A Best in Class Boss or a Toxic Boss

 

December 26, 2018

965 words  3 minute and 32-second read

First one and then the other

What makes a ‘Best in Class Boss’?

Talentsmart an organization that claims that 75% of Fortune 500 companies use its test on Emotional Intelligence (EQ) has conducted research with more than a million people.

They found that the best bosses have characteristics in common.

Dr. Travis Bradbury is the President of Talent Smart and writes articles that appear frequently in LinkedIn.

Before retirement, I always tried to be a ‘good’ boss. Those things that make a good boss are difficult to keep at the top of the mind awareness,

In the heat of a moment, or confronted with a seemly intractable problem or even in a serious discussion managers/bosses tend to make an inevitable mistake.

I think the goal should be: keep your good intentions at the forefront of your mind, practice the correct reactions so that they become a habit, and don’t let the ‘bad’ actions get a foothold in your psyche.

Brush off the ‘bad behavior’ and reset your mind to the tenants of Emotional Intelligence. The newsletter of Emotional Intelligence, Talentsmart is located here.

I have been reading an article about the traits that the ‘best’ bosses seem to possess.

The number one ‘skill’ that “90% of them have in common is the skill at managing their emotions in order to stay focused, calm and productive.”

I have known several men that possess this trait and I have always admired it immensely.

However, I have not been able to shadow that skill. I wonder what the rest of these characteristics are and what they tale they will tell about me.

“Composed”

The premise here is that the ‘best’ bosses constantly monitor their emotions so that they can use this knowledge to react to challenging situations with self-control.

Another ‘not me’ vote. Two strikes.

Once in a while, I was prepared for when the situation went downhill and I managed, at least in my mind, that I handled it with aplomb.

But I have never been able to take the ‘long’ view of events and reacted mainly with short-term actions.

Sometimes when I reflected on the damage that I had already done, I could see a better way.

“Graceful”

A much-admired trait. A combination of strong and gentle. Hmm… I tried to not resort to intimidation, or manipulation because I didn’t enjoy those mind games be played on me.

But to say I was gentle, no I don’t think that was ever said about me.

The people with this trait are “approachable, likable, and easy to get along with.” I guess I have to circle ‘no’ here also.

“Knowledgeable”

The “best” bosses are always trying to increase their ‘self-awareness’. I’m not sure what that means in this context.

How does that apply to spend the time to learn, to have a passion for opportunities to improve and learn new things?

This I did try to do. Maybe not as often as I should have.

“Honest”

Another one that I really tried to follow.

If you lose your honesty and people stopped trusting you, what do you have left to offer?

If you don’t possess and show people your integrity they have nothing else to look for in you.

In addition, Notre Dame did a study that showed that people who lie often experience more mental health problems. But perhaps a better way to explain the phenomenon is to look at the positive side.

People normally lie 1.6 times in 24 hours.

When people learn to lie less (in a 10-week study) they reported feeling better mentally and physically.

“Speak with Certainty”

Another one lost on me a good share of the time.

I tried not to “um”, “I’m not sure” and, “I think”. But I was not as assertive in speaking as the “best bosses” I knew.

“Positive Body Language”

You could often catch me unfolding my arms as I consciously became aware that they were folded across my chest.

I knew this was a defensive action and I would watch out for it.

The same principle applies to eye contact. I watched for that in other people while they spoke to me. Even leaning in a little towards the listener I was aware of but not sure I remembered to use that one either.

“Super successful people ‘ draw others in’. “How you say something can be more important than what you say.”

“Confident”

‘Successful leaders compete for your attention.” How you say something can be more important than what you say.

I was not aware of this one, especially when it is recommended for those times when the efforts would only yield a small victory.

The victory, however small still builds new androgen receptors in the brain. “They are responsible for reward and motivation.

The increase in androgen receptors increases the influence of testosterone, which further increases confidence and eagerness to tackle future challenges.

“Fearless”

“Fear is nothing more than a lingering emotion that’s fueled by your imagination.” Danger, however, is real.

But fear is not danger. This is interesting “Fear is a choice.” I have never heard that before.

“Grateful”

This I recognize as a trait that I always tried to emulate.

I have always done the tasks that I later end up supervising. I recognize the hard work and ingenuity that is required.

I would much rather celebrate subordinates glory than my own.

I have felt that they need a standing ovation so they can be recognized by higher echelon bosses.

These traits should be self-explanatory to anyone that has toiled in a subordinate position.

I originally wrote this to put out for people to read, discuss and even chuckle over. I am sure former employees will have a great time.

However, I ran into another great article

730 words 2 min 24 sec read

The first article I have had written for years and I haven’t been able to find the exact place where I found it.

The next part I found just before Christmas 2018 and it is a great counterpoint to the above article.

This article was in INC.com written by Marcel Schwantes titled “7 Signs of a Toxic manager that should be stopped immediately.” 

Mr. Schwantes, the Principal, and Founder of “Leadership from the Core” begins his article “I’ve been part of many conversations with executive clients who are quick to blame their employees for bickering and lackluster performance. They get their information, of course, from management teams bickering and complaining about their employees.”

He continues,  “While there’s no quick-fix solution, I tell them, usually the reasons managers aren’t getting the best from smart, creative, and talented employees have to do with job dissatisfaction – common human reactions to unfulfilled work expectations and/or stressful environments – and managers, not employees, are primarily to blame.”

“A Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults found that 50 percent of employees left their jobs “to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.”

I don’t know if that is a reflection on the training that these managers received or if they were just too absorbed in thinking that they were the best gift to the manager corps.

A sign that a person is a good manager is that he or she regularly asks for feedback from their employees in a formal setting such as a performance review or informally while gathering around the water cooler.

If you inspect managers closely and if they prove to be a poor manager, you will find certain negative practices and untrustworthy behaviors that are consistent with the above research findings.

“Seven of the most toxic management behaviors that stifle the human spirit and such the soul out of an organization” are:

1. People are Treated as Objects, not as Human Beings

2. Employees Compete Against Each Other

3. Passive Aggressiveness

4. A Focus on the Negative

5. Stealing the Spotlight

6. Missing in Action

7. Gossiping

While these findings are pretty much self-explanatory I think Mr. Schwantes summarizes each topic succinctly.

  1. “Because compassion and empathy are virtually non-existent, they are treated as an object or expense rather than assets and there is little concern for their happiness or well-being. You will encounter high levels of stress, turnover, absenteeism, and burnout.
  2. Management probably enforces a performance assessment system that focuses on individual performance than team performance. This leads to ‘every employee for himself or herself.
  3. The book “Toxic Workplace” showed that most toxic personalities are passive aggressive. This means that they distrust others and are very territorial and seek to remain in control. This can be seen in employees that never take a vacation for fear others will learn their job and displace them. “They don’t see themselves as the problem.”
  4. Management only looks at the negative actions. They may never give positive feedback and reinforcement for “things that are going right.”
  5. The manager takes all the credit for the work. He or she does not praise the team and offers no celebration of everyone’s success.
  6. When a big problem comes up in a project the manager is nowhere to be found. They take shelter in all day meetings. They are insecure or fear conflict.
  7. The most toxic trait is gossip. It hurts teams because the atmosphere becomes filled with suspicion and distrust. When a boss spreads rumors it is the opposite of what a true human leader would do.

How to solve the problem?

Warren Buffet always looks to character and integrity. He has called ‘integrity the most important trait in hiring, above intelligence.”

A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology states that to stop the toxic boss crisis simply promote people with the virtues of moral integrity and goodness into leadership roles.

Bob Sutton, Professor of Organizational Studies at Stanford says that to find out if you are in a toxic workplace:

  1. Are you losing sleep, productivity, and fulfillment of physical and mental health issues?
  2. Are people around you jerks, and that everyone’s performance is suffering?
  3. Are you becoming a jerk and taking out your issues on other people?

I highly recommend signing up for the free newsletters at Inc.com

emotional intelligence Google Images

Thanks for stopping.

Craig

Google Images dual blue roses

 

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BOSSMAN

BOSSMAN SERIES number 2

Sunday, November 18, 2018

893 words  read time 3 min 30 seconds

Assault 1: Military on Border – the TIPPING POINT

                  A: BOSSMAN’S Snookered Followers vs Mattis’

Assault 2: Justice Department

                  A: Un-Constitutional Attorney General

Assault 3: Judicial Branch

                  A: John Roberts

Assault 4: Press

                  A: Credentials and new Rules

 Assault 5: The Deadly Spy Game

                   A: Saudi government using Israeli spyware “Pegasus” from NSO Group

 Trump is attempting the rape of all branches of government.

LOOK AT ME

Legislative, Congressional, Judicial all at one time. Oh and throw in the military for some excitement.

I did not see this coming. I thought he would take one action at a time.

He has the executive branch. But he is now taking a brazen takeover of the Department of Justice.

He believes there is no one will oppose him. He has had Mitch McConnell in his pocket all year.

Matt Whitaker does not have the constitutional certification to operate the Justice Department.

Will the Senate get a backbone to correct this? I doubt it.

But if the current situation continues there will not have to be a motion to protect Mueller. Mueller is taken out of play.

Trump has a direct pipeline to the investigation since Whitaker is only his mouthpiece and tunnel rat into Mueller work so he can move at this own pace. This could be to wait until the Mueller report is sent to him, rather than Congress, and stir the southern border to activate the Snookered Army. 

What do you think?

And Trump has said he will decide issues that arise.

The Military is assigned the southern border. Due to posse comitatus, they cannot engage in law enforcement activities and yet…

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Trump’s Snookered Army, making their way to the southern border.

Is this Trump’s strategy for getting the military involved in a firefight so that he can assume martial law or some other maneuver that hastens his power grab?

However, they have strung concertina wire which I see as a function of law enforcement. Marching in place waiting for orders?

Today Trump issued orders authorizing the display of weapons and firing with lethal force. 

Today General Mattis countermanded those orders. And has said, as of now, he had not received formal orders.

Trump this morning labeled the 9th Circuit as ‘Obama’ judge.

Justice John Roberts shot right back with “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said in a statement. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

The flashpoint was November 7, 2018, when Trump recalled Jim Acosta’s press credentials

A Trump appointed judge reinstated them.

Trump immediately established new rules for all Washington press corps.

Follow-up questions will be not allowed. While seemingly innocuous they will have the effect of stifling the freedom of speech.

The turf is marked off.

The Constitution defines the rules of engagement.

Now, will the Armies show?

Trump will. He has spent two years maneuvering to get to this place.

graphic on Facebook artist unknown
Graphic Facebook artist unknown

 It appears the Supreme Court and therefore the courts are joined.

 The Fourth Estate is already in the battle and they are spoiling for a fight.

 The military has fired the first salvo in standing up to the Commander in Chief.

 The big question is, as it has been all year – where is the United States Senate?

 Trump has tangled them into knots of ineffectiveness all year.

 As I have postulated, I think there are Senators who depend on the stipends offered   by Trump’s supporters.

Why has Senator Rand Paul, who was anti-Russia suddenly determine Russia was playing nice after his trip to Russia? There are others.

Other senators have also softened their stance.

Also, Trump has his 30 million or so ‘allies’. These allies are ‘his base’. his “Snookered Army”.

They have silenced a few people and encouraged them to lie down their arms and cease their opposition to Trump.

In some cases, this was accomplished by threatening force.

Trump has laid out his positions.

He wants control of :

The executive branch and the Senate (he lost control of the House in the November mid-term elections), and the Judicial Branch.

 He has appointed 2 Conservative Supreme Court Justices and 29  of the Courts of   Appeal and 5 District Court Judges. There are a total of 179 Judges on the Courts of   Appeal and 673 district court judges.

Don McGahn Google Images
Don McGahn Google Images

Don McGahn served as Trump‘s White House Counsel and was primarily responsible for the appointments Trump has made to the federal bench.

Trump’s pretentions have him controlling the federal courts but even his recent appointees such as  Kavanaugh have ruled against his actions.

Two REALLY BIG ace cards Trump is using:

The Senate is starting investigations into Comey and Clinton (you thought 2016 had moved on?). I have not seen this on the official calendar as of this writing but keep your eyes open.

Trump is preparing to use (if he hasn’t already done so) a neat spy tool that Saudia Arabia is using on it’s malcontents.

This spy tool is called “Pegasus” and was “the creation of a highly secretive, $1 billion-valued Israeli surveillance dealer called NSO Group.

This tool is able to silently hoover up private information on a target iPhone, from WhatsApp chats to emails and can spy on people via their smartphone’s camera and microphone.”

The Saudis have used it on a well-known dissident. Ghanem Al-Masarir

Ghanem Al-Masariri Forbes
Ghanem Al-Masarir  Thomas Brewster Forbes.com

is a YouTube comic and satirist based in London.               

A question is:  Will Trump rape his dissidents and journalists using this tool?

The relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia is coming into the open. Trump has remade the players in the Mid-East to line up against Iran. Will Iran and Russia be strong enough to hold off Israel and Saudi Arabia.

What is the United States place in the re-alignment?

If Trump is somehow taken out of the picture in 2020 where does this leave the world?

An issue arising from the ascendence of ‘strong men’ is “What happens when they are overthrown?

I expect in the coming days we will see even more swords being brandished and flames coming from the mouths of each party until there is one huge pile-up on the steps of the Supreme Court. The diversion.

What Trump is setting in motion is best described in a comment to Washington Post article “Troops Approved to use Force, but Mattis says the mission hasn’t changed” by Missy Ryan and Paul Sonne. The commentator  istherenojustice
posted in the Washington Post article dated November 21.

Is there a place where Trump thinks he will win all of his arguments?

The Congress, The Fourth Estate, The Judiciary, The Military, The Immigrants, The NSO Group with Pegasus, The Snookered Army.

The pieces are in place.

Time will tell.

Bossman definition topic of a blog post 11/18/2018 

Thanks for stopping.

Craig

anger is fire image by ANTHONY RAO 1590111647265 unsplash

Do you like your frying pan hot or hotter?

Image by Joshua Newton 149634158 unsplash

 

BOSSMAN

Series number 1

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Duke SkorichI stole his post

The image was from Duke Skorich’s Post

November 15 at 8:42 AM

@realDonaldTrump this morning:

“The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our Nation and don’t care how many lives the ruin. These are Angry People, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller, who worked for Obama for 8 years. They won’t even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side. A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!”

Robert Mueller did not work for Obama for 8 years. He ran the FBI under George W Bush for nearly 8 years. He remained FBI Director under Obama for 4 years, confirmed to extend his 10-year term by a Senate vote of 100-0.

Trump the asshole Facebook Image by Fake President

After last week do you understand the road we are going down?

All available air is being sucked out of our consciousness and we are not paying to the REAL TRUMP!

All available airtime is being sucked up by trump and his trumpbutts. (Did you notice how I slide part of the title of my blog in here?)

All available funds will be sucked up to fund the wall & the deficit.

There will be no funds for banks to lend to businesses.

Social Security and Medicare will be robbed to fund the government since that money will be going to pay for the WALL, the MILITARY BUILDUP, the NEW SPACE FORCE, funds like the BAILOUT of industries decimated from the TRADE WAR.

PLEASE BE MINDFUL OF THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING MORE MONEY TO COVER THE DISAPPEARANCE IF LIQUID CASH – THIS CAN ONLY LEAD TO HYPERINFLATION.

Oh, and have a nice day.

Facebook Post Image by ??
Facebook Post Image by ??

The fascist government now being built will soon take possession.

The Democrats will fight these expenditures and when the two heads collide the MILITARY WILL BE ORDERED TO Take OVER PEACE-TIME DUTIES (because nobody stopped the deployment of active military to the southern border more and more active duty troops will be deployed to quell internal unrest).

Did I recommend that you have a good day? My, my I am getting forgetful?

By the way, that is the format for the coming fascist takeover.

Little by little these will come to pass.

Little by little the alarm bells will be quieter and quieter.

Little by little they will be rung with less and less frequency.

One morning you will wake up and your coffee will be very bitter.

Meantime rake more weeds to stop forest fires!

 

Just for chuckles, I copied the first headlines I read on Facebook Posts this fine Sunday morning.

