Monday, December 22, 2008

Scrub your Facebook and LinkedIn Friends!

I just got around to reading Bill Ayers' (you know, William Ayers, the supposed terrorist friend of Barack Obama) NY Times, December 6th, Op-Ed article. In his article he details his lack of relationship with President-Elect Obama and goes on to say, "President-Elect Obama and I sat on a board together; we lived in the same diverse and yet close-knit community; we sometimes passed in the bookstore. We didn't pal around, and I had nothing to do with his positions. I knew him as well as thousands of others did, and like millions of others, I wish I knew him better". As I read his piece and heard him say, "Demonization, guilt by association and the politics of fear did not triumph, not this time", it made me think about the associations that we make throughout our lives that could come back to haunt us, even though they were innocent at the time. What is different than the past and if we fast forward to the future will be the scouring of our Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks of the future to see who our "friends" are and trying to use that against us? Will the next Presidential candidate have to account for all of the millions of friends that they have accumulated or do we need to now start thinking about who we let in our friend networks or not? I casually accept just about everyone who asks to be my friend on Facebook and LinkedIn. I don't pay attention to my MySpace page anymore as it got too cumbersome rejecting one named women who were significantly younger than me. But for Facebook and LinkedIn, who are both better controlled for spam, I tend to trust that because someone knows someone else or I might have tangentially known them in the past that I let them in. But, I have no way of knowing that someone I went to college with hasn't turned into a subversive type. How would I know what secret clubs and societies they belong? And, especially I would have no idea what activities they have financed overseas on those annual vacation trips out of the country. I just accepted a friend on Facebook who I worked with early on a Frito-Lay back in 1986. He was a little wild and crazy back then but it is hard to tell now. His profile picture has him surrounded by five children who all look like him, but how am I to know that these aren't genetically engineered offspring to throw me off and never have me suspect that he is a spy for a terrorist faction? It really is hard to tell these days. Now, that Bill Ayers guy, are we really sure that when they passed in the bookstores they weren't passing secret code books between he and President-Elect Obama? Sounds like we all should just accept that we are guilty by association until proven innocent and just go ahead and have as many friends as we want because it is going to come up some time no matter what.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

“Recession” or a “Compression”?

One of the first things I ever learned about taking care of myself or someone else in a medical emergency was to apply pressure and try to compress the wound. I remember hearing as a kid growing up for all kinds of hurts, “put a compress on it”. Lately, I have been thinking that this is exactly what is happening in our economic situation. While the government is trying to get its act together on what it should do, we, the American consumers, are taking the only action we know to do when something is hemorrhaging. That is, to compress the wound. It is what we are doing with locking down our spending, sewing our pockets shut on investments, and pushing down hard on anything that seems frivolous or not necessary. And we are very, very afraid to take the pressure off for fear that the spurting will start all over again and we certainly can’t afford to lose any more of anything. So, I would put forward that we are in a Compression and that unless the government comes out and starts talking to each of us on how to manage during these times of uncertainty that we will not take the pressure off and consumer spending will continue to wither. When we said we were in a Recession, the powers to be failed to give us our instructions on how to manage through a Recession. Left to our own devices and thinking we are all only doing what we know and falling back on the little we know on how to manage. I don’t know about you, but I would be glad to see a First-Aid kit as soon as possible because I don’t like this pressured feeling and I wonder what happens if I keep this pressure on like this too long. I seem to remember something about too much pressure too long on a wound that doesn’t want to heal on its own will get worse and worse without blood flow. The similarities are just too frightening for me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oh, Those Names and Acronyms We Choose

Those who know me know that I love nothing more than a joke or a one-liner that turns a word or a sentence into something else funny. My college friend Todd got so accustomed to it, that he could see them coming a mile away. As such, I am a cynic and many times a critic of naming conventions and acronyms. I go back to the days when Chevy released the Nova into Latin America. It was heard as "no go" (Should we have not seen GM’s problems even then?)I also cringed when I heard a United Airlines flight attendant say that their low-cost airline “Ted” was just “United without the U and I”. It also seems everything has to have an acronym or somebody doesn’t feel like they have done their job. American politics and programs are littered with acronyms and made up names, Fannies, Freddies, PACs, ACORNs, etc, etc. The most recent example that makes me giggle is T.A.R.P. Did the Treasury Department really need to come up with this and do they think that it makes me as a consumer feel any better about the program? I could argue that once again, someone wasn’t thinking. What does a tarp represent to most people? Yes, it is a temporary cover or shelter, which I can see where they were going with this, but for me a tarp is vulnerable and susceptible to strong winds and other flying foreign objects. It is only as effective as the stakes or lines that secure it in place and more often than not when we have to use a tarp we are worried about it blowing away and it does nothing but cause us more problems because we can't, or choose not to, fix the root problem. Maybe that is what TARP is supposed to do, but I know that its connotation has held up already that when the winds starting blowing differently about how to use the bailout monies, that Secretary Paulson was quick to change directions and stop buying loans and debt and instead focus on purchasing bank equities. Personally, I would have preferred not a TARP but rather a ROOF (Restructuring Of Opportunistic Financials) or a FLOOR (Federal Legislation Offering Opportunity & Restructuring) or maybe even some OOMPHS (Organization Offering Orderly Permanent Housing Solutions), and even better than a TARP would be the HAIL MARY! (Housing And Ill-Fated Loan Management And Restructuring, Yes-sir!). For the time being though, we have a TARP and as the USS TODAY said in last week's editorial, “Give TARP a Chance”. Sagging and blowing, hopefully not leaking, yes give TARP a chance.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Area of Growth!

It seems everywhere I turn I am hearing and seeing the shrinking of people who are leaving their homes to go to the theater, museums, ballets, operas, concerts, movies, sporting events, etc. It seems like leaving the house, and the associated costs of that trip, has become beyond discretionary, it has become prohibitive to many, if not most.

I sit on a number of non-profit arts and entertainment Boards and support other non-profit organizations so I see it first-hand. The thing call “subscribing” seems to be becoming a relic activity. And, getting people out to attend events, even when they are free, has become such a chore that organizations are shuttering these events and venues to save the productivity and overhead costs. So, it looks like an overall shrinking of audience, except in one place that I see. That is our church. For the past month plus, we have been seeing record number of attendees. These past couple of weekends, we have had people sitting everywhere we could find to be able and accommodate the crowds. Nothing has changed at the church. We haven’t changed the music or the message. What has changed, I believe, is that people are looking for more meaning in life and that the uncertain economic and world fundamentals are driving people back to their own fundamentals; the baseline quest for, and questioning of meaning and purpose. President-Elect Obama got slaughtered for his comments in San Francisco about what people do when they lose faith in their government and cling to their church and guns. I don’t know about the guns part, but he is more right than wrong about the first part and what is wrong with that? I like to say, “That when the going gets tough, the tough drop to their knees”. I personally, look to God and my faith to carry me in the bad times and I know I am not alone. I suspect that we are on the verge of a spiritual reawakening in America. We saw a short-lived one after 9/11 when people returned to their faith to cope and allay their fears. The same is happening again. I would also suggest that those non-profits and corporations who are looking for how to bring back their consumers find a way to delve and probe into what they can provide to help people feel meaningful and purposeful. At least until we are through the crisis, this will be top of mind.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Stimulus Plan II To Bring Back Consumer Confidence

This surely looks like it is in the works. Stimulus One didn’t work, so let’s try again? In my opinion, if we feel that we need to put the power of stimulus in the hands of the consumer, which seems ill-fated since the first package didn’t work, then we need to provide the consumer with the tools to help right the ship. The two best ideas I have heard of to date, is first to let the consumer help shore up and fix the bank’s liquidity issues so that they will lend again more freely. This could be done by allowing consumers to buy short-term tax-free certificate of deposits from the banks and let the banks compete on what interest rates they will pay. All of those people who pulled their money out of the stock market need a better place than their mattresses to put the money, so give them 3-6-9-12 month tax-free CDs and when those mature the money made from those CDs will roll back into the consumers pocket and will be money to be spent. Part of the consumer confidence issue right now is that I won’t spend because we don’t know what is going to happen with our ability to make any money from our savings and investments. Bang, go remove that worry. Second, to set everything right with the housing market, the government can offer across the board 4% 30-year fixed mortgage rates. Making the interest rate low enough that those who are upside down can refinance and hold onto their homes and know that they are locked into a 30 year low rate mortgage will go further to return consumer confidence than anything else I know. If we no longer have to worry about the roof over our heads, then we may spend again. And, these should be offered to everyone at all levels. Those with wealth can refinance and that extra monthly money freed up will flow back into the economy to buy a car or take a vacation again. And for sure, the banks and lenders should get leeway to charge up on origination fees, etc. This would be a windfall for consumers, so why not let the banks and lending institutions also gain a bit from this. So, Congress, please consider these ideas. Don’t send another $1500 check out. It will only end up sitting in a pass book savings account to pay for heating or pay down credit card debt. Give the American people what they need, a way to regain their confidence. FYI, these ideas are not nearly as big of an idea as putting America back to work with planned infrastructure improvement projects, but since that is trying to eat the elephant/donkey all at once, let’s make some forward steps while we can to at least get true stimulus.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Did Mitt Romney just apply for the “Car Czar” job?

