Choice Comes With A Price

Every once in a while, I draw a blank... my mind is blank regarding something about which to write, although, I know there is a vast and endless source of information called “mankind,” that generates several ideas a second about which one could write a 1000 words or more at the drop of a hat... and, it is those thoughts that allude me today... as none of them seem to be of any interest to me.

Iraq, Syria, and ISIS are goldmines for the creative writer or the investigative reporter and there are so many angles about which to write it would make your head swim... but for me, that information has become trite and redundant... but, never about the loss of life which is wrong to me in so many ways.

Of course, there are those who are positive and there is nothing wrong with being positive until being positive prevents you from seeing the negativity at all because it does exist and it is better, in my opinion to know that it exists and ignore it than to be oblivious to it... because life is only real life when one suffers and finds a way to rise above.

Many of my friends and thousands of people I do not know, have battled cancer and are continuing to battle cancer and they walk tall, not because they are survivors or because they are still alive but because they have learned to appreciate life in all its multifaceted ways, including its negative side... it is just that its negative side has little influence on them anymore, but they recognize that it is still there and not only are mindful of it but respect it as well as a formidable foe.

There are couples that are just living together and there are couple that are married and in these couples there may be one who has experience extreme tragedy and there might be one that has not; and, there might be one who is a survivor or cancer and still living with cancer while the other one is not... and, one would think that these two situations would bring them closer together... but, it does not. It is kinda sad in a way but it is the reality of our life these days.

Unless you directly experience what someone else has or is experiencing, you cannot identify with that other person no matter how hard you try. You can understand, be sympathetic, and supportive, but in no way can you feel the emotional anguish and/or trauma that they might be experiencing... and, the other person is keenly aware of that fact, and whether they want to or not, an emotional barrier is built between the two, but both will admit that there is no barrier at all.

Then, there are those couples who are gentle and kind and pleasant and never get angry and never raise their voices when children are present or other people but in private and when the coast is absolutely clear, they fright like cats and dogs and oftentimes like children, saying extremely hateful things that can never be retracted... but, the world around them knows nothing of their disdain for each other... and, that is how life in America or anywhere else for that matter should be lived?

This life is precious and short.

Don't get me wrong Ladies and Gentlemen, I am not excluding myself in any of the scenarios as myself (like it or not) lives in all of them... and, it is a journey that weakens me emotionally and one that I wish that I did not have to experience, but I am and I do and I will survive as I always have... as Paul Simon hid inside his musical lyrics and books and I hide inside my thoughts and words... and, no one can take those away or keep them from rising to the surface of my mind.

My words describe who I am just like a photo might describe or capture an image in time. And, my words have changed over time... some for the better while others are for the worst... but, one cannot have good without evil or light without dark, otherwise there would be nothing from which to make a choice.

Many people fall short in grasping that concept, especially the super religious who believe God should supply us with nothing but good which is why most of us pray to Him in the first place. But, if we were to return to the Garden of Eden for a while, we would see that Adam and Even were blessed with nothing but good. Yes, they had free will and a choice but their choices were either Good or Good. It was not until the Serpent was introduce and a bite of the apple was taken, that evil was introduced and now Adam and Eve were given the opportunity to choose good or evil.

Consequently, we can NEVER do away with or remove evil because in so doing we remove our ability to exercise our Free Wills.

And, those people who are oblivious to the fact that evil does in fact exist are oblivious to the fact also that it is only the incorporation of evil into their lives that provides them with the ability to choose and exercise their free wills. To just ignore evil because one wishes to believe that it simply does not exist is, in my mind, the wrong path to take.

It is ironic to a certain degree how God who is undeniably good and pure and all powerful, MUST allow evil to co-exist with Him, in order to provide his children with the ability to have choice.

While this might not be the best story in the world to share, I will share it with my readers anyway... I understood this concept all too well early on, and when I got to college, I tried to seek out those females who were daughters of ministers, because they typically had never been exposed to all and I decided that it would be me that would provide them with this opportunity.

Today, the world has changed, and the sons and daughter of ministers are typically the ones who influenced all the others... yet, back in the home, one would never suspect that ANY of those thoughts would ever be inside their pretty little heads.


Hump Day Art

Time-Stacked Landscape Photography That Mimics Impressionist Paintings by Matt Molloy 

Canadian photographer Matt Molloy uses the technique of timelapse to gather different shades of the sky in one location to form a “time-stack,” which records the progression of time. Instead of composing an image from one day, Molloy is able to collect the multitude of shades of color and patterns through the progression of time. Instead of showcasing what the sky looks like one sunny, clear day, we see the sky under different temperatures and conditions in a single image. By using the “time stack” technique the end results mimic one of an impressionist painting.

