March 2006

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March 1, 2006 W #

Secretarial Efficiency

The next emerging Holiday is Easter. How do I know this? Because today I walked by our secretary's desk and the pink and red chocolates had been replaced with jelly beans! I love jelly beans! Aren't secretaries great? They don't even need to send out an announcement to let us know what season it is. They kindly arrange candy to subliminally tell everybody what's happening on the calendar, and we kindly enjoy the message.

March 2, 2006 R #

Social Security is a Crock!!!

I just got my Social Security statement in the mail today. I didn't realize they were robbing that much money from me!!! I'm IRATE!!!. 6.2% from my paycheck, matched by 6.2% from my employer. If I were self employed, that would be 12.4% gone for every dollar taken home. What kind of Highway Robbery is this? Everybody looks for a good rate on an auto loan, a good mortgage rate, and a good rate of return on our investments... and then we idly sit by and let the government take 12.4% of everything we earn? A guaranteed 12.4% return on my 401Kwould be great. Killing the Social Security thief would result in that percent based on my WHOLE SALARY, not just the percentage I put away!!! Everybody knows that, at best, we'll see pennies on the dollar from Social Security. Nobody wants to keep it around. What the F#@K?

W. Bush!!! The tax cuts are great, but get back on the horse and lead the charge again for this Social Security Reform!!!! Democrats!!! This is a Present Crisis! I have earnings as far back an 1994 that show this is and has been a Crisis!!! Sure, the program hasn't collapsed yet, but it's not the program I'm worried about. Its' the 12.4%!!!!!!!!


We can save more money by killing /Reforming Social Security than we'll ever save by bargain shopping. This year alone I paid the equivalent of two thirds of my car!!! Democrat or Republican, Let's get on rampage about this silent parasite!!!

March 8, 2006 W #

Favorite Spoon

My spoon returned. It disappeared over a month ago, and I despondently accepted the loss after four weeks. I've had this spoon ever since I lived in Reno, five summers ago in 2001. It's traveled with me to every apartment I've lived in, and I've kept it guarded from the vicious eater of spoons dubbed the garbage disposal. It's the perfect shape, the perfect weight, and perfectly balanced. It departed with my roommates family on a road trip, but alas, it has found it way home. Happy Day.

And I got taken down by that unusually heavy cold that has been hitting people this winter. But at least I got in a good Saturday first.

Cheyney earned her spot on the highly respectable climbers list this weekend. All the girls led every climb for the day, and then Cheyney and Rene decide they want to hit this second pitch 5.9. Cheyney took the first run at it, pushing her lead level. I was on the ground and watched her take the smoothest 12' lead fall ever. But it wasn't just the smooth lead fall, it's the fact that she didn't once hang or chicken out before the fall. It was a genuine, "I'm not giving up. I can make it. I can... <woosh>... I guess I didn't make it." She kept her head on, and went back at it. That's the way to climb.

Newly resoled shoes stick to each other.

If you're not sick, I guess this Echinacea herb is pretty good for your immune system. Just in case you ask for it and don't want to sound like an idiot, it's pronounced"ek-in-asia", that last syllable sounds like the continent Asia. It's not "etch-in-a-sea-a." Stupid non-phonetic spelling.

March 9, 2006 R #

My Mom wrote these thoughts she had recently. It's pretty good, so I asked if I could post it... with some pictures from way back in the Philippines when she references these experiences. Keep in mind that my Mom is a decorator, with an immaculate house, and even with 5 boys she always kept it clean. (and for reference at the bottom, my Dad is now a Captain flying the A-320 for Northwest Airlines... the same company that filed for bankruptcy in October '05.)

