Friday, May 11, 2012

ROL: Be Righteous.

ROL (Return on Life) is a qualitative counterpart of the quantitative marketing analytic, ROI. ROI greatly increases when a little input generates a significantly greater output. Likewise, ROL increases when small life changes produce a greater quality of life. This week's ROL is about being righteous. To avoid any potential confusion, being righteous is the polar opposite of being self righteous.

I was wandering through the Super Mega Ginormous Big Box Mart on Sunday evening, looking for some sweets to temper my wife's sadness at the impending loss of her friends, the "Desperate Housewives." ( As an aside, who is the most unlikable character on concluding TV series: Hugh Laurie's drug addicted narcissistic Gregory House or Teri Hatcher's babbling perpetual victim Susan Mayer Delfino?) Before I settled on a below average Turtle Chocolate Cake for two, I passed by a huge display of grilling stuff and grabbed a large bottle of mustard.
In big print, the label on the 18 oz. bottle of mustard said "50% MORE" and in small print the label added "than our 12 oz". Nowhere did the label say "our relish offers tips on long division."

The label on the mustard is in fact 100% right. Since there was no mention of "50% more for the same price as our 12 oz.", I can only conclude that the differential in font size and font style was intended to mislead the consumer. I further postulate that if the mustard maker feels a need to confuse me about size, there may be other facts the manufacturer is trying to hide.

A friend of mine that also happens to be a Rabbi is fond of saying "Being right and being righteous are not the same." I heartily agree.

How do you feel when people hide behind being right instead of striving to be righteous? Any examples?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Commitment To Excellence.

I posted in April about tracking my nutrition in order to gain (longevity) by losing (weight). 4 weeks in and 4 pounds lost. 7% down and 93% left to go. As an early evaluation, 4 pounds lost is better than 3 pounds lost but not as good as 5 pounds lost. Along with the good news of slow but steady progression comes a new but familiar challenge.

I have hit the next phase of healthy eating. Since as a civilization we haven't been in the era of plenty for nearly as long as we were in eons of scarcity, my body is interpreting my change in eating habits as a lack of available food. My appetite has been on over-drive and my sweet tooth is singing a siren's song.

The choice is mine. I can give in to my cravings and regain the lost weight (and then some). Or I can make a few small changes (adding a little more exercise to allow for an occasional sweet treat) and forge ahead.

So it is with most things in life. I can chase something more appealing knowing full well that the end result will most likely lead to regression. Or I can continue on a proven plan for success making minor alterations as circumstances dictate. Given my desire to lose some weight, the choices I have made in the past are apparent. The end result with my current commitment to excellence has yet to be determined.

Given the option of moving forward with a steady program or chasing something (apparently) sweeter, what choices have you made? How did it work out? In the end, how did you feel about your choice?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekend Magazine: Public School Education

Friday, May 4, 2012
Brookview Elementary School
Rockford, Illinois

7:30 A.M.

8:15 A.M.
9:00 A.M.
for the

The value of a public school education.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Muffins For Mom.

I took Little Suzy to the annual "Muffins For Moms" before-school get together at Suzy's elementary school. Mommy couldn't go and I didn't want Suzy to feel left out, so I was surrogate mom. When I got to the table with the food, I asked for 2/3 of a bran muffin with flax seed and a mineral water with a twist of lemon. No one laughed. I was planning on going dressed in a flannel shirt and hiking boots, but my wife threatened to kick the crap out of me if I dressed like that. Good thing, it appears the economic depression has finally gotten to every one's sense of humor.

If I'm dryer than I am funny, here's Betty White on SNL/NPR's "Delicious Dish". Now that's funny. Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

ROL: Think For Yourself.

ROL (Return on Life) is a weekly post. ROL is the life style enhancing metric similar to the business measurement ROI (Return on Investment). Just as ROI increases with incremental additional investment generating large gains, ROL is about small life change strategies that can provide significant increases in quality of life. Today's ROL is about making decisions yourself.

Indictments have been handed down in the hazing death of a Florida A & M band member. This incident goes beyond the extreme reported in a north suburban Chicago high school hazing from a decade ago. I am aghast that the participants including the victims, in these (or any) initiations find these behaviors acceptable.

Although we consider ourselves an evolved society we are not far removed from activity like the above hazings being the norm. Within the last hundred years:
  • We have denied the vote and other rights based on race in the USA.
  • Japan has decided leadership based on lineage.
  • Europeans were murdered en mass on the basis of religion.
  • Women are guaranteed the right to vote via the 19th Amendment in the USA. 
Creating an environment that does not allow the perpetration of physical or mental abuse on another human must be built on an individual basis, so... You do not have the right to beat, taunt or humiliate your spouse, child, employee or colleague. Ever. Similarly, you do not have the right to allow yourself to be beaten, taunted, insulted or treated as less than an equal by anyone. Ever.
Think for yourself. 
It's the singular path to a better tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It Must Be A Secret.

This past weekend I was helping my wife pay bills. We pay most bills online, but for some reason our account does not play nicely with two of our utilities. I regularly sacrifice 10 minutes of my life monthly to pay these two utility bills by phone.
source: Wikipedia
For some reason that defies explanation, I was listening closely while paying the bill for the utility that might rhyme with Eye-Corp. Eye-Corp outsources their pay-by-phone to a service agency with a name like MBP. MBP is owned by the the equity division of a financial services firm whose name isn't KQ Noggin Catch. But I digress. When I opt to pay by phone I am informed that there will be an additional fee beyond the amount I owe the utility. How much? They didn't say; it must be a secret.  As the service asks how much I want to pay, I am informed there will be an additional amount for using pay by phone. How much? They didn't say; it must be a secret. When asked to approve the final amount, I am finally informed of the charge for using pay by phone.
source: Wikipedia
I'm unsure of the reason for not informing me of the extra charge for pay by phone at the onset of the phone call. I can only assume the service agency is afraid I might hang up when I hear the additional amount for using pay by phone. Here's a tip: If you're doing something you find embarrassing, stop doing it.

