Archives For June 2012

I am starting a new tradition here called Photo Saturday. I have a vacation portfolio of more than 10,000 pictures so I thought I would pull some out every Saturday. I hope you enjoy them.

The SR-71 Blackbird has always been one of my favorite airplanes. This one is located at the Air Force Museum in Dayton Ohio. This is kind of a different view.  If you are interesting in the history of flight this museum is top rate.

Opportunities….

June 29, 2012

‎”Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”– Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison certainly wasn’t one to shy away from work. Another of his famous quotes was.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

People, no matter the period, have always dreamed of striking it rich; we want instant wealth with the least amount of work possible. That is what drives all the lotteries that currently rake in billions of dollars each year. That is what keeps all the casinos that are popping up in almost every State still growing. That is what keeps the scammers alive and prospering on the Internet. We just can’t seem to learn the lesson that if it looks too good to be true it probably is. We are a sucker for anything that would make us instantly rich.

Everyone wants to get rich without all the perspiration.  But as Edison so aptly put it in the above quotes opportunity and genius don’t just happen; they take work to accomplish. I know we see all the movies and TV shows that tell us that thirty year olds are at the head of most research labs, corporations, and such but that simply is not the reality.  It takes a lot of perspiration and hard work, sometime for many years, to accomplish most of what is worthwhile in this world. For the most part thirty year olds are just at the beginning of that process. You don’t become a genius without the work.

When the first personal computer came out it became a passion for me.  I spent hours and hours of my own time learning to program it. One weekend I remember the most is when I started working on an app Friday evening after I got off work and did not stop until Sunday afternoon. I spent about 42 hours non-stop with no sleep and not much more than chips to eat. I would call that passion. I went from there to getting a Macintosh computer for work and writing some programs that helped me do my job. Soon after that I was writing apps for my entire work team. When my new talent was discovered by my superiors I went on to managing a team of applications engineers for an entire engineering division. I plateaued at that point because those above me could not see a deaf man leading an entire IT department. Sad for me but it was mainly their loss.

Anything worth accomplishing is worth the effort to make it happen.

Source: Windows 8: We kick the tyres on Redmond’s new tablet wheels • The Register.

Why is it that the once innovative start-up companies turn into stodgy of slow-moving monoliths? Of course in my mind Microsoft is currently at the front of this pack. I remember when Windows first came out to compete with Apple products.  They were a young and brash bunch back then. They actually started the business by writing an operating system for the current monolith called IBM. The stories about how all the Microsoft guys would dare to show up in meetings between the two companies without suit and ties was the topic of the day back then. The Microsoft guys just didn’t play by the same rules as those stodgy IBM “suits”.

It’s funny how one company can go one way and another a different path. As I mentioned Apple and Microsoft pretty much started at the same time but have taken very different paths since then. Apple continues today to be the innovator to watch while Microsoft who now imitates others and is watched mainly to see when they will fall from dominance. They have now become the IBM that they so loathed back then while Apple, at least for now, continue to bring out new innovative things on a regular basis.

Will there come a day when Apple will also go stodgy? Is the death of its founder Steve Jobs a beginning of that process? Maybe, maybe not.  When the business sector fully embraces Apple products and they are doing that with the iPad now, Microsoft’s dominance in the operating system and business apps will wither away.  Someday I would love to tell the folks at the large communications company that forced our engineering division from Macs to Windows PC “I told you so…” but given how slow big business moves even now that time may well be years away.

The “start-up kids” growing into major corporations is on the wane now due to the cash rich companies like FaceBook and Microsoft who gobble them up while they are still infants in the industry.  But someday again their will be a brash kid who says no to all that money and becomes the next radical leader to take over an industry. The future economic health of our country, as in the past, depends on that happening.

To close will the Microsoft tablet which is “almost as good as an iPad” become a success. Given the recent history of the company I kind of doubt it….

source: Whites Account for Under Half of Births in U.S. – NYTimes.com.

After years of speculation, estimates and projections, the Census Bureau has made it official: White births are no longer a majority in the United States.

I bet the racist blogs this morning are white-hot, pun intended, talking about this article! But for myself I say it is about time. I think that our strongest point as a nation is our diversity. We generally don’t have one segment of society having total say on the rest of us. Now I am not inferring that the tyranny of the majority doesn’t, or hasn’t, reared its ugly head in the U.S. but generally those periods are eventually overthrown by the vote.

Just look at other countries to see the fierce partisan divide between Sunni and Shiite, between Muslims and Jews, between this or that.  We in the U.S. are just too diverse now for that to happen. There is one caveat to that however and that is the growing disparity between the 1% who currently control the vast majority of the wealth and the other 99% of us.  I am confident that some day this grossly imbalanced fact will the ameliorated hopefully by the vote and not by violence.

We as a country celebrate our diversity as we rightly should. Let us pray that the partisan divide that is so visible in other countries never happens here again. Let us remember that we are now all minorities in our great country.

Breaking Promises……

June 26, 2012

Source NYT: Lawmakers look for way out as defense cuts near – politics – The New York Times – msnbc.com.

On Jan. 2, national security is set to receive a heavy blow if Congress fails to intervene. That is when a 10-year, $600 billion, across-the-board spending cut is to hit the Pentagon, equal to roughly 8 percent of its current budget.


The real test of a man is in his word. When a person says he will do something and then reneges on that promise he loses face.

