Archive for August, 2013



August 31, 2013

All week, the rabid Press has been in an uproar.  Despite the President saying over and over that he had not made a final decision on what was to be done in terms of Syria, we saw feature after news feature outlining how wrong he was. 

First, he was wrong because he did not wait for the UN Inspectors to return.  Hmmm.  Far as I know, he prepared for, but had not decided during the very same time the UN Inspectors were in Syria.  Nevertheless, the Press screamed and (almost worse) kept spitting into the microphones – unable to contain themselves in their stirring up the pot of how wrong the President was.  One impassioned commentator almost cried as he asked why Obama couldn’t just wait two days so the inspectors trying to help were “out of harm’s way”.  

Personally, that term is one that makes ME want to cry.  Do we have to mimic the drama of the Bushman?  What is wrong with the word “danger”?   But I digress.

And on and on they raged.  Couldn’t he at least let the UN Inspectors do their jobs?  Far as I could tell, he was doing that; but from the Press angst, something must have happened I was unaware of-but I listened to news until 8:30PM and never was enlightened as to what that was!  By this morning I had figured it out-just a bad case of Press hype – gone astray.

In the meanwhile, the Press continued to focus on the weekend of terror coming up; because after all, the President was leaving shortly for Russia and the G-8, and he had to get this done before he left.

And yet, coming from Obama was …”I have not made up my mind yet”.  Maybe you hadn’t, my friend, but the Press had and not only that, they had moved on to critiquing how it was going to roll out.   In fact, we were really into polls last night.  The Public does not agree with Obama not having Congressional support when he bombs Syria tomorrow…well, that’s not exactly what the figures on the screen said.…79% approve if Congress also approves, but Obama is earning his lowest support in 5 years…only 20% are with him in his plan to bomb Syria tomorrow-without asking for Congressional support.

Today, more of the same…..until the President announced what he was going to do.

He decided that 1) we needed to move against Syria; and 2) that we would go to Congress for their consent (just like he advised AND voted, by the way, when Bush declared war.)

He also indicated he would not call Congress back due to the upcoming Jewish holiday, but instead, will take this to Congress on September 9.  As I understand it, that was in response to conversations with Congressional leaders last night.  However, today the Military have started to whine.  They of course, think that it should happen tomorrow as it won’t be a surprise next week.  I don’t understand why they think it would be a surprise if it happened tomorrow; the press has been telling us it would be today or tomorrow for a week! Go figure.


And now, those very same Press that were criticizing yesterday did a 180 today, and they all have their undies in a bundle about how wrong his decision was…..

I cannot count the number of times I have heard on two different stations in that last hour speculation about “what caused the President to change his mind”.  I am not sure the President DID change his mind.  I think he had NOT decided – just as he said. And late yesterday, he did decide.  It just was not what the PRESS had decided several days ago…so to them, of course, he changed his mind.

But according to the Press, I am wrong.  Britain made him lose his determination….Just what is this costing to have those ships standing by….and why did he leave this hanging and go off to play golf this afternoon?

Excuse me?  Yesterday he was wrong because he was acting too fast.  Today he is wrong because he is holding off for a week and will go to the G-8 for additional discussion.  And he is especially a bad boy because he is out playing golf with VP Biden this afternoon.  The NICEST thing said about Obama today was that after all, he was a Constitutional scholar, and philosophically, during the Bush Administration did not think Bush should have initiated war without Congressional approval.  As a result, this has been a difficult philosophical struggle for him.

As the day went on, I found out so much more.  Little did I know the ships that were repositioned had been in dry dock and the crew was on leave.  What?  You say that is not the case? They were just patrolling elsewhere?  Well, then why is it costing so much more money now?  Oh, I see.  Just another Press fabrication; it is not costing more money. Despite the Press angst, we should not be worrying about the money it was costing to have five ships readied.

Andrea Mitchell for one, is particularly irritated both about the cost of the ships and about the golf.  She raised it as a major issue on a show I happened to be tuned to.  Then she raised it again. And then she did her own War Report at 4 PM, and after getting no traction the first two times, the person asked the third time sided with Obama; indicated it has been a hard week, and with another hard week ahead, it might be good for a couple hours down time.

But the “we know best” Press continued on.  First, we now look bad because the President changed his mind and now we are regarded as wishy-washy through- out the world.  How will we live that down?   Further, we have lost the surprise.  What Surprise, I think.  We have talking about this on every news program for a week!

Second, the focus has moved to “a strike will do nothing”  based on input from two military experts –well known from ten years ago.  Now, I don’t mean to complain, but really?  We are calling on Bush war advisors to show us what Obama is doing wrong?  Another bunch of retired angry old men with expertise rooted in Viet Nam.    It brought to mind that old military guy that was pushing for trained horses before WWII…or was that a myth?

Third, I guess the afternoon really showed me how much we keep our President in the dark and only the Press has the facts and expertise to handle these issues. I also learned that military trump both the President and the Congress.  So the latest at 5:30 was that we are now headed for a total disaster.

Seriously, I do not know what the right answer is, but I definitely know not to trust the Press of today. But then again, I am sure if we look at the ratings for the news shows this afternoon, they sky-rocketed.  Never mind if the public was better informed.  It’s all about the ratings.





