…Through the virtue of training, Enlighten both body and soul — Morihei Sensei

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Inauguration…Just Another Day

Today was/is Inauguration Day. For many it is the best day ever.  For many others it  is the worst day ever.  What did I do today to celebrate/mourn?

I went to work.

I got out of bed at 5:36am.  Made coffee.  Sent out my remaining invoices.  Talked  to my daughter about her essay.  Then I went to work.

I cut up a fallen tree.

I met a prospective customer for a bid.

Because the bottom line that as bad as this new administration is going to be, it was already baked in.  In fact, to those mourning, it is really your fault.  Hillary Clinton should have never be the “presumptive” candidate.  The majority of Trump voters would only have voted for him, with the alternative of Clinton.

And given all that, my only real option is to continue to block and tackle.  Put in the work. Everyday.  Keep it basic.  Trump is not on my side.  Lord knows, Hillary is not.  So much theater–These people are on the same team.

Who’s going to pay my mortgage?  Who’s going to fix my truck?

Just another day.  You know what I doing next?

Hitting the weights.

Peace.

 

–Old 454

http://twitter.com/old454

 

 

No Fundamental Difference

I will try to keep this short, as the year 2016 closes.

Many of the people I follow on social media feel that the election of Donald Trump is the single worst thing that could have happened this year, or ever.  Whether Donald Trump’s election is the worst or not, begs the question.  The alternative was Hillary Clinton.  As bad as Trump may be, or will be, Clinton would be no better.  It may make some feel better if Clinton won, but her stances and policies would leave us no better. Therefore, that leaves the fundamental question unanswered.

The fundamental question is how we found ourselves with a choice between Trump and Clinton.  In fact, how do we continually find ourselves with a choice between two evils. Make no mistake these two are both evil. Trump’s dubious business practices, very scary rhetoric, Putin schmoozing, neo-nazi supporters, and certain cabinet picks. Clinton has her own track record of evil — Can you say Libya?  Ukraine? or Haiti?  Try “Super Predator” or “Kathy Shelton.”  But, again this is all very besides the point.

There is not one significant policy direction that a United States President has taken, that a subsequent President, even of the so-called opposing party, has reversed.  Take Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, supposedly diametrically opposed.  As far as their policy effects on American Blacks, for example, there is no difference.  Reagan initiated the so-called “War on Drugs”.  Remember, Iran-Contra?  A funny name, leaving out the part of  selling of crack in Los Angeles.  I digress.  The War on Drugs  policy-wise hinged on “get tough” policing, mandatory minimum sentencing, and an intentional targeting of black communities.  Bill Clinton capped it off with “Three Strikes, You’re Out” which, again coincidentally, had a disproportionate and devastating effect on American Blacks. What did Clinton do so great for American Blacks again?

I can point out similar threads from Carter through Obama, affecting all Americans and the world at-large.

My point is that this argument about Trump vs. Clinton, or Kerry vs. Bush, or whomever, is distraction and subterfuge.  These people are all on the same team.  Liberals hate Fox News (super “conservative”), but Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the Daily News (super “liberal”).

Trump is talking big stick nuclear talk. Clinton is a war hawk and profiteer.  But neither would have a son, or grandson be in harm’s way overseas.  They’ll  leave the dying part of war to poor kids from Brooklyn and West Virginia.

 

Protest or Riot–Does it Even Matter? Baltimore 25 April 2015

Freddie Gray protestor confronts riot policeLast night an interesting question was raised and debated on Twitter–Namely, “What is the real impact of protest turned riots?”  The question wasn’t stated in those terms, but that is the essence of the issue. President Obama, the Media Elite and other celebrity hanger-ons participated in the self-adjulation of the White House Correspondents Dinner, people were protesting the police murder of Freddie Gray in the streets, not more the 50 miles away.  The only media coverage of the event were two local TV channels.  CNN stated explicitly, that they were not going to break from the circle jerk of the press corps and would catch up in the morning.  Catch it on Twitter they said.  Okay. The Peaceful protest numbers dwindled later into the evening, and there was some rioting, smashing police car and store window, and rock throwing a police.  One reporter summed up the traditional response, stating that “the violence changes everything.”  That really begs the question.  Indeed the  violence did change everything for Freddie Gray when he emerged from the police transport van with a broken spinal column.

