Archive for the ‘Philospohy’ Category

How to get really rich

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Yeah, hard work. Sure everyone says if you work hard enough you can get rich. I’m not so sure. I think working hard is helpful but that by itself it is far from enough. I think there are three other things that are helpful – Wealth, luck and brains.

By wealth I mean more than the average amount of financial resources.  At one time a million dollars would have been enough. Today maybe a bit more. One is not “really rich” with a million or two in assets but it is a good place to start.

Luck is pretty self explanatory. Everyone has some amount of luck but some people just seem to have more than their share. Brains the same. Some people are below average, some average, and some smarter than average.

If you have one of those things you have a reasonable chance of getting really rich with a lot of hard work. If you have two of them you have a very good chance. If you have all three your future is as secure as you are willing to work at it.

Bill Gates is an example of someone with all three. Donald Trump has at least two. Wealth for sure – his father was fairly well off. I’m not sure if the rest is luck or brains. If he had both his wealth would have had less up and down. How do you take casinos into Chapter 11 if you have both brains and luck?

Sam Walton? Brains for sure. A little luck? Perhaps. And he did work pretty hard at everything.

I know that some would argue that with brains and hard work you can make your own luck and overcome not starting with money. I don’t dispute that but I think it makes things harder. Luck alone might not seem like enough but if you add hard work and your luck brings you the right partners anything is possible. A little wealth goes a long way if you work hard at it and make it work hard for you.

I think you need at least one of those three items though. How many of them determines how hard you have to work to overcome not having the others.

But poor, unlucky, dumb people are not going to get rich no matter how hard they work. Anyone have any examples to prove me wrong?

Why Space

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Outer space is all but unreachable. Even close planets like Mars take months to get to and there isn’t much there. Other solar systems? Forget about it! Unless we discover a way around the whole speed of light thing – highly unlikely – we are never leaving this solar system. And yet we keep trying stuff?

It’s not like there are no challenges closer to home either. We have better maps of Mars than we do of the earth under the oceans. And the oceans have lots of highly valuable things like minerals, and metals and food stuff and what not that we really could use. OF source it is hard to get at which should be a challenge, like space, that we raise up to and try to solve. But for the most part we don’t.

We look to space. What is it about space that makes us want to strive for it? I don’t understand it. Honestly though if given a choice between a trip to the bottom of the ocean and a trip into earth orbit I’d want to go to space. Makes no sense. But there you have it.

Now I love the seas. Even as a young person I was very interested in undersea things. I read about it, I went to conferences, and I thought a lot about it. But my blood still raced more reading science fiction about space exploration. Is it the fantasy or something else? Or are we just foolishly acting against our best interests? What do you think?

Only newbies say n00b

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

When I was new to the Internet (back in the 80s) the term for someone who was new as I was was “newbie.” Recently I was told that the current term was “N00b” with zeros for ohs. Yeah, sure, what ever. I still think that n00b is a term that identifies the person using it as a late comer to the Internet. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

Time V Money

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

One of the things that become more clear as one gets older is that time is a limited resource. On the other hand money is something one can (usually) get more of. So while I have a reasonable appreciation for money I value it most for when it can be used to save me time.

For example. yesterday I was trimming my bushes with an electric hedge clipper and managed to cut the extension cord. It wasn’t the first time and I doubt it will be the last. Once I found and reset the circuit breaker and took a good look at the cord I decided I was done for the day. I was too tired to continue and do a good job. This morning I found a replacement plug and used it to repair the extension cord. Well that was the goal. It turns out that something when wrong and the cord was shorting out. So I took it all apart, looked it over, tried a few things and low and behold … yeah it was still shorting. So now I am faced with a decision. Do I keep working on the cord or do I get a new cord? Working on the cord, assuming I finally get it right, only costs me time. Buying a new cord costs money. I got a new cord. Well to be honest I used another cord I had in the basement but I’ll probably still have to replace the cord eventually. The cost of a new cord is less than the value I place on my time.

After reading an article that did a lot of economic analysis on free time/recreation time compared to time one is paid for I set a value on my time (for things like this) at half my hourly pay rate. So if something costs me half what I get paid an hour and will save me an hour it is worth paying for. Or rather it is not worth not paying for. Unless of course it is something that I enjoy doing for the fun, exercise or has other non-monetary value to me.

This is why I pay someone to cut my lawn BTW. I hate cutting the grass and there are many things I would rather do with my weekend. It is also how I justified hiring someone to paint my house a couple of years ago. It is a model that works for me.

