Banned!

Marble

This is Marble, rat terrier… suburban terrorist

 

My little friend Marble and I are banned from the Woodbury Farmer’s market. We took a Sunday walk to the open-air market as we have for several years. This time we were stopped at the entrance by man who was on the lookout for canines. “Sorry, it’s a health policy; we can’t allow dogs in the Farmer’s Market.” We turned around and walked back home.

Allow me to describe Marble. He weighs twelve pounds and is fifteen inches tall at the shoulder. Marble is a black and white bundle of pure affection. He loves all people. He has never harmed a soul in his eight years. Little Marble is a magnet for the dog lovers there, small kids, especially. He gets ear rubs and pats, and always a smile

Marble was on his leash (above, taken minutes after our banishment) and kept close to me. I had a “poop bag” in my pocket, just in case.

I can’t understand a rule banning dogs at an open-air market. Well, I suppose a big, bloodstained, growling pit bull, maybe. But rules are rules and exceptions really can’t be made. Once-size-fits-all, zero tolerance is the best a government funtionary can do. I see it this way: if you can’t allow common sense to interpret a rule, then you’re admitting it is unreasonable.

Funny thing, yesterday I had truly scary event with Woodbury animals. A flock of fifty Canada geese were deciding whether to waddle across a 50 MPH road. The man in front of me slammed on the brakes. So did I. And I watched the car in my rear view mirror slam to a screeching stop just a handful of feet from my rear bumper. Woodbury refuses to ban the geese. It won’t remove them.

I’m not going back to the Farmer’s Market. I’ll just buy my fresh produce at the grocery store. The quality is the same. Really, it is. I walked to the market each summer Sunday to enjoy the companionship of my little friend.

Happiness is more important than compliance.

 

iPhone 4s Camera, Close Up Shots

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Native (mostly) Minnesota wildfowers

 

My dog, Marble, and I went for a walk today on a wooded trail. June is the time for wildflowers Minnesota. Forest blooms are subtle and muted. You must get close to appreciate them.

All I had with me was my iPhone 4S. I was surprised at how close I could get to the blooms. The quality is better than I expected.

Below are a few of the pictures I took. I used the Snapseed app for editing. All on my iPhone.

Facebook IPO? Um…

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Does Facebook really have a future?

 

 

Would you invest in a fad? (Fox news POLL )

 

Facebook is priming the news cycle, setting Wall Street a-buzz with the news of its pending IPO. Stocks may have an initial value of $34/share. Investors are lining up for bidding war. Is Facebook a good investment? In the short term, probably. Further out? I’m not so sure.

Facebook, a come-out-of-nowhere success story, has relied on venture capital for years now. Venture investment is optimistic and holds to a longer view on returns. Once Facebook is fully public, it must submit to the quarterly earning cycle, reporting on to shareholders on short-term forecasts. ‘Shareholder value’ trumps ‘vision.’ Does Facebook, a broker of other people’s information, have a future? Will they as profitable as they would like Wall Street to believe? Maybe not.

The tech world is less in love with Facebook than the mainstream press. Facebook came onstage five years ago when ‘social’ was the new thing.’ Facebook’s strategy orbits their original success, continually refining their social sharing model.

Facebook stopped innovating years ago.Worse for them, the company has failed to find any success in the mobile world. It faces a future of obsolescence and  the risk of a new entrant like Instagram. ‘Mobile’ worries Facebook.  Why? ‘Mobile is a Web-less Internet paradigm. Mobile apps don’t have Facebook ‘Likes.’ But ‘Mobile’ is going to be big, very big.

Marginal innovation. Faddish product. Troublesome reputation. Weak customer loyalty. Treating people like ‘product.’ Media hype. Does this sound like a good investment to you?

Interested in the Facebook phenom? There’s the Facebook Project, a video channel of social media experts sharing their opinion. I also recommend reading last week’s Forbes article ‘Here’s Why Google and Facebook Might Completely Disappear in the Next 5 Years.’ Good points, though I disagree about Google’s prospects.

 

 

 

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Have We Forgotten The Gift?