I read with interest this morning’s NY Times editorial from Mitt Romney regarding the auto industry bailout. I must admit that I share many of his sentiments and concerns. The most foundational is the fear that putting more money into the same old system would only result in the same old output. GM’s open letter advertisement, saying, “People don’t think GM has done enough” (which they go on to try and refute) is absolutely true. GM, Chrysler and Ford have not done enough. The people are correct. Romney’s cry that there needs to be more innovation in R&D, Marketing and Labor Relations is dead on. I have always been fascinated with the Labor Relations approach and attitude of Detroit on both the company and union sides. Growing up professionally and learning labor relations strategies and tactics and having negotiated a Teamster’s contract, I can tell you that if Labor and Capital see themselves, as Detroit has for too many years, as adversaries or at the least, mistrusting co-workers, then there will be no innovation or progress to be made. The trigger word “concessions” is what we continue to hear that workers must make. What is lost is where are the “concessions” that the automakers are making on the other side of the equation? It appears that the years of lack of concessions from the automakers to change their ways and thinking, has finally caught up with them. And now they want to be “bailed out”. I like what Mitt had to say. His open professed love of cars, being from Detroit, his history with his father as the CEO of American Motors, and his broad view of corporate structuring and restructuring, makes him the ideal candidate to shake things up. I somehow think that Chrysler might have been in a better place had they hired Mitt away from the campaign trail vs. Bob Nardelli from his unsuccessful run at Home Depot. So, if we put government money into Detroit, which I believe we will end up doing, then let’s be sure and have a caretaker over that money and let’s put Mitt’s hat in the ring to be that person. How about it Mitt? Could you take $25B and turn it into $250B and set the course for an American car industry resurgence that returns to be an international powerhouse? You’d get my, if we could choose, vote.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wal-Mart Needs A Government Bailout?

Now, what if Wal-mart was going under and asked for a bailout, what would we do? They employ more people in America than anyone else and if they went under, what would we do? We might have to return to the mom and pop hardware, grocery stores, local pharmacies, pet shops, record/CD stores, department stores? You mean, if Wal-Mart went under we might have to fill all of those Main Street store fronts again with real businesses? Naw, we wouldn't bail out Wal-Mart would we? But, we are going to bail out car manufacturers who are in a world of hurt because the cars they designed, built and marketed like crazy, no one wants? Of course there is the argument that people want and need to buy cars but because they can't get credit, they are driving their current cars longer and fixing them up versus trading them in. So, if that is true, then heal the wound of the credit market, not put a band-aid on the car industry. if there are only two US car manufacturers left, will I be harmed any more when I go to buy my Toyota Prius, my Mercedes SmartCar, my Honda Hybrid, my Lexus Hybrid, or my BMW Mini Cooper? This is a war that was lost back when Halberstam wrote "The Reckoning". Let's not waste our hard-earned tax payer dollars bailing out a car manufacturer who has rested on their manifest destiny laurels since the energy crisis of the 70's. We have better things to spend our money on! If car workers need to be helped, then let's pass along the bail out money to retrain and move them to become wind engineers or solar panel manufacturers. Retool those defunct manufaturing lines for wind turbines. I'm all for helping those who can't help themselves or bailing out institutions that if they go down, we all suffer directly like what was needed for the financial industry. In fact, that said, if Wal-Mart was going under, I might support that bail out. At least they continue to use their heft and leverage to keep prices down and influence the rest of the world. Detroit stopped doing that the day the foreign car manufacturers started manufacturing their cars in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana and other places and brought real change to the American roadways and Detroit ignored the warning signs.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Chinese Democracy

No, this is not about the elusive Guns ‘n Roses album, although I do wish Axel would get the darn thing out and let’s be done with it. No, this posting is about the $586B Chinese Stimulus Plan that was detailed today in the news. The Chinese government is starting their version of the Works Progress Administration. They are putting their talent to work to build things that last; infrastructure, dams, transport systems, buildings, etc. Hmmm, wonder where they got this idea from? I tend to think that they are on the right path. We have learned over the last few months that putting money in the pockets of Americans doesn’t translate to the economy being stimulated. What has occurred is that we have taken our fear and uncertainties and let those force the stimulus money into savings accounts and mattress stuffing. And, why wouldn’t any of us do this if we were worried about our job being lost tomorrow? It’s actually quite rationale and I’m surprised that the economists didn’t think that this is exactly what was going to happen. So, here we sit wondering what would stimulate our lagging economy and the Chinese reached the economic moon before we did. Of course, stimulus starts with job security and job creation. This really isn’t that hard is it? And, as we drive on crumbling roads and bridges, send our children to antiquated school buildings, drive our cars because there is no viable national transit system, we are arguing over the next check amount that should be handed out. How about we take that money and we create jobs to lead us to energy independence? Last week we passed in California Proposition 1A to fund $10B of development for a west coast high speed rail system. Now we find out that the project needs another $10B injection from the Federal government (yes, those are earmark funds and depending upon how they are structured, pork) and the project won’t even start until 2020. That’s 12 years from now. Our roads will be long over-crowded and we will be that much further in the hole with our dependence on oil for travel. Come on, let’s take this project and start creating jobs to clear the way for the rail program. Let’s put people to work now and shorten the time frame to build the railway. Let’s get people excited and galvanized around progress programs. Let’s get people off of the streets and worried about where they will work tomorrow and let’s really stimulate America. If the Chinese can get the joke, so can we! It’s just a shame that we have to follow versus lead.

Friday, November 7, 2008

There’s Time To Be Sad Later…

Last week, Patti and I received the call that we all dread as children of aging parents. Patti’s father has been diagnosed with kidney cancer. With that one phone call, we were snapped back into the real perspective of life. That is, that the fragile nature of our lives, we once again were taking for granted. One day, things are smooth and the next day they are choppy and potentially spinning out of our control. And we are so not alone in this. Here we sit in the middle years of our lives with the expectations that tomorrow will be just like yesterday. Nothing will change, right? It can go on forever like this can’t it? Duh. Why is it that we allow this fragility to sneak up on us? It seems that each and every time we get to this point we stand a this place with regrets and “ifs”. How do we in our human nature wake up ourselves earlier in life when we are invited to make the most of every moment, instead of waiting for the situation to snap us into the reality? Are we not just built this way? I wonder. Last week, I got dragged into another of Patti’s Oprah programs. On the program was the couple who created, “99 Baloons" on YouTube. ( I guarantee you will cry like a baby if you watch this so be forewarned - On the show, after Oprah collected herself, she asked the couple how they made it through. The mother of Eliot said something that was so profound that I don’t think it will ever leave me. She said, “we just knew that we had time to be sad later”. Right then, she and her husband were in the moment with Elliot and each other. They were celebrating life every day and making the very best of it. While they were also snapped into a reality that they hadn’t bargained for, their attitude was the right one. So, as I write this, Patti’s father is a few days from surgery and then we will know what comes next after that. In the meantime, there is time to pray now and to be sad later and today we celebrate a life and what has been given to us through him and we live in the moment, savoring each as we pass through each of them.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Why yesterday I voted for Barack Obama

Yesterday, Patti and I voted. We went to our local early voting office and couldn’t find a parking spot, stood in lines and had to wait to get to the voting booth. There was something that was palpable in the air. You could feel the importance and criticality of what each person knew they were doing. There was also a sense of nervousness. People were being extra careful with their ballots and wanted to be assured that their vote would be counted.

I voted for Barack Obama for President and I wanted to share with you why.

First, let me come clean that I have never voted for a President who was not a Republican. I was a staunch Republican growing up and subscribed to the principles of the party of fiscal control, low taxes and small government. I always struggled with what to do with social issues that would lean me more liberal, but I allowed the commitment to a balanced budget and financial controls to work all that out, and in most cases, for many years, it all did work out. I was proud to be a Republican.

When George W. Bush first ran for President, I subscribed to “compassionate conservatism”. I felt that it defined where I stood and I liked even more the idea that we could be conservative in nature but open to the needs of all and show compassion to those less fortunate. Even after all those Ayn Rand books, I still feel for those who have been marginalized and I want to be sure that they get their chance even if it means a little more giving from the rest of us. So, I supported George W. Bush. The first term was, like most, hard to define the results but after September 11th and the state of the world, I thought a change of leadership for the country would be worse than what we knew. So, I voted for him in a second term as well.

It was obvious to me shortly into his second term, that President Bush was not governing to the principles of the Republican Party that I had grown up with and that he and a small band of people were proving the power of the Executive Branch and going in their own direction and there was no agenda other than their own. To this day, it is hard for me to understand what it was that they were setting out to prove, but it doesn’t take a Phd in Political Science to know that things have not gone well.

So, about two years ago, I decided that I would break with the Republican Party and look for new direction in our government leadership. This was very hard for me as I was in a place where neither party represented to me 100% of what I believe in from values, principles, policies, programs, etc. All I knew was that we needed a new direction and I was open to listening and learning.

Because of my work and other activities I got a chance to meet Hillary Clinton on two occasions and be with her in small settings. I found her in those settings to be very Presidential but what was lacking from her was a sense of vision and inspiration that I felt that myself and the rest of the country needs. I may have prematurely turned my back on all of the Republican candidates, but I couldn’t see sending another Republican back to the White House.

