Monday, April 24, 2017

Speech #6: Soaring

[Toastmaster Competent Communicator Project #6, Vocal Variety.  Objectives: Use volume, pitch, rate and quality to make your points.]

Mr. Toastmaster,

I told you before that I am a sailor. Today I would like to talk about a sport that is closely related to sailing. --- Soaring. I''ll tell you about what soaring is and how it works. Hopefully, that will enable you to understand better when I try to paint a picture of my best soaring day. I'll finish by telling you how you might experience it yourself.
---

Soaring is nothing but a fancy word for flying gliders. A glider is an airplane with no engine and no noise. Especially no noise.

The main principle of flying gliders is very simple. I'll explain it right now. Wind does not always blow horizontally. Sometimes it blows up, sometimes down. To a glider pilot, up is good and down is bad. Remember that up-good, down-bad.

So, soaring means just flying around in the sky, here and there, looking for good air. If you feel the air blowing you down, that's --- bad. When that happens you push the stick forward, point the nose down and fly just as fast as you can to get away from that bad air. When you find the air going up you pull back on the stick to fly as slow as possible, then start turning in circles to remain in that up air because up is --- good.  In Florida, you often see a dozen or more turkey vultures circling the sky.  That does not mean a dead thing is below.  It means they found up air and they are soaring.

One more time up? Down?

That was your final exam. You all passed and now, you are all certified glider pilots.
Today, I want to tell the story of my best day ever soaring. There is something called a mountain wave. I'll have to explain that. Did you ever see a swift river where the water flows over a submerged rock. The water goes up over the rock, then down the back side. Then, downstream it goes up and down again. The same thing happens when the atmosphere flows over a mountain. The wind blows up one side, then down the other, then up again in a mountain wave. An invisible, but powerful wave.

It was a cold crisp day in the fall. The fall colors in Vermont were near peak. The trees were red and orange and yellow and crimson and gold. The air was crystal clear. I flew into a mountain wave. Up I went, faster and faster. One more time, up is ??? good. It became very smooth and very quiet, like riding in an elevator. I could have played muzac. Tall and tan and young and lovely.

The higher I went the faster the wind blew against me. The wind tries to push you back while the glider tries to fly forward. Eventually, I rose so high that the wind speed matched the air speed and I became stationary relative to the ground. I went no higher.

There I sat, 14000 feet up in the sky. No motion, no sound. I was able to let go of the controls with my hands and my feet and look around in all directions. I could see across the mountain. Across all of New York state. Across Lake Ontario. There was Toronto Canada. In the other direction, I could see across the mountains of Vermont to the mountains of New Hampshire. There sat Mount Washington. Spectacular.
--
Then I saw something even better. The mountain wave had sucked in some white clouds. That made the mountain wave became visible. It looked like Niagara Falls with the white water falling, except that this waterfall was falling up. It was the scale that was most magnificent. From where I sat, it appeared to be 20000 feet high, and 60 miles long. I flew over to the waterfall and I was able to put the tip of my wing only one or two feet away. There was just enough lift to maintain my altitude. So I was able to fly along the world's biggest upside down waterfall, following it left and right as it meandered across the state.

Ladies and gentlemen, that was the most amazing sight I have ever seen.
Perhaps you would like to experience soaring yourself. It is not terribly difficult, nor ruinously expensive.\

The easiest way to get started is to buy a ride at soaring centers where they offer them. I recommend Google maps as a good way to find anything local. Expect to pay about $100 for a 20-30 minute ride.
Obviously, it will be more fun to do it where there are big hills or mountains. Not Florida.

Mr Toastmaster, the floor is yours.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Speech #5, Fireman's Stories

[Toastmaster Competent Communicator Project #5, Your Body Speaks.  Objectives: Use body language, gestures, stance and so on.  Unfortunately, this blog is not video.]

Mr. Toastmaster, friends and guests.

All across America, the institution of Volunteer Fire Departments is dying. They are being replaced by paid professionals. Before they disappear from the landscape, and from my memory, I want to share a few stories.
--1
On my very first house fire, I was assigned to take a hose out to the back yard and to fight the fire from there. What I didn't know was that another crew in the front yard was setting up a powerful water cannon. When they turned that baby on the stream of water was so powerful, that it blew a hole in the front wall of the house, crossed the interior, blew another hole in the back wall, and hit the chimney.

Out back, holding my hose I looked up to see the chimney falling directly towards me. There was no time to get out of the way. CRASH. The chimney landed right beside me. Oh My God.
--2
One day I was hanging out at the firehouse with a bunch of fellow firefighters. We were standing in a circle in the parking lot, spitting on the tarmac and talking about manly things. Hunting. Tractors. Pickup trucks. Then, along came Maggie. Maggie was our only female member. Maggie elbowed her way into the circle. Conversation stopped. The pregnant pause got longer and longer. Maggie looked to her left. She looked to her right. Then with both hands she reached down to her crotch and adjusted her package.

Well, let me tell you. It took more than 5 minutes for the laughter to die out. Thereafter, Maggie was just one of the guys.
–3
On a different occasion, I was searching a house after the fire was out, but while it was still full of smoke. I found three dead puppies in the bedroom. I picked them up and cradled them in my arms, the way one carries an infant. When I emerged from the house, I looked up. Across the street were the children that owned the puppies. The expressions on their faces broke my heart.
–4
Every little boy dreams of driving a fire truck. Well, for big boys age 60 find it just as much fun as they dreamed of at age 6. The truck is big, and red. You sit way up in the air. You have red lights and siren. The horn was so loud it could knock that bull in the field off of his feet. I drove right up the middle of the road straddling the yellow lines. It was magic to see the oncoming traffic just melt away as I approached.
–5
I got promoted to captain. I went to an Incident Command course. The instructor challenged me. “Dick. An airliner just crashed in your district. It was a jumbo jet, with hundreds of people. You are the only officer available for miles around. You are in command. What do you do?” I just wanted to fold myself into the fetal position and disappear.
–6
On my last house fire, I arrived at the scene late. The chief said, “Go in there and see if those guys need help. So in I went. The smoke was so dense that even if you hold your hand one inch in front of your face, you can't see it. The only way to navigate was to get down on my hands and knees, and to feel the fire hose with my hands. I followed the hose across floors and over furniture, until I came to the place where the flames were. One of the guys there handed me something heavy. “Get this out of here,” he said. So I dragged that heavy thing back, on my hands and knees following the hose. When I got outside, I looked down to see what it was. It was a 5 gallon plastic jug of gasoline, partially melted.
–7
On a training exercise, I was told to go to the third floor to rescue someone wearing all my gear and air tanks. The someone was a 200 pound dummy called Buster. I was supposed to throw Buster over my shoulder in the Fireman's Carry and carry him down the stairs. No way. I wasn't strong enough to to that. So I grabbed Buster by the heels and dragged him down the stairs. Thump, thump, thumpity thump thump. But in my training records, that counted as a successful rescue.
–8
Remember Maggie? One night we were about to leave the firehouse. Maggie held the door open to let people out. The people in front of me were Maggies family. As they went out the door, each gave Maggie a kiss. One. Two. Three. Four. Then me. I grabbed Maggie and gave her a really good kiss. Then I kept walking. I got 20 feet away before I heard Maggie's voice in back of me say, “HEY!”