Desire vs. Expectations

___Yesterday I was listening to the Dennis Prager radio show. He is Jewish and is very appreciative of what the Christians of the United States have done for the Jewish community world wide. He feels like the Christian values of this country have saved his people. Anyway, yesterday he interviewed a professor who has just written a book called Desire, and they were discussing that whole part of our inner selves. This professor said that he was at a shopping mall one day and realized most of the people there were wandering around hoping something they saw would spark a desire in them. When they saw that item they would purchase it, then in a few days they would be back at the mall looking to fill their desire again. He then started down this path of exploring this subject of desire. He said he realized that there were those who came to the mall with a purpose in mind and got it done and were then gone. They knew what they wanted. He said his whole journey on this subject has changed him a lot and he is a much happier person because of it.
___One area he talked about is the difference between desire and expectation. He said that when we desire something of value we move forward perusing it because it is something we want to make us better inside. When we go after something because we have expectations there is always the large possibility of disappointment. Dennis then shared an experience he had that illustrated that very principle. When he wrote his first book entitled Happiness is Serious Business, he wrote it because he had given several lectures on the subject and wanted to write them down in a more orderly manner. He was encouraged to publish the book so he did with no expectation. He was rather surprised that it made #8 or 9 on the New York Times Best Seller list. It was on the list for 11 weeks. One Sunday he checked to see where it was for that next week and didn't see it on the list so he said he was happy and surprised it had been on for that long and didn't think more of it. The next morning he had a call from a friend congratulating him on his book. He was surprised and said "it isn't even on the list any more." His friend said that it had gone to #1 on the list. He was totally surprised, and realized that he had no expectation of it even doing as well as it had ,so when he looked at the list he didn't even check to see if it was above 8 or 9. He had written the book out of desire not expectation.
___I thought back on some experiences in my life when I realized this very principle but did not put a name on it. Actually there have been several but this one I will share is the one that came to mind as I was listening to the discussion. When Dad finished pilot training we packed up and headed to Scott AFB near St. Louis. He had to train from January to April in the C9. We arrived there in the dead of winter (Greg was not quite 2 yet and Bryan was not quite 1). The only place we could find to rent was an attic of a house made into a makeshift apt. At one end of the attic was a bed and the other was a little counter with an oven, sink, and a couple of cupboards with a couch in between. We only had one car and dad had to take it to the base every day so I was in this attic with 2 kids most all day every day. It took some work to keep my sanity.
___We finally escaped this attic and headed to the Philippines. We drove half way across the country, then flew half way around the world (with a 1 and 2 year old). When we got to the Philippines we could not get into our house for about 6 weeks so we were in a trailer (worse than any redneck would even stay in). It had no windows with 2 window air conditioning. It was so hot you could not be outside during the day. It had no kitchen because we were supposed to eat at a cafeteria. There were cockroaches everywhere and I would put our bed in the middle of the floor with all the covers up off the floor for fear that the cockroaches would crawl on me at night. The 3rd or 4th night there I got up to go to the bathroom and one of my feet broke through the floor of the bathroom. Dad had been sent out on a trip at the time so he was in Japan, and I was half way around the world with 2 little kids living in a cockroach, gecko infested trailer with my 2 little sons. I must say it was a moment of reality in my life. My expectations of life were not being met!!!!
___I remember that night I felt very alone and dark and abandoned. After a good cry I went to sleep and the next morning I realized that the only thing I could change was my perspective and I could only be happy if I chose to. I had brought a book by Brother Skousen entitled The Fourth Thousand Years. I had wanted to read it but had not got the motivation. So I decided that I would just play with Greg and Bryan happily until they took then nap, and then my treat for the day would be to read that book during their nap and at night after they were in bed. So I did. Every day I would get up in that dark trailer, get the boys dressed, walk over to the cafeteria in the hot as an oven heat to get them breakfast, then leave the cafeteria in shambles (a 2 and 1 year old don't exactly stay in one place or not throw food and spill stuff). Then we would play in that dark trailer with no windows (they had boarded them over to keep the air conditioning in). Then about 1:00 they would take their nap and I would get to read. The interesting thing was that after I changed my attitude that trailer became my oasis for learning. That book was filled with knowledge and understanding and was so awesome. I enjoyed my time of play with our sons, and in the trailer next to ours I met another girl my age that had 2 kids who became my best friend the whole time we were in the Philippines (the Webers). My desire became what I was going for; not my expectations.
___These past few months it has been interesting to see Dad go through a similar process. When we realized we were having to take a 40% pay cut he has realized that his expectations for his life were dissolving right before his eyes. It has been a struggle to realize that the retirement you thought was going to be there is possibly not. And the income you were expecting is not there any more. There was a lot of anxiety. Then as the union has been in negotiation with the company the last few weeks, he has realized that the company is willing to close the doors of Northwest rather that give in to the unions. So instead of lamenting the fact that retirement might not be there and that income is a lot less, the concern has changed to hoping that he has a job and does not have to change careers. Suddenly the current paycheck became so much more valuable. As we have talked he has come to the realization that no matter what happens he will do whatever needs to be done and he will make it through. He also has realized that there could be opportunity in the future with no airline. Saving his job is his desire but not his expectation, consequently whatever happens he will handle it and appreciate where he is no matter where that is.
___I share this just as some experiences from our lives that have changed us for the better. Listening to this professor put names on the elements of the experiences. My feeling has been for a long time that no matter what happens in our lives, if we choose to be happy and take control of whatever is available at the moment for happiness we will, at any time in our life be able to say "Life is good" and really be able to list the things we are grateful for at the moment.