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Our two realities: Intuition and Rationality

 

Einsteinshow

 

What makes us so human? It is more than computational smarts: it is our brain’s two hemispheres and how utterly unalike they are.

It is no longer accepted theory that the two halves of the human brain, Left and Right, are contrasted by “expression versus logic.” Iain McGilchrist, Oxford psychiatrist and scholar, says they are different in the way they perceive the world. The Left hemisphere is dedicated to narrow focus, efficiency and task-at-hand. It hungers for precise data, the implicit and the obvious. The Right hemisphere sees a broader picture and the way things are interconnected. The Right drives speculation and synthesis.

The two halves balance each other within human sentience. We see the detail and postulate about possibilities. We can balance Reason and Intuition. We are both Kirk and Spock, and for good reason.

McGilchrist claims our brains relied on this necessary balance to advance humanity. He also says today’s life balance is shifted to the Left brain. We “live in a paradoxical world” favoring the Left and ignoring the Right. Modern life deluges us with detail which the Left craves. Our hurried lives are controlled by onerous, rules-based bureaucracies only the Left can parry.  Our now-dominant Left society creates more data, more rules and more control.

The result may be a “paranoia in society.” The Right hemisphere starves, unable to express itself in an ever mundane, detail-oriented world.

Are we staggering away from our true nature?

 

A delightful RSA animation of McGilchrist’s lecture on the Divided Brain (12 minutes)

 

The Left , with its craving for reason, is a “faithful servant” utterly devoid of intuition. It can hammer a nail to a post, but it cannot design a building. Or understand why architecture is a marvelous thing.

McGilchrist quotes Einstein: “The Intuitive Mind is a sacred gift and the Rational Mind is a faithful servant.” It was Einstein’s speculation, not his computational superpowers, which led him to his many discoveries. Science leaps forward, innovation by innovation, discovery by discovery, always cultivated by Right brain curiosity

Have we become a society of clever dullards? Did we “create a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift?

 

 

Recipe: Breakfast Pizza

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Breakfastpizza

 

I am the one who gets up early in our marriage, usually hours before my wife. Since I enjoy cooking, it’s become our tradition to make a big deal about Sunday breakfast. I don’t mind the extra time it takes to make a special meal form scratch. I also think the scents of a cooked breakfast lures my wife out of bed.

This is my recipe for breakfast pizza. It fills the kitchen with the aroma of toasted cheese and onions. My wife is never late to breakfast when I pull this out of the oven.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 pre-made, thin pizza crust
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 3 green onions
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 tsp red pepper or more to taste
  • Cheese: either mozzarella, asiago or a mixture of both
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 strips of cooked bacon
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Dried pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

 

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Wash onions. Trim off ends but keep the green stalks. Slice thin.
  3. Slice the red pepper into thin, nearly translucent rings. Pat dry.
  4. Mix olive oil, onion and thyme in a small bowl. Let set for ten minutes.
  5. Crumble bacon. Set aside.
  6. Spread onion-oil mix over the pre-made crust to about 1/2 inch from the edge. Reserve 1/2 tablespoon oil.
  7. Sprinkle with cheese(s).
  8. Arrange the red pepper slices on top of the cheese
  9. Sprinkle bacon atop the pepper slices.
  10. Season with salt and pepper flakes.

 

Cook it!

  1. Slide the pizza directly onto the oven rack. Don’t use a pan. Set timer for 6 minutes.
  2. Fry the eggs in a preheated skillet to desired doneness.
  3. Remove pizza from the oven when done.
  4. Remove eggs from the skillet. Place atop the hot pizza, one egg per quadrant.
  5. Spoon the remaining onion oil over the eggs
  6. Cut the pizza. Serve right away.

 

Some Notes:

You can use other pizza toppings like Italian sausage or mushrooms. Less is more with the cheese. Just sprinkle enough to cover the crust.

Timing is everything! Do your best to pull the pizza out of the oven as soon as the eggs are done.

This would be a great brunch or dinner entree.

