Category Archives: Blog

WATERY WONDERS OF THE WORLD

Traveling offers lots of opportunities to learn, to enjoy, to be awed and to welcome unexpected surprises.  One of the aspects of traveling that touches on almost all of the above reactions are wondrous bodies of water around the world that produce outstanding memories.  Here are some of the best of these watery wonders.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Zambia

When the calm flowing water of the Zembezi River enters the Victoria Falls gorge, it abruptly plunges 328 feet to the bottom. The impact generates soaring mists and thunderous sounds that can be seen and heard for miles. During the rainy season—mid-November through late April—the falls virtually disappear behind a thick wall of mist; at other times, the water volume noticeably eases.

Canals of Venice, Italy

Best enjoyed outside the heat of summer, the Venetian canals and their gondolas provide one of the world’s most romantic experiences: gliding slowly down narrow palazzo-lined canals on a moonlit night. Venice is a city built on water. The canals—some 150 of them—link nearly 700 tiny islands to make what seems a floating city. Visitors and natives alike must travel by foot or boat. The nearly two-mile-long Grand Canal, the main water thoroughfare, is lined by luxurious, centuries-old palazzos with ornate Renaissance-style facades and is spanned by the elaborately designed Rialto Bridge. When the distance is far, the swift vaporettos (water taxis) are handy.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef stretches 1,243 miles through the Coral Sea along Australia’s northeastern coast. The reef, which in actuality is a collection of thousands of distinct coral reefs, has been designated a World Heritage site for its sheer beauty and uniquely complex and delicate ecosystem. More than 1,500 types of fish and 200 kinds of birds live on the reef’s atolls, and islands. The beauty of this waterscape annually draws hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to see the spectacle by diving, snorkeling, and glass-bottom boating. Conservationists fear that the large influx of visitors and their collateral effect on pollution are damaging this natural wonder.

Li River, China

The 52-mile stretch of the Li River west of Guilin has inspired artists for thousands of years. Here the Li River snakes through a fairy-tale landscape of conical limestone peaks, its smooth waters exquisitely mirroring the magical scenery. The vistas are particularly enchanting when flowing mists weave themselves around the peaks, hiding then exposing them in moments of surprise. The cone-shaped mountains are vestiges of ancient eroded seabeds that support graceful bamboo groves and terraced rice paddies. Each bend of the river reveals something new and interesting, from lumbering water buffalo pulling carts or cooling off in the river to fishermen gliding on narrow bamboo rafts.

Suez Canal, Egypt

An idea born of the British Empire’s colonial interests, the 100-mile-long Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. Thousands of men labored ten years to build this shortcut. Without it, a cargo ship sailing from Italy to Singapore had to go around the southern tip of Africa, doubling the time and distance. Today, an endless parade of supertankers, container ships, and other large oceangoing vessels stream along this blue ribbon that cuts through barren desert.

Lake Como, Italy

Thousands of years ago, glaciers carved the peaks and valleys of the Alps. Those same glaciers formed the pre-Alpine lakes of the Lombard region some 30 miles north of Milan. Scenic Lake Como, with its deep blue waters, has long been known as “the looking glass of Venus.” Vistas of the lake reveal a serene scene surrounded by palatial villas, tree-clad mountains, and quaint villages. Lake Como covers 56 square miles and reaches a depth of 1,358 feet.

Nile River, Egypt

The storied past of the longest river in the world entices many people to cruise its length as it winds through Egypt. “Floating hotels” glide smoothly past timeless Egyptian life unfolding along the date-palm-tree-dotted riverbanks, as well as the unbelievable historic temples.

Bora-Bora, South Pacific

The Polynesian island of Bora-Bora in the South Pacific is widely suggested as the world’s most beautiful island. A tropical blue lagoon ringed by coral reefs encircles the island, which is crowned by a rugged 2,385-feet-high volcano core draped with tropical foliage. Snorkelers and skin divers love Bora-Bora for its warm waters and plentiful sea fauna. Sunbathers delight in the white-sand beaches.

Dead Sea, Israel

The Dead Sea, shared by Israel and Jordan, is the lowest spot on Earth. Its shoreline is about 1,312 feet below sea level. As the world’s saltiest large body of water, averaging a salt content six times higher than that of the ocean, it supports no life. With no outlet, the water that flows into the Dead Sea evaporates in the hot, humid air, leaving the minerals. The Jordan River is the chief source of the incoming water, but since the 1960s much of its water has been diverted for irrigation. Its length has already shrunk by more than a third, and, while the sea will never entirely disappear, because evaporation slows down as surface area decreases and saltiness increases, the Dead Sea as we know it could become a thing of the past.

