Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Road

ecard  from

    Wisner Family -December 2015
Coming to a Crossroads  this year, the Wisners  faced many challenges (family, financial, faith and fun.       What road to take?  How about Highway ONE!
Jenna (Rogue) - Darkness turned to light as she turned into a Daisy.  Career gambits and academic choices created confusion.  Still a Nurse at Christ Hospital, she took a  detour from Xavier to follow real world CNO's, COO's and CRO's (Chief Real Estate Officer).  Learning leverage, she traded her freestyle into rogue paper trading.
Ellen (Freestyle) - With a license of independence, Ellen branched out into Big Sister lands (Oakley).  Was it the corral at JH Ranch, Mid-Ohio defensive driving certificate, or one on one coaching that navigated her into the National Honor Society, Captain of JV Tennis, and GPA excellence? A first official pay stub prepared her for future financial competition.  So where is she going to college?  She ACT's like it's a mystery.
Garen (Lincoln MKX)  - At JH Ranch, "the feeling stayed with him" and the stubble remained on his face.   Crown him with new cooking skills - soups, smokers, and sauces.  His loyalty to Miami U. continues - or is it the hockey tickets.  Now a turnaround real estate star, it was a war to get 100% occupancy.  "Take the long way... huh"
Susan (Like a Rock) - New detailing transformed Susan into the family's financial friend.  Her back office shines 24 by 7.  Now preaching, praying and pausing, she recites Dave Ramsey's advice during her coup d' etat on the family's active trading.  But her capital gain is in giving to others (Emmaus, Nuptials, Stewardship, and Sunday Attendees).  
From Gulf to Coast, the Wisner's added San Fran and New Orleans to their family vacation map.  Other trips included KS, TX, NY, and AZ.  New car expenditures put a dent in the finances.  However modest spending at home allowed everything to "go on the table".   
Flora celebrates this Christmas in Heaven taking the high road in life.  The journey for the rest of us is still ahead - Dad's 90th proves that! So this Christmas season, understand that every day we face a new crossroad - a decision of what path to follow.
We are blessed that our roads intersect and that we continue to travel together in this spiritual journey,     with you, toward God.
 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
    "When you come to a fork in the road.....  take it"   Yogi Berra (1925-2015)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Statistics Tell; Stories Sell

I met with A.S. yesterday and our conversation immediately went to the topic of fundraising.  It's on my mind after Crossroads just finished their "All In" campaign and raised over $85 Million (yes that is million). 

A.S. sent me an article by Jerold Panas : "The 60 smartest things you'll ever hear about fundraising".  It was #28 - Statistics tell; Stories Sell that spoke so clearly to me.  Crossroads definitely can show the numbers -  food pounds delivered, Go Cincinnati hours, mission trips, women saved from sex slavery, sponsored Nicaraguan children, baptisms, man camp participants, etc.-  all just statistics.

Yet it was the stories and testimonials of change that created a visceral giving feeling in others.   In corporate terms - the Stories Sell. I naturally passed on this article to the SVP Cincinnati Full Throttle membership drive team members.  We are educating our partnership on the skill (and privilege)  of being an "Artful Asker".  I was moved by Douglas Lawson's article titled the same which defines "Philanthropy as the mystical mingling of a joyful giver, and artful asker and a grateful recipient'.

So -  tell your stories first.... but have your statistics to back them up

Monday, November 30, 2015

Inherited Xmas Light Obsession

Jenna was off work Thanksgiving day, so after the scrumptious dinner she was ready to lead the decorating team to complete Christmas decorating victory.  Initially, she had troop allegiance and cooperation for the early stages - unloading the Xmas closet, artificial tree assembly, and garland positioning. .  Susan never even joined the team (a declared abstainer for the last 10 years), and Ellen disappeared early which left Paul and me as the final two. But as the hours developed and Football viewing tempted Paul dropped off and I left to hang the large outdoor wreath.

Returning from the frustrated outcome of a wreath with one strand of lights dark, I found Jenna inside on the floor changing one light at a time on a partially lit strand of lights.  I couldn't believe it - I had passed on my own punishment in hell to her (see Punishment in HELL).

I could see her emotional valley of Christmas decorating despair - in the eyes and face.  TOO MUCH decorating needed and too little time ( especially since her team had abandoned her). Part of this is self inflicted wound because she has four trees at our house and she has one at her apartment also. 

The result -  I told Jenna to throw away any (yes any) partially lit lights and we would wait to get new lights this week. 

She had inherited my obsession but at least I was trying to subvert it before it was too late.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Turkey Trials

Yesterday's Thanksgiving Day turkey was heralded as the best ever.  However, there was not a controlled experiment to determine the cause and effect. Two new techniques were added to the Butterball Turkey roasting tradition (a brand loyalty mandated by Susan):

(1) Brine the Turkey with Williams and Sonoma Turkey Brining Blend (Apples and Spices).  Ingredients include - Sea Salt, Apples, Juniper Berries, Lemon Peel, Star Anise, Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, Black Pepper, Onion, Bay Leaf..  Combine with one gallon water, bring to a boil, and refrigerate until chilled.  Combine this with  2 cups ice water and 6 cups apple cider and place with thawed turkey into brining bag. Refrigerate for 12 - 36 hours turning once.  Remove, rinse well and pat dry.  Recommended by Susan's Laurel House Ladies.

(2)   Roasting Turkey UPSIDE DOWN.  This jewel of advice came from my bridge partner S.S. who said they discovered this by mistake one Thanksgiving when a rookie was told to put the turkey in the oven.

The turkey was so moist cutting into slices was almost impossible. It just fell off the bones.

Maybe for Christmas I will set up complete competition between roasting, smoking and frying.

A Turkey Trifecta :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Life, Liberty and _________

The day before Thanksgiving and all through the house..... not a creature was stirring except me reading the 50 page paper "Natural Rights and the Pursuit of Happiness" by J.P.   I am preparing for both an editorial critic and philosophical debate about his fear of the modern day abandonment of Natural Equal Freedom through governmental imposing either forced charity (code word Liberal Redistribution of Wealth) and forced morality (code word Conservative Moral Majority). 