Are there any other areas you have discovered that hide charges that should be expressed up front?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekend Magazine: The Mall Parking Lot.

I told you to write down the location.

Three Days?

source: Wikipedia
Today (Saturday) is the last day of the NFL draft. Round 1 was Thursday night, Rounds 2 and 3 were Friday night and rounds 4 through 7 are today. Teams are allowed an extraordinary amount of time to make a selection in Round 1, hence Round 1 gets it's own night. The draft is extended over three days to generate maximum exposure and control of the (sports?) news cycle.

Three days for multi-millionaires to decide which genetic mutants are going to be multi-millionaires and which other genetic mutants are going to have to use their college degree to find a job. But the President (or Governor or Mayor) better finish their speech by kickoff.

The whole world is laughing.
Training camp starts in under 90 days.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

ROL: Order Matters.

ROL is an abbreviation for Return on Life. Return on Life is all about making small incremental changes that yield large returns on life enjoyment. This week's ROL is about applying the proper sequence.
"When in doubt of what to do,
do something."
That's a favorite quote of mine. That fact that it's my quote (although I'm probably not the only one to have ever voiced the thought) doesn't diminish my affection for the quote. Not sure what to do? Do something. It's easier to execute a plan when you are active. Talking with an upset client/customer? Do something. Articulate your thoughts to the customer/client and get it done.
Ready. Aim. Fire.
That's the universal action plan, seemingly forever. "Ready, aim, fire" seems at odds with taking immediate action. To reconcile this potential conundrum, consider the basketball timeout (yes, really, a timeout in basketball).
source:  Wikipedia

A timeout in basketball is at most 60 seconds. The coach has 1 short minute to emphasize, articulate and motivate the players to better execute the game plan. Yet if you notice, the coaches and coaching assistants huddle together before convening with the players. 1 tiny minute for improvement, but a (small) portion of that singular minute is allocated to planning and prioritizing.

Act immediately, but plan first. Order matters.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

That's Okay.

I had two days of contract work this week, Sunday and Monday. I'm a funeral director by trade. I helped a family arrange a funeral on Sunday and returned to direct the funeral on Monday. I met with two sisters, accompanied by their husband's plan a funeral for the women's mother. The deceased had lived into her 90's and the family was prepared. No added shock or grief, rather relief that their mother was no longer in pain.

At the funeral, the older of the daughters took the opportunity to share some memories of her mother. One particular story grabbed my attention:
"Mom always told us we were beautiful, smart and kind. She said that many would want to be our friends. She also said that there would be some that didn't like us...and that's okay."
What a great lesson. What great parenting, empowering children to cope with the inevitable. And it's critical information not only for children, but for adults as well.
There will be people that don't like you...
and that's okay.
Do you agree? Disagree? What other lessons should be learned as children that perhaps don't show (but should) up as adults?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Want It.

As the hockey season was coming to a close for the Chicago Blackhawks, I waxed nostalgic for another lifetime when I was a season ticketholder in the 2nd balcony of the Chicago Stadium. For some reason my thoughts drifted to Steve Larmer.
source: Ice Hockey Wiki

Larmer was drafted 120th overall in 1980 and didn't make the Blackhawks until the 1982/83 season. Despite being a longshot to make the team, Larmer was placed on a line with the 2nd best center of the era (Gretzky was the best), Denis Savard. From the start of that season until his trade in 1993, Larmer never missed a game with the Blackhawks. Larmer exceeded both 1000 points and 1000 games in his career and some believe he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

How did Larmer last so long as a top performer despite not having an exceptional skill set? I remember watching Larmer go in to the corner against two bigger players, yet Larmer came away with the puck. How did that happen? Larmer simply wanted it more. That happened a lot for Larmer. "Wanting it more" took an also ran/afterthought to an outstanding professional career.

The next time you are faced with a challenge, will you "want it more" than the next person? How will you express your desire and what will you do to succeed?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

ROL: In A Moment.

ROL(Return on Life) is the "help improve your life" counterpart of ROI (Return on Investment). Simply stated, ROL suggests incremental changes or activities that can produce major returns toward a better quality of life (QOL). This week's ROL is about what could happen in a moment.

About a week before Passover, I saw something different as a Facebook Post from my friend, Marjorie. The post began "Hi, Dan here and it's going to be me for a while. Marjorie fell down a flight of stairs, fractured her skull and sustained a traumatic brain injury." Dan has been updating Marjorie's stream regularly and results have been mixed. Marjorie is apparently getting better but progress is slow and inconsistent. It's going to be a long road for the family.

Until the fall, it had been a pretty good year for Dan, Marjorie and their daughter Emmy. They moved back to their beloved, adopted hometown in the Midwest after a brief stay on the West Coast. Marjorie had landed a job and was looking forward to gainful employment. Luckily(?) Dan and Marjorie had friends that could take charge of Emmy until grandparents could get into town. I can chart out in my mind what I would do if my wife was severely injured, but I really have no idea how I would move forward if this happened in my family.

Next time you're spitting mad because you didn't get your first choice when the family orders take out, think about my friend Marjorie and her family. I'll bet the dim sum will taste just as good as the egg roll.

Please keep Marjorie, Dan, Emmy and their extended family in your thoughts and prayers.

What about you? Any stories about perspective or reality checks you would care to share?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Better Me.

As part of my ongoing project to be better today than I was yesterday:

I posted in February I was regularly shunning the internet  to be more available to my family. Specifically, I stay away from major online activities nightly after dinner until wakeup the next AM. Occasionally I hop on, when I feel compelled to comment on a post I had read earlier in the day. Sometimes I write a post to stay close to my goal of posting 4-5 times a week when contract work will send me out early in the morning. Without a doubt, unplugging at night has a negative impact on growing my blog and expanding my social media presence. Still, when it comes time to write my eulogy my kids won't say, "He was a cranky jerk who never had time for us, but at least he was a social media ace." My decision to spend evenings attending to my family instead of growing my Twitterverse has been a good one.