[This speech resulted in the most negative reviews of any so far.  It had little intro, zero conclusion, and it packed 8 stories in where there should have been only 3.   I realized that I (and Libby) had committed the sin of telling stories that we like to tell, and ignored the audience.  Speaker-oriented versus audience-oriented.  I'll remind myself to remember that in the future.]

Monday, April 10, 2017

Speech #4: The Internet of Things

[Toastmaster Project 4: How to Say It.  Objectives: Select good words.  Use rhetorical devices.  Eliminate jargon and unnecessary words.]

Mr Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, esteemed guests.


Do you recognize this thing in my hand?. Its an ordinary light bulb, right? Maybe. But it might also be an Internet enabled light bulb with wifi. Smart bulbs convenient and cheap. I can use this device call out “ Alexa turn on the light in the bedroom.” The bulb costs only a few dollars. I can have an Alexa voice device in every room, on my phone and in my car and in my office. What's not to like about that?

Suppose I told you about a web site that lists 80000 video cameras that people put in their homes but never set a password. Burglars can spy on them 24x7. They watch you dress. They know where you hide your jewelry. They know when you're not home. OK, there's a few things not to like.

The Internet of Things IOT: Light bulbs, speakers, a child's doll, thermostats, video cameras, refrigerators, fitbit bracelets, insulin pumps, our cars and countless more. The IOT threatens our privacy and security.

Guess who uses them against us. Big corporations, big crooks, and big government.

Big corporations. Suppose I am in the bathroom and that I just opened the last roll of toilet paper. It is super convenient for me to be able to say “ALEXA reorder toilet paper” Amazon knows what brand of paper I like, how to get paid from my account, and how to ship it to me. No law prevents Amazon from selling all that data to other big companies.

Big crooks recently hijacked more than 100000 DVRs digital video recorders, and video cameras in peoples homes. and turned them into weapons to attack our country's infrastructure. Somebody go tell Donald Trump.

Big government. Texas subpoenaed Alexa sound recordings from the home of a drug dealer. The cops reasoned that while the dealer's wife is reordering toilet paper, there might also be other conversations heard in the background where the drug guys incriminate themselves. The government doesn't need search warrants any more, we have bugged our own homes.

Ladies, lets see if this story creeps you out. Joe Blow walks down the street wearing Google glasses 2.0. He sees a pretty woman. The glasses tell him, “Her name is Susan Smith. She lives in the building behind you in apartment 3C. She is not wearing a bra. She loves Margaritas. Would you like to send her a text?” All of that is possible and inexpensive using today's technology.

Whose responsibility is it to clean up this mess? Think of the hijacked DVR case. The DVR manufacturer doesn't care; he has been paid, there is no more warranty, he is not the victim. The DVR owner doesn't care, his DVR still works. He is not the victim. Retailers don't care, they are no longer selling those old DVR models anyhow. Government may care, but these DVRs come from all over the world, outside the reach of our government. We cant send jack booted thugs to break down our doors and confiscate these IOT things. How about me? Have I set the password for this bulb and updated it to the newest software release? Hell no, don't bother me with that crap.

So, who's responsible? No one.

Some people say that better security is the answer. Wrong. We could use fingerprints instead of passwords. Suppose all your devices and your accounts are secured with your fingerprint? Pretty cool huh? But that makes it attractive for a crook to cut off your finger. He gets access to all your stuff, while you are locked out because you don't have the finger any more. Security is not the answer.

We have a problem. The people and the congress are weak on preventative actions. We tend to wait until things get very bad, then we react.

What can we do when we finally do react? I'm afraid that privacy is hopelessly dead forever. The best we can hope for is transparency. We need laws to subject Big corporations, Big crooks, and Big Government to our own surveillance. We need to see what they are up to and so that we can make a stink when what they do makes us angry.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Speech #3: Living Wills

[Toastmaster Project 3. Get To The Point.  Objectives: Have specific purposes.  Project sincerity and conviction.]

Mr Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, esteemed guests. Good evening.

Wills, living wills, DNR orders, proxies, surrogates, end of life. Yuck. Those are subjects that we mostly like to postpone till another day. The fact is that only 25% of Americans have living wills.

My purpose today is to inform you about living wills and perhaps persuade you to make one if you haven't done so already. I'll talk about that what, why and how of living wills, about one enhancement, and even the nefarious side of the system. I'll mention do not resuscitate orders DNRs, but not regular wills.

Let's begin with the what.

Your treatment by the health care system is determined one in four ways. I'll list them in order, best case to worst case.

  1. If you are awake and alert, you can tell the doctors your wishes directly.
  2. If you aren't awake or alert, your wishes are documented in advance in a living will. They might also be expressed by a loved one that you have instructed in advance as to what your wishes are.
  3. You can be treated by the legal default protocols in your state whatever that means.
  4. Worst of all, decisions can be forced upon a loved one who has to guess as to what you would have wanted.
The Why of living wills should be obvious.

On one hand, health care workers need it to cover their behinds legally to deviate from the default protocol.

On the other hand, a loved one might be forced to decide for you. He or she could be saddled with guilt and doubt for the rest of their life if they are not certain that that their decision was what you really wanted. You love them. You should never risk them being put in that bind.

You may think of living wills as something for old people. Wrong. Accidents, can snatch away your future and bring you to near death in an instant, Every adult should have one.
The how is pretty simple.

The paper I am holding up is called “Five Wishes” it is simple and straightforward. (I'll explain in a minute why I can't give yo a copy.) This document satisfies the legal requirements in Florida and 41 other states. It takes only 15 minutes to read, one hour to fill out and sign and to leave a copy with your doctor. I vigorously recommend that you take the opportunity to brief any loved one who might be called upon as a future surrogate.