Both J.P. and I would claim Libertarian based ideologies, yet we enjoy debating the details of how libertarian views can create the "common good".  Anytime you begin to discuss the "common good" the philosophies of the great ancients.

Today, I researched the phrase "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness to determine if property or owning possessions is an ingredient of happiness.  Interestingly,  the Colonial Bill of Rights used the term Life, Liberty and Property.  John Locke wrote Life, Liberty .... and the possession of outward things.  Property is an asset (although J.P. contends Life is an asset also - self ownership). 

Different Governments have their "Big Three":

France -  Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
Germany - Unity, Justice, and Liberty
Canada - Peace, Order and Good Government

None of these mention property.  Each of the three is a state of human interaction. 

Pretend you are Thomas Jefferson, or creating the big three slogan for your new government.  What would you pick?

Based on my Mission/Vision Statement:

To Live a Godly life in Harmony with You

Life, God, and Harmony 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Joyous Challenge

"On the other side of challenge is where joy and cheerfulness are" said Brian Tome pastor of Crossroads this morning during the final week of the "I'm In" campaign.  Thousands of people walked up on stage to receive their dog tags as a symbol of giving warriors. 

Last night J.P. and I discussed joy in the context of happiness.  A subject of many of my blogs, joy is the deeper spiritual place inside each of us.  John 15:11 "I have told you this [Christ's love] so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete".

The individual testimonials that Crossroads presented on the screen were truthful, moving and deep in both spiritual challenge and joy.   The woman who lived the false narrative of not being loved by anyone in this world was transformed in one spiritual moment by someone not even remotely connected in her life - but who accepted her just as she was - a overwhelming feeling of trust and love delivered in the form of giving.

So maybe joy is disguised as both a gift and as something to give - not just in time and money, nor in any quantity.  Just in the form of grace and generosity.

It Takes a Relationship

It was a fun evening with J.P. and D.P. filled with philosophy, political arguments and relationship/friendship banter. 

The key debate this evening was about the importance of family to happiness.  My point of view was that relationships trumped family.  Obviously we start with family (a mom and dad), and if we are fortunate, this provides a foundation of love (i.e. "loving family").  Too often though the family unit is disrupted or non existent, so does this mean there is no hope for happiness?

The conservative view of "it takes a family" (Bob Dole's 1996 speech) rebutting Hilary Clinton's 1996 book "It takes a Village" was a decent political conservative counter.  However, I believe both views are short sighted. The context of that debate was around raising children - but I think it applies to the debate about family and happiness also.

I believe "it takes a relationship" - a loving relationship to foster happiness. 

J.P. cited Brook's book on Happiness in his defense of correlating family to happiness. He cited Brooks' five key "determinants" of happiness - Faith, Family, Friendship and Work.  I had studied Brooks back in 2011 and quipped that maybe our procreation instinct was to create family for the pursuit of happiness ( see "Billions of Happiness - 10/31/2011"). Yes that could be the start of a successful relationship - but not guaranteed if not fraught with probable pitfalls.

Barry Schwartz (author of one of my favorite books "The Paradox of Choice") took exception to Brooks five determinant postulate in his editorial to the NY Times - strike one, two, three.  "So yes, by all means, let us foster the aspects of life that really contribute to happiness. But let us at the same time acknowledge that market fundamentalism is probably the biggest threat to human happiness that we face."

Aristotle placed friendship above justice and the highest form of love (see "Earn a Friend 8/10/2015").   I prefer to use Aristotle in my argument that relationship trumps family.  Family love can become conflicted with abuse, competition, control, and .... well the list of potential flaws is endless. You don't choose your family - it can be a one way ticket in the relationship journey.

Friendships and relationships are mutual and "earned".  You can choose a relationship, you have no choice in family.  Consequently, I view the freedom of choice as the path to happiness - and you get to choose relationships.

There are plenty of happy individuals without family.  But there are no happy individuals without relationships (friends). 

It's great to have friends to argue with  ---- Now that is a relationship paradox of choice  :)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Change Assumptions or Actions

So I have poured over 245 pages of the Pew Research April 2, 2015 report: "The Future of Worlds Religions:  Population Growth Projections 2010-2050" - also defined Heaven for Statisticians :)

Buried on page 59 was the chart I needed for the correct analysis:

It shows the Christianity will only match population growth projections with some last minute growth near 2045 - 2050.  There were more interesting tid bits to delight the data hungry detail folks about   the religion "switchers" (from one religion to another - or to none).  Over the 40 years it is projected 40 million will switch into Christianity and 106 million will switch out - and predominately men (over 60%).
So B.E. would say, "What are YOU going to do about it?
Change the assumptions or change the actions?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Confounding Compounding

Fact checking numbers (especially estimates and forecasts) is too often overlooked.  As promised, I wanted to "audit" my own statement/claim:

The good news is, that in just over two thousand and ten years, the Christian population increased from the power of one (Jesus) to over 2 billion. Pretty awesome! - but that still is only a compounded growth rate of only 1.08% - just about what a Certificate of Deposit can get you today.

Checking several sources of data discovered various estimates of 2010 Christians. I had used 2.184 Billion Christians from a 2011 Pew Research report.   However the most recent report:  "The Future of the Worlds Religions 2010 - 2050" has revised the 2010 figure down to 2,168,330,000.  The total world population 6.895,850 remained the same.  Either way saying "over 2 billion" was accurate. 

However - what about the 1.08%?  I used the following assumptions:  2.184 Christians in 2010; ONE Christian in 0000 so a total of 2010 years.  Then rounded to the nearest hundredth (actual compound growth was 1.0756%). 

So what is wrong with the data? 

(1) Well, you might say that the start year should have been when Jesus started his ministry (at 30 years old).   According to Luke 3:1, John the Baptist began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign. Tiberius was appointed as co-regent with Augustus in AD 11, and 15 years later would be AD 26. Jesus began His ministry shortly thereafter at approximately the age of thirty (Luke 3:23). This gives us a basis upon which we can approximate what year Jesus began His public ministry: around AD 26. However there are others that say 29AD (see "What year was Jesus born")

Choosing the lowest number (26AD) then the number of years would be 1984  (2010 minus 26).

