Saturday, December 31, 2005


"iCame, iSaw, iConquered - iPod”

Apple has sold over 20 million iPods since its launch in 2001. Accross all demographic barriers its presence is felt world wide. The portable audio player now has over a 1000 accessories and imitators and controls 80% of the downloadable music industry. It has in effect driven its competitors from the marketplace and become the standard of functionality and design - so much that in 2006 over 40% of American cars will have an interface for the iPod.

So what lessons can we learn:

Being first to the market-place is not as important as “getting it right” for the end user and the long haul. Knowing not only what the consumer WANTS now but what they WILL WANT in the future ensures you product longevity (e.g. placing your entire music library in your pocket instead of your desktop.) Changing the “rules of engagement” while risque also offers opportunity.

Functionality and ease of use is paramount in any successful endeavor. The iPod is essentially a portable hard drive enclosed in an esthethically pleasing enclosure, accessed by intutitve menus, buttons and a scroll wheel. The fact that anyone can use it with minimum training only enhances its worth. This is a classic example of where the sum is greater than all its parts.

The iPod was but one stage of a long term plan. Apple first created the iTunes software for the Macintosh, created and negotiated on-line libraries of music for user pay downloads, created and distributed Free iTunes software and access for Windows users, developed successive iPod models, and added creative features such as “iPod libraries” among others.

Price is not as important as FUNCTIONALITY. People will pay for ease of use and aesthetics.

Not to be STUCK in a single product (e.g. Sony Walkman). Apple dumped its best selling Mini for the flash memory Namo because it was an advance in functionality. They kept what worked and continued with it logical evolution.

End User expectations demand that TECHNOLOGY deliver on its hidden promise to increase the quality of our lives. Living with “what is” no longer cuts it.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

TRADITION: (My mother always did it.)

A young bride was preparing a ham and as she put it in the pan, she cut off both ends of the ham. Her new husband inquired as to why she cut off the ends, and she replied, "My mother always did it." The husband asked his mother-in-law and she said, "That's the way my mother always did it." Not satisfied with her answer, he approached the grandmother, who explained that it was "in order to fit it in the pan". -Marilyn Linton

LESSON Learned: Often we do things because of the "that was the way it was done before" factor. While we profit by our experience we need to consciously review the "reasons" we do things.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005


"Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers. What will become of them? This world is truly coming to an end." (Socrates)

Some things never change :)

SERENDIPITY: (finding the unexpected)

Alexander Fleming's famous discovery of penicillin at St Mary's Hospital in 1928 was occasioned by a speck of penicillium notatum mold (from a mycology lab one floor below) fortuitously contaminating an uncovered culture plate while he was away on vacation.

Touring a modern research laboratory many years later, Fleming commented with interest upon the dust-free, air-conditioned environment in which its technicians labored. "What a pity you did not have a place like this to work in," his guide remarked. "Who can tell what you might have discovered in such surroundings." Fleming's reply? "Not penicillin!"

Opportunity is where you find it....


Use the 80-20 Rule originally stated by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who noted that 80 percent of the reward comes from 20 percent of the effort. The trick to prioritizing is to isolate and identify that valuable 20 percent. Once identified, prioritize time to concentrate your work on those items with the greatest reward. Prioritize by color, number or letter — whichever method makes the most sense to you. Flagging items with a deadline is another idea for helping you stick to your priorities.


Monday, December 26, 2005


I have faced DEATH twice in my life and both experiences left me with a greater regard for not only my own existence but family, friends and all of humanity as a whole.

My first experience with death came with the collapse of my lungs following a cancer operation. The surgeon inserted a repirator tube down my throat and placed me in intensive care. For two days I gagged for each breathe of air. I begged the nurse to remove the tube as I was choking on the fluids in my lungs. Even though I was "tied" down I strained to pull out the tube.

I can still remember her words - "If you pull out this tube - you will DIE." It was only at that point that my mind came to grips with how serious my situation really was. And even though I was only half conscious (due to the drugs) I said to myself - "You have my undivided attention and cooperation."

I watched the clock hands move (through many hours and minutes) until finally they pulled the respirator from my lungs. I laid there and cried myself to sleep.

Five days later I was sent home... and recovered (minus a kidney and 59 stiches across my stomach.)

My second round followed neck surgery when my surgeon "accidently" cut my esophicus and turned my 3 hour operation into 7 hours. Again, I experienced problems breathing in the recovery ward.


You can't live forever.
You may die at any time (and not of your choosing.)
You need to keep your "house" in order at all times.
You should spend every day of your life telling and showing the people you care for just how much you love them.


Many years ago I visited Edison's research lab at Ford's Village in Detroit Michigan. As I looked at Edison's work bench I noted that the clock had no hands. I made an off-hand remark to a guide that I guess Edison never knew what time it was.

The guide said the clock hands were actually taken off by Edison himself. Edison often quoted to his help - "You should measure your success by your accomplishments and not by hours and minutes of the day."

Something for all of us to remember.


Saturday, December 24, 2005


Periodically I like to watch the World Championship of Poker, not because I feel I would want to play the game but I do enjoy seeing the rollercoaster of emotions. Watching people win or loose more money on a single hand than most people earn in a lifetime is almost surreal. Seeing people react to those hands reflects both skill and character.

But in the final assessment all of these "games of chance" are simply that - CHANCE.

The Best Gambling quotations

"Depend on the rabbit's foot if you will, but remember it didn't work for the rabbit."-R. E. Shay

"Remember this: The house doesn't beat the player. It just gives him the opportunity to beat himself." -Nicholas (Nick the Greek) Dandalos

"The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet." -Grantland Rice

"Gambling is the future on the internet. You can only look at so many dirty pictures." -Simon Noble, an Austrian-based internet bookmaker

"When we put 50 machines in, I consider them 50 more mousetraps. You have to have a mousetrap to catch a mouse." -Bob Stupak, former Las Vegas casino owner

"You cannot beat a roulette table unless you steal money from it." -Albert Einstein

"Stop cheating!" the dealer told the card player. "I'm not!" claimed the player. "You must be," said the dealer. "That is not the hand that I dealt you."

In a bet there is a fool and a thief. -Proverb

"One of the healthiest ways to gamble is with a spade and a package of garden seeds." Dan Bennett

"The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket." - Kin Hubbard

"The only difference between a winner and a loser is character." - Nick the Greek

"It is the mark of an inexperienced man not to believe in luck." - Joseph Conrad

"I believe in luck. How else can you explain the success of those you dislike?" -Jean Cocteau

In Atlantic City, N.J., elderly gamblers got flu shots Monday at Bally's Park Place ballroom while slot machines jangled in the next room. Nurses said the shot could cause soreness in their arms, but many replied they would work it out by pulling the slot machine handle.

"Son, we are sorry about the tuition funds...your mother and I did not know you are not supposed to split tens..." -Letters home from people visiting Reno.

"Nobody is always a winner, and anybody who says he is, is either a liar or doesn't play poker." -Amarillo Slim

"The best bet you get is an even break." -Franklin Pierce Adams

Friday, December 23, 2005


Living in St. Louis, MO is in many ways similar to living in San Francisco in that both live along active geological faults.

The 1811-1812 earthquake resulted in little physical damage since few people lived in the region and there were few buildings of brick and concrete construction. If a similar quake should strike today it would be as destructive as Katrinia. Highways and interstate system would be shattered, gas line ruptured and massive loss of property and human life. Should the Mississippi be at flood stage, the destruction of the levees could dramatically inflate the damage.

The geological time clock is ticking. Neither San Francisco or the Mississippi basin can escape these events.

Should you own earthquake insurance? Since your house if usually your most important financial investment it should be included with your basic insurance policy. Such costs are small in comparison to a "total earthquake loss." Not all companies offer such policies and you may have to look around. Likewise it is important to keep COPIES of such policies in safe locations should your house become destroyed.

This is also a reminder to have a survival plan for your family (see below.)


A recent TV show reflects the importance of "postive expectations" not only in healing but in all life activities.

A Doctor performed three types of knee surgery on three different patients. The first patient received the traditional invasive surgery of scrapping the knee, the second patient had a minor invasive opening, and the third a cut only. In all three cases the outcome was equal patient satisfaction.

Belief in positive outcomes is an important ingredient in all life activities. Our confidence in the ability of effective leaders (family) carries over to our own individual holistic well-being and life goals (work habits, attitudes, values, etc.)

Again, it is not always what is true but what people BELIEVE to be true that works on our life motivations and values.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Notes from article at Money

Families spend an average of $5,340 these days) than on anything else besides our house and car.

