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Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

THE SECRET OF HAPPINESS (a short story)

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 22, 2019

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Can it be expressed as a calculation?

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

It had been three years since Joshua Steivenson’s father passed away, yet the son was still cleaning out his father’s belongings. The old wooden house in Buffalo, New York was built in the 1930’s. Years ago, the cellar included an ancient coal furnace and chute, typical for the time. His father, Millard, converted it to a gas furnace a few decades ago in order to develop a clean and quiet place to study. His mother, who still maintained the house, encouraged Joshua to clean up his father’s belongings as she did not want to deal with it anymore. Everything in the cellar was tidy, which is uncharacteristic of a mathematician, but his voluminous books and notes filled shelf after shelf. Joshua had cleaned up the attic and his father’s closets upstairs, but it was now the cellar’s turn for attention. He had looked forward to pouring through his father’s notes, as he remembered the amount of effort and detail the elder devoted to them.

Millard Steivenson was a well known mathematician who had worked at the old Westinghouse plant years ago. His calculations were primarily used in manufacturing and design, earning him accolades not just from his employer, but with other mathematicians through his research papers. Joshua had followed in his father’s footsteps by also becoming a mathematician. As he grew up, father and son spent numerous hours arguing over formulas and equations; it was tremendous mental gymnastics, something both enjoyed immensely. Now that his father was gone, Joshua was eager to look through the elder’s body of work.

Millard’s notes were maintained in meticulous chronological order, in three ring binders, representing over sixty years worth of logic. This made it particularly interesting to study and watch his father’s work evolve over time. A lot of it consisted of simple formulas for use in product design, but now and then, he would try to explain concepts in physics which were often submitted to a mathematics union where papers were printed in journals and arguments presented, both pro and con. The father’s work was frequently featured in these journals.

Day after day, Joshua absorbed the journals, often going late into the evening. He remembered some of his father’s early work, but most of the pages included unfamiliar formulas and algorithms. Analyzing each computation, Joshua began to understand his expressions without having to review the accompanying notes. It all made sense to him. Then, in a binder from December 1965 he happened upon a section marked, “The Secret of Happiness,” consisting of a rather lengthy equation describing in mathematical terms how a person can discover his own personal happiness. This piqued Joshua’s interest as he didn’t recall his father discussing this concept and thought it a rather odd subject for a mathematician to pursue.

Joshua poured through the extensive formula carefully. At the heart of his father’s argument was the identification of a person’s purpose in life, both personal and professional, plus the motivation to achieve them, thus resulting in joy through fulfillment. By doing so, a person could elevate their personal self esteem through their chosen vocation and find happiness. Also included was mathematical language describing how to overcome adversity, to teach morality by discerning right from wrong, and the necessity to subdue passions, such as anger, greed and lust. It was all rather extensive. Basically, the formula was intended to unlock a person’s inner self. More importantly, Joshua couldn’t find anything wrong in the logic. It appeared everything was properly defined and interconnected. The son was rather impressed and began to quietly chuckle knowing of no other attempt to write such a formula. However, why had his father kept it a secret for so many years?

Following the formula, there were several accompanying notes, including reviews of the work. Years ago, his father had submitted a paper regarding the formula to the mathematics union. However, it was rejected out of hand with some rather sharp critiques with the contention, “You cannot synthesize human emotion.” Joshua was surprised by the open rebuff, particularly after analyzing the formula carefully. The critics even went so far as to publicly ridicule him, which may explain why his father stopped working on it. As Joshua read through the criticisms, he became angry as it became rather obvious few of the respondents had actually read the formula. The last note written by his father on the subject was a short footnote which appeared to be added many years afterwards; it simply read, “Joshua, when you are ready,” and was circled in red ink. This surprised Joshua who interpreted it as a request from his father to pursue the formula again.

As it was late, Joshua went to sleep thinking about both the formula and the criticisms of it. The logic was perfect, yet people didn’t seem to grasp the significance of it fifty years ago. What about today? What about today?…

The next morning, Joshua decided to resubmit the formula to the mathematics union for their consideration. He included an introductory letter, and updated his father’s supporting notes. One short week later, his documents were returned by the union with a strong letter condemning the work. “We are well familiar with your father’s work in this regard. As we notified him years ago, we do not consider this a viable formula. Trying to calculate human emotion is pure folly. Please do not waste our time again. Sincerely…”

Joshua was surprised the formula was dismissed out of hand so quickly. Perhaps too quickly. Obviously they didn’t study it in detail as the logic was flawless. He was particularly perturbed by their skepticism.