I posted in January about adding regular walking to my routine for better overall health. In conjunction with the (not so) regular walking I added a nutrition tacking app to my smartphone last week. The app took some basic statistics and put me on a program to lose some weight. Well actually, a lot of weight. 50+ lbs in 11 months. If successful, I will weigh less than I have since college (perhaps my only fond memory of the Carter presidency). The app has already had the effect of making me think about my food choices as well as actively looking to include physical activity in my daily routine.

What changes have you made recently (or not so recently) to be a better you? Is there anything you would like to reincorporate into your daily routine?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Everybody Needs To Feel Sexy.

I am an unabashed fan of the NBC series "Harry's Law". Kathy Bates plays attorney Harriet "Harry" Korn. Harry loses her job in the patent department of a hot-shot Cincinnati law firm. On her path to redemption and meaning, Harry opens a firm in a two-story building in a seedy neighborhood in Cincinnati. The law firm shares the building with a fully functional shoe store that came with the building. If you are familiar with the implausible twists and turns that occur in a David E. Kelley dramedy, you have an idea of the weekly plot development. If you aren't a Kelley regular (or semi-regular) I can't explain it.
source: Mostly Posters

In Sunday's episode "The Contest", Harry is goaded into a silly bet with her former firm. Despite being understaffed and out-clouted, Harry bets over $3 million that her firm will win the local "hot lawyer" charity fundraiser. Harry realizes the bet is beyond silly and is in fact highly reckless. If Harry loses the bet, the firm itself might be forfeit. In a conversation with the firm's senior associate, Harry lists a number of start-up high profile firms that have come and gone. Harry ruminates about her firm's success in court without notice. Harry continues that her firm is beyond plebian, her firm is in fact hot. Harry concludes that despite her age, crankiness and height/weight ratio challenges she is indeed sexy and needs to feel sexy; therefore the bet. It's TV, so in the end the "Law Offices of Harry Korn" prevail, as usual.

Kathy Bates is an extraordinary actress that takes on roles with the ease of putting on a bathrobe. As Kathy Bates, she comes across as intelligent, dignified and professional. Physically, Kathy Bates will never be confused with the artwork that adorns this blog (highlights from my youth). Still, Harry is right. There are qualities beyond looks (and money) that are indeed "hot". Everybody needs to feel sexy. Maybe not every minute of every day, but everyone does need their time in the "white hot" spotlight.

What do you do to feel sexy? How do you help a friend, spouse or partner achieve the feeling of sexy?

Friday, April 13, 2012

ROL: It's Just Stuff.

ROL (Return on Life) is derived from the metric ROI (Return on Investment). Just as changes (hopefully small) to investment increase profitability (hopefully disproportionately larger than the increase in investment), small incremental changes in behavior can greatly increase QOL (Quality of Life). This week's ROI is about stuff.

Monday was a day of contract work. Monday was also part of the seemingly endless spring break for my kids. Work is about 70 miles away. I take the kids to Grandma and Grandpa, about halfway to work. On the way home from the Grands, we saw black smoke in the sky. I thought one of the local farms was doing a seasonal burn, but the winds seemed way too high and gusty for a land burn. As we approached our subdivision, it was obvious the smoke wasn't from a land burn. Luckily for my family, all the activity was two blocks away.
April, 10, 2012
The fire chief estimated the damage to the house at over $150,000 including the loss of personal property. My wife and I think the fire chief is at least $100,000 short. The siding on both neighboring houses also buckled and will need to be replaced.

When the fire started, the owner of the house and her two dogs were on the back deck. There were no injuries to the owner, her dogs, the neighbors or the fire fighters. Once the fire started, no injuries to anyone is the only outcome required.

When a family heirloom, a car or even a small kitchen utensil is broken, it can be very frustrating. Sometimes, the loss of property can go beyond frustrating and be a monumental pain in the neck. But in the end, it's just stuff.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Shifting Trends In Blogging.

Last week I found some time to go to my reader. I read posts from friends Marya and Margie Clayman, back to back. Marya commented that the latest trend in blogging is to blow everything up. Margie questioned whether Margie had anything to blow up. Oh, crap.

Not "oh, crap" to their thoughts. More like "oh, crap" to concern for what the experts are/aren't doing now. Who cares what the experts say (thanks to friend  Pam for her post)?

Many of the bloggerazzi are going to convince you that you must do this or have to avoid that if you desire success. These bleating voices are trying to establish credibility by predicting a trend (that might come to fruition, or not) or creating a trend by sending followers in a certain direction. Take these suggestions with a grain of salt. One size never fits all. One size only fits the designer.

Social media (blogging is a form of social media) is merely another form of networking. Networking is nothing more (and nothing less) than engaging with others. Just because social media doesn't require deodorant, mouthwash or clothes doesn't mean the rules of engagement change. It is that simple. Don't make it complicated.

Is there anything you see in the world of social media that wouldn't work at a face to face get together?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Holy Weekend.

Easter Sunday and the beginning festival days of Passover occur together this weekend. Given that both holidays seem to be conveniently set around the vernal equinox, Easter and Passover often  fall together. I am intrigued that both religions (disclosure: I'm a practicing Jew) claim a singular path to truth, yet if either are right, one religion must be wrong.

source: Wikipedia
A while back, my friend Victoria G. Marshall posted George Carlin's thoughts on God's most favored nations. Hint: Carlin doesn't think the God he doesn't believe in picks favorites. Like Carlin, my father in law is an atheist. My father in law, Cary claims his atheism because "too many people have died in the name of God." I have to grant Cary that point.

