Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


If you've been paying attention you know I have a military background.  I'm also a "baby boomer".  So I should be defined in certain ways.  I should think certain things.  But...that's not always the case.

Today's big news is about the Supreme Court case regarding California's Proposition 8 and gay marriage.  I have to admit I'm conflicted.  I'm of an age to remember (and I guess it isn't that long ago) when there was a real stigma regarding homosexuality.  During most of my life that has been true.  Doesn't make it right, but that's the way it was.  Of course, history is replete with one class of people being discriminated against by another.  Pick any time, any era, any group.  Prejudice,'s always been there.  Always will be there.  We all experience it.  And everyone has been on both the giving and getting end.  So maybe it's time to try and walk back from this one.

I have to admit that I voted for Proposition 8.  I thought, "why do they need marriage?".  We (straight people...and in other words normal people) have marriage.  Let them get something else.  It just didn't seem like that big of a deal to me.  But, after the dust died a bit, I heard someone I respect a lot say that whenever the majority gets to vote on removing rights from the minority, they will do it.  And it isn't right.  And upon reflection, I think he's right.  And I wouldn't vote the same way today.

When Bubba forced the military to agree to Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) in the 90's that seemed at the time to be a reasonable compromise.  But it was always an "uncomfortable truce".  My thinking evolved to Don't Care.  Maybe I'm older and wiser.  Maybe I see it as inevitable.  Maybe it's that I live in a pretty liberal part of the country in SoCal.  Maybe it's just not worth the fight.  But whatever the reason...I just see it as an equality thing.  if we truly believe in this grand experiment called America, everyone should have the same rights.  "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal".  Greatest line in the greatest governmental document ever written.  We either believe it or we don't.  Simple as that.

And then there is the religious argument.  Good quote from one of Jimmy Buffet's songs,
"Where's the church, who took the steeple
Religion's in the hands of some crazy ass people
Television preachers with bad hair and dimples
The God's honest truth is it's not that simple
It's the Buddhist in you, it's the pagan in me
It's the Muslim in him, she's Catholic ain't she?
It's that born again look, it's the wasp and the Jew
Tell me what's goin on, I ain't got a clue"

I think (and maybe it's just me) that when it comes to religion, it can cut a million different ways.  I'm no biblical scholar, I don't know the Koran, etc, etc, etc.  I've heard definitive religious arguments on this subject lots of different ways.  So my view when it comes to religion is...the Golden Rule...pretty simple.  "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you."

So I'm for equality.  I'm for treating people the same.  I'm for an even playing field.

But (and there is always a but) I can't bring myself to believe that homosexuality is just another state of being...that it's normal.  That it's just a another way a lot of people are wired.  I simply don't believe that.  I think it's abnormal.  As in different.  Not immoral.  Just different.  Most of us are normal.  Some aren't.  And I don't think 100% of gay people are intrinsically gay.  That they have no choice.  I think there are shades of grey.  But I happily admit to not being an expert.  Or even an amateur.  So if science proves me wrong some day, so be it.

And here's another thing.  No one likes gloating.  No one likes throwing it in one's face.  No one will be won over by rainbow flags and parades with weirdos in drag.  Or goofy little symbols to show just how enlightened you are.  If it goes the way most think, it will be a victory for those espousing gay rights.  We've all got battles to fight.  There will be more.

I guess at the end of the day, I'm a bit like Jerry.  There are two teams.  Both are good teams.  But there's not a lot of trading that goes on...

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Voice

It's back!  I discovered this show last year.  Surprisingly, I really like it.  No stupid pet tricks and obnoxious hosts/judges like on Idol which, by the way, is OVER!  Coaches are likable, contestants are all very good to start with, the format is enjoyable, and it's just eminently watchable.  Check it out!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Motivation Monday

March Madness

March Madness is here!  For my money it's one of the best events in sports.  64 teams vieing for the top spot.  Single elimination.  Anything can happen.  Cinderella teams (see Florida Gulf Coast University) spark the imagination of all who watch.  Like many, I created my picks in one of the many bracket contests.  Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, I didn't get very far.  Only good news is that I picked Indiana to go all the way.  Some of my other choices...not so good.  Georgetown...gone.  Gonzaga...gone.  My home team SDSU Aztecs...gone (embarrassed by this little team in Florida no one has ever heard of called Florida Gulf Coast University).  Oh well, it's not earth shattering.  But it sure is fun.