The document mentions DNR, but a living will is not a DNR order. DNRs cover much narrower circumstances. The legal intricacies of DNRs in Florida are pretty bizzare. The only way you can get a DNR is to ask your doctor.

Now, what if something bad happens when you are traveling? It could take a long time to track down your doctors, your living will and your loved ones, and while waiting on that tracking you fall into the legal default protocols for wherever you are. A neat and modern enhancement is to have your living will registered on the Internet.

My state, Vermont provides a free living will registry for its residents. I sent them a copy of my living will. They send me a sticker to put on my insurance card with contact info and an ID code that health care workers can use to get instant access to the content of my living will. Not matter what else happens, you can rest assured that the first procedure the hospital will perform is a walletectomy. Believe me, they will find your insurance card. Florida, unfortunately does not have a free registry, but they do recommend a private registry. You have the link on that paper.

There are nefarious aspects of the system.

The laws of the 50 states are not uniform, nor are they user friendly, nor do they make even sense to a normal person. Misunderstandings abound even among the health care professionals in the hospital. So there is no guarantee that you wishes will be honored no matter what you do.

There are greedy people who try to make money from you. Lawyers charge a fortune for writing a custom living will. The living will registry recommend by Florida costs $59. Agingwithdignity.com forbids you to make copies of Five Wishes. They sell copies for $1 each, minimum order 1000 and the fine for illegal copies is a quarter million per copy. I got this illegal copy from my doctor, but he's rich.

But here's the point. No matter how flawed the system, no matter what your opinions, you are better off having a living will than being silent.

That brings me to you.

No matter what your age or your circumstances, you should have a living will.

You can use the link I provided, or you can get a copy of Five Wishes from your doctor.

Don't delay, do it today.

Mr. Toastmaster, thank you.


Mr Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, esteemed guests. Good evening.

Wills, living wills, DNR orders, proxies, surrogates, end of life. Yuck. Those are subjects that we mostly like to postpone till another day. The fact is that only 25% of Americans have living wills.

My purpose today is to inform you about living wills and perhaps persuade you to make one if you haven't done so already. I'll talk about that what, why and how of living wills, about one enhancement, and even the dark side of the system. I'll mention do not resuscitate orders DNRs, but not regular wills.

Let's begin with the what.

Your treatment by the health care system is determined one in four ways. I'll list them in order, best case to worst case.

  1. If you are awake and alert, you can tell the doctors your wishes directly.
  2. If you aren't awake or alert, your wishes are documented in advance in a living will. They might also be expressed by a loved one that you have instructed in advance as to what your wishes are.
  3. You can be treated by the legal default protocols in your state whatever that means.
  4. Worst of all, decisions can be forced upon a loved one who has to guess as to what you would have wanted.
The Why of living wills should be obvious.

On one hand, health care workers need it to cover their behinds legally to deviate from the default protocol.

On the other hand, a loved one might be forced to decide for you. He or she could be saddled with guilt and doubt for the rest of their life if they are not certain that that their decision was what you really wanted. You love them. You should never risk them being put in that bind.

You may think of living wills as something for old people. Wrong. Accidents, can snatch away your future and bring you to near death in an instant, Every adult should have one.
The how is pretty simple.

The paper I am holding up is called “Five Wishes” it is simple and straightforward. (I'll explain in a minute why I can't give yo a copy.) This document satisfies the legal requirements in Florida and 41 other states. It takes only 15 minutes to read, one hour to fill out and sign and to leave a copy with your doctor. I vigorously recommend that you take the opportunity to brief any loved one who might be called upon as a future surrogate.

The document mentions DNR, but a living will is not a DNR order. DNRs cover much narrower circumstances. The legal intricacies of DNRs in Florida are pretty bizzare. The only way you can get a DNR is to ask your doctor.

Now, what if something bad happens when you are traveling? It could take a long time to track down your doctors, your living will and your loved ones, and while waiting on that tracking you fall into the legal default protocols for wherever you are. A neat and modern enhancement is to have your living will registered on the Internet.

My state, Vermont provides a free living will registry for its residents. I sent them a copy of my living will. They send me a sticker to put on my insurance card with contact info and an ID code that health care workers can use to get instant access to the content of my living will. Not matter what else happens, you can rest assured that the first procedure the hospital will perform is a walletectomy. Believe me, they will find your insurance card. Florida, unfortunately does not have a free registry, but they do recommend a private registry. You have the link on that paper.

There are dark sides to the system.

The laws of the 50 states are not uniform, nor are they user friendly, nor do they make even sense to a normal person. Misunderstandings abound even among the health care professionals in the hospital. So there is no guarantee that you wishes will be honored no matter what you do.

There are greedy people who try to make money from you. Lawyers charge a fortune for writing a custom living will. The living will registry recommend by Florida costs $59. Agingwithdignity.com forbids you to make copies of Five Wishes. They sell copies for $1 each, minimum order 1000 and the fine for illegal copies is a quarter million per copy. I got this illegal copy from my doctor, but he's rich.

But here's the point. No matter how flawed the system, no matter what your opinions, you are better off having a living will than being silent.

That brings me to you.

No matter what your age or your circumstances, you should have a living will.

You can use the link I provided, or you can get a copy of Five Wishes from your doctor.

Don't delay, do it today.

Mr. Toastmaster, thank you.










Saturday, April 01, 2017

Help Please. Urgent! Redux

[April fools day comes but once a year.   A great April fools hoax works only once.  The one below from 4/1/2014 was my most successful hoax ever.   Within minutes of posting it, I began getting emails and phone calls from alarmed readers offering advice.

However, those providing written comments had more time to think about it and they weren't fooled.  Especially the part about me writing a blog post while all this was going on.   

Enjoy]


Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida   4/1/2014 10:58 AM

Things have been chaotic around here this morning. We don't know what to do next. Here's the story.

Around 7:30 this morning we heard a noise and looked outside. There was a baby manatee in our dinghy? What the heck? I called Libby up on deck. As we were looking, the reason for this unprecedented occurrence became clear. A big hungry alligator, maybe 12 feet long, was circling around and trying to grab the baby. We think the baby jumped into the boat to escape. There's also blood in the dinghy.

OMG!!! We had to think quick. What to do? We thought about trying to lift the baby up onto Tarwathie. Nah. Too heavy. Even a baby manatee weighs several hundred pounds. We could hoist it up with a block and tackle, but without a proper harness we would injure the baby.

