Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

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PONDERINGS

January 9, 2014

SNOWDON AND THE NSA

A short STRIB feature this morning raised a thought-provoking question as debate continues on the NSA and the FISA courts.

Apparently, the general consensus is that the Supreme Court represents some of the least tech-savy people in the country.  www.startribune/politics/national/239124211.html  Reading the article, it becomes clear why there is controversy over Snowdon as a whistleblower vs. a traitor, as well as a growing discussion on why similar activities conducted by commercial and corporate entities (especially world-wide-web participants) are acceptable but less-intrusive government data gathering is not.

Even members of the Supreme Court are suggesting a reliance on the Fourth Amendment to resolve this issue in cases currently bubbling up in the system may not be the answer to resolving these issues of the 21st century.

In a way, that is comforting as it does point out the wisdom of the founding fathers as they drafted the constitution to become guiding principles, but at the same time allowed for amendments as necessary to change it to cover unforeseen future circumstances.

On the other hand, can you imagine the angst, emotion, and drama that would accompany any movement to amend the Constitution to clarify this issue in our world today?  I am afraid it would rank up there with slavery, women’s rights and the civil rights movement in terms of tearing the country apart.

ISRAEL AND REFUGEES

Keep an eye on this one…at least on the surface, the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” mantra does not seem to be applicable – at least in all cases.

It is surely a complicated question that does indeed confront the Jewish state with key questions about its identity, who is a refugee, and do Jews have a special duty to be accommodating in light of their own history.

It does not appear to be a black/white issue; there have been attempts at accommodation; there have been concerns; and definitely there has been unequal treatment of Christian and Muslim refugees.

Sadly, as I read it, I could not help but draw some parallels to our country and our conflicted stance of  freedom and immigration – especially in view of the fact the US was also founded by early settlers often looking for refuge from persecution….and in so doing, created tremendous conflicts with the indigenous peoples already living in the land we wanted.  And yet, we are not always welcoming to those modern immigrants seeking refuge in what we built as a white man’s world.

 

AN ECONOMIC WORD GAME

A New York Times report on Obama’s comments yesterday following the Senate decision to debate the Jobless Benefits bill pointed out a truism that actually made me smile.

Yes, there is a careful “balance” going on in the 2014 message of “despite an improving economy, too many people are being left behind.”

The NY Times ended the article by citing critics calling it a “muddled economic message the White House has been delivering for years under Obama”.

And yes, the economic is not a right/wrong or black/white situation…it is a mixture.  There is not just a single“right” answer;  the situation is complex.

We are too used to right vs. wrong with no nuances depending on our own political leanings along with the color of our skin.  We forget there is truth and fiction in both.

So perhaps that is why I see Obama and the way he thinks as a mixture of white and African-as a good thing. He, like our world, is complicated.  He, like our world, challenges both sides.  That, in my mind, makes him a good leader.

Maybe we are so critical of him only because it is scary – because whether we agree or disagree, we cannot go backwards.   There is no winner in black vs white or left wing vs right wing.

The way forward for success in the future is collaboration – from which will come a better way than either stance today.

OIL, PIPELINES, TRAINS and the MIDDLE EAST

We’ve tipped the scale; most of our oil comes from within our own country today; North Dakota is booming; jobs are plentiful…all good things.

Enter the pipeline vs environment debates and the reality of unsafe trains causing concern over hazardous materials…one more time, proof there is often on easy answer to almost anything in today’s world!

Then another question popped into my head to confuse the situation more.  With our capacity increasing, it is creating more self-sufficiency in terms of fuel.  What is that impact on the US relationship with the Middle East?  As far as I know, we have not heard much discussion on that.

  But obviously, if we produce most of our own oil, we are not reliant on the Middle East and that could well mean less dollars are flowing there from us – despite  financial help to various countries in need.  We most likely no longer carry the mantra of Good Customer in the Middle East – we have become something else.  Are we SURE that it is the tensions of “Obama’s” US policy goals alone that has changed the tone and attitudes?    Food for thought as you listen to the next rant from your favorite commentator claiming Obama’s approach is not working well.

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THE TRUTHS AND SPIN OF BENGHAZI…and of OUR EMEREGING WORLD

December 29, 2013

Reconstruction of the 2012 attack on the US Embassy shows neither the Republicans nor the Democrats had it right when explaining Benghazi.