If you aren't attuned to the tournament and want to get a feel for it, look on ESPN for a showing of one of their 30 for 30 series episode "Survive and Advance".   It is well worth a few hours.  It's the story of Jim Valvano and the 1983 North Carolina State NCAA championship run.  It is very, very good.  And very inspiring!


One thing I can't figure out is why the NCAA doesn't turn to a similar format for football.  It makes no sense.  Oh, I know all the arguments.  Different sport.  Different culture.  Different time of year.  Football can't be decided in a tournament.  I think it's all BS.  Think of all the stupid stuff that happens around the BCS football national championship.  It's never clean.  There is always controversy.  If they came up with a tournament format, two things would happen.  They would have an undisputed national champion in football.  And they'd have the most popular, most watched sports event in the country!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


On vacation this week.  Recharging the batteries.  Using Mai-Tai's, fun in the sun, and relaxation as the fuel.  Here's the view from our balcony.  Aloha!

Funny...But Chillingly Familiar

I've seen this before but thought I'd post it to bring a smile (or grimace) to my Navy friends. If you haven't been there, it might not make sense. But if you have, we'll...I'm laughing with you...

1. Buy a dumpster, paint it gray inside and out, and live in it for six months. This will give you the feeling of space. (1a. Submariners - Black outside, Pea Green inside)

2. Run all the pipes and wires in your house exposed on the walls and ceilings.

3. Repaint your entire house every month.

4. Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall through the middle of the bathtub and move the shower head to chest level. When you take showers, make sure you turn off the water while you soap down. 

5. Put lube oil in your humidifier and set it on high.

6. Once a week, blow air up your chimney with a leaf blower and let the wind carry the soot onto your neighbor's house and yard.

7. Once a month, take all major appliances apart and reassemble them.

8. Raise the thresholds and lower the headers of your front and back doors so that you either trip, bruise your shins, or bang your head every time you pass through them.

9. Disassemble and inspect your lawnmower and snow blower every week.

10. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, turn your water heater temperature up to 200 degrees. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, turn the water heater off. On Saturdays and Sundays tell your family they use too much water, so no bathing will be allowed.

11. Raise your bed to within 6 inches of the ceiling so you can't turn over without getting out and then getting back in.

12. Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Have your spouse whip open the curtain about 3 hours after you go to sleep, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and say "Sorry, wrong rack."

13. Make your family read the operating manuals qualify to operate each appliance in your house - dishwasher operator, blender technician, etc. Re-qualify every 6 months.

14. Have your neighbor come over each day at 0500, blow a whistle so loud Helen Keller could hear it, and shout "Reveille, reveille, all hands on deck, heave out and trice up!" 

15. Have your mother-in-law write down everything she's going to do the following day, then stand in ranks at attention in your back yard at 0600 while she reads it to you.

16. Submit a request chit - in triplicate - to your father-in-law asking permission to leave your house before 1600.

17. Empty all the garbage bins and GI cans in your house and sweep the driveway three times a day,
whether it needs it or not. Have your wife shout, "Now hear this! Sweepers, sweepers, man your brooms! Sweep down all decks, ladders and passageways! Clean sweep down fore and aft! Empty all butt kits and dump trash off the fantail!"

18. Have your neighbor collect all your mail for a month, read your magazines, and randomly lose every 5th item before delivering the rest.

19. Watch no TV except for movies played in the middle of the night Have your family vote on which movie to watch, then show a different one - followed by the same one every night.

20. When your children are asleep in bed, run into their rooms with a megaphone shouting "General quarters, general quarters! All hands man your battle stations!"

21. Make your family's menu a week ahead of time without consulting the pantry or refrigerator.

22. Post a memo on the hatch (doorway) to the kitchen informing your family that there's been a change to the menu - they are having steak for dinner. Then make them wait in line for an hour. When they finally get to the kitchen, tell them you are out of steak, but they can have dried ham or hot dogs. Repeat daily until they ignore the menu and just ask for hot dogs.