Of course this sort of thing applies to a lot of  things. For example I can program user interfaces much faster using Visual Studio and VB or C# than I can using Java. In fact I think that the cost of buying Visual Studio would pay for itself (at full suggested retail) in a couple of days over using a ‘Free” Java environment. This may not be true for everyone of course but it sure is for me. That’s why I don’t understand anyone using price of tools as a reason to use Java over VB or C#.

I understand the “write once, debug everywhere” argument for Java. Not the free verses pay argument. I suspect that a lot of professional developers who use “free” tools also pay for some performance enhancement tools as well. Most pros do in most any field. The trade off though is the same – will the cost of the tool pay off in time saved or other means. So much comes down to that trade off between time and money.

What question do you ask?

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

So I have been watching movies about professional killers tonight. I figure there are two kinds of people who watch those movies. One kind asks themselves “how could anyone do that in real life?” The other sort of person asks “I wonder if I could do that job?”

The first question is probably the most common question. After all killing is something we all pretty much understand is wrong. We also know that we’d feel guilty about killing innocent people. And of course there is who whole punishment thing. So we wonder what sort of a person could overcome all those natural instincts, all that lifetime of learning that killing is wrong, and all that potential punishment – internal and external – and go out and kill people for money.

And then there are the people, and I have no idea how many there are out there, who ask themselves if they could do it. In a sense it is the same question as the first question with  one difference. The difference is that they are really asking if they are the sort of person who could kill for money. I figure that most people answer the question in the negative. What does it mean to ask that question though? That’s not something I’m sure about. What  do you think?

I Think My Brain Is Getting Full

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Every so often I start to feel like there is no more room to stuff information in my brain. Today is one of those days. Now I know from experience that given a little time my brain will reorganize things and Ill be able to fit more in. I’m not sure if it tosses stuff away or what. I guess if it tossed information away it would probably do so in a way that I didn’t know it was missing. On the other hand from time to time it occurs to me that I used to know something that I can’t quite seem to remember.

Or maybe there is long term storage in my brain some where and it just takes a while for things to get moved there. A philosophical question perhaps?

None of this would be a problem if I felt like I already knew everything I wanted or even needed to know. But no! There is a lot I still want to learn.

Hopefully I’m just tired and I’ll be fine by Monday. Or maybe I need some time off. Frankly I think that this mental reorganization is what vacations and to some extent sleep are for.  So maybe I should get to bed? 🙂 No time for vacation just yet.

Anyone else ever feel this way? Is it an age thing do you think? Or am I just mentally deficient? (A claim that I have heard in the past but usually from really stupid people. 🙂 )

If you have to tell people …

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

My favorite Margaret Thatcher quote is “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” I was reminded of this the other day when I saw a huge pickup truck with a bumper sticker that said “Sexy ass woman driving a big ass truck.”  While there is no question that was a “big ass truck” I have a real hard time seeing the driver as a “sexy ass woman.” Well unless “sexy ass” has nothing to do with appearance. This woman was scary. Every time I have seen a bumper sticker or a license plate that indicated the driver/owner was sexy, beautify or otherwise attractive the bumper sticker was saying things that where contradicted by seeing the driver.

So I was thinking, if you have to tell people you are sexy are you really? Or is it just what you want to think of yourself as? I made the same statement with regards to being a new media expert recently. If you have to tell me you are an expert in blogging or Twitter or other social media isn’t that a sign of something missing?

Sure if you have things to tell me so that I can conclude you are an expert myself that’s fine. Or if someone else tells me “oh so and so is an expert” maybe I’ll listen. Although to be honest I’ll probably want some sort of evidence. There are too many cases of the one eyed man leading the blind out there in social media.

I see people put themselves out as experts on social media all the time. All too often they have Technorati rankings lower than mine (on my main blog which even when it was double what it is now was not that impressive) or they are “Twitter experts” and they have a follower count or a Twitter grader rank lower than mine. Not that I am an expert or anything like a social media star. I know people who are blogging, Twittering, Friendfeed, Facebook stars and trust me I am no where near where they are. I’m just saying that if you are a media star there should be statistics to back it up.

And there are other things. Like being smart or knowledgeable. Don’t tell me you are – act like you are and I’ll figure it out.

Now I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have positive self-images of themselves. If someone wants to look in the mirror and see a smart, sexy, just incredible person go ahead. I do. But I don’t go around trying to convince people that the thin, athletic, smart sexy guy with a full head of hair I picture in my head when I think of myself is necessarily the same as their reality.

The Impressive Thing About the Inauguration

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

No, it is not that an African-American is taking office. That is trivial. No what is impressive about this inauguration is the exact same thing that was impressive about the inauguration of John Adams. The impressive thing is that a change in the highest office in the land is taking place without bloodshed. No one was killed to make it happen. No one had to die to leave the office vacant. An election happened and the current office holder vacated the office and handed it over to a new president in accordance with the law.

