Friday, January 31, 2014

Sweeping Floors

Throughout my career and even recently, I have given advice on career planning to people.  Lately that has manifested itself through my weekly visits to Miami University where I act as recruiter in their Mock Interview program.  Over that last two months I have been giving parental advice to Jenna as she begins to plan her career anticipating her graduation from University of Cincinnati with a degree in Nursing.

Last night, Jenna was describing her career discussions with Tri-Health (which resulted from networking with J.P.).  The single biggest challenge of a career search is the issue of matching your ideal vision of a job with the available market and competitive landscape of other graduates.  This "dance" affects the emotional self esteem quotient, the balance of pros and cons of any job and/or company, and the fear of making an incorrect career choice.  All of this surrounds the single biggest unanswerable question that everyone of us has  - Why are we here?  What is my purpose in life?

This frozen quandary is only broken by seeking information, networking, researching, listening to your inner spirit - but finally with taking risk.  To help recruits out of analysis/paralysis, I remind them that this decision is just a "first job" decision - a foot in the door.

One of the toughest choices is whether to choose to pursue your "ideal" job function within any company, or choose to pursue the best company in your field.  I told Jenna that my career success was less about job function and more about selecting the best in the field (e.g. Accenture).  "I would prefer to sweep floors as a job in the best company, than to do what I want in the worst company."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fear and Want

As I was listening to President Obama's State of the Union speech, this statement unsettled me -

"And finally, let's remember that our leadership is defined not just by our defense against threats but by the enormous opportunities to do good and promote understanding around the globe, to forge greater cooperation, to expand new markets, to free people from fear and want."

On first blush, this sounds very magnanimous - doing good for others, helping promote freedom.  But that is not the precise words about freedom.  He says "to free people from fear and want".  What exactly does this mean?

Would you want to live in a world of people free from fear and want?  I don't.  Fear is a necessary survival instinct built into our brains.  Wants are different than needs.  How boring a world would be without fear or want.  A flat world of emotion. 

Actually, a goal to free people from fear and want is a naïve attempt of being God.  It's God's job to teach us how to cope with fear and wants.  In fact, God reminds us that we are to fear him - have no other God's before him, obey him, worship him, and love him (e.g. "want him).

In the book "The Practice of Godliness" by Jerry Bridges, the balance of our desire for God, the fear of God and the love of God creates the basis for building our foundation of total devotion to God.  We should seek to grow equally in each of these three areas, otherwise our devotion becomes imbalanced.  If we grow in the fear of God without comparable comprehension of his love - we begin to view God as far-off and austere. If we grow in awareness of God's love without equal reverence and awe - we begin to view God as permissive and indulgent to our sins - the prevalent view in society today. 

God doesn't think we should be free of fear and want.  God reminds us we are to fear and want him - and him only!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Correlation vs Cause

The current debate circling cocktail parties is the debate about the legalization of Marijuana.  It is now legal in several states and I believe it will be legalized nationally within five years.  The opponents make the case against legalization with statistics saying that Marijuana use leads to more dangerous drugs. 

J.R. had the best response when they cite a statistic that over xx% of drug users started with Marijuana.  Just respond ..."and 100% drug users are known to have consumed milk".

Cause and correlation are too very different things.  Edward Tuttle said it best: 
  • "Empirically observed covariation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for causality."
  • "Correlation is not causation but it sure is a hint

  • Sunday, January 26, 2014

    Junk Drawers

    Just how many junk drawers do you have?  I can count at least four (not counting any in my garage "shop") that I maintain.  Well, maintain is not the correct term - that I inventory junk.  Just exactly what type of junk goes into these drawers.  Here is a list of the stuff from an old desk/office drawer that I emptied (an have rarely accessed) over 8 years ago on my last move.  Actually as the picture shows  it is fairly well organized with small boxes sorting into categories of junk.