The refutation did not deter Joshua. As he was also well versed in computer programming, he decided to write an “app” for the formula suitable to be used in smart phones, tablets and computers. He expended considerable time coding the formula into the program. Special touch screen technology was added to simplify the use of the program. To do so, a person would simply need to press and hold his/her finger on the app logo whereby a screen was displayed showing the person’s hidden desires. This was done by accessing the person’s central nervous system through the finger where the logical and emotional spheres of the brain were read and scrutinized. The analysis judged the person’s intellectual and emotional stability, frustrations, along with wants and desires. From this, it would visually display the person’s preferences for happiness and offered viable alternatives for achieving them. Basically, it was offering a blueprint for the person’s next stage in life.

Joshua tested the program thoroughly on himself and was surprised to discover he should be making adjustments in his own life; suggestions he immediately understood and embraced. After making the last few technical adjustments, he uploaded the app to the various Internet app stores for free public download under the name, “The Secret of Happiness.” After he uploaded it, he called it a night and went to bed.

The next morning, he checked on the app counter and found 325 people had downloaded it overnight and more were continuing to do so before his eyes. When checking his e-mail queue, he discovered several messages praising him for the app and how it already was changing people’s lives for the better. Day after day, Joshua watched as hundreds of people downloaded the app, then thousands, then tens of thousands, there was no stopping it as it went viral in the first week. News reporters took notice and began contacting Joshua for interviews. Many had used it themselves and became fans well before they asked their first question. This resulted in an avalanche of publicity and “The Secret of Happiness” became the darling of the press. The requests for interviews and correspondence overwhelmed Joshua, so much so, he started to shy away from reading his email.

Then one day, a letter arrived in the mail from the mathematics union requesting a personal interview with Joshua regarding the formula. This surprised him after receiving the terse letter earlier. The tone of the letter was less antagonistic, so he agreed to meet with the union.

Joshua appeared in the union’s offices at the arranged time, dressed in suit and tie. As he waited to be announced, he looked around the office. The building was massive and very well equipped and decorated. It appeared the union didn’t suffer financially, but he wondered how it was paid for; this certainly couldn’t be based on just equations and formulas.

A receptionist led him into an opulent board room with a beautiful table, chairs, and state-of-the-art multimedia screens on the walls. Several officials greeted him, seven in all, and asked him to take a seat. All were much older than Joshua and were dressed as authoritative figures. Their demeanor was serious, giving Joshua the uneasy feeling this was going to be more of an inquisition than a casual interview.

“Mr, Steivenson,” the Chairman began, “We have asked you here to discuss the app you introduced using your father’s formula for happiness. As you know, we have reviewed the formula, both recently and years ago, and found it unacceptable as a means of defining happiness through mathematical language. In fact, we believe it to be reckless on your part to release this to the public as an app.”

“Sir,” Joshua responded, “There is nothing compelling people to use the app. It also comes with a warning that it can only be used on a voluntary basis. So far, I have received no complaints, only compliments from the public, that it is helping them realize their potential and improve their quality of life.”

“We’re well aware of that,” the Chairman continued, “and that’s part of what disturbs us; we’ve tried it ourselves and could not see how it works on any of us here. It didn’t impact us, so we thought this was nothing but a scam or placebo, and are willing to go to the press in order to get you to retract your claims of its effectiveness. We do not wish to see the public suffer.”

“Suffer?” Joshua said, “Hardly. I have testimonials from hundreds, if not thousands of people from all over the world who have described the positive impact the app and the formula has had in influencing their lives positively. The formula does, in fact, work, but only for those who want to believe happiness can be attained in their lifetime. In your case, I knew you would not accept it, so I added a ‘skeptic’ function to my father’s formula, whereby it will not work with people such as yourselves who do not possess an open mind.”

“You mean…”

“Yes, in order for it to work, you must either believe in the formula or are willing to give it an honest try. Since your minds have already been made up, regardless of how ridiculous your arguments are, you will never be able to use it and, as such, will never realize how it can help you with your lives.”

“That’s preposterous,” the Chairman exclaimed, “You cannot use math to deduce skepticism.”

“Really?” Joshua said smugly, “You also said that about my father’s happiness formula and I now have millions of people who have a new outlook on life thanks to it. You do not believe simply because you do not WANT to believe, and that is sad. It is hard to make progress when the people in charge invent irrational egotistical roadblocks. Sometimes you have to do an end-run to get something done. Good day, gentlemen.”

