Monthly Archives: December 2014


When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the two cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.  When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.  He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.  He shook the jar lightly.  The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.  He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.  Of course, the sand filled up everything else.  He asked once more if the jar was full.  The students responded with a unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.  The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.  The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

“The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

“The sand is everything else—the small stuff.  If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.  The same goes for life.  If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.  Spend time with your children.  Spend time with your parents.  Visit with grandparents.  Take time to get medical checkups.  Take your spouse out to dinner.  Play another 18.  There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.  Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter.  Set your priorities.  The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.  The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked.

“The coffee just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.


SEE YOU IN 2015!


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  1. I didn’t know that having been a senator or congressman is a lifetime title. I don’t mind if they call themselves former senator or former congressman, but please stop confusing the public by leading them to believe you are still a serving senator or congressman.
  2. It’s amazing to me when I hear someone tell me about a health problem of one kind or another when they don’t seek out a second or third opinion, or, depending on the nature of the problem, other alternate practitioners.
  3. Why is the computer against me? You too?  I thought it was just me.  “You’re not connected to the internet.”  “Why won’t this mouse scroll?”
  4. I think I’ve solved the problem of waterboarding. We can get rid of that technique in dealing with alleged terrorists by simply forcing them to watch the Republican presidential primary debates.  If they don’t fess up given the prospect of having to watch additional debates, they’re probably innocent.
  5. We seem to have become obsessed with giving “historical status” to all kinds of buildings. Some of them I can understand, but take the Aero movie theater in Santa Monica or the house Ira Gershwin lived in briefly and never wrote a song in.  There are apparently over 200,000 buildings in the U.S. recognized by the National Historic Trust.  These designations come with a lot of restrictions, which make it hard to tear down or rehabilitate.
  6. Don’t sweat the small stuff. There’s enough big stuff to be concerned about.
  7. Men’s shorts have gotten longer and women’s shorts have gotten shorter, much shorter. I like it better this way.
  8. Barack Obama has been the single biggest fundraiser in Republican history. Yes, you heard me right!  The plethora of conservative causes have used him as their reason to raise money.
  9. Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi told his team: “If you want to be on time, plan to be 10 minutes early.”  He apparently  never lived in L.A.  With our traffic to be on time you have to leave an extra 20 to 25 minutes.
  10. If all politics are local, as all the pundits tell us, why is the turn out for the mid-term elections so low?
  11. Someone was late one morning and I started to mouth an old expression, “The early bird catches the worm,” and then I realized I have absolutely no idea what that means.
  12. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
  13. It’s better to burn out then just fade away.
  14. Back problems have been characterized as the ulcers of the 21st century because so many people suffer from this condition. In 2013, I visited with four spine surgeons a total of eight visits and each time I had to wait an hour to an hour-and-a-half past my appointment time. No one ever apologized.
  15. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
  16. If the immigration problem was so important that Obama had to do something by executive order before the new congress had a chance to act, why didn’t he do it three months or a year ago?
  17. Friend Spence told me we send people to the moon and the technology has raced ahead with advancements in computers and medicine. So with all this technology, why is it the dental community can’t find a way to prevent cavities or the auto industry can’t give us tires that won’t wear out?
  18. There appears to be three types of people: The people who make things happen; the people who watch things happen; and the people who wonder…what the heck just happened?
  19. The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.
  20. When the Supreme Court, shall we say, “creatively” decided that the individual mandate in Obamacare was really a tax—and thus constitutional—the court created an alternate problem. If the individual mandate is a tax, then the law is unconstitutional because the bill did not originate in the U.S. House of Representatives as the Constitution directs. It was created in the Senate.
  21. The offerings on the Thanksgiving table have expanded so much we could probably give up the turkey and nobody would miss it.



















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Early in December, I happened across a panel discussion on CNN bloviating under the title of “White People Don’t Get Ferguson.”

There are so many facets to the Ferguson situation that to address what happened in such an overly-broad context is to distort what white people and black people as well don’t get about the events in Ferguson.

Let’s look at the various factors that came into play in this otherwise quiet suburb of St. Louis.