 

 

Santorum: The Dark Horse Surges

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Romney and Gingrich shoot each other while Conservatives rally to Santorum

 

Bubblechart20120212

 

 

The GOP race for the 2012 presidential election is still as volatile as it was when I last wrote about it. GOP leadership was hoping for an early end to primary uncertainty with a single front-runner. This would give skeptical Republicans a chance to warm up to the inevitable ‘last man standing.’

That hasn’t happened. Front-runners Romney and Gingrich each won a primary but mutual attacks exposed their many flaws to conservative voters. Paul kept a steady-state in voter percentage. Rick Santorum, the one person almost all conservatives like — or at least don’t dislike, surprised the pundits by sweeping three caucuses in a big way. Everyone likes an underdog-coming-from-behind story. It may be that GOP voters have made Santorum their ‘Not-Romney’ of choice.

I reworked my spreadsheets based on the latest candidate developments. Romney and Gingrich both fell in my ‘Worth‘ spreadsheet. I am no longer convinced either of them will do much to remake entitlement programs. Romney’s MBA skills make him more of a COO than a CEO. Operations men manage, they don’t reform. Gingrich is too tied to big government entities for my taste. (‘Historian?’ What is that?) Romney also fell because of his past support for abortion and homosexual marriage. I still remain surprised that Ron Paul is the most Worth-y to me, but I like the things he says, except for his isolationist opinions.

The big shift is in the Real-Win-Worth grid. Santorum has pulled ahead of his competitors in the Win axis. He now has the highest score for a consistent, motivational message. Santorum doesn’t sound like he’s reading from a script like Romney, and his strong wins in MO, MN and CO show he can inspire voters to action. Gingrich lost points for ‘presence and style.’ The media is pulling away from him. Romney also lost ‘presence and style’ ground with his comments about “the poor.”

On the Real axis, the candidates’ positions shifted: President Bush The First walked back his Romney endorsement; Gingrich lost his biggest financial backer; and Santorum got the blessing of some very important conservative media superstars.

Looking at all the candidates, the two closest to the true ‘electable’ zone (strong campaign plus voter connection) are Obama and Santorum. Obama risks  sliding the wrong direction in the ‘Win‘ direction if voters are turned off by his negative rhetoric. Obama remains financially strong, but it takes more than expensive advertisement to motivate unhappy voters.

It’s do or die these next few weeks for Santorum. He’s already the most appealing to the conservative base. That’s a plus. Still, his ‘ifs’ must quickly align: IF Romney goes on the negative attack, IF Gingrich descends further into vengeful neurosis, and IF Santorum scores a big win against Romney in Michigan, the former Pennsylvania senator may pull a surprise win.

 

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And Then There Were Four

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Conservatives find their voice: Romney is unacceptable

 

Bubblechart20120122

No one is in the upper right quadrant, the best place to be


There have been three primaries since I last posted about the 2012 race for the U.S. presidency. The weakest candidates have dropped out (Bachmann, Huntsman and Perry). The four remaining candidates are pretty much where they were three weeks ago. None of them have improved their electability or acceptance scores very much. Neither has Obama, who continues to have high disapproval poll ratings despite some moderate economic improvement. The primary has just begun with only a handful of delegates set aside. The campaign promises a frisky, contentious year full surges and pull-backs. It will be quite exciting.

GOP party elites are dancing with a dilemma: should they continue supporting the most ‘electable’ candidate (Real) or the one who can best connect with the voters (Win)? Up until now, they thought ‘electability’ was enough. Romney had been preparing for four years, laying down an army of supporters. So what if he’s bland?  People will vote for a rock if they think it can beat Obama in the national election.

It turns out they were wrong. ‘Not-Romney’ got more votes in each state, every time. Their man on the pedestal only took one of the three primaries. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, a man who causes internal bleeding in GOP aristocrats and this week’s leading Not-Romney, blazes ahead of Morose Mitt. Why? Because Gingrich connects with people and his passion touches an anger inside their hearts. Likewise, Santorum outshone Romney in Iowa with his common man message. Romney looks more like Thurston Howell.

