A humbling cold

(The Sage) knows he makes no fine display,
and wears rough clothes, not finery.
It is not in his expectancy of men
that they should understand his ways,
for he carries his jade within his heart.
– Tao Te Ching 70 (Rosenthal) Continue Reading

Kids being kids – amazing

The main challenge in this year’s FIRST Robotics Challenge is to scoop up a 2-foot yoga ball and shoot it into a goal 6 feet high. The machines that have to do this are designed and built by high school kids, including my son George. Many of them have never done anything like it before. It takes strategy, planning, and a lot of learning how to use power saws and drills. But the Great River School team 2491 No Mythic is hitting the challenge with great energy and determination. It’s also a lot of fun. Continue Reading

What do you expect?

Another week, another crippling cold. It is January, after all, and numbing cold is only to be expected. But expectations are the key to surviving Winter, especially one as brutal as this one. As long as you expect it will be deadly cold, the few days spent actually above freezing turn into a blessing. And there is always the greatest expectation of all – that this can’t last forever and some day it will be Spring. Continue Reading

Inequality: A feature of the system

In his inaugural speech, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio returned constantly to the theme of “A Tale of Two Cities”. New York is big enough to be both of them at once – one a poor city where people barely get by and another that is wealthy beyond the imagination of most people. But it isn’t just his city that de Blasio wants to fix. “This inequality problem bedevils the entire country,” he intoned. “But it is not just a moral outrage, it is a horrible constraint on economic growth and on giving people the security they need to tackle problems.” Continue Reading

2013, a good year

It’s been a good year, even if it didn’t seem like it. 2013 was the year that the economy turned around just enough to lay the foundation for a better 2014 in several key ways. The most important is that more people have jobs, even if it’s nowhere near enough to make up for the losses from 2008-2010. The other reason is that retail sales are actually picking up and there’s reason to believe that there will be more confidence as we move ahead. The last part is very important because the psychology of a depression is the main reason it has the name it has. Continue Reading

Consumer confidence – up or down?

How ya doin’? It might be a simple question from an old friend you haven’t seen in a while, or maybe it’s someone closer who is worried about you and trying not to be obvious about it. But if you’re in the business of gauging consumer confidence, it’s a very serious question. And every month two different groups ask the question of 500 to 3,000 people just to see how we, the consumers of the US, are doin’. Continue Reading