Joshua rose from his chair and turned to exit. Before he could leave though, the Chairman said strongly, “Young man, you have no idea who you are dealing with; no idea whatsoever. You better be careful.” Joshua didn’t like the sabre rattling but chalked it up to old men in their dotage, and he departed.

Following the meeting, Joshua returned home and to an adoring public who thanked him many times over for helping them rebuild their lives and pointing them in the right direction. The app was so infectious, the mood of the country began to change. A wild spirit of entrepreneurship and prosperity blanketed the nation consisting of new companies offering new products and services, all built or delivered with a high sense of craftsmanship. Consequently, the Gross Domestic Product began to rise, money was generated for the people and taxes; so much so, the federal debt was arrested and actually began to retreat. People no longer resisted going to work, but openly welcomed it instead. Grades in schools substantially improved, and education was made meaningful again. Crime rates declined radically, as did unemployment, and spending on welfare. America awoke from the doldrums to once again become a leader in industry. The rest of the world started reporting similar successes as well.

Then, one day, a computer virus was quietly introduced to the world over the Internet, some claimed it originated from China but nobody knew for sure. It was designed to seek out and destroy Joshua’s “Happiness” app and the virus circled the globe like wild fire deleting it from all machines. In just five short days, it had completely eradicated the app, including Joshua’s machine containing the source code for the program. It was gone, all gone, and the public’s attitudes began to shift back to complacency as before the app was introduced.

Joshua could not understand who or why anyone would want to destroy the app. He began to investigate the virus by capturing and dissecting the code embedded within it. Inside he found some interesting clues consisting of mathematical formulas and expressions leading him to believe he had been sabotaged by the mathematics union. Infuriated, he rushed to the union building and demanded an audience with the Chairman, and surprisingly, it was granted.

Although he felt his blood boil, he stopped to take a breath and regain his composure before entering the Chairman’s office. He desperately did not want to express panic under pressure and maintain a cool demeanor.

As he entered the office, the Chairman greeted him, “Good afternoon Mr. Steivenson, I have been expecting you.”

“You have?” asked Joshua.

“When we heard your app was the target of a virus, we knew you would blame us.”

“And I suppose you are going to claim ignorance on the matter?” Joshua asked.

The chairman came out from behind his desk and sat down next to Joshua. In a calm and fatherly voice, he said, “No, Joshua, we had nothing do do with it. At our last meeting, I tried to warn you that you had no idea who you were dealing with, and to a certain extent, neither does our own organization. We are the eyes and ears for various government agencies around the world, who happen to fund our work, something we are paid well for.”

He continued, “I will admit I opposed your father’s formula at first, but I finally overcame my skepticism which allowed me to work with your app. Frankly, I was amazed how well it understood me and recommended changes in my life which I have embraced. Believe me, you wouldn’t have gotten into this building if I didn’t believe the app worked. I apologize for not believing in your work and not encouraging you to pursue it, but I was directed to discourage you and let the matter drop, as your father did years ago.”

“Why was that?”

“Joshua, ask yourself the question; what government would want its citizens to be truly happy? You’ve already seen some of the effects your app has had on our country, that we were becoming a vibrant society again, one that began to challenge the status quo and change the political landscape. That is more than any politician can stand. They want apathetic voters and people with a low confidence level, thereby making them more inclined to accept government control. I honestly do not know which country produced the virus, it could have been America, China, Russia or many others, it doesn’t matter, it was inevitable. They simply do not want the citizens to rise beyond their control. Your app was a very real threat to them, so I am not surprised. I know this isn’t much solace, but I’m honestly sorry about all this. I had no idea it would go this far.”

Joshua slouched in his chair. He realized he was defeated. To pursue his dream meant doing combat with the governments of the world, very much a losing proposition.

Days after his meeting, Joshua returned to his father’s cellar and organized his notes in another three-ring binder. Included was a printed copy of the app’s source code which Joshua had printed prior to his computer being attacked, along with schematics and other documentation explaining the program’s logic.

Before closing the binder for the last time, he took out a red pen and wrote on the last page, “For my son, when you are ready.” He then swept the cellar, made sure it was as tidy as his father had kept it, and turned off the lights.

NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters in this story and any real person, living or dead, is not intentional and purely coincidental.