"Americans have forgotten how to food-shop," says Phil Lempert of, which tracks the industry. "When we don't plan, we buy the wrong things, which causes us to spend more money and more time."

Today households on average toss 14 percent of the food they buy, about double what we threw out 20 years ago.

To meet our mothers' generation in the middle, we crave foods that are fast but that also have a homemade feel. (According to Nielsen, one of the top daytime shows on the Food Network is Semi-Homemade Cooking.)

Food purveyors have been happy to oblige, preying on your lack of time and your seemingly endless grocery budget by concocting pricey ready-to-eat foods.

"More shelf space is dedicated to prepared food these days," says Michael Sansolo of the Food Marketing Institute. "Soup comes in a grab-and-go cup. It wasn't long ago we didn't even have juice boxes."

Some new products are lifesavers; others are rip-offs. All are part of a changing grocery landscape that includes everything from pre-diced onions to grocery lists you can keep online.

To shop smart, you have to decide which alleged improvements really save time and money.

Be picky
The premium on shortcut foods -- marinated chicken breasts, cut vegetables, washed lettuce -- is enormous, so compare prices of the prepared version and the normal version, then decide whether the premium is worth the time you'll save.

Use what you have
"There are literally 150 pasta dishes that most people could make with stuff they have in their house right now," says Mark Bittman, whose New York Times column "The Minimalist" and book "The Best Recipes in the World" are aimed at today's frenzied shopper.

Lempert suggests a weekly use-what-you-have night. Involve your kids.

They'll eat whatever you cook up simply because they helped (trust me on this), and you won't spend $40 ordering in.

Make lists
Half of us don't make shopping lists. That's why we buy bags of food but have nothing for dinner.

Before you shop, plan your next three dinners, trying to pick ingredients that overlap from meal to meal. That way you won't buy something you'll use half of and then shove to the back of the fridge to compost.

Shop online
Our mothers would have. Jodie and Lawrence Smoler, parents in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., used to spend $250 a week at the grocery store. Once every few weeks they'd fill a hefty bag with everything they hadn't eaten -- vegetables on the wrong side of ripe, cold cuts past their prime -- and throw it out.

Then they discovered Peapod, the online grocer in their area. Jodie's first foray onto the site took about an hour as she searched for her staples.

But now every week she starts with that same list, adds a few necessities and is done in 10 minutes, for around $90 including delivery. "Last week she was away, so she didn't order," Lawrence says. "I went to the store instead. I spent $150 and I can't figure out why."

Make a game of it
Ever hear about those people who cut their $200 weekly grocery bill down to $50? I'm trying to become one of them.

I'm playing the Grocery Game. Started in 2000, the Grocery Game is a Web site that provides you with a weekly list of products on sale at your local supermarket, cross-referenced with the coupons in your Sunday circulars.

It also tells you what to load up on when. Usually supermarkets are divided into 15 sections (from frozen foods to toiletries), and each week two of those sections are put on sale.

"That means if you buy only what you need every week, you overspend on 13 out of 15 categories," says founder Teri Gault. "We teach people to stockpile when things are on sale."

A subscription is $10 for eight weeks, but you can get a four-week trial for just a dollar at

Your first experience shopping with a computer-generated list can be time consuming -- confusing even. But once it works, addiction sets in.


Monday, December 19, 2005


An interesting comment by a civic planner at modern day Vesuvius, (Italy) noted that having a PLAN for a modern volcanic eruption was not as important as having people KNOW the plan, BUY into the plan, and frequently REVIEW the plan.

This is true of all plans....


Thursday, December 15, 2005


Generally only the people who like you will take the time to provide YOU with advice. Other people simply provide "advice" about YOU to other people (gossip).


From WEIRD CHRISTMAS ( ISB-N-!-57912-476-3 ) by Joey Green

p. 28

"As early as 3000 BC ancient Egyptians worshipped the god Osiris, who fathered through the virgin Isis an earthly son named Horus. The birth was announced by three wise men, symbolized by three stars in Orion's Belt pointing to Osiris' star in the east, and took place in a manger on the winter soltrice. Historians recognize ancient Egyptian statues of the virgin mother Isis suckling her baby Horus as the precursor to the depictions of Madonna and Child."

"Around 2000 BC ancient Syrians and Babylonians worshipped the god Dumuzi, who was born on the winter solstice to a virgin names Mylitta."

"Around 2000 BC the Persians began worshipping Mirtha, a sun-god born to a god father a human virgin mother named Anahita (referred to as "The Immaculate Virgin Mother of Lord Mirtha" in a cave on December 25. The birth was witnessed by shepherds who brought gifts."

"During the second millennium BC ancient Greeks worshipped the god Dionysus, who was the son of the god Zeus and the Theban virgin princess semele. According to Greek mythology Dionysus was born on the winter solstice."

"As early as 1400 BC Hindus in India began worshipping the divine son Krishna, born to the human virgin Devaki and the god Vishnu on the winter solstice. According to Hindu scripture, Krishna's birth in a cave was heralded by a star."

P 29

"Around 1400 BC Attis, a deity worshipped in Phrygia and later throughout the Roman Empire, was said to be the son of the virgin Nama and to have been born on the winter solstice."

"The Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III, of the 17th dynasty (1382-1344 BC) was hailed as the son of the virgin Queen Mutemua."

"Buddha, a mortal sage named Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BC) was said to have been born of a virgin named Maya and was visited by wise men who acknowledged his divinity."

"According to the play Amphituo, written by Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus (circa 254-184 BC), the great Greek hero Hercules was born to the god Zeus and the virgin Alcmena."

"As early as the 10th century AD, the Aztechs of ancient Mexico worhipped Quetzalcoatl, a great Toltec deity, who was a son of the virgin goddess Coallicue."


Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I'ma great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it. Thomas Jefferson.


In every life there should be a balance of your life forces. Perhaps for that reason I have come to respect the Confucian concept of ZEN or balance. Lao-tsu expressed this concept in the phrase "In strength there is weakness, in weakness there is strength."

(Example: A large army could successfully oppose most foes on the battlefield (the YEN or strenth) yet it was vunerable by its supply lines and difficulty in movement (YANG or weakness.)

To the Confucians all of nature was a dicotomy of dominant and recessive forces, but HARMONY could only be achieved when they balanced one another.

It is important to correctly identify and keep your opposing forces in balance less you fruitlessly expend your energies.


Rule of 72

How long does it take for an investment to double? This is where we use the "Rule of 72." This is a simple "rule of thumb" to estimate the doubling time of an investment. It is simply "the compounded annual rate of return times the number of years must equal roughly 72 for the investment to double in value."

For example, let's say you invest $1,000 at 6%. The "rule of 72" says your money will double in 72 divided by 6 = 12 years.

Even a fraction of a percentage in your mortgage rate represents serious money. Go to and download a free interest calculator for your respective OS. "Loan" for the Mac OS X supplies lots of "what ifs" for loans or investments. Surprisingly if you make extra payments to a loan you can dramatically accelerate the repayment.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005


When the only tool that you own is a hammer why is it that every problem appears as a nail?

(Sometimes you need other people with different skills to help you recogize and solve a particular problem.)


IF you believe as I do that it is worthwhile to keep $5000 or more in ready cash you should definitely check out the variety of rates offered by different banks. For example, Regions pays only .017% o their money markets while UMB will pay 3.5%. It definitely pays to SHOP AROUND for all money transactions (CDs, Mortgages,etc.)


Most people (including myself) have fallen victim to taking on ownership of problems which were not our own. For whatever the reason (vanity, power, intellectual prowess, a notch in the gun, etc) it is important to determine at the beginning IF the problem is in your domain - if not leave it alone.

Ah, but learning to divorce yourself of such issues - is another life lesson....


Monday, December 12, 2005


"The first rule of financial success is to protect what you have,"
"The second rule of success is to make a plan and keep it."

These are very painful lessons to overlook....


Sunday, December 11, 2005


So what difference does 10% make? Eat 10% less and you lose weight. Save 10% over a lifetime and you retire a millionaire. Spend 10% of your day dedicated to a goal and you will accomplish it.


Seeing and listening to admonitions of a relative who did "not" going to church reminded me of the quote: "Going to church doesn't make anyone anymore religious than going to a garage makes you a mechanic."

Religion is in your heart and your worship is in your actions. Prayer in your closet is no different than in a million dollar building.


Thursday, December 08, 2005


Harpo Marx once commented after a leader went on a verbal rampage about a fellow worker and said "He shouldn't be allowed to make HIMESELF look so bad." (Harpo Speaks)

Your insults of others will always come back to haunt you.


