Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Next Frontier

I just finished watching the 240 minutes (and extra 50 minutes of special features) PBS Documentary of "Lewis and Clark" by Ken Burns. Bringing to life the 1804-1806 remarkable story of the Corps of Discovery, the movie captivates you with imagining the thrill (and effort) to explore the unknown. 

In Captain Kirk's famous monologue: "Space the Final Frontier", there is an explorer arrogance of thinking there is a limit to exploration - Final Frontier.  Yet each and every expedition reveals more to discover - an infinite domain for human curiosity. 

And at the "end" of infinity?  The Next Frontier.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Arrivals

Rev. Stover entered the room today with the box of books (Circle Maker by Mark Batterson) for the Friday Morning Men's Group. It immediately reminded me of when the elementary school teacher would enter the room with the Scholastic books that we had ordered at school.  Such an exciting time - first the negotiation with Mom on what books we could order and then receiving them to take home to read.

The paperback books with glossy covers and tightly pressed pages begged to be opened for the first time.  It had been at least six weeks since ordering the books, and the memory of what was ordered had faded.  So it was a joy and a renewed surprise to see which books had been chosen. Something was magical about owning the books selected to be read.

Mom was always generous in her investment in this wonderful tradition and building in each of her kids the love of reading.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


As I was reading the research paper on Musical Personality, the professors used the " Brief Loquaciousness and Interpersonal Responsiveness Test (Swann & Rentfrow, 2001) - the BLIRT in their study.  Specifically this test discriminates between individuals who tend to express their thoughts and feelings as soon as they come to mind (blirtatiousness) and individuals who tend to keep their thoughts to themselves.

Naturally, I couldn't resist taking the test (after all I'm a self help junkie) with the following result:
 Your response type:


Your answers indicate that you are a high blirter, which means that you have a tendency to express your thoughts as soon as they come to mind, become very engaged in conversations and interrupt those around you, and respond to people in conversations quickly. Because you're good at keeping conversations going, others see you as very sociable and likable. If you're not careful you may sometimes come across as brash. In general, you think well of yourself, partly because your willingness to express yourself allows you to get your needs met with little difficulty.

  Your self-criticalness:


You scored in the moderate range on the criticalness scale. This means that you tend to rate yourself as neither high nor low on the following dimensions: critical, judgmental, moody, controlling, dominant, patient, warmth, and tolerance.

You too can take the test at:

And what rhymes with blurt?   curt, dirt, flirt, girt, hurt, pert, quirt, shirt, skirt, spurt, squirt, vert, wert, yurt

Yurt??????  What's that?

Yurt Homes - A Bridge between us and Nature


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Your Musical Personality

The Top 100 Oldies project has morphed into an analysis of musical personality.  I couldn't resist searching the internet and finding a personality test based on musical preference (a sort of horoscope for your musical tastes). 

My summary results are listed below:

For the full narrative of personalities that have this distribution see  Garen's Musical Personality Profile

And if you want to check out your own musical personality take the test here:   The DO-RE-MI's of Personality

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

App Prison

My loyalty to Microsoft was best displayed on 11/16/12 when I picked the HTC Windows 8 Phone.  But now 10 months and counting I wait frustrated that anytime I want my phone to do something (e.g. an App) there is nothing available.  It hurts to especially as Apple announced yesterday their new iphone (not very exciting but it pays to be first to market). 

G.M. the other day was showing off his new Samsung  Droid phone that will automatically scroll the screen as your eyes read to the bottom.  I thought a Windows phone would have seamless access and become just another small PC.  But as I accessed sites that use Adobe Flash (disallowed by the Windows 8 phone) and other computer features, I discovered that the phone is not just a small computer.  I do like the that allows me all my PC documents (Excel, Powerpoint, Word) accessible in the cloud and viewable on my phone.  The customization of the home screen with the dancing tiles is cool.  Yet the Apps is what is critical

So I'm 10 months into my 24 month contract that subsidized the HTC phone.  The question remains - stay in App prison or break away.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Just One Song

It all started when I heard American Pie by Don Mclean over the Labor Day Holiday.  It was on Jenna's playlist.  I immediately spoke up and said - that was the winter of 1971 my senior year of High School.  A vivid image of a grey Saturday in Cleveland popped into my head.  I was driving a group of us from the Methodist youth group to a volunteer activity on the West side.  We were all singing the song (8 +  minutes worth) in the car. Why I connect that particular event with the song is a mystery - but many songs conjure up a vivid memory in time.

So -  that put me on to a music project.  I decided to create a playlist of songs for each year from 1962-1982 consisting of only ONE SONG for each of the years.  Upon a search of the internet I found Music Outfitters which had a list of the top 100 songs for each of those years.  This task is not easy given my history of the endless hours I spent listening to the radio and taping songs on Dad's reel to real tape recorder.  Regardless - I plowed on and for the hardest years I picked three first and then tried to narrow to one.

Before I publish my list, I intend to go back an find what songs I actually taped to verify if my taste in favorites has evolved  (however back then I was not just limiting my recordings to just one song per year).

BTW - American Pie was my 1972 pick.  (Why 1972 - the song was released in November 1971 but made the top 100 in 1972).

