Category Archives: Life
So let’s see how this one works.
Our government makes commitments to spend money it does not have. Then it has to go out and borrow the money. All of this spending has led to a boatload of debt; more like a cruise ship or a fleet of cruise ships. Our national debt is now $16.7 trillion. Interesting to note that in 2006, then-Senator Obama called a proposed increase in the debt ceiling at the time a “failure of leadership,” when Republican President George W. Bush was in office. The borrowing limit has since been increased seven times during Obama’s term in the White House, from $11.3 trillion to the current $16.7 trillion, for a net increase of $5.4 trillion. That is a lot of zeroes and an awful lot of spending, don’t you think.
The U.S. has started using final extraordinary measures to avoid a breach of the nation’s debt limit, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said as he pressed Congress to increase borrowing authority “immediately.” Lew, in a letter addressed to House Speaker John Boehner dated yesterday, repeated that the measures will be exhausted no later than Oct. 17. When that happens, “we will be left to meet our country’s commitments at that time with only approximately $30 billion,” he said, “far short of net expenditures on certain days, which can be as high as $60 billion.” So on some days we spend upwards of $60 billion. That’s some big bucks.
I think the way it works for most of us is that we actually make a budget. We calculate our monthly income, estimate our planned and unplanned expenses, what we want to save or invest and then we see what type of other discretionary income we have. I am quite sure this is how the majority of those 800,000 furloughed government workers manage their budgets and also how many of you manage your budgets. Oh that’s right, our government does not have a budget. The last time that we had a full-on, real-life federal budget that was signed into law was 1997. Bill Clinton was president, and Newt Gingrich was speaker of the House. By my calculations that was 16 years ago. 16 years, no budget. We don’t need no stinking budget!
No budget, no restraints on spending, government is shut down, government workers are not getting paid and the solution is to figure out a way to raise the debt ceiling so we can borrow more money. And this resolution may or may not result in getting the government open again. How it is that or leaders can continue to get away with this?
Meet with your wife, husband, domestic partner or significant other this weekend and ask them to just raise the debt ceiling on the family finances. Tell them this is what the government does and they work for us. If they can do it, we can do it. Let’s see how far that conversation will get you.
This is not a political column but sometimes we need to shine a light on this topic.
Our government is shut down because our leadership can no longer communicate with one another. A bit of a groundhog day moment, don’t you think? Haven’t we seen this dance before? Well, for all of the folks in Washington, here is a headline for you – Get out! One thing you have excelled at is incompetency. Incompetency is not an attribute we look for in our employees. Do you think you would have a job if you worked for anyone else? The answer is no!
How is it that 800,000 hard working Americans can be laid off from their positions because of your inability to lead, but you, our leaders, continue to get paid? How does that work? Let’s peel the onion back another layer and look at yet another perk of yours that has not been shut down. The Members Only Congressional Gym remains open as it was deemed essential. Really?
Head Start programs have been shuttered, small businesses can’t get loans and hundreds of thousands of federal government employees are furloughed. But the exclusive members-only Congressional gyms have remained open throughout the shutdown.
A House aide confirmed that the House member’s gym is open. The House gym features a swimming pool, basketball courts, paddleball courts, a sauna, a steam room and flat screen TVs. While towel service is unavailable, taxpayers remain on the hook for cleaning and maintenance, which has been performed daily throughout the shutdown. There are also costs associated with the power required to heat the pools and keep the lights on.
According to the aide, the decision to keep the gym open — even while other critical government services were shelved — came directly from Speaker Boehner’s office. Meanwhile, the staff gym available to Congressional staff has been closed. It appears that the members gym in the Senate remains open on similar terms. Yesterday, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) complained to a reporter from the Omaha World-Herald that the members gym was getting “rank.”
The daily operating cost of the House and Senate gyms remains shrouded in secrecy. The Architect of the Capitol, which oversees both gyms, has previously refused to provide information about the gyms for “security reasons.” A call to the Architect of the Capitol for this story was not immediately returned.
