Posts in Thought Tools

You’ll Pardon Me, I Hope

September 22nd, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

You’ll pardon me, but in just the last few days, I have heard the word ‘crap’ used in public as a synonym for feces by the host of a popular television show, by an official of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and by a CNN news anchor, to name just three.  I am not going to squander your time bemoaning the coarsening of the culture; we all know it is happening.  Many of us understand why.

And it is not only the word ‘crap’.  There is another four letter synonym for excrement which is just as popular though the self-anointed cultural elites have ridiculously decreed that ‘crap’ can be used on America’s airwaves but not the alternative word for the same human byproduct.  Expect that to change soon.

Why this particular form of human waste?  Why don’t people say, “He needs the ear-wax beaten out of him”? Or, how about, “The breaching whale scared the saliva out of the kayaker”?  Or why not, “I’ve never heard anyone speaking such nasal mucus”?  I have never heard any driver say, “Oh urine! I took a wrong turn!”  Of all human body waste, why does only excrement enjoy such common usage in ordinary conversation today?

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Cows or Corvettes?

September 14th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

In late 1964, after five years of construction, the Verrazano Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island opened to traffic.  It was made of steel and was then the longest suspension bridge in the world.  In order to prevent corrosion from the sea air, it is painted, using about 12,000 gallons of paint.  Since rust would quickly weaken and destroy the bridge, the paint is kept in good shape.

The default condition for iron and even steel is to rust and deteriorate unless steps are taken to inhibit the oxidation process.  The default condition for many foods such as meat is to deteriorate and go bad unless the process is inhibited by refrigeration.  The default condition for most animals is to flee humans unless cornered.

Humans have several troublesome defaults.  (more…)

Wonderful Wives – Lesser Husbands

September 7th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Wildly unpopular as the observation may be, the overwhelming majority of people who get into serious trouble with the police share certain important demographic similarities.  These three characteristics are the only ones that matter: these people are male, they are not married, and few were raised in a stable home environment by a mother and father married to one another.

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Something for Nothing

August 31st, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Here is one way to give your employee a raise:  “You’ve been with us for a year now, Enid; that means that you are due for your first raise. Congratulations, your pay is going up 5%.”

There’s another way to do it.  “During the year you’ve been with us, Enid, you’ve really made a difference.  I asked our accountant to calculate how much extra revenue your innovations brought to the company and the answer was very impressive. The way you came up with improvements in operations and how you then implemented those ideas has been incredibly effective.  We’re happy to raise your pay 5%, you really deserve it.”

I think we all know that the second approach is a far better way.  Though child-rearing is not the same as managing employees, some principles are similar.  Sadly, I often see parents violating these rules.  Some parents bribe their children with candy or watching videos in order to try and obtain the desired behavior.  A bribe is quite different from a reward. One precedes performance while the other follows it.

While it is certainly true that money can’t buy happiness, earning money does indeed contribute to one’s happiness.  I was amazed to discover studies proving conclusively that welfare recipients report being far less happy than equally poor people who refuse public assistance.  This data precisely correlates with studies showing that lottery winners, after brief euphoric buying sprees, experience deep unhappiness as their personal achievement loses all meaning.  Getting money doesn’t make us happy. Earning it does.

It gets even worse.  Ancient Jewish wisdom assures us that obtaining money we did nothing to earn not only makes us miserable, it also makes us resentful towards others.  If you’re interested in where Scripture compellingly makes this point, I direct your attention to the sixth chapter of the book of Deuteronomy.

Verses 10 and 11 promise that at the end of 40 years in the desert, God will bring the Jews into the Land of Israel.  There they will find ready-made cities to occupy, and houses for them to live in that they didn’t have to build.  Furthermore, the houses will be filled with good things that the Israelites will enjoy but didn’t prepare. They will find already-excavated water cisterns they didn’t have to dig, and they will enjoy vineyards and orchards they didn’t plant.  It all sounds wonderful.  It should fill the Jews with appreciation and love for their God who gave them all this (unearned) bounty.

Yet, we read on…

Beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 
(Deuteronomy 6:12)

Extraordinary!  After being brought out of slavery, after being sustained for 40 years in the desert, and after being brought into their own land filled with all kinds of benefits awaiting them, God expects them to forget Him.