As we watched, the baby seemed to become more distressed. It made crying noises. We theorized that it was drying out in the sun and maybe dying. Quick, we grabbed our buckets and started pouring bucket after bucket of water into the dinghy. Soon we had it swamped. The dinghy's gunwales were under water, so fresh salt water could circulate and keep the baby healthy. The dingy didn't capsize because we had it tied up. That way it formed a protective cage, keeping the gator away from the baby, but the gator could easily tip it over.

But we still have no real solution to the problem. We called animal rescue at FWC, the Florida Wildlife Commission. Their answering machine said 8-5 Monday-Friday. No help. We called the US Coast Guard. They won't help either unless it is a person in danger.

The alligator hadn't gone away. It swam around and every once in a while it poked the dinghy with its nose. He must be desperately hungry. The alligator also gave its throaty roaring sound, perhaps to frighten the baby manatee. The baby's mother was nowhere in sight.

Now, we have more help. We got on the VHF radio and announced the predicament to the whole Boot Key Harbor. Soon a half dozen others came in their dinghies to help. Right now they are circling Tarwathie and slapping their oars on the surface, trying to keep the gator away. I'm worried about the boaters in the inflatable dinghies. One gator bite and they sink, dumping the people in the water.
As captain of this vessel, I decided that the best thing for me to do is to go below to write a blog post. If you have a constructive suggestion, please post it as a comment immediately. We may not have time to reply, but we'll read the comments in real time as they come.

Comments
  1. Hello Dick! At the risk of sounding heartless, I wish you a Happy April Fools Day! As the compassionate man I've come to know you as via your blog, I doubt you'd be in your salon typing away while such drama afloat orbits Tarwathie, bleeding baby manatee, other boaters in inflatables showing that 12' gator who's boss, etc. I love your blog and continue to read every installment. I wish you, Libby, the baby manatee and all in the inflatables a beautiful day in FL. Raining here in Portland, OR.. Chuck Holmes ps please gawd tell me this was an April Fools joke..ch
    ReplyDelete
  2. Easy peasy. Find the fellow you dislike the most in the harbor. Throw him in and tell him to swim away. Two problems solved! I like efficiency of actions.
    ReplyDelete
  3. Now if you wrote a story about changing the oil and not making a mess I would have maaaayybe believed it....for a minute anyway.
    ReplyDelete
  4. Don Mattice4/02/2014 12:00 PM
    You're interfering with the laws of nature. Alligators have to eat too.!!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Speech #2: Always leave them wanting more

[Toastmaster Project 2: Organize your Speech.  Objectives: Select an organization, strong opening and closing.]

Madam Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, honored guests.

The showman P T Barnum once famously said, Always leave them wanting more. That is my topic tonight.

I'll offer several examples, mostly from my personal experience.

First, let me cite two examples from pop culture to put it in perspective.

Happy Days was a popular TV show that ran for 11 seasons. But after 7 seasons the writers began running out of ideas. They should have left them wanting more. In one episode Fonzi on water skis had to jump over a shark. Ever since that day, “jumping the shark” has become show business jargon for overstaying your welcome.

Jerry Seinfeld did the opposite. He decided to terminate his TV series after 7 seasons just when the shows popularity was at its zenith. Seinfeld wisely avoided jumping the shark.

Now for an example from family life

In the 90s, my family lived in Burlington Vermont. One son moved away, but two of our three children were finished with school, but were still living at home. One of them got married and a daughter in law was added to the household. Soon thereafter the daughter in law got pregnant. You can see where that was heading. My wife and Imoved to another state into a tiny house with only room the two of us. We left those children wanting more, but chicks who fail to leave the nest early enough, sometimes need a little shove.

I have examples from my work l ife.

On seven occasions I felt that my work was becoming repetitive, so I impulsively quit my job, sometimes without having a new job lined up first. Twice I moved overseas with my family. Twice we moved back again. Several times I went unemployed for months. But in all seven cases, I learned after the fact that my ex employers said that I was welcome to come back at any time in the future. In every case, I departed leaving them wanting more.
Here is an experience from my sailing life

Sailors use the word passage to refer to a sea voyage. A passage begins with great anticipation and a surge of exhilaration. At the end of a passage you get to shout “LAND HO” That land ho moment is emotionally laden. You feel “Whew. Once again we survived yet another passage. What a relief.” If the passage was difficult, perhaps one with bad weather or one where you had do deal with emergencies, the relief was even more intense, but perhaps tempered by a sense of accomplisment.

In our 12 year cruising life, my wife and I rode that exhiliration-relief emotional roller coaster four times every year. But toward the end, I noticed a change. My anticipation of coming passages gradually shifted from exhilaration towards dread. Mid passage, out at sea, my thoughts began to turn toward “I don't want to do this any more.”

But my wife Libby didn't share those feelings. Her love of the open sea grew more intense each passing year. What to do? As captain, my wishes prevailed and we now cruise only part time.

In this case, Always leave them wanting more is a melancholy experience.

My blog provides another example.

I write a blog nearly every day. So far, I have posted 2908 articles on my blog without jumping the shark. Except once. OK, now I'll have to tell you what that one time. One day, sailing past the beach at Sandy Hook New Jersey, I was curious about the relationship between key words and the number of people who found my blog with Google searches. So I wrote a blog post that repeated the phrases nude beach and naked women more than 30 times. It did not increase my readership.

I have a loyal base of about 500 readers. Some of them are attracted by the subject matter. They are armchair sailors who dream of living the cruising life themselves and live it vicariously via my blog. Others seem to be true fans who just like my writing style, no matter what the subject. More than a dozen of them told me that they went back to the start and read every one of those articles. One man told me that he printed the whole history, more than 3000 pages, on the color printer at work and spent two weeks at work reading them.

But now as I back away from full time cruising, my supply of material to write about is getting thin. Rather than jumping the shark, I choose to leave them wanting more and publish much less often.

That brings us to this evening.

Standing at the podium, delivering a speech to a Toastmasters Club.

I say, "Always leave them wanting ..."

Madam Toastmaster, thank you.






Monday, March 20, 2017

Speech #1: The Dumbest Guy In The Room

[Toastmaster Competent Communicator Project #1, The Icebreaker.  Objectives: To introduce yourself.  To begin speaking fora an audience.]

The Dumbest Guy In The Room

Mr. Toastmaster, ladies and gentlemen.

You may have seen the best selling book and movie called The Smartest Guy In The Room. I'm here today to tell how I have benefited from being the dumbest guy in the room.