Benghazi was NOT infiltrated by Al Qaida nor did the Obama Administration cover up evidence of Al Qaida role as the Republican Angry Old Birds claimed…although a NON Al Qaida Abu Khattala was NOT recognized by the Obama Administration as the severe threat he was.

Nor, as Susan Rice first explained, was the attack a response solely to the You-Tube video.  Spontaneous street demonstrations to that video were indeed a factor, however.  Those already planning an attack capitalized on the opportunity when it presented itself; and then arsonists and looters took advantage of the situation and destroyed the Embassy and killed the Ambassador.

In reality there are bits of truth and misinformation in both positions; along with a whole lot of hyperbole, and positioning for domestic POLITICAL gain and for Press ratings.

Now that the Official report reconstructing the event has been completed, do you think the politicians have learned anything?  In reality, as usual, misunderstanding and posturing had only one winner – the Press-and that was short-term.  Where should the accountability be focused?

This is not just about Benghazi.  It seems regard for Reality, Truth and moving towards improvements based on lessons learned as been lost in our world today.   For instance……

  • An immense and sometimes invasive digital security system initiated in response to 9-11 by a Republican-led government has become “proof” of incompetence and failure of the Democratic-led government that followed.  Where should the accountability be focused?
  • A healthcare revolution in the US, approved by the majority of US Congressional leaders,  becomes yet another political issue with little regard to the benefits to US citizens, because the error-ridden on-line registration system (and of course, the disobeying of the law within by some insurance providers) has emerged as Proof that the Democrats were wrong in suggesting our citizens needed better health care and Republicans were right in opposing the same. Where should the accountability be focused?
  • A data breach at Target that has harmed millions is emerging as a Democratic issue of why the government has not protected us from companies like Target. Some Democrats think the government has not done enough to protect us as citizens.  Where should the accountability be focused?
  • UPS/Fedex are being blamed for an unhappy Christmas because retailers in hopes of saving their over-projected holiday sales, promised to get last-minute on-line gift purchases to their destination in time for Christmas…apparently with no regard to how organizations tasked with that mission were going to accomplish it.  Consumers bought in; disaster occurred.  Where should the accountability be focused?

 When will we learn our world is not black and white?  And when will we accept that the 20th century is not the 21st century – that indeed, our world has changed?  How much are we politicizing or looking for someone to blame simply because we do not anticipate or recognize consequences of the digital world in which we live today? 

No, I am not saying digital is evil.  I am just pointing out –one more time- that we need to address the TOTAL impact of the digital age in which we live.  Old thinking, old systems are not the answer.  We need to say goodbye to the 20th century; make an about-face to the future and acknowledge the WORLD has changed around us.  None of us can predict based on our “experience” what consequences will follow any action today.  But it is increasing clear that we need to acknowledge the digital world is here and has brought with it new good and bad consequences.

We should not expect to reap the benefits without learning to minimize the negative consequences.   

And since this is not about who can find the most “dirt” on the other, or raise the most funds, or use gerrymandering to get the most votes, perhaps a little more listening to one another and collaboration among people with differing views might just pay-back for all of us as we move forward in a new age that bears little resemblance to the century we have left behind.

 

 

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A NEW WORLD….ONE MORE TIME?

October 15, 2013

Back in the mid-2000s, event and meeting planners started to envision a NEW WAY forward that better matched emerging research on how we learn….The “Adult Learning” revolution launched simultaneously with technical advances that were propelling us into a digital age.

Here at Creative Events, we became followers of these visionaries, did some exploration of collaboration and new learning tools, and tried to focus on engaging our audiences to interact with each other and their own thought-leaders. We got our “feet wet”  in 2008 with the GOP Convention and by 2010 we were ready for the grand experiment of developing a collaborative of independent event peeps to test our theories and growing knowledge when we were selected as the vendor to for a Boston Scientific Employee meeting.

You have heard the story, seen the pictures, positive press, and awards that signaled we were on the right track.  We delivered good results; we were recognized for it and this year in August, MPI launched a new initiative called “MEETING DESIGN” that used those two BSCI employee meetings as the case study to support their new curriculum.  Over the next 12-16 months, 71 MPI chapters internationally will be introduced to this concept that revolutionizes the Meetings Industry; and slowly, ISES, as well, is executing events with something more than A WOW factor-thank goodness!