  1. The death of a young black youth by a cop was a tragic and unfortunate circumstance.
  2. The facts, as presented to the Grand Jury and released publicly, confirm the officer acted in accordance with proper police procedure. There was no criminal or racial act on his part.
  3. Although not perfect, we have the best, most fair judicial system in the world.
  4. The race hustlers swooped into Ferguson, inflamed the community and invited in a number of outside agitators and people with criminal intent.
  5. There does not appear to be any pattern of racial discrimination on the part of the police in Ferguson but I encourage and applaud anyone who wants to peacefully protest any issue they want.
  6. Looting, destroying property and trying to attack the police is not acceptable protest. It is criminal behavior.
  7. There is no question that police in Ferguson and all around the country have become more militarized in their equipment and their tactics. This has happened because of the rioting that happened in Ferguson before the facts were known, as well as after the Grand Jury verdict.
  8. The Ferguson community owes the merchants who were battered and suffered immense mental, physical and financial damage an apology for the actions of their residents and/or the outsiders who used the tensions as an excuse to loot and burn.
  9. The residents of Ferguson will pay a long-term price in more touchy police interchanges and the loss of local merchant relationships. If that isn’t enough, real estate values will probably deteriorate as well.
  10. Ferguson should have learned some lessons from the Travon Martin debacle instead of escalating the problem.
  11. The upraised arms of the St. Louis Rams and some members of the Congressional Black Caucus was inappropriate and misguided. Michael Brown never raised his arms and said “Don’t Shoot.”  Their actions only add to the divide.

Here are some facts, real facts that negate the emotional outbursts that color the Ferguson fiasco:

  1. 99% of all police arrests do not result in a fatality.
  2. In 2012, 123 African Americans were shot dead by police. There are currently 43 million blacks in the USA, 13% of the population, 1/5 the number of whites.
  3. That same year, 326 whites were killed by police bullets. Whites comprise 63% of the US population.
  4. In 2012, blacks committed 5,375 murders; whites 4,396.

Now that’s something the race charlatans ought to be protesting about and demanding community responsibility and action, not inciting emotional outbursts and criminal behavior masquerading as protests.

The events on Staten Island surrounding the Eric Garner incident offer a sharp contrast to Ferguson.

  1. Someone saying “I can’t breathe” multiple times indicates his breathing may be somewhat constricted, but obviously his breathing was well enough to keep talking.
  2. Why the police on the scene felt the need to subdue and arrest Garner for a petty infraction seems a bit questionable. He was not a threat to the police or anyone.
  3. Taking down a 6’4”, 350 pound, belligerent man cannot be an easy task which may explain the use of the chokehold.
  4. The Grand Jury proceedings have not been released, so we don’t know all the facts but it does create an air of suspicion.
  5. The N.Y. police did an outstanding job controlling the “protestors,” who were financed and organized by provocateurs that had pre-printed signs available immediately.
  6. The Garner family, to their credit, has been quoted as saying “they don’t think it was a racial thing.”

The absence of real leadership in the black community and from our black president is hard to understand.  Under President Obama, the grievance industry has prospered.  Al Sharpton, the racial agitator, has been to the White House scores of times and that’s one of the reasons why 62% of Americans feel relations between the races have gotten worse over the last six years.

The racial divide has narrowed significantly over the last 15 years, but at the moment it may be stuck on a mid-level plateau.  All’s well that ends well, but this surely hasn’t.



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The title seems obvious but there may be more to it than first appears.  Let’s start by reviewing what Tom Friedman, writing in the N.Y. Times, recently said on this subject and then we’ll follow with some of my personal experiences.

Here’s Friedman’s take:

“What are the things that happen at a college or technical school that, more than anything else, produce `engaged’ employees on a fulfilling career track?  According to Brandon Busteed, the executive director of Gallup’s education division, two things stand out.  `Successful students had one or more teachers who were mentors and took a real interest in their aspirations, and they had an internship related to what they were learning in school.’

“`We think it’s a big deal where we go to school,’ Busteed explained, `but we found no difference in terms of type of institution you went to—public, private, selective or not—in long-term outcomes.  How you got your college education mattered most.’

“Graduates who told Gallup that they had a professor(s) ‘who cared about them as a person—or had a mentor who encouraged their goals and dreams and/or had an internship where they applied what they were learning—were twice as likely to be engaged with their work and thriving in their overall well-being,’ Busteed said.

“Alas, though, only 22 percent of college grads surveyed said they had such a mentor and 29 percent had an internship where they applied what they were learning.  So less than a third were exposed to the things that mattered most.

“Busteed said that 96 percent of the college provosts Gallup surveyed believed their schools were successful preparing young people for the workplace.  `When you ask recent college grads in the work force whether they felt prepared, only 14 percent say yes,’ he added.  And then when you ask business leaders whether they’re getting enough college grads with the skills they need, ‘only 11 percent strongly agree.’  Concluded Busteed:  `This is not just a skills gap.  It is an understanding gap.’

“Some help may be on the way from Washington.  Last year, President Obama asked V.P. Joe Biden to oversee an overhaul of the government’s education-to-work programs after hearing from one too many employers across the country that, as one White House official put it, ‘they were having trouble hiring workers for some of their fastest-growing jobs,’ such as operating sophisticated machine tools or software testing and debugging.