…and there’s so much more.

Iguazu Falls

A spectacular waterfall in Argentina and even more so on the Brazil side.  It’s wide and deep and offers many opportunities to feel immersed in its power, its spray and strength.

Inle Lake, Burma

A whole different kind of place where people live and work on the lake.  There’s some large tomato farms and men who paddle boats with one foot.

Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

It’s big and cold and a beautiful setting with all the water activities available for all ages.

Inside Passage, Alaska

What a great trip with spectacular scenery, wild life on land and water, and the not-t0-be-forgotten Glacier Bay, dotted with towns of yesterday still thriving today.

Colorado River, Grand Canyon

WOW!  A fabulous rafting trip of 3-7-10 days exposes all the thrills of a raging river with exciting rapids, splendid scenery, old Indian trails, and a few warm blue tributary streams.

Lake Titicaca, Peru and Bolivia

An unusual water providence of people living in villages and boats made of shaped bamboo-like palm prawns.  You can’t believe all the wondrous sights.

Mekong River Delta, Southeast Asia

2,700 miles meandering from China through Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma and Thailand, the river is a major trade route for six countries before it reaches the South China Sea.  Almost 20 million people live, work and sustain themselves on or adjacent to the river.

And last but not least

The Mighty Mississippi

It flows 2,300 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico passing through 10 states.  It touches on Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Lousiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; St. Paul and Minneapolis, and offers a wealth of American history, culture and southern charm.

Lots to see and enjoy!

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THE TIPPING ECONOMY

Here’s an interesting take on a subject I’m sure we all probably have some mixed feelings about.  The author is Rodney Johnson, a principal in Dent Research, an investment advisory firm.

“In this, my 50th year on the planet, I’m officially becoming a cranky old man.

“As I sat in the Atlanta airport recently on a layover, I decided to grab a bite at Jersey Mike’s Subs shop.  When I swiped my card, the first screen asked if I’d like to add a tip to the total.

“A tip?  For what?

“The young men and women behind the sneeze-guard glass were pleasant, but as far as I could tell they’d done nothing more than perform the service for which they were paid.

“I ordered a sandwich.  They made it.  That was it.

“The more I thought about it, I couldn’t think of a way that they might ever earn a tip.  The goal of the place is to make sandwiches quickly and accurately.  Making that happen is their job.

“How could they go above and beyond?  Maybe if I choked while eating and one of them leapt over the counter to perform the Heimlich maneuver, then I’d consider tipping (I’m not that cranky).  But that’s not exactly the normal course of business.

“This led me to a few other thoughts, and this writing.

“Why are there tip jars at Starbucks?  Don’t they get paid?  And why are tips a percentage of the bill?  Does it take more effort to pour a $200 bottle of wine than a $40 bottle?  Why should I tip $30 on the first one, but only $6 on the second?  Better yet, why am I tipping on that at all?

“I recognize that many restaurants and bars pay employees a tipping wage.  This includes a complicated formula for ensuring that employees make at least the minimum wage.

“But there are thousands of other service jobs where tipping is becoming common.  I don’t know why this is.

“Are their employers a bunch of Scrooges who don’t pay enough and it’s up to generous-hearted patrons to make up the difference?  Are we paying so that we get some level of service that other people won’t get?

“As far as I can tell (and social experiments back this up), we tip because…everyone else does.

“Bellmen, doormen, valets, the barista at Starbucks and the guy in the moving crew all are paid to do their jobs, and yet we typically feel compelled to supplement their income simply because other people do.

“What’s worse, as employment law and workplace regulations improve to protect workers against abuse, we’ve steadily increased our tipping, not reduced it.

“And this is completely on us as Americans.  Even though the practice can be traced to Continental Europe in the 1800s, by and large other societies have phased it out over time.

“But here we are, nudged by society—and the workers themselves—to add on a gratuity that feels more like an obligation.

“At some level, I’d love to do away with the entire practice, and apparently some people agree.

“Several restaurateurs in New York are experimenting with tip-free dining, although I think they are missing the point.  The owner of Fedora, a trendy West Village spot, and several others did away with tips.  But they also raised their prices 20%.

“The idea was to keep server income the same.  The restaurateurs were surprised when patrons reacted by ordering less expensive items, keeping their bills in line with their previous bills, before the tip was added.