And then Barack Obama came onto the Presidential scene. I had been in a live setting with him only once before, when I was in Washington, DC and was able to say hello to him as he passed me. I remember being struck even in that passing moment, with a sense of charisma and that unique “drawn to someone” personality quality that few people have. Patti and I later paid up for one of his big fund raisers as I wanted to hear him up close and personal (as personal as one could get in those settings). We ended up having the opportunity to shake hands and trade a few words about a friend we have in common. And then he spoke for 40 minutes, with no tele-prompters and no note cards. Those 40 minutes were awe inspiring. Patti and I both had chills as we felt like we had been in the presence of someone who could truly lead and bring about change and yes, bring hope back to America.

Since then, I have been challenged many times by my closest of friends, family, those I attend church with, and others in our social circle. Each have their own challenges to me, whether it be tax policies, supreme courts appointee consequences, Senator Obama’s background, his ability to lead, on and on.

I don’t dismiss the advice and counsel of friends lightly. We are to keep close confidants and counselors around us who share our same values and principles, so to be breaking with these people I trust and love, was of a great burden and weight.

But here is where I netted out.

I am just not a single issue voter. I don’t believe that the world can be boiled down to one single political issue. Maybe some day that might be true if I felt like one of the Bill of Rights was being directly challenged, but I don’t see anything in this election that puts those at threat in the next four years.

There are lots of issues in front of us that have to be dealt with; the economy, the war(s), international relations, energy independence, etc.

But, I am most worried how all of these things cut across the middle class of our country and what I perceive as a growing class-divide. I have been fortunate that it has been a long time since I had to worry about my future financially, but I remember what that was like growing up where new cars, second homes, or first class airfare, were not something that was even known about. Saving and being cautious about spending was what I learned, because it was a necessity. College was provided through loans, parental support, and working multiple jobs all the way through school. Today, we have too many hard-working people in America who live from paycheck to days before the next paycheck planning on everything going right because they cannot afford for anything to go wrong. We have working Americans who hold down multiple part-time jobs without health care coverage for themselves and their families, hoping and praying that everyone can stay healthy. And, we have productive American workers who without any fault of their own, are laid-off and put on the streets because the worker in India or China is cheaper. While this last point is a reality of capitalism that a company is going to find the greatest leverage and cost advantages it can, there is a missing compassion and understanding of the consequences on our American worker. It is the middle-class that suffers.

Our schools are a mess and no wonder that those who can afford to send their children to private schools do so. I was the product of public schooling but that was in the days when the best teachers could make a living teaching in public schools. The middle class having to send their children to sub-par schools today is only exacerbating the problem. We need real change in our education system for the middle-class.

There is a fair amount of things that Senator Obama has done or hasn’t done that I don’t like. He really upset me when he went back on his word on public campaign financing. I wondered after that if he could be trusted. I didn’t like the way his campaign slipped down the slope to negative ads and campaigning. He was supposed to be above that type of old-school politicking. His initial naïveté on international affairs concerned me. And, I am not wild about Joe Biden. I wasn’t crazy about Hillary as vice-president, but in hindsight, I think she would have been a good choice and maybe we wouldn’t have had to spend $1B dollars on this campaign and that money could have gone to better uses.

At the end of the day though, I decided to stick with Senator Obama as my choice as our next President.

I also understand that with my vote for Senator Obama that I will see my taxes increase and I will have less money to spend, invest and save and potentially less money to give away to charities. But, for me it is worth it. It is worth it so that the largest part of our population, the working middle class of America can have hope and a chance to progress.

Yes, our country needs hope. We need to put away our single issues and open our minds to what is best overall for our country in this complex time. We need to bring a renewed sense of inspiration to our next generation and instill back a belief that government is of and for the people.

So, whatever you decide to do with your vote, what is most important is that you do vote and exercise your constitutional right and privilege. And after the votes are counted, that we not stay one-sided and divided but unite behind our new President whether it be Senator Obama, Senator McCain or Ralph Nader (well not if it is Ralph Nader :)). It is time for us to put, as John McCain says, our country first, and unite in support of our leadership, so we can we tackle the problems and the future in front of us.

Thanks for reading my rant.


PS: I have attached the New York Times endorsement of Senator Obama if you are interested. They are much more articulate than me.

NY Times Editorial
Barack Obama for President
Published: October 23, 2008
The United States is battered and drifting after eight years of President Bush’s failed leadership. He is saddling his successor with two wars, a scarred global image and a government systematically stripped of its ability to protect and help its citizens — whether they are fleeing a hurricane’s floodwaters, searching for affordable health care or struggling to hold on to their homes, jobs, savings and pensions in the midst of a financial crisis that was foretold and preventable.
As tough as the times are, the selection of a new president is easy. After nearly two years of a grueling and ugly campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has proved that he is the right choice to be the 44th president of the United States.
Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change. He has shown a cool head and sound judgment. We believe he has the will and the ability to forge the broad political consensus that is essential to finding solutions to this nation’s problems.
In the same time, Senator John McCain of Arizona has retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. His policies and worldview are mired in the past. His choice of a running mate so evidently unfit for the office was a final act of opportunism and bad judgment that eclipsed the accomplishments of 26 years in Congress.
Given the particularly ugly nature of Mr. McCain’s campaign, the urge to choose on the basis of raw emotion is strong. But there is a greater value in looking closely at the facts of life in America today and at the prescriptions the candidates offer. The differences are profound.
Mr. McCain offers more of the Republican every-man-for-himself ideology, now lying in shards on Wall Street and in Americans’ bank accounts. Mr. Obama has another vision of government’s role and responsibilities.
In his convention speech in Denver, Mr. Obama said, “Government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves: protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.”
Since the financial crisis, he has correctly identified the abject failure of government regulation that has brought the markets to the brink of collapse.
The Economy
The American financial system is the victim of decades of Republican deregulatory and anti-tax policies. Those ideas have been proved wrong at an unfathomable price, but Mr. McCain — a self-proclaimed “foot soldier in the Reagan revolution” — is still a believer.
Mr. Obama sees that far-reaching reforms will be needed to protect Americans and American business.
Mr. McCain talks about reform a lot, but his vision is pinched. His answer to any economic question is to eliminate pork-barrel spending — about $18 billion in a $3 trillion budget — cut taxes and wait for unfettered markets to solve the problem.
Mr. Obama is clear that the nation’s tax structure must be changed to make it fairer. That means the well-off Americans who have benefited disproportionately from Mr. Bush’s tax cuts will have to pay some more. Working Americans, who have seen their standard of living fall and their children’s options narrow, will benefit. Mr. Obama wants to raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation, restore a climate in which workers are able to organize unions if they wish and expand educational opportunities.
Mr. McCain, who once opposed President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy as fiscally irresponsible, now wants to make them permanent. And while he talks about keeping taxes low for everyone, his proposed cuts would overwhelmingly benefit the top 1 percent of Americans while digging the country into a deeper fiscal hole.
National Security
The American military — its people and equipment — is dangerously overstretched. Mr. Bush has neglected the necessary war in Afghanistan, which now threatens to spiral into defeat. The unnecessary and staggeringly costly war in Iraq must be ended as quickly and responsibly as possible.
While Iraq’s leaders insist on a swift drawdown of American troops and a deadline for the end of the occupation, Mr. McCain is still talking about some ill-defined “victory.” As a result, he has offered no real plan for extracting American troops and limiting any further damage to Iraq and its neighbors.
Mr. Obama was an early and thoughtful opponent of the war in Iraq, and he has presented a military and diplomatic plan for withdrawing American forces. Mr. Obama also has correctly warned that until the Pentagon starts pulling troops out of Iraq, there will not be enough troops to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Mr. McCain, like Mr. Bush, has only belatedly focused on Afghanistan’s dangerous unraveling and the threat that neighboring Pakistan may quickly follow.
Mr. Obama would have a learning curve on foreign affairs, but he has already showed sounder judgment than his opponent on these critical issues. His choice of Senator Joseph Biden — who has deep foreign-policy expertise — as his running mate is another sign of that sound judgment. Mr. McCain’s long interest in foreign policy and the many dangers this country now faces make his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska more irresponsible.
Both presidential candidates talk about strengthening alliances in Europe and Asia, including NATO, and strongly support Israel. Both candidates talk about repairing America’s image in the world. But it seems clear to us that Mr. Obama is far more likely to do that — and not just because the first black president would present a new American face to the world.
Mr. Obama wants to reform the United Nations, while Mr. McCain wants to create a new entity, the League of Democracies — a move that would incite even fiercer anti-American furies around the world.
Unfortunately, Mr. McCain, like Mr. Bush, sees the world as divided into friends (like Georgia) and adversaries (like Russia). He proposed kicking Russia out of the Group of 8 industrialized nations even before the invasion of Georgia. We have no sympathy for Moscow’s bullying, but we also have no desire to replay the cold war. The United States must find a way to constrain the Russians’ worst impulses, while preserving the ability to work with them on arms control and other vital initiatives.
Both candidates talk tough on terrorism, and neither has ruled out military action to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But Mr. Obama has called for a serious effort to try to wean Tehran from its nuclear ambitions with more credible diplomatic overtures and tougher sanctions. Mr. McCain’s willingness to joke about bombing Iran was frightening.
The Constitution and the Rule of Law
Under Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the justice system and the separation of powers have come under relentless attack. Mr. Bush chose to exploit the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, the moment in which he looked like the president of a unified nation, to try to place himself above the law.
Mr. Bush has arrogated the power to imprison men without charges and browbeat Congress into granting an unfettered authority to spy on Americans. He has created untold numbers of “black” programs, including secret prisons and outsourced torture. The president has issued hundreds, if not thousands, of secret orders. We fear it will take years of forensic research to discover how many basic rights have been violated.
Both candidates have renounced torture and are committed to closing the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
But Mr. Obama has gone beyond that, promising to identify and correct Mr. Bush’s attacks on the democratic system. Mr. McCain has been silent on the subject.
Mr. McCain improved protections for detainees. But then he helped the White House push through the appalling Military Commissions Act of 2006, which denied detainees the right to a hearing in a real court and put Washington in conflict with the Geneva Conventions, greatly increasing the risk to American troops.
The next president will have the chance to appoint one or more justices to a Supreme Court that is on the brink of being dominated by a radical right wing. Mr. Obama may appoint less liberal judges than some of his followers might like, but Mr. McCain is certain to pick rigid ideologues. He has said he would never appoint a judge who believes in women’s reproductive rights.
The Candidates
It will be an enormous challenge just to get the nation back to where it was before Mr. Bush, to begin to mend its image in the world and to restore its self-confidence and its self-respect. Doing all of that, and leading America forward, will require strength of will, character and intellect, sober judgment and a cool, steady hand.
Mr. Obama has those qualities in abundance. Watching him being tested in the campaign has long since erased the reservations that led us to endorse Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries. He has drawn in legions of new voters with powerful messages of hope and possibility and calls for shared sacrifice and social responsibility.
Mr. McCain, whom we chose as the best Republican nominee in the primaries, has spent the last coins of his reputation for principle and sound judgment to placate the limitless demands and narrow vision of the far-right wing. His righteous fury at being driven out of the 2000 primaries on a racist tide aimed at his adopted daughter has been replaced by a zealous embrace of those same win-at-all-costs tactics and tacticians.
He surrendered his standing as an independent thinker in his rush to embrace Mr. Bush’s misbegotten tax policies and to abandon his leadership position on climate change and immigration reform.
Mr. McCain could have seized the high ground on energy and the environment. Earlier in his career, he offered the first plausible bill to control America’s emissions of greenhouse gases. Now his positions are a caricature of that record: think Ms. Palin leading chants of “drill, baby, drill.”
Mr. Obama has endorsed some offshore drilling, but as part of a comprehensive strategy including big investments in new, clean technologies.
Mr. Obama has withstood some of the toughest campaign attacks ever mounted against a candidate. He’s been called un-American and accused of hiding a secret Islamic faith. The Republicans have linked him to domestic terrorists and questioned his wife’s love of her country. Ms. Palin has also questioned millions of Americans’ patriotism, calling Republican-leaning states “pro-America.”
This politics of fear, division and character assassination helped Mr. Bush drive Mr. McCain from the 2000 Republican primaries and defeat Senator John Kerry in 2004. It has been the dominant theme of his failed presidency.
The nation’s problems are simply too grave to be reduced to slashing “robo-calls” and negative ads. This country needs sensible leadership, compassionate leadership, honest leadership and strong leadership. Barack Obama has shown that he has all of those qualities.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kindling a new fire