I was trained to be an engineer at Clarkson College in northern NY. When I got to be a senior. I realized that I didn't know two important things. I didn't know what engineers actually did all day, and I didn't know where to look for a job.

I went to my professor. He said, “Dick, interviews are not for you. I have arranged for you to work for General Electric in Schenectady, NY. Report there June 6.”

Little did I know what I was getting into. GE had amassed in Schenectady a brain trust of scientists and engineers that was the envy of the world. In fact, in the years 1900-1965 more than half of the patents in the entire world named at least one of those people as a co-inventor.

As a green engineer, I became the dumbest guy in the room. But what happens to the dumbest guy? He is motivated to improve himself.

GE then sent me to Daytona Beach Florida for a few years to work at their Apollo Support division. Those were the people who put a man on the moon. They really were the smartest people in the world, and I was the dumbest guy in the room. I benefited greatly from that association.

When I returned to Schenectady, I found that 7 of GE's best and brightest were about to leave the mother company to create their own startup. They asked me to join them. Once again, I became the dumbest guy in the room. But the startup prospered and I benefited.

They sent me on assignment to Sweden with my family. There, I was the smartest guy in the room; at least with respect of the technology I was sent there to teach. But outside of work, I and my family found ourselves in an alien culture where we didn't speak the language. Believe me, not speaking the language is the most humbling experience imaginable. It was perhaps the cure for a young man who's head was getting swelled.

Speaking of family, I met my wife Libby in high school. I was a senior and she was a junior. We went out on a date. That was the first and last date of my life. Now, 55 years later we have 3 wonderful children, 5 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. I guess it is fair to say that it was a very good date.

Years later, I went to work for NYISO. That is the organization that runs the power grid and the energy futures markets in NY. When I got there, I found that my engineer's training was not enough. I had to learn economics and law also, to the extent that I could explain to lawyers how the power grid works in lawyer's language. Once again I became the dumbest guy in the room.

That brings us to this evening. Here I stand at the podium, surrounded by experienced Toastmasters. Once again the dumbest guy in the room.


Mr. Toastmaster, thank you.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Toastmaster Speeches

Umatilla, FL

Here's a heads up.  I told you that I have been enjoying two Toastmasters clubs in recent months.  Actually, I have been creating and presenting speeches at a rate that nearly matches my blogging productivity.

Libby has been very helpful.  She comes up with the topic ideas, and she is the even patient audience that listens to me practice over and over again.  She times my presentations.  She ding's a bell every  time she hears me say ah or uh or er, or if I do something distracting with my hands.

My preferred manner of expression has always been the essay, about 600-800 words in length.  As you may have noted, most of my best blog posts are about 600-800 words in length.  Toastmasters speeches are allowed 5-7 minutes which means (guess what :-) 600-800 words in length.  In other words, the format suits me just fine.

So, I propose to publish my Toastmasters speeches here on this blog after I present them at the club.  About one per week.  The Toastmasters training program puts me through a series of about 70 speech assignments.  Each emphasizes a different aspect, or gives experience in specialized speaking  situations.

You should understand that speaking is not exactly the same as writing.  For example, my assignment for next week is to emphasize body language.  That is missing in the written word.  Nevertheless, I hope that most of the speeches will entertain you in written form.

At the very least, these assignments encourage me to broaden my  choice of topics and forms and especially to get out of my shell and speak about things (like feelings) that make me uncomfortable.  Look for much more variety than you have seen on this blog in the past 12 years.

Each speech has an assigned goal.  I'll explain the goal in italics at the start of each post.  Look for a new speech about once per week.  I'll post them in chronological order.

One part I can't publish here, unfortunately.  A regular feature of Toastmasters is called table topics.  That is when you are asked to speak 1-2 minutes extemporaneously on a topic chosen by someone else, and where you have no advance knowledge of the topic.  Compare it to improv on Whose Line Is It.   I find that kind of speaking very scary.  Unfortunately, after the fact I have no written copy of what I said to post here.

p.s. I have a secondary motive.  I think that Toastmasters is a wonderful organization.  Perhaps, I can encourage you to try it out for yourself.  There are local clubs everywhere.  Guests are always welcome.  There is no fee, and there is no undue pressure for guests to speak if they don't want to.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Can a Ship's Clock Define Home?

Umatilla, FL

One thing we did this week is to take our ship's clock from Tarwathie.  I hung it on the wall of the RV.   It is the clock that sounds ships bells every 30 minutes.   Hearing those bells makes us feel at home.


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Probably No Surprise To You

Umatilla, FL

I hung this sign on Tarwathie yesterday.

I suspect that regular blog readers have seen this coming for years.  You might say that I was the last to know.

On Sunday, we went to the boat to start prep for our planned April 15 departure to the Bahamas.   Guess what, I started finding problems caused by the boat sitting idle for a year.  I also found that my will to roll up my sleeves and deal with tough problems has drained.  I stayed up all night in emotional turmiol.  I didn't sleep an wink.

At dawn, I made up my mind.  Time to sell the boat and to beome CLODS (cruisers living on dirt).  An hour later, I steeled myself to tell Libby.  I did so with great trepidation, fearing that she wouldn't like that at all.  But before I could open my mouth, Libby looked at me an said, "Let's sell the boat."

Libby is an amazing partner, lover and wife.  She reads my mind better than I can myself.  She is so supportive, that she is unable to segregate her own persona from our collective persona as a couple.  If I asked her what her decision would be if she disregarded me, she would be unable to answer.

Bottom line, we both agree that now is the right time to move on to the next chapter in our life.  Which is --- we don't know yet.  We are still in excellent health.  Many things are possible.   But we decide to leave the cruising life while all the memories are still good ones, and before an accident or tragedy forces us out.  

We also think of Tarwathie as almost part of the family.  It is unfair to her to sit in storage so much of the year.  She should belong to a young couple who will use her to the fullest extent possible.

This is not my last word on the subject. My head is still in turmoil. Look for more to come.

Meanwhile, it will take me a week or two to prepare a proper advertisement for Tarwathie including inventory and pictures, and a price. I know that many readers of this blog dream of cruising themselves on a worthy vessel like Tarwathie.  Here's your chance.  The rest of the world doesn't know yet that she is for sale.

p.s. We had planned to go to the Bahamas with Walt&Pat and Larry&Terri.  But when we told them yesterday that we were backing out, all of them said that they would cancel too.  It turns out that they were going only because we were.  That's sweet and very touching.  We have really wonderful friends.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Hi Ho Tarwathie

Port Charlotte, FL

It has been more than two months since we were on the boat.  We got here today.  She's fine.  Sitting try, smelling fresh, no mold.