WASHINGTONPOST.COM

GOP senator: It’s a ‘great idea’ to make it harder for ‘liberal folks’ to vote

##############

MSNBC.COM|BY STEVE BENEN

In non-satirical piece, McConnell stresses virtues of bipartisanship

##############

WASHINGTONPOST.COM

GOP senator: It’s a ‘great idea’ to make it harder for ‘liberal folks’ to vote

##############

INDEPENDENT.CO.UK

San Francisco to clear all marijuana misdemeanor convictions dating to 1975

##############

SHAREBLUE.COM

Trump plots to cancel research into curing diseases like Alzheimer’s

##############

BBC.COM

US election turnout highest for 104 years

##############

YAHOO.COM

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin says bloodshed may be needed to protect conservatism

##############

NEWS.VICE.COM

Trump pretty much just admitted that he picked Whitaker to kill Mueller’s probe

##############

SFCHRONICLE.COM

More than 14,000 immigrant children are in U.S. custody, an all-time high

##############

Before I continue leading you down the “primrose path”

primrose path
phrase of primrose
the pursuit of pleasure, especially when it is seen to bring disastrous consequences.
“unaware of his doom, he continued down his primrose path”
I included the definition of ‘primrose path’ so you can not accuse me of leading you astray.
One more thing before I continue. I need to define the term “BOSSMAN” in the title of this post.

BOSSMAN – Urban Dictionary.com

But you need the full flavor of the definition to appreciate it’s meaning:
TOP DEFINITION
A term used to describe a man, precisely God (a.k.a. Negusflex), that commands raids on various media pages. These raids can be observed on Instagram, Youtube, Twitch and other platforms.
Who are we raiding today? I don’t know, let’s see what bossman says.
by dwizzle25 July 19, 2018
Get the mug
Get a Bossman mug for your papa Trump

FOLKS I AM NOT MAKING THIS STUFF UP!

That is the problem. Nobody is taking any of the things that Trump does as weird, nasty, unseemly, corrupt, sadistic, mean, violent, crazy, demented.

BUT EVERYBODY IS WRONG!

Did you happen to see Fareed Zacharias this morning? His GPS program focused on the trade program or its lack by trump.

 

 

You must watch the third one if nothing else you do today

 

To review:

1: Bossman is positioning the United States to live WITHOUT CHINA.

I forecast that China can get along without the United States. The United States      CANNOT get along WITHOUT CHINA.

2: Bossman is positioning the United States for a medical meltdown. 

The FLU in 2017 killed 80,000 people in the United States

The FLU in 2018 killed 80,000 people in the United States

3:  Bossman is saying that FLU shots are a scam

I forecast his position should kill more trumpbutts than Non-Bossman supporters

Trump is telling his people that Flu Shots are a scam Facebook Post

4:  Bossman appointed a new Director of the CDC

I forecast that more trumpbutts will die because this director will reinforce trump’s position on FLU shots.

I forecast that more LGBT people will die because of this director.

 

New Director of the CDC Facebook Post

5: Bossman is going to spend massive amounts of dollars on his pet projects: The Wall; The Space Force; The Military Buildup; the Bailouts he will finance due to his Trade War with China.

I forecast that he and the trump party will drain Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid

6: Bossman will harass journalists and people representing us in the House of Representatives.

I forecast that this harassment will begin to have a deleterious effect on the work of the Fourth Estate and the Congresspeople.

You can hold my feet to the fire but I will stick with my forecasts.

I have been correct in the broad strokes of my pen since I starting harping on our fascist leader back in May 2016 BEFORE he really got cooking.

My concern back then was that he and Bannon would wreck our country.

I believe that Bannon is still in the background running the strategies that Bossman executes.

I forecast that Bossman will continue to crank up his vicious attack on the consciousness of the United States.

I forecast that trump and his trumpbutts will get even more vicious on the attacks of ordinary citizens. I site Joe Biden getting a German Sheperd. Why?

Is Bossman going to send any assistance to California to help with the recovering from the fires?

I doubt it since the outgoing and incoming governors are Democrats and many newly elected representatives are Democrats.

I have so much to add but I should start another post. This one has gotten too long.

 

Trump and Moussilini Image from Google Images
Mussolini and morphing of Bossman’s face – Google Images

Thank you for stopping!

Craig

db284-red2brose2bsvetlana-manic-674670-unsplash

 

 

 

 

A Gallery of Duluth MN and Lake Superior by Rick Rice

Astonishing Images of Rick Rice Empower Humanity

The Authentic Art of Rick Rice

September 14, 2019

A king surveying his domain

Ancient Rock Builders
Sunset on the Big Lake
Born to Run and Splash
Downtown Duluth at Dusk
He went that away
Laker just passed thru the Duluth Ship Canal
Laker just passing thru the Duluth Ship Canal
Packing for the Road Trip this weekend
Sunset after the Storm
Sunset on the Lake
MN Noreaster.com
Laker in the Sea Fog
What did you do on New Year’s Eve?
Peace and Quiet Can you hear the fish swimming?
Bridal Gazebo at Duluth Rose Garden
Seven Bridges Road
sunrise on the lakewalk the park bench looks inviting duluth mn
Sunrise on the Lakewalk
sunrise and sea smoke hides the city's steam power plant
The City Steam Plant Dukes in and out of the Sea Smoke
Bentleyville in its Finest
Bentleyville at Christmas
ore boat - ship - in dock for the winter
Wrapped up Snug and Warm for the Winter
Split Rock Lighthouse in Spring Thaw
Split Rock Lighthouse in Spring Thaw
Presque Isle December 31st, 2017 Image by Rick Rice
Presque Isle December 31st, 2017
St Clair in Sea Smoke Image by Rick Rice
St Clair maneuvering in Sea Smoke
St Clair maneuring in Port of Duluth Image by Rick Rice
St Clair Maneuvering in Port
Full Moon in Canal Park Image by Rick Rice
Full Moon in Canal Park
Moonlit Aerial Lift Bridge Image by Rick Rice
Moonlit Aerial Lift Bridge
Canal Park in Full Moon Image by Rick Rice
Canal Park
A Summer Evening on the Lake Image by Rick Rice
A Summer Eve on the Lake
At the Cabin Image by Rick Rice
At the Cabin
Amity Creek Image by Rick Rice
Amity Creek
Seven Bridges Road Image by Rick Rice
Seven Bridges Road
A Night of Nostalgia Image by Rick Rice
A Night of Nostalgia
Music on the Bayfront Image by Rick Rice
Music on the Bayfront
Isn't Driftwood Fascinating? Image by Rick Rice
Isn’t Driftwood Fascinating?
Early Mornng Best Morning Image by Rick Rice
Early Morning Best Morning
Breaking at the Boardwalk Image by Rick Rice
Breaking at the Boardwalk
Palisade Head with Rick out for a Stroll
Palisade Head with Rick out for a Stroll
Canoes? Must be Northeast Minnesota Image by Rick Rice
Canoes? Must be Northeast Minnesota
Under On the Boardwalk Image by Rick Rice
Under On the Boardwalk
Who Wants Duck? Image by Rick Rice
Who wants Duck?
Wedding Gazebo up with the Crocus Image by Rick Rice
Wedding Gazebo up with the Crocus
Must be Minnesota Image by Rick Rice
Must be Minnesota
Wedding Gazebo in the Rose Garden Image by Rick Rice
Wedding Gazebo in the Rose Garden

A Gallery

Trump and the Heist

Trump and the Heist

dated 12.22.2017
reprinted from a blog post on my Facebook account and Hubpages

The Greatest Robbery in History is taking place at this very Moment

I don’t know what to think. The greatest robbery in the world history is taking place and nobody is going to stop it!
Last week the crooks a.k.a. ‘The Republican Congress’ unveiled their ‘TAX REFORM and Job Package’ for 2018 and beyond. Not surprisingly, it is not a new proposal. Ronald Reagan did much the same back in his term from 1981 to 1989. George W Bush did it on a smaller scale in his term 2001-2009.

The Middle Class marching down the Road to Economic Oblivion

Not surprisingly, the Middle Class of America has not recovered since those days of Ronald Reagan. The Middle-Class income in 1945 was around $45,000 per year. Last week the Republicans defined the Middle-Class income as being $450,000 to $750,000 per year. Obviously, they have no conception of what is going on in real life. They used this definition for the purpose defining the merely rich from the filthy rich I’m sure. But the point is still made: The Middle Class of America has almost disappeared due primarily to these exorbitant gifts to the already rich. Ronald Reagan may not have invented: take from the poor and give to the rich’ but his party has sharpened its pencils at his pencil sharpener and are excelling at being exceedingly greedy and mean-spirited. Teachers will no longer be able to deduct $250 for the expenses they incur for supplies they purchase for their classrooms. It is really a shame though that 80% deduction for purchasing college athletic tickets is now laying in the trash heap.
An example of mean-spirited. Lower-middle-income couples ($24,000 income bracket) used to be able to claim personal exemptions for non-child dependents. Now the same couple in the same situation will have to get by with the replacement, a $500 flat rate deduction. Or in the case of a baby in the womb. The parents can start taking deductions for a college education. But who, at the $24,000 income level will be able to take advantage of that deduction? Those in the ‘middle-class bracket’ of $450,000 I assume.

Flim-Flam is still Swindle

In addition to all the flim-flam, the Republicans are not allowing this proposal to be vetted. Usually, the Tax Foundation or some office lays out the whole tax code with accompanying tables for all to see. This year the House plan is to be done by Thanksgiving. That is in three weeks. Did anyone say “Duck”?!
There seems to be no depth to which these cowards will not sink. They rape the country and rake it over the coals because a Black Man was president of the United States for eight years.
They are so twitching to grab every morsel possible out of our coffers because the White House, The Senate, and the House of Representatives all being Republican that they cannot call it quits. Their plan is to cut hundreds of billions out of the Medicaid and Medicare budgets to fund a tax relief package for the coal industry. Coal Industry? Yes indeed. Maybe the resurgence in the use of coal is imminent or was that China? No, China is developing green energy. I wonder then, who is going to be the beneficiary of the $10 billion earmarked for the coal industry?

The Mushroom Effect

I assumed some of these people have families. No, I guess not. The House voted to replace the Affordable Care Act without blinking an eye. Some representatives were even hard pressed to understand why they received such unruly welcomes from their constituents when they went home for recess.
I have not studied the ins and outs of this abomination because I suspect there may be some changes. Hopefully, their constituents will scream loud enough that most of the changes won’t be approved.
It is not just the tax code that is taking a beating these days. Our school systems are being hammered at breakneck speed by the behavior of the students.
The actions, displayed by Trump and the other never-do-wells regarding throwing temper tantrums, abusive speech and abusive actions are being played out in our children, in our schools, in our neighborhoods.

Reform by any other name is still Theft

My point is that all through the swiss cheese of this ‘reform’ package the Republicans led by House Speaker Paul Ryan take away and then give back sort of. The end result is not to simplify that tax code, although that is what they keep saying over and over again. It’s purpose is to make sure the wealthy donors of the Republican causes get another windfall income boost. They then can continue their lavish donations to the Republican candidates which in reality is the gift from the American taxpayer. Think about that for a minute. The American taxpayer is, in effect, giving the Republican donors the money to keep electing Republicans! Huh? An example of the way the larder is stocked, Donald J Trump and all his nepotism appointees stand to increase their income by several billion dollars.
The NFL will lose some bucks and on top of the current downturn in viewership maybe able to apply for a hardship tax break in the next year or so. (Just kidding, I have to take a smile swipe at this stuff once in awhile. The nature of it is so sickening. If only these atrocities were just on paper.)

How can so Few do this to so Many

How do these people justify their existence? Do they boast about their ‘hard work’ to their friends? Who would be a friend? Oh, that’s right! I have read that we are not to presuppose anything. But can’t I just ask? Who would have these people for friends? Or even drinking buddies? I would hate to go deer hunting with them for fear that I would get a round in the back that was meant for one of them!

The New Normal

Maybe this acrimony is the new normal. Maybe when I cross a person on my Facebook Friends list, I am modeling the new normal. Instead of facing the person and asking what in the heck is wrong, I just surreptitiously hit the ‘delete’ key. This must be the future. The brick and mortar businesses I grew up with, the JC Penneys, the Sears, the Kmarts are about gone. Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame cashed in $1.1 billion of Amazon shares the other day. It was in the paper, er, the smartphone news.
I think my Dad was right. At 91 (and even earlier) he didn’t see a need to learn how to use a computer, or a smartphone or even a cell phone. He probably was right. I probably won’t have a need for one either shortly. If you are not home to hear the phone ring, does it ring? It does if you are carrying it in your pocket!

Consequences

I believe that we are on the cusp of something. My hair on the back of my neck stands up like a Rhodesian Ridgeback on alert when I get bad vibes. But the vibes are not bad, they are horrific! What is happening to our country? I do not see a way to the future without taking a cleaver to the present and hosing away the other half with the fish guts. I am teetering toward the precipice with my nerves jangling. Not for me. I will be gone soon. But my children and grandchildren. We were taught to leave the world in a better way than we found it. I don’t think that is possible anymore. The learning curve to return to its former place is too steep. The changes just too intractable. I feel sad, no, empty. I feel like I ran in place for over forty years and accomplished nothing. Nothing of value to leave my children. Certainly, the world is not a better place.
Gold Coin and hancuffs. Hopefully the end result for the Republicans Google Images CCL
Hopefully the resting place of the coin stolen from the American taxpayer
“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat.”
 
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Today is the Beginning of the End aka The Waste of $1.5 Trillion

trump with a dumbface grin like he doesn't know which end is up
So many excellent examples to choose? to choose?
Caricature of Trump giving a speech Google Images
Which is Your Favorite?

Today is the Beginning of the End

We took a loss today.
The people of the United States of America.
A big loss.
The Republicans are swooning in delight, chortling in vengeance accomplished.
Don’t get me wrong. Somehow they pulled out a big win and then topped it off by
Trump claiming the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
I caution that they are not done.
I would expect that on Monday, December  4th they will begin planning on repealing
Medicare and Medicaid. Shortly thereafter planning how to dismantle Social
Security.
Why?
Because it is what Republicans do.
Just as Steve Bannon and Donald Trump proclaimed that they would destroy the
administration of this country, the Republicans, are following in those footsteps.
For years the Republicans have been targeting the ‘Entitlement Programs’ for repeal.
When they passed the Tax Reform and Jobs Act they proclaimed that they would be able to balance the budget just in the growth of the GDP and thereby increased tax
revenue.
The dirty lie as they pronounced was that the plan, all along, had been to balance the
budget by going after the entitlement programs.
In their giddy, backslapping mode I believe that they have gone a inch too far.
They did not listen when even their own constituents clamored to not repeal the
ACA.
That is a signal to me that those same constituents will not want to lose their
Medicare and Social Security.
I believe that the majority of the Republican base will also have the heart to continue
with the Medicaid and CHIPs program and DACA. Although those are a little riskier
to bet on.
Why is that?
I have been uncomfortable for months trying to decipher Trumps supporters and run of the mill Republicans.
I hope that they are two different classes of people but more and more I am beginning to doubt it.
My reasoning in a minute.
The ‘base’ supporters will love Trump no matter what he does. I think I have figured out why.
It has always been a huge puzzle to me as to how they can look at the same numbers (budgets, costs, projections, etc) and I do and come up with completely, and sometimes off-the-wall answers.
I have determined that on the evidence only and no scientific lobotomies having been performed that they have a screw loose.
That’s right!
In the deep recesses of their brain, they are missing a very important piece of machinery that they need to reach a logical answer to logical questions.
Their abject answers to questions do not make sense, even if I allow for ‘the fake news’ that they so dearly love.
Responsible businessmen will respond to a ‘huh’? what?’ with a mealy mouth answer like, ‘that’s right’ that is what he is going to do’.
All available evidence to the contrary such as ‘I won’t take away your healthcare’, ‘I won’t take away your Social Security’, ‘I will get your jobs back’.
Even one of these lies would be enough to give a normal person pause before they swallowed another lie.
But they keep swallowing them.
A few are realizing that they made a mistake to believe him and vote for him.
But by and large, unless they are actually starving like the coal miners in the Appalachians, they don’t see the real situation.
How else would you explain it?
It can’t be that the numbers lie.
Well, the ones that Trump uses do but he only uses numbers that he dreams up.
The number crunchers that have the real jobs do fudge much I don’t believe.
Well, that is enough of belittling the supporters of Trump. I have a little present for the Republicans in a later post.
I was always, and I mean always under the impression that Republicans were cost conscious and frugal when it came to spending government money.
Well, I propose that they are just as spendthrift as the Democrats except that Democrats, by and large, don’t pocket the money themselves.
What the $1.5 trillion gift to the Republican donors is, in reality, the down payment for continuing to fund the Republican candidates for the next decade.
The American Taxpayer, is the one that will be funding the campaigns of the Republicans, whether they are Democrat or not, for the next DECADE!