I don't watch Oprah. That is, I don't watch Oprah other than when Patti says I have to and I get forced through TIVO to do so. Last Friday, Oprah revealed her "new technology find". She went on a rave about the Amazon Kindle and had Jeff Bezos on the show. Jeff didn't have to talk at all as Oprah laid out every feature and she was so positive about the device that Jeff couldn't get a work in edge-wise. He did offer $50 off of a purchase if you go to by Friday 10/31. That's a pretty good deal. I had already decided that the Kindle was my Christmas gift request for this year so this just reinforced what I already knew. It just makes sense to me; convenience, cheaper books, greening by not buying paper, no more room in the house for books, data and history files, cool factor, etc. But, that is not what amazed me. What amazed me was that even before the show was over, Patti said, "that is what I want for my birthday". See, Patti is not one who adopts new technology easily. She still uses a 2-year paper Hallmark calendar for her scheduling, a Casio address device for her contacts, a cell phone without a camera, she just moved from AOL email to Outlook finally, and she fought me and told me she would never use TIVO when we bought the TIVO Series One way back when (of course like everyone she quickly adopted and adapted to time-shifting). To have Patti, in an instant, say, "I want one" demonstrates either the power of Oprah or the power of a simple but dead-easy to use piece of technology. I think it was both, but like the i-pod, Amazon may have nailed it. The market may not be quite ready for mass market penetration for e-books, but by V.2 of the Kindle (word has it that V2 is coming already), Amazon may have won the electronic book reader war. And, it doesn't hurt that Oprah is there too. The fire has been stoked with a Kindle. Let's see how big and fast this fire can burn.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A response from Jim H

I received this note from Jim H and thought it worth sharing:

I took special note of our thoughts on the economy, especially the "Disposable Nation" and the "Greater than 11,000 and less than $3" articles. I've always considered myself somewhat of a closet economist, I took several economics classes while in MBA school, so I try and pay attention to these things. There are a few paradoxes in the current economy, you touch on a few. One is the recession/not-recession topic. All the economic indicators we've used for 100 years say not-recession, yet the vast majority of Americans (including me) say yes-recession. I think that as a nation we have become much more economically aware in the last 30 or so years and we see it coming. I think this explains the paradox, we are not technically in a recession today but we expect that we will be. Thus the opinion of the American public is - obviously - a forward indicator. It is a self-fulfilling indicator as well. As an economist then, I would say that "all things remaining the same" then we will soon be in a recession of the classical sense. Unless something changes, and that something may be energy costs. People said we were in a recession when they saw $4 gas going to $5. Now we are at $3 gas going to ... who knows? I've believed that what set us off economically was the double whammy of the housing collapse and energy costs. I think our economy is very resilient for many reasons, and no single thing can really set it back. It took the two punches to knock it back. If we are at bottom on the housing crisis (questionable) and if energy has stabilized, maybe people will sense a turn and we will change the mass-psychological-forward-indicator.

This may not be enough to overcome the don't-spend mentality that has gripped us all. The paradox here is that what is good for us financially as individuals is bad for us collectively as an economy. Spending drives the economy, and durable goods replacement is a big part of it. We've stopped outfitting our homes, and stopped buying cars. That's the bulk of it. We can't buy enough clothes, lattes, or iPhones to make up for that. I worry that this trend - both economically and socially driven - could ultimately be a devastating structural change to our economy and standard of living. We as Americans spend a lot, most folks in other western nations have decried this over the last few decades, we've been somewhat demonized for our consumption. But that's an old story, I've heard it since I was a kid, and by and large the American standard of living continues to outstrip the rest of the world. I see a totally different psyche in the UK where my wife's family is from. We go visit them often, I've spent probably two months there in the last three or four years. Her relatives are considered UK middle class, but here they would be struggling-lower-middle class. They don't buy things on a whim. A couple of years ago while on a visit my wife bought her grandmother a new TV. She was surprised at the reaction from the family - it was a huge deal. They just don't consume like we do because they have a perception - mostly correctly - that their financial and economic status is locked and won't change over the coming year or the coming decade or their working lives. The upward social mobility isn't part of their core cultural belief. On the other hand, we as Americans are confident that we will do better next year and next decade, and that gives us a comfort level in spending. The spending drives the economy which drives the upward mobility. In essence, I believe that our core beliefs as Americans drive the upward spiral. Most European countries are stuck in a slow downward spiral. I would hate to see a confluence of events here in the US that could disrupt our upward spiral.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Decent and True

I write another blog called, "Purposed Working", ( and it is a business day blog that uses the Bible as a reference guide to find purpose in our work. A couple of weeks ago I made an entry there that can be also referenced here, regardless of your faith or belief. There is a verse in the book of Romans (Romans 13:13) that says, "We should be decent and true in everything, so that everyone can approve of our behavior". I like this verse a lot because it not only tells you what you should do but also the outcome if you demonstrate these behaviors. Like I said, regardless of your beliefs it is hard to argue that being decent and truthful in all you do is not the right way to live. But, that seems really hard for our political leaders. The same political leaders that we look up to and should aspire. I have rambled on and on about their lack of decency and civility with each other, but I have to say that the most troubling is their flat-out lack of truthfulness and such, their lack of integrity. How easy they make it for someone to walk up to them and say, "sir, I can't vote for you since you don't tell the truth and lack integrity". I can only imagine the smooth responses back but at the end of the conversation the person who questions the integrity of someone who lied, wins the argument. Both candidates have recent examples. Senator Obama went back on his signed statement about what he would do about public campaign financing. He decided he wouldn't take it after he said he would and he failed to negotiate the clauses that he said he would before he decided to not accept and keep his campaign funding juggernaut going. He lied. And as someone said the other day to me, "but he he is better off because he did", tells the whole story of why he shouldn't have. Someone I respect and admire thinks it was okay for him to go back on his word. They think the lie justified the result. Why does it mean anything to me? Well, because when I was making my decision on how much to give to the campaign and was trying to raise money through others, I was told that we needed to dig deep now and fill the coffers because after the primary the Senator would be limited to public financing. so, I was lied to as well when he changed his mind. Senator McCain is not innocent either. I was appalled that he could sit on the David Letterman show and be caught red-handed in a lie about why he cancelled on Letterman at the last minute and he laughed it off saying, "I screwed up". Not what he should have said, and what our Mother's would have required; "I am sorry that I didn't tell you the truth. That is not right and I ask you to please accept my apology". To throw out a cliche of "I screwed up" and try and laugh it off, is just silly. Some would say, it happens all the time in TV, but I see it differently. I see not following up on a commitment, leaving another person holding the bag, and that person (in this case David Letterman and CBS) trying to explain to advertisers and viewers what happened and then passing on the lie that they were told. This is not America. We don't lie. We are supposed to tell the truth and Presidents who lie leave office or are ashamed of their behavior, and remembered with an asterisk into history. Look guys, all you have to do is be decent and truthful and you will win everyones' approval. You may not win the election because of this, but your loss won't be because you lose a vote over whether someone can trust you and/or trust that you will be a decent human being to others. Can't we just do better?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

We, The Savers

ING's CEO of Savings put this declaration out on Tuesday September 30th, in the New York Times and other newspapers. Patti and I were both impressed enough with the content that it has been hanging around the house. After rereading it this week, I thought it worth sharing for those who haven't see it.