“It comes down to, ‘Who keeps the money’?

“I don’t think the idea is that we should save diners and Starbucks drinkers the hassle of doing math.  Instead, we should rethink the notion of paying people on a variable scale for a known amount of work (back to the two bottles of wine for different prices, or two different meals).

“I wouldn’t pay people that way in my business, so why would I expect, and encourage, my customers to pay for things that way?

“Whatever my cranky-old-man thoughts are on the subject, as a nation we’d better figure this one out.

“We have the largest generation retiring en masse, modestly rising incomes, and a lot of new jobs created in the hospitality sector.

“We’re quickly morphing into a nation of service workers looking to retirees for a tip.  In a sense, it’s income redistribution through social protocol, instead of payment for services rendered..

“That doesn’t sound American at all.”

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YOU COULD HAVE HEARD A PIN DROP

It’s the 4th of July!  Let’s celebrate our independence and good fortune.

At a time when some people tend to apologize for America’s prior actions, here’s a refresher on how some of our officials and patriots adroitly handled negative comments about our country.

**********

JFK’s Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60’s when DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO.  DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded, “Does that include those who are buried here?”

DeGaulle did not respond.  You could have heard a pin drop.

**********

There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American.  During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying, “Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done?  He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims.  What does he intend to do, bomb them?”

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly:  “Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day; they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day; and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck.  We have eleven such ships.  How many does France have?”  You could have heard a pin drop.

**********

A U.S. Navy admiral was attending a naval conference that included admirals from the U.S., England, Canada, Australia and France navies.  At a cocktail reception,  he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries.  Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.  He then asked, “Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?”

Without hesitating, the American admiral replied, “Maybe it’s because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.”  You could have heard a pin drop.

**********

Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane.  At French customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.

“You have been to France before, monsieur?”

Sarcastically, Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

“Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.”

The American said, “The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it.”

“Impossible…Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France!”

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look.  Then he quietly explained, “Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find a single Frenchman to show a passport to.”  You could have heard a pin drop.

**********

When in England, at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of ‘empire building’ by George Bush.

He answered by saying, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders.  The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”  You could have heard a pin drop.

Not everyone has always been grateful for what the U.S. has done to contribute to the world’s problems.

Our thanks to old friend Ralph Edwards for this blog.

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CURRENT EVENTS – JUNE, 2018 – PART II

Here’s the end of our report on the busy activities and events going on in our world this month.

Immigration has become a nightmare

The immigration pot has boiled over.  Illegal entrants to our country have been an inflamed sore for a long time.  The hope of resolution has been mired in Dem/Rep politics for 50 years or more.

Two issues have been at the face of the current hue and cry about the inhumanity of our zero tolerance policy and our practice of separating children from their parents for up to 20 days who are awaiting deportation hearings.  Even though the separation policy has been rescinded, it has set off a volcano of sympathetic eruptions that has everyone screaming for an immediate resolution.

It’s just not that simple.

Don’t the illegals accept the risk of separation when they try to sneak into the country?

What happens when a woman goes to prison and is separated from her children?

If we followed the open border policy of the progressive left, we would end up with 40 or 50 million illegals and chaos in our budget and economy.

Here are the highlights of Trump’s 10-point proposal on immigration.

  1. 10 to 12-year path to citizenship for DACA eligibles (2.3 million)
  2. Limit family members to spouse and minor children
  3. Triple the number of ICE agents and have $25 billion for a wall
  4. End the visa lottery system until there is better vetting
  5. End catch-and-release and sanctuary cities

Doesn’t sound very draconian!  Why won’t the “open border” Democrats come to the negotiating table and forge a compromise to end all this border hysteria?  They’re contributing more to the problem than Trump.

U.S. State Dept. Requests Patience

The State Department recently reported they have received over 11,000 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.  They say it may take 40 or 45 years to fulfill these requests.  So much for transparency.

Stockton Headed in a New Direction

Just not sure which direction it is.

Stockton, California, is becoming a laboratory for an idea capturing attention worldwide as a potential means of making life more economically secure for all.  It is readying plans to begin a trial of so-called Universal Basic Income, handing out cash grants to several hundred local families, no strings attached.

Finland has tested the idea.  Trials have been underway in Oakland and in Canada.  But Stockton is set to become the first American city to embrace the idea from City Hall itself.  Stockton wants to demonstrate a different aspect of basic income’s appeal:  its potential to alleviate the troubles of the working poor.