Let that sink in.

Chew that around. I really haven’t heard any Democrats spouting that as a campaign slogan yet.
But I do believe that the Democrats are so messed up that this gift given to them by the Republicans will be wasted.
That is correct.
I believe that the Republicans, who have just let Trump, and McConnell, and Ryan destroy the Grand Old Party.
Lincoln is spinning in his grave.
More on that coming up also.
Actually, the last two Democratic presidents have brought the economy that Reagan and George W Bush shredded with their giveaways to the rich, back from the precipice.

Ah, shut up!

Look at the real numbers.
Unless you are willing to engage in a REAL conversation, with REAL numbers I am not going to waste my time with you.
I have made that my new policy.
If a Republican, I know that no supporter is going to promise to use REAL numbers so I won’t even think of wasting my time with them, wants to pull out the empirical numbers and compare apples to apples I will engage in a discussion because I agree that I have been wrong on occasion.
That brings up another point that is really sticking in my craw.
This is the gift-giving season, isn’t it? I am giving you as gifts, all the things I don’t want to put up with anymore!
I have had people ask me “What is it to you?”
What do you mean ‘What is it to me? ‘
“Yeah what has Trump done anything to you” or a Republican done anything to you personally?’
Do you know the question that they really want an answer to?
‘If he hasn’t done anything to you personally what are you so upset about’.
Well, I am going to tell you a secret!
They are not going to be on my Christmas card list anymore.
That question implies, no it doesn’t imply, it comes out and slaps you in the face! Do not worry about something that does not affect you.
Well, I was brought up and I hope I brought my sons up with a conscience that says what you do to one of these you do to all my children.
Understand? We are our brother’s keepers.
Why?
Well if you don’t believe in THE GOLDEN RULE (not the golden rule that says whoever has the gold rules) but THE GOLDEN RULE – I am responsible for what happens to my brother.
At the very least, at the very least, if the government can get away with abusing a person, the next one they abuse may very well be you.
Understand now?
We are at the juncture of the second week in January 2018.
If Congresspeople didn’t get beat up by their constituents, and I don’t think they did, at least not hard enough, their first order of business will be …
No, hold on. It won’t be to pass DACA.
Trump originally said that Congress had until March 1 to pass the legislation on the subject.
Yesterday, I think it was, I heard him say no, I have to have my wall before I will approve DACA.
Hell, Congress just gave him about $20 billion more for defense than he asked!
So as much as Senator Susan Collins believed that if she voted for the Tax Reform and Jobs Act they would make sure to pass DACA before year end.
Well?
Well?
Don’t believe those two, three liars, liars.
Bob Corker may have been bought also since he protested loudly against the huge deficit but then tucked his tail between his legs and shut up.
The only one that I saw that stuck to his integrity was Jeff Flake.
There is a man Arizona should vote to be the next governor.
I will never know how Senator McCain would have voted because he had to have chemo treatment for his brain cancer and then went home.
It really is too bad that Senators and Representatives don’t have to declare all the black money they throw around.
My BELIEF is those people fall further and further each year.
Expect as soon after the first of January as they possibly can to vote to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security by as much as the $1.5 trillion as they spent on the gift.
If I were to have to make a prediction I think that they will try to decrease the entitlements even more so that have some ‘walking around money’.
Remember, most Republicans have a ‘lock’ on reelection in 2018 due to extreme gerrymandering that they accomplished prior to 2016.
Another devil on the horizon for re-election is that Steve Bannon has been raising the specter of ultra-conservatives running against the ‘weak’ conservatives that have been giving Trump a hard time.
I was going to leave the rest of my thoughts for another day, but in doing some research for a different piece I ran into some really scary stuff.
Stuff like what caused the economic crashes in 1929, 2000 and 2007?
That’s right it has only been 10 years since GREED robbed the markets, the economy and the souls of the people.
My first question, in response to the vote on the Tax Reform, is anyone going to watch the stock market for the next weeks to see if anything fishy does turn up?
So on with my own down and dirty research for this evening.

The Waste of $1.5 TRILLION

Did you know that there are 400 people and then there are the rest of us?
400 people own as much wealth as the nation’s entire African-American population PLUS more than 1/3 of the Latino population – COMBINED!
Just two of these people are African-Americans Oprah Winfrey and Robert Smith.
The wealthiest 186 members of the Forbes 400 own as much wealth as the entire Latino population.
Just five members of the Forbes 400 are Latino.
The combined worth of the Forbes 400 is $2.34 trillion and is more than the bottom 61% of the country combined! – 194 million people.
400 have greater wealth than 194 MILLION – did you know that?
The median American family has a net worth of $81,000.
The Forbes 400 own more wealth than 36 million of these ‘typical’ American families.
TWENTY PEOPLE now own as much WEALTH as HALF OF ALL AMERICANS. 20! TWENTY!
And this is before the $1.5 TRILLION windfall!
BY THE WAY, did you know that Trump has just made hundreds of millions of dollars due to the tax gift?
The 100 richest households own more assets than the ENTIRE African-American population.
The author of the study, Chuck Collins, director of the IPS (Institutes for Policy Studies) Program on Inequality and the Common Good states that the study likely UNDERESTIMATES the scope of the problem.
“So much wealth of the uber-rich is hidden, in tax havens offshore or loophole trusts (where money is shuffled around among family members and then just disappears from taxation”.
So there is a huge amount of escaped wealth that isn’t even factored into these statistics.”
THERE ARE THREE – 3 – PEOPLE IN THE US that own as much wealth as the bottom half of the nation’s population. 
Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and the runt of the bunch Bill Gates.
They own as much wealth as 160 MILLION OF the rest of us.
Pardon me for getting a little cranky reading this.
Oh?
You want more?
Sure thing!
“We can either have a democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have it both ways.”
A very distinguished lawyer once said that. Justice Brandeis, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. 
A side note on Justice Brandeis.
He was a fighter for the common man. The ‘Right to Privacy’ and ‘Freedom of Speech’ have been left to us for our safekeeping by this man.
When President Woodrow Wilson nominated him to the Supreme Court, a member of the court bitterly contested the nomination.
“Brandeis was a militant crusader for social justice whoever his opponent may be. He was dangerous not only because of his brilliance, his arithmetic, his courage. He was dangerous because “he was incorruptible… [and] the fears of the Establishment were greater because Brandeis was the first Jew to be named to the Court.”
Justice William O Douglas wrote those words of evaluation.
When the global meltdown of 2008 bailed out the rich Wall Street financial people the ‘unwashed’ were left to fend for themselves.
Do you remember those days?
Occupy Wall Street shown light on the still unresolved predicament of the normal person in 2011.
In 2016 a tempestuous person made a huge tempest about the still remaining inequality.
Any guesses?
TRUMP!
I will leave that judgment to your personal evaluation.
My opinion, this may be the biggest lie that he has told that may finally tip his supporters against him.
Maybe they never will connect the dots but one would think that if 8 years without any increase in their personal position they will realize how badly he led them astray.
Thanks for your time
Craig
12/30/17
Graphic of Trump, McConnell and Ryan Google Images

 

 

The First End of the Year for this Blog

INTRODUCTION to My End of the Year Blog 2017

Dated 12/9/2017

Notes

I must discuss all the changes that have occurred in the space. Did space change? Not more than usual I don’t think. This blog why such a moronic title? It’s the end of the year and all writers thrown everything that didn’t get printed during the year into one big garbage dump at year end. Or maybe not? Hmm

 

The First Year End of the Deep Education Web.com Blog

HELIX NEBULA
Helix Nebula

One thing that struck me as a bit unusual that occurred this year is the new or potentially new findings of life on other worlds. More on that in a minute.

Introducing the Dark “Hole” in the Sun

DARK HOLE ON THE SUN

 

This image of the sun is rendered in Ultra Violet by NASA’s  Solar Dynamics Observatory. This particular dark hole appeared because the star has an always-on magnetic field so it can get kinks and bends which can then cause sunspots and solar flares. They can also open the corona of the sun, the plasma that surrounds all-stars. These holes allow solar winds to rush into space. This may be an ordinary occurrence but it sure is spectacular. On the other hand, they can cause disturbances to satellite and power grids. They also supercharge the planets auroras, the northern and southern lights. Last month the Northern Aurora Borealis was seen as far south as Nebraska.

As it moves to its minimum of the 11-year cycle in 2019 the holes will become longer lasting and longer lasting. These holes can last several sunny days which is about 27 earth days.

Thanks to LiveScience for the image and information.

Hubble is Going Away

Did you know it is being replaced? In the spring of 2019, the James Webb Space Telescope will lift off. It will do so much more than Hubble did. I don’t know how that is going to be possible. From day 1 when the images were less than stellar (pun intended), I have blown away. I wish I could spend every day, all day long going thru images or roses and space. They are both magically enthralling.

The James Webb Space Telescope, JWST for short, will support thousands of scientists around the world with its new technologies. It is a collaboration of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency), and CSA (the Canadian Space Agency. It will be managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland just as Hubble is. The industrial partner is Northrup Grumman.  I was caught in a moment of introspection when this article said that the name JWST was arrived at in 2003. Imagine that this has been in the works for more than fourteen years.

Introducing the First Alien Moon

During the week of July 28, 2017, astronomers were teased by a discovery of great magnitude. They or actually the Kepler Space Telescope, found what may be the first exomoon. An exomoon is a name given to objects that revolve around exoplanets. Now isn’t that helpful? ‘Exo’ means that the objects from outside of our solar system.

This is a huge moon, named Kepler 1625b since it revolves around planet Kepler 1625. This pair is 4,000 light years from earth.  A lightyear if I remember correctly from grade school (yes since was around back then!) is the time that light traveling in a vacuum to travel can travel in one Julian year, about 365.25 days. The actual computation is about 5.9 trillion miles!

kepler space telescope renditon by an artist
An artists rendition of how the Kepler Space telescope may look today.

The Wonder of Kepler

Kepler hunts for planets by looking for a telltale dip in a star’s brightness as another object passes in front of it. To find a moon is the same process but much more difficult. I looked for more current information but it is not yet available. The Hubble Space Telescope had been booked for examining and confirming the existence of this moon during the month of October that just passed.

This moon is BIG. Much bigger than Ganymede that revolves our Jupiter. The really big deal of this discovery (fingers crossed) is that it will be the first moon detected in orbit around an alien planet. This marks a new chapter in the astronomer’s study of the cosmos. I would have loved to hear Carl Sagan narrate this story. He had such a great way of transferring his excitement of these incomparable discovery’s that are so far away seem, not really intimate, but close to home, I guess. He maintained his awe in spite of the drab scientific jargon.

These quests are not just to find objects, these massively smart space telescopes look back into time when the universe was just beginning. Kepler has been a massively successful telescope. In June astronomers used data gathered by Kepler, to identify 219 alien candidates that may be habitable by scientific standards like earth. How do we earthlings get off thinking that we are superior beings? I am utterly humbled by these discoveries. I understand we are heading back to the moon.

I assume that the age-old arguments regarding what path to take still continues. Werhner von Braun, the German scientist turned American Citizen had his path squarely in mind. First a shuttle, then a space station and then the moon and then Mars. Obviously, we didn’t take that path. I guess I can understand how reaching the moon would have more PR power than building a shuttle. What amazes me, is that von Braun was so clear-minded about the future. He died at 65 years of age four years before the first shuttle flew. What a remarkable man.

The Cassini Space Telescope just complete its 13 years of examining Saturn and the neighborhood. It took Cassini 7 years to reach Saturn.

Galileo Space Telescope was the first of Earth's close-up looks of Jupiter
Galileo Space Telescope that was the first Earth closeup look at Jupiter. It crashed in 2003

Juno, the newest telescope to study Jupiter in 2016
Juno, the newest space telescope to study Jupiter 2016 Image by NASA/JPL/Cal-tech.

Jupiter's Blues caught by Juno Space Telescope in 2016
Jupiter’s Blues caught by the Juno Space Telescope captured at 11,747 miles. Its mission will end in 2018.

The other hand of wonder must be an assessment. Maybe it is just that time. Cassini flew from the earth in 1997 and ended this year. Maybe I am just gauging success by how many things are left flying by the time I fall to earth. Doesn’t make much sense does it.? But there has to be an answer in there somewhere…

The CEO of Boeing and Elan Musk are getting competitive. Denis Muilenberg is probably betting on the fact that Mr.Musk and his Space X rockets is always a bit overoptimistic.

What thoughts bend your brain waves? Are you an explorer or a scientific man. One item that seems to augur well for the scientific man is the photo that an astronaut took on his last day in Space, as he departed the Space Station.

last day on International Space Station NASA astronaut caputured this view of the sun over the earth. June 11, 2015
NASA astronaut Terry Verts captured this view of the sun over the earth on his last day at the International Space Station. June 11, 2015

Introducing The Last Space Piece for the Year 2017

It seems scientists, specifically astronomer’s can’t get enough of Kepler. The artist’s illustration of how Kepler might look today is courtesy of Reuters.

In June 2017 astronomers confirmed that Kepler has found 10 new Earth-size planets.That brings the total to 50 is what impressive? Wait there’s more: Kepler has already discovered 4,034 potential exoplanets of which 2,335 have been confirmed by other telescopes as actual planets. Now, which students are not going into astronomy or astrophysics, or evening someday composing a hit song like “Stardust”.

“And now the purple dusk of twilight time

Steals across the meadows of my heart

High up in the sky little stars climb

Always reminding me that we’re apart

You wander down the lane and far away

Leaving me a song that will not die

Love is now the stardust of yesterday

The music of the years gone by.

Sometimes I wonder, how I spend

The lonely nights

Dreaming of a song

The melody

Haunts my reverie

And I am once again with you.

When our love was new

And each kiss an inspiration

But that was long ago

And now my consolation is in the stardust of a song

Beside the garden wall, when stars are bright

You are in my arms

The nightingales

Tells his fairy tale

Of paradise, where roses grow

Though I dream in vain

In my heart it will remain

My stardust melody

The memory of love’s refrain.

1927 Hoagy Carmichael, Stardust Lyrics 1929 by Mitchell Parish

Hit song by Nat King Cole and by Natalie Cole, Willie Nelson and many more

Thank you for the past year

Craig

 

Continue reading “The First End of the Year for this Blog”

I Feel Another One Coming On – what makes a ‘First In Class’ Boss?

A cozy little cabin retreat

I Feel Another One Coming On

 
Dated: December 22nd, 2017
 
I am sure that you don’t want to ask – so I won’t tell you. Oh OK! If you are going to pout.

A Horrible Day followed by a Horrible Evening by a Horrible Night

The Day

Horrible day today.
Headed to VA Hospital in MPLS to see if they can/would/will do anything for my knees.
At the very least get a shot of steroids to ease the pain.
The last one wore off a few months ago.
Couldn’t make it.
The van they use: the seat in front pushed back against my knees.
Couldn’t stand it since my knees were so sore.
Also RLS just about coming on and couldn’t stand that either.
The biggie was that I had to sit with my feet in the aisle (did I mention seat was made for a small man – not a large one? ).
That helped my knees but not my butt. By sitting sideways in the seat, my butt sat on the upright edge of the seat (the outside supporting piece). So within a very short time, my butt hurt.
So I shifted my weight. My butt hurt. This went on until I had no more places that didn’t already hurt. Did I mention that when my butt is compromised on my right side and my lower back quickly follows suit?
So my butt, my back and since I wasn’t feeling well anyway (diabetes and edema) I just said stop!
When the van stopped in Pine City.
I called Becky to take me home (unless of course the Social Security check had come and we could afford to drive to the Cities).
I checked the bank and no money so I called and canceled my appointment.
I was so looking forward to having my knees not hurt so much.
Next, I thought it was taking Becky a long time to get there but I wasn’t paying a lot of attention.
Finally, I get a call from her. “Where are you?”  At McDonald’s.
McDonald’s where”. In Pine City”. You told me, Stacy. No. YES! No point in an argument.
Well, I can wait (really lame). OK.
Later a get a call from her. A shaky voice this time.
Back tires were really really low on air.
“A guy behind me saw them and said I had better get air in them”.
Apparently, she was wondering if something was going on.
All the way down to Stacy the car had been lurching from side to side. Rocking her to sleep. I suggested she sit down and wait for a while.
No. Maybe a little. Another call.
At North Branch.
“Can I go to Bath and Body?” Sure no problem.
Now I knew the serious waiting would begin.
I move from the chair in McDonald’s that I had been renting and moved to a bench in the same set of seatings.
Easier on my butt but pretty narrow in the waist area. I only had to get out from behind the little tables one time so I wasn’t worried.
Oh, now I had to have an ice cream cone.
Oh, I had to have another. Ok, now settle in.
Another call. Where are you in Pine City. McDonalds.
There is no McDonalds around here.
Let me check.
Miss is there more than one way into Pine City.
Yes. We are at the Northern exit. Number two exit if you are coming from the Cities. Ok great. 
 