Either you have weak links in your organization OR YOU are the weakest link. (Drill Instructor - Paris Island)


This economic theory stresses that the more you strive for perfection the cost of the project will inversely increase.

Perfection in any project is an IDEAL but should always be measured against your available resources and goals.


This LESSON is an old favorite regarding the need to cooperate (whether at home or at work.)

Top 7 Facts & Lessons Learned From Geese

FACT: As each goose flaps its wings it creates an "uplift" for the birds that follow. By flying in a V-formation, the whole flock adds 72% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of another.

FACT: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give out help to others.

FACT: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.

Lesson: It pays to take turns going the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other's skills, capabilities, and unique arrangements of gifts, talents, and resources.

FACT: The geese flying formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one's heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

FACT: When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.

Lesson: If we had as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

FACT: Geese fly South for the winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Lesson: It is a reminder to take a break from the cold of winter and take a vacation to some place warm & sunny to rejuvenate ourselves.

FACT: The larger flocks of geese usually inhabit areas where geese eating for humans is more popular or in demand, and where there are smaller flocks of geese flying, there is usually smaller demand for geese, to be used for human food. * This fact according to the Oklahoma State University Board of Regents study on geese.

Lesson: Larger flocks of humans together may not always be as effective as smaller flocks who are able to maneuver much more quickly in life and business without being eaten up by the to speak. ;-) (yes, this was a stretch, but relevant, no? :)

Lesson #2: The smart geese know to not fly with the big herds, and create their own niche flying circle or game.


I have always agreed with the old adage "Its amazing what you can get done if you don't care who gets the credit."

Likewise there will always be someone that will see and share YOUR contributions. Just don't spend your time being occupied by it. Focus on the objective and not your name....

MURPHY'S LAWs (Reminder):


- Nothing is as easy as it looks.
- Everything takes longer than you think.
- Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
- If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong. Corollary: If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then.
- If anything simply cannot go wrong, it will anyway.
- If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which a procedure can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.
- Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
- If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
- Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
- Mother nature is a bitch.
- It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
- Whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first.
- Every solution breeds new problems.

These LAWS should be on every administrators desk.


Anything you try to fix will take longer and cost you more than you thought. (Murphy Law) This is an exceedingly important LAW to remember before engaging in any upgrade.


Monday, December 05, 2005


I was talking to a couple of friends this weekend both who were avid collectors of Civil War artifacts. The two men had both gone to the same farm near Gettysburg, PA (the great Civil War battlefield). The first man asked the farmer if had any civil war guns or bullets discovered on his land - the farmer said no and the man went left. His friend talked to the same man but asked if he had found ANYTHING related to the Civil War.

The farmer this time said he did have a BOX that his father's father had taken from the battlefield out in the barn. When the second man examined the box he discovered it was an Artillery Cassion (one of two original in existence.) After some negotiations he purchased the box and added it to his collection.

Footnote: the box is probably worth $15,000+.

This is a prime example of learning to ask the right question.


Thursday, December 01, 2005


The objective of all dedicated product support employees should be to thoroughly analyze all situations, anticipate all problems prior to their occurrence, have answers for these problems, and move swiftly to solve these problems when called upon. However, when you are up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult to remind yourself that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.

Note: Living from crisis to crisis prevents effective planning, analyzes, and problem solving.


This is a very easy yet important task. If you lost your wallet today do you know what credit cards you would need to alert and other documents to replace?


One of my favorite cartoons shows two IT managers talking at a party. The one manager says to the other "I just can't stress enough the Principle of REDUNDANCY." In the foreground you see his "two wives", "two children", "two dogs", "two cats", etc.

Redundancy is an important principle not only for IT but in our daily lives as well.

All too often people look upon the expense of "backing up" critical elements in their daily lives as a waste of valuable resources. And yet, only in a moment of failure/diaster do they only come to realize the importance of redundancy vs. creating the process anew.

People who fail to have ADEQUATE life, health, property, flood, etc. insurance because of COST are simply naive. Bad things DO happen to good people - and sometimes with great frequency. Certainly the tragic events of the past year highlight this principle and should remind us to examine our own circumstances.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


A family reunion just reminded me of this old quotation.

Addendum: Nor are they necessarily happy.


"When I was growing up, one of my favorite cartoon characters was Scrooge McDuck. He still is. Uncle Scrooge knows the value of a dollar. Even though he has three cubic acres of cash socked away, he never forgot the lesson of his first dime, aptly named "Old Number One." - The Debt Adviser by Steve Bucci •

Strangely Scrooge is also one of my favorite cartoon characters. As much as Scrooge LOVED his money bin he found obsessive "sentimentality" to the first dime he earned. Scrooge felt this "icon" was a symbol of the effort afforded to its acquisition and an item to compare all other VALUE.

We all need to have an "Old Number One" in our portfolio/possession for comparison purposes. We need to be able to remember just how much effort (and sacrifice) is necessary in making our savings and daily purchases. Without such a reminder people have the tendency to make careless and impulsive purchases. This is especially important as we approach the holiday season.


Every project has COST, FEATURES (Quality), and TIME (Speed) contraints. It is important to remember you can control EFFECTIVELY any TWO of these factors. Any attempt to control all three generally results in project failure.
(Prints a chart for your wall.)


All the preaching and verbage given to others is NEVER a substitution for leadership by personal EXAMPLE.


Friday, November 25, 2005


A friend called the other day and wanted some suggestions on "saving" money. I told her that the best solution to save was NOT TO SPEND. After listening to her frustration of trying to keep to a budget I suggested she try an idea recently printed in LADIES HOME COMPANION - taking her discretionary cash and dividing it up in a series of envelopes (each labled with a spending category.) When the envelope is empty her spending is ended.

I have no idea if you will employ this strategy but I did like the solution.


This morning I went to Home Depot to purchase an advertised item "available only for a limited time." When I asked for the item ($59 Gorilla ladder) I was told that all 40 of them went out the door in the first 30 minutes.

I asked for a "rain check" and was told they did not issue "rain checks." Following a discussion with the store manager I was told I was "just out of luck." I took his business card and told him that because I was persistent I was going to pursue my requested purchase. He merely smiled, and said "Good luck."

I visited a second Home Depot and got the same run around from another store manager.

I reread the ad and found no mention of rain checks but did note a small note mentioning the web site.

After visiting the web site I found the advertised item for the SAME PRICE and FREE SHIPPING. I made my purchase and decided persistence paid off (and saved me $45 in the process.)

As a good deed I called both of the store managers back and informed them that not only was that product available on-line but several other advertised products as well. Sadly, neither manager had any idea of this promotion. (This is another example that management often has no idea of the WHOLE PICTURE.)

If you really want something - be persistent. There is no guarantee of success everytime but as the lottery winner once commented "If you don't play you can't win."


Tuesday, November 22, 2005


One of the interesting scenes in the movie AMADEUS was when his musical rival Antonio Salieri informs Mozart that the King did not like his Opera. When Mozart asks what exactly the King did not like Salieri replies "It hurt his ears" having "too many notes."

The story can have multiple interpretations depending on your point of view. To Mozart perhaps the King's response only demonstrated a lack of understanding of a complex and brilliant composition. To the King it was a loud composition not corresponding to the muscial FORM and traditions of the day.

To me it is also a reminder that even the best of plans can be overly complex and devour too many of your available resources. Always keep in mind the KISS Principal (Keep It Simple Stupid).


Saturday, November 19, 2005


Recently I began work on rehabbing my basement. I had decided to redo the kitchen area by ripping out the suspended ceiling before I redid the walls and floor. I had no sooner completed this task when I asked myself WHY I did this since the ceiling grid was in structionally good condition - but only cosmetically aged.

I stopped my work and spent an hour on-line to research other options. Three options appeared not only to UPDATE the ceiling grid but do it at 1/20th of the labor and 1/50th of the cost.

This reminder applies to all future projects. Not only should you measure twice and cut once - you need to research twice and ripout once.....

Fortunately the 50' x 13' basement ceiling is still intact and can benefit from this new research.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005



I have generally believed there are two types of lies: The lie of Commission (intentional distortion of facts) and the Lie of Ommision (ommitting essential information in the answer). Perhaps as Mr. Spock stated in the Star Trek VI movie we should add the Lie of Exaggeration.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Some years ago a Latin teacher was holding a Latin debate in a school auditorium. The teacher noted that the school custodian always attended the debates and seem to listen intensely to each debate. The teacher approached the custodian and welcomed in Latin. The custodian looked at him and said he did not know what he was saying.