Life has come a long way.

To be honest, I almost want to see Northwest Airlines fold. One of the major airlines needs to fall, and one of them will as soon as the government stops propping them up. I've seen my Dad under pressure. I've seen him rise to the occasion. The airline job is secure, but he's done a lot of other cool stuff, and even though it would be a scare, I think he'd enjoy the challenge of launching a new career. He'll come out on top, and it will add a whole new dimension to the life he gets to live. He knows he can be a star in the Air Force. He knows he can do the airline thing. Let's see what else he's got up his sleeve.

March 18, 2006 S #

A word to the wise. If you cancel climbing because it's going to be cold and rainy, it's probably not a good idea to go mountain biking instead.

On second thought, it was worth going, even though the weather was exactly as expected.

April: ... and I love that quote "Twenty years experience is different than one year experience repeated twenty times."
Me: That's the coolest thing I've ever heard! Who said that?
April: What?!?! You said that!!! Three years ago... we were walking... by those trees...

The irony of that conversation.

I wrote my first letter of recommendation for someone. That's pretty cool. One of our interns from last summer is applying for a position in Directed Energy (Laser Blasters, in kid language), and he asked me to write one of his recommendations. He did a stellar job with us, so it was an easy thing to write.

The final word came from MIT. I'm in the LFM program. I'm stoked, but I've been stoked all week, so the stoked-ness is kind of expended enough that it's not going to come out in this blog. It'll be a great place to be though. Precisely my kind of people, exactly what I want to study, and everything else good about it. Two months left in sunny LA, and then it's off to Boston... where we have seasons.

Most parties are just parties, but this pirate thing I'm heading tonight... check out the pirate site they made for this thing. I'm tempted to say they have too much time on their hands, but when done in this quality, it's time well spent. Especially the trailer.

March 26, 2006 O #

My Dad got me reading The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. Excellent read so far. Highly recommended for anybody even semi interested in this changing world, and what has caused it to change as it has.

I just finished reading two of the ten forces that have flattened the world, and thought I'd participate in Friedman's point by posting on my blog, which I compose on my PC computer (Flattener #1: Person - PC Connectivity), and which can be read by anybody in the entire world using the Netscape Browser and the vast overcapacity of fiber optic communication lines laid across the world (Flattener #2 - Computer Connectivity).

Now I use FireFox because Netscape revolutionized computer communication and has continued advancing. I haven't read flattener #3 yet, but the title implies that it has to do with my Outlook email and organization software, which I use to contact people I personally interact with, as opposed to this blog that interacts with anyone anonymously.

Friedman also mentioned sharing files, such as music files. I'm a supporter of copyright laws and buying music instead of stealing it, but I still like posting my favorite music on my blog wherein it accents my blog like pictures do. I like to post thoughts, sights, and sounds (Still haven't figured out how to post taste or smell).

So I took off to ride my bike, put in one of my techno cd's I haven't listened to for a while, and rediscovered one of the coolest series of three songs on almost any cd. You have to listen to them seamlessly (and loud) or the effect isn't as good.

Feel the Noise -Heartbeatz -Jiga Jiga

And the guy who I wrote the recommendation for got the Job!!! I now have a friend engineering Laser Blasters!!!

On another note... mixed as exciting and disappointing (very much in line with life in reality) SpaceX launched their first rocket on Friday... and lost it 29 seconds into flight.