She walks in.
Face Flushed (from the heater I thought).
Exhausted. Frustrated. Tired. All of the above and more.
Get something? Fries? Maybe fries for Berkley. (Which means she took all of the toys out of the back of the car – to sell to get some cash for us). Good-OK. Some more waiting. Not going anywhere without her so no sweat.
We are off on the way back to Proctor. I must have dozed as usual. Pretty soon I35 was looking familiar again.

The Evening

When we got home, I was exhausted, so I laid down for my nightly sleep.
One hour and twenty minutes.
I awoke to something burning on my legs.
Geez, I had skin that was peeling off in 3 to 4-inch sheets.
The edema another tangle. So I put my gel on it. It takes the pain away once that pain goes away.
I got to thinking I should get some advice on this.
After 5PM. Too late for the VA clinic. So I called the VA and heard info about a hotline with a nurse on staff 24/7.
I called. Yup, I should get right to the emergency room.
Diabetes can’t take any chances with anything. Do not use that Gel.
So here I am 12 hours later.
Didn’t go to emergency room, I don’t have the money.
I am still battling the hospital on a visit last May.
I have a doctor’s appointment at 11AM.
However, the wounds have been dripping fluid onto the floor under my desk.
And it is starting to hurt more and more.
It will be fun for the next 6 hours and even more once I start getting the tongue lashing.
I am glad I only get about 1 1/2 hours of sleep at a time.
If I would have been in bed longer I probably would have worn more skin off.
Well, oops that isn’t the last.
About 11PM or so Becky came into my office.
A bit unusual. She looked tired but more.
He brother died today.
We later figured he was 78 years old. But the real agony is that she only has one brother, also in his seventies, left.
I am not going to know how that feels since I still have my parcel of brothers and sisters.
I hope I can be helpful.

The Night

I called the people who needed to be notified except one.
But.. do what I could do.
Two haven’t called back yet but they have probably heard from their family.
I hope I don’t live to be 78 years old. Can’t imagine suffering for that long.
Well, other things to attend to in this post.

Transition

I did get research done for other blogs, more than I wanted to actually.
I have known that I like to do research.
Dips and doodles and intriguing sideroads.
Maybe more than writing.
Not sure I think that yet, finalized. But something to chew on.
I hope not just because I am having a good time writing.
I always thought that was my first love.
I am also thinking I bit off more than I can chew. Four blogs??? plus a few more personal ones.!!!
Well, I need to find out which ones interest me the most and which, if any, get more traffic. That will be crucial.
I think that I picked four topics that will be more interesting to readers than others but everything has to be tested.
For example, when I first started to get readers to my first blog, deepeducationweb.com, I was relieved.
But as readership grew a little and I started to compare my results with those of other bloggers, I grew a bit less relieved.
So I have to find out if it is the subject matter, the writer, the blogs being properly set up per Google’s guidelines.
Those guidelines keep changing by the way.
I haven’t even learned the basics and they are changing.
Well, the way my legs are, the fact that my next VA Hospital appointment isn’t until mid-January I don’t have anything else to do.
I can’t sleep so might as well type.
I have to get my mind off Trump.
I have turned off all the newsletters except two I think.
I can waste time doing that I know.
Very easy, since I have already wasted about 4 or 5 months with that anti-Trump blog.
QUICK!
 
A very interesting tidbit: If the US had the same share of women in the workforce as Norway, we would be $1.6 trillion wealthier. This from a report by Standard and Poors.  from qz.com/index/1151865

What makes a ‘Best in Class’ Boss?

Talentsmart has conducted research with more than a million people (how do you keep a database that big clean?
I can’t be error-free with just a hundred or so entries in a worksheet. Amazing!
What they have found is that the best bosses have things in common.
Dr. Travis Bradberry writes a series based on his theme of Emotional Intelligence.
I keep track of his writing and may do a series on them someday.
I always tried to be a ‘good’ boss, although I don’t think that is something you can very often strive to be.
In the heat of a moment, or a seemingly intractable problem or even in a very serious discussion.
I have been reading an article about the traits that the ‘best’ bosses seem to possess.
The number one ‘skill’ that ‘90% of them have in common is the skill at managing their emotions in order to stay focused, calm and productive.”
Now I have known several men that possess this trait and I have always admired it, immensely.
However, I have not been able to even shadow that skill. I wonder what story to tell as we get to the rest of these characteristics and what tale they will tell about me.
” Composed”: The premise here is that the ‘best’ bosses constantly monitor their emotions so that they can use this knowledge to react to challenging situations with self-control.
Another ‘not me’ vote.
Once in a while, I was prepared for when things went downhill.
But I have never been able to take the ‘long’ view of events and realize in a short-term situation that time changes a lot of things.
Sometimes when I reflected on the damage that I had already done, I could see a better way.
“Graceful”: A combination of strong and gentle. Hmm.. I tried not to resort to intimidation, or manipulation because I didn’t enjoy having that game played with me.
But to say I was gentle, no I don’t think that was ever said about me.
These people are “approachable, likable and easy to get along with”. I can circle no here also.
“Knowledgeable”: The ‘best’ bosses are always trying to increase their ‘self-awareness’. I’m not sure what that means.
How does that apply to spending the time to learn, to have a passion for opportunities to improve and learn new things?
This I did try to do. Maybe not as often as I should have or I didn’t know to ask the ‘stupid’ questions.
However, I did try to impress on people that I was trying to teach that there is no such thing as a stupid question.
My sense of humor required me to add: well there was one such dumb question. “Do I put root beer in a root beer float?” I always got a chuckle but I don’t think I would classify it is a life learning technique.
“Honest”: Another one that I really really tried to follow.
If you lose your honesty and people don’t trust what you say anymore, what do you have left to offer?
If you don’t possess and show integrity people have nothing else to look for in you.
In addition, Notre Dame did a study that showed that people who often lie experience more mental health problems.
“Speak with Certainty”: Another one lost on me.
I tried to not ‘um’ ‘I’m not sure’ and “I think”. But I was not as assertive in speaking as a ‘best’ boss would be.
“Positive Body Language”: You could often catch me unfolding my arms as I consciously became aware that they were folded across my chest.
I knew this was a defensive measure and watch out for it.
The same applies to eye contact. I watched for that in people while they spoke to me. Even leaning in a little towards the speaker I was aware of but not sure that I remembered that one either.
“Super successful people ” draw others in. “How you say something can be more important than what you say”. A very good rule to remember.
“Confident”: “Successful leaders compete”.
I was not aware of this one, especially when it is recommended for those times when the efforts would only yield a small victory.
The victory, however small still builds new androgen receptors in the brain. “They are responsible for reward and motivation.
The increase in androgen receptors increases the influence of testosterone, which further increases confidence and eagerness to tackle future challenges.”
“Fearless”: “Fear is nothing more than a lingering emotion that’s fueled by your imagination.” Danger is real.
But fear is not danger. This is interesting Fear is a choice“. I have never ever heard that before I don’t think.
“Grateful”: This I recognize as a trait I have always tried to emulate.
I have always done the tasks I end up supervising and I recognize the hard work and ingenuity that they require.
I would much rather celebrate a subordinates glory than my own.
I have felt that they need the standing ovation so they can be recognized by higher echelon bosses.
These traits should be self-explanatory to anyone that has toiled in a subordinate position.
However, I know now what I didn’t know then (does that make sense).
I know what I should have known about forty years ago. I can’t assume anything.
I have put these out for people to read, discuss and maybe even chuckle over. I am sure former employees will have a great time.
Thanks for stopping.
Craig

The Silk Road

An outpost on the The Silk Road caught with spy satellite imagery.
read below
The Silk Road was so named because merchants crisscrossed this terrain and its branches for millennia. Images captured by commercial and spy satellites and drones have been interpreted and released. These are fascinating, I can think of no better word (irresistibly drawn to them).
The problem with so many of these ancient routes is that then traverse countries like Pakistan, Eygpt and as above, Afghanistan.
Most of these have been buried for centuries under the desert sand. Even some subterranean canals have had entry points buried by sand.
The United States State Department has funded new mapping efforts which have enabled researchers to study the Afgan sites safely. Experts shared some finds at a meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Washington DC in November.
I will try to share another find especially if it is less well-known in additional posts.

Another addition that might interest you

I like to hear quotes made by all sorts of people. Educated, non ‘educated’ everyone can lay claim to an erudite saying they ‘invented’.
I am going to find some I think have stood the test of time or overuse and share them with you.
“When I discover who I am, I will be free”.
Another
 
“The world is a possibility if only you’ll discover it”.
 
Ralph Ellison Invisible Man

 

Holiday Lights Viewed from Space!





 

 

 

 

 

‘BLOOD MONEY’ “keep the tiny humans alive”

Addendum: October 11,2018
I added a very short retort I read the other day. It is at the bottom of the post.

Why the image of festive holiday lights when we are talking about BLOOD MONEY and BLOOD DIAMONDS?

First, to brag about Duluth MN and Lake Superior.

Second, a special sneak preview of “THE VIETNAM WAR” The epics PBS Documentary Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick premiered on Sunday, September 10th at the Duluth Depot prior to its Nationwide Debut on September 17, 2017.

Dated: December 15, 2017

Subtitle: Keep the Tiny Humans Alive

theme for today we allowing the one percent to keep their Blood Money via Google Images
The theme for Today! Why are we paying BLOOD MONEY instead of Saving Them!

First, I apologize slightly for featuring a view of this year’s Bentleyville, Duluth MN.

How often have we seen a full moon as a backdrop? Fabulous!

I don’t know who took this shot but it was posted on Facebook by Duke Skorich.

Second, the graphic for this post is shown above.

The poignant statement is “KEEP THE TINY HUMANS ALIVE”.

I first saw a graphic today on my desktop. I use a slideshow of Unsplash! images as wallpaper to have something of interest around my desk instead of just all of the clutter (No I won’t show a pix of my desk!).

This is not the exact image that I saw, but I will keep looking for it since it so much more poignant than this graphic.

So we begin.

Frustration

Yesterday on Facebook a buddy asked a very vexing question:

“Rather than enact rational gun control legislation we are willing to accept the necessity for ‘Active Shooter” drills in our elementary, middle and high schools. If you don’t think we are in a free-fall as a democracy, this might (should) convince your mind.”

I continued to read some of the responses to his post.

Then WHAM it hit me!

I know why sensible gun legislation never gets enacted or even proposed in congress in any real way.

I believe that my hypothesis is applicable to this and many other actions that the general public wants to happen but are rebuffed at the foot of the steps leading to congress.

Hypothesis

I postulate:

When we react as we normally do on Facebook:

First, after the original post, several more people speak out on the egregiousness of Congress for not even attempting to solving this seemingly intractable but yet, on the other hand, seemingly easy problem to solve.

Second: we repeat the above.

WE ARE MISSING THE POINT-JUST AS I HAVE ALWAYS DONE!

This was my AHA! moment. Crystal Clear problem, Crystal Clear solution.

When we respond this way we are doing exactly what and in the exact manner the 1% wants us to – we are cowering sheep! By cowering before them we agree that we, as a people, have no power to change what they have deemed as right and proper and just.

Assignment of Guilt

I have assigned the guilt for these bloody actions to the 1%.

They are the ones that control the wealth of the United States (and a very large portion of the world’s wealth also).

They are the ones that invest in the businesses of gun manufacturers, bullet manufacturers and other businesses that benefit from these bloody actions, such a hospitals, insurance companies and so on.

Framework of the Argument

BLOOD MONEY AND BLOOD DIAMONDS

1.) We agree that we give up our rights in exchange for what is right – FOR THEM. We accept that we are fearful and accept their “BLOOD MONEY” to keep still.

2.) We accept that they have a right to their BLOOD MONEY.

FOLKS LET’S CALL THIS WHAT IT IS (Is this money any different than the “BLOOD DIAMONDS IN AFRICA”?). After all, is this not what our children are to us “BLOOD DIAMONDS”?

3. By acquiescing to them and their surrogates (our congresspeople) they run the United States and we give up our right to call them out.

4. Therefore, as long as THEY AND THEIR SURROGATES KEEP STILL, as long as they continue to MAKE EXCUSES and then, AS ALWAYS PUT THIS TOPIC ON THE BACK BURNER,  they are safe from us. With our conscience now clear we blithely go about our normal business.

5.) Yes, we go on grumbling and mumbling and incoherently cry for our ‘BLOOD DIAMONDS’ as they die before our eyes. We have done our duty. We have called desperately to our congresspeople. We can now move on.

6.) Do we want this constant drumbeat of crying parents and crying spouses to continue? Crying incessantly, crying over spilled blood only to repeat this same drama again in two or three months?

7.) If we really wanted we could change this situation. I didn’t hear you!! If we really wanted we could change this situation right?

8.) If we set our national psyche we could solve this problem. HOW?

9.) We know that by doing the same thing again and again, protesting to our congresspeople, that we will receive the same response again and again.

10.) HAS THAT WORKED? NO!

Why not? Because we are not causing discomfort to the top dogs! THEY CONTROL THE CONGRESS – REMEMBER THAT! Our congresspeople, as officious as they are, are not as powerful as they want us to believe!  These people are not the top dogs!   The 1% ARE THE TOP DOGS! BUT THEY DO NOT DO A DAMN THING!  NOW!! Now, do you understand?

11.) In order to make a change, real change we have to do what we have done before-BRING DISCOMFORT TO THE 1% THAT RULE THIS COUNTRY! HOW DO WE DO THAT? WE HAVE TO GO TO WHERE THE MONEY IS!!! I get posts from a gentleman, I have never met him or talked to him in any way except on Facebook. But HE KNOWS! He has never been wrong. His MANTRA? FOLLOW THE MONEY. FOLLOW THE MONEY!!

Think back. Think back to the 1970s. What do you remember?? Say it out loud! VIETNAM!! I didn’t hear YOU!  Say it louder V I E T N A M!! That war was another huge hemorrhaging of innocent blood.

Remember the movie ‘Gone with the Wind’? Rhett Butler made everything absolutely crystal clear with this line:

“I told you once before that there were two times for making big money, one in the building up of a country and the other in its destruction. Slow money on the upbuilding, fast money in the crackup. Remember my words. Perhaps they may be of use to you someday. “(Rhett Butler)“-Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

He even told us to remember his words. That “they may be of use to us someday”!

12.) THERE IS MONEY TO BE MADE IN WAR! BIG MONEY!!

13.) We face the same situation now as we did back then. Blood was being spilled and for a time no one except a few protesters really seemed to care. No one seemed to pay attention. How long? When?

Who did we protest against? Our congresspeople – who didn’t make changes, Why – because they had no power. Against our institutions – remember KENT STATE?

KENT STATE SHOOTINGS MAY 4, 1970 WIKIPEDIA 2
KENT STATE SHOOTINGS, May 4, 1970

14.) A protest by a small group of students protesting Nixon’s advance into Cambodia was met by 29 Guardsmen. 67 bullets were fired, 4 people were killed, 9 injured (one permanently paralyzed). Some of these people were not even involved in the protest they had merely been walking nearby or watching the protest from a distance.

15.) WE CAN CALL THEM OUT! WE HAVE DONE IT BEFORE! WE CAUSED THEM TO CONSIDER THE BLOODSHED! WE CALLED THEM TO STOP AND WE CAN DO IT AGAIN!

march on the pentagon by Bernie Boston for Washington Star
March on the Pentagon October 21st, 1967 by Bernie Boston for Washington Star

The young man putting flowers in the barrels of loaded guns! Crazy move! Lots of Courage! The scene below was also taken at The Kent State Massacre.

Pictures tell 1,000 words and so also can music. The image played over and over for the next years. Marc Riboud took this picture with Jan Rose Kasmir. FLOWER POWER HAS EMERGED!

girl with the flower flower power has emerged Google Images Marc Riboud
FLOWER POWER has emerged!

The March on the Pentagon on October 21, 1967, engaged 2,500 soldiers against 100,000 protesters!

16.) So what the hell, why a Song? A picture? We were protesting against our congresspeople? How did that work out? They didn’t have the power to do anything! ONLY THE 1% CAN!