The teacher apologized and told the custodian that he "assumed" he knew Latin because he came so frrequently to the debates.The teacher then asked him how could he know who won the debate.

The custodian looked up and said "That is easy, it is whoever looses their temper first."

Lesson learned: When you display your anger in public you may have "lost the debate."


This Quote is attributed to Gen. Collin Powell.

Those people who carry their anger of situations, events, judgements, or people sadly deplete their own energies and loose prospective of their own life goals and pleasures.


Recently I heard someone in a considerable leadership authority say: "I don't have all the facts, and don't even know much about this subject, but that has never stopped me from making a decision."

This is really a SAD comment and yet it is not an uncommon trait by many administrators.

It would really be wise if important decisions required the FACTS used to support a key decision. But I can guarantee you that will never be popular trait.

So what is the lesson learned? Don't ever assume that any important decision has any powerful logic behind it.


Friday, November 04, 2005


that determines peoples behavior.

People seldom scruntinize their beliefs prior to their actions.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005


It is always interesting to watch people who suddenly come into a "stash" of money. Feeling "flush" , they generally turn off half of their brain cells and proceed to make impulsive and careless purchases.

The very best thing you can do with "flush" money is to deposit the money in short-term negotiable instruments and devise a PLAN to conserve your principal. Avoid the impulse making careless purchases.

As my father used to comment "Anyone can give it away."


Tuesday, November 01, 2005


When Alice in Wonderland came to a fork in the road she exclaimed "Which way should I go from here?" The Cheshire cat looked down from the tree and said to here "Where do you want to go?" Alice looked up and replied "It doesn't really matter where I go." Then, the cat replied "It doesn't really matter which path you take - your bound to go somewhere."

But it does matter. Making good choices at the various crossroads of your life requires thoughtfulness decision-making. Unless you control your "choices" others will make them for you - and you may not like the consequences.


Monday, October 31, 2005


I took the time today to check my attic insulation today. Happily I think I am prepared for winter. Are you?


Friday, October 28, 2005


I always liked this story.

Back in the 1960's a young Swedish fisherman wandered into a new Volvo car dealership. The experienced staff all ignored him because of his clothes and fishy smell. A new salesman however took the time to talk with him and eventually shook his hand to signify the "closing of a sale."

The sale was not for one car but 15. It seems the captain of his fishing trawler sent him to purchase a car for each of the staff members following a succesful voyage.

Things or people are not what they always appear to be.


There is no such thing as permanent job security. For most people they will change their “job” more than 8 times in their lifetimes. Sometimes the change will be voluntary but sometimes it can be an unforeseen event.

You can however enhance your changes of keeping/acquiring a job by constantly updating your skill sets OR adding a new set of different skills. Many job counselors suggest that you should spend 2% of your yearly income to update your skills.

Modern technology is constantly changling not only job skills but even the survival of entire trades. Not too many years ago “typesetting” was a valued trade - today the trade is obsolete.

On the bottom line having both the desire and ability to “learn how to learn” should enhance your job survival skills.


Thursday, October 27, 2005


The typical cost of a burial in the US (2005) is over $6,000. Recently a friend of ours had a brother die and the FAMILY was left to pay the bill (since his estate was bankrupt.) Unfortunately, none of the family members had planned for this contingency anymore than they have for their own. The family members placed the bill on a "Discover" card paying 18%+ percent.

The family could have had a funeral and cremation for less than $1,000 but the funeral director talked them into a "full and expensive burial."

LESSONs LEARNED: The family learned very little and now they are even more deeply in debt. We have signed up with a local CREMATION SOCIETY for the less than $1,000 funeral.

Everyone will die and should plan accordingly.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005


What have I done to make the lives of those around me better (and in the process improving my own life)?


Whenever you make a purchase of an item with a "warrenty" you need to keep the receipt. Even if you don't have a filing system then keep a "box" just for that purpose and throw the receipt in. In the worst scenario you just might have to "root."

If your a Type A personaility you might want to keep a database. Fortunately I just keep the "box" :)


Tuesday, October 25, 2005


"PYRRHUS • Royalty
Pyrrhus inherited the throne of Epirus in Northern Greece around 306 B.C., and as a young man proved himself on the battlefield again and again. Pyrrhus apparently had great strategic skills, but he also had the reputation of not knowing when to stop. In 281 he went to Italy and defeated the Romans at Heraclea and Asculum, but suffered bitterly heavy losses. The devastation led to his famous statement, "One more such victory and I am lost" -- hence the term "Pyrrhic victory" for any victory so costly as to be ruinous. "

Match your objectives to your resources before you begin any project. Having a written plan and KEEPING to your objectives is absolutely essential to success.


Monday, October 24, 2005


Partake in this questionaire:

What makes a GOOD leader? All of the above are important but allow me to stress the importance of these traits: (not in any particular order.)

CHARACTER: (and yes, Hitler was an "effective" leader - but not a good leader.)

Remember: "You NEVER get a second chance to make a first impression (or for that matter to correct consistent daily blunders)."

If you want people to follow you - you must maintain positive traits and envoke confidence.

It is likewise a good idea to periodically allow the people you serve to offer a review of your services (that is if you have the COURAGE to do it.) Malcolm Baldrige survey is a good starting point.


Thursday, October 20, 2005


A friend of mine (an IT director) is in the processing of making a "critical" decision which may affect his career reputation and "job security." His decision - is to convert all of an organization from one OS computer platform to another. The decision itself is not the issue - the fact that HE ALONE is making the decision without adequate input and discussion from the people he serves IS THE ISSUE. And the worst part of this decision was by imparting the message as a mass e-mailing.

NEVER send out MASS MAILING EMAILS or DOCUMENTS announcing policy changes without careful review. As they say in the military "Don't scare the civilians." Never make such decisions during a moment of panic. Always have someone ELSE read your document before distribution.

No important organizational decisions will ever win universal support but CALMNESS, OPEN DISCUSSIONs with your staff, FACTUAL EVIDENCE and an implementation PLAN to win the SUPPORT of the people you are working FOR is essential for success. Shooting from the HIP will neither win success, friends or establish credibility.

Sadly, he had been told on previous occasions that 2 of his predecessors lost their jobs over this same issue. Only time will tell.


Monday, October 17, 2005


My son and daughter-in-law are about to have their first child. Carrying the child was a new experience to both of them.

I had to smile on countless occasions when they would comment "We can't wait until we get over with this." They had no idea of the lifelong journey they were about to partake in.

Raising a child should be a full time job for the "rest of your lives." Ideally, there should never be a day or an hour you are not consciously looking over your shoulder thinking of their needs and your responsibilities. And while not every parent will share this concern with equal passion - but those who truly care will come to realize its importance.

At age 63 we still watch and care for our children. Not that they cannot do the daily issues by themselves but a life long "habit" of being a caretaker is not easily cast aside. (Footnote: My father would remind me to "water" the Xmas tree every year even when he was 92 (and the tree was plastic.))

I presume that at some point they will become "our" care takers - but I don't view that as some obligated responsibility. Hopefully, we have done all the "right things" so that we are not dependent on others - only time can tell.

Children are your legacy.


Saturday, October 15, 2005


Today my handiman told me he was going to have to raise his fees 10% to cover his increased costs. I listened patiently to his "statement" and told him " I have really enjoyed our relationship over the past years but I must now reluctantly end our arrangement as this increase was not in my budget."

My handiman squirmed over my response and finally stated "I hate to loose our relationship and will work with you. I will keep my present rates with you but please don't share this with others." I thanked him for his support.

What would I have done if he had not accepted my response. Yes, I would have moved on to find someone equally competent. In fact, I always keep an eye open for "new people" at competitive rates.

While some items can't be "negotiated" it is always important to keep to your budget/plan if you expect to remain solvent.


Thursday, October 13, 2005


We love to eat out and do it frequently. However if you keep a list of your monthly expenses you will discover just expensive this activity can be. Our monthly eating out bill runs about $500+ (or about the same as our grocery bill.)

" In 1970, Americans spent 34 percent of their food dollars away from home. Today, that figure is about 46 percent."

If you are having monetary problems this should be one of your FIRST containment costs.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005


In the corporate world the phrase "Total Cost of Ownership" is constantly asked whenever a venture is proposed prior to adoption.Sadly, few individual households apply this question to individual purchases.

What does TCO mean? Perhaps the purchase of a "car" might serve as an example.

Assume you decide to purchase a new car for $25,000. What are the variables which truly affect this purchase?