What is worse, God expects them to abandon Him and rebel…

Do not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you
(Deuteronomy 6:14)

Yes, that is right.  Obtaining value (or money) not as a result of serving other human beings but just because your father left you a trust fund or the luck of the lottery favored you, corrodes the soul.  While the wise among us understand that without God’s blessings even strenuous efforts will be for naught, when God, our Father in Heaven, presents wealth or possessions on a silver platter, it likewise presents us with a severe test.

So let’s be wise employers and allow our employees the right to their happiness by letting them know how much they achieve.  Let’s be wise parents and grant our children the happiness they deserve by letting them do their part in being worthy of that which we constantly bestow upon them. Let’s stop praying to win the lottery or plotting to acquire money without giving value and instead thank God for the opportunity to earn our fortunes with honesty and integrity.

City Lights – Enlightening Cities

August 11th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 1 comment
It was on a clear but cold winter afternoon that I landed at JFK Airport on my first visit to the United States.  After clearing customs and immigration and being granted a three week tourist visa, I climbed into a taxi on my way to my Manhattan hotel.  Half an hour later, as the sun was starting to set, the cab swept around a curve in the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and for the first time in my life my eyes fell upon a sight of which I have never tired.  The towering skyscrapers of lower Manhattan silhouetted against the still blue sky took my breath away.  I found myself silently mouthing these words, “How great are your works, Oh Lord!” (Psalms 92:5) as tears started up in my eyes.  It was then, only a couple of hours after first setting foot upon the continent of North America while driving up the East River towards the Brooklyn Bridge that I resolved to stay.  And, though no longer on a tourist visa, I’m still here.

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Take Uber to the Temple

August 2nd, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet
While awaiting my Uber car in Minneapolis the other afternoon, I received a message saying Uber was initiating rush hour surge pricing.  Almost immediately, the driver who had committed to taking me to the airport cancelled – no doubt with the intention of replacing me with a higher ‘surge’ priced fare.  Needing to catch a flight, I tried again. This time all that was immediately available near my hotel was a far more expensive “Uber black car”.  The driver got me to the airport promptly and comfortably, though hardly economically.
The next day, my son to whom I’d related the incident, urged me to report it to Uber.  Using the app on my phone, literally within less than one minute, I registered my disappointment about the first driver’s cancellation. Less than six hours later, Christian at Uber contacted me, crediting me the difference between what I paid and what I would have paid had the first driver honored his commitment.

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No Work This Monday

July 7th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Got a project that you’re proud of at work? Better hurry up and get it done because all work is soon coming to an end. Machines are taking over; it’s the end of work. Some greet the news with dismay, What will people do with all that leisure? Others eagerly anticipate a world of all play and no work. Some say humans will no longer have to work. Others say humans will no longer get to work. But all agree this major change is on the horizon.

For those of you eager to hear that you can sleep late this Monday morning, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that work is not coming to an end. The good news is the same. This provocative and puerile prediction has been a staple of everyone from foolish social scientists to bogus futurists for a long time. (more…)

I only want you to be happy

June 29th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Did your parents ever say to you, “We only want you to be happy”? Did they get their wish? Are you happy? All the time? Occasionally? What if shoplifting makes you happy? Would your parents still stand by their sentiment?

Happiness is a perplexing concept. We use the word all the time. Engaged couple—I’m so happy to be marrying you! Business leader—I’m not happy about this situation. Our first First Lady—“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy…”

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What an overreaction!

June 22nd, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

“What an overreaction!” This exclamation came from a man who consulted me about some business problems. He was alluding to a former customer of his who angrily left him for a competitor and also bad-mouthed him to others. “We were late on a delivery and off he went on a rant,” he continued. “What an overreaction!”

My gentle questioning revealed that my client had not personally called the aggrieved customer to apologize nor had he offered any kind of compensation. But what was far more interesting was that I discovered that this occurrence was not the first time my client had delivered appalling service to this customer. It was not even the second time. It was the third. (more…)

Pray For Your Life

June 14th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

If you’ve acquired a new car recently, you probably drove it happily for a while without even cracking open the operating manual in the glovebox. After all, you know how to drive and most cars are fairly standard. You switch it from P to D, press on one pedal to go faster and press the other one to slow down. Maybe the first time you opened the manual was when it began to rain. Despite looking like you needed an advanced engineering degree, the index quickly took you to page 72 for which helped you master the seventeen different modes for clearing rain drops from your windshield. The option for automatic operation whenever it senses rain drops is very cool and made you smile. (more…)