A Glimpse of the Future

The Chinese E-Commerce company JD.com reportedly is building a big new Shanghai fulfillment center that can organize, pack and ship 200,000 orders a day.  It employs four people—all of whom service the robots that do all the work.

Court Okays AT&T Deal to Buy Time Warner

A federal judge cleared the way for AT&T’s $85.4-billion purchase of Time Warner Inc., creating an entertainment colossus that promises to reshape the media business.

Judge Richard Leon’s ruling in the biggest antitrust case of the century is expected to pave the way for more mega-mergers and was a stinging defeat for the Trump administration.

The Justice Department sued to block the merger, arguing it would harm competition in the pay-TV market and raise consumer prices.  But speaking before a packed courtroom, Leon made it clear that the government had failed to prove any of its arguments against the merger during the six-week trial.

Nobel Prize or Impeachment

Since inauguration day in 2017, the Trump haters have kept up a relentless cry for impeachment when they take control of the House of Representatives next November.

What’s the impeachable offense—he stole the election, or that he’s an A-hole?

What if he gets the Nobel Peace Prize first?

Short Takes

  • California now has the world’s 5th largest economy
  • Warren Buffett and Bill Gates still aren’t into the validity of cryptocurrencies
  • The S.F. metro area now has 74 billionaires, the third most in the world; N.Y. has the most; Hong Kong is second.

Agenda for 2018 and 2020 Taking Shape

Both Republican and Democrat parties have apparently set a prime part of their agenda for the next two elections.  They intend to hold firm to their current positions on immigration.

Trump wants his 10-point proposal, outlined previously, to be the foundation of an immigration policy he will campaign on.  On the other side, the Dems will campaign against any attempt to block their “open border” stance.

They both think they have winning positions.

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CURRENT EVENTS – JUNE, 2018

It’s been a busy month with lots of activity which may prove important and meaningful in our lives.  So, in no particular order, here’s my report.

Singapore Meet and Greet

It was not a summit in the usual sense, but a successful meeting of President Trump with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.  They took each other’s measure and signed a pre-drawn agreement to begin the long process of getting North Korea out of the nuclear arms business.  The naysayers are right; this kind of general direction has been set before with poor results.

This meet must be judged a success because it now includes the photo ops and personal commitments of the two leaders.  In addition, China is in the wings encouraging North Korea to follow this direction.  That’s never happened before.

Trade Conflicts and Tariffs

Let me tell you what this is all about.

According to Canadian economic statistics, that country sells $15 billion dollars a year more in the USA than we sell there.

Mexico sells $55 billion dollars a year more; China an unbelievable $375 billion a year more.  The European Union is up by $95 billion a year (latest stats available).

Nevertheless, President Trump and America gets hammered by elements on both the left and the right when the statement “enough is enough on trade” is proclaimed.

The cold truth is that neither President Bush, the younger, nor President Obama wanted anything to do with trade imbalances; they simply weren’t interested.  So, the developed world ran wild at our expense.

President Trump, as usual, has brought a gun to a knife fight.  His threats of tariffs and unnecessary personal darts are rattling our trade partners who are used to doing what they want unchallenged.  The proposed tariffs are driving the narrative but how else will anything change?  Shouldn’t the press be explaining exactly how the USA is being taken advantage of economically and the toll that takes?

IG Report Released, sort of

Finally, after numerous unexplained delays, the Justice Department has released the Inspector General’s report on how the FBI handled several political controversies.

Amend that!  Only half the report came out.  The Hillary Clinton email part.  Nothing specific yet on the Trump Campaign-Russian Collusion matter.  Former Assistant Director Andrew McCabe was outed in April and fired for violating FBI standards.

Since Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel, the IG left out that part, apparently does not want to embarrass itself about its investigators and destroy whatever credibility Mueller still has.  What a mess!

But back to Hillary.  The IG report agreed the FBI went a little light on her misuse of classified information on her personal server while she was Secretary of State (a crime).

Former FBI Director James Comey strutted around selling books and doing TV shows, as if he was the puritan angel.  Now that the IG has called him insubordinate (whatever that means) for leaks and violation of FBI standards, will he start making refunds to all his book buyers?

One snippet of the report quotes FBI lead investigator, Peter Strzok, in an email, “Trump is not ever going to be president.  We will stop it.”  Not sure who the “we” is and how can the IG conclude there was no evidence of political bias in these investigations?  Are you kidding me!