Getting Started With Career Choices

Are you thinking about going to College for a 4 year degree... then, my first question is going to be WHY???

Not everyone is well suited to go to college and be successful... and being successful is not necessarily making “A's” and “B's” in all your classes... it is more along the lines of how much information did you retain and how good are you at using or implementing that information.

Let me explain with the following analogy:
  • Those that can do... do
  • Those that cannot do... teach
  • Those that cannot teach... consult

While there is obviously a little sarcastic humor in that statement there is more truth in there that you at first blush realize... NOT EVERYONE CAN DO

Unfortunately, that realization usually comes after one's college graduation when you have to start paying back all your student loans.

So, college is most definitely NOT FOR EVERYONE

In the State of Tennessee, the first two years of college are FREE... so, if you lived here, you could spend 2 years of your life taking college courses, just to see if that kind of education and knowledge is right for you.

It will also give you an opportunity to spend some time thinking about what it is that you want to do with your life which is not always an easy question to answer.

When you logically think about it, there will always be a need for:
  1. Doctors
  2. Lawyers
  3. Dentists
  4. Healthcare Workers
  5. Law Enforcement
  6. Fire Persons
  7. Military Persons
  8. Teachers & Professors
  9. Electricians
  10. Plumbers
  11. Contractors
  12. Carpenters
  13. Construction Workers
  14. Restaurant Employees
  15. Hotel/Motel Employees
  16. Auto Mechanics
  17. Government Workers
  18. Managers
  19. Accountants
  20. Sales People
  21. Prison Guards
  22. Airlines Personnel
  23. Cruise Ship Personnel
  24. Farmers
  25. Farm Equipment
  26. Insurance Company Personnel
  27. Drug Company Personnel
  28. Truck Drivers
Now, not all of the jobs are in fact recession proof but these jobs are jobs on which we depend to some degree or another.

Another consideration, is your willingness to relocate within the State or to relocate outside of the State in which you live. For example, if you have attended a Community College and received training and become licensed in: Electrical, Plumbing, Heating and Air for instance... and if you were willing to move down to any resort area on the East Coast, the Gulf Coast, or the West Coast, then you would have so much work that you would have no choice but to hire people to work for you.

This work could come from the construction of new home which granted is seasonal and at best up and down most of the year, but doing renovations on existing structures NEVER ENDS... and you will always have plenty of work.

If you do not want to stick your fingers in the mouths of strangers, then I would stay away from professions like dentist and/or dental assistant, but there are plenty of technical jobs available in the healthcare industry like Xray Tech, CT/PET Scan/MRI Tech that go unfilled on a regular basis because no one ever thinks to look for training and work in that area.

And, the healthcare industry is recession proof and the number of people needing healthcare in the future is going to increase not decrease.

Restaurant Workers is not considered by many to be a glorified job, but many waitresses and waiters will tell you that they are averaging in certain areas $200/night in tips and almost every weekend no matter where the location is, it is that much or more. I have also talked with several Restaurant Managers who told me that they started out as a Bus Boy, then moved to a Waiter, then moved to a Cook, then moved to an Assistant Manager, then to their current position as Manager all within a span of 10-15 years, sometimes between 8-10 years. All the training and education, Managers ever needed was provided by the company or paid for by the company and the employee attended College. The average salary of these Managers was between $150,000 and $200,000 annually.

So, if you are considering a career, maybe going out straight to a job after high school is the direction you need to take, rather than spend 4 years in College and have a $200,000 student loan debt that will take you the rest of your life to pay off.

You will find later on in life that DEBT restricts MOBILITY.

Another excellent choice is enlisting in the military but I would be careful as to which Branch of the military because some Branches will immediately put you in harms way; so, my choice would be the Air Force. Once there and after 4 years and if you play your cards right, the Air Force will send you to College to get both a Bachelors and Masters Degree if you are willing to spend 20 years with them. So, after 4 years you spend 4 more in College for a Bachelors Degree and then 2 more after that in College for a Masters Degree which totals 10 years so far... leaving you 10 years left to follow through on your commitment and in those 10 years you will have plenty of time to acquire a PhD via online.

If you enlisted at 18 years of age and add another 20, then you will retire from the Air Force at age 38 which is really young to retire, but you will retire at the pay grade of an Officer. Now, armed with your PhD, you apply at a local College or University to be hired as a Professor where you teach classes (working on average 20 hours/week and always having your summers off) for another 20 years so now you are 58 years old. While you have retired twice and have 2 pensions, you are still not old enough to receive Social Security.