Hit their web site and click on Updates for more detail, but in a nutshell, they had a fuel leak and resultant fire that impaired the system, so the valves closed and the rocket shut down. All other systems were performing perfectly.

I am appreciative of the Air Force / DARPA / NASA response to this incident.
From Elon's post...

"I am very encouraged and grateful that our launch customers took the time to call and express their support of SpaceX when their reaction could easily have been the opposite.  We will stand by them as they have stood by us.  SpaceX is in this for the long haul and, come hell or high water, we are going to make this work."

And a worthwhile note to put this effort in perspective...

"A friend of mine wrote to remind me that only 5 of the first 9 Pegasus launches succeeded; 3 of 5 for Ariane; 9 of 20 for Atlas; 9 of 21 for Soyuz; and 9 of 18 for Proton.  Having experienced firsthand how hard it is to reach orbit, I have a lot of respect for those that persevered to produce the vehicles that are mainstays of space launch today."

I say keep up the drive... and I know they will.

March 28, 2006 T #

What You Enjoy Doing

I just got up from a good nap this morning, listening to the rain before going into work. I needed to let some dream cycles run on several thoughts I've been processing lately.

"You have to do what you enjoy doing."

Peter Diamandis (X Prize) said that to me when he took the time to talk with me about MIT and my plans for commercial space exploration. Jack Welch made the same statement at the closing of his second book, Winning. Jack Welch has been the Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods of Business (GE)... because he loves doing it. It wasn't the status that he loved, it was the doing. I have chosen commercial manned space exploration because of the doing required for this industry (among many other reasons). Even at that, there is so much doing that must be done, I have to do what I enjoy doing. All of it is important, and all of it is interesting, but not all of it is stuff I will necessarily enjoy doing. Enjoy understanding? Yes. Enjoy doing? Maybe not. It's not always easy to anticipate what I will enjoy doing... especially knowing how diverse my interests are, and how intensely I get interested in new things or unexplored facets of the whole big picture.

I enjoy creating understanding. In this flattening world, the importance of correct understanding is higher than ever, but the price tag on access to understanding is lower than ever. The ability to recognize and retain correct understanding is the talent that I personally need in order to thrive. The ability to gather/create correct understanding, and to share that with people interested in my same objectives (not just business objectives, but life-wide objectives), will be critical to my success. It will not be enough for me alone to carry correct understanding. I need everyone surrounding me to carry correct understanding... each of us to the extent of our sphere or influence. It is critical that I learn to recognize people who carry correct understanding, and to team with them.

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, declares his personal goal is "To give every single person free access to the sum of all human knowledge." That's a pretty cool goal... I think it's cooler than walking on the moon. But he has his goals and I have mine, and I'll enjoy getting to the moon more than creating access to the sum of all human knowledge. I think Jimmy Wales is more cool than me, but I'm fine with that.

Coupled with understanding, we get execution, or doing, as the completing counterpart. No need to expound on that now.

This world is flattening, and I didn't realize it until now, but the LFM program at MIT (Leaders for Manufacturing), is focused in precisely the skills that will enable companies to compete and take full advantage of this flattening world. Hats off to the foresight of the MIT professors who founded LFM seventeen years ago with this particular focus. It's not just Engineering and Business hodgepodged together. Stanford tried that and it didn't work. It's Internal and Global Operations, Manufacturing management and technology, Supply Chain and Distribution, handling people as well as information, technology as well as best practices, and so forth. Companies can no longer compete on a mere technological or innovative advantage. LFM focuses on the most critical transition facing companies over the last decade and this coming decade.

It has happened to me before, that I've discovered some new understanding about myself or the world, only to see that I have somehow landed myself in a prime position to take full advantage of the conditions. I've been highly interested in LFM for several reasons, but I didn't realize how much more the program had to offer... more than I was initially seeking. I'm still not sure what to think about finding myself in these situations. I usually don't intend to get myself positioned in such a way. I just chase 90 miles an hour after smaller goals within my reach, and then look up to find myself poised for a larger goal. I do what I enjoy doing, with my eyes open to the landscape for strategic consideration. Then one day I look up, and realize that there's an even larger and more exciting goal right there in front of me.

Now I need to get into work. So much for a nap on a rainy morning.

This is a personal web page. Things expressed here do not represent the position of my employer.

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