So, GOP leaders, what’s it going to be? Continue to support Mitt, but send him to Wal-Mart to observe proles? Put an arm around Newt and douse him with Ritalin when he’s in the public eye? Or send some money to Santorum, the one candidate who seems human and not neurotic? Your current strategy isn’t working.

 

My thoughts on the candidates:

 

  • Bachmann never stood a chance: she lacked relevant experience and her presence annoyed most people despite her conviction and intelligence. Huntsman never connected with normals and his accomplishments were mostly invisible to them. Perry, the strongest candidate (and the one I thought best suited to run) started too late. I hope Perry tries again in 2016.

  • Gingrich just cannot stay knocked down. The press wrote him off several times after he self-wounded his campaign for the presidency. But oh, can he give a good debate! And his speeches this summer were stirring. Gingrich has high potential on the Win score if he can control himself and gain strength (Real) to dethrone The One Who Calms The Oceans.

    A caution: Gingrich is also a big black testosterone cloud that shoots blue lighting. Are voters flocking to him because he blasts media creatures like George Stephanopolous? Are they hoping he gets a few good ones on Obama’s upturned nose? With Newt Gingrich, you get revenge. That’s guaranteed. Is he a leader?

  • Santorum has done very well in the recent debates. He barely pulled ahead of Romney in Iowa. Although he is not the Comeback Kid like Gingrich is, Santorum has steadily improved his position. Of all the candidates, he is the only one who connects with regular people. Santorum comes from immigrant  background. Unlike Romney, he knows how ordinary people live and the pressures they face. Santorum seems to like people.

    Santorum is the impoverished candidate. He needs funds and highly-placed friends to stay in the race much longer. He also has made some bad decisions (Arlen Specter, union support … illegal immigration). Santorum has some baggage, though not the full-sized steamer trunks Romney has.

  • Ron Paul has been a consistent player, although never on the highest pedestal. In many ways he is like Romney with lots of campaign ‘oomf.’ But Paul connects with with Paul People. I don’t see him as a serious candidate for regular voters. Ron Paul has very little experience and few accomplishments in his thirty years in government.

  • Mitt Romney? He’s Poppy Bush but tainted Massachusetts Blue. ‘RomneyCare’ is reappearing in the race again. Voters don’t buy his message that he is the most “electable.” Is “most likely to beat Obama” just campaign spin? Is Mitt Romney’s image merely generated? Is he sincere? These are not helpful questions but voters are now asking them.

  • And there there is Barak Obama, the man with a -17% approval rating. America is ignoring him right now: all the attention is on the GOP race. Even so, his failed promises and the weak economy are holding his numbers down. When he speaks or when he just does something, his numbers plummet.

    Honestly, I can see any of the GOP candidates prevail against Obama, even Romney.

    It should be easy to push over a statue, especially with feet of clay.

 

 

Why Organizations Blink

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Organizations Have Lizard Brains

 

From the Panama Canal Museum

 

 

It took ten years to build the Panama Canal with shovels and steam power over a century ago. Many people lost their fortunes and lives digging the “Trench.” The end result was an engineering marvel: a continent was severed in half and two oceans were conjoined. Humanity did what Nature takes eons to do. Determination, focus and courage saw the project to completion. Gaia said “WOW!”

George Will wrote about the latest Panama Canal expansion in his column last Sunday. Today, there is another project  to expand the Panama for larger, modern container ships. Building new locks will take eight years to complete. Sad to say, many of  the eastern U.S. ports cannot accept the new ‘post-Panamax’ ships once they start chugging through. Their harbors are not deep enough to accommodate the behemoth’s larger drafts.

Savannah,Georgia, knew this would be a problem back in 1999, but thirteen years later, the city has yet to complete any dredging studies. Assuming Savannah starts the five-year project immediately, she loses three years of large ship commerce. Mr. Will goes on to blame bureaucracy and litigation, (the point of his column), but at a deeper level, Savannah’s problems are based in civic fear and hesitation. Environmentalists toss lawsuits, governments commission additional studies and bankers prolong reviews. Everyone seems afraid to commit. Why?