So, maybe you should stay in the military for 25 years (retiring at 43) and maybe you work as a Professor for another 25 years (taking you to 68) and now you are probably eligible for full Social Security retirement and if not, you are damn close.

You are retired with 3 sources of INCOME...

The point is that college may not be the right avenue to take for you... so, spend a little time while you are in high school or immediately following high school and think about what you want to do with your life and what careers always seem to be hiring... and, if you are not, go talk to people at some of these places that always seem to have job openings.

I did not do this when I graduated from high school because I just automatically assumed that everyone in my family had to go to college and that I was not going to be given a waiver. I floundered around in college, eventually dropped out, and spent a few years in the military and returned to college... but, it was not until much, much later that I discovered that what I really wanted to do was be an in-house trainer for a company.

Bear in mind that when you are looking for careers that are always around that workers are going to make much less of a wage than those who manage those workers... but, one does not always have to go to college in order to manage workers, but one does have to pay ones dues as a worker if that is the route that you want to go.

Debt is a constraint in everything that you do so avoid debt as best you can and look towards the future, not today or next week.

Hope this has helped a little?


Managing the Manageable and the Knowable

P. T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey Circus has been given the credit for saying, “There is a fool born every minute,” and while that may or may not be true, I would suspect that most of those fools end up becoming managers. And, while they certainly cannot be held to blame for what they want to do with their lives, they can be blamed for thinking they got the right training when they did not. As cruel and as heartless as that sounds, it is still true.

Nowhere in Undergraduate Business Schools either in the Majors of Business Administration or Management does it teach you about the PROFOUND KNOWLEDGE (suggested by Dr. Edwards W. Deming) that involves SYSTEM THINKING and the correct understanding of the need to and the how to in reducing VARIATION INHERENT IN THE SYSTEM. Although, in some Operations Management Textbooks there are several pages maybe 4-6 or 8-10 that talk about Improving Process but only as it pertains to improving the throughput of a product.

This kind of knowledge is not even taught in Strategic Planning Courses which are typically taught in one's senior year as Capstone Courses for the purpose of tying all their knowledge together. What these graduates don't know is that they don't know much about business or the management of business... even though they have a piece of paper that says they do.

Once a Business Graduate is hired, then it becomes the responsibility of that business to retrain that graduate in terms of what the world of business and management is all about. And, if that business entity has enlightened management, then this graduate will be sent for Deming based TQM training, followed by courses in SPC, QFD, and DOE.

And, what exactly do those 3 words mean?
  • SPC – Statistical Process Control
  • QFD – Quality Function Deployment
  • DOE – Design of Experiments
But, I am not finished because enlightened management also knows that there is still:
  1. Black Belt Training
  2. ISO 2010 and 14000
  3. Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award
  4. Taguchi's Loss Function
  5. Lean Manufacture
  6. Process Reengineering and/or Improvement
  7. Just In Time
  8. Root Cause Analysis
  9. Statistical Problem Solving
  10. Various Quality Tools

And, the enlightened manager also is aware of:
  1. Hiring (Interviewing) & Firing Training
  2. On-the-Job Training Training
  3. Train-the-Trainer Training
  4. Supervisory Training
  5. Supplier Certification Training
  6. Control Chart Interpretation
  7. Economic Forecasting
  8. Contracts and Negotiations
  9. Inventory Control
  10. Logistics

However, if there is anytime left in your day, then you should know PMBOK which is:
Project Management Body of Knowledge.

PMBOK can be broken down into the following:
Process Groups
  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Implementing
  4. Monitoring & Controlling
  5. Closing

Knowledge Areas
  1. Integration
  2. Scope
  3. Time
  4. Cost
  5. Quality
  6. Risk
  7. Communications
  8. Human Resources
  9. Procurement
  10. Stakeholders

The below illustration shows how these two areas overlap and interrelate and it is the understanding of this interrelationship and all of its components where the skill in management enters... which by the way is not taught to you in College for some reason.... and, for all the money that college students pay to become educated, I cannot figure out in my wildest imagination why this is omitted.

Between each Process Group (going across from left to right) and between each Knowledge Area (going down from top to bottom) there is supplier/customer relationship that is oftentimes missed even by experienced Project Managers because they lack the TQM experience and/or training.

For Instance...

Initiating supplies data/knowledge to Planning... therefore, Planning is the customer of Initiating and in order for quality to be achieved, Initiating must exceed (not just meet) the expectations of their customer... and, this can only be achieve by asking Planning what their expectations are.

Subsequently, Planning supplies Implement with data/knowledge and should therefore treat Implementing as their customer and exceed their expectations as well. And, this should take place throughout all Process Groups and SHOULD not only move right to left but left to right as well, just in case there is a need for something like that to take place within a project.