(2) Use the new revised Pew Research number of Christians in 2010:  2,168,330,000

(3) Use four decimals for the compound growth rate for accuracy

The new answer:  1.0894%  which rounded would be 1.09%  Sounds close enough to my claim.

But even with adjusting for greater accuracy, one should test what does this really mean.  Is a compounded growth rate even an appropriate example to illustrate the growth of Christianity?

Do we really believe in 27AD there was 1.0894 Christians and only by 35AD did the world have 2 Christians (after all we lost one to crucifixion by that date).

NOT REALLY!   So what was the underlying assumption problem?

Population is not a function of compound growth -  it is a function of fertility and mortality.

Christian population is a function of:

(1) Converted Jews and Gentiles to Christianity
(2) Christians offspring that were raised and baptized as Christians (although that starts the argument of what defines a Christian)
(3) Longevity of Christians (i.e. longevity/mortality would increase the % of population over time)
(4) Any loss of Christians (i.e. Christians falling from the flock, wars, martyrdom etc. )

SO......   How do you model the future population of Christianity?

That will be the subject of a future blog.  In the meantime - for the statisticians read:

"The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050"

P.S.  Some religion trivia -  Jesus ministry was only three and a half years.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Doubting Garen

One of the traits I acquired working with computers and for Accenture for 25 years was the ultimate skeptic - call me a Doubting Garen.

Several weeks ago I attended a fundraiser for UCAN where the Master of the Ceremonies (MC) passionately described their purpose: a world in which every cat and dog lives to find a loving home and every resident has access to affordable spay/neuter services

At the event the MC stated that "one female cat (that is not spayed) can produce over 425,000 kittens in seven years".  The crowd gasped.  Susan quickly helped me absorb this logic by saying it obviously included all the off spring.  But even with this quick logic check, I was disturbed by the number and unsettled (call it doubt) and wanted to test the underlying assumptions.

So off to the internet I went. 
First found a blog with a similar claim  and some simple assumptions:
3 Litters per year
12-18 Kittens per litter

So I constructed my own spreadsheet and added some assumptions (e.g. number of females in each litter – 50%) and calculated 1,346,832.   Hmmm  something seemed very wrong now!  At that rate it would be worse than the plagues of God against the Pharaoh.  There must be some bad assumptions or logic.

Another search brought me to SNOPES -  ah yes the urban legend site that tries to keep the internet honest.

 “How many kittens in 7 years”

The SNOPES  answer is:  100 – 400

 I suspect this is too low based on the residual SNOPE comments about the University of Washington Math Department’s assumptions.  But I decided not to research further.  The key sensitive variable is survival rate to reproductive age.
What's the lesson?   Before you accept statistics (numbers) that are dramatic - check your facts.
So to practice what I preach -  my next blog will put more facts on the table about the 1.08% growth rate of Christians cited in the Jesus (the Mathematician) blog.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jesus (the Mathematician)

Susan and I attended the Crossroads Leadership Commitment event Friday evening.  Several incremental money increases "mysteriously" appeared in our lives as we have been prayerfully considering our giving.  You can hear story after story about this "coincidence" from people who have testimonial about God providing.  Yet until it happens to you it just doesn't seem to hold weight (where's the mathematical proof?).  Yet I believe Jesus set up this principle long ago -  here's the story:

Little did you know that Jesus  was more than a carpenter.  He had a great knowledge of Mathematics - well of course - since he created everything including math.  Naturally he loved math and its application to his trade.  Late at night, in prayer, Jesus would ponder how long it might take to convert the world population to Christianity?   Now Jesus knew that the population at that time was around 300 million people and growing fast (after all God had promised Abraham when the population was only a million that they would multiply quickly). So how could one human (even though the son of God) convert 300 million people who were doubling every 5th generation?

So Jesus set out to begin the process of converting people to Christianity - each person giving themselves w(HOLY) to  God - through him.  Now it takes some time (spiritual time) to get someone 100% committed to God,  With the "spiritual baking time" dilemma, there were problems of distance and communication technologies in that day and time- you know walking, riding, sailing, and writing.   Jesus knew this was a big challenge - rapid population growth, worldly constraints, the skeptic Pharisees, Roman government regulations, the devil, and the list goes on and on.

Well - let's take a logical break from this problem and talk about the results to date.  The best pollsters have estimated that in 1910 there were 600 million Christian adherents (don't ask me what an adherent is) in a world population of 1.8 billion people (1/3 of the population)  Add another 100 years and by 2010 there were 2.184 billion Christians in a world population of 6.9 billion people (32% of the population).   The good news is, that in just over two thousand and ten years, the Christian population increased from the power of one (Jesus) to over 2 billion. Pretty awesome! - but that still is only a compounded growth rate of only 1.08% - just about what a Certificate of Deposit can get you today.

OK - back to Jesus and prayer.  Jesus knew that the two things most important to humans were their time and money.  After much observation he could see that no one wanted to die (just look at what the Egyptians did) and people were always trying to amass money, power and wealth.  SO - maybe time and money could be used to help him in this challenge?  

That's it!!!   Get as much time and money to speed this process.  But that would have to come from the people and in their lifetime (and that requires serious commitment).  So Jesus decided to preach and promote being  "All In" - a journey of giving.... sacrificial giving. What approach would be most effective?

There was a modest track record of giving ever since Abraham - animal sacrifice, tithing etc.  There were even examples that didn't work real well - Roman taxes.  The key success factor would be to teach (and preach) the exponential power of faithful sacrificial giving.   So, Jesus handpicked a team of twelve disciples to assist him in this quest.  Miracles, speeches, demonstrations (how about those fishes and loaves), and intense praying got the ball rolling but Jesus knew his time was short also.  What more could he do?

He could demonstrate the power of sacrificial giving - showing what 100%  "All In" means.  So the exponential giving seed was planted in the hearts, soul and minds of everyone on earth through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit could now nudge every person in their giving journey to experience the joy of giving w(HOLY) to Christ.  That Holy Spirit is nudging each of us.  Now it's our turn to join the challenge of exponential discipleship through giving - in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and the world.

I'm  Garen (the numbers guy) and I'M IN!

Friday, November 6, 2015

X-Rays Bite!