What the politicians, especially those in the conservative party, seem to casually ignore about these across the board cuts is that all the social programs such as feeding the poor and help for the homeless gets the same 10% cut. I guess its Ok for the poor are but not for our already bloated war machine!! After all we spend more on our military than the other 95% of the world combined. It would be interesting to see the parallels in military funding and broken promises in the fallen Roman empire. They also insisted that military might was the top priority all the way to the end.

If these guys get away with reneging on their pledge/law and not cut our military budgets it will mean that all the social programs that take care of the “least of these” will have to take an even deeper cut. My conservative friends boast that we are a Christian nation and then take money away from the poor to give it to the war makers. Jesus taught us totally otherwise.  He blessed a lot of things but he didn’t bless the war makers.

How can we trust these guys if their word, let alone the things they pass into law, means nothing to them. It is past time for us to do some thorough house cleaning!!

But what do I know….

Over here you can write whatever you want to. The only trouble getting somebody that will read it. – April 18, 1933  Will Rogers

Sometimes we in the U.S. forget just how good we have it. As Will says over here we can write whatever we want.  That is definitely not the case in many parts of the world today.  Yes, FaceBook and such have made putting your words out there easier but they can still cause some bodily harm. Let’s never forget that we have it so well here. Continue Reading…

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world — that is the myth of the atomic age — as in being able to remake ourselves — Gandhi

Gandhi was a firm believer that small actions can result in big things. He spent much of his live doing small things but the result did remake the world. He managed to free India from British rule and he became the godfather of the idea of peaceful resistance which was later used by Martin Luther King and many others over the years.

We all need to understand the words above. Most of us wish that somehow we could remake the world into something with more compassion and justice but that is too big a dream for just one person. What we must each do is to find something that will make an even infinitely small contribution to that dream and when it is compiled with millions of other small efforts the end result will happen.

The lesson to be learned from this inspiring quote above is to stop complaining about the way things are and start doing some small things about it. If your would like to see world hunger solved, and it can be solved, contribute a few cans of food to a local food kitchen. How about giving a few hours to the Meals-on-Wheels organization?  If you are worried about people dying from preventable health causes let your representatives know you are for universal healthcare that much of the rest of the world already has. If that is not your thing then find someplace where you can volunteer at a local free clinic by for instance picking up people who can’t get there by themselves.  Even a few hours a month would mean something.

Just get involved no matter how small you think the effort is. If you do that and millions of other do the same then the world will be remade. It takes all of us to do our part to make big things happen. Individually it is impossible but as a group we can, like Gandhi and his followers, accomplish much. Just get off your hind side and do something!

Do what you can to remake yourself and in the process be a part of remaking the world….

Aside… History Ain’t

June 23, 2012

I don’t know if you have noticed or not but I have been feeling artsy lately so have been playing with the header to this blog. The quote found there will change often and some of the other things as I get the urge. The quote for today does strike home to me. With the blog I get my chance to tell you what history is.  I definitely feel the power; I hope it doesn’t corrupt me :)

 

Worriers….

June 23, 2012

My wife is a worrier. That is just who she is. I have learned to accept that part of her character over the years.  Sometimes when she is not worrying she worries about not worrying enough. :) I only bring this up here to say I see the same thing in the U.S. stock market. They are just worrier who worry that they might miss something to worry about.

Years ago the value of a stock was determined by the performance of the company. Now it seems to be more related to: how the EU is doing, what the unemployment index is, whether Greece will finally “get it”, what the fed chairman says, and hundreds of like things.  I guess you could say the same thing is true for gas prices as well.  They seem to turn on a dime whenever someone has something to worry about.

Me, I’m not so much a worrier as I could never compete with my wife or the stock market in that respect. I don’t worry so much. My tendency is to get gloomy when I think of the dark side of life. How it is not fair or just for so many people  in the world. I try to stay away from the dark side as much as possible but like Darth Vader it seems to draw me into its realm on occasion.

I’m not sure if it is easier to be a worrier or a dark sider. But I don’t want to think about it anymore right now so I will just drop it….. ;)

Gaming The System……

June 22, 2012

Source: Get personalized help to max out Social Security.

Social Security Solutions’ optimization plan calls for my wife to file for her own benefits at age 67 but immediately suspend her payments — a perfectly legal strategy known as a file-and-suspend.

We start getting some Social Security benefits immediately when I apply (at age 66) to receive a spousal benefit based on her earnings record, half of what she could receive.

At age 70, my wife starts her own benefits; a year later, I switch to my own benefit when I turn 70. Both of our benefits are now at the maximum monthly level possible for the rest of our lives. Later on, after I (gulp) die first, my wife switches to a survivor benefit, which is 100 percent of my benefit…..

I’m sure all this stuff above is legal but, come on,  finding all the loop holes to get the most possible is carrying it too far in my mind.  Of course this article came from a large financial company.  They are used to gaming the system. These guys I’m sure have a large lobbying group in D.C. and make sure that these sort of loop holes are written into our laws.

Our government needs to adopt my current mantra in life and that is Simplify. If we could somehow get rid of all those lawyers around and put this stuff back into common folk’s hands I’m sure our laws would be simpler and with many less loop holes. But maybe the world has just gotten too complicated for simplicity?

Putting the level of social security benefits that you get related to what you paid in makes sense but it seems that the system has just spurned too may other conditions. I know that about one-third of those collecting benefits are not the seniors who paid into them. If the Republicans insist of changing the system then let’s put those folks in a different payout pool and take social security back to the insurance it was meant to be.  But I’m sure this would do little to placate my conservative friends who would be very happy to see social security go the way of the horse and buggy. In their minds if government is involved then it must be wrong.