Obviously, if this explanation is true for the Process Groups then it should work the exact same way within the ranks and/or processes of all 10 Knowledge Areas. And yes, it should move top to bottom this way as well as from bottom to top.

And again, managing anything like this is not taught in Business Schools (Colleges or Universities) inside the Majors of Business Administration or Management. Maybe these schools are just trying to avoid an extra expense that they know will take place once these graduates are hired.

The most critical aspect of the Knowledge Area INTEGRATION is the development of a Management Plan which involves all the other 9 areas and the more detailed that one can be, the better one becomes when it comes time for implementation. Once you completed one of these on your own, you will become very good at developing TIME LINES.

If, I were to highlight SCOPE, then I would say the key here is understanding WBS or Work Breakdown Structure or who is going to do what and when which also involves logistics because all the proper resources have to be available in the right quantities at the right time which involves vendors, suppliers, subcontractors.

One must have a good understanding of how long a specific task will take as well as what tasks need to be done before another task can be started? How late can I start, leads to how late can I finish and how early can I start, leads to how early can a finish.... and, what has to be done first before any work can start?

For instance, if I want to build a deck onto the back side of my house and exactly where I want to build that deck, I have a bunch of “stuff” lying around. Well, before any deck tasks can take place, I will need to move that “stuff” to another location but if I have “other stuff” in that location then I need to move that “other stuff” first... and, I am pretty sure that you can see where I am going with this.

When one develops a Project Management Risk Plan, one must take a lot of factors into consideration here as well, such as:
  1. How much will inflation change prices before the project has concluded?
  2. Can I get all the supplies and/or resources that I need at the time that I need them?
  3. Can I acquire all the workers that I need?
  4. How much training of workers will be required?
  5. What “red tape” will have to be cut through?
  6. What environmental concerns will I have?
  7. What Government Regulations will I have?
  8. Will any of my supplies come from overseas?
  9. Will political unrest in those countries jeopardize previous contracts?
  10. What contingency plans need to be developed?
  11. What delays can be anticipated like the weather?
  12. How much padding should I put in my budgets?
  13. Could there be any special interest groups blocking the way?
  14. What support do I need from the local community?
  15. Do I have any Nemesis Stakeholders?
  16. What other company projects need my resources?
  17. What will I do if my Cash Flows are not there?
  18. What kind of “fires” can I anticipate having to put out?
  19. Who else can I trust?
  20. What barriers will be present that may restrict completion?
As you can see there are a lot of questions that will need answering and a competent Project Manager has a contingency plan for each one of those answered questions. Also, in preparing those contingency plans, a Project Manager must assess their own RISK PROFILE, that is to say, how do I or should I deal with each ones of these risks?

Should I,
  • Avoid the risk
  • Work around the risk
  • Take the risk head on
and, in each one of those approaches, consequences can be calculated along with anticipated costs of those consequences relative to the IRON TRIANGLE of: Time-Cost-Quality.

Well, I have tried to present a little editorial on how to manage what is manageable and what is knowable, but guess what... realizing both of those for a manager is not always possible... and, this is what typically separates the men from the boys in the world of business... of course, it also separates the woman or ladies from the girls as well.


A Dummies Guide to Personal Finance

So, what is Personal Finance?

No shit... are you serious man? You are making an ID – 10 – T (idiot) error... everyone knows what personal finance is... it is finances of a personal nature... I mean, it is all you your money, right?

Yes, you are right and on the surface that is exactly what most people think about the subject which is one reason why so many millionaires die broke and why so many senior citizens have a hard time surviving financially during their retirement years.

Basically, personal finance revolves around the following:
  1. Earning Money
  2. Budgeting Money
  3. Spending Money
  4. Protecting One's Money

Let's suppose for the sake of having ourselves a starting point, that you are a recent college graduate with a Liberal Arts degree and very good grades which actually mean very little in the business world since during my 45 year career no one ever looked at my grades.

So, now what do you do with this College Degree and a shitload of debt?

Here is where it gets a little confusing because when I ask my students about this I want them to start with two simple questions:
Who are you?
What do you know?

What are you man... on some kinda trip or something dude?
No, not at all.

If you do not know the answers to these simple questions, you are going to have a difficult time putting together your Financial Plan or doing any kind of financial planning for that matter.
  • What job are you going to look for?
  • Who are you going to marry?
  • How many children?
  • What industry(s) are you going to work in?
  • Are you willing to relocate?
  • How much debt can you handle?
  • How much in tithes are you giving your church each year?
  • Where are you going to live?