23. Bake a cake. Prop up one side of the pan so the cake bakes unevenly. Spread icing real thick to level it off.

24. Get up every night around midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on stale bread and a warm soda... (mid-rats)

25. Set your alarm clock to go off randomly during the night. At the alarm, jump up and dress as fast
as you can, making sure to button your top shirt button and tuck your trousers into your socks. Run out into the backyard, uncoil the garden hose and simulate putting out a fire.

26. Every week or two, throw your cat or dog into the pool and shout.... "Man overboard, port side!" Rate your family members on how fast they respond.

27. Put the headphones from your stereo on your head, but don't plug them in. Hang a paper cup around your neck on a string. Stand in front of the stove, and speak into the paper cup, "Stove manned and ready." After an hour or so, speak into the cup again "Aye! Stove secured." Roll up the headphones and paper cup and stow them in a shoe box.

28. Make your family turn out all the lights and go to bed at 10 p.m. Yell throughout the house, "Now taps, taps! Lights out! Maintain silence throughout the berthing quarters!" Then, for aircraft carrier sailors, immediately have an 18-wheeler crash into the roof of your house.

29. Build a fire in a trash can in your garage. Loudly announce to your family, "This is a drill, this is a drill! Fire in hangar bay one!"

30. Place a podium at the end of your driveway. Have your family stand in front of the podium for 4-hour intervals. (Best done when the weather is worst. January is a good time.)

31. Next time there's a bad thunderstorm in your area, find the biggest horse you can, strap a two-inch mattress on his back, lash yourself to it and turn him loose in the garage for six hours. Then get up and go to work.

32. For former engineers, boiler tenders, and machinist mates: bring your lawn mower into the living room and run it all day long.

33. Make coffee using eighteen scoops of budget-priced coffee grounds per pot, and let the pot simmer for 5 hours before drinking.

34. Have someone under the age of ten give you a haircut with sheep shears.

35. Sew the back pockets of your jeans onto the front. 

36. Add 1/3 cup of diesel fuel to the laundry.

37. Take hourly readings on your electric, gas and water meters.

38. Every couple of weeks, dress up in your best clothes and go to the scummiest part of town. Find the most run down, trashiest bar and drink beer until you are hammered. Walk all the way home.

39. Lock yourself and your family in the house for six weeks. Tell them that at the end of the 6th week you'll take them to Disney World for Liberty. At the end of the 6th week, inform them the trip to Disney World has been canceled because they need to get ready for an inspection by the IG Staff and it will be another week before they'll be allowed to leave the house, assuming the inspection is passed

Friday, March 15, 2013

USS Stevens...I Think Not

So a group of Senators has passed a Sense of the Senate resolution that they'd like a capital ship named after the late Sen Ted Stevens.  You can read about it here.

Naming of ships has become pretty interesting.  There was a small uproar when Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, named a ship the USS Gabrielle Giffords a year or so ago.  It is one of the Littoral Combat Ships.  The outrage isn't that she isn't deserving of recognition.  She is.  She is a former member of Congress from Arizona and a brave woman.  She is married to a retired Navy Captain (and astronaut).  But not this.  It's not in keeping with the naming conventions of that ship and it's just not appropriate.  But Mabus is a political beast and knows how to make hay.

Then he names one of the new LPD-17 class ships after former Congressman John Murtha.  Murtha was a retired Marine.  He was also the king of pork.  He was also among the first to criticize the military in Congress.  He also had his problems with corruption.  But now his name will be on a Navy warship.  Unbelievable.

So given that some Senators want Stevens name on a ship and that Mabus cowtows like the political lackey that he is, watch for the next big ship naming to be Stevens.  But here's the deal.  He was a WWII veteran but in the Air Corps.  Never had anything to do with the Navy.  He spent his life as a politician.  If Murtha was the king of pork, Stevens was the prince.  Remember the bridge to nowhere?  Yep...that was his.  He was also indicted and convicted on seven counts of corruption.  The conviction was later overturned but...where there's smoke, there's fire.