And here is another one from my friend Armand that is sure to tweak you a bit (Not twerk you )
The US has entered into a contract with a real estate firm to sell 56 buildings that currently house U.S. Post Offices. The government has decided it no longer needs these buildings, most of which are located on prime land in towns and cities across the country. The sale of these properties will fetch about $19 billion. A regular real estate commission will be paid to the company that was given the exclusive listing for handling the sales. That company is CRI and it belongs to a man named Richard Blum. Richard Blum is the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein. (Most voters and many of the government people who approved the deal have not made the connection between the two because they have different last names).
Senator Feinstein and her husband stand to make a fortune (est at between $950 million and $1.1 billion!!) from these transactions. His company is the sole real estate on the sale. CRI will be making a minimum of 3% and as much as 6% commission on each and every sale.
So our leaders get to work out while our government employees deemed non-essential get to sit home and not get paid. And then one of our Senators gets right because her husband is awarded an exclusive agreement to sell $19 billion dollars worth of government owned real estate. And we wonder why we have little or no faith in leadership.
I regularly cover topics about leadership. Not too long ago we covered the topic of Boss vs Leader http://wp.me/p1WXuM-wl
Came across the top 17 things your boss should never say. Good stuff.
- “That client drives me nuts.”
- “I’m the boss.”
- “I’m too busy.”
- “What’s the latest gossip?”
- “What’s wrong with you?”
- “You are the only one having a problem.”
- “I don’t care about that.”
- “Do what I won’t.”
- “Don’t argue with me.”
- “We’ve always done it this way.”
- “Just let me do it.”
- “You’re doing okay.”
- “This is MY company.”
- “It’s your problem.”
- “I don’t care what you think.”
- “This is just a small client.”
- “We just need PR.”
Does your boss say these things? If you are a boss, do you say these things? Not what your employees want to hear.
We have recently been bombarded with discussions about Aroid (Alex Rodriguez), Ryan “Not Me” Braun and the many other players indicted in the the Biogenesis case regarding ball players using performance enhancing drugs (PED’s). Before that we had Barry “Big Head” Bonds, Rafael “Yes I pointed My Finger at Congress” Palmiero, Roger “I Misremembered” Clemens and of course Bartolo “I think I am Harpo Marx Reincarnated” Colon. All this talk just takes away from the game. But what about the game?
Baseball is full of deceit, treachery and dishonesty. Think about what happens in every game:
- When a runner reaches base, he is regularly trying to “steal”
- When a runner is on first base, the pitcher is trying to pick him off with a “deceptive” move
- Catchers are always trying to move a pitch that is slightly high/low/outside or inside to “steal” a strike call
- Runners on second base are always trying to “steal” the catchers signs to let the batter know what pitch is coming
- Players in the dugout are trying to see if a pitcher is “tipping” his pitches so they can tell what pitch is coming
- Pitchers change the cadence/timing of their pitches to “deceive” the hitter
- Infielders hide the ball in their glove after a play to try to pick the runner off when he takes his lead
- Pitchers throw a “change up” with the same arm speed as a “fast ball”
And here are some classic examples of teams/players trying to find an advantage:
- Sammy Sosa broke a bat during a game and cork popped out – cork is used to lighten the bat to hit the ball further
- Mike Scott, former Houston Astros pitcher, had incredible movement on his pitches. Was it really a surprise when they found an emery board in his back pocket used to scuff each ball
- Gaylord Perry, 314 game winner, went through a routine on the mound to put doubt in the batters mind about what substance he was putting on the ball. In fact there was no doubt; he was using all types of illegal substances on the ball
- John McGraw, an oldie but goodie – In an era of dirty baseball, he was the dirtiest player on the dirtiest team. He hid balls in the outfield, spiked opposing players, watered down the base paths, grew the infield grass to deaden bunts
- The 1951 NY Giants – Came back from a 13 1/2 game deficit in August of 1951 to win the pennant. Here is one way they did it. Coach Herman Franks would sit in the Giants clubhouse, conveniently located past center field, and use a telescope to read the catcher’s signs. He’d then set off a bell or buzzer in the Giants bullpen that would identify the next pitch, and a relay man would signal it in to the hitter
- Whitey Ford, Hall of Fame NY Yankees pitcher – Ford used his wedding ring to cut the ball, or had catcher Elston Howard put a nice slice in it with a buckle on his shin guard. Ford also planted mud pies around the mound and used them to load the ball. He confessed that when pitching against the Dodgers in the 1963 World Series, “I used enough mud to build a dam.” He also threw a “gunk ball,” which combined a mixture of baby oil, turpentine, and resin. He kept the “gunk” in a roll-on dispenser, which, the story goes, Yogi Berra once mistook for deodorant, gluing his arms to his sides in the process
- Amos Otis, former Kansas City Royals outfielder and 5 time all star – He admitted using a funky bat much of his career. “I had enough cork and superballs in there to blow away anything,” he said. “I had a very close friend who made the bats for me. He’d drill a hole down the barrel and stuff some superballs and cork in it. Then he put some sawdust back into the hole, sandpapered it down and added a little pine tar over the top of it. The bat looked brand new.”