And, the one question that basically most people ignore until that day is sitting on their doorstep like an abandoned infant, and that is:
How much will you need when you retire?
Well shit man, doesn't that revolve around what it is that I might want to do in retirement?
Yes, it does, so what do you want to do?
I dunno... man.
So, back to those two questions: Who are you and What do you know?

However, annual income is only one slice of pizza because do you want to stay with that company and count on their annual raises or do you want to job hop every 3-5 years. Companies typically pay employees a 3% raise each year and job hopping (providing on what intellectual property that you have acquired) will generate 5-10% and in some cases more if you are willing to relocate out-of-state. But, that is kinda like a family decision and have you made any plans in include a family in your thinking through initially plan? Thought so...

Once annual incomes are realized, then one needs to budget one's money and see if you can determine what your cash flows might be from one month to the next. So, what might one consider for one's budget:
Student Loan
Credit Card Debt
Household supplies
Phone or cell
Car Insurance
Health Insurance
Disability Insurance
Home/Renters Insurance
Car maintenance
Car gasoline
Church Tithe
Gym Fees
Yard Maintenance
Home Repairs
Property Taxes

Notice that Savings is down on the bottom because it is really going to be difficult for the first few years out of college to really saving anything... much less be able to afford all the expenses... unless you are married and can add in your spouse's income...

But, is this a good reason to get married?

Now, let's suppose that the two of you have combined your incomes and have managed to come up with a plan to save a little money... where are you going to invest that money not just for save keeping but so that it will grow?

I can tell you this that it should not be the bank or a credit union.

  • Do you invest in stocks?
  • What kind of stocks?
  • What is your risk profile?
  • Do you invest in bonds?
  • What kind of bonds?
  • Do you invest in Mutual Funds?
  • What kind of Mutual Funds?
  • Do you invest in IRA's or 401K's?
  • Do you invest in Annuities?
  • Do you invest in Art and Antiques?
  • Do you invest in Gold, Silver, Nickle, Tin?
  • Do you invest in Diamonds or other precious jewels?
  • Do you invest in real estate or rental properties?

And, what kinda degree did I say you had... Liberal Arts? Did your Liberal Arts Degree teach you about any of this shit? If you were a Business Major, it should have provided you will a little bit of this knowledge... but not so if you were a Chem Major or have a Journalism Degree or even an Engineering Degree... but, at least with an Engineering Degree you are structured enough to research.

Do you know about the Rule of 72?
Basically, this rule states that if you take an interest rate and divide that interest rate number into 72, that the answer will approximate the number of years that it will take for your money to double if left alone for a period of 20 years.

For example, the stock market has an historical average of generating between 8-10% each year on investments... so, if we split the difference and use 9%, and divide 9% into 72, then your money will double every 8 years if left alone for 20 years.

If you are 21 years of age and invested $25,000 into a popular Mutual Fund, your money would perform (on average) accordingly:
  1. Age 21 - $25,000
  2. Age 29 - $50,000
  3. Age 37 - $100,000
  4. Age 45 - $200,000
  5. Age 53 - $400,000
  6. Age 61 - $800,000
  7. Age 69 - $1,600,000

Now, let's flip this around a little and say you owed someone $25,000 and that you were paying 4% interest on that money... so, 4% divided into 72 gives us an answer of 18 years... so, if it took us 18 years to pay off that debt, the person or entity who loaned us the money would actually be received back from us $50,000 even though we only borrowed $25,000.

Do you want to keep your money or give it away to someone else?

So again, back to my original two questions: Who are you and What do you know

The other concept that one needs to know about Personal Finance is the Time Value of Money which seem a little Star Trekish to me... what about you?

Let me explain this one...

In 2015, we invest $1 in something so that by the end of 2016, we have $1.05 and looking at that growth as something constant, we can also say that if we had $1 in 2015, that it would only be worth $0.95 in 2015.

It is because of this concept that Financial Analysts have stated that the dollar actually purchased more stuff in 1968 that it did in 2013, 2014, and so far in 2015.

Also bear in mind that everything is relative to some point-in-time... and, we could say that our present economy is improving and getting stronger than it was last year... but, if we compare our economy today to what our economy was like in 2008 before the financial meltdown, we are much, much weaker now than we were then.

Another example... when I was in high school , my father earned enough money so that my mother did not have to work but when my daughter was in high school, both her mother and I had to work.

So, thinking of one's retirement, what is it that you would want to do or be able to do providing your health is satisfactory... and, once that is determined, you can begin to estimate how much you will need, even though your wants and needs are going to constantly be changing throughout your lifetime.