August 30, 2013

A STRIB article with this header caught my attention this morning; and reading it, I learned a lot.

“People worrying about having enough money to pay their bills tend to lose temporarily the equivalent of 13 IQ points.”

The author continued on giving examples of swings in cognitive ability from 25% to 40% when money worries were also being given “brain attention”.

The key points:

  • The effect is very impactful
  • The effect is temporary
  • The effect is similar to going without sleep for a night

Add that brain-dead feeling when robbed of sleep to the worry of how to manage until one receives the next check and what do you get?  It appears we have not only a very serious barrier to overcoming the  problem at hand, but some pretty good evidence why it sometimes APPEARS the poor do not match you who are judging them in innate abilities…even though it is not true.

Rational thought may be beyond their capacity in the moment, but it is a TEMPORARY CONDITION.

This was a real EUREKA moment for me, as it answered a nagging question that was a cornerstone of the Republican campaign in the 2012 elections.  I disagreed, of course, with the bigoted rationale that said they did not want to change that pointed to those who have never been able to achieve mobility out of the poverty into which they were born.  But I really objected to the Republican thinking that the middle class that arose out of World War Two and built the successes of this country had suddenly been afflicted with a disease – yet to be defined or isolated- that turned those same people into part of the 47% that were hopeless in this country. Of course I recognized that this was biased and irrational thinking.  But I did not fully understand the gravity of the barriers those 47% were indeed facing.

Let’s take just one example of an “average” person with an “average” IQ of 100.  Add money problems. The brain capacity drops to 87.  Then add to that the inability to support a family with one job that pays minimum wage.  So the person worrying gets a second job….also at minimum wage. Oh good, they are now making $30,000+ a year- should have all they need to for a family of 4 right?  NO! So they are still worrying, and now they are trying to cram 16 hours of family time, and social time and sleep time and maybe school time as they try to improve their own wage-earning ability into the 8 remaining hours needed for sleep.  Opps, there goes another 13 % of decision making ability down the drain.  Now they are trying to function with a brain ability of 74%.

Yes, that is about what the high end of estimates say they will function at…but what if they have not had the benefit of education themselves, or positive role models, or a vision that life could be better?  They now may fall into that low end 40% category of brain capacity loss…so they could be functioning on a brain working at 60% of capacity…an IQ of 60.  Yes, they may be impaired by the stress of their situation enough to make decisions that do not mirror what YOU would do.

But turn that around:  Let’s pluck you out of the top 2%; transport you to another country –for the sake of the game, let’s say middle of Africa or Asia…where there are no phones, where you were not educated in the culture, language and mores of the land, and give you three other people for which you are responsible. If you do not provide for them; they die.  If they die-so do you.  How well do you think you would do?  If you are hungry enough, sleep-deprived enough, worried enough about how you can take care of those three people plus yourself, are you SURE you would come forth victorious?  Would your children emerge bright and industrious and well-prepared to move into the top two percent of the place in which you now live? Maybe, if you were adopted and nurtured by the community into which you were dropped; probably not, if you were not.  Just the stress you are under may well have lessened your IQ to that point where you are only capable of harvesting vegetables – but not competent to do much else.   Fortunately for you, this is only a temporary condition.  Once you are plucked up out of that environment, you return to being a functioning adult.

On a personal note, this article in the Strib today may be just what I need.  I made a bad decision in early July and my love of the river allowed me to throw away common sense and agree to offer my meeting design and logistics ability to a group of people planning a meeting in October.  I knew enough about the group to proceed with caution; and stipulated a base token fee and the number of hours I could contribute that could ensure an exit strategy if possible.

 Seven weeks into the game and I have invested double the time with no hopes that it will lesson going forward.   This could easily mean a time investment that in the business world would also yield $60,000 of income.  Unfortunately, it’s a non-profit and a flat fee stipend of $2500 has turned my life into a nightmare. And more than not receiving fair compensation for my time investment, other than the board member overseeing the project and the two staff members I am working with, I seriously do not remember EVER being talked to or treated with as little respect that I have been treated in the last seven weeks-even in those early days of being a woman in business with a role other than secretarial and a whole lot of “good old boys”. J

Now, perhaps I don’t remember being treated this bad, because those money worries are already impacting my brain capacity, but nevertheless… I am trying to juggle real clients, and the search for real clients post-October, and my own daily life, and move on a new opportunity of my dreams, with a net result that I am averaging 4-5 hours of sleep per night – definitely not enough to maintain a rational –thinking brain.  And consequently, I am caught in the very whirlwind described above.  I am not acting rationally either….or I would have already “fixed” the problem and disappeared.

And now, understanding the net in which I am caught, I recognize Tuesday I have to make the move to recapture my own life.  And just in case by then my brain is back in a non-functioning capacity, I have shared this with a good friend – who I KNOW will not let me destroy myself for people who could care less!




August 30, 2013

Missouri’s current movement to nullify all federal gun laws in their set me off this morning. Yes, I know, Missouri did not actually JOIN the Confederacy; but it was indeed represented by those that did, and this morning, sitting here reading the paper, I had had it.

The repulsion I have for the South began in my youth…first in grade school when I learned of slavery and the civil war; and second in the 60s when Civil Rights for the Negro became “my cause”.  In the 50 years since, the knowledge that white male supremacy was alive and well in the south has often made me ponder why we continue to fight this battle.  Deep down, I know that 150 years after the Civil War, nothing has changed; and nothing will in the future.  Angry old white men teach their youth to think like them and perpetuate the problem.