I believe the overwhelming majority of adherents to any of the world's religions are tolerant and inclusive. I believe there exists a virulent, parochial, exclusive and vocal minority within most religions which incorrectly claims to speak for all followers. I believe most follow religion as a path to enlightenment and tolerance. I believe that although I seek that path as a religion specific monotheist, others can find their path through a different religion or atheism, paganism, agnosticism or as a Wiccan. Belief is great, but it is each individuals acts that seals the deal.

I wish all celebrating Passover or Easter a weekend of meaning, clarity, enlightenment and tolerance. I wish everybody else the same for their weekend.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

ROL: (Re)Opening Day.

ROL (Return On Life) is about engaging in small incremental changes that can have a large positive impact on living life. It is a non-quantitative adaptation of the financial measure ROI (return on investment). This week's ROL is about Opening Day.

source: Wikipedia
This is usually one the best sports weeks of the year. College basketball crowns a champion and the baseball season begins. When Kentucky won the basketball championship Monday night, commentators remarked that Kentucky hadn't won the NCAA b-ball tourney since 1998. Wow, 1998. The last time the Cubs won the World Series, the great grandparents of the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats basketball team hadn't winked at each other yet.

Opening Day. It really does sound regal. Opening Day teaches that no matter what has happened in the past, everything starts fresh. Even if you haven't won a championship in over a century, you have the same opportunity as everyone else to excel. Opening Day also reminds champions that effort is required to remain a champion. Start coasting and pretty soon your long term record is Cub-like (well, maybe not so soon, but do you really want the success rate of the Cubs?)

Life is full of start over opportunities. Pay attention. Act accordingly.

Spring hopes eternal.

Carpe diem.

Where do restart buttons appear in your life? How do you recognize a start again opportunity?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Passover Puzzle Piece.

April is Autism Awareness Month. My son Mario has Asperger's Syndrome, placing Mario somewhere on the autism spectrum. One of the many characteristics of an Aspie is extreme rigidity in routine. Aspies can be extremely challenged when  encountering change. The onset of Passover this Friday night will present multiple challenges for Mario and his food routine.

source: Wikipedia
It took a while, but Mario finally got settled in a good breakfast routine. An egg (either scrambled or hard boiled), oatmeal and another starch (usually pancakes or waffles). We don't eat bread or bread-like starches on Passover. For Mario this means no oatmeal, pancakes or waffles for the week of Passover. Additionally, Mario's favorite (daily?) lunch is a PBJ sandwich. Sandwich and Passover go together like... the Cubs and the World Series (opening day is Thursday). Yes, there is matzah. A talented surgeon with the world's most trained hands will merely cripple a sheet of matzah while applying butter. For an Aspie, buttering r nprayers amatzah will likely lead to a crumb encrusted meltdown. There are plenty of foods available, but the only spectrum that applies to Mario is the autism spectrum.

source: Super Mario Wiki
I know how it sounds when parents whine about their lot in life. I love my son and wouldn't trade his challenges for another's challenges. Still, the prospects of a Breakfast Battle Royale with the potential of a redo the next day are daunting. We will survive, as will our Passover traditions. Mario, on the other hand may have a tough week.
Your Help.
My friend Marjorie fell down some stairs and susatined some significant injuries. Please keep Marjorie and her family in your prayers and thoughts.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Untinted Lense.

There is a growing undercurrent that suggests calls for the prosecution of George Zimmerman are race related. In an effort to provide clarity why not retell the details, withholding race?

An armed volunteer member of a neighborhood watch in Sanford, FL spots a stranger in his subdivision. The watch member reports the stranger to 911. The watch member follows the stranger. The watch member is driving his truck while the stranger is on foot. Despite the 911 operator's direction to stand down, the watch member continues to follow the stranger. Fearing for his own safety, the watch member shoots and kills the stranger. The stranger, as it turns out is 17 years old and unarmed, carrying only Skittles, an iced tea and a cell phone. After a cursory police examination the watch member is sent home and the stranger is sent to the morgue.

I'm always disturbed when someone armed injures (kills?) someone that has no weapons.  Your thoughts?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weekend Magazine: Clarity Is Key.

In retrospect, using "a big thick gold chain" as an example of swag was a too imprecise representation of what I hoped to receive.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

ROL: Sometimes, It Just Sucks.

ROL (Return on Life) is a self designated qualitative measure based on the quantitative metric, ROI (Return on Investment). ROI is maximized when small investments provide whopping returns. ROL is maximized when small incremental lifestyle changes provide exceptional enhancement in one's QOL (Quality of Life). This week's ROL is about acknowledging and reacting to tough times.
As A Job.
"I don't know how you do your job. I couldn't do your job and I wouldn't want to do your job for anything." As a funeral director, I hear that frequently. I have a prepared answer. "I know my limitations. I know I can't do the one thing the family I'm serving wants me to do. The family wants me to restore their loved one not just to life, but to a vigorous healthy life. I know I can't do that, so I stay within my limitations." I know it's vital to maintain my composure and help the family plan the funeral. Maintaining my composure allows the family to lose their composure. Still, sometimes it just sucks.
Doing The Job.
This week I helped a friend by directing a funeral. The deceased was my age, survived by his wife and 20 month old daughter, his parents, a sister and her husband. He was predeceased by another sister and her husband, both within the last few months. Sometimes, it just sucks.
Not Even On The Job.
Sometimes, it just sucks. It doesn't have to be as bone numbing sad as the example above. Consider the twice a year (for a good reason) dinner with relatives. Sometimes, it just sucks and it's impossible to make it any better. But it is possible to keep it from getting any worse. And when keeping things from getting any worse is all that can be done, it's doing alot.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sufficient Tragedy.