Using the Rule of 72 again, if the inflation rate stays constant during your working career at 3% the cost-of-living will double every 26 years, and that knowledge will help you plan your approach a little bit better.

At what age, do you want to become debt free and what is going to be your plan in order to get you to that position of security?

What, if anything, are you going to do to ensure that you remain in relatively good physical health all of your working career?

Have you got any kind of plan in place that has been specifically designed to help you manage stress? And, the better you know who you are, the better you will be at developing that plan to manage stress.

However, Financial Planning is tedious, time consuming, labor intensive, and full of unknowns and unknowables and leaves most people very uncomfortable with the process so while it is almost always attempted it is almost always abandoned.


T. G. I. F. Solitude

Lingering Concerns for 2015

If after 67 years of life, I have stopped the practice of making New Year's Resolutions, it is because none of them ever seem to last more than a few weeks or months. Sometimes, my lack of disciple gets in the way but other times, life gets in the way and we all know how that is.

John Lennon said it best, “life happens when you are making other plans.”

So, as I reflect upon 2015, I decided instead of making resolutions that I would just write about my concerns for this coming year and beyond and see if it gets any interest from you, the reader.

No Brainer Concerns... these are concerns that “go without saying” and with which all of us should be concerned:
  • Global Poverty
  • Global Hunger
  • Global Peace
  • Global Warming
  • Global Terrorism

If you are not aware of any of these issues then all I can say is, “Where have you been dude?”

Obviously, there is racial tensions in specific areas of the country for one reason or another but the more important issue here is that race relationships seems to have gotten worse instead of better since 1960. I don't mean equality issues or employment issues because those have been mandated by the Federal Government, but accepting each other and treating each other like real brothers and sisters is simply not there 80% of the time all across the US.

I private we probably discuss what is really on our minds, but in public we only say what is politically correct for fear of “jamming” ourselves up either at work or with the law.

Racial Profiling is another issue altogether but what I sense is something deep seated in our minds that starts being cultivated by our parents and relatives shortly after our birth. I know of a white man that sits on the couch with his son and points an unloaded gun at the TV screen and pulls the trigger when something he does not want to see comes on. What could that possibly be teaching his son that is of any value?

Another concern is our political system of 2 parties which does not seem to be working and has not worked for several years. It seems our politicians, both Democrat and Republican, don't really care about the WHOLE as much as they do about getting re-elected or doing whatever they can to keep the other person from getting elected instead of them.

While that action does not seem so bad, what is of concern is that the General Public complains about this to each other but when it comes time to vote, they do nothing... when what we should be doing is voting them all out.

All politicians are millionaires, so how can they really understand what the average American really goes through from one day to the next.

So, this area falls under the category of Political Apathy.

Since writing etiquette indicates that only 3 examples should be used in a proper essay or opinion editorial, then my last category is EDUCATION, and is probably, at least to this teacher, the most important of the 3 which is why is it last, so it will stick in your memory banks, like Data from Star Trek might say.

Watching John Luc Picard of Star Trek, by the way, is an absolutely perfect example of how a Leader should act... if you have not seen it yet, you should.

Our once “State-of-the-Art” education system is now ranked 17th in the world among developing nations. Why, because when the children are tested, they cannot remember anything and therefor post wrong answers. This data pertains to grades K-9 but we all know how well the retention goes in high school.

High School students memorize for the tests and forget and they take this perfected ability into the classroom in College, or at least the students that I have taught did. When I ask them what they have learned, they say “lots of things,” but cannot name one.

I ask them what they remember from the college class they had last semester in business and the response is not much.

I tell them that employers are not going to be as much concerned with their grades as with the perceived value that they can add due to their retained knowledge. They look at me like deer in head lights, thinking all they needed to do to get a job was to make As and Bs.

A worse tragedy is the fact that most of my students in college wrote at an 8th grade level and had a very limited ability at critical thinking, problem solving, or seeing the need to look below the surface of a concept.

Sadly, I was teaching Juniors and Seniors... so, how did they pass their first 2 years?

Foreign students, who have an incredible desire to learn and retain knowledge, will be replacing American workers who do not have the educational base.

So, Racism. Politics, and Education are my top concerns for 2015. And, if there was going to be a 4th item it would be the DEBT, both National and personal and the fact that China owns 1/3 of our Federal Debt.

Thanks for reading and as always, your comments are welcomed.


America In Crisis

Preface: Make no mistake about it, I am an American and a proud American at that; but, I am sadden by the fact that our once great nation is no longer great in many areas while still being great in others. 

And, those areas in which we are now finding ourselves less than great, are simply getting worse instead of better. 