So I think it's a bad idea.  It dishonors all those who should be considered for having their name on a capital warship.  It's controversial and demeaning.'s it will probably happen.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Friday Funnies


California is many things to many people.  It has a sort of mystique.  Land of opportunity.  Land of fruits and nuts.  The Golden State.  Californication.  Whatever.  But it's getting to be a frustrating place to live.  High taxes.  Political correctness gone rampant.  Haves and have nots.  Coastal snobs and inland poor.  Many things.  I ran across the article below by Victor Davis Hansen that expresses the reality of living in California pretty well.  Crazy...but here we are...likely to stay...

March 14, 2013
The California 'Mordida'

Tribune Media Services

California now works on the principle of the mordida, or "bite." Its government assumes that it can take something extra from residents for the privilege of living in their special state.

Gov. Jerry Brown made that assumption explicit in his latest back-and-forth with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who keeps luring Californians to lower-tax, higher-employment Texas. Recently, Brown said of Texas, "Who would want to spend summers there in 110-degree heat inside some kind of fossil fuel air conditioner?"

Translated, Brown's retort meant that despite California's sluggish economy, high taxes and poor services, it's still worth staying there to enjoy its beautiful climate — especially along the 1,000-mile-long coast, where most of the state's elites live comfortably without a need for high-priced air conditioning.

In November, California approved a measure to raise its sales tax and its income tax rates on the wealthy. According to the California Taxpayers Association, the state now has the highest sales tax and the highest top income tax rate in the nation. The state also just upped its gasoline taxes by nearly 10 percent to make them the costliest in the United States — about 70 cents a gallon in combined federal, state and local taxes. The state already has among the most expensive refinery regulations in America. That means California pump prices, at well over $4 per gallon, are second only to Hawaii's.

Yet, unlike Hawaii, California's wells still produce more than 500,000 barrels of crude oil each day — behind only Texas and Alaska. Its newly discovered Monterey Shale Formation may hold some 30 billion barrels of oil and gas. Perhaps no state has so much recoverable petroleum and yet such high fuel taxes and pump prices.

California's record taxes are not reflections of the costs incurred ensuring superior California public education. In fact, its public schools, in some surveys of national performance tests in math and English, rank near the nation's very bottom.

Nor do record gas taxes equate to wonderful freeways. The federal government concluded that only half of California's roads rate as acceptable. Private rankings put California's roads near dead last.

The problem is that California has exorbitant built-in costs unlike any other state and, in politically correct fashion, usually tries to keep mum about them. As the home to about a quarter of the nation's illegal immigrants, most from poorer areas of Latin America, California has public schools that enroll millions whose first language is not English. Someday, the infusion of young, motivated new Californians may prove a fiscal plus, but for the foreseeable future, illegal immigration translates into years of soaring healthcare, housing, transportation, education and law-enforcement costs — and billions of much-needed dollars lost from the state economy each year in remittances to Latin America.

California public unions are among the highest-paid in the nation. While Brown may have balanced next year's budget through higher taxes, he cannot do much about the more than $300 billion in unfunded pension fund liabilities and municipal bonds that were incurred, in part, to ensure the state and its localities could afford their public workforces.

Elite environmentalists — who feel that to extend the conditions of their own affluent coastal enclaves to millions of others would tax the ecosystem — have blocked new housing developments, cut off irrigation water to farmland, and opposed new energy production.

Yet if California has self-induced crises, it also has innate advantages. Aside from the best climate in North America, it has the richest farming area in the nation, along with huge natural endowments of gas, oil, minerals and timber.

California also enjoys an extravagant inheritance. Universities such as Stanford, Caltech and UC Berkeley continually rate among the best in the world. For decades, Silicon Valley, Napa Valley, Hollywood and Central Valley agriculture have earned hundreds of billions of dollars in the global marketplace.

In short, California is a wonderful place to live for Bay Area, 30-something Google executives; young, rich Stanford students; and Malibu celebrities — or recent indigents fleeing the abject misery of Latin America and needing generous public help. But it is not such an accommodating landscape if you are in the shrinking middle class and seeking a good-paying job in energy, construction or manufacturing; a safe daily commute on good roads; reasonable taxes; an affordable house; or a good public school.

The governor and the legislature believe that higher taxes, higher prices and more regulations are worth the pleasures of California's weather, natural beauty and chic culture. Who would leave all that for low-tax but scorching Texas or Nevada?