17.) What happened that day was the turning point in the war some say. The 1% saw that they would not have a Nation if they didn’t retreat. Slowly, oh so slowly. But this day made them fill the discomfort of what they were doing. Doing? Making money on both sides of the war!

18.) Songs didn’t stop the war. The protests didn’t stop the war, even as they got more violent. Songs were a rallying battle cry. They created a bond among the protesters. The protesters were from so many different backgrounds and needed something to bind them. It ‘energizes the base’ as an outlandish political figure calls it in these days.

19.) Even today the songs stir something in my being: Bob Dylan “Blowin the the Wind” 1962 (now it is listed as number fourteen song in the list of the top 500 songs of all time); Phil Ochs “What are you fightin for”; Barry McGuire  “Eve of Destruction” recorded in one take (many radio stations refused to play it “you’re old enough to kill, but not for votin”; Tom Paxton “Lyndon told the Nation”; Pete Seeger,  Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Country Joe & the Fish “Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die’ was a signature moment at Woodstock.

Bob Seeger, Creedence Clearwater Revival (John Fogarty wrote this song in response to the wedding of David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon) ‘Fortunate Son’. The depiction of those born with a silver spoon in their mouth and those without.

John Lennon. He recorded a song while he and Yoko Ono were holding a “bed-in” in Montreal. Five months later half a million people were singing ‘Give Peace A Chance” at a protest rally.

Jimmy Cliff “Vietnam” heralded by Bob Dylan as the greatest protest song ever.

Marvin Gaye, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young “Ohio”, Edwin Starr ‘War’, George Harrison, Steppenwolf, The Doors.

Songs gave the protesters (and the rest of us) the words to hurl at the organizers of the war, the 1%. It helped us all be melded in mind and spirit so that at last we were One Voice.

The 1% were still invincible. Since they were both the architects of the war and the beneficiaries of the wealth of the war they were able to ignore the will of the people for a very long time. That is a testament to their power.

20.) So how to reach these builders of riches at the expense of people? Reach out and touch them! Show them something to discomfit them and they will start to respond.

Reach out to them where they will feel it! A facebook buddy has had the correct answer from the outset: FOLLOW THE MONEY!  FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!

21.) PROTESTERS – Where do you DISCOMFIT the 1%? Where do you hit them where the source of the BLOOD MONEY will feel discomfort?

PROTEST THE BLOOD MONEY’S DEEP POCKETS AND ENABLERS: Banks where they invest; Insurance Companie where the invest; Newspaper Syndicates; Television Networks; Stocks where they make their money. There is major activity RIGHT NOW in Syndicates and Networks. ACT NOW!

REMEMBER OUR CHILDREN ARE THE ‘BLOOD DIAMONDS’ of this battle. To make the 1% ‘interested’ shall we say, in stopping the killing requires that you make them discomfited.

Stop the “BLOOD MONEY”!  Those that are being slaughtered: children or as at KENT STATE,  anyone walking around outdoors. They are all potential victims.

They could all become “BLOOD DIAMONDS”.

FOOTNOTE

January 20, 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath of office and became President of the  United States of America. He declares, “We can never again stand aside, prideful in isolation. Terrific dangers and troubles that we once called ‘foreign’ now constantly live among us…”

Anti-war marches and other protests, such as the ones organized by Students for Democratic Society (SDS), attracted a widening base of support over the next three years. The SDS peaked in early 1968 after the successful Tet Offensive by North Vietnamese troops. The offensive proved that war’s end was nowhere in sight. The people of the United States now understood that our leaders were lying. There was no end in sight for that misbegotten war.

Opposition to the United States involvement in the Vietnam War began with demonstrations in 1964 as the escalating role of the US military in Vietnam and grew into a broad social movement in the ensuing years.

In 1964 there were 23,300 American advisors in Vietnam. By 1968 there were 563,100 troops. By 1973 there were 50.

Troops on college campuses? Fear struck at the hearts of many.
Soldiers on College Campus! Free Speech? Freedom of Expression? Those were hard to earn in the Vietnam Era. Some people had the courage to change the status quo.

PBS hosted the preview of the PBS Documentary “The Vietnam War” by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. It debuted on WDSE-WIRT TV on September 10th, 2017. It debuted nationwide on PBS stations on September 17th. This has grown into a statewide Minnesota Television Association and community organizations organized to tell the story of veterans and other impacted by the Vietnam War.

bentleyville 2017 Duluth MN Lake Superior
Bentleyville 2017, Duluth MN Lake Superior

Addendum: October 11, 2018

A short and sharp retort that was published in the Washington Post 10/9/18

Title:

Are AR-15s Worth it?

“In his Oct. 5 letter “The pushback against gun control,” David Adams, vice president of the Virginia Shooting Sports Association, argued that murders by rifle are acceptably rare, and that semiautomatic rifles are great fun in competition and useful in hunting. He further asserted that a lot of people get killed by knives, blunt instruments and fists and no one wants to ban them.”

“So the rest of us should accept Newtown, Conn; Orlando; Las Vegas; and Parkland FL, because it’s more fun to shoot a semiautomatic rifle that can kill a lot of people in a short time than settle for the boring bolt-action rifle or revolver”.

Kudos to Craig Hoogstra, Washington

 

 

A Tribute to Senator John McCain reprint August 25, 2018 upon his passing.

A Tribute to Senator John McCain

Dated November 10, 2017

Liberty Medal 2017 presented to Senator John McCain by former Vice President and Dear Friend Joe Biden October 16,2017
Liberty Medal 2017 presented to Senator John McCain by former Vice President and Dear Friend Joe Biden October 16,2017

On the Occasion of Receiving the Liberty Medal

Awarded by the National Constitution Center

Presented by former Vice President, Mr. Joseph Biden

October 16, 2017

Well, the first part of this Tribute wasn’t as short as I expected it to be. Remember the great moments when I regaled you with tales of boot camp in Missouri at Fort Leonard Wood (we recruits called it Fort Misery)?

The Awareness

I was warming up to my story of John McCain. As I left my tale of the Army in my rearview mirror of life, one day I saw a news program. I watched in awe? horror? shock?

I can’t think of the word but probably all of them.

On the news soon after March 14, 1973, I saw American soldiers deplaning.

The news anchor explained these men had flown from Germany. They had been released from Prisoner of War Camps in North Vietnam.

You may remember it was months prior when I lived through basic training at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri.

Our night on bivouac still weighed on my mind.

If I took our two days on the miserable adventure and multiplied it by five years the result is 1,825 more nights that Mr. McCain spent in captivity with torture always as his companion.

Later, much later, a more detailed account of the horrors of the Hanoi Hilton and other camps emerged.

It wasn’t until much, much later a complete (as will ever be told) was let out of the bag.

Now, single file down the ramp, a salute to the flag they had served for such a long time in captivity (for John McCain is was more than five years!).

I suffered through eight weeks of basic training. These guys numbered their suffering in YEARS!

The Tribute

On Monday, October 16, 2017, Senator John Sydney McCain of the great state of Arizona was awarded the Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center and presented to Senator McCain by a dear friend and former Vice President of the United States, Mr. Joseph Biden.

The medal was awarded for his lifetime of sacrifice and service to the Nation.

He began his remarks, after a short period of ribbing with Joe Biden (they had served in the United States Senate together), by recalling another Liberty Medal Award ceremony in 1991.

He was attending the ceremony at the War Memorial at the USS Arizona in Hawaii. The recipient of this medal was former President George H. W. Bush.

President Bush’s remarks were emotional and heartfelt as he, was a WWII pilot in the Pacific. He had to bail from his aircraft over the Pacific Ocean.

Mr. McCain related that Mr. Bush, who with a choked up voice concluded his remarks “May God bless them. May God Bless America, the most wondrous land on earth.”

Mr. McCain then recalled the story, a version of which I had heard at a young age.

A story which shaped my life and my times indeed as his-story shaped these United States of America.

“We are blessed, and we are a blessing to humanity in turn. The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and we defend to this day, has liberated more people from tryanny and poverty than ever before in history. This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make a new, better world. And as we do so, we made our own civilization, more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America which existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7th, 1941.”

The Statesman

Then Mr. McCain began the most telling part of his remarks.

“To fear the world we organized and led for three quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the  last hope of the earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems are as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history. We live in a land made of ideals at home and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. Leadership has its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”

(Now, dear reader, you may not know the spirit in which these words were given, nor the actions and words that led Mr. McCain to deliver them. I will address these issues a  blog to follow.)

I will not take away one iota of the adulation due to Mr. McCain. I would beg your patience with one more thought regarding Mr. McCain.

He is not just a former POW or a six-term Senator from Arizona.

He is a Statesman of this Country. The order “Statesman” is not granted lightly or frequently.

Indeed it won’t even be given in Mr. McCain’s lifetime.

There is no greater honor Mr.McCain lived for than the two great moments I was privileged to witness.

The first was when, as the last Republican Senator voting, he cast the vote to snatch the victory from the Republican Party’s wicked attempt to disembowel the Affordable Care Act.

The next were these words that will ring around the globe to face all of the wicked, evil and immoral attempts to change America from a leader to an America that falls to its lowest common denominator.

This is the time to honor a great Statesman. We were honored, learning from and hopefully passing on to our children, the sacrifice, and service – the life of Mr. John Sydney McCain.

Undoubtedly, the brain cancer robbing him of years that should be devoted to peace and leadership, of shepherding the men and women that will follow him, will now be lost.

There will be more opportunities ahead to witness his love and devotion not only to this great country but the special place in which he held his constituents, the people of Arizona. Join with me as we witness the great resolve and inspiration that is shown by a true ‘Statesman’, Senator John Sydney McCain.

Monument Rock in Monument Valley Arizona
One of my two all-time favorite images. Monument Valley Park in Arizona.

a favorite structure Cathedral Rock in Monument Valley Park, AZ
This image of one of my favorite earthbound structures, Cathedral Rock.

All images I use are either my own and labeled, or published under Creative Commons Zero License, which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer.

Epilogue

Thank you for your service, Senator John McCain!

For your service in the United States Military, in the United States Senate and in private life. You are a role model to this generation and the upcoming ones.

I am sorry about your illness. Sorry for those of us that remain. Hopefully, we will have strength and intelligence to fight this most pernicious war that very many don’t even know, yet, that is being waged.

Shalom! (God is fighting for Your Peace)

Craig

A Tribute to Senator John McCain – Prologue

A Tribute to Senator John McCain – Prologue

Dated  November 16, 2017

I was looking at Vietnam in my rear-view mirror.

I had done my duty as painful as it was at the time. I had served my country. My bride and I had served at Fort McClellan Alabama from 1971 to 1973. In military speak, it was 1 year, 8 months and 24 days (which included basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri).

I must recount one short story from that experience.

The “Misery”

I had enjoyed camping, on occasion, as a young man. When the order of the day was called it was time to embark on bivouac.

I was not unduly stressed. I had matured in the last few weeks and at 21 years old, I was mature.

I was not an eighteen or nineteen year- old like most of the other guys. Hmmm

We loaded everything onto our backs except the food that we would need for who knows how long.

We were never told anything in boot camp.

I imagine it was so that these green behind the ears inductees would not dream up some preconceived incorrect expectations.

Of course, my thought was that the Army just thought we were too dumb.

The march was out to the bivouac area somewhere on the enormous Fort Leonard Wood MS base.

It was the home of the Combat Engineers (the guys with the big trucks and things that went KABOOM!).

It was hot! It was muggy!

This was Missouri. Not the Minnesota I had left such a short time ago.

In March or April, whatever month it was, Northern Minnesota had a history of being still blanketed with snow. If it was April there wouldn’t be too much left from the blizzards that paid a regular visit in March.

Of course, there would still be snowbanks left by the snowplows and they would still be too high to step over.

The significant part of this little tale is not that we sweated all day, ate Army rations (K rations, not the fancy MRE’s of today. Those cookies and tiny sausage weiners stuck to the ribs pretty well.)

The misery began as we put up the tent for the night.

The Army in its wisdom gave every man one-half of a tent. They were called shelter halves. A pretty good name for a really heavy cotton tarp. I don’t think any camping gear is made that heavy anymore.

But this was forty some years ago!

Well, it got dark (not completely dark) but not too much good light was left as we started to pitch our tents.

I was teamed up (we didn’t call it ‘teams’ back then) with another young man from the same town. I didn’t know him before getting on the plane to my new future. It as an adventurous trip to basic (another tale for another day).

He was shorter than I, wore glasses and he got one heck of a urinary tract infection in basic!  Understand that sidling up to the urinal trough (not private, white porcelain ones) and urinating red (from the medication) was not a badge of honor in basic!

Company picture day. Fort Leonard Wood, MS
Photo Day at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri.

The Night

We were getting our packs off (damn they were heavy but not as heavy as they were going to get).

Just then began a Missouri deluge.

In Northern Minnesota terms, we didn’t know about deluges but it rained buckets there.

We were miserable. Why?

Because in the dark and in the wet and in a hurry we mixed up the front and back of the shelter halves. We had hooked my front end to his back end of the shelter halves. Start over, bozos.

Well into one of the buckets that had come down we managed to toss our sleeping bags. US Army issue mummy bags (down, with an enclosure that would cover your head so that only your nose popped out. A soldier looked like a mummy.)

We struggled to rearrange the pup tent and gushed water when we took our boots off.

Wet boots, wet pants, wet field jackets and a wet down sleeping bag. (Did I mention that the sleeping bags were made of goose down?)

When we pulled them out of that proverbial bucket that had come down, they weighed not 20 pounds, not 40 pounds but who knows? They were heavy.

And wet down? Clammy, wet, cold sleeping bags. We didn’t even try to get into them. Somehow, we just quit wrestling and swearing and fell asleep.

All I remember was MISERY!

The Morning

The morning came.

We had hot meals – delivered. The mess hall cooked up something and shipped it out to us. (I’m glad they knew where we were!)

That meal felt so good! We dunked our trays into each of the three barrels of hot water, soap then rinse, then fluff rinse.

We grabbed our last slurp of coffee and had a smoke.

In those days smoking was a necessity. It was a good thing.

At least if you had one minute to call your own. After the Drill Instructor called ‘Light ’em up if you got ’em and then hollered ‘put ’em out’, was about a minute. ( I know they loved doing that!)

The worst part came next. ‘Police your butts.’

That was not an anatomical connection.

No, a company of stupid inductees had not yet learned the value of non-filtered smokes.

We had to strip the tobacco from the butts and put them in our pants pocket until we remembered them while the pants were spinning in the washing machine.

(If we had paid attention and watched the DI’s we would have seen that Palls Malls were a very smart idea. Rip the paper open and let the unburned tobacco and the paper just float away in the breeze.)

Washing machine?

Oh yeah, I was enjoying that smoke so much I forgot were I had left off.

Yes indeed.

This was the modern Army.

Half of the building was showers, the other half latrines.

The middle half was washers and dryers. Only a few though, can’t spoil the troops you know.

(Another point in passing. Do you see that neat picture above with the scrubbed troops all lined up on the stands?)

Not in my day! Photo day was wearing your muddy boots and fatigue pants, putting on your Class A uniform jacket and cap and proceed into the latrine to get your mug shot.

Classy!? I’ll say.

The fun begins!

Now the fun begins.

The formation was called.

Everybody groaned under the weight of the now soaking wet packs and shuffled into line. Hmm.

The ground was different this morning. Not firm but squishy. We proceeded forth. MUD! Not MUD! But WORSE!

Every step was excruciating! The mud stuck to my boots until it was 6″ thick.

I  became intimately acquainted with something I seldom ran into.

Not MUD! CLAY!

The clay I was familiar with lined the banks of the Mississippi River that ran thru town. We only went near the stuff when we had the green mud boots on.

RED MISSOURI CLAY! (Are you getting the flavor of why we called it ‘Little Misery?’)

The clay weighed the each boot down by ten pounds.

The march, or slog it was rightly called, all the way back to the barracks.

Our company was most fortunate, we lived in Quonset huts.

The rest of the battalion had the fancy brick buildings. (That too is another tale.)

After hours and hours of slogging under the hot Missouri sun, in the horrible Missouri humidity, we finally arrived.

Now nap time.

Nap time? Are you nuts? Clean up time!

The DI’s (Drill Instructors, this wasn’t the Marines!

Not all were sergeants. Some, by force of their nature got busted down a rank a time or two or more) made sure no one got to eat or sleep until our boots were scrapped off, the mud hosed off the rest and then crawl into the bunk.

I was so exhausted I don’t remember that night.