Simultaneously as a volunteer , I have participated in brainstorming several revitalization projects in the City of Minneapolis (Plan It Hennepin, Washington Avenue,  the Cultural Corridor, Nicollet Avenue Street Car Plan and  the latest project just introduced – the redesign of Nicollet Mall itself)…not to mention the West River Road Trails Improvement plan and the continuing evolution of the latest 30 year plan for the Central Riverfront…all of which have introduced me to an international concept called creative-place making.  Much of that has focused on building consensus and building/sharing visions through the use of art. 

Out of that, has come a strong desire to experiment with applying those same creative processes to meetings and events in order to achieve that same warmth and depth I was seeing emerge in community events – that is  not necessarily achieved from social media and current technology alone.

Meanwhile, Boston Scientific has continued to push forward…applying a key corporate value – not only to the patient and healthcare in general, but to business applications in their healthcare world. Their commitment to Meaningful Innovation has opened new doors. 

Last month, we started a new journey with them, as we once again turn our thoughts to their next Employee Meeting in late Spring of 2014. 

Is the world ready to take “Meeting Design” one step further?

If we unlock a meeting from the need to have a BIG room, BIG stage, and BIG seating blocks for a general session…then we have a whole new world of possibilities before us.  Maybe all those costs and time spent with hotel/convention center infrastructure can be redirected to the purpose and outcomes of any given meeting:  increasing adult learning and achieving results…creating an improved corporate environment for all.  In 2014, we will test our new theory.  The BSCI Employee Meeting will be held on each campus during the same week’s timeframe.  To accomplish that, we need to create engagement points that allow interaction before, during, and after the Town Hall experience; we need to ensure that engagement and interaction is between all employees and their leadership. Along the way, we hope to give employees what they need and want in order to get results for Boston Scientific and for their patients. And we hope to do that utilizing the power of all the technology on both those campuses supported by interactive projects that result in a bit of creative “corporate” community-making, as we also work with the BSCI space design folks to tell the story on empty walls  in lobbies, cafeterias, and within departments across a total of ten buildings on three campuses. Stay tuned on this one.  With no clear path to follow, I’m sure we’ll have some stumbles as we explore how to best to do this, but something tells me, we are opening the door on a whole new world.

And so the exploration begins-guided by new visions of what this Meeting and Event world can be.

 

 

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A POSITIVE START TO THE WEEK

September 23, 2013

LEARNING STUDIOS

“Can you imagine going to a 1913 hospital” asks Jeff Cacel, principal at North Park Elementary as he positions the REAL issue:  “Why do we subject our children to antiquated and outmoded learning environments?

So at North Park, they’ve made some changes and created a learning studio that houses 94 second graders and 6 teachers which was so successful, the concept has now been expanded to the third grade as well.

Work spaces include tables/chairs, genius bars, hokki stools, and carpeted floor space…plus small rooms for quiet space around the periphery.  YES! Twenty-first century spaces to build twenty-first century skills!

But equally important to me was the work done in redefining the curriculum.  The three “Rs” of reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic have been replaced by the four Cs:  Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity!

Add a little small group work, hands-on learning, conversations, technology and flipped instruction and this is dream come true in revolutionizing education!

I wish I were in school now.  Just think what a better job I could do facilitating a revolution in adult learning – which is also sorely needed in order to succeed in our world today and into the future.

 

GOOD THINKING, TARGET

Before they automatically hired temp holiday staff, they asked their existing hourly team members if they’d like additional work over that time period.

But not to worry, they will still need 70,000 new faces…and if there is a repeat of last year, almost 40% of the newbies will be offered year-round positions after the holidays!

 

GOOD THINKING CLAIR MCCASKILL AS WELL

She’s laid it all out on the table:

“I don’t think in America we should throw tantrums when we lose elections and threaten to shut down the government and refuse to pay bills…The American people had a choice last November.  They had a choice between someone who said ‘Repeal Obamacare’ and President Obama”.

AMEN TO THAT!  What about majority rule do these folks NOT understand?  We can only hope they self-destruct in their attempt to destroy our nation.

