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".