This morning was an emergency visit to the dentist to check on a filling that chipped out of a lower molar. I was past due for the 6 month cleaning (it reminds me of the myth of oil changes every 3000 miles that still persists), so I decided to combine the cleaning with the dentist advice on the problem tooth. 

This is the same tooth that they have been suggesting needed a crown since 2011.   Asking if they could just fill it again was a losing battle and probably a poor stop gap investment. So - I'm resigned to paying the $1,775 for the crown this year.  Check out my February 2, 2012 "Mouth of Gold" rant about the investment that I am continually making in my mouth.

As my hygienist said - "Our goal is for you to die with healthy teeth".   I guess that means I should do this at whatever cost.

This statement came out as the hygienist and I were debating the need for x-rays during this cleaning:

"You haven't ever had the full mouth x-ray (some fancy name machine) since you have been coming, and we haven't done even the four bite x-ray's since June 2014."

" I don't really want any x-rays today"

"Well, it's necessary given you tooth issue - at least the four bite x-ray - we can delay the full mouth for another time:.

"Fine (grudgingly)"

"What's your objection to x-rays?"

"I'm the closest thing to a Christian Scientist about medical stuff.  I don't like taking any medication and frankly don't like what I read about radiation.  There are times I have even limited my use of cell phone."

The great debate starts  ......  With point and counterpoint.  Radiation during flights; Risk of cancer etc.

"Look, my grandfather lived to 102 and had no dental x-rays"

"How was his teeth?"

"He didn't have any." 

"Our goal is for you to die with healthy teeth"   She smiles and thinks the debate is won.

"Good point........(thinking how can I not lose the last word) .......  "But  I would rather live to 102 with no teeth, than to die at 80 with healthy teeth."

Cha Ching!   Debate over - battle won but lost the war.  Paid $68 for 4 Image Bitewings.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

National Honor Society

Monday evening Susan and I attended the admitting ceremonies for Ellen into the National Honor Society.  Later that evening I tried to find my 1972 pin, but alas it is buried in some like of nostalgia box in the unfinished basement.

It seemed like half of the junior class at Indian Hill High School were admitted - there were over 60 honored that evening.  Yet it is a milestone and a very important achievement.  Today I was performing mock interviews at Miami University (Oxford) and noticed this on the Freshman's resume.   What a breath of freshness to see - since the advice given at College Placement offices (probably under the illusion from the Human Resource professionals at Corporate America) is to not put High School information on the resume.

I have exactly the opposite point of view.   A junior in college (or even senior) has only 7 years of his/her life to describe and differentiate themselves.  High School today is like junior colleges were in my day in both academics and encouraging other extra-curricular activities.  Why shouldn't that be something the individual be proud of.

As asked the freshman today - "What is the sole purpose of a resume"?   The answer is simple .... TO GET AN INTERVIEW.

So if someone like me thinks being in the National Honor Society is a hiring attribute (because he did it) - then,  by all means,  get it on your resume.

Congratulations Ellen -  you have just created a line on your future resume!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

To Shave or Not to Shave

Ellen still has the trump card on my facial hair.  When I asked her the other day if I should shave, she said, "Dad, November is no shave month - so at least you must keep it during November.  So that is the excuse I use now for the  few remaining people in my network who have not seen my new look.

I was wondering if Movember is the same as No Shave November and discovered they are different.  Both promote health - Movember is broadly Men's Health and No Shave November - American Cancer Society.

It's a great branding and awareness concept - but what's the stubble's edge (show me the money)?
Movember requests donations to their foundation.  No Shave November asks that the savings of shaving materials during November be donated to the American Cancer Society.
Can this branding even come close to the October pink ribbons of Women's Breast Cancer that started in 1991 with the Susan G. Komen Foundation?  These two men's health awareness similar campaigns started in 2003 and 2004 respectively - so they are 12 years behind.
So as men decide whether to participate - November will be a question of:
 "To shave or Not to Shave". 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Life to be Lived

"The soul is where hope lives; not a na├»ve hope that I will, by some miracle, have my former self restored, but hope that tomorrow, and the day after, can still be days from which a measure of joy, and meaning can be derived.  And from hope springs optimism that, even with great limitations, there is life to be lived."  Thomas Graboys "Finding Hope in the Midst of Despair: My Decade with Parkinson's Disease and Lewy Body Dementia"

I just finished the book "Brain Storms" by Jon Palfreman last night and reflected on those people in my life who have or were given the challenge of a long term (and slow term) disease.  The emotional toil of this for the individual and their loved ones can be difficult and trying.  Understanding the causes and implications of suffering and then dealing with a future view of continued suffering is part of the human condition.  But the final sentence of the quote above hit me squarely in the heart - "There is life to be lived."

So we cope, we depend on others, we search for meaning in spite of the suffering.  For many it reveals a path to hope and joy within their soul.  And for many this is a glimpse into who God is.  Suffering has a place for each of us - a way to see limitations and possibilities.  But most of all it shows us that we need more than ourselves.

"Suffering compels us to seek the God that success makes us think we don't need."   Patrick Morley "How GOD makes men"

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Driving Tricks or Tips

Ellen and I are the proud Graduates of the Honda Teen Defensive Driving program which we attended at the Mid-Ohio Racetrack on Saturday. 

It was a full day of both classroom instruction and three driving practice courses of braking, spinning, and collision avoidance. The return trip was great highway practice for Ellen with torrential rain on a crowded highway at night.

Recommended (if not mandated) by A.M. several times, I can see now why this should be something every parent should consider for their new teen driver.  What a great service Honda has done (with other sponsors also) as the primary sponsor and contributor of the practice cars for the students.

So what did a driver like me (of 40+ years) with only one car accident learn?  Actually quite a few new things:

(1) Never hold the steering wheel in a reverse handhold at the top - if you don't want at least two breaks in your wrist when the airbag drives your wrist into your stomach.
(2) In a spin - look to where you want to end up and not at the obstacle you think you are going to hit.
(3) Adjust your sideview mirrors away from any view of the side of the car.  You should see the middle line and white edge of the side road.
(4) Don't use the one car length per 10 miles per hour safe distance rule.  Instead use the 3-5 second rule.  Count 3 seconds from the time the car in front of you passes a landmark to the time you pass from it.
(5) Cell Phones in car?  NEVER USE THEM (even with hands free).  This takes too long to explain - but I'm convinced of the danger. 