The death of Trayvon Martin has provided the USA with tragedies galore. I would like to offer my thoughts on just 3 of the tragedies:
source: abc News
The Killed.
Trayvon Martin goes out to the local convenience store to buy some Skittles and an iced tea. Trayvon Martin never comes home again. Compounding this simple tragedy, Trayvon Martin was killed by a bullet. The bullet that killed Trayvon Martin was intended for Trayvon Martin even though all Tryavon Martin was carrying were Skittles, an iced tea and a cell phone. His family will not be able to eventually take solace that his death was an unlucky random occurrence. The nature of Trayvon Martin's death does not allow his friends or family to grieve and (hopefully) heal in private.
source: The Miami Herald
The Shooter.
George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. (I am not neutral about Mr. Zimmerman. I am pleased Mr. Zimmerman lives in another neighborhood, in a different state. I wouldn't want him to watch a dead rat, let alone my neighborhood. Still, the purpose of this post is not to talk about Mr. Zimmerman's actions.) Whenever the "stand your ground" law, Trayvon Martin or a confrontation with a neighborhood watch are mentioned, George Zimmerman will be mentioned next. Should an investigation determine Mr. Zimmerman could and should have avoided the shooting, the effect on his life and his family's life is no less tragic.
source: Yahoo! News
The Journalist?
I haven't considered Geraldo Rivera much of a journalist since Al Capone's vault. As someone with over 30 years of experience, Riveria should be beyond embarrassed for suggesting that Trayvon Martin's wardrobe (hoodie)  led to Trayvon Martin being shot. No matter Rivera's belief about the efficacy of "stand your ground" or Zimmerman's innocence, blaming a 17 year old for dressing like a 17 year old contributes to the dumbing down of the public. Rivera's subsequent apology can't stuff the genie back in the bottle. The tragedy here? Someone somewhere agreed Riveria: Trayvon Martin contributed to his own shooting by wearing a hoodie.
Little Suzy and I were sitting in my car, waiting for the school bus. As usual, I was listening to the news. When the news conversation turned to hoodies, shootings and dead kids, I turned off the radio. Suzy asked, "Daddy what was so bad that your turned off the radio"? It wasn't a tragedy that I couldn't offer a good explanation, but it still made me sad.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weekend Magazine: May? Flowers.

March 24, 2012

I don't know if my (wife's) tulips blooming in the third week of March is a good thing or bad thing. 
Either way, I'm just going to enjoy the blooming tulips.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


source: Sue
Tuesday, March 20 was the vernal equinox of 2012. My friend Pamela Morse offered this great post and my friend Sue took a really cool picture.

Consider the egg for a moment: A fragile shell protecting life sustaining substance or life substance itself. On the equinox, a day with exactly the same amount of dark and light in our world, there is such balance that the egg can be stood on end without putting the egg's interior in danger.

Such is the power of balance.

Here's wishing all six months of equinox. 
Happy weekend. 

ROL: Be Yourself.

ROL is an abbreviation of the words Return on Life. ROL is the "live a fuller life" counterpart of the financial measure ROI. The concept of ROL is to make small, simple, incremental life changes that have to potential to pay off big time. This week's ROL is about being yourself.
source: Wikipedia
I Want To Be Your President.
Willard Mitt Romney is running for the Republican nomination to oppose President Barack Obama in the 2012 election for President of the USA. Mr. Romney has a well funded and well organized campaign organization. None the less,  Mr. Romney appears to be challenged connecting with the electorate. Mr. Romney is extremely rich and seems uncomfortable with his wealth.
Used His Resources.
Mitt Romney's father, George Romney was the chairman of American Motors Corp. and a former Governor of Michigan. George Romney was also in the running for 1964 Republican nomination to run for President on The USA, eventually dropping out of the race. Mitt Romney made good use of his privileged birth, graduating from Brigham Young University and earning a joint JD and MBA from Harvard. Mitt Romney entered management consulting and eventually became CEO of Bain Capital. Whatever wealth the Romney family may have had, Mitt Romney has substantially increased that wealth. Mitt Romney is an American success story.
One Of You?
Mitt Romney continually appears uncomfortable with his wealth. Examples include:
  • Offering to wager $10,000 with Gov. Rick Perry during a publicly televised debate.
  • While attending the Daytona 500, Mr. Romney offered "I have friends who own NASCAR teams."
  • When asked about Peyton Manning leaving the Indianapolis Colts, Mr. Romney said, "I've got a lot of good friends-the owner of the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets-both owners are friends of mine."
In all three cases the press has used the quotes to suggest Mr. Romney is out of touch. In all three cases Mr. Romney has really not offered a response to the criticism.
Embrace Self-Wealth.
Mr. Romney is failing to be true to who he is. Whenever his personal fortune is suggested to be a liability, Mr. Romney should embrace his wealth. For example: "Yes I'm rich. I was born into opportunity and made the most of it, unlike many others (picture of Paris Hilton). I am friends with my peers, who also happen to be rich. As President, it would be my goal to create an environment where anyone that wishes could exceed the accomplishments of his/her parents." And poof, no more pot shots (without an answer).

We all are who we are and none of us can escape who we are. Trying to be different than ourselves comes across stiff and disingenuous. Even when you're a multi-millionaire.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Faith On Display.

Last week my wife had taken a week off of work before starting a new job. At her "request" I accompanied her on a search for a few inexpensive accents to lighten up our family room decor. I believe she "invited" me to accompany her on this journey to make the end of week dental appointment enjoyable in comparison. In one store I saw plastic lawn crosses with "He Is Risen"  printed on the cross, available for sale. I don't get it.

I understand "He Is Risen" is a theme (perhaps the theme) of Easter. I understand that providing testimony and spreading the Gospel is an inherent part of worship for some Christians. I understand I have Orthodox Jewish friends with long beards, earlocks and  prayer shawl fringes in daily dress as part of their religious practice, yet I didn't post on their worship.  Still, I don't get it.

source: Amazon
Isn't there a better way to spread the Gospel? Volunteering at a (fill in the blank) is less expensive than a plastic lawn cross, an embodiment of charity and a chance to reach out on a one to one basis.  And after lawn crosses, can I look forward to a garage projection resurrection?