Our purpose is to get her ready to splash in April.   We'll be here two or three days.

News:  We may have a nice young man, from Val David Quebec as crew for part of our Bahamas cruise this spring.  His name is Luc. That should be fun.

See in the picture.  Tarwathie has her name freshly applied after we removed the old name for repainting.





Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Back In The Groove

Umatilla, Florida


How do you like that beautiful hand-stiched blanket that Libby made for me?  I love it.   But, it was the biggest craft project Libby ever did.  It took her nearly 3 months, working maybe 6 hours per day, 7 days per week.   It really took her out of social circulation for a long time.  

But now it is finished, so she returned to pine needle baskets, and to teaching other women the craft.  She really loves that.



Me?  Here's a picture of me posing with Kayla, a sock doll that I made as a visual prop for a speech that I'm presenting tomorrow on The Internet of Things.


I love Toastmasters.  It is a real quality institution, with depth that I never imagined.

We plan to spend several days back at the boat to prep her for a voyage to the Bahamas in April.  Stand by for more news on that.

Friday, February 24, 2017

HOW TO SURVIVE A HEART ATTACK WHEN ALONE

Umatilla, FL

My friend Gerry forwared this email.  I think it's great.

I hope everyone can send this on as it is really important for everyone to know


  1. Let's say it's 7:25pm and you're going  home (alone of course) after an unusually hard day on the job.  
  2. You're really tired, upset and frustrated.  
  3. Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to drag out into your arm and up in to your jaw.  You are only about five km from the hospital nearest your home.
  4. CALL 911 immediately.  While you're waiting do the following.
  5. Unfortunately you don't know if you'll be able to make it that far. 
  6. You have been trained in CPR, but the guy that taught the course did not tell you how to perform it on yourself.                 
  7. Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack without help, the person whose heart is beating  improperly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness.  
  8. However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously.
  9. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. 
  10. A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let-up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.  
  11. Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and  coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood  circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it to regain a normal rhythm.
  12. In this way, heart attack victims can get help or to a hospital. 
  13. Tell as many other people as possible about this. It could save their lives! 
UPDATE
I'm very sensitive to spreading Internet misinformation.  I may have been sucked in on this one.   Thanks to anonymous, who posted the comment below.  It seems that this info is partially true so I won't delete it  But I did edit it to include the call 911 step first.

Thank you Anonymous.  Here is anonymous' comment.

I travel alone so read this with interest. Since I used to be a librarian I also had to do a quick bit of research. It looks like this is something of an Internet "meme," that might or might not be helpful. The quick gist looks like it may help for certain types of heart attacks, but for other types (more common?) it could actually hurt vs. calling 911 and sitting quietly (presuming one is not on top of a mountain with no cell signal).

Of course each person should make their own decision, but here is a link to a couple of articles that aren't as enthusiastic.

http://www.snopes.com/medical/homecure/coughcpr.asp

https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-matters-magazine/medical/ask-the-experts/cough-cpr

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Precious Two

These are our great grandchildren,   Anna and her new brother Calvin.  We greatly look forward to seeing them this summer.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

A New Hobby

Umatilla, FL

There are lots of activities in this RV park.   Numerous sports, crafts, poker and other card games, dances, bingo, hiking, concerts, pot lucks, and so on.   But my tastes are somewhat out of the mainstream.  For evening entertainment, I think guest lectures and a debating society would be lots of fun.  Whenever we can, Libby and I watch one of the debates from Intelligence Squared US.  But few or none of my neighbors share those interests.

But I'm delighted to say that I found a very agreeable outlet for my yearnings -- Toastmasters International.   I joined the Golden Triangle Toastmasters Club in Tavernes, and the Toasting Ocala Club in Ocala.   It has been very enjoyable so far.,

Heretofore, writing has satisfied my creative urges.  This blog (2906 articles so far), two books that I'm working on (very slowly), and physicsforums.com (7 articles and 2443 posts so far).   But Toastmasters helps me to develop other verbal and social skills.  I love it.

This summer in Vermont, I'll try to find a Toastmasters Club there.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Meet Calvin

Umatilla, FL

Born today,  Calvin Meagley, our first great grandson and second great grandchild.  Calvin, his sister Anna, mom and dad Sara and Harley are all doing fine.

😍😍😍


Friday, January 27, 2017

Shocked. I Tell You Shocked

Umatilla, FL

Yesterday, Libby complained that the RV lights and fan in the bathroom stopped working. Huh? That's strange. I checked it out and she was right (as usual). But an hour before I saw them working. Very strange.

I went to the breaker panel an verified that all breakers were reset.

The non-functioning part is a wall light switch with three switches, two for lights and one for the fan. I thumped the wall beside the switches. The lights flickered. OH NO VERY BAD! I thumped again, this time I not only saw a flicker, I heard an electrical arcing noise. VERY VERY VERY BAD! That is the kind of electrical problem that can lead to structure fires!!!

So, I shut off the breaker, and took things apart. I isolated it to one of the switches. It was not the kind of switch with screw terminals seen in housing. The wires disappeared into the inside. I opned it up. Horrors, instead of screw terminals, the wires were fastened with the type of connection used in vampire wire taps, sometimes seen in auto wiring as seen in this picture.




I've used connectors like that before in cars, to hook up low power things like tail lights.  But that was low risk 12V systems.  I also used them for the first 1 or 2 years on board Tarwathie, but I learned by experience that such connectors have very poor reliability.  I stopped using them on 12V systems many years ago.

I never dreamed that the safety codes would allow using that for 120V AC wiring.    But I must be wrong, because the manufacturer of my RV and the manufacturer of those light switches could not have gotten away with violating the law.

So it must be true that the National Electrical Code which assures us safe electrical practices allows huge differences between house and RV wiring of 120V circuits.  Oh my God.  I would have never guessed that.

I am tempted to replace all the outlets and switches in the whole RV to normal house standards.  The only thing that makes me hesitate is humility.  I'm an electrical engineer, not a licensed electrician.   If I set out as an amateur, I should expect unforeseen problems and mistakes.

Before doing anything hasty, I thought I would ask my blog readers for their opinions.   What do you say?

p.s. So what did I do in my bathroom?   I inspected the light switch carefully.  It was not faulty, so buying a new one would not help.  I stripped the insulation on the ends of the wires.  The conductors were not damaged, so there was no need to replace the wires.  So I reinstalled the wires in the original switch and the switch in the wall.  Sorry, but I forgot to take pictures, and I didn't think to take measurements to see if conventional house wires and an enclosure box would fit.

p.p.s.  I'm still trying to research more about the applicable safety codes.  My friend Jim Hardy is helping me.  Look for more on this subject in future posts.