    (1) Old keys
    (2) Bundle stacks of old business cards
    (3) Foreign currency coins
    (4) Kid school patches
    (5) Various pins
    (6) Old Wallet and it's contents
    (7) Strange burned out Light bulb (why in the world am I keeping this?)
    (8) Old wrist watch and leather band
    (9) Plastic bottles of LCP Tech samples
    (10) Conference Name tags, luggage tags
    (11) Sewing kits
    (12) Old calculator
    (13) Paper clips, Palm pilot stylists, erasers, labeling device
    (14) Shop floor ear plugs
    (15) Compass
    (16) Tape measure

    So junk drawers serve a great purpose for people like me.  Just knowing that if I need it someday, that it is somewhere in a junk drawer.  And when the drawer gets full?  -  just organize it, empty it into a box or basket, store the box somewhere (like an attic or basement) and ........start collecting junk in the recently emptied drawer all over again.

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

    Jigsaw Methodology

    Just returned from Ks visiting Mom and Dad.  Now one of the traditions is working on a jigsaw puzzle with Mom.  We completed a 500 piece landscape scene and graduated to a 750 piece animal scene (a grizzly bear among the springtime flowers). 

    It seems a common methodology in puzzle construction is to begin with the border pieces followed by objects and the unique color patterns. Some people are more shape oriented while others look for color and/or unique image detail connections.  I tend to sort pieces into common color groups keeping all pieces on the exterior of the borders only allowing pieces inside for those I'm specifically working on. I only sort by shape as a last resort.

    The world's largest commercially-available jigsaw puzzle was released by German company Ravensburger in September 2010. It shows 32 works by American artist Keith Haring and has 32,256 pieces, measuring 544 cm by 192 cm when assembled.  If it takes  one minute per piece to construct you would work over 67 eight hour days to complete.

    For puzzles in that category the best methodology to use is to find a puzzle partner or partners.

    P.S.  Here's a couple that put together an 18K+ piece puzzle in 2005 -

    or the Worlds Largest Puzzle contest in 2007 -24K piece

    AND ----    The largest mentioned above

    Saturday, January 18, 2014

    Back to School

    I've been helping Ellen study Social Studies and I've been learning more (with more interest) than I ever understood about the patterns of economics, politics, religion, art, literature, music, and philosophy.  When I would try to impart this wisdom to Ellen during a review for a quiz, Ellen's eyes will roll back in her head silently saying " Dad, just get the minimum facts to stick in my head to get through this boring history stuff so I can get a good grade!". 

    How true ---  I hated World History at her age. Yet now I'm fascinated with looking back at the history of human behavior.  K.C. listened to me describe this and told me of a course he is taking on line.

    The Modern World: Global History since 1760
    by Philip Zelikow

    So I decided to join him with over 21,000 students in taking the 14 week course.  I'm also reading the supplemental text "Patterns of World History Since 1750" by von Sivers, Desnoyers, and Stow. 
    I finished week One and get a Quiz on Tuesday.  It is yet to be determined if my pattern of school history will repeat.

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    Boston Legal 2

    Tuesday night was Boston Legal 2 with J.P. and K.C.   Much of the conversation revolved around the American Dream and the book "Coming Apart" by Charles Murray.  I have not read the book, but it postulates a New Lower Class where religiosity, work ethic, industriousness, and family values are nearly nonexistent.  At lunch today  H.B. felt like  the American Dream is fading. 

    I'm not quite that pessimistic.  I believe the American Dream is still available to all who have persistent hope and relentless energy when facing huge economic, political, and societal hurdles.  Granted, it may take several generations to fully achieve certain economic outcomes, but our system is not so closed as to prevent a person from bettering themselves and family.  It may take ingenuity, sacrifice, and even an angel for assistance (or as some would say a lucky break), but there is plenty of evidence and stories of people raising themselves up from seemingly dire circumstances.

    If the American Dream was dying, immigrants would not be beating a path to our Country.  Our system would not be the envy of other countries.  The standard of living for even the American poor would not be the dream of a majority of the worlds population. 