Actually that this is happening for the 43rd time may make it more impressive than that it happened the first time.

I wasn’t so sure that Clinton would give up the office. I half expected a Y2K issue to enable Clinton to illegally hold on to the office. No I didn’t trust him. Still don’t. He owes Bush of huge debt for making him look less bad.

I had some concerns about Bush as well. The whole war thing and the “I’m the decider” thing. But he did give it up and seems to have done so quite graciously.

This sort of thing happens in other countries today but few for as long as it has happened in the US. And of course in many parts of the world it almost never happens.

In the US the rule of law rules and that is the thing that makes the inauguration special.

On Death and Dying

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

OK it’s a morbid topic and if you don’t want to face it leave now. I on the other hand have no choice but to think about it. I’ve got stuff on my mind and the need to write them down and put them somewhere. Oh and frankly I no patience for euphemisms like “passing away” or what ever. Death is death and dying is dying.

I don’t expect to die any time soon and of course I have never done it before. But I’ve lost too many loved ones not to be aware of it. With my own Dad in poor health I worry that I will see it again all too soon. Hopefully not right away but probably not that far away either.

I am not afraid of death. I’m in no hurry to try it out of course but as a Christian I believe as it is written in Philippians 1:21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” So I spend more time worrying about those I will leave behind than about myself.

There are two basic ways to die – quickly and slowly. Quickly is probably the best way for the person actually dying. I’ve watched a bunch of people go through slow lingering deaths. Trips in and out of hospitals, gradual failing of body and mind, tests and operations and alls sorts of people poking at parts of the body that would otherwise be none of their business. It’s painful emotionally, physically and in any way one can think of. Falling asleep and never waking up seems so much easier. Well for the person who dies. For the people left behind not much fun.

Both quick and slow deaths are hard on people who stay behind but in different ways. I’ve had several friends die quickly (at least from my point of view) in that I either didn’t know they were sick or they had sudden unexpected deaths. That was hard. There was no closure, no saying goodbye and now time to prepare myself for losing them. On the other hand watching someone be sick a long time and in pain is no great joy either. But in some sense there is closure and a time to reconcile differences, say goodbye and adjust to the future without them.

So perhaps there is no good way to die for all involved. I think I want to go quickly though. It may be harder, initially, for those who are left behind but in the long run I think maybe they will be better off not watching me suffer. I’m pretty sure I’d rather not suffer. And as full of watching suffering as I have been in my live I think that can take a toll on people that they may not be aware of. They may think they want to hold on to every second no matter how much their loved one is going through but at some point I think one wants to see their loved one end their suffering.

The term quality of life means more to me every day. The more I look at it life at any cost and in any condition is not always the best way for anyone.

Showing Up

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

In an episode of “West Wing” the writers had the President say “Decisions are made by those who show up.” Woody Allen has been reported as saying that “Eighty Percent of Success Is Showing Up.” Others have said it is closer to ninety percent. Anyway you look at it showing up is important.

It is important during an election, for meetings at work, for just about anything were decisions are made or there are people to be influenced. People who sit on the sidelines and leave the decision making to others are at the mercy of those who do show up.

It is always important with ones job. Companies value people who can be depended on to show up. And not just on regular hours. When something extra ordinary happens and they need people to show up for it that is particularly valuable. Showing up for optional events is respected. Going the extra mile to “be there” is a powerful action.

I was at a lunch with a number of people after a conference one time. I was talking casually with the people there (most of whom were involved in planning and running the conference) and the issue of other companies in my industry came up. One of the other people said (roughly) “But you are here and they are not. We notice things like that.” Now I had done a little more than just show up – I was on a panel and had set up a booth with information – but the thing that made the biggest impression was that I was there and talking to people. That struck me at the time (and more so as time when on) as important.

I was at an event that Microsoft helped sponsor in Denver last month. Everyone was happy for the money but the really impressive thing to people was that we showed up in person and helped out. I went to a school play last week at the school where Mrs. T teaches. The kids and their parents were most pleased and impressed with the teachers who took the time to show up. It made a difference!

Many organizations I have been involved with have said that they value donations of money and material. Christian organizations always say they value prayer (and they do.) But they all make a point to say that they value people’s time – that they show up. I’m on a number of advisory boards and time and again I hear from them how glad they are that I show up for meetings.

While it might be cool to have influential names on a roster of an advisory board the real value is provided when people show up to help make decisions and recommendations.

So when thinking about showing up or not for something think hard. Think very hard. You just may want to show up after all.