UPDATE: Here are some pictures.   The switches are self-contained boxes, designed to fit in narrow spaces. In the bottom picture, you can see how the wires are connected with V-shaped clamps instead of screws.  Those clamps penetrate the insulation.  In the picture, I removed the insulation from the ends.





Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Anticipation: The Approaching Front, Part 3

Umatilla, FL

Here are some scenes as the front approached and passed the other day.  Look carefully and you'll see that the worst storms missed us.  They  went just north and just south of us, but missed this spot.





Part 3 -- On Land

The experience on land is much less thrilling, but there is the added danger of tornadoes.  For some reason, tornadoes very seldom hit anchored boats.  I have no idea why.

Here in the RV park, there is established procedure.  When a tornado warning or a hurricane warning is issued, the management drives through the park with a wailing siren.  That is the signal for us to seek shelter immediately.  That is slightly old fashioned because now we all have smart phones, and all of the phones in this county went off at 6:03 PM with an emergency tone and a message on screen "SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY".   That's pretty plain language, that you are not likely to ignore.

There are two shelter buildings in this park.  The "Rec Hall" can hold all the residents.  "The Lodge" building is only about 15% as big.  It is designated as the shelter for people with pets.  Both shelters are less than 2 minutes walk from our RV.

We had prepared, for the forecasted 90 mph winds, 1 inch hail, thunder and lightning and floods, by rolling up our awning, closing the windows, and pickking up any loose things in the yard that can blow away. (Just like preparing a boat).   We also made a "ditch kit" that mirrored our "abandon ship ditch kit" from the boat.  The kit had clothes, water, flashlights, medicines, keys, and papers; the stuff we woul need if our RV and car were destroyed.

But there was a big coincidence for this emergency.  There was a musical concert scheduled for the "Rec Hall" and 6:03 PM was exactly the time that people with tickets were leaving to get good seats.  That included us.  We had tickets, but we were debating skipping it.  The tornado warning made up our minds.

We were very lucky.  The Rec Hall was set up with seating for everyone with tickets.  We had snacks and sodas, and beer, and of course a show to watch.   At one point, a second tornado warning sounded.  It was interesting to experience being in a room with 400 phones sounding the emergency tones simultaneously.


Everyone else had to cram into the remaining shelter spaces.  That included the Florida Room and The Lodge, plus corridors, janitor closets, and rest rooms.  My guess is that 50% of the people watching the show occupied 75% of the shelter space, while the other 50% were cramed into the remaining 25%.  I heard that it was standing room only at The Lodge, and very smelly because there were nearly as many wet (and scared) dogs as there were people.  That sounded terrible.  Sorry, but I don't have picutures of that.

But all the storms missed us.  After 40 minutes, the non-show people were allowed to go home.  The rest of us were entertained by talented doo-whah singers.

Rec Hall before the show

The Show
The experience was very very different than on a boat.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Anticipation: The Approaching Front, Part 2

Umatilla, FL



Part 2 - At anchor

Above shows yesterday's scenario.  A front was approaching from The Gulf.  Suppose we had been at anchor in the ICW.  That is a situation that we faced many times in the past 12 years.   In many ways, it is worse than an approaching storm at sea.

First, there is the dread and anticipation caused by the weather reports.  Note that I blame the reports more than the weather.   Modern weather reports in the USA are designed to be scary and sensational.  They talk about the worst possible outcomes every time.  Further, they cover very large areas, and we are frequently visitors who don't even know the names of the counties.   Again and again, I swore that I would never listen to the weather forecasts again, but of course I do.  Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

The advent of smart phones made things much better.  On my phone I can see if a particular storm is headed for me, or if it will miss me.  That the the only information I need.

To prepare, we take down all the sails,  check the anchor (almost aways only one anchor), and pick up any loose items on deck that could blow away.  In rare circumstances, we take down all canvas and stow it below, and bring the dinghy on deck and tie it down securely.   Then we just wait it out.   If it is daylight, I like to watch outside from the companionway, sheltered by the dodger, to see what happens.

The good part is that the intense winds of most thunderstorms lasts only a few minutes.  On large bodies of water, that is too brief to create really big waves.   So the reality of the storm almost never matches our imaginations as we await its arrival.  Still, the arrival can be quite thrilling.  The initial gust is the strongest and more than once it heeled Tarwathie over 60 degrees, even though we had no sails up.  To inexperienced sailors, that would feel like the boat was going to sink.

I must confess, the worst thunderstorm we experienced while at anchor, we slept through.  That's right, our anchor dragged and we didn't notice.  We were anchored in the Pasquotank River, just 1/2 mile north of the Elizabeth City Bridge.  Severe storms were forecast, but late, so we went to bed.  I probably woke when the storm arrived, but went right back to sleep.   In the morning, I discovered that we had dragged, and that the anchor chain was wrapped around some submerged pilings.  That is what saved us from being washed up  on shore.  It took a lot of work to get the chain unwrapped, but after that we were on our way.

It was not my proudest moment.  We are fond of bragging that we can detect even slight anomalies in the motion of the boat in bad weather and wake instantly.   That was certainly true in many cases, but in this case I (we) slept through it.

EDIT: Two days ago, I read an article about false memories.  Of how our brain tricks us.  Before posting this, I searched for the original blog post about that incident.  It was very different from what I just wrote.  I remembered only waking the next morning, not what we did that night.  Read the contemporary version here in the post entitled Nocturnal Misadventures  to see how false my memory was.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Anticipation: The Approaching Front, Part 1

Umatilla, Florida

Almost invariently, the first question that people ask when they learn that you are a boating cruiser is, "What do you do when storms come?"

Part 1 -- At Sea
Bad weather can not always be avoided at sea.  You only get to choose your date of departure, and before arrival at your distant port, weather can change to anything.

It is true that modern technology, namely, radar, SSB radio and satellite data delivery, gives modern sailors more warning of impending bad weather.  But in a sailboat, your ability to use that knowledge to avoid the bad spots is limited.   No, the real answer to the question about storms is that you ride them out.  The sailor reduced sail, according to a pre-decided sail plan.  Then if conditions are really, bad he goes below to wait it out.