Queue the Fogerty tuneage:
Baseball, America’s pastime. Deceit, treachery and dishonesty is welcome here :) So what’s a little “cream” or the “clear” amongst friends?
Facial recognition software will end privacy once and for all. Your face now provides marketers and the government with the ability to link that fabulous mug shot you put on Facebook to everything there is to know about you. That’s right. You thought you were just posting your smiley face for your friends to see? Not exactly.
Queue the music:
The government has some restrictions with facial recognition software, but they are spending a ton of money to figure this out. Retailers on the other hand have the ability to use your face to send you promotional offers – the linking between the on-line world and the off-line world. Europe has tougher rules (You need to opt in there), but here in the US, the technology is way ahead of the law. Even if you have never put your own picture up anywhere in the internet you can be found if you were included in any picture any one has ever taken of you. So yes, Grandpa or Grandma who have refused to embrace anything digital and still read the paper in the morning, have been digitized and are therefore searchable.
A company called redpepper (www.redpepperland.com) has started a program called Facedeals. Here is how it works. Facial recognition cameras are installed at local businesses. These cameras recognize your face when you pass by, then check you in at the location. Simultaneously, your smartphone notifies you of a customized deal based on your Like history on Facebook. Creepy?
Yes, there are companies out there today that are putting all the little fragments of your life together, both on-line and off-line to get to know you a little better. They might know you, but you will never know them. Minority Report is much closer than you might think.
Over a cup of coffee on Sunday morning, I will occasionally watch the show, Sunday Morning on CBS. The show has been on forever and is often filled with very interesting topics, opinions and perspectives. You can learn more about the show at http://www.cbsnews.com/sunday-morning/
Yesterdays show was focused on architecture, focusing on new designs that look old among other topics. The story that captured my attention however was about bells. Yes, church bells. Talk about sustainabell value (see what I did there)
The Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli (or Marinelli Pontifical Foundry, Marinelli Bell Foundry) was founded in 1339 in the Apennine hills of Italy. The village of Agnone, where the foundry is located, “has a tradition of foundries that dates back 10 centuries.” The current leaders of the family business are the brothers Armando and Pasquale Marinelli. They are the 26th generation of Marinelli’s to lead the family business.
The foundry typically produces up to 50 bells a year and currently employs around 12 people. The firm’s managers still apply the same lost wax casting technique that the firm’s founders used nearly a thousand years ago. The artisans use wax to transfer the bell’s designs onto a brick “core” slathered with clay, slightly smaller than the bell to be forged. Another layer of clay is applied to form a “false bell”. After this hardens, the wax inside is melted, leaving the imprint of the design on the inside of the false bell. Molten bronze, at a temperature of 1,200 degrees Celsius (2,200 degrees Fahrenheit), is poured into the space to form the bell.