A new car MAY increase your fuel efficiency (provided that was important in the purchase).
A new car WILL decrease some costs of repairs (since they should be under warrenty.)
A new car WILL cost you SALES tax of several thousand dollars.
A new car WILL increase your PERSONAL PROPERTY tax each year by a $1,000+.
A new car WILL increase your AUTO INSURANCE tax by a $1,000+ each year.
A new car WILL not be used to transport 2x4's or trash (limits its functionality.)
A new car WILL depreciate in value by 40% in the first 5 years (loss of $10,000 in the example above.)
A new car WILL most often be purchased on a time-payment plan costing 10-20% in interest payments. (The poorer your credit rating the higher your interest rates.) The poor will always pay more!

So the $25,000 car is costing you a minimum of $5,000-7,000 per year. If someone told you this prior to selling you the car - would you buy it? (Note: the purchase of a new car is the SECOND most expensive purchase most families will ever make.)

TCO applies to every type of purchase (and even human relationships). Even small investments can cost a great deal more than you expect when unanticipated maintenance costs are high. One of my favorite examples is the "ink-jet printer." Companies virtually give the printers away so that you are compelled to purchase THEIR CARTRIDGES at vastly inflated rates.

Even when this strategy is adopted people will often not ask enough or the RIGHT questions. It is important to include multiple viewpoints when critical decisions are being made.

It is important to BALANCE all important decision with this rationale or life may not treat you kind!


Monday, October 10, 2005


It was not until I reached the age of "40" did I truly begin to appreciate the stages of "life passages." 40 was the beginning of life's reminders that I was aging. My hair began to thin and my facial features reflected my age. I gained some weight and did not have the stamina of earlier years.

At age 50 I appeared more like a Benedictine monk both in hair and weight.

At age 60+ I have experienced cancer (loosing a kidney), radical neck surgery (replacing two pads in my neck), and a host of other aches and nerve damage pains that never seem to go away.

And yet these were the physical transitions. And while they serve to remind me of my fraility but also of my good fortune.

In reflection I have been very fortunate to have a wonderful wife, great children, a better than average life style, and some good friends.

There are other "passages" on the horizon - I only hope they wait until I see my new grandson.


Saturday, October 08, 2005


Many people think it is an easy thing to "flip" a house and make a quick fortune. For some people with a trained eye and the necessary skill sets this may be true - for others it is the road to ruin.

I have been watching some "novice" speculators try to convert a $250,000 property into a $550,000 for the past 5 months. Not only did they out price the house for the neighborhood, they simply did not spend their money wisely (paying commercial rates for the redevelopment).

Most commonly people do not have a realistic comprehension of the costs of repairs and home updates. My general rule of thumb is to add 50% to your first upgrade impression and you won't be wrong.


Friday, October 07, 2005


Yesterday a neighbor sought my advice regarding a yard problem. Being retired (and having more time on my hands) has evidently raise my status among my neighbors as a household seer.

I provided the necessary advice and offered to help him with some landscaping issues in his front yard which appeared as an eye sore. After several hours I had cut out all the problems shrubs, weeded, and mulched the area. Today, I visited another neighbor and told him of my project and if he would mind if I could have some pampus grass cuttings to landscape the project. The neighbor graciously offered whatever I wanted and in another hour I had completed 80% of the project.

My neighbor just left my front porch and handed me two bottles of 20 year old wine that he assured me I would enjoy.

So what did I learn?

I felt good doing a good deed without any promise of reward.
I met another neighbor (who gave me the grasses) and (100 lbs of walnuts from trees in his backyard to husk)
I improved the appearance of the neighborhood.
I learned that my neighbor whose lawn I improved was also a retired estate lawyer and has offered to help me with my trust.
And finally, I have two bottles of fine wine...that I am reluctant to open (but will :)

You just never know how good deeds will come back to you....


Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Planning is an essential part to our survival and yet no amount of planning can take every possible "mishap" into account.

It is important to learn that "mishaps" and "disasters" will always be with us and we will need to "cope" and "respond" only after the event appears. Such occurances can be impacted by weather, disease, death, depression, finances, religious beliefs, etc.

Periodically ask yourself some of the "tough" questions and test your own responses.

"What would you do if you discovered you had a fatal disease?"
"What if your spouse could no longer have sex?"
"What would you do if the person(s) you love most died first?"

These are our life "exams" - our lessons for survival come from them. They test our religious and philosophical beliefs and come to reflect our character.

The value of keeping an eye on the horizon of life " can help you survive (emotionally and/or financially).


Tuesday, October 04, 2005


45% of Americans pay each month less than what they purchase on their credit cards. A half dozen companies (American Express, CitiCorp, etc) control 65% of this industry and MAKE over 30 billion dollars a year with ruthless fees, add-on charges, and penalties.

The average family credit card indebtedness is now over $12,000. Paying only the minimal payments means they can never pay the debts off because of the 18-30+% interest charges.

THE LESSON: Pay cash if you cannot control your spending habits. Devise a plan to pay off your debts while you can. Work to accumulate a savings account.

I only use credit cards for specific purposes: those items I want to track in my budget (e.g. groceries, gasoline, etc.) I have NEVER had a late fee or penalty in the 40+ years I have had credit cards - if I can't pay for it I do without.


The traditional rule of thumb is that you should have 3 months income in your savings account. The sad fact of 21st century American families is that the majority have no savings nor a savings plan.

The average family today is spending more than it have earns.

Evidently the childhood story of the "Ant and the Grasshopper" has not been read by everyone.

Your goal should be to save/invest 5%+ of your takehome pay. If your not doing this you will not be ready for a financial diaster OR your retirement.


Sunday, October 02, 2005


I am a list maker. I found it an essential tool to IDENTIFY, PRIORITIZE, and ASSIGN RESOURCES to family issues.

I not only KNOW what issues I face but timeframes and resources for resolution.

It also saves gasoline by placing "travel" and "tasks" into a PLAN.

It saves TIME by preventing unscheduled repetitive trips.


Friday, September 30, 2005


This is a growing concern due to internet transactions. I strongly recommend that you have ONE CREDIT CARD that you ONLY USE for internet transactions. In the event your card is compromised you would not loose your primary credit.


Unless you are a public servant (of some variation) you are always potentially vunerable to "downsizing", "obsolescence", "Outsourcing", "age or sex discrimenation", or whatever.

It is always good to acquire new skills and keep an eye on your resume.

As soon as you learn one skill - acquire another.

What would you do if you were told this evening you have "two weeks notice"?


As a generalization you are better off being your own stock broker and not PAY for advise from expensive brokage companies.

Discount stock companies are realistic - if you are.

Be particularly beware of a broker who is always calling you to BUY something new.


is one of the most important skills you can impart to others. Information changes and the average person will have 4-5 different jobs in their lifetime.

You can never be sure of the future and what skills you will need.

Invest 2% of your net income in your own training in order to guarantee your future.


Thursday, September 29, 2005


Check the following sites to assist you in operating your car efficiently:

Other Hints:

Taking some time to make a list of the things you'll use the car for will help determine the difference between your true needs and your wants. It's important to remember that each additional want you add above what you really need will cost you not only at the time of purchase, but in most cases well down the road with an increase in maintenance and operating costs.

Check the insurance rates of a car before you purchase it. A twenty-five dollar a month difference in rates can save you thousands over a period of years.

Maintence issues:

*** Take the time to check your car's tire pressure each month. Under inflated tires reduce fuel efficiency by 2% for every pound they are under inflated. Under inflation also causes premature tire wear giving your tires a shorter use life.

*** Drive at the speed limit. Cars use about 20% more fuel driving at 70 miles per hour than they do at 55 miles per hour.

*** Avoid using air conditioning whenever possible. Air conditioning reduces fuel economy by 10% to 20%.

*** Don't open windows when traveling at high speeds. Open windows on the highway can reduce fuel efficiency by 10%. It is much better to use the ventilation system. Also remember to remove car racks and other items which make your car less aerodynamic when they're not being used. Use cruise control to maintain a steady pace on the highway to increase fuel economy.

*** Don't let your car idle. Even on cold mornings, there's no need to let your car idle for more than 30 seconds. Newer cars are designed to be driven almost immediately and letting your car idle longer is a waste of gas. In addition, it's more efficient to turn off your car and turn it on again than to let it idle for more than 45 seconds while waiting.

*** Remove all excess weight from your car. Many people use their car trunk as a storage space adding unneeded pounds to the car's weight. This unnecessary weight reduces the car's fuel efficiency.