So over and over, I ask myself…what if?  What if they went away?   Think about how we would benefit if they all just went away!

Southern states get more aid from the US Government than they pay in in taxes.  So if indeed, they went away, would there be money for better schools and better infrastructure in the North?

What if we relocated those federal military installations back into Northern states?  Would there be more income generated in communities to which they were re-located?  If the southern states were no longer part of the US, I suppose we would have to maintain some military presence below the Mason-Dixon line, but surely, the majority of the benefit would tilt back to those states that pay taxes to support the bases.

US businesses with branches in the south need more thought.  I am not well-versed in the corporate off shore tax laws but we keep hearing, those law need review and revision, so perhaps we could influence  northern corporations to withdraw from the South, if there was enough incentive.  And of course, with more jobs up north, the African-Americans employed for cheap in those down south factories might follow the factories north.  It might be safer.

We would need to focus some efforts to capitalize on the brain power that may prefer to move North. I have got to believe that we could invent some sort of a system that would allow multi-cultural, women and GLBT that live there to keep US citizenship if they move north since they are citizens now. 

We most likely would need to build a few more east-west interstate arteries, but think of all the money saved by cost-avoidance of maintaining roads for these people…especially when they seem to favor those old dirt roads they had per-Eisenhower anyway- I think it reminds them of “Gone With The Wind.”

Understand, I surely do recognize there are many Southern whites that are loyal US Citizens, and I recognize they would be negatively impacted.  What if we gave them the task of creating the process.  They could build in ways to relocate to a better place – or stay and build their new country.

And then- what if we looked at this in a historical perspective?  Throughout all time, empires collapse….and yet, Great Britain and Japan have remained powerful US allies – despite all the rebellious folks breaking off to form their own countries.  There might be a lesson learned there if we look at it in the right perspective. 

The snowbirds are another issue to deal with.  They retire and establish residency in the South to avoid taxes in their home states.   Ideally, we freeze the border and make them reapply for residency in our country…as immigrants if you will.  But what if we agree to let them back in and restore their citizenship in their home state if they pay all back state taxes. 

In other words, we have been taking care of these folks for 150 years…and like parents of juvenile delinquents, there comes a time when the parent has had enough.   Those parent issue an ultimatum:

Grow Up

Accept Responsibility

Honor the Rules of the Family

Contribute, or

Get Out!

Some would call that “tough love”.  I would call it Good Riddance.  Nevertheless, its only a fantasy….unfortunately for all of us.





August 26, 2013

I’ve only read the first section of the paper this morning, and already I have been distracted with some significant “food for thought”:

First, an OPINION EXCHANGE with a eye-catching headline – OH, IT’S ONLY BIG BROTHER:

“Is it the general public’s comparative lack of indignation over the NSA surveillance scandal that is surprising, or is the real shocker that journalists, activists and politicians feel so outraged?”

Personally, I think David Rieff asked the wrong question.

 The FIRST question should be “When we pay these people to be the eyes of our country, why did they not know these things before Snowden leaked them?

 Even I, a commoner out here in the Midwest, was well aware of some of this activity since it emerged shortly after 9-11; have followed  it as much as general public could, I think, including the alterations to tamp it down a bit, and I mentally assumed risk and worth had been duly judged.  Despite concerns Obama himself expressed about the practice since it began, I sensed –perhaps inaccurately- that once he became President, he was briefed on facts not generally known in public and thus, had not yet taken action.  That, I think, was reinforced in his first official speech on the issue after Snowden when he said he welcomed a review and positive input on how to minimize the down side of this initiative.

The SECOND questions should be:  What makes common bedfellows of journalists, activists, and politicians?  Oh yes, we all like to focus on admirable words like “truth” and “love of country”, and “agents of change”, but we often overlook another: Big Egos drive them in search of name recognition, ratings, and good polling numbers.

And one more time, they manipulated the public, trying to make Snowden a Hero exposing the enemy – our government.  Ratings soared, but as the general public absorbed more facts, the hyperbole died down.

YES, there are many issues we have not faced as we transition into this digital world we have created.  There is a wealth of information available by non-political experts – a pile of it is sitting on the corner of my desk .  Whether you are “just” a citizen of the US like me, or a politician, journalist, or activist, it is our common responsibility to explore with open minds, listen to both sides and then come together to craft  new guidelines that minimize risk, and capitalize on strengths of this new world we find ourselves in.

That will not happen until we stop clinging to “This is the way we have always done it.” It might surprise most of us, but we have NEVER always done it the same way.  The strength of our US system is its flexibility to change to meet the needs of its citizens as we go forward.


The second eye-catcher in Section A today came from a Letter to the Editor by Neil Anderson of Richfield:

The STRIB’s Front Page (Above the Fold) shares a report that 330 people died and an additional 3000 were impacted from Syria’s use of chemical warfare.

Still first section, 10 pages later, the STRIB published Neil Anderson’s opinion.  That opinion stated that 1,100 were killed and hundreds wounded as it described the very same incident.