Take a look at the Declaration of Financial Independence, it could be meaningful for you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

R = Recession = Reality

There is too much uncertainty right now as we grapple with what is reality and what is not in the financial markets. What would be wrong with right now, Secretary Paulson and Fed Chief Bernanke just coming out and facing reality and addressing that we are in a recession and then start giving us the antidotes for moving through and out of a recession. Seems like each time someone pushes them this way they come back with macro statistics that prove that we are not in a recession, thus not wanting to face the reality that it is not the macro that matters, it is the micro. One of my running buddies nailed this on one of our long Saturday runs last month. He was talking about the micro implications of the economic breakdown long before the politicians dubbed the micro as "Main Street". At the micro level, I believe we are in a recession. How do I know, well when eBay is slowing down and struggling with revenue, then that is all the indication that I need that the working-class American has begun to pinch the penny and stop spending. And when that dries up, then we know what happens to our GDP. Reality shouldn't be this hard to address. Anyone who can't address reality, whether it be a parent, a CEO, a worker, or our government, has a significant problem. Maybe on November 5th we will hear the R-word spoken about more clearly and plainly. Once we are honest with where we are then we can begin to take the steps to move to a better place...until then expect more irrational behavior and uncertainty in the markets. A good dose of reality may be just what the doctor needs to keep ordering.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Greater than 11,000 and less than $3

Could it be that November 4th is only three weeks away? I have been in the Midwest (Ohio and Indiana) since last Thursday night. I now understand what it means to be in a battle ground state. In Columbus, Ohio the city looks like the political sign capital of the country. It is pretty clear who your neighbors are voting for because they have a sign in their front yard letting you and everyone else know about it. I should have taken pictures. There is no greening of political campaigns for is all about cardboard, red and blue ink and wire posts in Ohio. Indiana is not much different. And in both places the television advertising is dominated by political ads. Every commercial break has one, if not more inserted. What happens to the ad market after November 4th? But most interesting in the Midwest this week has been the (precipitous?) drop in gas prices. Regular unleaded has dropped .25 cents since last Thursday night when we landed here (I am glad I didn't take the refueling option from Hertz). All of sudden, the gas prices look reasonable again and you can almost palpably feel that at the pump. And then the Dow makes a rally yesterday of nearly 1000 points and you begin to wonder if the Washington powers are not moving us to a muffled or muzzled economy issue by November 3rd. It's hard to believe that could happen, but if we are sitting at our dinner tables on November 3rd with regular unleaded below $3 and the Dow at 11K or knocking on the door of it, then let's all just consider how things can be changed for the powers and/or the powers to be....

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Screeching Halt

I wondered when it would happen. I listened carefully and watched with a close eye. I monitored my own feelings and actions to see when it would happen to me. I think it happened last Friday. Last Friday after the Bailout Bill was signed and the market said, "thanks, but not good enough". And then it was reinforced yesterday when the picture was taken of the Big Board with the Dow being down 800 points. I heard it then. It was a slow building sound but as the pressure increased on the brakes the tires started to seize and as they did the friction on the road reached the breaking point and the screeching sound started. The screeching sound is the stop of spending. Since last Friday it is all anyone has talked about. It's in every conversation about how they have "quit spending", have put themselves "on a moratorium", "locked up the credit cards", etc. And the interesting thing is that once it would have been awkward or maybe even a little shameful to say, "I really can't afford that right now", now it is almost with a bit of pride that I heard a woman in a conversation say yesterday, "it's just not right to be spending now like I usually do". I shouldn't be surprised because I feel it too. I am waiting for the set of envelopes that come in at the end of each quarter. None of them will be opened with any expectation other than they carry numbers in the red which is bad news. I am stitching closed my pants pockets as I write this. A friend of Patti's who worked for over 30 years and retired from the same company, got the call from her financial planner yesterday telling her that she may want to start looking for a part-time job and if the market slide continues, to plan on going back to work full-time. In the meantime, she was told, stop all but necessary spending. And the screeching continues. What will this do to the economy that just 90 days ago was wanting to feel the effects of a spending stimulus? It seems that whatever turn or action that is taken has a bad side-effect. In the meantime, it appears the prudent thing to do is to keep the pressure on the spending brakes and put up with the screeching noise. One of these days we will be able to afford anti-skid spending brakes but for now, let 'em screech.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Politics of Personal Destruction

Yesterday morning on this "This Week with George Stephanapolous", the Governor of Pennsylvania said we have now entered into "politics of personal destruction". I am sure he was not the first one to coin this phrase, but it stuck with me, as I spent the rest of the day, more concerned than ever that the example we are setting as leaders to our children and future leaders continues to erode and worsen. At the risk of being sexist, I think this is even heightened with Governor Palin than the others. During this election cycle we have seen two extremely smart and capable women leaders emerge. They have broken a ceiling. I am proud that this has happened. It reflects well on our country. What is not good is the example we see our future women leaders seeing and thinking what they should emulate. Governor Palin has an even larger responsibility as she casts herself as the person who is most like the typical American. She is, more than any of the other candidates, carrying an even larger responsibility to be a role and character model for other young women and men to follow. But why does she, and all the others, feel that they can only win if they are mean and degrading of others? Can we not find one politician, man or woman, who will rise above the fray and bring a spirit of decency to what they do? It is not right to try and degrade and demean other human beings. Can we not see this and call each other out when it occurs? I realize what the holy grail is to a politician; it is to be approved by as many people as possible. There is a Bible verse in the book of Romans that tells them what to do to gain that approval. Romans Chapter 13, verse 13: "We should be decent and true in everything we do, so that everyone can approve of our behavior". It's that simple. So, please, Senator Obama, Senator McCain, Senator Biden, Governor Palin, please be decent for the next month so we can not only be proud of our leaders but feel confidence without reservation that you are the leaders our children and next generation of leaders can emulate! If you are really in touch with the American psyche, you will know we need this even more than we need you to win.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Disposable Nation

Twice this last week I have heard younger people say something very interesting. Each mentioned, in different contexts, the idea that buying something new was a bad thing. One said this in the course of talking about managing of their finances and how they are cutting back. The other person said it in the context of the "greening" of the world. He went as far as to say that in the neighborhood he lives in that it's just not "cool" to buy or drive a new car anymore. I have sat with this for a few days and wondered what it means to our economy if we were to broadly adopt this philosophy. We the country where durable goods (like cars) get traded in for new ones well before they expire. It is, to use Senator Obama's words, "well above my pay grade" to understand this, but in my naivete, I would say that if we were to move away from our current disposable attitude (about just about everything) it might be good for mother earth, but our economy would certainly stall. This whole thing has me thinking and even starting my own little revolution. I found myself wanting to walk out of Peets yesterday with my large cup and put it in my car to bring back in the next time. I looked in my closet and said, I can wear those clothes another year, even though the style has changed slightly. I talked to my buddy and said, "why buy a new car, get a used one, you will save a few bucks and won't chew up some more of that carbon footprint stuff". Hmmm, those kids might be onto something, again. I don't know what it means in the long run, but I can tell you that it's not that hard to start thinking this way and I can certainly see why many will. I hope the economists have this in one of their models.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What about Elm Street?

All we hear about now is Wall Street and Main Street and the impact of the economy and the bailout on these two now all important streets of America. I don't know about you, but in the small and big towns that I know, not that many people live on a Main Street. Main Street is usually downtown and has more businesses on it than homes. I'm not being precise, but you get the gist. What I want to talk about is Elm Street and the nightmare that is about to hit there. That's where people live. The ordinary American that both candidates are trying to reach. The nightmare coming to Elm Street will be when the credit markets contract to the level when someone won't be able to obtain a new credit card, their current credit card limit gets cut in half (imagine trying to buy a $3000 couch when your credit card limit is at $2500 or $2000), your interest rate on credit card debt doubles or beyond. There is a scary wind that is beginning to blow down Elm Street. I can hear the creaking of the wooden siding and the slamming back and forth of the shutters. If the Congress doesn't Bailout, Rescue, or whatever you want to call it, in this next vote (thank you Senators for being more level-headed tonight), then those who live on Elm Street, who work on Main Street and invest through Wall Street, should set their vote in place now for the next congressional election with the spirit of cleaning house and out with the old and in with the new. We can't have any more of this lack of putting the country ahead of their own political agendas. We didn't send you there for that. We sent you there to lead and represent those who fear and want to avoid the nightmare that is being conjured. Please remember that it is Elm Street that votes for you to go back to Washington or to stay home next time!