Was that the night I fell asleep on fire watch? Don’t ever, I mean EVER do that.

I remember waking to the thought of spending the day getting those boots ready for inspection.

 

Mississippi Mud, reminescent of the Missouri Mud we marched thru.
Mississippi Mud song by Paul Whiteman’s Rhythm Boys

 Sitting in a field on the few hours we got off a week, scrapping and digging, and wiping and digging. Then came the polish. Hours of rubbing and rubbing and rubbing to get at least a semblance of shine back on them.

 

Well, I am out of time. I will have to get to the most important part of the tale, The Tribute, next post.

Thanks for stopping.

Craig

Good Old Missouri Mud. None of that stuff from MIssissippi!
Now, this is good ole’ Missouri Mud!

 

A Tribute to Barack and Michelle Obama

 

Dated November 10, 2017

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama in a casual close up pose

Thorny Issue Found and Solved

My birthday is coming up soon and I’ve been trying to think of something to give myself.

Do you find it true that the very best presents are the ones you give yourself?

I have no need for fuss nor muss. Just go out and get it.

Well, there is one thorny issue – the money part. Always the nastiest thought that can ruin a buyer’s dream. So what to do? What to do?

I know, since I am in this writing frenzy  I will be writing a present. I can be as syrupy a writer as I want to be. As truthful, or not, as I want to be. Great idea!

I am going to address it to the most courageous man I know. More so after today as all of his enemies lined up to be shot down. (I hope!)

He also possesses some really fantastic traits that mark him as a renaissance man.

A Polymath man, which means a man whose expertise spans a significant number of various subject areas, (referring to the Renaissance period).  Meaning a man that is well versed in many subjects, a wonderful raconteur.

Much more than that though.

A storyteller of the highest order. He can fascinate children and pose serious questions for deliberation to adults.

This man is well taught, well educated, well spoken. He has high intelligence and a fascinating way of delivering a speech.

Always poised. Always alert. Always listening.

Yes, I can see that man in my skin. But, it isn’t me.

The man I am promoting that gets to enjoy my birthday present to myself is none other than Barack Hussein Obama.

Actually, it will be a web blog post.

The Background

Mr. and Mrs. Barack and Michelle Obama are classy people.

They are intelligent, soft-spoken, engaging people.

He was the most excellent president I have known or studied.

He didn’t hop from project to project.

He had a vision of what he wanted to accomplish and if it had not been for an recalcitrant Republican Party he would have had an even more remarkable record of accomplishments.

As it is his accomplishments are unmatched in recent history.

Michelle also has a keen intellect and knew what she wanted to accomplish.

She chose several areas primarily with children such as obesity, a major issue with black children and arts education. At every opportunity she was working on those plans.

I was pretty bummed when he was out sailing in Hawaii and windsurfing with Mr. Branson.

I had to stay back in the continental US with the uncouth lout that followed him and is destroying everything Barack accomplished. I have recently learned that he shared his loutishness with any number of Republican donors and Congresspeople.

I had known that the Mercers and another couple were not impressed with Barack but I did not grasp the depths of their animosity of Mr. Obama.

I also didn’t know until this week that when word got out,  almost every Republican donor was telling the congresspeople in his or her pocket that they had better get tax reform done or do not darken their doorway with hands out looking for a donation.

I even read where one donor had already turned down requests for fundraisers due to the loss of the ACA repeal.

Well, that is enough of the crooks that now reside in the People’s House.

The Obamas look of greater stature when compared to the boors we now have. Enough said.

Citizen Wisdom

I was concerned that he and Michelle would just fade off into the distance only to be seen on occasion.

However, they have established a foundation.

The mission statement of Obama.org could be “we’re going to build a working living center for developing the next generation of active leaders of the world.”

They actively solicit each person to “let us know what’s on your mind, what good citizenship means to you, and what you want this Foundation to be.”

Here are a few clips from the Foundation’s brochure where people can share their thoughts:

“Good citizens care about others, about causes bigger than themselves, understanding that helping others be stronger helps everyone, even themselves.”

Beth D., Plainfield IN

“I believe citizenship is about having a deep love for one’s community and the willingness to be engaged for the greater good”

Eve M., Brooklyn NY

“We are all better because we have women leaders and women who build each other up”

Debra S., Lubbock TX

The Biography 

Barack Hussein Obama II is an American who served as the 44th President of the United States of America from 2009 to 2017. He was the first African-American to have served as president. (Wikipedia)

He was born on August 4th, 1961 (his current age is 56) at Kapiolani Center for Women and Children, Honolulu Hawaii. He was graduated from Occidental College and Harvard Law School. He taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School.

He was born to Ann Dunham and Barack Obama Sr. He is 6’1″tall.

Michele LaVaughn Robinson Obama was born on January 17, 1964. She is an American lawyer and writer who was First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She was raised on the South Side of Chicago and is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

Mr. and Mrs. Obama have two daughters, Malia and Natasha (better known by her nickname Sasha).

This material is from a biographical description of Barak Obama. It is so well written I won’t try to improve on it ;-). But I will condense it when possible. This must be the official short version since it has “The Office of Barach and Michelle Obama” printed at the top.

Few presidents have walked a more improbable path to the White House. Born in Hawaii to a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya, Obama was raised with help from his grandparents, whose generosity of spirit reflected their Midwestern roots.

The homespun values they instilled in him, paired with his innate sense of optimism, compelled Obama to devote his life to giving every child, regardless of his or her background, the same chance America gave him.

With the help of scholarships and student loans, he moved to Chicago where he worked with a group of churches to help rebuild communities devastated by the closure of local steel plants.

“That experience honed his belief in the power of uniting people around politics of purpose, in the hard work of citizenship, to bring about positive change.”

In law school, he became the first African-American President of the Harvard Law Review.

He then  returned to Illinois to teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago and to begin a career in public service, winning seats in the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate.

“He took office at a moment of crisis unlike any America had seen in decades: a nation at war, a planet in peril, the American Dream itself threatened by the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression.”

Through all the obstructions thrown in his path his leadership helped rescue the economy, revitalize the American auto industry, reform the healthcare system to cover an additional twenty million Americans, and put the country on a firm course to a clean energy future – all the while overseeing the longest stretch of job creation in American history.

On the world stage Obama’s belief in America’s indispensable leadership and strong, principled diplomacy helped wind down wars in Iraq and Afganistan, decimate al Qaeda and eliminate the world’s most wanted terrorist.

He is credited with negotiating the shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, open a new chapter with the people of Cuba and unite humanity in a coordinated action to combat changing climate.

In times of great challenge and change, President Obama’s leadership ushered in a stronger economy, a more equal society, a nation more secure at home and abroad.

An email from the foundation “Obama.org” recalls his request in his farewell address as President.

“I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to make change, but in your’s.”

He has faith in the ability of each person to make a difference in our world.

He and Michelle’s two decades of public service “demonstrated that the hard work of democracy begins not with government, or with parties, or with any politician, but within each of us.”

This is the guiding principle of the Obama Foundation.

“We are a working, living center for citizenship. Our goal is to develop the next generation of citizens; to shape what it means to be an engaged active citizen in the 21st Century.”

Michelle has said, “This will be your Foundation as much as it is ours.”

The people of the Foundation want to know what’s important to us as we build this Foundation.”

Thanks for stopping.

Craig

Baracl and Michelle waving hello
Begin Anew, Believe in People, Generosity Abounds

“Merry Christmas in Duluth” from MN Nor’easter.com 2017

Merry Christmas

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

 

Another Christmas.
Hmm, I wonder, Is it another Christmas?
Doesn’t quite feel like ones we’ve celebrated before.

So How is This Story Told?

So what am I doing with another blog?

Well, I have to admit, I am pretty gutsy.

Oh, not in that sense.

Gutsy in this sense that Oh ! I’ve got a great idea.

Let’s connect this blog to that domain and we’ ll have … pickled goo.

I started to write a blog last year.

My first topic wasn’t very sale-able though.

Turns out the guy was a real schmuck in addition to being a dead ringer for a crook.

But that is past.

With this blog, I hope to spend time sharing Duluth with the world.

Duluth is The Christmas Town.

I envy those parents that have young children in tow.

I was looking online at all of the local calendars of events.

They never end.

When we moved to Duluth, my bride and I, we had a one-year-old son.

I think we probably took him to the Christmas City of the North Parade that first year.

I remember spending each Christmas bundling the kids up, and trekking downtown, searching for a parking spot.

We looked for one where we could leave early if necessary or more important, get the heck out of town as fast as possible.

We had one of the pack style frames to load a son into and carry on with the adventure.

Boy, that frame got a lot of use.

If a young family doesn’t have one, I heartily recommend it.

Dad or Mom can carry a child and have some use of your hands.

You can stuff the the carrier with towels or small blankets.

We were always concerned about the legs and feet getting cold.

But we must have left the parade before the cold set in.

The most endearing memory of those early parades, besides no parking at all, were the snowplow mounds to climb over.

So How Well Do You Know Duluth?

I think that this blog is going to turn into booster-ism.

Flat out, gee this is the best place to live.

Especially around Christmas time.

Duluth is The Christmas City of the North after all.

Looks like Duluth? 5th Ave W? But I think its in France.

A Major Change of Plan

I started on my own Christmas project tonight, and I thought “this might be a Christmas post all on its own.”

At one time I tried selling Christmas images I had made into cards.

Sell? Not so much.

The reason being,  pre-made cards of anything have fallen by the wayside and run over by the internet engine.

I do not know you, but just think – how different the world of your children will be from the world that was when you were growing up.

There is a very strong line drawn in the sands of history.

This is a time mass upheavals.

My Soapbox and Deep Mind

I am not talking about the major generational things that the pundits put out (Generation X et al).

They have some value, but some of the changes are not readily apparent during the generation’s change and have to be seen in hindsight.

Some things, like this Christmas, are wide open for everyone to see. I can definitely say there will not be a Christmas like this one ever again. Ever!

Why do I say that?

As you may know I have been spending time researching the Fourth Industrial Revolution that we are in.

Did you even know that it had started?

Nobody told me.

Perhaps I am a little slow in the brain. I heard things that were being discussed and now they are here.

They came so much faster than I imagined.

For instance, did you know that Elon Musk, the creator of the Tesla automobiles, has been sending rockets ships off into space?

He then lands them back on earth, standing up, in one piece?

Not once, not twice but he reuses them several times.

In fact, he has been placing satellites into orbit for some purposes, I imagine military.

Back in August, he supplied the International Space Station using his refurbished and relaunched rockets.

I have no idea how they can land those rockets back on a barge in the ocean.

I have seen some of the early flops. They were oh so spectacular.

But he has already designed and built on paper, his Big Lift Rocket.

He will use this one to colonize Mars and bring tourists up there for $200,000 a ticket!

Are you aware that he just had a showing of his self-driving semi-trailer truck?

Two weeks ago in Denver, I think.

Just last night, you will read about it in CNN Money, he has built the world’s largest battery. It is now operational in Australia!

Other companies like Google and Apple (software companies making cars?) and even classic car makers like Ford and GM are getting their own testing done with their self-driving vehicles.

It was a bit of a snicker, but the first self-driving bus that entered the streets of Denver a few weeks ago had an accident.

Another truck ran into it. Revenge??

It has been demonstrated that hydrogen fuel can be made out of seawater.

Electric cars?

Already outdated. Even before they really take off.

Haven’t heard that?

There is so much that is changing.

I am in the process of figuring out how to do little blurbs like the big guys do.

But I’m not as smart as the big guys so we’ll just have to be surprised.

Folks, the world of Artificial Intelligence is here.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

It will be as painful, if not more so,  like the Coal Industry and the massive loss of jobs around the turn of the century.

Climate change?

That sure has to be figured in also.

But this is Christmas and there is so much good to look forward to.

Let’s Make Something

Let’s make some Christmas cards.

These will be digital cards that you can take to OfficeMax and get printed for about $1.00 each or you can email for a much smaller cost.

They can be printed as one-sided (actually two-sided – the front and then the back to write on).

They can be printed as four-sided.

Take a piece of copy paper and fold it in half – top to bottom.

It is not any more difficult that one-sided you just have to be able to think upside down.

The last page of the four-part sheet has to be upside down to the other three sides or it will be upside down to the rest of the card. Make sense?

Email me at craig.martineau@gmail.com and I will walk you thru it.

I recommend a few things:

First: make sure the cards get printed on a heavy stock, not the heaviest available but 100# weight or so.

Then you will have to choose a finish.

There are so many these days.

I used to just order ‘mount matte’ finish but again that is a personal choice. The ink lays on top of the paper and will show up more vibrant.

Second: do not worry about the images I am going to show you to use.

They are all under the Common Commercial License.

Simply means that use are free to use the images – free even for commercial use.

If they are CCL licenses you don’t even have to attribute them to anyone.

However I try to because these photographers are just phenomenal.

Now that drones are in the picture, the images are just breathtaking.

Three: I use Microsoft Publisher to assemble all of the pieces.

The background, the typed message, the smaller ‘elements’ as I call them.

I am used to Publisher but also because it comes free with Office 365.

I’m sure people that are good with Microsoft Word can achieve the same results.

PowerPoint is another good tool.

I also use Adobe Acrobat Pro. But again I am sure any PDF app will work.

You have to submit your work to the print shop in PDF format.

Image files like jpg, png, tiff are too large.

Four: You submit your finished work to the print shop, whoever you decide to use, in a digital format.

You can email it to them or bring it to them on a flash drive and while there you can decide on the paperweight, purchase envelopes etc.

If you are making a four sided card which is an 8″ x 10 inch sheet of paper folded in half from top to bottom.

OfficeMax doesn’t or didn’t not that size at one time.

You can go next door and purchase them at the craft store if necessary.

If you are using your favorite print shop you can make similar arrangements that may be closer to your home.

I keep thinking of Duluth but that’s kind of ingrained in me after forty some years.

Come to think of some of you may have excellent laser printers that will save you time and money.

Five: Where to get the images.

It’s a secret and I’m not going to tell you.

It’s like getting a fisherman where he/she caught all those fish.

Just kidding.

First, go to the internet and type into your browser: ‘Bing.com’, when that pops open enter “Christmas images 2016” and images will pop up.

And not only thousands of Christmas but all other major events during the year.

If can’t find the ones that suit your ideas try bin: Christmas 2014.

I grabbed most of my supply from that site.

If you still want something a bit more grand and something that no one else has, go to Unsplash.com.

Set up an account for free and type in the search bar: Christmas images.

There are only 17,400 or so there.

You can also try Pixabay and Pexels or a few other ones. But my preference is Unsplash.

On any of the other sites, you have to be mindful that some images are from Shutter-stock etc and are not free.

Not expensive but I like free.

If you sign up for Unsplash’s monthly email, I hope you get as hooked as I am.

When you have an account  you can set up your own ‘collections’.

I must have about twenty from seashores, to lighthouses, to landscapes, to mountains.

However many you need.

As you view an image you can decide to ‘keep’ it in one of your collections.

If you want to download an image you go to the image, either from the site or your personal collection and click on the image. In the upper right-hand corner, you just click on “download”.

A great thing about these images is that they are usually a large size 1200 pixels by 1200 or so.

In which case you may want to think about saving them as .png files rather than .jpg. I have read that png files give better results if used for important work, which your cards are.

Six: I just thought of this.

If you are just starting to work with pictures (I separate between photos and images but that’s just the way I try to keep things straight) and you don’t have a favorite app for working with images I recommend three: the all-around best is paint.net.

I was introduced to it a few years ago and it really works well. It is so sophisticated that I can’t figure out most of it.

My needs are simple though so I have my old standbys.

Pixlr which is a product of Auto-desk.

These are all free by the way just sign up for an account.

Another is a marvelous program.

It is called Irfanview. It is free just Google it and download.

It is designed by a guy in India I think and it is awesome.

With this app, you really don’t need anything else. I use Pixlr primarily for cropping images because it pops up in the standard 3/4 format and you move two lines, save it and move one. Pixlr also has an online version.

While I am giving out all of my ‘secrets’ of free goodies, another photo app that is phenomenal if you like to sent photos digitally or write a blog etc. is ‘image optimizer’.

It is also free.

What it does, for me, is to optimize images. When you try to email images or use them on a website, you want to decrease their size so that Google doesn’t frown and tell you that you have gone over the 25 mg limit and you will have to use G-Drive to get those all-important Christmas pictures to Grandma.

With Image Optimizer you can optimize an image or a folder full at one time. You decide the quality of output.