 Hmmm.  I will skip the additional hyperbole about a “do-nothing President Obama” and simply say…it is not hard to fact-check in today’s world.  Neil Anderson might want to try it!  That should keep him busy while Obama, his staff, the military leaders , and informed legislators continue to review and debate options in development since the first rumor of chemical weapons surfaced. 

I am not sure, but I presume this was what the FIRST President Bush did when we learned of what Hussein did as Desert Storm was launched in response to the Kurdish situation and Kuwait.  He took time to GET THE FACTS, and more importantly, HE LISTENED to experts around him, and together they crafted a plan that ensured that we could go in, alleviate the situation with minimum cost of American lives and dollars and GET BACK OUT.  He had UN support, and Saudi Arabian, UK and Egyptian troops as well as $36 million of Saudi Arabian financial support (approximately 1/3 the cost of the entire 7 month action.) He launched an effort that was supported around the world, and more importantly, succeeded in its stated mission.

Neil Anderson is certainly entitled to state his knee-jerk reaction; and likewise, is entitled to skip the facts and urge the government to act without a plan.  After all, there is a precedent set for that as well.

On 9-11 we were attacked here in the United States; the mastermind of that attack escaped to hide in the mountains of Afghanistan.  It may have been a good match, as Afghanistan is a savage place-and in my mind, bin Laden was a savage person.   But one would have expected a bit of caution along with that emotion and flag waving, as it was no secret that the RUSSIANS had fought for years and years in Afghanistan and in the end, could not win and withdrew defeated.  One would have hoped we had evaluated that, identified why the Russians could not win, and had developed a plan to ensure the same would not happen to us.  But apparently, that was too much to ask; and hubris won-we went to war.

Within days, the second President Bush and his neo-con staff launched the Afghan War – and then just six months later launched the SECOND war on Iraq.  I, for one, am still not sure how the two were connected in the beginning.  Now, they are connected by a tremendous loss of lives in both, billions of dollars spent on a credit card over 7 years with no exit plan, no plan to repay the American people, no plan to help families to gave up members of their families, no plan to financially take care of returning veterans lucky enough to survive-many who returned home gravely wounded both physically and mentally, and certainly no plan to bring back from the dead all those who died for nothing.   

So I am glad to be a part of that majority of the voting public who have voted for President Obama TWICE…because we trusted he would collaborate, listen to experts, and ultimately develop a plan that could yield the best  results for the least risk-for the crises he was sure to encounter as President.  By voting YES for Obama the majority voted for a man who represents the 21st century.  At the same time, we voted NO to a repeat of the gun-slinging cowboy of the 19th century that did so much damage to our country as this new world dawned around us-damage we still have not been able to make right.   




August 25, 2013

Last week, I saw “The Butler” and I cried.

Yesterday, I was encouraged to see the Minneapolis Rally in honor of the March on Washington 50 years ago was multi-cultural although press coverage last evening seemed to position it as a “remembrance” not a call to action.  That made me sad…because the job is not done.

This morning I read Lee Shafer’s column in the STRIB and I got mad. 

Shafer reported on wage discrepancies between graduates of two college campuses (St. John’s and St. Ben’s) of the same organization and governing body….with very differing results.  The separation of these two campuses – based on the sex of the students- resulted in an Investment Return of $193,900 per woman graduate and $860,800 return per male.  Even for the well-educated, the discrepancies continue…all these fifty years later.

Generally, the press coverage as we approach the 50th anniversary of the “I have a dream” speech has indeed tried to point out that the motivating reason for the march and the speech was jobs.  Generally, the press has done a fair job of reminding the public that the work is not done and the issue has expanded to all non-whites as well as to women’s rights and to the GLBT community.  

More important, it has made me think a bit about my own journey in those 50 years.

 My parents both had eighth grade educations; my father worked as a machinist and once we were all in school, my mother worked in retail sales. The fifth of six children, I graduated third (or maybe fifth- I can’t remember exactly) in my class from high school in 1963 and was the first of my siblings to earn an Associate in Arts degree and then go on to graduate from the University of Minnesota in 1967.  I worked through-out junior high, senior high and college and after a couple years in the travel industry world, in 1970, I entered the world of “corporate America”.   I became the first “woman” director at that company; and went on to become the first “woman” director and the first “woman” vice president in a second company in a similar industry.

In a time of great transition within my corporate organization, I was sent to Ohio to oversee the shutdown of a sister-company of 900+ employees-not as part of a team, but as a woman, with one other woman from the corporate organization to which my corporate group reported.  She was responsible for the physical assets sale/transfer to Mpls;  I was responsible for the people. 

No, we did not have representation from Human Resources.  It was hard duty in hostile territory but the worst part was the realization that we were sent to do the job because we were expendable.

 Not once did we see anyone from corporate nor from the organizational group to which both this location and I reported.  Not once in those six months did I receive a phone inquiry to see how I was doing…a few times, I got a call about something we were NOT doing according to plan and why not – and that was it.   When I returned and ultimately discussed this with the VP of Human Resources at the corporate level, his response was they could not send the male VP of HR of the specific group in which I reported because “it would have been too hard on him emotionally.”

What a hard lesson to learn.  I thought I was succeeding in the business world because of my abilities when in reality, I was allowed to succeed only to protect a white man who probably would not have done as well.  This is a well-kept dirty little secret still alive and well in corporate America today.