The Economy is Running Strong, but Higher Growth is not in the Cards

Former Microsoft CEO, and Founder of the nonprofit USAFacts.org, Steve Ballmer was on CNBC arguing that the best he could see for real GDP growth was 1.5%!

He reasons that population growth is 0.3% and real GDP per capita growth has been 1.2%.  Together, that gives us 1.5% growth.  That’s not even close to the 3% to 4% growth rates the White House and economists keep forecasting.

Economist Harry Dent says his numbers show a similar result; slowing growth rather than booming growth like we’ve been promised.

Workforce growth will slow to zero for many years to come, and even negative in the next several years.  Productivity rates have been 0.5% and falling.  How do you get 4% growth out of that, especially now that we’re at or near full employment?  Quite simply, you don’t!

Any way you add up the numbers, there’s no way to get sustainable, real growth rates of 3% to 4% over the coming years or decade.

The Credit for Bringing North Korea to the Table

President Trump deserves a lot of credit for engaging Kim Jung Un of North Korea to reconcile with South Korea, release the three Korean-American citizens and pledge to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

The summit between the two in Singapore on June 12th was a small feat.

To be clear, the key player in all this has been China President Xi Jing Ping, who laid down the law to North Korea—step up and negotiate the dismantling of your nuclear fireworks or risk our cutting off your oil, food and other support.

That President Trump built a cordial relationship with his Chinese counterpart proved to be a big assist in making all this happen.

Please Stop Talking—Do Something

It’s time—way past time—to stop talking, protesting and lobbying for more restrictive laws about guns.  All the talk is going nowhere, but the school shootings go on and on.

It seems obvious that all the talking, marching and lobbying have done nothing to stop the violence, the mayhem and the horrifying deaths and injuries.

The only changes in the gun laws have been minimal and objectively ineffective.  It’s all an exercise going nowhere.

The time has come to pony up the money and bring in the security experts.  If we can’t control the use of guns, we can make the schools safer by limiting the ingress to the campus of schools and having armed guards inside.

This isn’t brain surgery—we must do what we can do and stop wasting all the time and energy trying to lobby for more gun controls.

Wake Up America—Time’s up on the Grand Pension Bargain

Public pension issues are NOT just a problem for states.  The financial woes drive down to your county, your school district, and your city.  No one is talking about that…yet.

Just a few years ago, the public pension liability was pegged at roughly $600 billion.  Today, that number has ballooned to $1.378 trillion, and that’s only if public pension funds earn their unrealistic stated rates of return.

Using more conservative estimates, the unfunded pension liability explodes to at least $4 trillion.

Now we—states, cities, towns—have to pay the price.  There’s no way around it.

We will have to finish up next week.

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UNDERSTANDING LIBERAL AND CONSERVATIVE THINKING

With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, I thought we might listen in on one father’s explanation to his daughter about the differences in thinking between people with opposite political/philosophical viewpoints.

A young co-ed was about to finish her first year of college.  Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be very liberal.  Along with other liberal ideals, she was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs; in other words, whether  she realizes it or not, that is redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply alarmed that her father was a rather staunch conservative, a feeling she openly expressed.  Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years felt a somewhat selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs.

The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father.  He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go off and party like other people she knew.  She didn’t even have time for a boyfriend, and didn’t really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, “How is your friend Audrey doing?”

She replied, “Audrey is barely getting by.  All she takes are easy classes, she never studies and she barely has a 2.0 GPA.  She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast.  She’s always invited to all the parties and lots of times she doesn’t even show up for classes because she’s too hung over.”

Her wise father asked his daughter, “Why don’t you go to the dean’s office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0?  That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.”

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father’s suggestion, angrily fired back, “That’s a crazy idea!  How would that be fair?  I’ve worked really hard for my grades!  I’ve invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work!  Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree.  She played while I worked my tail off!”

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, “Welcome to the conservative side of the fence.”

If you ever wondered what side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test!

If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.  If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.  A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.  Liberals demand that those they don’t like be shut down.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.  A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and Jesus silenced.

If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it or may choose a job that provides it.  A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

If a conservative reads this, he’ll forward it to his friends.  A liberal will delete it because it is “offensive.”

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BLENDING LEADS TO HARMONY

Those struggling with work-life balance may be better off blending the two—a mindset that is growing more popular with working professionals.

This is an article (edited for space) written for Meeting Professionals Int’l by Jason Hensel, freelance writer and speaker with an interesting approach to the problem of balancing one’s work and personal life.