Purposed Working Blog Launched:

Hi there. Just wanted to pass along that along with continued Bolts of Thinking posts, I have launched a new daily blog called: Purposed worKING.

You can check it out at:

I hope it is something you enjoy and if you do, please let others know as well.


More Bolts of Thinking to come, so don't go away.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Only in New York City - The Big (but shrinking?) Apple

I happen to be in New York City this week. It is not particulary hot here for September but there is a meltdown happening. 10%+ lost in the market in the last two days. It's not good. It is worse here than elsewhere being that the financial industry represents 5% of all employment in the city but 25% of all NYC payroll. That's a big number and this week's problems will have some real ramifications here in the city. But, only in NYC do you hear stories like this: When I am here on business and don't have dinners planned (which I don't like to do anyway), I like to find a local sports bar/pub, saddle up to the bar with my laptop, watch the local sports (Yankees losing this time of year) and catch up on email, etc. Tonight I was in a restaurant on 50th Street and while sitting here I overhear two guys who work in the financial industry. One of the guys was talking about what a terrible week he has had already. He stated that it started on Saturday with Ohio State being beat, then the Cleveland Browns got beat, then they broke in on TV and said that Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy and then Monday through Wednesday market downturn. It was not a good week for this fellow. He then went on to say that the only good thing that happened to him this week was that his Ferrari won a gold medal in some car show in New Jersey on Sunday. What's wrong with this picture? It only happens in New York City.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Unemployment Spike

We learned that last month's unemployment rate in the US spiked to over 6%. While this is not good we should be happy about this number because while it represents the overall unemployment rate in the US (made up mostly of the manufacturing and construction industry) it does not represent the whole picture. If this was 25 years ago, pre-outsourcing and offshoring, the unemployment number might be 9 or 10%. You see, when Mattel, or Revlon, or Nike has to cut back on production, they don't walk out in their backyard and layoff their workers, they send emails and long distance phone calls to China, India, southeast Asia and plants cut back on their schedule or shut down. Who loses their jobs are the workers in these countries. While not good for those workers, it masks what is really happening and the impact here is not as bad. So, there is a silver-lining in offshoring? Maybe. Although when it comes time to create jobs, productivity, efficiency, etc. what will we do? We can't produce any longer. The phones and emails will go off around the globe and workers will be put on the payroll in the far flung parts of the world. Potentially this global labor arbitrage creates a better leverage with these countries that depend on us to buy our debt and to import to us. That could be, but I can't figure those numbers out. What I do know is that things might be worse than they look and no one seems to be reporting or writing about how bad things might be right now. If I can see a rock that is uncovered then I suspect there are many more that I certainly can't see.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Big Divide

This week we learned that our housekeeper has been evicted from her house after the house was foreclosed. My first question was, "how could this happen to her and her husband, they both work hard and are good at what they do?". She is a housekeeper and is limited in salary by the number of hours in a day and houses she can clean during a week. Her salary is capped. Her husband is a painter. He is in the same boat. You can only paint so many houses in one day and the market sets the rates for painters. Anyone who works with their hands, produces or serves based on their physical/hourly limitation, has the same cap on them. This is the problem with us having become a service industry country. We are capping ourselves just like our housekeeper and her husband. What really bothers me is that she and her husband got caught in the sub prime mortgage fiasco. They tool an adjustable loan three years ago and now three years later their mortgage more than doubled and they can't pay. I feel terrible for them. They are not freeloaders of the system. They were not real estate speculators. They were me coming out of school buying my first house. I remember it well sitting with the mortgage broker when I took out an adjustable loan. They loaned me the money based on my future earnings potential and the loan could change 2% per year with a 6% cap increase over the life of the loan. The broker told me that there was the risk that the rates could go up, but "when did that last was back in the 70's". I am sure my housekeeper and her husband heard the same story. But this time, it happened. And what are we to do about it? I worry about the haves vs. the have nots. We may lose our housekeeper because to raise her children, send her oldest to college, they have to move and rent another 30 miles away from us. Will we be able to keep her? Can she afford the gas to come this far? And if she can't can she get the same number of houses at the same rate in the area she will now live? I think the answer to all the above is no. They should not be "have nots", but the way things are going is forcing them into this category. Everyone talks about the divide being the class of living and spending. That is not what I worry about, I worry about that the divide will become so great that those who want to work won't be able and those who want to employ can't because there is no one available. It seems preposterous in a free market system but I can see a real life example staring us in the face and I don't like it.

Friday, September 5, 2008


I returned from the east coast earlier this week. What was supposed to have been an easy reentry with lots of time open to come back up to pace easily. Instead, it turned out to be a a wild week with calls, meetings, events, etc. It made me think that I need to be sure I get the angle of reentry right so I don't 1) skip off the atmosphere, or 2) and worse, burn up on reentry. I could imagine that either could happen easily if one doesn't watch it and be aware. I found myself a few times this week wishing I had made my 100 Business Days Out, to 200 Days. :) Doesn't mean I can't it there just isn't a construct around that for me to live within for awhile longer. I will need to learn better to put boundaries and constraints around my time....much better than I have done in the past. As I write this I am readying to go into the mountains for a few days and come off the grid all together...the first time I think I have ever done this. So, the time for reentry is not totally upon me yet, but it will be soon. It will be all about the angle.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ugly Americans

I'm disheartened by what I am seeing from the political process and this election cycle. The amount of pure cynicism and personal attacking and demeaning of the value of someones work and contributions to society is appalling. It's happening on both sides and it should stop. It's not right to look down on someones work experience and belittle it. What someone does with their time to serve our country and others whether it be as a Senator, a Governor, a Soldier, a Mayor, or a Community Organizer is special and should be celebrated and not demeaned. To listen to those who are supposed to be the leaders and role models to our country, the world, and most importantly to the leaders of tomorrow (who are looking for role models on how to behave), mock and belittle each other is nothing short of shameful. I get that it is politics but nothing absolves decency to each other. I have been in some heated discussions recently about the differences between the two parties and the leaders on both sides, but I ensure that I stop short of making a mockery of someones work. It's just not right. This political season was supposed to be about bringing out the best in us, to show the world and ourselves that we can operate differently and be better than we have been, and to bring in a new generation of voters who could look to their government and their leaders as positive influences on their lives. But, we are failing and sliding back into the ways of the past and we continue to earn that term "ugly Americans" from the rest of the world. Yesterday I was challenged on what political party was the party who welcomed in those of faith and moral values and which one was about trying to eliminate religion and moral values in our society. What I see is that that is not the core issue right now. That's a higher level of authenticity that we haven't even reached yet. It's still baseline fundamentals that need to be worked on first. What I see is that we need to make sure that both parties are living, talking and acting to the values they espouse. What I would like to see first and foremost from the candidates is that they treat each other like the way they want to be treated and start being decent and graceful in how they speak and act. Start with just being grateful of each other's service and work for the country. From there, I will accept whether or not they are being the person, or the party that they say they are. Until that happens, we can expect it to get worse and worse. We shouldn't stand for it and we should, with our vote, just make it stop.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

100 Business Days Out: Day 100 - PURPOSE.. (#1 Lesson)

And so it is, I am here. Day 100 of my 100 Business Days Out (in all honesty, I writing this two days later because it took me the extra time to really settle on this last post of this series. After 100 Business Days Out (which on some days seems an eternity and other days seems a blink of an eye), I have listened, talked, watched, experienced, and learned much. I started this journey as a way mush through what it is like to stop working cold turkey and figure out what to do next. Along the way there have been a lot of you have helped as you read the blog, dropped me a note of encouragement or said that something I have written resonated with you. I appreciate all of those comments. They helped a lot. I also during this 100 Business Days Out got to know myself again and to borrow Senator Clinton's line, "you helped me find my voice". Over the last 10 days I have tried and sum up the things I have learned during this period. That might have been more of a challenge than I was up to, but I hope the 10 lessons haven't been too trite. And on this last day, this last lesson, I don't want to stop the learning but rather transition from these 100 Business Days Out to another topic that has been the true lesson learned for me since April 3rd. I sincerely have no more clue what I should do next with myself than I did on April 3rd when I started this. It's too bad as I really wanted to have it nailed and be able to articulate it clearly on this 100th day. But, not to be and that's okay. It's okay with me because I went into this exercise time wanting to decide what I "should" be doing next. That "should" thing meant it would not be my own decision, it would be a decision informed by what is needed from me, what I could best contribute to make things better and what was important to be done. In summary, what was going to be my purpose going forward? And that is where I still am. I am listening and waiting for that call of purpose. Where does that call come from? For me, that call comes from God and no it doesn't come in a note in the mailbox like in the book "The Shack". God has never spoken to me that I could hear Him audibly. I believe He could if He wanted to and maybe He has tried and I wasn't willing or able to hear Him, but not likely. Instead, I believe God speaks to us through the Bible, through the intuitions we feel when we pray, through others who are like-minded, and through the circumstances of our lives. What I know to be true is that God does have a purpose for all of us. Whether or not, in our free-will that we are given, we choose to seek that purpose, find it, and live it, that is a different story. Where I am on this 100th Business Day Out is convinced that the lesson I was to learn during this period is that what I should be doing next is not within my own power but instead within the power beyond me and that it will not reveal itself to me until it is the right time and place that I am ready and willing to follow. It is the lesson of patience, faith and obedience.