The other day I confirmed the functionality of Image Optimizer. An image that was about 300 Mb was 30 or so kb after it was optimized. Don’t hold me to the exact sizes, I wasn’t planning on using that as an example in a blog.

If you play a lot with images check out IrfanView aka IrfanViewer. It can translate so many many different kinds of images. It also has plugins for almost any task. The new images are often in html. It used to be that I would have to use Chrome to open those files. Now I use IrfanView. When you try to open a file it says ‘can’t be done, sir’. Just close the error message and the image will be there.

So lets put a card together. I will upload a pix of mine to Blogger (the site I am using) as just the background.

Pretty red yes?
Now a few trimmings

 

Now I will take these images into Publisher and I’ll be right back
There.
Not too bad for about 5 to 10 minutes work.
Hopefully enough to give you an idea of what is possible. Really everything is possible.
With the applications available now, shoot for the moon.
An example, the white background. You can obviously pick a white background for the card, or use paint.net and erase the background. I use an app, the only one I have bought. It is from Soft Orbits called, wait for it….. background remover.
Another app is InPixio. Both seem to be about the same level of difficulty.
It is a lot harder than the demo video makes it look but my hands are 68-year-old hands and not very steady. I have been working on a piece for a granddaughter for a year.
I get it so close and zip my hand moves and it is a do-over.  But that is the great thing about digital, if you find an image you want, save it, and then save it under a new name ‘test’ and then don’t lose the original file.
You can’t hurt it because you are working with the test file. I usually end up with numerous files, test 1,2 100, test resized, test with white typeface. and so on. Then I have to remember which is what.
Someday, I promise myself I will get organized. Yeah right. Some know of my desk at work or at home. There is no hope for me.
Just give a holler if you need me.
Thanks for stopping.
Craig

 

Deep Mind Meets a First Grader

Dated October 30, 2017

“Courage is the enforcing virtue, the one that makes possible all the other virtues common to exceptional leaders: honesty, integrity, confidence, compassion, and humility”.

“We are taught to understand, correctly, that courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity for action despite our fears.”

The above quotes were made by one of the most famous, most articulate and self-effacing men I have watched. He was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam’s Hanoi Hilton for more than five years of torture and mistreatment of the worst kind. He has been a United States Senator and is now one of our great Elder Statesmen. He will rank with all of the great ones of yesteryear and he may be the last one to come our way.

At the time of this great speech, to honor him with the award of the Liberty Medal, he is fighting terminal brain cancer. Senator McCain has fought the good fight. He has won all the battles that needed winning.  He has already won the war against lesser men who spout inane stupidities and have no regard for the great country that we are. He has been a staunch supporter of the people of Arizona and of the United States of America. He will live long in our memories.

In his honor, I am going to feature images of the great state of Arizona.

Cathedral Rock Sunset
Cathedral Rock Sunset

monument-valley-1593318monument-valley-518761PURPLE DESERTBLAZING SUNSET

 

WHIPPED CLOUDS IN THE SUNSET

 

Artificial Learning, Deep Learning, Machine Learning

“How they’re different and why are they all essential to the Internet of Things”

 

I had to go back and reread the post last time discussion of Artificial, Deep and Machine Learning. Not only are they fascinating topics to study, but they may also even be good topics for conversation.

Today we will look at the explanations by Calum McClelland. He is the Director of BD@Leverage. “Striving to change myself and the world for the better.”

 

I found his article in Medium. What an excellent source of writing. Beginners, long-lived writers, topics from A to Z.

Mr. McClellan starts his discussion by getting everybody on the same page. “We’re all familiar with the term “Artificial Intelligence.” After all, it’s been a popular focus in movies such as The Terminator, The Matrix, and Ex Machina.  I like The Matrix series. How would a writer keep all the plot lines, characters, scenes, dialog all straight? No doubt by taking better notes than I!

 

“I’ll begin by giving a quick explanation of what AI, ML, and DL actually mean and how they’re different.” Mr. McClelland begins.
He continues “then, I’ll share how AI and the Internet of Things are inextricably intertwined, with several technological advances converging at once to set the foundation for an AI and IOT explosion.”

He certainly called that right. I read this article on February 2nd, 2017. Let’s try to anticipate what he predicted and what has been taking place in the same 8 months.

John McCarthy, in 1956, first coined the phrase AI. AI can perform tasks that are characteristic of human intelligence. Generally, it includes planning, understanding language, recognizing objects and sounds, learning and problem-solving.

“We can put AI in two categories, general and narrow. General AI would have all of the characteristics of human intelligence, including the capacities mentioned above. Narrow AI exhibits some facets of human intelligence, and can do that facet extremely well, but is lacking in other areas. A machine that’s great for recognizing images but nothing else would be an example of narrow AI.”

Machine learning is simply a way of achieving AI. Hmm, this discussion seems a bit looser than the one we looked last time, at least it seems easier to read.

Arthur Samuel coined the phrase Machine Intelligence in 1959. He defined it as,”the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.”  You can get to AI without using Machine Learning but oh it would take building millions of lines of codes with all the complex rules and decision-trees.

Instead of hard-coding software routines to execute a particular task, machine learning is a way of ‘training’ an algorithm so that it can learn how. “Training” involves dealing with massive amounts of data sets and then allowing the algorithm to sort itself out by adjusting and improving. Something like the Marine Corps teaches ‘Adjust and Execute’. At least it did when my three sons were in a few, well about 20, years ago. That really dates me and believe me I can feel every pulled muscle and strained ligaments from each misstep from during that time.

Machine learning has been instrumental in improving computer ‘vision’ (the ability of a machine to recognize an object in an image or video). Gather millions of pictures and have humans tag them. They would take a picture of a dog and of a cat. When the algorithm is instructed to build a model of a cat it can tell the difference. When it has performed this feat accurately thousands of times it has ‘learned’ what the difference between that cat and that dog.

Deep learning is one of the many approaches to machine learning. Other approaches include decision tree learning, inductive logic programming, and others.

Deep learning was inspired by the brain, its structure, and function. Also how the neurons were interconnected. Artificial Neural Networks ( ANNs) are algorithms that mimic the biological structures of the brain.

“In ANNs, there are “neurons” which have discrete layers and connections to other “neurons. Each layer picks out a specific feature to learn, such as curves/edges in image recognition.
It’s this layering that gives deep learning its name, otherwise stated as “depth created by using multiple layers as opposed to a single layer. The last time we learned that, just before going to press, IBM announced that they had made great strides in ‘speeding up’ these process which will save incredible amounts time to learn and get functioning.

Artificial Intelligence and IoT are much like the relationship between the human brain and body.

“Our bodies collect sensory input such as sight, sound, and touch. Our brains take that data and make sense of it, turning light into recognizable objects and sounds into understandable speech. Our brains then make decisions, sending signals back out to the body to command movements like picking up an object or speaking.”

This Internet of Things is like our body, sensors connected and raw data streaming in and forwarded to the ‘brain’. Artificial intelligence making sense of that data and deciding what actions to perform. The connected devices of IoT are on the receiving side, carrying out the actions or communicating with other devices.

Unleashing The Other’s Potential

His example of IoT and artificial intelligence are like two hands waving in the air. If we use only one hand only a small fraction of what is possible is accomplished. With both hands waving, both the value and the promise are multiplied.

Machine learning and deep learning have led to huge leaps in AI. Both of these require massive amounts of data and the data is being collected by billions of sensors.  The more data the better the AI.

The more AI is improved the more IoT will be adopted. I think we have reached, and maybe gone a little past, ‘the tipping point’. Almost every day some new item, product, or process is being touted as the next best….hair dryer, semi truck, pizza maker. Just as IoT makes AI better, AI makes IoT more useful.

In industry, AI can be applied to predict when machines will need maintenance or analyze a manufacturing process to make gains in efficiency and generating large savings in dollars.

Medium, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning Calum McClelland  September September 26, 2017

 

Regarding consumers, the push seems to be, make technology adapt to us rather the other way around. A big example is in speech recognition. Every week somebody says they do it better.

 

I just hope that one day, some machine can understand my speech. The older I get (and the more teeth that I lose, the less the machines can understand me).
Until then I will let productivity slide by me as I continue my old prehistoric ways.
This year particularly the role of speech is seen everywhere, or at least in all the new products that Amazon is pushing. A size and shape of Alexa for everybody. “Alexa what time is it?”. The time is, as the lights dim and the bells chime, bedtime. In the meantime, Alexa adjusts the thermostat, locks the doors and opens the refrigerator so I can get a snack on the way upstairs.

“CONVERGENT TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS HAVE MADE ALL OF THIS POSSIBLE”

More powerful computer chips and improved manufacturing techniques translate into cheaper, more powerful sensors.
Additional advancements are coming in the technology of batteries. Elon Musk was able to improve the battery power and life during the recent hurricanes. By sending out a code to all the Tesla’s that had been purchased whether or not they had purchased the battery upgrade. Understandably the code upgrade only lasted a few weeks. Of course, you can always go in a ‘buy’ an upgrade.

Wireless connectivity is another improvement. Smartphones and data transfer rates are allowing all these sensors to send data to the ‘cloud’. I can attest to the improvement. Rather than pay $100 per month for the high-speed internet of 60 megabytes, I now pay $20 for the use of a ‘Homebase’. A fancy name for a small box that reaches out and touches you at about 3.0 megs tops. Slower, sometimes more noticeable than others but the price is something that makes it a lot more affordable.

Mr. McClelland promises to write a new piece in ‘Medium’ each week discussing another IoT topic in nontechnical terms. People can also send him requests. If it is a short question you can tweet him at #askIoT.

 

 

SCIENCE - MOLECULES-Optimized
A depiction of Molecules. In a moment we will look at Professor Yang’s discovery of an ‘Executioner’ Protein

Blow out – AI

 

I am just going to blow a few things out here rather than keep them to the end. One of the biggest rewards I have stumbled upon (one being the app ‘Stumbleupon’) are the online sites:  Medium, Telecrunch, and Futurism. How Futurism manages to put out so many editions out that have so much content is way beyond me. I plan to put out a version every week and it always stretches to a month. Imagine if I did this for a living I would starve! What brought that to mind is an excellent ezine I have been reading. I am struggling to think of its name. It is Daily Kos, yes, but more than that (yes I am now aware that ‘Daily’ is a ‘Politico Magazine’ owned piece.) But I was reading this other piece and I hope someone will send me the answer because I don’t remember it.

“Futurism”  what a fantastic ezine. Great graphics, excellent topics, presented in a punchy format. I just love it. So for this bullet round we will look at “Scientists Just Found Half of the Missing Matter in Our Universe; Google’s Internet -Beaming Balloons will soon be floating over Puerto Rico; Tesla’s Elon Musk will be donating his batteries in Puerto Rico.”Researchers Find “Executioner Protein” That Causes Cancer Cells to Self Destruct without hurting healthy cells”.
MISSING MATTER:

You know and even I know that we are missing half of all matter, in the Milky Way – in the spaces between actual objects. The matter is known to be there but we just can’t see it. Two teams of astronomers one team French and one team English determined that the missing matter can actually be found in the filaments of hot, diffuse gas linking galaxies. When leftover light from the Big Bang passes through a hot gas it can be captured. A map of this effect was produced by the Planck Satellite. Each group was able to find definitive evidence that the gas between galaxies was dense enough to form filaments.

Futurism Dan Galeon October 9th, 2017

 

PROJECT LOON TO THE RESCUE:

Google has obtained temporary licenses from the FCC  (thru April 2018) to deploy 2 helium balloons for the purpose of beaming emergency LTE internet over the islands of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The balloons float at 65,000 feet and send 160 GB of data. They cover an area about the size of Sweden and the data is comparable to receive around 30 million WhatsApp messages or 2 million emails.
This is not the first time Google has deployed its Project Loon, helium LTE Coverage providers in the wake of a disaster. The balloons have worked in Peru, France, Brazil, New Zealand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

Futurism Karia Lant October 8th, 2017

project loon edited - titled
Project Loon Google providing Puerto Rico with Internet, Email communications after the island was ravaged by Hurricane Maria 2017

 

EXECUTIONER PROTEIN CAUSES CANCER CELLS TO SELF -DESTRUCT WITHOUT HURTING HEALTHY CELLS
Albert Einstein College of Medicine scientists have induced cancer cells to commit suicide with a new compound that leaves healthy cells untouched.
These scientists deployed their novel approach against acute myeloid leukemia (AML)cells (this cancer kills more than 10,000 Americans and makes up about 1/3 of all new cases of leukemia each year). The new compound fights cancer by triggering apoptosis: a natural process the body uses to get rid of malfunctioning and unwanted cells. Some other existing cancer treatments induce apoptosis indirectly by damaging the DNA in cancer cells.
The ‘executioner’ protein is BAX.  This process seems like a ‘eureka’ moment to me but let’s look deeper.

In 2008, Dr. Gavathiotis was part of a team that first described BAX’s activation site’s shape and structure. Since that time (almost 10 years) he has been searching for small molecules to activate BAX and produce sufficient activity to overpower the natural resistance cancer cells mount to apoptosis. Pronounced: ( a-pəp-ˈtō-ˌsēz,).

His team screened more than one million compounds and narrowed the field to 500, many of them synthesized by the team, and then evaluated them. The technical jargon follows but hopefully I distilled it close enough to be correct. I just have trouble imagining spending 10 years in the pursuit of something you think works but you have to prove it first. Ten years. How many dollars? How do you fight for dollars for projects like this?

Futurism Karia Lant October 9, 2017

 

 

Creating Hydrogen Fuel from Water

Hydrogen fuel has been difficult and cost-intensive to produce, along with being extremely toxic to the environment).
Enter the University of Central Florida (UCF).

Current political machinations aside fossil fuels are on the way out. UCF researcher and assistant professor Yang Yang has developed a breakthrough hybrid nanomaterial that uses the power of an existing green source, solar energy, to turn seawater into hydrogen fuel.

Another overnight miracle that was ten years in the making. Scientists have been working for years to split solar hydrogen.
The current state of hydrogen fuel is well known. It almost doubles the fuel economy of traditional gasoline and but is also considerably more expensive to process.
In addition, there is no infrastructure to distribute the fuel. The current process also uses natural gas which is nonrenewable. Hopefully, politicians will not muck up the likelihood that, due to Hurricane Irma, Florida will be able to use the plentiful seawater and federal funds to bolster the new economy with this new research. Imagine having to replace gas stations with gas stations. We need to be looking at replacing gas stations with hydrogen stations.

Mercedes Benz unveiled a production-ready SUV at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 2017. Toyota and Honda are also moving fast in getting this new hydrogen fuel to market. Next year will be another fascinating one. Electric vehicles were just able to gain a foothold and already they are being replaced with cheaper fuel alternatives.

Futurism Chelsea Gold October 5th, 2017

 

 

FUTURISM – A LOOK FORWARD BACKWARDLY

Remember when the US built the first C5 Galaxy supercargo lifter? Remember US’s first man in space? Remember the first moon launch?  Let’s reminisce for a moment, for just a moment though because China is handing us our lunch. The Chinese are building solid fuel rocket launchers. The Chinese have positioned freighters (as in ships) along the Equator. Why? To launch rockets! Cheaper, less fuel used, more smarter. They read everything we did and everything Russia did and are doing it bigger, faster, cheaper. Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts in the Space Station. Now Russia and China are swimming together. We don’t have the will or the resources or the smart enough politicians to move us forward. China is going to spring ahead while we fall back.The solid fuel rockets are being developed by  The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALVT).  They have a military transport capable of carrying the Long March 11 rocket which weighs 120,000 pounds. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THOUSAND POUNDS? How big is the airplane? The Y20 has a max payload of 132,000 lbs. The rocket is merely 120,000 pounds. But never fear, the CALVT is working on a bigger rocket.

Greater payloads, less fuel being used. They can increase the frequency of flights and thus improve the learning curve.

Futurism Kyree Leary October 4th, 2017

 

WHO IS SMARTER GOOGLE AI or A FIRST GRADER?

Google’s Artificial Intelligence is outperforming Apple’s Siri.  (Say it ain’t so Joe). Google’s AI is rated as having an IQ of 47.28. A six-year-old child has an IQ averaging around 55.5. An average 18-year-old averages 97. China’s search engine Baidu had a score of 32.92, Microsoft’s Bing measured 31.98 and Siri scored 23.94 – less than half of Google’s AI. But looking backwardly, in 2014 Google’s DeepMind rated 26.5, Microsoft’s had a 13.5. This means that in two years both have increased significantly. So, are we going to fall on the sword of AI? That is the prediction by Elon Musk regarding AI. Still too early to tell. Applications are now developing imagination and a sense of surroundings.