Some typical media responses:  Chaos in Baltimore or Violence Mars Protest

Clearly smashing store windows, and random citizens cars is not good.  However, the response leaves me with two questions:

  1. What are people really outraged about over the riots, are they even outraged at all?
  2. Does it really matter that there was violence after the protest?

Freddie Gray was injured before being placed in the all steel interior of the police transport.  He was handcuffed and then shackled.  He was not seatbelted in.  The van then took a circuituous route with several unexplained stops.  Freddie Gray complained of needing medical attentionPolice transport van rough ride.  He was given none. He emerged from the van with a broken spinal column.  Every indication is that he was given a “Rough Ride”, where individuals are handcuffed, shackled in the back of a police transport, not seatbelted in, and then slammed around the interior as the van hits potholes, takes hard corners, slams on brakes. Photo credit: @tomadelsbach

This is the violence it seems people should be outraged about.  This is the violence that changed everything.  Why when a protest denigrates does that become the focus?  My sense is that people and the media don’t want to actually address the issue of Police violence.  They don’t actually care about what happened to Freddie Gray.  Freddie Gray’s tragedy is simply a voyeuristic hook for the media, and something the mass of people would rather not even know about.  My sense is that the rioting makes the emotion of the event too poignant.  Damn those protestors.

UltLexington police officer carries injured University of Kentucky student after she was hit on head with bottle on streets, after University of Connecticut defeated Kentucky in NCAA men's National Basketball Championship, in Lexingtonimately does it even matter?  Would a “peaceful” protest make any difference over a “violent” protest?  Also, it’s interesting the standard for “violence”.  For the police, murdering a handcuffed, unarmed man is not even automatically violence.  This is a “let the facts come out” situation.  However, some property damage, and not even that much by sports-fan-riot standards, that is violent.  No facts need to come out.  No context necessary.

Still, does it even matter?  The people who are outraged about the broken police cruiser windshields, are the same people who don’t even care about Freddie Gray.  All the peaceful protest in the world won’t change the minds of a people determined to remain either Polly-Anna-ish or self-righteously racist.

Shucking Responsibility

I am continually amazed at how fatally committed most people are to not taking responsibility for the things theyhis_fault actually do.  I am working through an acute lesson in personal responsibility.  I run a service contracting business.  I depend on my workers to execute tasks in the field with varying levels of self direction and supervision.  Sometimes they are tightly supervised.  Sometimes they are operating purely on the honor system.  Recently, we implemented a “Trust but Verify” experiment with GPS tracking in the vehicles.  There handwritten logs remain the foundation of routing, tracking, invoicing, etc.  however, we were spot checking the GPS  reports.  Some anomalies appeared.

One crew had been having a series of seemingly small, unrelated quality and consistency problems.  Several revisits.  Some minor customer complaints.  Some morale issues.  Here is where my responsibility enters.  I had grown somewhat complacent on the routine work, and did not supervise tight enough.  Also, when the morale issues cropped, I should have made some personnel changes right away–Once these things set in, they never improve.  One day the end of day reports seemed strange, so I went through the GPS report.  There was as significant deviation from the planned route.  The handwritten report clearly stated that the crew had serviced a customer, with specific details, but the truck had gone in the complete opposite direction.

I went back a couple of days and found similar problems.  There are several significant problems here. Largest of which is that we have contractual obligations to our customers, for which we charge them, and they pay, money.  Not to mention missed service calls create real maintenance problems.  Secondly is theft. These guys were expecting to be paid for time they  spent driving around in company vehicles, burning company gas, and using company equipment to do who knows what.  Third is the operational cost.  Operationally, we now need to back track, spend valuable time to re-service those customers, address the growing problems, explain why they weren’t serviced properly the first time, assure them that the issues won’t continue.

A couple of conversations with the crew members verified they had in fact gone off route.  Bottom line, I fired a belligerent crew leader, and put a junior guy on notice, who  later ended up leaving of his own accord.  One would think, that would be the end of it.  I was extremely upset, an d spent two weeks going through the accounts and properties cleaning up the outright skipped calls, and addressing myriad issues with the work that was actually done.  The truth is that I should not have been surprised. I had warning. Also, I had not dug deep enough into the work  that was being executed.