I left that organization, wiped the slate clean, and have spent twenty years successfully running my own business.  Without a sales organization, I have been able to achieve $1 million dollars annual sales 2 of last 3 years.  Since 2000, I have been recognized with industry awards EVERY TIME I have submitted a job for consideration, and along with a collaborative of very talented others, my company has made headlines in local, national and international press for events produced by me.  And of course, there is this month’s achievement, as MPI launches a new international initiative focusing on Meeting Design for results supported by a case study based on two events I executive-produced.

Growing up with the Civil Rights movement inspired me to do that.  I was not a white male; but I, too had a dream.  That dream has not been realized for far too many African-Americans, other multi-cultural populations within the US, women, and the GLBT community.  And so today, I watched the Civil Rights focus on Meet-the-Press…and I cried again.






August 23, 2013

A over-scheduled week and a less than cooperative client contributed this week to an overflowing section on my desk filled with notes and what ifs and post its that are reminding me to follow-up and get more information.  It also left a pile of clippings from the STRIB to think about – “later”.   So it’s later and I am cleaning them up.


There was a great article in the STRIB entitled “Dream of Wild Health Farms.”  It helped me get through the week and brought back fond memories of the team involved in “Telling Native River Stories”…and visions of Alameda and Mona, whose monthly infusion of wisdom and passion I truly miss.


More bridge cracks were found on a 35W bridge…the concern for safety trumps all but the good news is the cracks were found before another bridge fell down. And MAYBE it ultimately can serve as a lesson learned to those nay-sayers across the Minnesota River to our south.  Maintenance on your criss-crossing highways and freeways need to be paid for by someone.  From my perspective – you use; you pay.   Because, if you continue to use and don’t pay, the bridge falls down and you pay a far greater price than tax assessments.


The recognition that the “invincibility” of youth needs to be addressed is a promising sign in the MNsure campaign now being released.

I continued to think I was invincible until the day I was distracted, move one foot six inches, lost my balance and fell off a stage platform unto a brick floor.

Doctor bills that quickly gobbled up insurance benefits and thirty years of retirement savings left me with daily chronic pain and knowledge of how quickly one’s life is changed.  And the ten year battle back after I resumed working could not change the fact that for the last 18 months, I have suffered from and continue to doctor for long term results of that fall that are only recently manifesting themselves.

So I am looking forward to the launch and am so hoping it does indeed catch the attention of our youth and remind them they are not invincible; nor is there ever enough money to get you through the  medical crisis you may encounter.  Be prepared. 


This week, we are investigating the owner of Vikings after he’s been proven guilty of crimes in another state; the Wild co-owner admits wrong doing and “settles with the SEC for $18 million; and oh yes, it seems finance and taxes of the Pohlads are also being questioned in terms of the Twins.  Three of our professional sports teams make the news in the midst of the national activity where one sports hero after another is being put on probation for cheating, lying and drug abuse.

Perhaps it is time to give a little more thought to the philosophy that sports heroes and involvement in sports as it stands today develops better citizens in our youth.   I fear good citizenship has indeed been trumped by fortune, fame and a big win.  No, I am not saying sports program are not good; I am saying perhaps we need to focus on the adults  that have let those kids down…the owners, and players and coaches and parents who put “Winning is Everything” first.


“After issuing  more frac sand mining permits than any other county in Minnesota or Wisconsin over the past 36 months, Trempealeau Country will take a hiatus of one year to consider possible adverse health effects on citizens.”

I am trying to see that in a positive light- although I fear it could be too little too late.

 We cannot put back the beauty of the “drift-less” area; nor can we replenish aquifers, but MAYBE we can keep an eye (and the pressure) on and its links to EQB, DNR, PCA and Departments of Health, Transportation and Agriculture and what Governor Dayton and current legislators are doing to ensure  the “adverse effect  [of  fracking] on water, air, noise conditions, lighting conditions, the stability of communities and other measures important to the health and safety of county residents” are heard, reviewed and dealt with appropriately!







August 22, 2013

The headline this morning read “2011 ruling:  NSA violated Constitution”; the subtitle read “The e-mail collection program was later fixed to the court’s satisfaction.”

The opening two paragraphs summarized that the NSA program violated the Constitution for several years according to a top-secret court ruling from October 2011 which was made public yesterday.

And then the third paragraph “below the fold” if you will:

“The release of the ruling, under pressure by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was the latest effort by the Obama Administration to contain revelations about NSA surveillance prompted by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.   A side bar in bold in that paragraph proclaimed : ”Volume and nature of the Information [the program} had been collecting is fundamentally different than what the court had been led to believe.”    This quote was attributed to the 2011 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion.

Eight inches of print into the article, we learned that the problems were relatively small compared to surveillance on non-citizens abroad.  And we learned that NSA quickly fixed the problem to the court’s satisfaction.   Nevertheless, the remaining 5 inches of print indicated the court was still troubled, and that what was being collected was far different than what  FISA had been led to believe.  It reported this was the third time in less than three years in which the government disclosed a substantial misrepresentation of the volume and nature of information.

As I finished the article, despite knowing a small amount about the NSA/FISA Court history rooted in the Bush Administration, I admit I had to take a deep breath and say…wow-this is not only disconcerting;  it is enough to make me think I better think through my support of Obama.