While I personally seem to have no problems allocating the necessary funds to keep my home and property in good working condition, our Federal Government, it's elected officials, and constituents DO NOT seem to be treating America with the same respect and courtesies.

Published on February 14, 2015 on America's Economic Report – Daily:
Our once great nation is falling behind the rest of the developed countries in many areas. One of those areas is our infrastructure. In fact, globally the U.S. ranks 16thin quality of infrastructure. America went from having the world’s most modernized roadways and highways in the mid-1900s to an outdated and hazardous infrastructure today. 
In 2013 we were ranked 19th and last year we went up 3 spots, not because we have improved our infrastructure but because other countries’ infrastructures worsened. When will the United States actually achieve a higher ranking better because of actual improvement and not because of the failures of other countries?

Our investment in infrastructure continues to lag, even though the American Society for Civil Engineers gave the U.S. infrastructure a D+ in its annual report card saying that we need to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020 to upgrade our infrastructure to acceptable levels. 
This would also open up 13,000 jobs per year. However, something needs to be done now about our roadways and bridges because people are dying. Dangerous roadways have contributed to the 33,561 highway deaths.

People are dying because of the infrastructure,” said Jami Owen, a Midland, Texas resident who whose spouse Mark, perished in a 2009 crash. “My husband died because of the infrastructure.”

And, according to numerous other online resources, Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structure needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function. It can be generally defined as the set of interconnected structural elements that provide a framework supporting an entire structure of development. It is an important term for judging a country or region's development.

The term typically refers to the technical structures that support a society, such as:
  • roads
  • bridges
  • tunnels
  • water supply
  • sewers
  • electrical grids
  • telecommunications
and can be defined as "the physical components of interrelated systems providing commodities and services essential to enable, sustain, or enhance societal living conditions."

Viewed functionally, infrastructure facilitates the production of goods and services, and also the distribution of finished products to markets, as well as basic social services such as schools and hospitals.

At this point, let me simply share a situation with you but not in a rhetorical because I want you to think about it silently to yourself.

More and more people are gravitating into our urban areas as they relocate themselves and their families from our rural areas. On the surface, this migration makes sense because it opens up more and land on which crops to feed everyone can be planted and harvested. However, it puts increased stress on those urban areas to provide:
  • adequate housing
  • education & healthcare
  • food & clothing
  • water and sewer
  • garbage collection
  • transportation
  • police & fire protection

So, here is my concern... what happens when growth of the people living in our urban areas increases to the point that it out strips those urban areas ability to provide adequate infrastructure?

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is exactly what is happening all over America at this time and all you have to do is perform a little internet research on this subject to see that we already have a huge problem on our hands.

NO PROBLEM you say... we'll just borrow more money from China. Wrong!

OK, still not problem, you say... we'll just print up some more money. Wrong!

NOW, you are making me angry, you say... because you are refusing to accept either of my ideas.

Fine, I reply... let me explain...

China refuses to loan us anymore money and if we print up more money to actually increase the supply then that process will devalue our own dollar and we will have inflation.

Now, I see this deer in headlights look on your face and suggest an alternative solution...

We could, I say, stop fighting wars in other countries, at least, long enough to divert some of that money to fixing our own internal issues and then a few years later, pick back up where we left off...

That is the silliest thing I have ever heard you say... you tell me and write down the following:

Then I say... you know what.... I don't think you are in the mood or the right frame of mind to listen yet?

Conversation Over!!!

But, we still have the problem and it is still getting worse and the longer we delay, the more it will cost us to fix it.

Holly Giermann, writing for Arch Daily, had this to say:

With structurally unsound bridges, unsafe dams, and derelict roads becoming increasingly common problems, infrastructurehas been brought to the forefront of many political agendas. However, limited funding in this area brings to mind the question of economics: how will improvements to North America’s major trading channels be made without driving the nation further into debt? This is what Jordan Golson addresses in the article,It’s Time to Fix America’s Infrastructure. Here’s Where to Start. Although not all of these infrastructural problems can be resolved in the foreseeable future, according to Golson, however some smaller improvements in the next few years can be a manageable starting point.   Use this link to read the full article.

The terrorists don't have this problem because they just steal the money from those who live in the lands that they occupy with their military... Hey!!! Isn't that the same thing America does?


Hump Day Art

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God's Waiting Room

Sometime during the year of 1977 when I was 30 years old, I wrote a play entitled: God's Waiting Room that was mainly dialogue between between half a dozen elderly friends whose children had placed them in a Rest Home (as it was called back then) in lieu of having to take care of their parents themselves which I thought then and still do think is tragic. 