Before going below, the skipper either puts out a sea anchor, or a drogue parachute, or he "heaves-to".   Which tactic depends on the boat.  On a W32, "heaving to" is the usual choice.  I'm not an expert on heavy weather tactics so if you want to know more, you can find better information elsewhere.

Down below can be extremely uncomfortable and miserable, but it is safe.  It is instructive to learn that the W32 Satori in "The Perfect Storm" was found undamaged after being abandoned.  All people and belongings on board would have fared well if they stayed aboard.

Libby and I were conservative blue water sailors, (you can translate that to "chicken").  All of our passeges were 4 days or less (2 days most common).  If the weather sounded uncertain, we didn't go.  Only once did we get stuck in very bad conditions in the Gulf Stream east of Frying Pan shoals, with a strong north wind, and that was because of my carelessness in not checking the weather and the charts before departure.






Friday, January 20, 2017

My Nominee for Pulitzer Prize

Umatilla, FL

I read something in The Guardian this week that really blew me away.  It was so powerul, so well argued, and so germane to our modern times, to the Trump and Brexit phenomona, yet the stubject was mathematical statistics or maybe about politics.  Huh?  That sounds far fetched.

So will you read an article just because I recommend it?  Here it is.

How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

EU Leaders Read This Blog

Umatilla, FL

This item appeared in the news yesterday.
AS ROBOTS TAKE JOBS, EUROPEANS MULL FREE MONEY FOR ALL  
I interpret that as evidence that the EU leaders must have been influenced by a post from this blog a year ago.   But the EU only adressed the money issue, not the social issues that I raised.

I am reposting that content here.  Please take note of the final paragraph that I marked in bold in the context of the 2016 election.

Back in engineering school at Clarkson in 1963, I was required to take a course that considered engineering ethics. They put the question to the class, "Automation will take people's jobs away. Is that OK?" Well, clever little snots that we were, we rejected the question, saying that automation would create more jobs than it destroyed. As it turns out, we were mostly right for many decades, but recent trends are decidedly the other way, and the future is ominous. Automation will make having a job a privilege, not a duty.

From my view, the earliest and most visible job category eliminated was that of office workers. We called them secretaries, but at the engineering consulting firm I worked at they worked mostly on the production of printed documents. Those jobs and millions of others like them are gone because of a single software application -- Microsoft Word.

The Internet has done a marvelous job of putting sellers of all kinds of products and services in touch with would-be buyers. Amazon.com is among the most notable of these. This development has eliminated or threatened the jobs of countless people who used to earn their living as middlemen. Travel agents are a good example. Today in the USA, Amazon.com threatens the job of each and every Amazon competitor in retail sales.

A recent article said that fast food restaurants will soon have a tablet at each table where you can place your order and make payment. Automation in the kitchen will replace other workers. The rush hour staff at your local Macdonalds might be decreased from 15 people to 5.

An item from today's news talks about robots that have learned how to cook by watching YouTube videos.

IBM's Watson has already proved itself as a better medical diagnostician than any human. The work of paralegals, and then even lawyers, are a natural extension for Watson.
In the 1970s, I once wrote that the killer app for software was a program to replace programmers. Just tell it what you want, and it writes the software for you. That was science fiction then. Today, it is on the threshold of becoming reality.

In short, I think that in coming decades, more than 50% of all jobs in developed countries are in danger of being eliminated. I'm not the only one saying so.
The problem is that most industries formed since 2000—electronic auctions, Internet news publishers, social-networking sites, and video- and audio-streaming services, all of which appeared in official industry classifications for the first time in 2010—employ far fewer people than earlier computer-based industries. Whereas in 2013 IBM and Dell employed 431,212 and 108,800 workers, respectively, Facebook employed only 8,348 as of last September. --Carl Benedikt Frey, writing in Scientific American
A front page article in the New York Times, recently said that since 2007, more than 6 million Americans have disappeared from the job market. The way the USA counts unemployment statistics, those people do not appear as unemployed, In this manner, even though the unemployment rate has nearly recovered to 2007 levels, those 6 million people are redefined from unemployed, to invisible and permanently unemployed.

I did a little research of my own using Wolfram Alpha, and plotted the data in the curve below. The vertical axis is the percentage participation in the job market for the USA. We see it first rise as women went from being housewives to being employed. Since 2000, we see a big decline. That decline is my subject. I expect it to accelerate.

I think that this trend is inevitable. No government nor groups of governments can stop it or substantially slow it down. Compare it to the industrial revolution. In the near future, having a job will be a privilege that most people will never enjoy. Job losses in the 2008 recession will never be recovered. That was but a harbinger of things to come. But we are not poor, not starving. Products, goods and services are produced and delivered to all citizens at accelerating rates, but produced with fewer employees. That is what I believe.
So, what is my point? I believe that a substantial fraction (perhaps even the majority) of the first world's population will be permanently unemployed and unemployable. When that fraction becomes big enough, we can no longer look down our noses at such people and call them loafers or parasites. As a civil society, we must abandon the work ethic as the basis of social status. We must learn to treat people with dignity, and respect regardless of past, present, or future employment status.

Wow, what a daunting challenge. Speaking as a person who has always derived his very identity from his job, I can not imagine a more difficult about face.

I feel pretty alone in making this statement. Politicians and the media want to talk about income inequality because of political advantage, but they will not talk about the inequalities between employed and the permanently unemployed. Nor are they willing to even acknowledge that we have such a big class of permanently unemployed people that we need to do something other than promising to find them jobs.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Catching Up

Umatilla, FL

It has been a while since we posted.   We have been busy, but the past two weeks we were with people who didn't want us to share what we were doing on social media.  Sigh, modern life becomes bizarre at times.
  • Today, Libby and I spent 4 hours doing something we've never done before -- construction.   We volunteered for Habitat For Humanity which is building a Veterans Village near here.

    I pounded nails all morning.  That gave me a blister, but no sore muscles.  Libby did measurements, but she also tried her hand at nailing.  That gave her a come-uppance on upper body strength.  Libby has always though that her upper body strength was adequate.  After pounding on one nail for 10 minutes and achieving less than 0.5 inches penetration, she had to reassess.
    • Friday, we went on a hike in Ocala National Forest with a group from the RV park.  It was very nice.
    • Thursday we had a nice visit from Pat & Walt, and the four of us had lunch over with Darrick and Sharon.  It seems that all six of us have very similar circumstances.   We have all acquired an alternate residence, and we all reluctantly face the prospects of using our boats much less than in the pass.  Basically,   we all face the same dillema.  What did we talk about?  We discussed going to The Abacos (Bahamas)   in April.