So you can teach on old car dog new driving tricks.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

5C + B

Tonight was an evening of helping Ellen in World History and Math.  She is studying the history of the Middle East from 1100 to 2015 - almost 1000 years of conflict.  However the bulk of the facts she is required to learn 1948 - 2015 I have lived through (and studied as current events when I was a junior).  How humbling to know history - because you lived it!

Then pulling the Pre-Calc memories out of my faded Math degree, I attempted to show my prowess at story problems using algebraic expressions (e.g. 5C + B = f(x) ). Actually Ellen had to correct me several times. 

Thankfully, last night was good preparation for both Middle East  history and  basic algebra.  It was an evening  with J.P. and K.C. which we have labeled Boston Legal #6. The title came to be based on the humor, philosophy and friendship of the closing scenes of the old Boston Legal TV series. 

We tried to solve world problems (which focused primarily on the Middle East) and even did some math:

Company, Conversation, Communing, Cinema ..... and Cigars   +   Bourbon =  F(un)

Monday, September 21, 2015

What is Truth?

It was a full compliment in the Sunday evening Bible Study group as we start a new series "The Truth Project".  The famous question of Pilate to Jesus was "What is Truth?" and that question can be quite different based on the inflection of the words.

How coincidental since tonight is Cincinnati Legal #6 (renamed from Boston Legal) and J.P. and I have debated this question for the last 10 years (the first Blog documentation was The Real Story 12/18/2009).

A quick search on the word Truth in my blog found a litany of posts:
5/24/15   "Grace and Truth"
5/20/15  "Truth or Consequences"
6/10/14  "Truth Loyalty and Respect"
5/29/14   Truth in Spending
7/7/13   Seeking Truth
6/2/13  Who is Right
5/1/12  Lie or Truth
4/27/12 Faith provides answer to Truth
4/25/12  Actions tied to Truth
4/12/12  Human Condition - the quest for Truth
4/5/12   There is ABSOLUTE TRUTH
2/6/12   Listen to the Truth
3/14/11  Tougher to Remember a Lie than the Truth
9/7/10  Can you handle the Truth?
5/16/10  Coincidence or Truth
2/26/10 The Raw Truth of Reality
12/18/09  "The Real Story"

So add another to the list ......  What is Truth?  My answer........

A philosophical question that will be debated until you see the face of GOD.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Football Fall Fun & Facts

Saturday was a gorgeous fall day with the first home game for Miami U (Oxford).  Susan, Ellen, her friend S.T. and I enjoyed lunch at 45 East and walking on campus prior to the game.  S.T.  indicated an interest in Florida Universities for her college selection.  As a loyal M.U. graduate, I told her the favorite trivia response when people assume Miami University is in Florida. 
"Miami (of Ohio) was a University before Florida was admitted as a state in the Union!
Miami was defeated by U.C.  33 -37 in the final minutes. This is the fifth longest college football rivalry - The Battle for the Bell played since 1888.  Given Miami's recent (and almost a record) history of consecutive losses, the alumni felt the day was not lost - after all the weather was perfect.
Today is Octoberfest in Cincinnati and Bengals home game (vs San Diego). What a difference in weather also as the announcers contrasted this game from the historic Freezer Bowl AFC playoff game in 1981. 
How fun - Fall,  Football and .... for a statistician full of Facts. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Pitching Joy in Giving

This week was filled with Philanthropy. Four of the Social Venture Partners (Cincinnati)  cheered Lawn Life to a victory of $9,500 in the Philanthropitch competition of 10 SVP Affiliates. 
It was a fun evening punctuated with Texas BBQ that evening.  From the smiles you can see the contagious joy of giving that is generated when people join together in a community of giving together. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sweet 16

Happy Birthday Ellen!  Now sweet 16.  So where did the term sweet 16 come from ... and why not sweet 60 :)    I'm sure sixteen year old boys don't appreciate the term sweet 16.

Well the answer is no real basis.  The celebrated term primarily in the US and Canada seems to indicate the coming of age to adulthood.  However for Judaism and Christianity the celebrations of mitzvah and confirmation come much earlier. 

Maybe it has to do with driving.  In Ohio 16 is the official age for getting a drivers license and Ellen has already scheduled the test on Tuesday.  Good luck Ellen and Drive Safely.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Vistage Moai

Today was the monthly Vistage meeting.  We ended the meeting introducing ourselves to a potential new member.  It was interesting to hear the various testimonials ( e.g. the value Vistage has for them personally)  of twelve of the Vistage 1107 group.

There are five of the twelve that were "charter" members (now 11 years).  That qualifies as near loyalty (see previous day's post) - maybe a moai. 

Every meeting I leave with self improvement jewels:

(1) "Blue Zones" Dan Buettner's 9 secrets to live a long live and his Ted's Talk
(2)  B.D. 's comment about great sculptor who responded to how he created such a beautiful sculpture of a Horse.  "I just start with the stone and take away anything that is not a horse."
(3) A.S.  "Instead of dialing 911,  I decided to do a 119 call to you"
(4) J.B  "Career Happiness is finding out what you want to do .....  and who you want to work with"
(5) J.B. "Create your -  'I wish, I wonder' list"
(6) Reflections from the All City meeting -  "What is your Customer Experience Map"  and tell me about a Customer Experience that is unique for a customer (sustainable but not scalable ).

Always a high point of my month.

PS  -  The Ted Talk mentions the Okinawan tradition of forming a moai that provides a secure social network. Our Vistage group doesn't come close to the 97 year moai of the Okinawan ladies - but it's a good start :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Loyalty Rewards

What defines loyalty?   U.S.A. companies search for the holy grail of brand loyalty in consumers to harvest a lifetime of purchases.  So I began thinking about what companies or products have I been loyal to for over twenty years (since 1996).  Sony, Cincinnati Bell, General Motors, Yahoo, Sams Club, Kroger, Allen Edmonds, Microsoft, Amazon, PNC Bank, Schwab, Verizon, Vanguard, Delta Air, Hertz, Marvel, Duke Energy, Accenture and a few food brands. 