They may be right. I am still here, writing this column in 70-degree March weather, gazing out at the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains, amid blooming almond orchards on the small farm of my ancestors — while computing my soaring taxes and picking up the daily litter tossed by the roadside, after another near-death experience on an archaic California freeway.


A Friend sent this story to my wife.  Thought it deserved a full posting...word for word...

Reggie - A Black Lab 
They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen.  The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly.

I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open.  Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.
But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt.  Give me someone to talk to.  And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local news.  The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn't look like "Lab people," whatever that meant.  They must've thought I did.
But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner.
See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home.  We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home).  Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.  Maybe we were too much alike.
I saw the sealed envelope.  I had completely forgotten about that.  "Okay, Reggie," I said out loud, "let's see if your previous owner has any advice."

"To Whomever Gets My Dog:
Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner.  I'm not even happy writing it."
He knew something was different.
"So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.  First, he loves tennis balls.  The more the merrier.  Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hoards them.  He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there.  Hasn't done it yet.  Doesn't matter where you throw them, he'll bound after them, so be careful.  Don't do it by any roads."
"Next, commands.  Reggie knows the obvious ones ---"sit," "stay," "come," "heel."  He knows hand signals, too.  He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's business.  Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand."

"He's up on his shots.  Be forewarned - Reggie hates the vet.  Good luck getting him in the car.  I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows."
"Finally, give him some time.  It's only been Reggie and me for his whole life.   He's gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can.  He sits well in the backseat and he doesn't bark or complain.  He just loves to be around people, and me most especially."
"And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you.  His name's not Reggie.  He's a smart dog; he'll get used to it and will respond to it.  Of that I have no doubt, but I just couldn't bear to give them his real name.  But if someone is reading this ... well, it means that his new owner should know his real name.  His real name is "Tank",  because, that is what I drive."
"I told the shelter that they couldn't make "Reggie" available for adoption until they received word from my company commander."
"You see, my parents are gone.  I have no siblings, no one I could've left Tank with ... and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter ... in the "event" ... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption."
"Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed.  He said he'd do it personally.  And if you're reading this, then he made good on his word."
"Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family.  And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me."
"If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US , then I am glad to have done so.  He is my example of service and of love.  I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades."
"All right, that's enough.  I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter.  Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth."
"Good luck with Tank.  Give him a good home and give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me.
Thank you,
Paul Mallory"

I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope.  Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory.  Everyone in town knew him, even new people like me.  Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies.  Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.
"Hey, Tank," I said quietly.  The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.

"C'mere boy."

He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor.  He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months.
"Tank," I whispered.
His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him.  I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.

"It's me now, Tank, just you and me.  Your old pal gave you to me."

Tank reached up and licked my cheek.
"So whatdaya say we play some ball?"

His ears perked again.
"Yeah?  Ball?  You like that?  Ball?"
Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room.  And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

If you can read this without getting a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye, you just ain't right.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Two Years Later

Does it seem like two years since the earthquake and resulting Tsunami in Japan?  The horrific, devastating images were omnipresent and raw in the days and weeks after the disaster.  But like many (most?) things, they have faded from our view.  One would imagine that with such devastation and only two years later, they would still be digging out.  That a significant portion of the population would still be dazed.  Well...check out the photos you will find here.  If you had any questions about the resilience, grace, determination, or will of the Japanese people, these photos should provide an answer.  Amazing!

Cool Pools

These pools are amazing.  I've only seen the one in Singapore in person, but they'd all be great to try out!

Sequestration...One Week Later

So we're one week into the dreaded sequestration.  If you've been in a cave or living on Mars, sequestration is that mechanism devised by Obama and his gang of Chicago thugs, oops I meant advisors, to drive across the board cuts in case the Dems and Reps couldn't agree on a budget deal.  He said it would never happen.  He said it could never happen.  He wouldn't let it.  Of course, we now know that it did.  During the run up to implementation we all heard the scare tactics.  Doom and gloom.  Disastrous cuts!  Life as we know it coming to an end.  Well...not so much.  In reality, the cuts are pretty small.  In the scheme of things, they could be managed with some relatively small adjustments.  The disappointing, but by now not surprising thing, is all the hysteria.  Disappointing because I don't a see that as a leadership technique.  Of course, Obama's leadership technique is nothing I'm familiar with.  Nothing I've ever seen.  But the really disappointing thing is all those in government, especially in DOD, who have gone along with it.  Now the stories are coming out about direction to make it hurt.  Make the cuts in the most painful manner possible.  Show the people how much they need big government.  Well...once again not so much.  The bad thing is that now that it has happened, it's an event in the past and they'll just move on.  To to the next crises.  Figure out how to make themselves indispensable.  Get their faces in the news (and we know that the compliant media will accommodate).  And the other bad thing is I don't know what the solution is...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tom Friedman...Again