Am I being (too) judgmental? Am I overstating the situation? Am I demeaning someone's faith? If so, I apologize. Please leave a comment and help me view these lawn crosses in proper perspective.

Monday, March 19, 2012


source: morgueFile
We're having a run of unseasonably wonderful weather. Yesterday's high temperature was upper70's/low 80's. It was warm in the sunshine but with a slight breeze blowing, the shade was just cool enough to perfectly compensate for the heat in the sun. It wasn't just a great day for Mid-March, it was a great day for May or June or August or October. People pay to live in a climate with weather like yesterday. What a glorious day!
As sometimes happens, I was asked to assist a friend by directing a funeral. The deceased lived into her 9th decade, seeing college graduations and marriages from her grandchildren.The family was supported by extended family and long time friends. I'm sure the family was relieved not dealing with rain, wind or cold as they said a final farewell to their loved one. Still, I don't think the family will ever describe yesterday as glorious.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

ROL: Heed A Warning.

ROL is an abbreviation for Return on Life. Return on Life is all about making small incremental changes that yield large returns on life enjoyment. This week's ROL is about heeding a warning.
source: morgueFilecom

Emperor: "Hey Brutus, I was working the rope line outside the forum and the strangest thing happened. A guy in a conical hat"
      Brutus: "What was so funny about his hat?"
Emperor: "Conical, not comical. Save that shtick for the Senate. Anyway, this guy with a long beard and a cone shaped hat warned me about the rides of March. Is there a carnival fund raiser in March?"
      Brutus: "No carnival. He must have said Ides of... No worries Emperor Caesar. He's just another moon gazer."

It's important to pay attention to the signs all around. When offered a warning, pay attention and fully evaluate all the potential danger before merely dismissing the warning.  Listening to a warning, even from outside a circle of intimates could be a life changing choice.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gracie's Birthday.

My neighbor, Union Jack says, "I don't understand people that humanize pets. Yes, pets are part of the family but pets are still animals." I understand Union Jack's point.

Candy was born at the Beagle Barn, near Joliet, IL on March 13, 2007. At the time, Mario was 7, just diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and Little Suzy was barely 3. We chose a beagle for a beagle's size and temperament with kids. We chose a purebred over a shelter dog because given our kids, we needed a dog of certain lineage. We chose The Beagle Barn because the pups were raised in the house, around a family with a family's foibles. We wanted a dog because given my Aspie's inability to make friends we wanted Mario to have a best friend. Candy was "Mario's dog" but Mommy always wanted a dog named Gracie. Mario decided we should name our dog Gracie, but retain Gracie's birth name Candy as Gracie's middle name. That's how Gracie Candy Silver became a part of our family.

Gracie slept thru the 1st night at our house and has been sleeping through the night ever since. Whenever the kids come home from school, Gracie greets the kids audibly and doesn't stop until the kids say hi to her. Gracie has been licking my face and head since her 2nd day with us and hasn't stopped (except for meals and naps). As Mario has gotten older, Gracie has taken to giving Mario a frequent tonguebath as well. Most importantly Gracie has been and continues to be Mario's best friend.

I agree with Union Jack that it's silly for people to humanize pets. Still, we have to hold off Gracie's birthday party until Saturday. Tomorrow isn't a school day for Gracie, but it is for the kids.

Happy Birthday (and many, many more), Gracie.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

One Thought.

While there is little as boundless as the strength of youthful ardor, nothing replaces knowledge borne of experience. 
Your one thought?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Forward.

This Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 2:00 AM most of the USA will begin Daylight Saving Time. The process of advancing timepieces one hour actually saves nothing, but it does arrange for an additional hour of daylight in the late afternoon/evening. This extra hour of daylight facilitates outdoor activities as the temperatures approaches temperate. Still daylight savings also brings some challenges. For example:
source: morgueFile

  • Those above over the age of (fill in the blank) have more trouble adjusting to the biannual hour shift each year. The additional usable hour of daylight is offset by a feeling of post-intoxication for multiple days.
  • Little Suzy has to catch her school bus before 7 AM daily. It's been nice going to the bus stop at daybreak the last two weeks. Not anymore.
  • Since Little Suzy has to get up very early she needs to go to bed early. During the last few weeks of the school year, I have the privilege of putting her to bed while it's still daylight and her peers are still outside. This will again ruin my hopes of Suzy nominating me for "Father Of The Year", a streak that remains unbroken.
Still, I like daylight saving time if only because it is a first harbinger of spring and warmer weather. Enjoy the weekend, spring is almost here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

ROL: I'm Sorry.

ROL (return on life) is a qualitative corollary to the quantitative metric, ROI (return on investment). Just as ROI strives for incremental investment driving disproportionately large returns, ROL strives for small incremental changes that greatly increase quality of life. This week's ROL is about apologies.

This past week there has been a lot of talk about apologies. If you require a more thorough back story, here's a link. Listening to all the apology talk, I think it's time for a primer on apologies.
source: ABC.OTUS News
When you realize an apology is necessary, here's the formula: "I'm sorry my words/actions hurt you. I did not plan on hurting you. I thought my words/actions indicated (fill in blank) I will be careful in the future to make sure my words/actions are clear. Again, I'm very sorry." That's an apology. "I'm sorry if anyone misunderstood my words/actions and was hurt" is not an apology.

The person receiving the apology says either:
  • "Thank you for your apology. I'm glad you cleared that up" and it's over.
  • "Thank you for your apology but it does not ring true because...." and it's over.
Two final notes about apologies.
  1. A heartfelt apology is one of the best ways to move things forward for both the apologizer and the apologizee.
  2. The only person that should evaluate the efficacy of an apology is the person receiving the apology. Any bystanders are entitled to their opinion about the apology. Said opinion is best expressed silently.
"I am sorry" are three very powerful and healing words when used appropriately. Lather, rinse, repeat, as often as necessary.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Zealot's Dilemma.