Some of what defines loyalty is "first to market" as is the case with my bank, brokerage,  and wireless provider.  Those relationships are "sticky" and requires effort to change. Others becomes convenience (location/monopoly related), Microsoft, Kroger, Delta Air, etc.

There have been some loyalty tests for many in my list, but each company was able to survive the temporary dissatisfaction with appropriate customer service. 

Loyalty in human relationships (see "Earn a Friend"), or in groups (clubs, ideologies, religion, nationalism etc.) is quite different and not necessarily exclusionary.  Sometimes loyalty is misplaced as duty and recklessly followed to one's demise. 

Loyalty is best described as commitment. Commitment requires passion.  Sustainable passion means willing to forgive.  Loyalty takes time and tests but yields a lifetime of rewards.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Three decisions matter

The three most important decisions you ever make in your life all depend upon your philosophy:

• Which God to believe in, if any. A good God or a bad God? A God beyond good and evil? An absolute or non-absolute God?

• Which person to marry, if any. What kind of person do you want to be most totally and intimately bound to forever?

• What career to work at, if any. What you do also reveals what you are.

All three choices depend on one’s philosophy of what is good and what is bad. These three decisions stay with us until our deathbed.
This final lecture (#14 "Final Questions: Who's to say Who's Right") of Peter Kreeft's  Ethics: A History of Moral Thought says it all.  The three most important decisions in your life mark the borders in your life puzzle that reveals the portrait you are painting.  Interestingly, these three questions are the hardest to answer and to know  completely.  I think each answer requires taking risk - or a LEAP OF FAITH.
Each of us will wrestle with doubt and arrogance; misfires and bulls eyes; struggles and comfort; pressure and peace; and in the end wonder - was my philosophy (the answers above) right?  Does it (or Did I) make a difference?
I do believe one thing completely - no decision creates no meaning in life.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Wrangling Look

As K.C. walked into my office to go to lunch, he looked at my face and blurted - "What's with that wrangley look?". He was of course referring to the 17 day stubble of growth protruding from my face.  (thankfully no picture of me is attached)

Now wrangley is not a word so did he say wrangling, or wrangled - regardless he got his point across.  Actually the verb wrangle has several choices on meaning:

 (1) to argue angrily with someone
 (2) to get (something) by clever methods or by persuading someone
 (3)  to control and care for (horses, cattle, etc.) on a ranch

Definitely the early beard look reminds us of a western cowboy herding cattle up to Montana.  Add to that Susan's dislike of the new look and you could say that there is an argument brewing.  Or the real answer is that it was my way (a clever method) of persuading Ellen to join me in a six week study of the Book of John (the suggested next steps from the week at JH Ranch).

So - for six weeks the wrangle will grow - in face, and spirit.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Earn a Friend

This last week I set a goal to not access computer or email after 6pm and limit the use during the weekend.  Not an easy feat.  How did I fill that time?  Gardening, Reading, Movies with Ellen, Napping, and Relationship stuff.  I even took time to complete a project in my backlog - Relationship Matrix.

I dreamed up a matrix to quantify relationships or friendship.  I figured that a friend can be viewed as a function of elapsed time known and quality time "earned". 

Aristotle said that friendship transcends justice and that it is the highest form of love.  He delineates friendship into three types:

(1) Friendship of mutual pleasure
(2) Friendship of utility
(3) Friendship of respect

He derives these three kinds of friendship from the three kinds of good:

(1) The good that gives us pleasure
(2) The good that is useful
(3) The good that is moral

There are ONLY three good reasons for doing or loving something:

(1) Either it is morally good
(2) Or it is a practical necessity
(3) Or..... it gives you some kind of joy

What better model to use to determine friends.  And remember ........ to have a friend, you must first be a friend.

Earn a point today -  call a friend!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Glimspe of Heaven - Heaven Board #10

Saturday evening (8/1/15) was a very emotional closing of a Father/Daughter journey for Ellen and I at JH. Ranch in Scotts Valley California.  My testimonial was that "At JH Ranch that week I saw a Glimpse of Heaven".

Looking into Ellen's eyes and having REAL solo time with her sitting on the mountainside in Northern California, we discovered the windows into each others hearts.  A week at JH Ranch doesn't just change you and your relationship with a daughter or son - it is transformative.

A mixture of spiritual soul training, parenting vision, outback relationship building, and praise and worship is what makes JH Ranch so effective.  The awesome setting in GOD's mountainous beauty is the canvass that allows those open to teaching to hear, see and experience his love.

Wow - no question this is a Heaven Board entry - #10
"I heard and I forgot. I saw and I remembered. I did and I understood."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Self Employed Tips

It was a day filled with Vision and business strategy for the All City Vistage meeting "Leading with 2020 Vision".  Three excellent speakers  talking about the Customer experience, Competing for the Future and Visionary execution. 

Customer Experience:   I asked our table what single customer experience had they encountered that would demonstrate excellence in Customer service?  Nothing really came up -  4 guys with over 240 years of consuming - and no real specific example or story was told.  However..... many of us had stories of the opposite experiences.  Customer Service nightmares - hate of providers -  never again buyer stories.  Mine were permanently etched in my memory - American Express and Time Warner.

I asked our table to describe what brands they are most loyal (consistent buying over 10 -15 years)  in buying.  This was an easier question and had many answers.  Mine were - Sony, GM, Cincinnati Bell, Allen Edmonds, Microsoft, PNC Bank, Yahoo, Schwab, Sams Club, Verizon and some food brands. While Customer Service/Experience was a large part of this loyalty - the reality is my loyalty to these brands was more about delivering consistent value and addressing any mistakes along the way.

Competing for the Future:  What do Kodak, Blockbuster, Radio Shack have in common? Casualties of the DCX - Digital Customer Experience.  The Baby Boomers grew up in an analog word and the Millennials (Gen Y) have grown up in a digital world.  To compete in the future, companies must start over in the digital world.  Don't attempt to incrementally change business analog processes to into digital copies. 

"It isn't the past which holds us back, it's the future and how we undermine it today" Victor Frankl

Visionary Execution:  Innovation is the magical intersection (and synchrony) of Insight, Idea and Experience.  Advertising and marketing is the tax you pay for a bad idea with little insight and poor execution.  Go to the source - your customer's customer.  Go from B2B to B2C to B2me!    Intelligence is learning from your own mistakes but Wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others.  Wisdom is a gift given from the humility of others. 