*** Try to accelerate gently, brake gradually and avoid stops when driving. Gunning engines, quickly accelerating, and abrupt stops all waste fuel. Try to avoid driving during rush hour periods when you know traffic will be stop and go. If you do find yourself in stop and go traffic, try to maintain a crawl. When approaching hills or steep slopes, accelerate before the hill. Accelerating once on the slope will consume much more gas.

*** Service your car regularly while paying special attention to oil and filters. Blocked air flow from clogged air filters will increase fuel waste. Also check your car's alignment since this can cause engine drag which will also increase gas waste.

*** Periodically calculate your car's fuel efficiency. A loss in fuel efficiency is an indication of possible mechanical problems.

*** Credit cards that offer up to 10% in gas rebates can take the edge off soaring prices at the pump — as long as you don't dig yourself deeper into debt.
Discover has a credit card that gives up to 5% cash back on gas purchases and up to 1% on other purchases.

Taxpayers who use their cars for charitable purposes and itemize on tax returns are eligible for a tax deduction. The standard allowance for volunteers is 14 cents per mile.


To me a car is FUNCTIONALITY - and not personal status. I drive a 9 year old (reliable) van and not because I can't afford a better vehicle.

My neighbor has a Rolls, BMW, and Mercedes in his garage. While these are very attractive vehicles they represent a "value" of over $90,000 and cost him over $8,000 in personal property taxes. I have no idea what the insurance costs on these vehicles might represent but I am sure it is over $5,000 a year. Assuming minimum depreciation of $3,000-$5,000+ per year this HOBBY costs him $18,000 a year.

Note: In fact, depreciation is the single biggest cost in the first five years of a car's life, far outpacing fuel and maintenance costs. The AVERAGE car depresciates over 65 percent in five years.

For the same kind of money he could buy a new car every year.

My neighbor is fortunate in that he can afford his HOBBY - most other people can't afford such practices yet they engage in "similar" practices.

Drive what you can afford - not what you think enhances your status.


Recently a friend sought some advice about a problem at home. Her son was placing "demands" for "things" that placed her own financial and peace of mind at risk. She wanted to be the "good mother" but didn't know how to respond.

I told her that in my house I have always supported the "The 1st Law of Belevolent Selfishness."

This law does not mean that you value yourself over those you love - only that if you do not take care of yourself FIRST you will never be in shape to adequately care for others.

I do not know if this helped her - but it is a good reminder to myself.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005


When my daughter was deciding on a college she had no idea about the COST of a degree. After talking with her affluent friends she narrowed the field down to four schools. The most expensive was $15,000+ per year the last one on her list was a very credible state college at $5,000.

I sat down and showed her what we could financially contribute to her education - the rest I told her she would have to borrow.

I next created a spreadsheet and explained what $10,000 a year would cost her for the rest of her life making monthly payments.

Finally, I showed her some articles in MONEY MAGAZINE that choice number 4 had great credentials in her field and was deemed an outstanding value.

I told her we could pay for ALL of her education, provide an allowance, and even buy her a second-hand car at the end of her freshman year with choice number 4.

The next day she said she really like choice number 4 so we made a trip to the school and she was accepted.

I was a little concerned about her trying for scholarship money since we were footing the bill. So I made an additional offer - "For every dollar she came up with in scholarship funds I would give her twenty-five cents in CASH." Never have I seen such enthusiasm in filling out forms.

Eventually It cost us $750 - which was gratefully paid in cash.

(footnote: she graduated from the school and completed her M.ed several years later. She is now a very successful secondary school teacher - doing what she loves.)


Verbal promises are worth only the air that surrounding them. If something is truly important you need it in writing (and credible witnesses help.)

Ever since e-mail has been invented I have kept "copies" of important document just as I have with paper documents. On more than one occasion they have resqued me from "forgetful" people who could not recall their promises.

OK - some things are NOT worth keeping: old girlfriends garments, letters, pictures, videos, etc.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Over my lifetime I have owned many new technologies. In general, the FIRST GENERATION of any technology is ofter fraught with problems. To really protect your "investment" it is often better to make X-1 purchases (i.e. the second revision). Second generations are also less expensive.


Sunday, September 25, 2005


but not every lesson is correctly perceived or learned.


Generally I never purchase a product warrenty. Most products provide a year warrenty anyway and most people either loose or misplace the product warrenty information. Some products just are not worth getting repaired because are replaced with better technology.

Many warrenties require you to even have a "receipt" which people never keep.

I keep all my receipts (with warrenties) in a special box along with the product guides.


Friday, September 23, 2005

SMALL ACTIONS....ARE IMPORTANT (In your daily finances)

I was talking with a friend the other day on a busy street corner when I bent over and picked up a quarter. My friend immediately remarked that given my resources it was not necessary to perform such a trival act.

I told him that I always picked up lost change and given my tax status that the quarter was really worth thirty cents (non-taxable income).

But it was not the trival change that I was redeeming - it was part of my lifelong training to recognize opportunities and benefit from it.

The change I give to charity - the opportunity I keep for myself.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Recently I was assisting a relative dispose of a large quantity of trash - much of which was junk metal parts amounting to 500+ lbs.

Our local trash collector wanted to assess an "industrial charge" for the disposal of $75.

I went to the internet and found a "scrap metal" dealer at who picked it all up for nothing.

I strongly suggest that you use this resource not only to "recycle" useable items but you can also place a WANT ad as well.

This is a valuable resource that can save both time and money. It is available in thousands of communities.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I was walking past a group of students the other day and overheard one student bragging "I am smarter than John." And while intelligence is a wonderful asset in your life it does not make up for ambition and "stick-to-itness".

The best plan without comittment will not succeed.


Friday, September 09, 2005


The first step in problem solving is to define the problem - it is than half solved.

Recently a friend of mind was in a quandry over a difficult personal issue. Without going into specifics I found that the issue was quite complex. I could not offer advice, and she could not make a decision without identifying the issues.

I told her to take take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns - one labled "Positive" and the other "Negative." In each column she listed the possible "outcomes" of her decision.

She spent several days working on the list. She even shared it with several other people who would be affected by the decision (and who offered other insights and corrections.)

Finally, she made her decision. The decision was still difficult but she had the comfort of knowing that she had at least CONSIDERED all the important issues.

Good decision making (especially life altering) should be approached as a JOB requiring personal committement and hard work.


Thursday, September 08, 2005


I recently needed the services of a roofing/siding agency. When I called a company I had done business with before (for a fair price) I was told they only did whole house repairs and not smaller repairs (in the wake of enormous storm damage.)

I took the time to thank him and asked for people he would recommend. After a few minutes of polite conversation I reminded him that I valued his work and that he had repaired other property for me in the past.

Eventually he told me he was in the neighborhood and would drop by and provide me with an estimate that I could use for comparison purposes with other contractors.

Finally, when he called me, he told me that he really valued my business and politenss and would try to work it in next week.

I was both grateful to obtain the timely service at a reasonable price.

I told him to post a sign in the property yard advertising his services - as another means of thanking him.


It is extremely important to keep an idea on the prevailing interest rates especially if you have mortgages or credit card/payment debts.

Generally you can save money if the rates decline more than one-half percent or more. This is especially important for mortgage rates.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Intelligence alone will not make a person successful in life. An old teacher of mine used to have a quote on the wall - "There is IQ and 'I Will'."

Many AVERAGE people have made extraordinary achievements simply because they did not let the sigma of an IQ score deter their ambitions.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Recently I was reluctantly forced to contract with a tree trimmer to remove some trees which fell on my house. Even though I had satisfactory work with this contractor before it seems that this time GREED was on his plate.

I am making this statement to remind MYSELF and others to always obtain a WRITTEN BID for services before contracting for services.

FOOTNOTE: The contractor removed one tree (but omitted to tell me that the County Streets Dept. had removed the greatest bulk of the damage.) Some kind neighbors alerted me to this fact and after the BILL was send to me for $4500 I called him and asked for a detail listing of services. After I had the BILL in hand I called him and told him of my conversation with the neighbors. I explained that the BILL was fraudulent and I had a real problem paying him anything. I told him to send me another BILL with a detailed explaination as to why his first BILL was not correctly assessed.

It has been three months since our last communication. Matter is closed as far as I am concerned.

Attention to detail and perserverence pays.


Monday, September 05, 2005


Marriage is a lifelong contract between two people. Unfortunately the chances of fulfilling that "lifelong" relationship is currently only about 50%.

If you went to the airport and were told only half of the flights would achieve their destination - would you make the journey?