If you've been reading, you know my love-hate relationship with Tom Friedman.  This week his column in the NYT is very thought provoking.  You can read it here.  The title is "The Professor's Big Stage".  It's all about the access to education.  And how today's universities better rethink themselves for the future.  A couple of really good passages stuck with me.
"Institutions of higher learning must move, as the historian Walter Russell Mead puts it, from a model of “time served” to a model of “stuff learned.” Because increasingly the world does not care what you know. Everything is on Google. The world only cares, and will only pay for, what you can do with what you know. And therefore it will not pay for a C+ in chemistry, just because your state college considers that a passing grade and was willing to give you a diploma that says so. We’re moving to a more competency-based world where there will be less interest in how you acquired the competency — in an online course, at a four-year-college or in a company-administered class — and more demand to prove that you mastered the competency."
 And this,
"There is still huge value in the residential college experience and the teacher-student and student-student interactions it facilitates. But to thrive, universities will have to nurture even more of those unique experiences while blending in technology to improve education outcomes in measurable ways at lower costs. We still need more research on what works, but standing still is not an option."
And finally,
"Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor and expert on disruptive innovation, gave a compelling talk about how much today’s traditional university has in common with General Motors of the 1960s, just before Toyota used a technology breakthrough to come from nowhere and topple G.M. Christensen noted that Harvard Business School doesn’t teach entry-level accounting anymore, because there is a professor out at Brigham Young University whose online accounting course “is just so good” that Harvard students use that instead. When outstanding becomes so easily available, average is over." 
I love that final sentence..."When outstanding becomes so easily available, average is over".  Think about that.  The world is shrinking.  The need to excel is increasing.  Competition is thriving.  To succeed, kids today will have to work harder and be smarter.  Maybe that's always been the case.  Every generation needs to be smarter and work harder.  But with the world shrinking and technology accelerating...excellence becomes harder to attain.  I think about that as my Grandkids age (too fast).

I also just returned from an international trip, this time to Asia.  As is always the case, I return struck by how much Americans can become cloistered, thinking they are the center of the universe.  Well...the world is shrinking every day.  And our kids are going to have to run to stay even.  The other thing that strikes me whenever I travel internationally is what I say to my kids and anyone else who will listen...teach your kids or have your kids taught a language.  Preferably Chinese or Japanese or Arabic. That's something that will make a difference.


I've been out of the country for a while so I've missed some of the events of he day.  Just catching up.  Funny how when you're on the other side of the world a lot of the "big" events of the day in our news is...well...insignificant.   So I'm back to observing events and commenting.

So when I got to Australia and into my hotel room, the Oscars were on TV.  I was pretty bushed so I just relaxed and watched them.  Usually all the Hollywood crowd giving themselves awards is not something I remotely care about.  But I had seen Lincoln.  I had seen Argo.  And I sorta wondered which would win.  For the record and even though I loved Lincoln, I think the right film won.

But the cameo appearance by Michelle Obama with the backdrop of the young military officers in Mess Dress was, to me, sorta yucky!  Not terrible, not earth shattering, not the worst thing ever, and certainly understandable given how much the Hollywood crowd is gaa-gaa over the Obamas.  I just thought it was yucky.  And inappropriate.  And unseemly.  And...yucky.

An interesting thing to me were all the goofy grins on the officers in the background.  Being a military social aide in the White House is sort of a fun gig.  They solicit young officers who are stationed in the Washington DC area.  Most of them are single.  They have the time to run over to the White House to  participate in various events.  They mostly do stuff like usher duty, escort duty, ensure people move along thru events, and generally serve as eye candy.  Like I said, fun duty.  But let's be clear, most of the military aren't enamored with Obama.  They see him for what he is.  They know he doesn't like them.  It's not a universal feeling.  But pretty generally true.