    However I am in the minority when I discuss the positive view of the American Dream with others.  So what, I ask, is the cause of this perceived decline?  There is never a single answer - education, inequality of income and wealth, declining freedoms, nonexistent values, anemic economic conditions, .... the list is endless.  But in the form of self fulfilling prophesies, I view the overriding problem is pessimism.

    We need leaders to lift up the narrative and generate hope and optimism.  We need the uplifting stories of those who are achieving thier Dreams.

    It's time to change the attitudes of gloom and doom to delight in sight.

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    Parental Hand-me-downs

    If I look around my house, there are many items that are really my parents (and maybe even my grandparents) stuff.  It could be a tool (like the wooden tap hammer in my tool box),or a kitchen item (the apple pairing knife), a blanket, tie, the list goes on and on.  Since Jenna has left for college various items have disappeared (forks, garden tools, etc.).  It is a natural occurrence that functional stuff begins to disappear.  Some of these treasures create instant memories of past projects and places lived. 

    I'm sure there were times when Dad would be helping me on a project here in Cincinnati only to discover his tool in my tool box available for use. "I seem to recognize that hammer, Garen".   My response - "Oh Yeah,  I must have borrowed it, isn't it great to have a familiar tool to work with here in Cincinnati :).  Do you need it back?  Great - I'll just keep it here for future projects."

    The best part of parental stuff disappearing (as a parent) is having someone to blame when you can't find the item in the endless stuff that accumulates at home.  "Where did I put that pair of pliers?   Jenna must have borrowed them."

    Whether borrowed (by your kids) or misplaced - the second best part is being able to replace Dad's stuff (that I "borrowed") with a new tool.

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

    Need Film

    A.M. proudly announced he had a photographic memory ..... he just was out of film :) 

    The actual term is Eidetic Memory -  the ability to recall images, sounds or objects in memory with great precision, and is not acquired through mnemonics.  Interestingly there is no one able to conclusively (and scientifically) prove they have this capability (e.g. no one has film). 

    So that "claimed" photographic memory is a combination mnemonics and non-eidectic memory enhancing techniques (e.g. context, pattern, reconstruction etc.).  

    Maybe instead of film - it is rapid ability to sketch.     Even that sounds sketchy.  :)


    UMLAF Sculpture & Garden  - Austin Tx

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

    Entitled to Freedom

    "You can't be free when you are being supported".  I wrote this down on a slip of paper but neglected to identify the source (maybe from the movie Grey Gardens).  Subsidizing anything shackles its ability to grow independently - earned effort. 

    In the book "The Millionaire Next Door", Stanley and Danko invented the term UAW (Under Accumulator of Wealth) and found that UAW's tend to have children who require an influx of their parents' money in order to afford the lifestyle that they expect for themselves.  The book has a whole chapter titled "Economic Outpatient Care".  It provides example after example where UAW gifts/subsidies are mismanaged, interpreted as earned/owned, and weaken the recipient - creating even more dependency.

    When we are physically weak, the body knows in order to heal, that exercise and rehab is necessary.  With that healing process comes pain and effort.  The body expects us to "earn" back the good health.

    Compassion encourages the giving person to help and provide aid where there is a need. Usually, the intent is to provide a "jump start" for the individual to "get back on their feet". The challenge is defining whether the gift satisfies a need or subsidizes a want.  So the issue of extending the unemployment insurance that is now being debated will naturally be argued between what is compassion and what is dependency.  There is no easy answer other than to eliminate the perception that a subsidy will always be available.

    These discussions extend into all entitlements (the word itself is an anathema to the individuals freedom).  Do you know what the best entitlement program invented is?     A job.


    Tuesday, January 7, 2014


    I just invented a new word.  I needed to rhyme with Regulatory to make my point.  As I was reading J.P.'s outline about the "American Dream", his narrative about Economic Freedom pointed out the impact of regulation (over regulation) on restricting our economic freedom.  Criticizing regulations is a common diatribe of most politicians. Too often budgets are rationalized by saying a certain legislation is simplifying regulations and reducing the cost to businesses.  Instead of simplifying it - another layer of complexity complicates the matter.