For some of you reading this, I imagine it was enough to send you off to the organizing groups with your donations to support impeachment of the President.   And hopefully, there are some of you out there that know much more than I and recognized this immediately as Press manipulation.

I however, fortunately had a nagging voice in my brain telling me to think through that timeline.  And I listened to it.

 If Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, how could there possibly have been time to move into the White House, learn all there was to know just about  how the White House itself operated, get all the appointments announced and people in place in all the government agencies and arms that represent the nation, have them get acclimated in their new roles, dig deep, learn the nitty gritty details, review, and report back to the President recommendations and actions; get those actions implemented and enforced  and still have been able to  pull off some MAJOR disturbing practices….all the while butting heads with an opposing party who announced  their mission over the  four years from January 2008, to January, 2013, was to ensure  that Obama would have no second term.    How could one man, who also crafted a major change in US healthcare and GOT IT APPROVED despite that same opposition by the Republicans, and got us out of Iraq, and on track to get out of Afghanistan, and finally found Osama bin Laden and killed him, and weathered a Republican plan – at least in the short term – to bring down the country financially – be able to launch this plot successfully?  How could one man already fighting GREAT ODDS accomplish all this?   He was not a” White Man” with all the privilege that implies; he did not bring decades and decades of experience about how Congress worked, nor decades and decades of relationships within the Legislative bodies, nor did he have the family connections and money of a Kennedy, nor the benefit of being a Governor like a Clinton.

Amidst all that, how could he campaign and be selected to a second term of office – thereby showing the weakness of the opposing party NOT ONCE, but twice?

 And even more perplexing, Obama believes in building a better world through collaboration, listening and learning from one another; in a world where individual people helping others do make a difference.    He set out to change the Best World ever built – that one built by the Boomers  – a world that brought power and fame and money to those that knew how to play by Boomer rules.  Those rules that say  if we just surround ourselves with others like us and boycott, we will be ok….and the rest of the world will go away.   How in the world did he overcome those barriers we put in his way?

The timeline made no sense to me in view of all of that.  And then there was the fact that I knew nothing about the organization that brought the suit.  Who is Electronic Frontier Freedom anyway? 

And so I detoured off to do a little research – fully expecting to find that this group was another Republican propaganda arm – masking as a do-good non-profit.   And I was proven wrong, at least in the short amount of time (about two hours) I have spent on it this morning.

But what I learned as FACT was the timeline.

This organization came to be in 1990 – just a few years into the DIGITAL AGE – as a result of some very forward thinkers imagining a future in which individual rights would be fighting a tough battle in terms of privacy rights issues.  It seemed to be legitimate; it scores well on consumer/public ratings of whether to invest/believe or not.  And it sounds good on its web and in Wikipedia, and its actions to defend personal and individual rights speak well of its intent.

1990 – yes,  in the midst of Reagan/Bush Senior era – but as I read about it, its focus did not show political philosophies, it clearly was focused on what will this digital world we are entering do to our personal freedoms.  I know, you can’t believe everything you read, but my gut feel led me forward.

The initial interest and filings in this specific case went back to 2005-2006. This lawsuit itself was filed in SEPTEMBER 2008.  Hmmm.  That’s a red flag, is it not? 

The Republicans had just nominated John McCain as their presidential candidate; the Democrats had just nominated Obama.  We were in the midst of debates…and the American public was immersed in the issues and teetering on the brink of the worst collapse of our economic world since the Great Depression – an amazing turn of events in eight Bush years.   And there as a candidate was an unthinkable possibility that just maybe we could have a President that would be a mixture of both white and multi-cultural race that could lead us through this transition to that time in 2040 and beyond when whites would become the minority.  And even better, this candidate thought differently.  He did not emulate power and out-trumping an opponent, he professed listening, dialog and collaboration – just what all the futurists were saying was needed around the world in this new 21st century.


But I digress.  Back to the timeline.

  1. Issues surfaced 2005-2006.
  2. Lawsuit was filed September, 2008, while Bush was still Presidet of the United States.  Translation:  This was a lawsuit against Republican actions during the Bush Administration.
  3. The ruling made in October, 20ll, with extensive review and necessary adjustments made by the Obama Administration to comply with that ruling.
  4. No data uncovered to date to when plan for those implemented adjustments began, but I presume that it had to be a priority fro mthe beginning in order to have a plan and be able to implement it successfully immediately in case the ruling demanded it.  I would call that foresight.
  5. Although the changes were quietly implemented, there was no publicity at the time and Obama defended the right to keep them secret. (Ed:  Think:  Suporting the right of the Office ofthe President; and hence the person who initiated the action – George W. Bush)
  6. Obama refused to give out details to the Press, but at the same time told the nation in his address this summer that he welcomed the review of this (21st century) issue.

Today, that has all been played out in the Press with a definite slant of sensationalism aimed at Obama.

This feeds right into the damage and trouble that I believe is being caused by the PRESS in this country whom we have allowed to move from reporting facts to telling us what we should believe about those facts- which today are interspersed with non-facts and simply personal opinion of what is rapidly becoming irresponsible commentators looking for ratings to keep their jobs.  