Amazing, just amazing. Everyday we read about businesses trying to build sustainable companies. Looks like the Marinelli family has figured that out. For more information about the foundry and the family, please visit their website at http://www.campanemarinelli.com/inglese/index2.php
Enjoy the day.
This happened yesterday.
PayPal, the e-commerce business that allows for online money transfers anywhere in the world, announced the launch of PayPal Galactic on Thursday. Intended to make universal space payments a reality — and help Kirk pay for that warp drive tune up — PayPal Galactic plans to bring together leaders in the scientific community to prepare and support the future of space commerce.
‘We are confident that Captain Kirk would use PayPal’s galactic payment system to pay for Enterprise’s repairs.’- Anuj Nayar, the senior director of communications and social media of PayPal
In recent years, privately-owned space tourism programs such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX have made strides in opening the experience of space exploration to the general public. In the hopes of being the world’s first and preferred monetary system that reaches into space, the company has partnered with the SETI Institute and other members of the scientific community to answer questions about the future of space commerce.
The need for such a payment system already exists, according to PayPal. Astronauts living aboard space stations still need to pay for life’s basic necessities. No matter how far from — or above — home they are, the astronauts are still responsible for them.
As both SETI and PayPal share the same goals of exploring space and developing an interplanetary system, the company strongly feels that partnering with the sky-watching Institute will address the critical issues and make the payment system a reality.
On another galactic note, we had a super moon this week. Check this picture out:
“To the Moon Alice.”
Enjoy the weekend.
“The glue that holds all relationships together – including the relationship between leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” – Brian Tracy
It is impossible to have effective and productive working relationships without trust. Trust is critical for every business and for every team. Today, associates work in teams on a daily basis. They rely on each other to succeed, to meet the ever changing demands of their clients, to leverage each others expertise to solve business problems in real time. Teamwork involves trust among team members and between management and associates. Trust is the cornerstone of success. Without it the team will fail. When one member of the team undermines trust, it sets the entire team back on it’s heels.
So why is it that team members undermine trust by divulging confidential information? Why is it that team members, after being told specifically that the conversation they just had was confidential, go running immediately to others to share the information?
Do they not care about the success of the team? Do they place their own needs above the needs of the team? Do they believe that there is an “I” in team? Whatever the reason, the fact remains that this type of behavior negatively impacts the teams ability to win. Plain and simple.
Webster’s Dictionary defines trust as the “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” The key to the survival of a business is trust. Trust is a critical issue in any type of relationship because a relationship without trust is not really a relationship at all. A team that does not build a trusting relationship is not an effective team. Trust forms the foundation for effective communication, associate retention, motivation, and instills passion and commitment to exceed client expectations.
Trust, honesty, clear goals and collaboration are the keys to success on any team. Everyone on the team plays a critical role, but these key elements are the foundation that needs to be built upon. Team building is not always the easiest task to accomplish, but without it there is no Team, only “I’s.”
But now we have “Karma” technology, as in “peer to peer” wireless. Cool huh!
When you switch on your tablet or laptop and the wireless Internet access you need is just there. Automatically, everywhere, every time. Viola!
No more searching for hotspots. You’ll just get to browsing, and the days when passwords or daily- or monthly-pass payments stood in the way of productivity are no more. So just as the song states “Instant Karma.”
Here is how it works. Users buy a compact $79 hotspot device (the first units shipped last January) and they create an account. Switch on the hotspot and you get 1 GB of bandwidth to get you started. After that, it’s $14 per GB — no subscriptions, pay-as-you-want-it. And the access is mobile. Walk down the street with your Karma hotspot and your access goes with you.
Your Karma Wi-Fi signal is available to other people within range who are seeking a Wi-Fi connection. All they have to do is log on via your hotspot and sign up with the company. They would get a free 100 MB, and for more, they can pay as they go. Cool thing is, you would get 100 MB free as well.
That’s an underlying idea worth noting. The more you share, the more free bandwidth you accumulate. Peer-to-peer wi-fi, the next big thing?
Enjoy the day.