Originally published: September 23, 2015

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

THE ELEMENTS OF A GOOD FEASIBILITY STUDY

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 21, 2019

BRYCE ON PLANNING

– Let us look before we leap.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

“Those who do not do their homework do not graduate.” – Bryce’s Law

In its simplest form, a Feasibility Study represents a definition of a problem or opportunity to be studied, an analysis of the current mode of operation, a definition of requirements, an evaluation of alternatives, and an agreed upon course of action. As such, the activities for preparing a Feasibility Study are generic in nature and can be applied to any type of project, be it for systems and software development, making an acquisition, or any other project. It is equally applicable in business, nonprofit institutions, and at all levels of government. Frankly, if you are going to do anything of substance, it is wise to perform a Feasibility Study. Instead of looking at it as a series of a regimented steps, it is a thinking process for specifying needs, assessing risk, and making an intelligent decision. Basically, it is nothing more than common sense.

There are basically six parts to any effective Feasibility Study:

1. The PROJECT SCOPE which is used to define the business problem and/or opportunity to be addressed. The old adage, “The problem well stated is half solved,” is very apropos. The Scope should be definitive and to the point; rambling narrative serves no purpose and can actually confuse project participants. It is also necessary to define the parts of the business affected either directly or indirectly, including project participants and end-user areas affected by the project. The project sponsor should be identified, particularly if he/she is footing the bill.

I have seen too many projects in the corporate world started without a well defined Project Scope. Consequently, projects have wandered in and out of their boundaries causing them to produce either far too much or far too little than what is truly needed.

2. The CURRENT ANALYSIS is used to define and understand the current method of implementation, such as a system, a product, etc. From this analysis, it is not uncommon to discover there is actually nothing wrong with the current system or product other than some misunderstandings regarding it or perhaps it needs some simple modifications as opposed to a major overhaul. Also, the strengths and weaknesses of the current approach are identified (pros and cons). In addition, there may very well be elements of the current system or product that may be used in its successor thus saving time and money later on. Without such analysis, this may never be discovered.

Analysts are cautioned to avoid the temptation to stop and correct any problems encountered in the current system at this time. Simply document your findings instead, otherwise you will spend more time unnecessarily in this stage (aka “Analysis Paralysis”).

3. REQUIREMENTS – how requirements are defined depends on the object of the project’s attention. For example, how requirements are specified for a product are substantially different than requirements for an edifice, a bridge, or an information system. Each exhibits totally different properties and, as such, are defined differently. How you define requirements for software is also substantially different than how you define them for systems. (See, “Understanding the Specifications Puzzle”).

4. The APPROACH represents the recommended solution or course of action to satisfy the requirements. Here, various alternatives are considered along with an explanation as to why the preferred solution was selected. In terms of design related projects, it is here where whole rough designs (e.g., “renderings”) are developed in order to determine viability. It is also at this point where the use of existing structures and commercial alternatives are considered (e.g., “build versus buy” decisions). The overriding considerations though are:

* Does the recommended approach satisfy the requirements?
* Is it also a practical and viable solution? (Will it “Play in Poughkeepsie?”)

A thorough analysis here is needed in order to perform the next step…

5. EVALUATION – examines the cost effectiveness of the Approach selected. This begins with an analysis of the estimated total cost of the project. In addition to the recommended solution, other alternatives are estimated in order to offer an economic comparison. For development projects, an estimate of labor and out-of-pocket expenses is assembled along with a project schedule showing the project path and start-and-end dates.

After the total cost of the project has been calculated, a cost and evaluation summary is prepared which includes such things as a cost/benefit analysis, return on investment, etc.

6. REVIEW – all of the preceding elements are then assembled into a Feasibility Study and a formal review is conducted with all parties involved. The review serves two purposes: to substantiate the thoroughness and accuracy of the Feasibility Study, and to make a project decision; either approve it, reject it, or ask that it be revised before making a final decision. If approved, it is very important that all parties sign the document which expresses their acceptance and commitment to it; it may be a seemingly small gesture, but signatures carry a lot of weight later on as the project progresses. If the Feasibility Study is rejected, the reasons for its rejection should be explained and attached to the document.

CONCLUSION

It should be remembered that a Feasibility Study is more of a way of thinking as opposed to a bureaucratic process. For example, what I have just described is essentially the same process we all follow when purchasing an automobile or a home. As the scope of the project grows, it becomes more important to document the Feasibility Study particularly if large amounts of money are involved and/or the criticality of delivery. Not only should the Feasibility Study contain sufficient detail to carry on to the next succeeding phase in the project, but it should also be used for comparative analysis when preparing the final Project Audit which analyzes what was delivered versus what was proposed in the Feasibility Study.