Marriage is most often prompted by endorphins and not logic. In fact, no amount of logic will generally assist a couple in "heat."

So what can you do to make a marriage work?

While many "promises" are made at the wedding ceremony - circumstances and priorities change over time.

It is said that you either "grow together" or "grow apart." Learning to communicate, share, and arbitrate your differences is absolutely essential.

If you find that "communication" is difficult you might try sitting down and writing out a YEARLY CONTRACT (or even shorter periods) with compromises. Every topic is "negotiable" with some compromise by both parties. If this is not possible - the marriage probably does not have much chance of survival.

Finally, your ability to make a meaningful commitment, demonstrate affection and courtesy, and realizing that change is inevitable - all require WORK on both of your parts.


Saturday, September 03, 2005


Given the fact that the price of energy will be going through your wallet this year it is exceedingly important that you make every effort at this time to check your home insulation. Insulation is a very inexpensive solution to most peoples heating solutions. The time to do it is now.

It also pays to check caulking around your windows.

Windows and door trim are also important.

News commentators just announced that energy bills will increase 30-50% this year.

Note: Always keep electric space heaters in your "gas heat" house to localize heating issues.


Wednesday, August 31, 2005


The tragedy of New Orleans demonstrates how ill prepared governmental resources (local/state/federal) are ready for a national emergency. While we have spent billions to protect AIR PORTS from terrorists we have absolutely no plans to deal with prospective national tragedies.

It did not take a rocket scientist to know that Katrina was headed for New Orleans and that the city was NOT PREPARED for a flood/storm. The storm was classified as a level 5 and the levee system was only designed for a level 3.

This same event could have been a wind storm, ice storm or blizzard, tornado, meteor, earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, or terrorist chemical attack.

What should we personally learn from this?

Every household needs to have the following:
- A realistic FAMILY PLAN to deal with various types of crisises (where should we meet? a Church, home, ) (what should we bring?) Everyone should be able to review the plan on a periodic basis. The plan needs to be adjusted for changes in the seasons. If you look on-line there are countless FREE downloadable booklets with valuable information.
- Transportation: If you must leave your home not only where would you go and HOW would you get there? Car? Bike? Cart? This affects what you can take with you, your security, and shelter issues.
- A survival kit LIST including: (bandages, perscription medicines, general medicines, sissors, knife, blankets, matches, paper, no battery radio and flashlight, string, rope, wire, spare clothes, personal sanitation articles, cash, flairs, plastic trash bag,duct tape and tarps, plastic closeable containers, POTs or PAN, some books or other amusements, pet supplies if you have a pet, hats, batteries for cell phone?, clean rags, swiss army knife, and canned (self-contained) food, energy bars, and water for at least 5 days.) Other adds on could include: inflatable mattress, copies of important papers: insurance papers, contacts number; local maps, bug spray, family treasures (pictures only). Having a bike would be a plus. What you can take will largely depend on the event, transportation options, and condition of your family members.
- Children may have special needs and you should judge accordingly. (diapers, medicines, etc.)
- A hand generator would be a real benefit.
- Warning! If your told to LEAVE - LEAVE. Things are only things, your life and health can never be replaced. You can't take it with you! Having an EXIT plan is also reasonable: Do you need to turn off the water, gas, electric?

- Each of your support groups should have similar plans.

A last thought: If you have something - someone with nothing will try to take it away from you. I am not advocating a "shoot-out" but you need to give some realistic preparation to deal with such possible unpleasant situations - they will occur.

Monday, August 29, 2005


A house, car, or many of your other worldly possessions require periodic review and maintenance.

Some years ago a neighbor paid over $10,000 for a backyard wood deck. For the want of a bi-yearly powerwashing and sealant the deck is now an unsafe rotting structure ready for take down.

My own deck is about 25 years old and looks like 5 years. It is amazing what difference a little routine maintenace can make.

The same can be said about changing your oil in your car, etc.


Friday, August 26, 2005


Yesterday my handyman told me he was looking for more work since his daughter fell down and had an $800 visit to the emergency room (all for 4 stitches.) It seem he did not have any health insurance for himself or his family.

Health Insurance is NOT an option in your family financial plan - it is a necessity. In the last two years I have had a cancerous kidney removed ($60,000+) and two veterbrae pads replaced in my neck ($25,000+).

My son-in-law last year was hit head on by a drunk driver resulting in a broken arm, broken leg, fractured hand, fractured sternum, etc. At last count his medical bills were over $145,000 of which the majority was paid for by his insurance. (And yes, the drunk walked away.)

Half of those declaring bankruptcy do so because of health problems or medical bills, according to research by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren. Even scarier: Three quarters of those bankrupted by medical bills actually had health insurance. It just wasn't enough, especially for those whose illness cost them their job.

Several friends have retired early and lost their company paid health insurance. Now they are struggling to pay the $6,000+ premiums for themselves and their spouse.
Make sure this is included in your preretirement family plan.


Sunday, August 21, 2005


The greatest gifts you can offer others are most often phrase, hugs, and other expressions of your love. These gifts return the greatest reward to all concerned.

Have you made your "gifts" today?


Friday, August 19, 2005


Prior to going out for dinner this evening I did a SEARCH for "discount coupons" (St. Louis) and "Restaurants." I discovered that one of our favorite local restaurants offered a $5.00 discount for over $20.00 purchase. I printed out 10 coupons since there was no expiration date.

The point is - you can save some serious money by searching the internet.

I also discovered a slew of coupons for local attractions.


Your time is the most precious resource you have. The average person only lives about 27,000 days (365x74 years).

When you give someone your TIME for any task you are giving them your LIFE. What a wonderful gift when freely given.


Thursday, August 18, 2005


One day I came into the bedroom and my wife was making the bed. Her face was written with unhappiness as I asked her what the matter was. She responded "I have been making the bed for over 30 years now and you NEVER help."

I guess I could have said " I mow the grass, paint the house, as my share" but instead I replied: "Your right, let me make the bed for the next 30 years."

Since that time we make the bed together - and peacefully.

It is not always what is said - but how it is stated - that creates lasting impressions and changes in behavior. In this case, both of us made positive changes in our behavior and feelings.

There is no value in winning battles and loosing the war.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005


There is absolutely no better way to decide a family at the time of death than to have no definite plan in the division of your estate (no matter how small it is.)

Over my life time I have watched various families decend into “family feuds” bickering over the family silver, jewelry, pictures, and even lamps - simply because it was not in writing. In fact, even in writing does not always hold up.

One of the simplest and most worthy suggestions that I have ever heard of in a will was:

“I commend my children to mutually agree to the divison of my household into even shares. In the event that they cannot agree to the division of the shares than I request the executor of this estate to sell all the estate contents at public auction and divide the monetary proceeds. I likewise would be very disappointed should it come to such a decision.”

Another interesting solution was to PASTE the names of the spoils on the back of items.

This reminds me of the wise parent who had one candy bar and two children. She handed the candy bar to the first child and asked the one child to divide the bar into two pieces. The second child was then given first choice of the pieces.


Sooner or later all of us are going to die. The expense of a funeral in 2005 is over $6,000. For many people this expense comes at at time of undue stress where logic does not take hold.

A friend of mind told me how she was still paying for her brother's funeral two years later when no one else in the family had any money to contribute. (And sadly, it is on a CREDIT CARD paying 18%+ interest.)

Unless there is a special religious reason you can obtain a cremation and a dignified funeral for under a $1,000 in most communities. See if there is a locat CREMATION SOCIETY if you live in a large urban region.

If you can pre-plan but don't PRE-PAY for such inevitable events.


If your like many people you allow a disproportionate of your money to lie dormant in a checking account. Most checking accounts pay virtually no interest (e.g. .02 tenth of a percent). Spend some time searching your local newspapers and locate a money market account paying (8/16/05) 3.25-3.50% interest. This should make you some spare change.

Note: some savings account/credit unions will pay more competitve rates than banks. My Credit union will even MATCH CD rates with any competing financial institution - saving me the trouble of moving funds.


Creativity is an important ingredient in your financial and career satisfaction. One of my most favorite definitions comes from a 1970's pop film called "Why Man Creates." The film is itself an example of creativity but one of the great lines is "What is creativity? Why it is looking at one thing and seeing another."

Creativity will conquer many of your problems if you "look" for solutions outside the "box."

Recently a young friend of mine said he wanted to save more money but did not have the income.

I suggested making a spreadsheet showing both his income and expenses and to decide where HE could see possible savings.