Visionary Execution is knowing your "Why".  Start with Insight discussions (before the ideas)  and balancing the 'idea monkeys" with the "ring leaders" during both vision and execution.

So how can you apply these three topics in your personal business - your life?

(1) Focus your relationships on consistent delivery (matching expectations with communication) and upon mistakes - recover with asking for forgiveness.
(2)  Be Brave - let the future reinvent your past.
(3) Surround yourself with the wisdom of others. Be vulnerable and let wisdom flow between you and others.

A good day - we are all self employed to do better..

Sunday, July 12, 2015

See the Dark

USA Today's section of the Cincinnati Enquirer feature article is titled "6,000 Stars Light up Our 'Dark Sky' Parks".   Hmmmm.......   On my last trip to Kansas, I had just finished listening to the Modern Scholar series "Heavens Above,  Stars, Constellations and the Sky"  by Professor James B. Kaler.  I had remembered him saying that only 2000 stars were visible in our sky.

I had repeated this fact last Thursday evening as A.M. and I were relaxing after a tennis match looking up at a clear night in the stars.   Naturally I was wondering if my memory of details was waning.  Had I passed on inaccurate information. Which figure was correct - 6000 or 2000?

From Professor Kaler's text:

"The count of naked-eye stars depends on location (altitude, humidity, eye-sensitivity), but at the limit, some 6,000 to 8,000 can be seen without aid. The number seen on any given night depends on what part of the sky you are looking at. Some of it is sparse, while near the Milky Way—a band of light that runs across the sky—there are crowds of them. On any night, one can see perhaps 2,000, less than half the total because absorption by the Earth’s atmospheric blanket dims the ones near the horizon, rendering the fainter ones invisible. They fall into random, charming patterns that we name and call “constellations.”

So both figures are technically correct - it just depends on location and a truly dark sky. The USA Today article was about Natural Bridges National Monument in the middle of the Utah desert - one of darkest places in the states.

Next time you're out looking on a dark night - start counting.  You may be lucky to see 100 because of the city lights reflecting up.  

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Your Story

Books, movies, conversation and yes even blogging all have something in common - usually a story.  We all yearn to hear a story and to tell our story.  I can remember Jenna as a child blurting out - "Daddy tell me a story".  I would respond "What kind of story?".  "Anything", she would plead.

The story doesn't need to be dramatic nor does it need to be worthy of best selling books or block buster movies.  In fact it is the everyday routines of our lives that become interesting to others - lives that are richly different in their routine.  A.M., J.R. and I were having lunch together and the conversation was about our daily routine.  Filled with laughter and relationships we all described the idiosyncrasies of our daily living patterns.

Ellen and I watched an interesting movie last night - a story about stories-  "Hugo".  This meta story saga was about dreams, mysteries, and broken stories that need fixing - and were fixed.   The Automaton reveals the key (from the heart) to a story interwoven in various subjects lives.  Each of our stories and how they weave together (the world as an automaton) reveal our purpose in life.

Tell your story to someone.  Discover how your stories interweave together.  Enjoy how they together reveal purpose.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Boston Legal #5 - Bronx Tale

I forgot to post Boston Legal #4  (hosted at my house in January 14).  The last three meetings have been supplemented with a TV or Movie (#3 was actually a Boston Legal episode - "Finding Nimmo" - Episode 20 Season 2 #3).   J.P. stayed late and we watched "Seven Days in Utopia".  But on to Boston Legal #5

Boston Legal #5 - Hosted by K.C. with full BBQ and refreshments 6/21/15 the day after Father's Day. I was tasked with bringing some alternative viewing choices to Boston Legal #5 (three choices were offered up).

I was biased and since it was so close to Father's Day the group humored me with the selection of "A Bronx Tale".   Chosen strategically after listening to Peter Kreeft's  Ethics lectures, this movie is very entertaining and thought provoking (Warning - it is rated R because of the language and violence). 

"I can't believe after all this time you don't trust me."  says Calogero to Sonny his surrogate Italian Mafia dad.
"Listen, It's not that I don't trust you.  It's .......  Sonny trails off with no explanation.

"No, I'm not gonna listen"  as Calogero continues to tell Sonny that he should have not jumped to judgment.   "You never thought of that [the alternate possibility] .... did you?"

"No"  as Sonny stares stoically forward.

"Don't you trust anybody?  Calogero inquires

"No"  Sonny replies

"It's a horrible way to live"  Calogero rebuts.

"For me ..... it's the only way"  Sonny declares.

"Not for me .........  Not for me"  Calogero whispers.

This movie has a great sound track and worthy acting with a named star Robert DiNero.  I highly recommend this movie! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Authors of our Life

"All we ask is to be allowed to remain the writers of our own story.  A story that is ever changing..... Whatever happens, we want to retain the freedom to shape our lives in ways consistent with our character and loyalties"  ("Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande). 

Antul Gawande explores the challenges of assisted living (what Mom just experienced) and the tension between independence and interdependence.  In America we stress freedom in ways of individualism, autonomy, free of coercion and limitation.  Yet all of our lives are interdependent - especially at birth and near death. 

How interesting that he changes the goal of aging from freedom and safety to that of being the authors of our life.  "The battle of being mortal is the battle to maintain the integrity of one's life - to avoid becoming so diminished or dissipated or subjugated that who you are becomes disconnected from who you were or who you want to be."

It's difficult to accept declines in physical and intellectual capacity as we age - but others (including loved ones) need to understand that confining peoples choices (for their "own good") is the same as trying to write their story into your book.

It's your story to write -  and for others to enjoy reading.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Heaven Board #9 - Precious Lord, Take my Hand

Today Mom passed into eternity peacefully.  Her legacy of teaching followed her all the way to the end in this world and will live in others (friends, family, coworkers, and students). 