Amy Vetter runs and operates her own yoga studio, plays music and is the mother of two teenage boys.  At the same time, she’s a technology corporate executive who frequently travels and works remotely from another state.  She’s able to do all this because of work-life blending.

“I often blend work and life by calling into conference calls and responding to emails from my home office or car while taking my children to their games or lessons,” Vetter says.  “I often work off hours in the evenings when needed to be able to collaborate with people in different time zones or complete deadlines.  I create flexibility in how I schedule my day in order to accomplish my work and family commitments, but also create space for my personal hobbies so I can be the best person I can be at work and at home.”

Vetter’s blending of work and personal life isn’t unique.  Technological advances have helped create more opportunities for remote employees, as well as an always-on, 24-hour culture.  Despite the negatives, being available is a good thing for working professionals with children.”

“For my family, blending became a necessity when I started traveling as a professional speaker,” says Bobbe White, a speaker and owner of Try Laughter Inc.  “To blend from afar meant to incorporate phones, videos, FaceTime, Facebook, Skype and any technology that pulls us together.”

What is Work-Life Blending?

The phrase “work-life balance” is popular, but blending is becoming the new norm.

“Expecting to turn off your phone at 5 p.m. is an antiquated view of work,” Lindsey Pollack wrote in her blog post, “What Does Work-Life Balance Mean?”  “Now, everyone—and Millennials in particular—realize it’s not realistic in most professional careers to expect work with be completed at 5 p.m. (or 6 p.m., or 7 p.m.).”

Vetter likes to describe work-life blending as “work-life harmony.”

“It ebbs and flows with the rhythm of your life, rather than being too structured,” says Vetter, author of Business, Balance & Bliss:  How the B3 Method Can Transform Your Career and Life.  “For example, there are some weeks when I devote the right amount of time to my family and personal hobbies as I do to work, and there are other weeks when I spend more time on work when deadlines are impending.”

Blending has certainly changed how work gets accomplished over the last decade.

Why Blend Instead of Balance?

Vetter says, “It means that you strive to always spend a scheduled amount of time with your family, personal hobbies and work,” she says, “But this just isn’t always realistic, nor should it feel forced or stressful.  Work-life blending is much more feasible and means that you engage in work and life at the rhythm that makes the most sense for you at any given time.”

Younger professionals have embraced blending too, unlike generations before them,

“They will spend a few minutes during the work day shopping online or reserving a bike for SoulCycle, but they’re also not the least bit bothered by their boss calling them at 8 p.m. or having to answer some emails on a Sunday morning,” Pollack wrote.

White found a successful way to blend by bringing one of her children with her when she spoke at events.

“Our son would even sit at my book table and speak to attendees,” White says.  “On several occasions, we combined my speaking with a family vacation.  Those were some of our best efforts and memories.”

Not everyone has the means (or desire) to take their children to work with them.  Maybe you like keeping work and personal life apart.  If so, Vetter suggests setting boundaries.

“While I do blend my work and life, I make sure to set strategic goals to help me prioritize what’s important, where I should be spending my time and when I need to say no,” Vetter says.  “I also treat my personal and family time just as seriously as my work.  I schedule it on my calendar, and it’s off limits just like an important meeting.  During this time, I don’t take calls or respond to email—I need that time for grounding.”

The tricky part of blending happens, White says:  Most meetings and conferences are scheduled far in advance but school and social activities are more apt to pop up with less notice.

“We’ve succeeded marvelously and we’ve failed horribly—they both come with the territory,” she says.  “You try to do the best blending possible.  Sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss.”

How to Blend Successfully

To have more hits than misses in blending your work and life, turn to technology.

“I use Slack and instant messaging on my mobile phone, tablet and computer to respond to employees and keep projects on track,” Vetter says.  “I also use project management tools like Trello to make sure that project timelines are maintained.  This way, not only to my employees and colleagues know what tasks they need to do next, but I can see an overview of the project status at any time.  Google Hangouts is invaluable for me to easily plan or jump on a conference call or quickly have some face time with people I work with.”

Vetter recommends that employers create a culture of blending for employees.

“Adopt the mindset that as long as they get their work done by the deadline, it’s not important that they be physically in the office eight hours a day or have “face time,” she says.

“Come up with a plan and schedule how work-life blending can work for you and benefit the company.  Sit down with your boss to discuss it,” Vetter says.  “Communication is key to making these relationships work.”

“When we love what we do—whatever that is—we will naturally go to extreme efforts to blend work and home life.”

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