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Failure Rates

In our Sunday evening fellowship study of Jacob's story in Genesis, we talked about the failures we all have and have had since the beginning of civilization.  Given the redundancy of mistakes generation after generation, you could conclude that little progress has been made when viewed as a community even as individuals improve independently of each other.

The statistician in me kicked in.  Since we are not (and will never be) perfect you could use the analogy of the machine uptime or quality control dependencies.  Take four independent operations (probably not the best assumption with people but it will do) that each have different failure rates - 1%; 3%; 5%; and 0.1%.  The probability that the "integrated system" fails is 8.86%.

The more independent functions you have will create a multiplier effect in the resulting failure rate. If you had ten operations all with 99.9% quality output (sounds pretty close to perfect) you should expect a 1% defect rate overall. 

So since we all fall short of perfect - when you put an entire population into the equation - you get a pretty big failure rate.  But as Thomas Edison would say - we have found 1000 ways that can cause failure - but that doesn't mean we've failed 1000 times. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bow Chicky Bow

I think Hallmark hit a home run with their audio cards featuring Hoops and Yoyo.  Jenna gave Ellen one of these cards for her 14th birthday several weeks ago.  It's addicting to open up.  Almost can't get it out of your mind.

Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh   Baby  :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

High School Football

Tonight was the first Friday night home game for the Indian Hill Braves and the Booster Bash.  A perfect September evening as temperatures dropped from the high 70's to 56 degrees.  I was "on point" on several fronts - volunteering for the Booster Bash and the "supervision" (parent in waiting) for Ellen and friends that were attending the game.

Standing at the end zone fence, I observed the real action (off the field) of the various groups of kids (from elementary, middle school and underclass high schoolers) all "hanging out" paying no attention to the game.  At least the Seniors were dressed up in spiritwear and were organized as a cheering section in the home stands.

Across the nation, High School Football dominates the Friday night activities.  Just before the 7pm kickoff with the crowd leisurely sauntering into the stadium, the band began to play the National Anthem.  Suddenly, as if a snapshot had been taken, everyone and everything stopped as the band played on. 

.... And the home of the Brave. The "frozen" picture restarted and lives journeyed on.  Yet for a moment in time the Community all came together, stopped their agenda and through reverence to freedom, listened to the song that unites us all - a country blessed to be playing high school football across the land.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Your Head Coach

Today was a breakfast with Joe Gibbs and 1000 other guys.  Yes there was significant sports talk given the key note speaker was Joe Gibbs -  a 3-time Superbowl  Champion (Head Coach for the Washington Redskins) and a 3-time NASCAR champion also. A big thanks to Paul R. for inviting me to attend.

Joe Gibbs was really there to talk about the game of life (which he then related to football). He is a very accomplished speaker because he kept his message simple, repetitive, and told stories to enhance his four main points.

(1) In life (like football) the most important starting point is the Head Coach
(2) Next, you need players
(3) The players need to understand this is a TEAM sport
(4) You need a Playbook (Game Plan)

Joe Gibbs gave a great testimonial and witness to us all.  I can't wait to read the book that was provided to all 1000 of us at the breakfast table "Game Plan for Life: Your Personal Playbook for Success". 


So what's his real points:

(1) God is your Head Coach
(2) You decide whether you want to be a player
(3) As a player you decide what team you want to play on
(4) The Bible is your Playbook - it can speak to you individually and your team mates and it leaves nothing out (or in doubt).

And I would add my message (which he didn't say but goes without saying) .......

We can all win the game!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

He did it!

Mom (who taught school for 56 years) always solved the "who done it" finger pointing among the two children in a fight by punishing both.  The cause of the fight was not the issue.  After all it takes two to fight regardless of who lit the fuse.  In some cases an entire classroom would be punished for not self regulating the perpetrators.

And so we have the challenge of determining whether to get involved with the Syrian civil war.  Who (or which side) initiated the chemical warfare?  Can we really establish "red lines" for umpiring weapons of mass destruction.  Hmmmm - it is ok to fight and kill - just do it in conventional ways.

The American people overwhelmingly do not want to enter into the Syrian conflict yet our representatives are likely going to vote for a "limited" strike.

Limited to what?  Being a "Bully for the Day".

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


In the consulting business we used the phrase "He's a rain maker" to describe the person with exceptional talent in attracting new customers or consistently creating more unexpected business than the normal consultant.  Rain makers are also individuals (usually extroverts) that shake up the normal procedures.  When they join an organization they bring new energy, test existing policy and procedures, and "shake up" the status quo.

But there is a difference in "rain making" and chaos making.  Rain makers are accepted because the results (the ends) justify the means (chaos created).  Chaos makers do the opposite - create change expecting that will create the rain only to find drought - d-raining the organization.

We had a neighbor that was a Chaos maker.  Came to our neighborhood, created all kinds of radical and immediate change in the landscape of his property, stirred up problems for all those (including us) adjacent to the property, and then left town within three years of creating the chaos.  Their chaos has continued to "pollute" the neighborhood even after the adjacent properties had turned hands several times (we left 10 years ago).  

Beware of the Chaos-makers.