The guy I fired has repeatedly made it clear over the ensuing weeks that he feels wronged.  I am incredulous.  He did  what he did.  He knows what he did.  He knows the work he  lied about, and he knows the standards they did not meet for the work the did do.  I have not had a big discussion about it since then.  I did not outline every single problem in detail.  Perhaps that is what he requires–Some people will only admit to what you lay out the evidence for.

This was a failing on my part in many ways.  I do not know that I could have headed the situation off entirely, however the extent of the damage could certainly have been mitigated.  There has been a cost in terms of customer satisfaction.  By acting, I have been able to get ahead of a good bit, though not all, of it.  The one fellow would have likely had to go.  And he would likely still feel that, though he did these things, by some calculus of entitlement, he was the wronged party.  I find it amazing.

The real shame here is that this fellow won’t learn.  Though financially I took a big hit, I have enough  goodwill built up with our customers to recover. However this fellow has a wife and kid who depend on him, but he will absolutely, in so many areas of life, not accept responsibility.  The same things keep happening to him, different people, different details, but it’s always their fault.  How can he progress without ever addressing his role in his mess?  How many of us go through the same cycles, in varying degrees?  The same stuff keeps happening, yet we can never quite find the key to unlock the problem.

That does bring cause for self-reflection.  He did what he did.  But what is it that I actually did or failed to do?  To what extent does this incident reflect my own dysfunctional cycles.  Clearly I am flawed.  My company isn’t the next Berkshire Hathaway.  It’s not even the largest, most successful by any measure or scale.  Nor is my personal life a flawless, shining example.  My day-to-day is fraught  with dysfunctional patterns and cycles. It does give me pause.

In the larger perspective, the past two years or so have been eye-opening to me in terms of just what a large segment of our population are not prepared to function in the world.

Shoulder Rehabbing

For the last two and a half years I have had problems along my left side neuromuscular chain,  from neck to my shoulder, through my elbow, forearm and wrist.  However, that is now turning around. I have been lifting heavy in the gym (in a programmed way) and things seems to be improving.

For a long time, I had avoided lifting heavy bench,and over head.  But for the past several months, I’ve been following Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 programming, and the weights are now in territory I’ve never been. This has been challenging for my shoulder, elbow, and forearms grip strength.  It is to the point sometimes that I need to buck up just to shake a man’s hand.

I have had to take a week off from shoulder work here and  there–well not a week off, but a week with careful shoulder work.  For instance, only the major lifts which engage my shoulder, and dropping any minor or assistance work that may challenge my shoulder.

At night I wasn’t able to sleep on my side, I’ve only been able to lay on my stomach or back without pain.

Well what about the rehab part?

This past week I’ve noticed considerably less pain at night, and have even been able to tolerate short periods on my side.

I completely believe this is due in large part to careful progression through flat barbel bench, incline dumbbell bench, strict overhead press, cleans, and clean & press.  Progression to PR level weights for me in every lift.  The cleans and clean & press are PR level, but I have not really pushed them and have sacrificed them on those dodgy shoulder days.

Flat bench.  The key for me has been to really dial in my form, and to vary my grip width as the weights move up.

Overhead press.  This can be challenging, but it is largely a form issue.  Overhead press has, I feel, greatly improved my range of motion

Incline Dumbbell Press has been helpful because it is a less compromised position, and the dumbbells allow you to rotate your shoulder position to be more stable.

Clean, Clean & Press.  Cleans are Push Press are an inigma in that they engage and involve the shoulder and upper body, while simultaneously the lifter tries to minimize upper body engagement in these lifts.  This seemingly contradictory situation has been helpful for my shoulder rehab, as I can tell when my form is breaking down as shoulder pain sets in.  Also, it has helped teach better should mechanics through minor adjustments which either hurt more, or hurt less.

There you have it–my dawning revelation and thoughts regarding my shoulder pain subsiding in recent weeks (week or two).

Thanks.