 

AND, HATS OFF TO JEFF GOLDBERG

Nice to see at least one news commentator (Jeffrey Goldberg-Blomberg) reads Obama’s stance and effectiveness like I do.  He doesn’t necessarily agree with all the steps to this point, but he acknowledges Obama has been both “tough and effective”…with Syria and Iran – a far different stance from poplar media celebs like NBC whiner, Andrea Mitchell!

Of course, we won’t know until sufficient time passes so UNEMOTIONAL judgment can be made, but it sure is comforting to see if one thinks in a context of today’s world rather than the 1935-1941 run-up to WW2 like George Will and Andrea, one can see a different Obama than the one most of my Boomer generation  see. 

Many of the critiquers might be well-served to spend some time in the North Park Elementary Learning Studio…maybe they would learn something about the century in which we now find ourselves!

 

 

 

 

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PUTIN TAKES STAGE FROM OBAMA….

September 13, 2013

…Read the STRIB headlines yesterday.  And I said, do we care if the problem get’s resolved?

It is certainly “fitting” since Russia has been the MAJOR supplier of ingredients to MAKE the chemical gases  so I prefer to think the US may have just out-maneuvered Russia on this one.  After all, whatever you think of Obama, you cannot say is not intelligent and matching the Obama/Putin ego, whose do you think is bigger?

So only if trying  to “get” Obama is a greater motivator for the US Press than stopping the evils of Russia and Syria, will we all be sucked in on this one.

REPEAT TO YOURSELF:  21st CENTURY NOT 20th CENTURY.  Are you judging using old guidelines; or are you looking at this from the world we live in today?

Then ask yourself just one question:  Which would you rather have?  Peace through collaboration or Peace only after a war?  This is not about WINNING, it’s about SAVING LIVES.

 

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MEETING DESIGN

September 4, 2013

Some of us first embraced what has become one of MPI’s five principles of Meeting Design back in 2008 during the Republican Convention in Minnesota when several small businesses successfully experimented with collaboration to produce an award-winning hospitality event for Medtronic.

It was cutting-edge at the time; it made sense; it worked well for us and for our client; and it was well recognized in the Events world with several Star Awards…as well as a lot of industry press.

Two years later, we came together again-a collaborative of individual businesses-armed with more knowledge  not only about how to better work together, but about how 21st century research  had unlocked more secrets to the brain and how it functioned.  A revolution was happening in adult learning.  We may have been the experts in times gone by, but in this new world, we had to make some changes.

An opportunity at Boston Scientific gave us a chance to do just that as we were selected in 2010 to produce an all employee one-day meeting for 5000 persons.  We learned more; the client achieved not only their objectives, but the event exceeded their expectations and we were engaged for a second time, to do a follow-up meeting a year later.  We added new skillsets to the team; we understood more and more as we went forward, and we earned more recognition in not only awards, but international press coverage.  By now, we knew we were on the right track, and engaged Brett Culp to tape that second meeting which then became a great sales tool for each of us, but also cast us into “Event Fame” when he shared it in his presentation at The Special Event in 2013. 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xUvv0Wq5J0.

 

 Meanwhile, we had already started on a new journey.  In February, 2012, we were approached by MPI Research to become the case study to support their new initiative to launch “MEETING DESIGN”.

 It was a long process, but in early August this year, I received my copy of the final version.  It then rolled out in the August, 2013 edition of MPI’s “The Meeting Professional” Magazine.  The complete MPI Toolkit followed on August 20.

It also debuted in Toronto at IncentiveWorks August 19-21, clearly spelling out the Five Principles of Meeting Design:

  1. 1.       Assessment and Evaluation
  2. 2.       Experience
  3. 3.       Distributed Learning
  4. 4.       Collaboration
  5. 5.       Meaningful Evaluation

 

And as I understand, the rollout will continue through 71MPI chapters around the world over the next 12-18 months. 

Our Minnesota “Collaboratory” is proud of our work; we are proud of the recognition; and we continue to learn and grow as each of us moves forward utilizing this 21st century way of thinking about meetings and adult learning.  Perhaps we’ll have some updates to share when MPI WEC arrives in MSP in 2014!

 

 

 

 

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DEVIL OR SUPERMAN?

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.