Savannah’s lizard brain has taken over. If you don’t know about lizard brains, you probably haven’t read any Seth Godin. He knows that every person has primitive reptilian brain underneath their highly advanced mammalian lobes. This lizard brain is concerned with self-preservation at all costs. Lizard brains were useful for dealing with velociraptors; today they convince us to stonewall projects, insist on workflows, and demand approvals and second opinions. It keeps scary things away.

Resistance to change, to bold action, is a natural consequence of age. When cities, countries, companies or people get comfortable, they tend to resist bold action. And self-interest relies on the lizard to keep a status quo. As the decades pass, large groups become more inert. Barricades of process-based bureaucracy insure stability. Sameness is rewarded.

Eventually Savannah may dredge its harbors, but it may take a while. In the meantime, the post-Supermax ships will be happily unloading cargo in the nice, deep harbors of a hungrier, (younger?) port city.

 

“The successful completion of the Panama Canal in 1914 was a great psychological moment for the United States, providing powerful evidence that this country could do anything it set its mind to. That attitude built the Hoover Dam, produced the industrial miracle that won World War II, constructed the Interstate Highway System, and sent men to the moon. Today, it seems, we can’t even dredge a harbor, a technology that goes back centuries.”

John Gordon Steel

 

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No, Romney Is Not Inevitable.

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Money? Yes. Pundit Favorite? Yes. Acceptable? No.

 

From the Swamp blog

 

The man who never gets above 25% in the GOP polls has the party nomination in the bag. Most of my favorite pundits think so — in fact, they have been saying this for several months now. Their reasoning? Romney is the most electable: he has the money; he’s played a shrewd game by letting his more conservative opponents fight amongst themselves; and Romney gives good debate. It’s just a matter of time. Resitance is futile.

Conservative commentators agree that Romney is not a real conservative, but they reason all conservative voters will hold their noses and vote for Romney when he runs against Obama. What choice is there? Just deal with it, get behind the man and move on.

Not so fast. Romney has low — LOW — acceptance amongst conservatives. If they choose to not vote in the 2012 U.S. Presidential elections, Obama will win.

We went down this way before, just four years ago. Remember John McCain? The GOP brought forward a boring old man, a moderate Republican who inspired no one at all. Romney is McCain, Part Deux, but without the distinguished war record.

 

What is Mitt Romney?

  1. He’s part of the political class. The son of George Romney, Mitt is a political aristocrat like the Bushes or Kennedys. The political class is disconnected from the values and worries of most Americans. House Romney never mingled with the hoi polloi. Regardless of political party, the politcal class attends to its own needs first. Average Americans are not a priority.

  2. He’s fan of the Value-Added Tax.

  3. Romney is tainted blue. Romney was governor of Massachusetts, the epicenter of liberal wierdness. Massachusetts is the Land of Bawney Fwank and Sister Elizabeth Warren. The Kennedys spawn there. Newt Gingrich calls Romney a ‘Massachusetts Moderate.’ He’s right.

  4. He is the father of RomneyCare. Romney’s personal health insurance mandate is an assault on personal liberty. RomneyCare is abhorrent to conservatives. The man will not renounce this health care fiasco. What assurance do they that he won’t sustain ObamaCare in some fashion? Romney promised to undo ObamaCare, but …

  5. … he is a flip-flopper. The man lacks a core on most points. He is on record being “for” and “against” the same issues, depending on the polling of the electorate at the moment.

  6. Romney was a of LDS leader, the leader of the Boston Stake. I expect problems with separating church and state from a man who is a ‘spiritual leader.’ Americans expect their presidents to be influenced by their faith, not bishops influencing others.

 

The GOP is making a strategic mistake promoting a candidate who is merely ‘electable.’ That’s not enough. America wants a leader, an inspirational person with an appealing message, and a persuader who will convince them to take a difficult road. They do not need a milquetoast-y technocrat.

Winning the election is not the end game. Winning hearts is.

Mitt Romney will not get many votes from conservative Americans. Without this block, he will certainly lose the 2012 election. Romney is not very electable after all.

 I am a conservative independent. I want someone better.

 

Mitt versus Mitt

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