But, these self-centered children all of whom also went to school and worked together and sometimes played together could not be bothered.

The play was mainly dialogue between these senior citizens discussing and describing their lives but not so much their accomplishments and how sad it was that their children had abandoned them but at the same time if they had not been abandoned they would have never have found each other,

The play did not really address nor was it intended to address the living conditions of those Rest Homes and how the employees of those Rest Homes treated the residents; although, it was mentioned from time-to-time just to give more substance to the play itself.

The past weekend at age 67, I visited my 95 year old mother who is living at The Cedars in NC but instead of it being called a Rest Home, it is referred to as RETIREMENT COMMUNITY. I have always thought it peculiar how we manipulate mundane words so that they appear different to those who read or see them.

What is below has been lifted from their website...
Getting older does not necessarily mean being put out to pasture. In fact, The Cedars was designed for a more active, independent lifestyle, so it’s fitting that we are a part of the Meadowmont community with its idyllic Main Street and bustling Town Square just a short stroll away. 

Nearby is historic downtown Chapel Hill and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, providing a wealth of educational and cultural opportunities for Cedars Members. 
Chapel Hill is located in The Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which provides a quality of life that attracts the nation’s best and brightest. 

With three major universities, world-class health care facilities, fine dining from around the world, a vibrant cultural scene, exciting sporting events at both the college and professional levels, and a moderate climate, the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area is an exciting place for resort retirement living. 

With the beach and the mountains within a couple hours drive, the Cedars members truly have it all.

Fortunately, my father left his wife (my mother) well off, otherwise she could not have afforded to live in this nice of a Retirement Community. A one bedroom apartment is over a quarter of a million dollars and the monthly fees are twice what the average person would receive each month on Social Security but each resident is assured that for the rest of their lives, they we live inside this bubble of protective quality.

You do not need a vehicle as transportation is part of the service and will not only provide round trip service too and from the dinning facilities but will do so if you would to leave the retirement campus and go shopping or to a doctor's appointment as long as you are willing to wait for a limited amount of drivers. However, it has been my mother's experience that she has never had to wait more than an hour.
So, it is completely self-contained which is very attracted to those who are finally aging out of society.

There is even a special medical unit that residents can be taken to at no additional charge and there is a quality doctor on call to provide oversight to those living in that unit. However, if you are sent to that medical unit, you still have to paid the monthly security & cleaning fees for you owned apartment even though you are not living there.

My mother has been in this special medical unit for almost a year now and while she has been cleared by the doctor to return to her unit, she has decided to stay because of the around-the-clock care that she is receiving, plus we as her family, are also providing (as required by this facility) aides that are with our mother 12 hours each day, 7 days a week from 8am until 8pm.

But, why wouldn't you want to do that for your mother?

Anyway, so my wife and I visited my mother this weekend and were able to have our meal together in the small dining area of about 6 tables with 4 chairs each. Our food was prepared in the main complex kitchen and then special handlers would transport it in heated containers which was a distance of about 5 minutes away by vehicle.

Once inside the special medical unit, this transported would then deliver it to the different rooms of the various residents who happened to be living there... and, this medical unit (at least every time we visited during the last year) was always about ¾ full.

However, this time we noticed that the menu that we received for Sat/Sun meals was considerably smaller in the sense of fewer selections than were available at the club house in the main dining area and yet my mother's fees for her meals remained the same.

It did not bother my wife and I because we did not visit my mother to eat specially prepared restaurant food, but in principle she was getting “ripped off,” by those who managed/owned the retirement community from the standpoint of being penalized with food selections for being sick and having to live temporarily in a different facility.

But, more importantly is the fact that the employees in general at this facility do not seem to really care any more about their work that employees in general that we all see everyday working at other establishments. It is almost like they dislike having to work there. Most of the drivers who transport my mother around when she needs to be taken somewhere are polite but not friendly and are listening to a radio station that plays what they like not what their passengers might like.

The waiters and the waitresses are polite but not friendly as well and the nurses at the special medical unit are also polite and will tell you how great your mother is if they are having to stand next to you for some reason but will never look you in the eyes when talking about my mother... usually an indication that people are hiding something or not telling the truth.

When I was fortunate a few years ago to visit the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta, EVERY employee treated me in all situations as if I was royalty and I have never gotten that same type of treatment even when taking a Caribbean Cruise; but, one would think that those people that have been hired by management to take care of our senior citizens, especially those who are relative wealthy, would provide the same level of treatment as those employed by the Ritz Carlton.

These people are in God's Waiting Room so why are they being treated in such an average way? Is it the fault of management for not spending enough time to hire the “right” kind of people?