In the meantime, the idea of purpose in what we do with our work is something I have long been passionate. We spend so much time in our work and it consumes, yes consumes like fire consumes wood and oxygen, all aspects of our lives, that we MUST seek our life purpose within our work if we are to ever be truly satisfied and fulfilled in what we do. I have many life experiences and have been blessed to have seen and done much within a short time that I want to give as much of that back as I can with the time left to do so. I don't know just yet the best way to do so, but I have come to how I should start. Beginning October 1, 2008, you can log into to find a daily business reflection of how to help make your working life more purposeful. I will be creating these for 365 days of work so that someone can drop in and check out as many as they would like, or follow along day to day. 365 small lessons to make the work life go a little better.

As for Bolts of Thinking, it will also continue and along the way with my random thoughts, I will keep you up to date with where I am seeing that purpose call coming from. And, when I answer it, I will be sure and let you know what it is that I decide to do next.

For now, thank you for being a part of my 100 Business Days Out travels. It has been my pleasure to give you a peak inside of me and I hope, that something along the way helped you too.


Monday, August 25, 2008

100 Business Days Out: Day 99 - FINISH LINES .. (#2 Lesson)

Funny, how it is for me when I come to the end of anything, I always feel like the finish line is the biggest let down vs. the moment of peaking. I am amazed by athletes who can so tune their bodies and their attitudes to be ready for just that moment of competition. We just finished seeing that in the Summer Olympic Games. Imagining the readiness of four years of hard work either being completed or shattered within a two-week period is hard for me to fathom. I went into this 100 Business Days Out expecting to have peaked right about now. For me the peak would be that I would have figured out everything that needed to be figured out, done what needed to have been done, worked through whatever emotions were to be worked through, etc. For the most part, the only part I really got done was to work through the emotions thing. I can say that I have successfully worked through these and feel pretty comfortable now in my own skin so that I can flex and move in a number of directions without the worry of my self-esteem cracking. What finally got me over that finish line was the realization that everyone wants to be in this position and I just got to it earlier than most and that I shouldn't feel guilty or weird about it. And no, I am not wasting my potential by taking the needed time to figure out what it is I should do next. That said, I do believe that I (nor anyone) should just fold up their talents and take them to the beach. Talents are different than potential. Talents can go away if not used and exercised. It's a whole different topic (and one I will write on soon in another forum) but an important one to recognize in life. But for me, right now, I am good with where I am mentally. So, the learning of the finish line is one that I can see and understand more clearly now than before. Arbitrary finish lines that we create in life are just that, they are arbitrary. But, I, and many others I know make these finish lines seem so real that when we complete them we are let down because we have given so much to get to one place not recognizing that there is another mile beyond that has to be traveled. And worse yet, we build up these finish lines to be so monumental that if we miss them, we are devastated by the incompleteness and we struggle to get back up and try again. I have been there myself and I have seen way too many people in their work lives reach for these artificial finish lines whether it be promotions, new jobs, financial attainments, or retirement dates. Each time, if a year, month, week or even a day off from what was expected there is a sense of failure that exceeds the accomplishment of how far they have come or the recognition of how close they are to achievement. For me, I have come to realize that there are no finish lines. All things I strive for and goals I set are just mile markers along the way, along the path to something bigger in my life that I may or may not ever know what it is. None of this means that I will stop setting goals and objectives (this is way too ingrained in me to stop now) but it does mean that I will think differently about the definition of finish lines going forward. If I can remove the need to create these finish lines within my life and instead move forward in a steady progress, I believe I will be happier because of this lesson learned.

Friday, August 22, 2008

100 Business Days Out: Day 98 - LIFE TAKES A BIT OF TIME... (#3 Lesson)

...AND A LOT OF RELATIONSHIP. I sure wish this was my quote. It's not. It comes from page 92 of the book, The Shack, written by William P. Young. It does not matter what you think of the content of the book, the quote is one that I felt was telling as a lesson for me during these 100 Business Days Out. I went into these 100Business Days Out pretty sure that within 100 Business Days (which is many more calendar days with holidays and weekends) I would have the answer as to what I should do next with my life. I mean, come on, of course I could have the answer within this frame time, this is a lot of time, right? Well, I would like to say that on Day 98 I have the answer, but I don't. And, what I have learned is that you can't push these things. The time frame is not really my time time frame, it's a time frame that is bigger than me and I just must adjust and fall in line with what I hear and and feel that I am being asked to do next. The quote in the book as it relates to "a lot of relationship" is a reference to the need of relationship with God. That is for me, a truth, but it also means to me that in order to work through life in the way we are supposed to, it takes "a lot of relationship" with others as well. A great lesson during these 100 Business Days Out has been the power of relationships in life, but also for me, the need I have for strong and healthy relationships with Patti, my family, and my friends. And, where life is usually filled with all the things that put in front of relationship building and nurturing, it should be the other way around. If the days we spend, at work, or not, we were to start with the relationship first and then back into the rest of life with the patience of time letting things work out then that would be a better path. This inward out approach is the approach I hope to carry with me through the rest of my life. I expect this to be a lesson that I will carry with me forward. While I would have hoped that I could have come to this realization while I was working my 60-70 hours a week, I don't think I would have been able to internalize and make the lesson real and actionable. As the quote says, life takes a bit of time. The same is true for me and my takes a bit of time for me too.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

100 Business Days Out: Day 97 - VERIFICATION AND VALIDATION (#4 Lesson)

During these 100 Business Days Out I spent a number of blog entries on the validation one receives from their work and how that affects self-esteem and self-worth. There is no doubt that had I fallen way more victim to the coupling of what I do/did to who I am than I ever thought I would. I beleive it must have snuck up on me over the years and with each and every time that I would describe myself first by my job title and company that I was subconsciously reinforcing the welding together of work and self-worth in my life. Once removed (which took the same force that it takes a torch to cut through a weld) I have become more comfortable in who I am and how I verfify who I am with others. I now don't start with what I do. I can't since I don't have that crutch. I am more discplined to be thoughtful in the description of who I am trying to "become". The learning that has been of the mostimpact for me is that the verfication of who you are by who you are working to become is what people really care about anyway. Sure, it is always immediately gratifying to see the eyebrows of someone go up when they hear that you work at a company they admire or your job position is one that they admire or aspire to achieve. But, like instant gratification, that is fleeting. What people really care about, if they will talk honestly and openly, is who you are a character filled and purposed human being. Even in the work world we are not drawn to emulate those who solely just do. We instead look up to those who do in a way we know is the right way; with integrity, caring, excellence and quality of the action. Isn't that what we want in our personal lives as well? So, I have come to learn (not easily) that the verification of who I am with others (who I know or may be meeting for the first time) is for them to see a human being who is working to become (I don't know that the journey ever ends) a quality, trustworthy, caring and positive human being. From that platform, I can then receive whatever validation I may need to hold up self-esteem and self-worth. Try the next time to answer the question, "what do you do?" with an answer that starts with, "well...what I am doing is working on becoming a better person by (fill in your own blank)...." It is in this answer to the everyday question that I have come to find more about how I verify and validate who I truly am.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

100 Business Days Out: Day 96 - THE MIND AND SPIRIT ARE MUSCLES TOO (#5 Lesson)

It's been great to exercise so much during these 100 Business Days Out. I am reminded daily of the price of age with my physical workouts whether it be a run, a bike, a swim or other activities. But, I am also reminded that both my mind and my spirit are like muscles as well that must be exercised to keep from atrophying. I have used the time away to read a whole bunch. Since June 25th I have read six books and will knock off another two or three before the end of the summer. Some of them, like James Fenimore Cooper's Pioneers, McGrath's Christian Spirituality, and Doris Kearn Goodwins' Team of Rivals, were honestly difficult reads. The others less so, but without a doubt I have been reminded that to keep up, the mind must be exercised as as diligently as the body. Also the discipline of this blog and other things I do for my mind have been great. Writing for myself and others is a great exercise of the mind for me. But just as important, if not more important, is the exercising of the spirit. What I mean by this is the spirit that is faith in God and love for one another. Just because one has faith in God does mot mean that this shouldn't be exercised as rigorously as the exercise of body and mind. I have found that the moments in my life that I have needed my faith to make it from point A to point B has each and every time been because my faith was strong enough already to get me there when needed. For me, I exercise this part of my spirit through a daily devotional time, prayer and time with other like minded people. But even harder is keeping the muscles of spirit around love for others strong. I'm not talking about the love we have for those in our families or love life, but I am talking about the love for the not so nice neighbor, the love for the fellow co-worker, the love for the person who doesn't expect the extra attention or care from you. I have lots of people like this every day in my life that if I am not careful and conscientious, I miss the opportunity to ask how they are or offer my assistance when they have a need. This summer I was challenged a number of times with this either through the finishing of the construction project here and the hassles that came from others during that time, or the uncertain times with Louie and seemingly uncaring doctors, etc. Each and every time I am faced with those moments, I have a choice to either respond in a loving and caring way or to take the easy way out and fight back or internalize a response that festers. We all know the heart is a muscle. I believe that the love that comes from our hearts can harden and atrophy, if not exercised, just like the physical heart that does not get enough exercise to keep it pumping the blood like it should. For me, it stands to reason that the mind and the spirit are two critical muscles that I must continuously exercise, like I do my body to ensure that I am living and becoming the person that I am supposed to be. Having the time to focus on this has been great and I anticipate continuing to build these muscles to their maximum strength and longevity for a lifetime of mental and spiritual health.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

