Monday, December 29, 2008

I Should Be in Costa Rica

Here is a picture from last Christmas. Notice that I am asleep in a hammock with a coke in my hand. Also notice the camouflage hawaiian shirt (I actually bought it in Costa Rica the previous year). We saw the movie 4 Christmases this evening - it was entertaining - but my main takeaway was plan another trip to a warm area next Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Benjamin Zander: Classical music with shining eyes

I first saw Ben Zander at a P&G event - and over the course of 3 hours or so he covered everything from leadership skills to how everything is possible. His book is titled "The Art of Possibility" and it is an amazing read. Here is a short excerpt I found on youtube of one of his speeches - this is an neat exercise about taking something that is not that popular today (like classical music) and demonstrating the connections we all can have to it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Border Fence?

(Warning - this blog is among my "Swiftian" modest proposal type blogs)

As per the cartoon above - Aren't we all here illegally? It's like yelling "shotgun" or something, but as a nation we believe we should keep people from continuing to come here to try and find a better life even though that was the basis of how our modern society was founded (much to the dismay of the Native Americans who were here before us). But I want to quickly get to my point. I feel it isn't much of a stretch to state that many on the the right side of the political scale are for protectionism when it comes to immigration. A more extreme position has been to even identify and "round up" the millions of illegal immigrants currently living in the US and deport them (as if that were possible) but I'm not here to discuss that.

I'm going to take a tough "devil's advocate" position to defend in a recession (but thinking macro-scopically) - Doesn't this protectionism against immigration (either legal or illegal, which I will now call "pilgrim style") come from a fear of scarcity? As if there isn't enough to go around? That we need to block people out because they could be taking money from us either though "stealing jobs" or through public works projects and funds. I'm going to put that position against another "right side of the political scale" position of a free market economy.

What hit me this weekend when Dale showed me this cartoon, was that those on the right of the political scale who typically have a protectionism mindset on immigration are also generally on the side of a free market when it comes to the economy. Sooooo... why not just compete against immigrants for the resources - "free market" style. If it is so easy for "them" to steal "our jobs" then isn't that the free market at work? Besides isn't it a conservative position to take to say "everyone for themselves?" - yet we want government to help us keep "our jobs" and "our resources" and "our opportunities" just for the privileged of us who got here "Sooner".

In summary - my Devil's advocate position is to embrace an ever changing global world and remove artificial "protectionistic measures" and just compete for resources. This will drive the need for skilled labor, continuing education, and working hard. The best way to protect yourself is to make yourself move valuable to the economy through education, training, and work ethic. Besides - if someone wants to come to the US and is willing to work harder than some of our lazy, entitled teens, then our country will only be stronger for embracing the engines of the economy instead of fighting to protect the economic drains.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tips for Better Life in 2009

My friend Dave D. sent these to me an I wanted to share them with you!

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the
ultimate anti-depressant.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have

3. Buy a DVR and tape your late night shows and get more sleep.

4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My
purpose is to __________ today.'

5. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

6. Play more games and read more books than you did in 2008.

7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer. They
provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.

8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.

9. Dream more while you are awake.

10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is
manufactured in plants.

11. Drink green tea and plenty of water.. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan
salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.

12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

13. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and
flowing energy into your life.

14. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of
the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest
your energy in the positive present moment.

15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are
simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class
but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a
college kid with a maxed out charge card.

17. Smile and laugh more. It will keep the energy vampires away.

18. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

22. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

23. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey
is all about.

24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will
this matter?'

26. Forgive everyone for everything.

27. What other people think of you is none of your business.

28. GOD heals almost everything.
29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will.
Stay in touch.

31. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

32. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

33. The best is yet to come.

34. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

35. Do the right thing!

36. Call your family often. (Or email them to death!!!) Hey I'm thinking
of ya!

37. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am
thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________.

38. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

39. Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney World and you certainly
don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the
most of it and enjoy the ride.

40. Please Forward this to everyone you care about.

May your troubles be less, May your blessings be more, May nothing but
happiness come through your door!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Few Quick Hot Topics

I could probably write a blog on each of these but they are piling up too fast. So here's some flotsam and jetsam from the top of my head.

1) Giants WR Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg at a NY night club while carrying a concealed weapon. Apparently he used to have a permit for this weapon in Florida (I thought I heard it had expired) AND NY doesn't allow concealed weapons so he is facing 2 felony weapons charges. Apparently NY also passed what they call the "P. Diddy" law which carries a mandatory 3.5 year sentence for felony weapons charges (I guess P. Diddy got out of serving time for similar charges and NY wasn't about to let it happen again). Now here's where I have a problem. Michael Vick was sentenced to almost 2 years for executing and torturing numerous dogs, not to mention the abuse to the remaining 47 dogs who were rescued (and he was at this for years). Vick was intentionally and purposefully torturing these animals for his sick pleasure - and he may serve 1/2 as much time as Plaxico Burress who is - in my opinion - just an idiot. I am much less concerned about having Plaxico Burress roaming the streets than I am about Vick. I think Michael Vick is sick in the head and unfeeling people like that are dangerous. Plaxico on the other hand probably isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer - but I believe he is less a menace to be roaming the streets.

2) From a great debate I heard on the way home on the radio - A 24 year single old woman was denied a prescription for birth control from her doctor because he ethically disagreed with her choice to engage in sex before marriage (never mind all of the other reasons to be on birth control including regulating periods and acne but that's not the point). The doctor actually went so far as to lecture her about her morals. Now I don't have an issue with the Doctor having a religious opinion on the matter but I do object to the patient not receiving LEGAL medical options available today because her Doctor disagreed with it. In fact - I think it is in some ways discrimination. I think it is fine for the Doctor NOT to chose that for himself, but his job is to provide care for his patients and I was surprised to hear that it was possible for him to basically be the judge on whether or not you should be allowed to use contraception. In fact - this month Bush is pushing for a bill in congress which would give Doctors MORE authority to be selective in their care of patients based on religious beliefs. Now you can see things get murky - I actually don't have an issue with a doctor choosing not to perform an abortion based on the Doctor's views - but to leave that off the table for a patient who is relying on a Doctor to understand all of their medical options seems wrong. I was unaware how much of an issue this was in doctors offices today. In fact - apparently doctors are not giving patients all of their possible legal choices for health care based on their religious beliefs, and as you can guess this includes not informing patients on their options for birth control, abortion, and end of life issues such as being removed from a ventilator etc. I think if a Doctor doesn't want to perform a vasectomy that's fine - but if they are actually knowingly withholding medical information about LEGAL options from their patients then they have gone too far and probably shouldn't be doctors. Imagine if someone refused to sell you a house because they disagreed with your country of origin. There are laws in place in real estate to prevent discrimination and it should be similar in medicine. If you are in a profession but disagree with available and LEGAL options I don't think you should be able to impose your views on others who are relying on you as a resource. What if your Doctor witheld chemotherapy options from your inoperable cancer and you didn't even know it was an option until it was too late and your Doctor let you die because their religion (maybe scientology) didn't believe in chemical fixes? It's maddness.

3) Big 3 Bailout. I say no. Here's why - it's an entire industry in the US that is not competitive because of cost structure and the only way to get out of archaic union contracts is in bankruptcy. By keeping the existing companies afloat as is - it only prolongs the misery. In fact - the only people the current employees of the Big 3 should be pissed at are all of the previous generations of big 3 employees who retired on fat pensions and were paid above market values for labor that was locked up in union contracts. If you see an industry with gross amounts of waste - people working less than market hours for guaranteed salaries and contracts retiring with huge benefits (that are now crippling the companies) - RUN, don't walk, away from that industry as a profession.