He told me that he had found a way to save a $105 a month ($1260 a year)
- Replacing soft drinks at lunch each day with lemon water = $40.00+
- Bringing his lunch 1 day a week = $25 a month
- Eliminating morning snacks 2 days a week = $15
- Eliminate eating out for a fancy dinner once a month = $30

What creative ways can you find to finance your life goals?


Which would you rather have? A good friend or $5000 in cash?



Tuesday, August 16, 2005


The other day a friend of mind for many years had a discussion of our extended families. He lamented to me that his wife was very disappointed in his new daughter-in-law because she never called her.

I shared with him the childhood song of Marlo Thomas "They drew a circle and drew me out - I drew a cirle and drew them in."

Sometimes you have to do the reaching and you can't let go until you succeed. Picking up the phone and sharing your concern, sending a card, or an invitation for lunch can have marvelouis returns.


Take time each day to do something good for the people who make up your circle of life. It can be nothing more than kind words or just a reminder that you care. Do this twice over for your children and never fail to tell them that you love them! Find some time to talk with your family members one-on-one and LISTEN to what they have to say.

These actions pay the greater return for everyone.

And remember, you can't take it with you!


It is importants to keep multiple backups of essential DATA (financial, family, instructions, etc.)

I strongly suggest that you keep information in a SAFE and in at least one other location other than home.

If DATA is encypted make sure that at least two people have the passwords but not access to the DATA.


If you are a collector of THINGS - collect only those things which give you personal satisfacton. Do not CONFUSE collections with INVESTMENTS. Collector THINGS are often hard to liquadate in a moment of need or call fall to the disposition of others who MAY or MAY NOT know the value or means of adequate disposal.

At a certain point in your life you need to concentrate more on the conversion of your life hobbies into more negotiable securities that anyone can use (i.e. cash or securities).

Also note that collections come and go in popularity. Remember Beanie Babies selling for hundreds of dollars each that now sell at garage sales for .25. (I recently purchased an entire collection of 100 mint beanie babies for $20 which still had the $5-8.00 price tags on them.)

You can however speculate with purchases that you think will become popular in the future is often better than trying to purchase a current trend. Remember Beanie Babies selling for hundreds of dollars each that now sell at garage sales for .25.

I recently purchased an entire collection of 100 mint beanie babies for $20 which still had the $5-8.00 price tags on them. for $20.00 I can give these to my grandchildren as "toys".

Several years ago I sold a collection of 75 metal lunchboxes from the 1960's-80's purchased as garage sales for $1200. I had purchased all of these prior to their popularity for perhaps $50 tops.

Not every speculation will make money but when they do.... it is fun!

And remember "The best things in life are not things."


ALWAYS ask for available discounts/coupons, etc. when investigating a substancial purchase.

Use the Internet to search for discounts prior to purchases.

Obtain organizational discount cards (e.g. AARP, professional groups, etc.) You can start AARP at age 50!

Even local services (e.g. tree trimmers offer a senior discount)


Friday, August 12, 2005


While a house is one of your largest financial investments often people pay excessive property tax simply because they to not check their assessment bill and/or do not protest the assessment.

Property assessment are generally based on the value of your house "compared" to similar houses that have recently sold of comparable value. Unfortunately that comparison is often made based on a computer program, a two minute drive assessment by a frustrated tax assessor, and comparison to TOTAL REHAB property in your neighborhood.

If your property is NOT the same as the local TOTAL REHABs used for comparison - then fight the assessment.

Take pictures of your property, collect the sales brochures of local COMP houses, and check-out on-line the sales of other houses in your neighborhood. Make sure you PROTEST and APPEAL the assessment.

This last year I was able to demonstrate in a logical presentation (with a spreadsheet) that my property was not worth the 39% increase but only 12%. I won the appeal, but my neighbor who did not appeal is paying 40% more than his previous assessment.



Wednesday, August 10, 2005

GOOD HEALTH PRACTICES increase the length and quality of your life.

Only 3 percent of lung cancers occur in people under 45, regardless of smoking status.

This year in the United States, an estimated 93,010 men and 79,560 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer and almost an equal number -- 90,490 men and 73,020 women -- will die of it.

Only about 10 percent of men and 20 percent of women with lung cancer have never smoked. (They are probably victims of second-hand smoke or genetic propensity.)

About 1 in 5 people are current smokers.”

Cash for the Hard Goods,
Cash for the Soft Goods..."
or The Economic Law of Grandpa Forrest

"If you can't pay cash for it - you can't have it."
(The only exceptions are for a very basic car or house.)

I have lived up to this law my entire life with great success.


The average American Family in 2005 has over $10,000+
in credit card debts.

Even if you pay $319 per month interest for the rest of your life
you will never reduce the $10,000 principle.

Credit cards purchases are for most people just another
form of addiction.

I watched a child cry in the store today until his mother
bought him what he wanted. That is just the beginning
of a life long set of "addiction" values.

And yes, the use of credit cards which are payed off monthly
provide YOU the FREE use other peoples money.

Credit cards can be useful tools to track
HOW you spend your resources. Likewise, if you use a
card with "rebate" dollars you can actually make money!
(e.g. Discover Card)

There are a number of credit card calculators that can assist you in understanding the severity of your situation. One example:


The second most important emotional and financial decision in your life is the raising of a family (children.)

This can be the most rewarding point in your life (or the most depressing). In either event it only begins at the point of conception and will end only at death.


to determine the financial consequences.

(And yes I love my children with all my heart and would not trade them for a billion dollars.)


Tuesday, August 09, 2005


A MOST important decision.....

The selection of your life mate is one of THE most important emotional and financial decisions you will ever make in your life.

There are no magic formulas in selecting a complementary mate. Sometimes a mate needs to be the YEN and for others the YANG.

Unfortunately, mate selection often has more to do with hormones than with logic.

Choose wisely.....and make it work!

PS - Look at your potential mate's family carefully. Remember that the prejudices and attitudes, financial habits, spiritual and work ethics were engrained on your potential mate for a lifetime. These trait do not mean your potential mate will be a CARBON COPY but it does reflect what they and you will have to aspire to (or overcome). KLF


Some AESOP favorites:

The Ant and the Grasshopper

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about,
chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by,
bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the

"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper,
"instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant,
"and recommend you to do the same."

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got
plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and
continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no
food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants
distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had
collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.


The Dancing Monkeys

A PRINCE had some Monkeys trained to dance. Being naturally
great mimics of men's actions, they showed themselves most apt
pupils, and when arrayed in their rich clothes and masks, they
danced as well as any of the courtiers. The spectacle was often
repeated with great applause, till on one occasion a courtier,
bent on mischief, took from his pocket a handful of nuts and
threw them upon the stage. The Monkeys at the sight of the nuts
forgot their dancing and became (as indeed they were) Monkeys
instead of actors. Pulling off their masks and tearing their
robes, they fought with one another for the nuts. The dancing
spectacle thus came to an end amidst the laughter and ridicule of
the audience.

-"Not everything you see is what it appears to be."-



The Frogs and the Well

Two Frogs lived together in a marsh. But one hot summer the marsh
dried up, and they left it to look for another place to live in: for
frogs like damp places if they can get them. By and by they came to
a deep well, and one of them looked down into it, and said to the
other, "This looks a nice cool place. Let us jump in and settle here."
But the other, who had a wiser head on his shoulders, replied, "Not so
fast, my friend. Supposing this well dried up like the marsh, how
should we get out again?"

"Look before you leap."



Hercules and the Waggoner

A Waggoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy
way. At last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank
half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper
sank the wheels. So the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt
down and prayed to Hercules the Strong. "O Hercules, help me in
this my hour of distress," quoth he. But Hercules appeared to
him, and said:

"Tut, man, don't sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder
to the wheel."

The gods help them that help themselves.



The Goose With the Golden Eggs

One day a countryman going to the nest of his Goose found
there an egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was
as heavy as lead and he was going to throw it away, because he
thought a trick had been played upon him. But he took it home on
second thoughts, and soon found to his delight that it was an egg
of pure gold. Every morning the same thing occurred, and he soon
became rich by selling his eggs. As he grew rich he grew greedy;
and thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose could give, he
killed it and opened it only to find nothing.

Greed oft o'er reaches itself.



The Monkeys and Their Mother

THE MONKEY, it is said, has two young ones at each birth. The
Mother fondles one and nurtures it with the greatest affection
and care, but hates and neglects the other. It happened once
that the young one which was caressed and loved was smothered by
the too great affection of the Mother, while the despised one was
nurtured and reared in spite of the neglect to which it was

The best intentions will not always ensure success.