100 Business Days Out: Day 95 - LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS... (#6 Lesson)

...WHILE YOU ARE PLANNING IT. How true is this? I think back to how I got to these first 100 Business Days Out and if I could rewind time nine months prior to April 3rd (the beginning of this free time)I would not have been able to tell you that I would have ended up with the company sold and me having all of this time to figure out what I should do next. It's a long story, which I am glad to tell anyone who is interested, but I will never forget the Friday afternoon about a year ago when I was standing in Penn Station getting ready to board a train and my cell phone rang from the investor who was going to lead the next investment round for SNOCAP. What I heard on the other end of the digital transmission was that because of this "issue" coming that had something to do with some problems with sub-prime mortgages (this was a few weeks before we read it in the papers)that this investor's hedge fund could not now make the investment in SNOCAP. That was the beginning of what ended up a decision a few months later to sell the company. I could not have known this was coming and was not planning for it, but it hit me out of the blue and it was real. That's a real life esample, but not a disastrous one like the deaths of Tim Russert and Randy Pausch were. I have written about both of them a couple of times during these 100 Business Days Out. They both hit me hard. The lesson that comes from these examples is that we just don't know what is going to come next. Change or tragedy, they both can come from left field as we are planning what tomorrow will bring. I am a planner. I always have been and I suspect always will be. I like to be able to see what is coming around the corner and be ready for it. And in many cases, that is what makes life run better for me, but that's not the way life always work. And because of that I know I can spend too much time looking to the future versus living in the present. These 100 Business Days Out have been really good for me on this front. I have found myself living more in the moment, perhaps because there is nothing to plan for the future, but I would like to believe it is because I am listening more to the heeding of others who for one reason or another have missed days and opportunities in their lives. Once a day is lost, it can't be taken back and beleive me, they go faster and faster each year. So, I know now more than ever that life is just what happens, reagardless of what you plan and how you plan for it. And with this lesson, it is more imperative than ever that I make the most of each and every precious day I am given.

Monday, August 18, 2008

100 Business Days Out: Day 94 - BOREDOM IS A CHOICE (#7Lesson)

When I was a kid I would get punished when I used the word "bored" or said, "I was bored". I was taught that there are too many things to do in life to ever become bored. It didn't make sense to me at the time, but it sure does now. There is never a reason to be bored. I marvel at the people I know who have retired and come back to work because they got bored. What I have learned over these nearly 100 Business Days Out is that becoming bored is a choice that one makes or not. I personally can't imagine that I would ever get bored, what with all that I want to do but haven't even been able to get to yet. What I think happens is that people misinterpret doing what they have always done (as the easy and known way) and trying and learning new things (the harder and more unknown) and when the new is too hard or they aren't good at it the first time, they stop. Then, they run out of things to do and consequently, they choose to become bored. I have seen some of that in me too. There are things which I want to learn to be good. They are new and different to me. They are hard and take time...maybe even the rest of my life to become good at them. They use different physical or mental muscles and because I know the things I am good at already (and like doing them and when I did them because I was good at them I got praised or rewarded) I want to continue to do them over and over. That would be a good reason to go back to work. But what an interesting and difficult cycle life can become. We take and change jobs because the work seems boring. We go back to work because we are getting bored out of work. The lesson to me is that boredom is clearly nothing but a choice of attitude and approach to life. There is no shortage of things for me to do, whether I am good at them or not. And, maybe this isn't the point in the first place. It's not whether I am good at them or not, it's what I am trying and doing to become good at something or to do good with what I do. My parents were right, and how much better we might all be if we felt punished or felt guilty every time we throught we were bored. Imagine the possibilities of the new things we would try and do if we all thought this way.

Friday, August 15, 2008

100 Business Days Out: Day 93 - YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE...(#8 Lesson)

...WHEN NO ONE ELSE IS LOOKING. It is true, you are who you are when no one else is looking. I knew this going into the 100 Business Days Out, but I did not comprehend it as fully as I know it now. What I know now, after this time of no one else looking is that there is a "me" that becomes the default for the things I will do and not do when left to my own time, demands and constraints. I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago who is a recruiter and he says that he sees a lot of executives who go to take time off and they end up in a bad place with bad behaviors, etc. I guess I can see that happening to people too as their default mode would be that when no one is looking. For me, I have found that when no one is looking I have come back to the basics: spirituality, relationships, physical conditioning, and doing my best within those three areas. It's not really true that I never have anyone looking, as there is family and friends and they each set their own level of accountability with me, but when I remove all others (work and outside influences) I find a life baseline that is more me than not. What I have also found to be true is when I remove these other "eyes" that I am driven more on fundamental principles of human nature. For example, I have found that bad habits are easy to establish and hard to break and good habits are hard to establish and easy to break. That is why, when all is said and done, I need others to be looking. I need others; family , friends, and yes, the outside influences to help me be accountable and be stronger than what I would be without them. I think of just the simple things that I do for myself that are good. I am a runner. I like to run and when I don't, I get irritable and don't feel good about myself. So, I will run, with or without others watching. But, to run a little further, push myself a little harder and add a stronger base for the future, I need other influences to push me. Signing up for a race and then letting others know I am going to do it helps me get pushed to train harder and complete the race as best I can. I can take this philosophy into my spiritual and relationship categories of my life as well. So, I have learned that I am who I am, regardless, but to think that life can be lived in a cocoon and still become the best I can be, is a fallacy. I need to have others watching to be the best I can be.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

100 Business Days Out: Day 92 - REAL FRIENDS (#9 Lesson)

As hard as it is to realize, your "real friends" are those that call and reach out to you when they don't need anything from you. During this 100 Business Days Out, I have seen both sides of this. Early in the time away there was a flurry of people who reached out to "help and assist". They were well intentioned and they would have done what I needed if there was something to be done. And, I want to believe that they would have done it because they wanted to, not because they knew if they did something for me, I would be there to return the deed in the future. Then there were those who knew I had time on my hands and they reached out for me to assist them. This ranged from taking meetings, reviewing businesses, giving career advice, making connections and introductions, etc. I did a lot of this. It felt (superficially I have since learned) connected and "in the game". These were the most disappointing interactions as some of them became very deep and elongated and at the end of what the other person needed, they disappeared. In fact, with two long time friends who were going through job changes I spent a whole bunch of hours on the phone with them and then never heard anything since. In fact, one of them, after giving references, talking to the headhunter to help build his development plan in the new company, etc. I can't even get an email response back from him to see how things turned out. What I have determined is that while these are people who I would call good friends, they are not "real friends". What I have learned is that "real friends" are the ones who care about you and reach out to help when there is no return need, or no need at all other than to be there for you. During these 100 Days Out for me, there have been six people who fit into this category. These are the people who have been checking in by email or phone calls to just "see how you are". You know who you are, and I thank you. What this lesson as taught me is that as I build this next phase of life that the time I have to spend should be spent with those that meet the criteria of "real friends". With so little time left, it is more important than ever to recognize that this is where it should be spent. The lesson also tells me that I need to do my own soul-searching and decide who I can be a "real friend" to as well. I am just as guilty as the others and I am sure there are people who feel the same about me as I might feel about them when I don't call or write. The lesson goes both ways and it is a real lesson to learn; the lesson of how to be a real friend.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

100 Business Days Out: Day 91 - EXPERIENCE (#10 Lesson)

I can't find out who exactly said it first (lots of people take credit for it) but the quote "a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument" is a lesson from these 100 Business Days Out that I will cerainly take with me. It can be said in many other ways, like walk 100 miles in the shoes of another man, etc. but the point is the same, in order to talk about someting with authority it is better to have experience vs. just talk about doing it. I always felt that way in my business life and for those who I managed, I always told them that they needed to be in the middle of the fray to understand what was really going on and to be able to speak from a position of credibility. Without this, you were just an observer. These 100 Business Days out for me have allowed me to walk in the shoes of those who have been out of work, either by choice or had the rug pulled out from under them. I have a new language that I can speak with others who have gone or are going through the same thing. It's like speaking a foreign language. You think you can do it but it's not until you become fluent in the language through immersion that you understand the nuances and messages behind the words. It is now, through these 100 Business Days out that I have come to an experience that wins out over any argument. This is a lesson that I take with me and encourage you to think the same when you are up against an issue or dealing with something that someone else is going through. Take a walk in the experience and shoes of others and on the backside of it, you will see a different side of you and a credible side will be seen by others.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

100 Business Days Out: Day 90 - What I Have Learned About Myself in 100 Days

It's now 90 business days since SNOCAP was sold to imeem and I found myself not working, or knowing what the next job would be, for the first time since I was 15 years old. 15 years old was a looong time ago. Today we had a visit from my god daughter Kristin and her family. She's 20 now and going to be a junior in college. She's 5 years older than when I was 15 and when she was talking about what to do after college and the summer job that she has now, I was reminded of the work ethic that was instilled in me at that age and before, and why I have been such a work-aholic all of these years. The 90 days out have been good for me. What I don't know is what happens after the first 100, but I am sure I will figure that out as it comes. What I am going to do, starting tomorrow, to finish out this series, is take each day and share the 10 things I think I have learned within this 100 days. I don't know if any of them will be earth-shattering, but they are me and I want to share back with others what this blessing of time has meant to me. So, stay tuned and thanks to everyone who has reached out in support, care and concern. Each of you are appreciated. The first of ten lessons/learning come tomorrow...