— Jalal

No High School Diploma = Virtual Learning Disability

Low quality high school education in American is equivalent to a learning disability.failing high school math

The labor market in Atlanta has changed dramatically.  In my line of work, prior to the Great Recession, it used to be we employed a lot of immigrant Americans.  Lately, we have been hiring many native born Americans.  Simultaneously, I have seen the quality of the candidate pool fall off significantly.  This has been a learning experience on many levels, but probably the largest for me is the real impact of quality of education, or more accurately, the lack thereof.  Much of the work we do does not require a high school education.  It is very demanding, and requires many things, but for many positions, graduating high school isn’t a requirement.  Interestingly, in the past, I have not given this much consideration.  However, lately I have noticed a correlation between the lack of finishing high school, or having a low quality high school education, and what amounts to a virtual learning disability.

This is not a scientific study.  This is simply my own observation.  There is clearly not a direct causation, whereas many of our employees came from backgrounds of little, to virtually zero, formal education, however we did not encounter the problems we are experiencing now.

Inability to follow multi-step instructions.  Lack of recognition between cause and effect.  Shifting of personal  responsibility.  Lack of carry-over of experience to correlated, though not duplicate, scenarios.  Inability to see implications of basic life decisions.  Failure to correlate those decisions to current life circumstances.  Trouble showing for work on time.  Tendency to shift blame for repeated tardiness. Problems learning new basic job skills and responsibilities.

All issues you would expect to find in individuals with developmental learning disabilities.

In the past, I never really found these to be significant issues, and if they were, they were isolated experiences.  Now, it seems that a huge proportion of candidates struggle with some or many of these issues.  These issues seem to correlate strongest with native born candidates and low quality high school education.  Either failure to complete high school, or graduating from low-quality schools and low-quality systems.

We have plenty of these in Georgia. Georgia list of Failing Schools  and  Failing school take-over plan.

I can’t say definitively what the cause is.  It could be the labor pool in general, across the board.  We have seen a drop in quality candidates in general.  It could be the lack of quality high school education, has ill-prepared these people for life so significantly, that well into adulthood, they are unable to compensate.  It could be that these people had existing learning, developmental, social issues that are similarly reflected in their inability to succeed in high school.

I can say that anecdotally, for Americans, the effect of low-quality high school education is tantamount to having a developmental learning disability.

Cleanse v. 2015

cleanse 2015 ingredients

Cleanse 2015 ingredients

I started my annual (mostly annual) cleanse yesterday  I had been procrastinating for the last month, as I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, and had not made the 20 minute trip to the local health food store to get the remaining items.  As it turns out the local store I had in mind had closed its doors back in November.  I then remembered another store almost right next door to my gym  They, too, had closed their doors.  Thus, I was forced to my Android Google Maps app, and found another store, apparently the last brick and mortar legit health food and herb store in my area (i.e., not a GNC or Vitamin Shoppe).  Google Maps also apparently feels that CVS and Walgreens are health food stores.

My basic Cleanse Recipe

Other very useful cleanse tips

Peachtree Health Foods, had the Parafree equivalent, ParaResponse, bulk psylliym husk fiber (though generic Metamucil will do in a pinch) which I was lacking.  I still have a good stash of bentonite clay and Senna tea.

With the change from Parafree to  ParaResponse,  I made a couple of tweaks to my 2012 cleanse recipe.  It is still broken into three 10 day phases, with the following tweaks in the Parafree capsules.  I made these changes purely for economic reasons.  The bottle at $24 had 90 pills. To make the 90 pills last 30 days.

First 10 days follow the recipe as before except:    

  • Days 1-5 Take one capsule each morning
  • Days 6-10 Take two capsules each morning   (15 capsules)

Second 10 days all the same except:    

  • Days 11-15  Take two capsules each morning and one each evening
  • Days  16-20  Take two each morning and two each evening  (35 capsules, 50 total)

Third 10 days:  Maintain the same protocol two in the morning and two in the evening (40 capsules, 90 total)

Keep all other aspects of the protocol the same as described in my earlier post

Some modicum of prior planning could save you a lot of money, time and aggravation by shopping for and ordering your ingredients online.

Thanks.

— Jalal

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