vowels.  It made me wonder - why are some languages (and text) read horizontal right to left vs left to right or vertically (top to bottom like Chinese)?

(1) Easier to carve in stone (hold mallet in right hand, peg in left)
(2) Right hander scribes tried to avoid smudging their work?
(3) Hold brush in right hand and unroll scroll with left?
(4) Early periods of more left handers
(5) Start a beginning of cave or end of cave?


Tuesday, March 12, 2013


No Pope today.  Although statistically no Pope has ever been selected on the first day of the conclave.  The Catholic cardinals speculate that it will take 4-5 days.  By the way ...what is the exact definition of a conclave? 

From Merriam-Websters online Dictionary : a private meeting or secret assembly; especially : a meeting of Roman Catholic cardinals secluded continuously while choosing a pope.


What goes on in a conclave .....   stays in the conclave.

Mercy or Grace

I have heard (and read) that "Mercy is when you don't get what you deserve.  Grace is when you get what you don't deserve."  Even this logical twist of words makes the term Grace difficult to understand completely.  Theologians have wrestled with the meaning of Grace (and the issue of "Works" also). 

On Sunday we had a guest pastor speak (Rev. Stearns) who described John Wesley's (and Methodism) three types of Grace - Prevenient Grace, Justifying Grace, and Sanctifying Grace.

Prevenient Grace is "...the divine love that surrounds all humanity and precedes any and all of our conscious impulses."  Rev. Stearns simplified this with his childhood memory of looking a the picture of Jesus attentively knocking at our door awaiting our response.   I remembered a similar picture from the book I read in 2009 "Ten Prayers God always says Yes to" by Antony DeStefano -  The Light of the World (By William Homan Hunt).  A copy now hangs in Susan's office - the Christmas gift of 2009.

The door has no knob and can be opened only by the person inside.  There stands Christ knocking (Rev. 3:20) holding the light of the world (John 8:12).

I said, I would bet my mortgage that the picture Rev. Stearns referred was this same picture.  I asked the family if Rev. Stearns had shown the picture on the big screen in the Contemporary Service and if it was the Hunt picture above.  He had ---  it wasn't.

I guess I now need Mercy  :)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Birthday Cards

Happy Birthday to Susan.  Jenna wins the best birthday card award from Susan.   Here's the message:

                                                   WOW !     You got a card!

                                               A real  honest-to-goodness card!

                                         Not an e-mail.          Not a text message.

                                            But a true Birthday Card just for you!

Then inside the card:

                                                         WOW!       No   Way!

                                                           It has an inside too!

                                                          This just gets  better
                                                                                    and  better!

I guess my e-card from Blue Mountain just didn't cut the mustard this year.  The old fashion birthday card is still the stalwart of birthday enjoyment.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dark Suit and Tie

I just returned from the 37th annual awards luncheon for University of Cincinnati Economics Center.  A guest of W.U., it was a downtown at the Westin and a room of over 400 business people, educators, and even school kids.  It was pleasing to see that the Indian Hill Elementary team won the 10 week Traders in Training stock market contest.  They start with $100K and the IHES team netted over $105K.  The two students "rang the opening luncheon bell".   In addition Indian Hill High School economics teacher (John Slonim) won the Economics Teacher of the Year.

I arrived early so while standing next to the escalator, I counted the number of brown, tan, or grey suits arriving.  Less than 20 out of the 400 suits.  Clearly my grey hound's-tooth jacket with no tie was the outlier :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

More Market Media Mania

The Dow hit a record high yesterday - 14,282.30 and naturally the press went wild and today it continues.  It's like the high school days of hearing about that wild party occurring (unsupervised) at the kid's house where the parents are gone.  The Fed's unbridled $85 Billion per month purchase of bonds is the equivalent of the older brother buying unlimited booze for the party.

I have the luxury of keeping financial journals of my investment patterns since October 7th 2004 (now on my 22nd 100 page volume).

Before the last crash, I began to get nervous about the market in October 2006.  I was convinced I should exit the market based on a chart showing the NAHB Housing Market Index superimposed on the S&P500 lagged for 12 months (a 79% correlation). If that correlation was correct the market was going to crash.  Yet it took another year ( the DJIA increased 2,307 points or 19.4% up)  of the "party" before the "police" (Fed/Treasury) showed up and the "hang overs" set in ( the great recession).

So how long will this "party" continue?  Another year and 19.4% like 2006?  That would be another 2,771 points  up to a DJIA of 17,053 sometime in March 2014.

Literally off My, My, My, My, office wall chart!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Is, Was and Will be

A.M. asked me if I had noticed more use of the irritating phrase "It is what it is".  Where exactly did this phrase come from and what does it really mean?  Well the urban dictionary states that it is often used in business - with various interpretations (from PG to R).  But clearly it is frequently used in interviews with sports players and coaches to abbreviate the conversation- see USA Today article.

A.M. said the phrase had even morphed into "It was what it was".  Now that is really redundant and (in my opinion) meaningless.  The tense of "was" usually means that history can't be changed (unless the politicians do it). Even "is" becomes the past immediately so technically after uttering the first "is" it becomes a "was".

A.M. nodded and concluded with this phase ----- "It is what it will be"  :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013


As I was talking to M.E. about meeting with Paul in his career networking/job search, M.E. provided some great wisdom on choosing a job.  He said that more important than the field, the industry, the company and specific position, the people you will work with and ultimately your superiors will be the most important factor in your career success. 

Wow - As I look back on my career, his observation was "spot on".  My mentors and career saviors (B.W.; A.C.; J. R.) and peers (P.G.; G.M. et al) and the guys that worked for me (K.M.; S.W.; G.P.; T.D.; S.W. J.M.; J.D.; et al) were critical to my career success at Accenture.  It was the people that were the defining ingredients.  Granted Accenture with it's business practices, culture, and growth rate was important - but eliminate the mentors and the high quality of professionalism in the people (and there were some bad apples inside Accenture) and you sacrifice time and money in your career development.

Trying to discover during a few interviews whether the people side of the organization will work should be a new recruits objective.  Is there a match in personality, in ethics, in management style and most importantly in tolerance for teaching, forgiving and mentoring you as an individual, is critical to your selection process.

I was blessed to have been connected to the best people during my career.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tried or Carried

B.W. has been an defining person in my life.  He interviewed me on the campus of Miami University in 1976 and patiently did not throw me out of the room (for wasting his time) when I told him I was not interested in full time employment at Arthur Andersen but was looking for a summer job.

His crafting of the first internship program for the Administrative Services division of Arthur Andersen in Cincinnati included me and two other students.  That internship started me on the path of a 25 year career culminating into the prestigious public company - Accenture. 

When we celebrated B.W.'s retirement, he gave one of the most heart filling, and motivating speeches to the Cincinnati Office that I can remember.  I was lucky to work for him, with him and still see him monthly at our alumni partner lunch gatherings.

This month, only B.W. and I were available so the alumni partner lunch discussion was full of wisdom and memories.  When we entered into the discussion about gun control and the right to bear arms, I mentioned to B.W. a recent YouTube video I had been sent.  It was a woman testifying about why she favored laws that allow conceal and carry of firearms - I highly recommend viewing it.

B.W. popped off a one liner affirmation -  "When faced with the split second decision on whether to use a gun in self defense, just remember would you rather be tried by 12 or carried by 6?"