That, and the difficult issues emerging in this century for which we have no precedent, puts us right where we were at the beginning of the 20th century…fumbling our way through a whole new world of individual rights that were expanding past white men to women to native and other non-white men and women at a disturbing pace because of new means of communication.  I’d like to think we learned something over a hundred years, but perhaps we have not.

That aside, the time I have spent on this morning’s STRIB article leads me to one conclusion only: 

Perhaps the sin of Obama is only that his strong morals and thoughts about how to better prepare the United States for the 21st century  led him NOT TO BLAME THE CAUSE  – the Neo-Cons under the weak leadership of nice man – George W.

Many have questioned why he as a ”Constitutional Scholar “could even think that what was being done would not be unconstitutional.  Perhaps what they scoff at is exactly why he did not take a personal stand – his knowledge and confidence in that document may have led him to the knowledge that change would come without his intervention. He did not dishonor a former President;  and did not yield to political pressure to do so as he has no further political aspirations. 

 I listened to that nagging doubt and invested the time to think it through and it brought me right back to where I was in 2008.  I voted for a man I admired for his principles and new thinking.  I stand on that. I believe he has been motivated by those same things as well as commitment to the Office he holds as the leader of the country he loves…even though standing against releasing the details of a system established by his predecessor has made him the bad guy.   

He is neither the DEVIL nor SUPERMAN.  He is not even acting as a politician, although he has done that well  along the way.  He is a product of his time with deep beliefs and motivation to help his country where he can.  And I personally cannot wait until he is released from this sentence we have given him so that he can return to the real world and we learn of how he next intends to influence the world and help guide us through the turmoil ahead for which we refuse to prepare!

That is why I spent today – my first time off in almost 40 days – to think this through.  It was worth every minute.



August 21, 2013

Who Knew?   The people tending the Dowling Gardens certainly did, but I just learned this morning that Dowling Gardens will celebrate its 70th Anniversary!  It began as a Victory Garden in 1943. It is one of only two surviving Victory Gardens in the United States.  A partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools, the garden is so popular that the waiting list to get a plot is often 5-6 years!  The 4 acres in the garden are divided into 185 plots with about 300 gardeners.  What a great success story.  These people are serious. If you don’t faithfully keep the weeds away; you are kicked out!  And just like an earlier post on Edible Landscaping (August 12), it is another example of more than just the good taste of home-grown produce…. From- “It’s the community that makes the garden special.  We trade produce and share insights” to “I love the camaraderie.  I have a circle of friends here, and we trade ideas and produce” – there is no doubt.  This is another successful example of community building!

Despite all my childhood complaints about the garden and my personal preference for “Farmer’s Markets”; I seem to be pretty focused on gardens recently.  I was sharing with a friend my experience with the U students gathering input on improvements to the green space at the Affordable Housing location on 4th and Hennepin last week.  I mentioned to him that I had suggested as an idea that we try to connect that little bit of green to the Gateway Green that will begin in the current parking lot on the river side of the Library and go all the way to the riverfront when Gateway Park- now in the planning phase is completed.  It did not need to be a grandiose plan – just an x-shaped something at skyway height  at the Intersection of  3rd and Hennepin that could display hanging pots during the growing season and evergreens in the winter.  I really did not care if they were live or artificial; I was looking for the green connection that one’s eye could follow from the corner of 4th and Hennepin all the way to the Mississippi River…to help these folks feel a part of a bigger whole and perhaps tempt them to venture outside their fenced in world.

That conversation led to another….the original produce market in Minneapolis was nearby.  Why not recreate that market in a raised platform over the intersection as part of a new trend called vertical farming.  One could grow the produce and sell the produce as cars and trucks passed underneath the platform.  I had no idea what vertical farming was.  I have spent some time researching it since. My mind is full of all sorts of new possibilities.

Not to say I am still not just a little nervous about all those bugs that will gather as well.  But, there are lots of possibilities – including offering  folks the space to garden  and in exchange, not only  eat and enjoy the produce themselves, but sell what one does not eat…and while we are at it, we recapture the history of the Gateway and its surrounds in a pretty useful way!


MEETING DESIGN: The What, Why and How

August 15, 2013

Yesterday, I received the advance copy of the MPI launch of their new initiative – a focus on Meeting Design.  It, along with a supporting case study based on our own collaborative efforts in conjunction with Boston Scientific and the CRV All-employee meetings of 2010-2011, will be introduced to 71 chapters of MPI around the world over the next several months. 

On one hand, I feel like the proud mom, to be even a small part of the movement that grew out of the mid-2000s, that I was experimenting with here in Minneapolis in 2007-2008 with some good successes surrounding the Republican National Convention.  As I was reading and researching and re-thinking the world of “meetings”, Maarten Vanneste was doing the same thing – “popularizing it in his book,  Meeting Architecture, a manifesto (2008)”.

Slowly, the interest and understanding of a new approach to our business grew; the successes happened and were acknowledged in trade press; fortunately for me, a colleague in the industry here in the Twin Cities was also following the transformation and change in thinking and opened the doors to us at Boston Scientific so that we could become the case study that is included in the MPI international launch.

Although I am tempted to use the cliché, “The Rest Is History” – it really is not.  It is only the beginning.

I have associations with several professional organizations – two of which seem to be launching the new approach Big Time this year…and that is a good thing.  Nevertheless, it will not be an easy transition.