So why would they all be standing around with goofy grins on their face when Michelle Obama cowtows to a bunch of spoiled artists? reminds me of when I was attending National War College at Ft McNair in Washington DC. Bubba was President back then.  Most of those I knew didn't like him very much.  Sorta the same as the feeling about Obama now, only not as bad.  Bubba used to come over to Ft McNair for a jog because it was safe, flat, and there was a McDonalds on the way back to the White House.  And it never failed.  He would be jogging around and cheerfully greeting everyone he saw.  And even those who really didn't like him would come into our seminar room with a big goofy grin on their face saying..."I just said hi to the President!".  It's the nature of the beast, especially with military officers.  They are sworn to uphold the Constitution, not allegiance to a person.  But can be pretty cool to see the CINC in person.  It can make one giddy.  It's not the person, it's the office (although I will stipulate that Bubba had/has huge amounts of charisma).

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Over There

I'm just back from an international trip.  My job takes me to some pretty far-flung places and they can be very interesting and mind-expanding.  This time it was Melbourne, Australia and Tokyo, Japan.   Talk about two very different places!   Thought it might be interesting to provide some comments on what I saw and impressions from across the world.

First, Australia is a really great place!  It is very much like the U.S.  The people look like us.  They act like us.   Of course, they drive on the wrong side of the road...but that's okay.  It's a very comfortable place for Americans to visit.  Melbourne in particular is a lot like SoCal.  I think it may be the most sports oriented, outdoor city in the world.  Tennis, swimming, F1, beach competitions, water skiing, etc, etc.  there is always something going on.  The city is on the ocean and downtown is split by a beautiful river and is very vibrant.

And then it was off to Tokyo.  It's a lot farther than it looks on a map.  But I got to fly on one of the new Airbus A-380s.  Cool plane.  A real monster!  Business class seats very comfortable.  Tokyo is the opposite of Melbourne in terms of an American feeling like they are in familiar territory.  It's the mysterious orient!  Language is different, lifestyle is different, food is different...everything is different.  But it is a fascinating and wonderful place.  The people are generally warm, welcoming and go out of their way to make guests feel at home.  It's difficult because everything is so different, but after a few days, it starts to feel familiar.  I think I could live there...of course I'd need to take some serious language lessons!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Motivation Monday

Posting this now because where I am it's very close to Monday.  Time zones are funny that way.  This has been sitting in my files for a while.  I'm thinking its not as motivating as thought provoking.  But oh we''s my blog, I can do what I want.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Don't Be Fooled

So the day has finally arrived.  Sequester....the end of the world!!  Only we're still here.  At least I think we are.  I happen to be in Asia and things are bustling along.  Only real evidence is the foreign press mocking the craziness of our politicians.  But that's another story.

Usually, I'm loath to play the blame game.  I wrote about it here just because its so maddening.  Anyone who thinks this whole mess isn't totally (okay...maybe only 90%) Obama's fault either is
blinded by rhetoric, refuses to see or listen to the truth, or is clueless.  This whole thing was his idea!  That is clear.  He will not or doesn't know how to lead.  That is clear.  His mindset bigger government, punish the "rich", and make the population more dependent on government
handouts.  That is clear.

So I'm in a weird place.  I know sequester isn't good.  I know it will be tough on many people.  There will be painful cuts.   Hell, it will have ramifications in my business and my life.  But I have come to the point that anything he is for I am against.  He started this class warfare crap so I guess I'll just have to join the fight.  I've heard it said that the country is strong enough to withstand any foolish President.  But I'm not so sure.  Certainly if that's true, there needs to be opposition.  Count me in.

The thing that really disappoints me is the widespread trust in what he says.  It's like 50% of the country are Lemmings.  Oh I get political loyalty...I get sticking with your guy...I even get supporting him because he's black and it's cool to support a black dude in the White House.  But come on...there has to be basic competence, there has to be love of country, there has to be leadership.  I just don't seeany of that in Obama.  And that really scares me...

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