Derby.  Wisner, Flora Wells, 87, devoted wife, loving mother, and faithful grandmother and great grandmother, has gone to rest in peace.  Private graveside services in Mulhall, Oklahoma, per her request.  She was preceded in death by her parents and brother Maurice Wells.  Survived by husband Don, children D'Lane Wisner, Garen Wisner, and Vana Hartley; five grandchildren, one great-grandchild.  In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established with Wineteer Elementary PTO, 8801 Ent, Wichita KS 67210. Share condolences at Smith Family Mortuaries : Derby, Kansas (KS) : Wichita, (KS)

The list of what Mom taught me is too long to publish.  Thanks to P.H. for suggesting that I write down what Mom meant to me and thankfully I made it to Kansas in time to read her the list.

A teacher then, now and forever.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Values in Smok'in

Rich's May visit this year was packed with activities.  His new Lexus RX350 was once again an example of how he can "out gadget" me.   Clearly it's time for me to get a new car - so we had fun visiting Dealerships to test drive other models (it would be sacrilegious for me to copy a college buddy). 

Rich knew I had no courage to match his gadget challenge when it comes to a car -  but his secondary crowing was about his new Smoker from Home Depot.  That was like "laying down the gauntlet" like the old college days.  SO.... not to be outdone in a lower priced challenge -  Rich and I went out shopping for Smokers. 

Now Rich's Smoker was the traditional charcoal type so I needed my Smoker to be different (naturally).  Originally I had determined propane was the way to "beat" Rich in the gadget category.  Less fuss, Less muss!   I had picked out the propane model and was walking out the store when Rich said .....  "What's this electric one with a remote control?"    That was the ticket -  it was like gadget/technology leapfrogging and I got the Master Built Electric Smoker.

I've had great fun, great times, with friends and family Smok'in Salmon, Ribs, Chicken, and Flank Steak.  I happened to go to MasterBuilt's web site and discovered their Core Values scrolling across the bottom.   WOW -  Simple, to the point, and rich in wisdom - Spoken..... and Smok'in Values!


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Grace and Truth

The message by Brian Tome (Crossroads Church)  this Memorial Day Weekend was about Grace and Truth - John 1:14.  Almost like a Myers Brigg personality test, he categorized everyone into two categories - either predominately tendencies to Truth or alternatively to Grace. 

Then in classic analytical style he illustrated his point about relationships with a four quadrant visual.

The most healthy of relationships is where we are both high in truth and high in grace.  Families can show this in the fun of interacting and tolerance (Grace) together yet understanding the family values and rules of order and accountability (Truth). 

Relationships ebb and flow in all three of the quadrants (Consume, Contract and Covenant) but it is the Covenant we seek long term.  The word covenant can me misinterpreted as LAW (like Contract) but I prefer the ecclesiastical definition:

"A solemn agreement between the members (of a church) to act together in harmony with the precepts of the gospel."

Relationships are all about harmony.  Two people (one with Truth and one with Grace) can sing together from the same sheet of music - perfect harmony.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Focus on Plan not Results

"Stick to the plan and let the results take care of themselves" was the instructor's advice in the Investools course that I signed Jenna up for.  Taken from the quote:  "I focus my total attention on trading well and let the results take care of themselves" by Tom Basso in his book "New Market Wizards". 

The mantra I remember at Accenture during my days of implementing manufacturing software (specifically the MRP module - Materials Requirements Planning) was the saying -  "Plan the work and Work the Plan (see blog  Sept. 30, 2010). 

The power of this advice is that the plan provides an objective way of stepping back from the pressure of deadlines and emotional stress about the results.  In trading, the emotions of volatility in stock prices can tempt a trader to react and ignore their rules (e.g. the plan).  That creates unfavorable results from the logic and strategy developed during the planning stage of investing.

Another way of justifying working the plan is that it preserves the investment of time you spent developing the plan in the first place.  If you are questioning results - look at the plan and spend the time thinking about why you change the plan first before taking action.

A constantly changing plan will drive constantly changing results.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Truth or Consequences

I don't typically like to redundantly blog about a recent news article - but I couldn't resist propagating and virally duplicating the points of Michael Ledeen in his May 17th WSJ commentary "Bridge - Not Chess is the Ultimate War Game".  Mom and Dad taught me card sense (although I think card sense is a DNA gene), and the game of Bridge.  The real teacher I had was Rich M. (my college buddy) who was a top ranked chess player also. 

Michael Ledeen's observation about player feints is exactly why I love the game:

"Frequently a player will have to decide whether he would rather tell the truth to his partner (thereby informing his opponents) or deceive the enemy (thus running the risk of seriously fooling his ally across the table).    Nothing like this exists in even the greatest board games. They permit some feints, to be sure, but not outright lies. Great bridge players are great liars—as are brilliant military leaders and diplomats and politicians."

Luckily Rich M. put up with my lies that I claimed were true and legitimate "Goren" methods of playing.  Our friendship was sealed when I declared that our Bridge partnership was officially over in a dispute over an exception to the Blackwood convention after a cue bid of an ace.   Reflecting back - it was my error but Rich was the bigger Bridge partner to apologize. 


Now S.S. is my regular Bridge partner and he gives me great "Bridge Mercy" also in my lies (or convention ignorance).  When asked by opponents what my bid means he always responds - "I have no clue".   It supports what I have put on my convention card under Special Conventions:  "Don't trust anything this guy says .... he is a Cowboy bidder:  :)  "

A Bridge game is quite a intriguing practice of ethical paradoxes.  Every bid and play of the hand is a choice of Truth or Consequences. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Archimedes or Plato

Ellen packaged up her Rhombicosidodecahedron to take to school for her extra credit project.  Of course, I had to dig out (yes I saved it) my own Icosahedron that I constructed when I was her age.

Clearly we can see the difference in educational progression (and prodding) of 45 years.   The Icosahedron looks like a Model T next to a Lincoln. 

My old Icosahedron is more precisely a regular convex or Platonic Icosahedron consisting of 20 equilateral triangle faces with five meeting at each of its twelve vertices -  hence the colored pentagon look painted upon the vertices.

Now Ellen's project is actually  a "Great Rhombicosidodecahedron" one of many Archimedian solids.  This one has 30 squares, 20 hexagons, and 30 decagons with 120 verticies and 180 edges.

So 10 times (e.g. verticies) better than Dad :)

Well done Ellen!!!!