    The root cause of the problem is not regulation - it is over protection.  Government attempting to protect the individual from some hidden "evil" or even from accidents, terrorists, natural disasters and yes even mismanagement of health and wealth.  It is the classic parental attempt to prevent their children from making mistakes.  Or worse, when a mistake does occur parents try to eliminate or avoid any negative consequences. Creating a "Protect-a-tory" environment.

    This is clearly seen in the over reaction to airport security.  With great taxpayer cost, passenger inconvenience, and commercial price increase, the government creates the illusion that passenger safety has increase;  Maybe safety increased incrementally a small amount - but at what cost. 

    The trouble with regulations (like business controls) is that they too often are reactions to an unfortunate occurrence (maybe even random).  The regulation is put into place to prevent the negative occurrence from happening again. The benefit of the regulation is never evaluated and it never goes away even if the process returns to normal (with lower probabilities of negative occurrences in the future).  Unfortunately there is an exponential inefficiency as layer after layer of regulations are implemented.  This is evident when you see the U.S.A. tax code and it's many attempts at social engineering. 

    How to dismantle a "Protect-a-tory" environment is the key to stopping the drain on economic freedom.  Start with limited government. 

    P.S.  Coming soon - special healthcare mandates of rubber sole shoes to prevent slipping on ice for any temperatures below 32 degrees

    Monday, January 6, 2014

    Double Bungle

    I was totally off (or all wet) on my weather forecast. The Bengals playoff game was in the 40's with rain during the final quarter.  There was no déjà vu of the Freezer Bowl. The big chill came last night and continues to get colder tonight - with wind chills expected -30 degrees below zero.. 

    The Bengals were eliminated from the playoffs after many turnovers (or should I say "bungles").  The more interesting game and almost a reenactment of the Ice Bowl was in Green Bay with 8 degree weather. San Francisco won that game so California stomped the Midwest teams.

    The Superbowl this year will be in New York so instead of a blackout (like last year) the could easily be a whiteout.  I like it that way - there is just something nostalgic and traditional about football games played with all the natural elements (except for us wimps watching in the comfort of our homes).

    Saturday, January 4, 2014

    Freezer Bowl Deja Vu

    I like the winter season even with the bitter cold temperatures outside.  The warm feeling of being inside with the sun shining through the windows.  This new year has started out with a bang as temperatures last night dropped to 15 degrees.  Even the afternoon sun could barely combat the frigid air slightly raising the temperature to 25 degrees.

    Another Winter Advisory with more snow should arrive Sunday at 5am with expected temperatures at -2 below.  This sets up a deja vu moment as the Cincinnati Bengals host the San Diego Chargers in another Freezer Bowl (January 10, 1982).  I was watching the game in my warm house in Hyde Park on that memorable day.  It was a good day to be inside watching the game on television. Maybe the record of -37 degrees (wind chill) will be broken - but it's doubtful.

    I have no problem watching the second Freezer Bowl inside in my warm home in Indian Hill - now in high definition.  It's no wonder that it required Kroger and P&G to buy the unsold tickets to prevent the blackout. 

    As for today ----   I am happy to look outside at my natural snow scene portrait through the family room window sipping on a cappuccino by the fireplace listening to classical music.


    Wednesday, January 1, 2014

    2nd Christmas

    The family exchanged our Christmas presents today.  Since we were in Paris on December 25th, we decided to celebrate "second Christmas" today.

    I always remember Mom saying that Christmas could be celebrated any day we all got together.  Every newly wed couple must address how to divide up spending time with two families during the holidays.  For out of town distance, this usually means rotating every other year.  Having both sets of Parents out of town makes the logistics even harder.

    Once Jenna was of the "age of Christmas hyperdrive", we decided that Christmas Eve/Morning would always remain at our house and all travel would be done before and/or afterwards.  We were lucky for years that my extended family would always visit Cincinnati between Christmas and New Years Day. 

    So there has been a long tradition of 2nd Christmas in our family.  How fun it is to laugh and play a 2nd Christmas day!