As the nomination process for the Republican candidate for President continues, a question looms larger every day. What is Rick Santorum going to do?
source: Wikipedia

To clarify, how will Rick Santorum choose a running mate if he wins the Republican nomination for President? Conventional wisdom is to choose a running mate to help balance the ticket. For example, in the 2008 Presidential election, the Republicans selected a cranky old man from the southwest and balanced him with a mean spirited woman from the northwest. Okay, that's not a great example but the concept is clear.

Santorum is both a fiscal and social conservative. Their is no room to budge as a fiscal conservative because the less tax crowd is also the "money to run the campaign" crowd. Their appears to be no room to move as a social conservative, either. In severely criticizing the speech of candidate John F. Kennedy on the separation of faith and governance, Santorum has made his own stance on personal faith and public policy clear. I'm not criticizing (at least today) Sen. Santorum on his mix of faith and government, but should he earn the GOP nomination for President he will face a tough choice: Either choose a running mate for balance and compromise his public stance on belief and governing, or choose a running mate that mirrors his beliefs and lose the election.

Many have been faced with a similar dilemma. Compromise on strong (ultimate) principals for gain or maintain strong principles and fail. What would you choose?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Weekend Magazine: Little Boxes.

When builders attempt to build as many houses as possible, as cheaply as possible, these are the results.
There is a movement afoot to educate as many children as possible as cheaply as possible.
Any predictions about the results?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Old Business Revisited.

Are You Ready?
I posted in September about the national embarrassment of a local Green Bay affiliate not covering President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress in lieu of the pregame coverage of the opening game of the NFL season. In order to avoid the same "schedule conflict" the NFL and the Democratic National Committee have put their heads together (I fear without the resounding loud crack that would have been so satisfying). The NFL will begin the 2012 championship season on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 to avoid President Obama's to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, September 6, 2012. The fact that this shift is even news is troubling. Still a small victory is a victory nonetheless.
No 'Bots About It.
I posted in mid-February about the plethora of pornbots on Twitter and Tabitha Fung's campaign to get pornbots banned from Twitter. The pornbots have adapted. The latest generation have an account with tweets containing an innocuous quote, but the link in the description is always porn. If you haven't signed the petition yet, please lend your support.
Stretching My Legs.
I posted in January about my commitment to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's "Walk Across Illinois" program. It became apparent immediately that my normal day to day walking would complete this challenge by August. Not only isn't that much of a challenge, it doesn't really do anything additional for my good health. As so often happens, life circumstances provide an answer.

We found out from Little Suzy's pediatrician that Little Suzy's weight was out of ratio with her height, enough to require action. So now, when Suzy comes home from  school we go for a walk, weather and schedule permitting. Suzy has even joined the"Walk Across Illinois" challenge with me. So far, we've walked 5 miles together, leaving 162 miles to complete the challenge. That's not a lot of miles walked, but it's still winter in the Midwest.
Thank You.
Thanks for spending to take some time to read my little blog. Let me know what you think and have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

ROL: Nobody Beats You.

ROL(Return on Life) is the "help improve your life" counterpart of ROI (Return on Investment). Simply stated, ROL suggests incremental changes or activities that can produce major returns toward a better quality of life (QOL). This week's ROL is about your personal touch.

Illinois primary election day is in less than 3 weeks. I have already received 5 phone calls regarding the upcoming election. All calls we're regarding the open Illinois State Senate seat in District 34. 4 calls were regarding 1 candidate, requesting my support. The other call was from a candidate asking for my support.

I will be voting on March 20th, but only once despite my Chicago roots. I still haven't decided who will get my vote for the Illinois State Senate. I had been leaning toward the candidate whose volunteers called me 4 times. But the candidate that called me personally grabbed my attention and will get my consideration. His personal phone call had the appropriate effect.

I'm not against email, texting, Tweeting, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates. There is something special about a personal phone call, thank you note (handwritten) or visit. When I get all of you not just a piece of you, I am impressed and I will listen.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sweet Of Milk?

I was wandering through the cereal aisle at Big Box Mart when I saw a brand new product, Dulce de leche Cheerios. My initial thought was, really?

The first time I learned of dulce de leche was in "Guys and Dolls".
(Yes, that's a young and healthy Marlon Brando. Later he sings and dances during "Luck Be A Lady". Nostalgia.) Dulce de leche has more uses and meanings than a tool for getting a teetotaler drunk. Still, I'm not only skeptical, I'm a bit bothered by Dulce de Leche Cheerios.

I have no gripes with GM (Mills, not Motors) nor with their marketing department. I'm just weary of over the top hype. "Get rich with no effort", "Eat all you want and lose weight", "Tastes just like the real thing", "Oatie circles that taste like dulce de leche".

It's been a challenging few years and it doesn't appear to be over. Simple and straight forward wording will go a long way to aiding in a world wide recovery.

Can anyone help me gain some perspective?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The One Must-Have Twitter Tool.

Way, way back in November, 2009 (Nov. 30th to be exact) I joined Twitter. Early on, I realized Twitter was a very powerful tool, a tool that I would need some help in harnessing. In January, 2010 I purchased two books about Twitter. The first, "Twitter Marketing An Hour A Day" by Hollis Thomases was a tremendous help and led me to my 1st tribe, the HTArmy. The other book was the pocket version of "Twitter for Dummies".

One of the authors of "Twitter for Dummies" is Laura Fitton. I'm sure there are people that know Laura as Laura, but I know Laura by perhaps the best Twitter handle ever, @pistachio. My connection with @pistachio led me to her start-up, was an indispensable tool. The catalog of Twitter apps (with reviews) helped me pick and choose the tools that directed my Twitter account. I must have only scratched the surface of because was purchased by Hubspot in mid-2011. Hubspot had synergies with but decided to not invest resources in the Twitter apps compilation. What's a Twitterphile to do?

