Monday, March 23, 2009

2 down, 48 to go

Took the CPR/First Aid class yesterday. Scratch #17 off the list.

I really, really hope I never have to use it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This breaks my heart

Detroit is my second home. I lived in the area for eight years, and many of the people I love still live there. We didn't go into the city often - maybe once a year for brunch or a ballgame. At that time it was already too far gone. You had to go through miles of awful to get to the few fun parts.

Detroit was once every bit as lovely and vibrant a city as my Chicago. Makes me wonder if Chicago is heading for the same fate.

The causes are many and the answers aren't simple. But attention Chicago...Cook County...and Illinois - if you keep raising taxes and don't clean up the corruption, you will force businesses and their workers to find a better place work and live. Your tax base will crumble, and Detroit's present may be your future.

Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline (TIME, via Instapundit)

The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Eat That Frog!


No, this is not a diet tip that belongs on my other blog. It's some great advice from a book of the same name I found on

As some of you know, I excel in procrastination. I have always intended to do something about that, but I keep putting it off!

The idea is to do the most difficult thing on your "to do" list first thing each day. That unpleasant, nasty, crappy task on your plate is your "frog". And if you eat that first, the rest of what is on your plate will be more pleasant by comparison.

Today's "frog" for me is a very long, complicated project plan that needs to be reorganized. It's not that it is a difficult is just tedious because every time I make a change to one area it takes forever for the rest of the plan to update. But I will get to the office, settle in with a cuppa joe, and work on it until it's done. Bye-bye froggie!

I love Walk-the-Talk, because they do these little inspirational movies to promote their products. Check out the movie that plays from this page about the book.

Just one thing...don't forget to brush and floss after that frog. Nothing worse than frog breath!

Update: When I got into work, there was a snake on the plate waiting for me. Needed to deal with that first. Got to the frog in the afternoon. Took me three-and-a-half hours to choke down that sucker, but it's DONE! And yes, it tasted as bad as I thought it would.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Check your premises

I just finished reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Big book. Hard to hold up when I read in bed. But very relevant to our times (even though it was first published in 1957) and extremely thought-provoking.

There's so much to talk about - and I'll do so over a period of time - but I took one thing from the book that I want to immediately make a practice in my daily life. It has to do with logic. It is to check the premise of a statement or argument. A premise is a "previous statement from which another is inferred".

One of the things that frustrates me about my job is meetings. Not all meetings, but those that seem to get off track with side conversations or end up not making sense, but I don't quite know why. At least several times a week during a meeting I'll find myself asking "how did we get here?"

To be honest, I have a tendancy to be "lazy" in some conversations...I let my attention slip. Or I feel bad and mentally withdraw when a conflict gets heated. I think by paying closer attention, and being aware of the premise when a statement is made during a conversation, I will be able to make my own arguments more effectively. And by doing so hopefully make these meetings more productive.

And productiveness is what it's all about.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The law of unintended consequences

These days there is a lot of mud-slinging at corporate executives and their pay and bonuses and companies having lavish parties while the economy is suffering. My current employer has cut back severely on business travel, and the days of any celebratory event beyond the level of bringing in lunch once a quarter are probably over.

No doubt there are people and companies out there who appear to be "fiddling while Rome burns". But demonizing all such activities has a serious ripple effect. Like a rock landing in a still pool of water, the first act causes waves that go in all directions. Those waves are the unintended consequences.

Here's one example from comedian Jeffrey Jena (via Big Hollywood).

Many years ago, a "luxury" tax was imposed on yachts. Few "regular" people worried about it. So what? Those people are rich, they can afford it! Well, here's what happened as a result: rich people - the only market for yachts - stopped buying those yachts. So boat manufacturers stopped making them. And people lost their jobs. Think about all the people who are involved in the production, sale and operation of yachts - designers, factory workers, salespeople, boat crews, cooks, bartenders, waitresses, maintenance workers, accountants, secretaries. Then there are workers in related businesses - yachts need fuel to run, they need insurance, they pay fees to dock.

It was the "regular" people - multitudes of them - who suffered as a result of the "luxury" tax.

Guess who didn't suffer? The rich people...they got their fun some other way. And because they didn't buy the yachts, the tax wasn't paid. So the original intention was never fulfilled anyway.

So the next time you find yourself thinking that it's a good thing that "rich people" are being made to pay more and more, consider the unintended consequences.

You might be one of them.