Feasibility Studies represent a commonsense approach to planning. Frankly, it is just plain good business to conduct them. However, I have read where some people, particularly government legislators and people in the I.T. field, consider Feasibility Studies to be a colossal waste of time. In their haste, they will sincerely claim, “We don’t have time to do things right.” Translation: “We have plenty of time to do things wrong.”

First published: March 20, 2008, updated in 2019.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THE BROUHAHA OVER PLASTIC STRAWS

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 20, 2019

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Haven’t we got better things to do?

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Over the last few months, the subject of plastic straws has become a political football, brought about by Democrats who contend they are not ecologically friendly. Not surprising, California was the first state to bring it to our attention. Since then, the subject has surfaced in a handful of cities here in Florida, most notably St. Petersburg, a stronghold for the Democrats. Last December, the St. Pete City Council passed a bill banning plastic straws, not the voters. This is related to their ban on Styrofoam which is commonly used by restaurants to save leftovers. As of this moment, you can only get a plastic straw in St. Pete if you ask for one, but the straws will be totally banned by 2020, and replaced by paper straws.

In my youth, I remember paper straws wouldn’t last any longer than a small carton of milk. As to soft drinks, twelve ounces and up, forget it, they’re useless. People would rather drink a soft drink directly out of a can, bottle or glass than using a paper straw.

The big question though, is the plastic straw a genuine problem? St. Petersburg is respectable in size and is listed as the fifth most populous city in Florida. During the winter months the city probably doubles in size due to the influx of “snowbird” tourists who enjoy the beaches and warm weather. St. Pete is also home to the Tampa Bay Rays, our MLB franchise. As such, there is a multitude of dining facilities in the area, large and small, all presumably providing straws to patrons.

The St. Pete council believes the plastic straw is an ecological threat to the beaches, but there is little, if any, proof that this is true. This begs the question, is this a political fad or is there any legitimate science behind it? So far, the answer appears to be “No.” It is reminiscent of Obamacare and the “Green New Deal” legislation introduced by Democrat-Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) which is a laundry list of items to create a Socialist Utopia, but lacking specifics, such as the costs to implement her program and precisely how it will improve the environment.

Because of this, the plastic straw has become an iconic symbol of Democrats pushing their agenda without any science behind it. Such lunacy would not play well in corporate America where you must quantify the return on investment of a proposal. In other words, the Democrats are weak on doing their homework and are acting on impulse as opposed to fact. Instead, they package their ideas and allow the news media to carry the pitch to the public. Even more disturbing is the public is not truly being consulted on this issue which is commonly used by everyone.

Fortunately, cooler heads are prevailing at the state level in Florida where the legislature is drafting bills to prevent cities from outlawing plastic straws. If passed, this will supersede the authority of the municipal level.

This rhubarb over something as simple as a plastic straw is much ado about nothing. The Democrats have simply not made their case and makes me wonder, don’t we have better things to do? It also disturbs me our government officials will entertain any hairbrain idea that comes along, particularly when it is not thought through and articulated properly. They could probably be more productive by counting the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

We could save a lot of time, money and effort if legislators could learn to draft bills more intelligently, such as how businesses write feasibility studies, but I guess that is too much to ask.

To help in this regard, my next column will be, “The Elements of a Good Feasibility Study,” which is intended to provide insight in the preparation of an intelligible proposal. Until then…

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE SUPER BOWL

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 19, 2019

BRYCE ON SPORTS

– A lot has changed since 1970.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I haven’t been a fan of the NFL for the last few years. I think they have simply lost their way and become a dangerous masculine role model for youth to emulate. I have written about my displeasure on more than one occasion. Nonetheless, the latest Super Bowl was held just a couple of weeks ago, and I really wasn’t interested. Instead, I watched Super Bowl IV from 1970 pitting the Kansas City Chiefs against the Minnesota Vikings. This was the last game before the merger of the American Football League (AFL) and the NFL, and held at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. I was in High School at the time.

This was an important game as KC beat the Vikings 23-7 and evened the series between the two leagues 2-2. This was an impressive game featuring some great players from both teams, but this is not what this article is all about. Instead, I want to discuss the differences between the Super Bowls in the early days versus those of today. A lot has changed.

There was no controversy over the playing of the national anthem at the beginning of the game, as performed by actor Pat O’Brien and trumpeter Doc Severinsen of NBC’s “The Tonight Show.” Nixon was president at the time, but there was no mention of not visiting the White House back then. In other words, the Super Bowl was not a place for political intrigue. Everyone was rather patriotic, but I digress.