Not to worry. With the support of Hubspot and in the spirit of @pistachio and her team, Socdir is here to fill the void.  When you have a chance, check out Socdir. Want to fine tune your Twitter experience? Check out Socdir. Take a moment and bookmark Socdir. It's the one must-have Twitter tool.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekend Magazine: Clarification Needed?

Oasis, DesPlaines, IL
Was there concern that users would be confused by liquid waste vs. solid waste or by #1 vs. #2?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

ROL: Confirm Terms.

ROL (Return On Life) is a soft measurement for lifestyle comparable to the hard marketing measurement, ROI (Return on Investment). ROL addresses small or simple life changes that can greatly improve quality of life. This week's ROL is about speaking the same language.
Saturday Stuff.
I had a long to-do list for last Saturday. The primary item on Saturday's to-do list was to take Little Suzy to the library to get a biography for an oral book report. Usually, when I have to take Little Suzy somewhere, Mario (my son) prefers to stay home for unfettered Wii and all things Mario (the plumber). I always ask Mario if he wants to come with, knowing the answer is usually no. Much to my surprise, Mario said "OK, We're going to the public library, right?" "Yes, Mario. We're going to the public library".
Not That Library.
I briefed the kids about a stop at Big Box Mart before going the library. When we arrived at Big Box Mart, Mario said "Dad, I don't want to go in. Can I start walking and meet you at the library?".
"Mario, the library is 5 miles away. You can't walk to the library.", I replied.
     Mario responded, "NO, the library is just down the street."
"Mario, we're going to the library on 2nd Street.", I answered.
North Suburban Branch Library, Loves Park, IL

     Angrily, Mario said, "YOU said we were going to the public library. The library on 2nd Street is the North Suburban Library."
"Mario, they're all public libraries. The library on 2nd Street is the North Suburban Branch of the public library.", I answered.
    Mario ended the conversation, "Maybe, but that's not what the sign says."
OK, But That's Not The Library You Said.
The whole public library/North Suburban Library conversation may seem like minutiae, but Mario has Asperger's Syndrome.  Aspies are very literal and often inflexible, so to an Aspie, the North Suburban Library is significantly different than the public library. These seemingly insignificant differences can end a day or waste many hours for an Aspie. On this Saturday, Mario rose above it all (after 5 minutes).  A successful library trip and a good day was had by all.
Lesson Learned.
This is a wonderful lesson Aspies can teach the non-Aspie enabled world. It's easy to assume everyone is talking about the same thing, even with simple terms. Simple terms don't necessarily mean similar and certainly don't mean the same terms. Little differences can have major implications and turn good exchanges bad. Taking a moment to confirm terms keeps life simpler and more enjoyable.

Do you have any examples of finding out something you said was heard differently than it was intended? How did everything turn out?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Puzzlement.

Driving around on Tuesday, I was listening to WSCR-AM, the Chicagoland sports talker.  Each time the hosts mentioned Twitter, they followed with "I mean a social network". The hosts indicated they would explain these corrections later.
source: Wikipedia
I also happened to be listening when the hosts cleared up the "Twitter, I mean social network" statement. CBS which owns WSCR-AM (among other outlets) sent out a memo directing on-air talent to not reference their Twitter handle. Quoting the memo, the hosts relayed "Twitter is the pipeline, our content is the product" or translated "Only reference the station website to avoid building any brand other than CBS and sponsors".

Ignoring the potential social media marketing disaster (experts can break that down better than me) I am still left with a question. I don't think corporations make decisions based on stupidity, I think corporations make decisions based on greed (I mean decisions based on maximizing shareholder wealth). Therefore, I don't understand the directive to not mention Twitter. What could make a corporation  happier than a cadre of on-air talent building the company brand even when the talent isn't on air? That's free labor, and corporations love free labor. So why the Twitter ban? I think either CBS is concerned about complaints from sponsors (why do we pay for advertising and Twitter doesn't) or CBS is scared the talent will build a loyal following that is portable. A portable and dedicated audience for the talent means the non-compete clause that keeps radio hosts off air between jobs means less. That transfers power (and $$$) to the hired help and corporations hate that.

So was the "no Twitter mentions" directive driven by sponsor complaints, management anxiety or my need for a topic? Have you encountered other examples of insecurity driving bad policy? How did that make you feel?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hold Your Horses.

While watching my Smartphone news stream on Sunday, I found this goodie: 
As Apple and Microsoft unite mobile and desktop, where will Android go?
The article discussed the intertwining of Apple and Microsoft desktop and mobile with the upcoming Windows 8 and OS X Mountain Lion. All I could think was "What's your hurry?"

The marriage of Microsoft and Apple reminds me of such arrangements between European monarchs to consolidate power. How did that eventually workout? (Hint: democracy) Ignoring my snark, isn't it a bit early to suggest the demise of Android? Win8 and Mountain Lion aren't even out yet. Shouldn't viability questions be still until all parties are operational?

I'm tired of business (and frankly everything else) being reported with Enquirer-like eagerness. Isn't it time to let the news speak for itself and leave speculation behind? How do you feel? Any examples of reporting jumping the gun? Or perhaps you formed an opinion in your own life that was premature and incorrect? Share with the class.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sign On, Please.

Over the past six weeks I have acquired a number of unwanted Twitter followers. These followers share similar characteristics:
  • The avatar includes a provocative, well endowed women. Sometimes the avatar includes two similar women. Sometimes these two women are embracing.
  • The @handle includes and 'X' in the middle.
  • The account rarely has any followers and often hasn't tweeted.
  • The account description is often NSFW.
These accounts are pornbots.

When I encounter these accounts (usually multiple times daily) I curse and tag these accounts as spam. But now someone is doing something.

Tabitha Fung has started a petition at The petition asks Twitter to ban pornbots. Please be aware the request is not about bots, that's another discussion. The ban is also not about porn because that too is another discussion. The petition is to keep Twitter users (including children) from having multiple, daily, automated porn related followers. It really is that simple. So please take a moment to sign the petition and maybe even pass the petition to your friends. Thanks for your help.