“`As they dove into the problem,’ said Byron Auguste, a White House deputy national economic adviser, `they found that the success stories shared a lot of the same attributes that Gallup found.  In successful programs,’ said Auguste, `students got as much applied, hands-on experience as possible, whether in a classroom or on a job site.  Schools, colleges and training centers had close partnerships with regional employers, industry groups and skilled trade unions to stay up to date on job-relevant skills.’

“The key now is to scale those insights.  The Labor Department has awarded $1.5 billion in the last three years to more than 700 community colleges to develop employer-validated training programs for new careers like natural gas field word and cybersecurity.  Another $500 million is set to be awarded as part of a kind of race-to-the-top for whoever can build the best community college-industry group partnership anywhere in the country where new industries are finding gaps in the kind of workers they need.

“Employers used to take generalists and train them into specialists for their industry; but fewer employers want to do that today or can afford to in a globally competitive economy, especially when they fear they’ll train someone who will then leave for a competitor.  So everyone wants employees out of college or technical schools who are ready to plug in and play immediately.  That’s why government has a role in fostering more and more employer-educator partnerships—this is the new, new thing—which businesses, small and large, can benefit from, as well as all would-be employees.”

I don’t disagree with Tom Friedman’s thesis but I think there’s an alternative to having a mentor and/or an internship during your school years which, in my opinion, may give you a better head start.  The alternative is called “work.”

In my school years, starting at about age 12, I had the following jobs:  delivery on my bike for a butcher shop and for annual Mah Jong cards, busboy, dishwasher, waiter, time clock checker, house steward, subway station ad salesman and Christmas card delivery man.

I had good bosses and bad bosses, and I learned from both as well as about myself.

Later on, while riding the career train, I had three mentors which I described in a previous blog (11/20/13).

I firmly believe mentors, internships and especially work can all contribute to the essentials of building a successful career and/or job tenure.


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In our blog last April, we nominated the ten most incredible vistas to see.  Whenever you make up a list like that, you can’t help but think about the ones you left out.

Here are 12 more incredible vistas that rank right up there with the ones we called the 10 best.

  1. Capetown – An amazing city, pretty flat with a huge table mountain as a backdrop. It looks as if a set designer created it.  Then there is the waterfront area with great restaurants and eclectic shops.
  2. Red Square in Moscow – What an incredible emotional feeling to stand anywhere in this immense square and remember the newsreels (when we had newsreels) showing all the tanks and armies parading through. And then on one side is the foreboding looking Kremlin, the seat of Russian power.
  3.  Iguazu Falls – An unbelievable torrent of water flowing over a mile or two of falls in both Brazil and Argentina. There is probably more water you can walk to on the Brazil side but it’s all breathtaking on either side.
  4. Vancouver – A great cosmopolitan city built around a neat harbor with dozens of interesting areas each with their own restaurants and inviting shops; Stanley Park, Granville Island, the on/off trolley buses.
  5. Antarctica Peninsula – It is the 7th continent and totally different than all the rest.  Thousands of friendly penguins and the most fascinating ice sculptures, as well as a variety of sea life and birds.
  6. Canadian Rockies – Lake Louise, Banff, Jasper and the spectacular scenery which envelopes you. Looking out the window of the Fairmont Hotel at the beauty of Lake Louise on a clear, blue sky morning is a sight you’ll never forget.
  7. Xian, China and the magnificent army of terra cotta soldiers ready to defend their emperor and their home territory. There is nothing else like it anywhere in the world.
  8. The Fjords in Norway – Each one appears to be a chiseled scoop out of a gorgeous green mountain. They’re piled up like a seven-layer cake, each one more beautiful than the last.
  9. National Parks in Utah – Bryce, Zion and Arches parks are a thrilling experience. Each park is different, beautiful and exciting.  You’ll love each of them in their own way and glad you saw them all.
  10. Machu Picchu, Peru – A centuries old wonder, carved out of a mountain in the most orderly design you can imagine. You feel like you’re walking with the ancients as you climb and descend this huge terraced wonder.
  11. The Dam on the Yangtze River – I couldn’t leave this out. They employed 25,000 people 24/7 to build this fabulous structure. It’s amazing to see the size and scope of this engineering marvel.
  12. The Narrow Gage R.R. – From Durango, Colorado to the ole mining town of Silverton, spectacular scenery climbing up the mountain alongside the San Juan River.

There is so much to see in this world.   One more vista I still want to see – the fabled Northwest Passage that explorers hoped would provide an easy, direct access from Europe to the Pacific Ocean.


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