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.