I myself am currently working with a client that daily reminds me of the great task ahead as we move forth to try to modernize our own industry.  I have been working with this “Event Team” for 6 weeks now; and long ago lost count of the number of times I have been challenged by two members of this mini-steering committee (who in their professional lives handle meeting logistics for their own organizations).  I have no doubt they are passionate people; that they are passionate about logistics; and they are passionate about being right and doing it their way.  They are not so passionate about collaborative thinking, however – which is, indeed, the very key to the successful transition into the new world before us.

That first step –the Principle of Collaboration is an elusive one for many people. MPI describes it and its importance well:

Tap into the collective intelligence of the group to better understand its needs, generate new ideas, determine best solutions and put plans into action….the wisdom of the crowd is an invaluable resource.  Inherent in every meeting, is the opportunity for change, progress and innovation.”

And so, as I proudly read the final version of the MPI Meeting Design initiative, and the final version of the accompanying case study, and forwarded it to the rest of the team, I was quickly brought back to reality.  

Yesterday was a baby-step forward.  The rollout in MPI Chapters internationally will be baby-steps; the fight for successes in this new world will be baby step after baby step.  The work is not done in modernizing our industry and pulling it – screaming in protest- into the 21st century.

 PCMA is doing a great job in moving forward leading the industry as they have done with forward thinking since their first publication of the book “Professional Meeting Management” in the 1980s that led to the CMP certification process. (And yes, I am as proud to say that I was one of first five CMPs in Minnesota, as I am to say, I am proud to be one of the 5 founders of  the ISES chapter in Minnesota, and proud to be working with MPI to launch the Meeting Design approach all these many years later).

 MPI has now made the initial move; I think ISES is trying to do the same with their new educational approach.  But none of us have learned to walk yet, let alone RUN with these new ideas.  With time, we will get better – just as over time, we got better with the logistical end of our business.

In the meantime, I am comforted to read in the new initiative:

Meeting design challenges the status quo.  It represents a paradigm shift-a profound change in the fundamental meeting model that sees every meeting as a nail for the proverbial hammer of logistics. Logistics is building a house; meeting design is making that house a home….meeting participants needs are evolving beyond satisfying their basic needs for food, shelter, safety, proximity to others and  exposure to others.”

Basic needs:  food, shelter, safety, proximity to others and exposure to others.  Taken out of context, that conjures up man’s move out of the cave and exploration of the world around him, doesn’t it?  Those that were afraid to leave the cave and explore for new opportunities died.  And that’s what makes this exciting! 

“Attendees want innovative, unique experiences that challenge their senses, their expectations, their knowledge and their ideas.  Fulfilling on that is the ultimate value of meeting design.”





August 12, 2013

Last week, the STRIB published the second installment of the “Edible Landscape Makeover” Series, and as I read it, it conjured up many a memory of my youth.

For almost 75 years, the “home of Hap and Bernice Kranz in Rochester was two city lots – one for the house and flower gardens, and one for the food garden.

From my perspective as a kid, this was NOT a good thing.  It not only meant helping to plant 16 rows of potatoes in the spring, but worse, was the strange things we had to eat, and then the “harvesting”.  

Radishes, onions, anything green and leafy, asparagus, broccoli, and eggplant were just the beginnings of the list of “proof” that we were being poisoned.  Tomatoes were acceptable, but did we need a FOREST of them…because sooner or later, we would washing fruit jars to can them.   Picking strawberries or worse, raspberries -with those scary black bugs- was not a treat, but torture.  And being sent to the basement to get potatoes or carrots or a couple big onions harvested in the fall and stored in the fruit cellar was major punishment.  Not only was it dark, but the lurking spiders were sure to attack before you even found the dangling string to turn on the light in there that made the bugs run for cover.

Somehow, we survived, but worse was to come when we were a little older and my mom went off to “work”.  Indeed, this was proof we were abused, as she regularly left a list of “chores” we were to do while she was gone…none of them were fun of course: do the dishes, clean your room, iron your clothes, and start supper – which  often, included afternoon harvesting.  Dig and peel the potatoes; pull a few carrots and onions; pick the tomatoes or strawberries and get them cleaned.  As we moved into fall, the dreaded call for squash, broccoli, or cauliflower got added to the list.  I much preferred the occasional “pick the lilies of the valley, and put them in water in this vase” days, that was for sure – but one still had to be careful of what scary insect or bee might be lurking there or around the holly-hocks or rose bushes as you tried to GET to those pretty little white flowers.

As we complained, she would try to reason with us, saying, “I’m sure your friends whose mothers work are expected to help start dinner” and we would whine “no one else has to  harvest the food they are going to eat; or worse,  fight the monster bugs.”  

It was a constant battle and then one day I was an adult, and realized just how wonderful having that garden was – not only in terms of convenience, but taste and cost-savings…but  only today, did it really occur to me that something else was happening around that garden.

Yes, just like the Edible Estate featured in the STRIB this morning, our mini-“farm” in the midst of the city block also brought the neighbors together.  Most days if Mom or Dad were gardening , there’d be a neighbor visiting over the fence; and once that harvest started, a steady stream of folks coming and going, picking up  a bag of produce because  we had “more than we could eat.”  Who Knew? The Kranz garden was an early creative community building activity and we didn’t even know it!