In fact, all the biggest

MAN FACING UNIVERSE-Optimized
Man looks at the Universe and asks “What is so big about you”? And you? “Nothing” replies the man. Except that today I am going to invent the computer

, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella have both shifted resources to speed up development. Because both know that Amazon came out with 6 new models of  Alexa a few months ago and now they have to catch up. While smartphones are ever increasing in their intelligence, I would watch for an ever stronger force developing with the artificially intelligent secretary and soon the artificially intelligent baby. Won’t mother’s just love that. She will have to be what? SUPER MOM! No doubt.

We didn’t even talk about how the movies of tomorrow will watch you; how Google’s new in-ear earbuds can translate 40 languages instantly,

Futurism Dan Galeon October 4th, 2017

 

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning

Oh, Look! There’s a Revolution Going ON!

September 27, 2017

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is Here

Yoga Pants:$300 by Machine Learning

IBM achieves a breakthrough: Deep Learning on Steriods

Preparing for the Transition to Applied Artificial Intelligence

Jobs for Americans: A Lesson from Germany

Artificial Intelligence in Self-Driving Cars

IBM’S Watson at the US Open: Tennis for Robots?

“Stop Pretending You Know What Artifificial Intelligence Is and Read This:

China: Robots and Intelligence

Machine Learning Drives Trucking Job Loss

Machine Learning drives Self-Driving truck preparations and could cause “Big Time” Job Loss for Drivers.

Artificial Intelligence has put the self-driving technology into the fast lane. Machine Learning will prevent thousands if traffic accidents each year. It will also save millions of gallons of fuel each year. The savings from keeping self-driving trucks running at consistent speeds will be tremendous.

Commuters will save countless hours of driving each day. Some say that drive times that are now over 2 hours will be delighted.

It will cost approximately 15,000 Americans their jobs. This is an addition to the millions of jobs lost in the last decade. Autonomous vehicles are a tremendous opportunity but will cause a big-time workforce issue. Eliminating economic hardships that disrupt the least number of people is essential. The big question: how do we make sure we’re planning far enough ahead. These disruptions can also create job opportunities for people. This remains a pertinent question that requires an answer.

These $300 Yoga Pants by Machine Learning

Billie Whitehouse is famous for pushing boundaries. Her first product blending fashion and technology: NadiX yoga pants. The pants have five sensors sewn in to help the wearer improve form for 30 different yoga poses. Once in a pose, the sensors vibrate in specific ways to tell you how to adjust your hips, knees or ankles. For the downward dog pose, for instance, the pulses guide a person to ground the ankle and lift the knee.  The sensors highlight those micro muscles that you didn’t even know existed.

The idea seemed impossible to execute. Put electronics into garments still so new and so difficult? This was an engineer’s nightmare. The pants have removable, rechargeable batteries that last up to 90 minutes. The battery connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone app. People then choose the level of yoga they’re going to be practicing. Myth turned reality don’t you think?

IBM Achieved a Deep Learning Breakthrough

IBM engineers have developed Artificial Intelligence software that is faster. This makes the entire machine learning process faster and easier. Complex deep learning models on a single server will not be an issue. IBM managed to scale up distributed deep learning. Instead of taking days for a deep learning network to process models, it could now take only hours or even less. Wait time with deep learning training from days or hours to minutes or seconds. This also enables improved accuracy. Some individuals think that these Artificial Intelligence models are an achievement. Others think they seem too good to be true.

Preparing for the Transition to Applied Artificial Intelligence

Machine Learning gains more footholds in applications every day. It has become a topic that many engineers want to master.  Machine Learning solutions require more than training an arbitrary model on your data. It requires an understanding of the type of data you have. How and what biases your data contains. The statistical models need understanding. Is the model applicable to your particular dataset? The success of this model requires knowledge of the metrics to optimize your model’s output. Certain skills required before transitioning to Applied Artificial Intelligence include:

Statistics: understanding Machine Learning, requires solid knowledge of statistics fundamentals.

Concepts of Machine Learning Theory: is an understanding of the range of how different loss functions work. An understanding of why backpropagation is useful, and what a computational graph is.

Data wrangling is important for Applied Artificial Intelligence. The success of the model correlates with the quality and quantity of your data. The old saying: GARBAGE IN – GARBAGE OUT is true. Especially with the amounts of data and the speed of this software churns through it.

Debugging/Tuning models requires that a solid knowledge of the fundamentals is essential. The right architecture and parameters require solid theoretical fundamentals. Good infrastructure work is necessary to be able to test different configurations.

Software Engineering is in the mix. Applied Machine Learning will allow you to leverage Software Engineering skills. Sometimes this requires a little twist. Mastery of these concepts and skills is Artificial Intelligence.

Jobs for Americans: A Lesson from Germany

Germany is one of the world’s leading models of workforce development efforts. Apprenticeship models that combine on the job paid experience and classroom learning. This equips the students and sets them up to compete for jobs out of school. The apprenticeship programs are responsible for this. The unemployment rate for German youth is one of the lowest in any of the world’s advanced economies. Compare the rate of 6.5 percent as of January 2017. The estimate is 11.5 percent in the U.S.  The U.S. has seen a sudden increase in its own apprenticeship programs. These programs are working to prepare students for careers in middle-skill jobs.  German apprenticeship continues as a model for employment growth in the United States.  Support in public and private sectors for apprenticeship efforts will contribute to economic growth in the U.S.

Artificial Intelligence in SELF-DRIVING CARS

Saturday night rideshare doesn’t sound like fun. An ad appears touting a new restaurant over on the other side of town- free ride!

Why pay when you can get it for free?

Self-driving cars to restaurants, bars, pizza joints. Owners will be happy to provide the rides!

It might even be an answer to the dropping sales because people don’t want to go outside especially in winter.

What is going to happen to the Infrastructure? Cabs and public transportation will no doubt feel the impact.

Costs will be so low that businesses will provide rides right to their door. Car dealerships – buy a car? Why?

Hod Lipson is the author of “Driverless, Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead”.  He is also an engineering professor at Columbia University. He predicts that innovation will bring an explosion of growth.

IBM’S WATSON brings Cognitive Highlights to Tech at the US Open

IBM launches Watson Media, a suite of solutions powered by Artificial Intelligence. Watson has the ability to analyze images, video, and language at the US Open.

Cognitive Highlights To recognize important match moments

Slam Tracker Keeps up with the scores, stats and other insights

IBM Cloud uses years of Slam Tracker Data’s  MACHINE LEARNING to understand player’s styles.

Elizabeth O’Brien is IBM Program Director of Sports and Entertainment Partnerships. Watson is at the center of a massive data analysis during the tournament. The idea is to take Watson’s capabilities to improve the fan experience. A way for the tournament to earn revenue is also a plus.

She explained that “If you are sitting there, there are 17 courts of play going on. Every point on each of the 17 courts is a potential highlight. So, if you’re a broadcaster and you have a highlight, you’re looking at thousands of potential highlights. Watson can look at them ‘These are the potential highlights’.  Watson is suggesting the potential solution that you are looking for!

It is debuting at the Open this year but Watson Media has been around for some time. Wimbledon and the Master’s golf tournament have been venues for Watson also.

Within the app is also a high-powered chatbot that IBM calls the ‘Cognitive Concierge’. The Artificial Intelligent chatbot uses natural language. It processes questions about food or drinks that someone might have during a match. Last year Watson answered 56,000 questions. This year on the pre-opening day it fielded 4,000 questions and on the first day answered 8,000. Questions are: where is a particular player is playing. Where to get tickets and what parts of the venue tickets give attendees access to are also questions.

Ms. O’brien said that IBM is watching the questions that are being asked and learning what people want to know. This is increasing the body of knowledge and the questions Watson can answer.

Watson generates revenue for the USTA. Watson is building engagement with tennis fans around the world via the USTA app.

Heineken brings highlights to Twitter. Mercedes-Benz and American Express are also sponsoring content through the Concierge.

London was the most popular city source for visitors with 39 percent. Montreal (31 percent), San Jose (26 percent) and Tokyo (4 percent) follow.   The numbers by country:  the US was the most popular followed by UK, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Australia.

The Open has 700,000 fans go thru the event over the course of two weeks. Lew Sherr, the USTA’s chief revenue officer said that compares to a “Knick’s season, a Jet’s season. It’s an NHL, NBA season packed in two weeks”. Watson’s universe is hundreds of millions of interactions with fans.

Roger Federer scores a point at Arthur Ashe Stadium and Watson recognizes that its a highlight and alerts the USTA. The USTA then blasts video out to fans via USTA’s social medium feeds. Executives from IBM and USTA say that Watson allows them to review highlights faster. The highlights then get to the fans faster. USTA fans have a ‘sense of what is happening point by point”.

IBM has been teaching Watson that, a fist to the face of Roger with a bent elbow, means a celebratory moment. It cross-references this data with the roars of the crowd. Add in statistical analysis and Watson determines that this is one of the best moments of the match. Watson auto generates highlights which simplify the work of the video production crew. It process and sets up the highlight-reel creation fo USTA. Noah Syken, who is IBM VP of Sports and Entertainment Partnerships. He says that so much action is being played that even the fastest video team has trouble keeping pace. There are 22 courts; 4 ‘show’ courts, 13 field courts and 5 practice courts. Watson is ‘watching’ the games in the same way that it ‘reads’ X-rays and MRIs scans for doctors. (http://businessinsider.com/ibms-watson-wants-to-read-medical-scans-2015-8).

This is the first year that USTA is able to create experiences that will drive fan engagement. Watson is generating a “Highlight of the Day” and posts it on USTA’s Facebook page. Video highlights, player bio pages will appear at the IBM Watson Experience on the US Open Plaza.

IBM has ambitions to for the technology to grow over time. It is a will a tool for broadcasters or a tool to help develop player skills during training. Slam Tracker is the official scoring app for the US Open. It provides real-time scores, statistics, and point-by-point analysis. It also looks data about player and ball position. In January USTA opened a 64 acre, $63 million training facility in Orlando. The goal is to help in developing future American grown tennis champions.

Contributor Author Marty Swant (www.adweek.com/contributor/swant/). He is a technology staff writer for Adweek. He specializes in digital marketing trends and social platforms. He also specializes in ad tech and virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Jen Booten is a senior writer at Sporttechie. She covers the many ways that technology is disrupting sports. (http://www.sporttechie.com/author/jen-booton/)Other sources for information are:

Digital Transformations collaboration and new business models (http://adweek.com/digital/brands-digital-transformations. Time for Brands is a firm that teaches how to grow again.(http://adweek.com/its-time-for-brand-marketing/its-time-for-brands-to-start-grow-again).

signal-2655654__480 LIGHTHOUSE

My ‘in your face segment’

“Stop Pretending you know what ArtificiaI is and read this instead”

“You have probably heard the news: AI is going to take your job. Wait, No, It’s going to create a new job for you. AI is going to kill us all! Wait, AI is totally smarter than us at, like, all smart things. But that probably doesn’t matter? Neural Networks. Machine Learning. Deep Learning. OMG. HELP!”

What are we talking about? We may not be talking, arguing, thinking about the same things! Nah, that NEVER happens. Let’s check in with someone that KNOWS!

Harvard Professor Leslie Valiant to the rescue: “You have a right to be confused.”

The terms Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are being misused in the popular press. Trevor Darrell is a leading researcher at UC Berkley. He is a part of the DARPA-funded artificial intelligence research project of emerging technologies for use by the military.darpa 2-Optimized

You are right. Professor Valiant continues: “There is no precise distinction-they overlap.”

“Artificial intelligence,” he says, “is the general name for a field of study-the study of whatever answer to the question might be.” HUH? WHAT? I thought we were going to be deconfused?

OK. “Answer the question: “what are the requirements for artificial intelligence?”

“AI is more like a goal than a thing.” Technically speaking it isn’t an ‘it’ at all. Think of a big box. In the box, we put foggy AI and lots of ‘things’ like – machine learning, deep learning, neural networks. Now these ‘things’ have something to chew on, some edges surrounding them. They are a precise name for various scientific, mathematical and engineering methods. These are methods that people use the fields of AI.

The phrase “artificial intelligence” sounds straight and above board. This phrase that clouds the issue of precision in discussing science. Elon Musk, the guy from SpaceX who is landing first stage rockets back on a platform in the ocean and reusing them. The CEO of Tesla Ince; the co-chair of Open AI; the CEO of Neuralink. The founder co-founder and chairman of Solar City. The co-founder of Zip2; the founder of X.com which merged with Confinity and later took the name PayPal. Yes HIM. He’s the guy that calls AI “the demon”. Who claims that “AI”, not a nuclear bomb, not white separatists and KKK “is what we should fear most.” It falls somewhere between ‘smart as a puppy’ and some subset of a cockroaches’ brain. (Stephen Hawkings agrees with the premise – more on that later.)

“George Orwell proclaimed, “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Hmm, going to the scientists didn’t help much did it? Google CEO Sandi Pichai (he is smart, watched his TED talk the other day) and Elon Musk maker of ‘a self-driving car’ and space vehicles are famous businessmen (Elon just sold 145,000 self-driving semi-trailer trucks to UPS!). Elon makes machines capable of speech. He is cornering the market on ‘things to fear (his words)  that are going to take our jobs away. Doesn’t help much, does it? Elon says that we have more to fear from AI than anything else.

We should avoid using ‘artificial’ and ‘intelligence’ together. We have to go back to the beginning of computer lingo and ask Alan Touring. Yes, the guy who defined what a computer is. He thought that defining’ intelligence’ was too hard. He favored describing it by “intelligence is as intelligence does.” Does that help?

Invent more ‘things’ made with machine learning, deep learning and, neural networks. Then we can point to one ‘thing’ and say ‘smartphone’. See what I’m saying? The ‘thing’ defines’ itself. No other words are necessary. Everyone knows what a smartphone is. Right? (A little aside here: Sundar Pichai of Google is really impressed with a neural network. That is what powers Google’s ‘Assistant’ on your smartphone. You can use the ‘Assistant’ even on an iPhone as long as you are using Google Chrome. Anyway, I wish you would have been able to use it to be your Christmas presents! Half the time. Half the money.  Half the running around. Seriously. It knows sooo much.)

People in undeveloped countries use smartphones. Their use outpaces the use of other ‘intelligent’ things. In 2013 a median of 45% across 21 developing countries used the internet or owned a smartphone. In 2015 the number rose to 54% much of that in China, Brazil, and Malaysia.

By comparison, 8% of people in developed countries use the internet and smartphones. One of the biggest divides is between ‘Millenials’ 18-35 and those that are older. 76% of internet users in emerging countries use social networks. This compares with the US where more than 71% use smartphones! In Europe 65% across 6 European countries use smartphones. Ten years the iPhone didn’t exist!

PEW RESEARCH CENTER Source: Spring 2015 Global Attitudes survey Q71 & Q72

Author: John Pavlus, September 6, 2017. Titled So-So Semantics in Quartz (the guide to the new global economy for people excited by change. https://qz.com)

Editor: I can vouch for the absolute insanity in Quartz. A whole different way to communicate with someone/thing smarter than you – your smartphone. Not to be believed events occurring. Imagine editing your chromosomes – while they are still in your body! Check out Hugo too! Your very own AI bot to converse with. A great study buddy.

China: Robots and Intelligence

China is installing robots like crazy. Shipments of robots to the country rose 27% last year. At 90,000 it was more than any other nation. It is on track to account for one-third of the world’s total. The push for automation could depress wages for Chinese workers. It will exacerbate income inequality. It will hurt consumption. This shift will have worldwide ramifications economists warn. It will dent prospects for a more balanced global economy. American projected job loss 47%. EU 35 %. Pay attention folks!

Elon Musk, the Tesla Man automatically gave drivers of Tesla Model X and S vehicles ‘more power’. He gave away ‘free software-upgrades’ of car batteries to people struggling to survive the ‘summer of floods’. The same batteries that were lasting 60-kilowatt hours were now lasting 75-kilowatt hours. The increase in capacity was from 200 miles per charge to 242 miles per charge an increase of 17.3%. The upgrades were temporary. If you want to buy the upgrade, it is an ‘over the air’ installation of $2,000. You don’t even have to go to your dealer for the upgrade!

BLENDED IMAGE SPACESHIP WOMAN

Just Announced:

The Verge:

Artificial Intelligence recreated Super Mario Brothers by watching someone else play it. (Not confirmed at press time. ed.)