On the field, there was only one significant rule change, no two-point conversion following a touchdown. I presume this was done due to some conflicting rules between the two leagues. Today, the two-point conversion is, of course, acceptable. I also noticed there were far less penalties than today. Either there were less mistakes back then or the refs didn’t inhibit the play of the game as they do today (or both).

In terms of television commercials, General Motors bought all of the ads shown in the first half featuring their 1970 automobiles. This must have cost them a pretty penny, even back then. Today, it would be cost-prohibitive to so. In 1970 though, all of GM’s brands were featured, including Cadillac, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, etc. I remember all of these cars quite well, but found the ads rather amusing in terms of their story-line. Car buffs would certainly love watching these ads. The second half featured commercials for beer and razor blades.

As far as I was concerned, the most interesting part of the program was the half-time show. I had forgotten how the early Super Bowls handled this, and I found it most enjoyable. It wasn’t a lame rocker singing lip-synced songs, but rather a big event put on by the City of New Orleans. Proudly leading the way was the Southern University marching band who put on an exciting display. This was followed by famed trumpeter Al Hirt, a favorite son of New Orleans.

This was followed by a re-enactment of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, pitting British Red Coats against the Americans commanded by General Andrew Jackson. Here, in the Super Bowl, canons with blank rounds were used by both sides creating considerable smoke. An actor portraying General Jackson on a white steed commanded the Americans who turned the British back; making it a great little history lesson.

Next, was a simulated Jazz funeral as commonly found in New Orleans, and famous for this genre of music. Jazz legend Lionel Hampton played xylophone and was accompanied by Al Hirt and Doc Severenson, all of whom picked up the tempo and ushered in a simulated Mardi Gras parade, complete with balloons and a replica of a steam boat.

You could tell all of the participants were enjoying themselves as they proudly showcased their city. And that’s really the point I’m trying to make; in addition to be a great show, it was an invaluable public relations tool for their city. It was so good, I would have paid money to see it as opposed to the half-time shows of today. It also speaks volumes of how our sense of entertainment has changed over the years. Most likely, critics today would argue it was “racist” or “sexist” which, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Frankly, I would love to see the Super Bowl return to this format, but it is highly unlikely this will ever happen as half-times now represent mega-bucks to sponsors, such as Pepsi. As much as I would like to see the entertainment performed by the host city, thereby creating a “win-win” situation, it will undoubtedly remain in the clutches of NFL owners.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Entertainment, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

SPINNING A NATIONAL EMERGENCY

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 15, 2019

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Is it unlawful? Is it unprecedented? No, and No.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Because the Congress will not fund the southern wall, President Trump has no alternative but to declare a national emergency to obtain funding and continue construction efforts. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) claims such action is unprecedented. Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted it would be “a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency.” Both are wrong.

First of all, the “National Emergencies Act” (94-412) is legitimate legislation passed in 1976 and empowers the President to activate special powers during a crisis.

The first President to issue an emergency proclamation was Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, back in 1917, to improve maritime tonnage to move resources around the United States and the world. This is back when the world was embroiled in the first World War and our allies required supplies.

In recent times, National Emergencies have been called by the president numerous times. To date, 58 emergencies have been declared, and 31 are still in effect. Here is how many recent presidents have issued:

03-President Trump
11-President Obama
13-President Bush
09-President Clinton

Many of these are concerned with blocking the property of people who violate American policy, but it has also been used for imposing sanctions and other situations. Speaker Pelosi made a veiled threat when she said, “A Democratic president can declare emergencies, as well.” The reality is, Democrats have already declared emergencies, as former President Barack Obama bragged, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”

In Speaker Pelosi’s view, she foresees future presidents declaring emergencies over such things as gun rights. This would inevitably trigger a Constitutional crisis as it would be violating the Second Amendment. This is not the same as in President Trump’s case where he wishes to secure our border. Nonetheless, his emergency will be challenged in court, but he will likely win as he has precedence on his side.

So why all of the fuss? The Democrats are trying to convince the public the declaration of emergency by President Trump is unlawful and unprecedented in order to build public opinion against the president. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. It is simply not so.

In order to invoke the emergency, President Trump will have to demonstrate a crisis truly exists. The Democrats claim the problem is being “manufactured” by the president, but there is plenty of data to show a bona fide problem exists. Both parties are cognizant of this, so why are the Democrats adamantly opposed to it? Simple: control. There are now over 22 million illegal immigrants in the United States with more trying to come in every day, some are honest and hard working, others are criminals. Either way, the Democrats are endeavoring to grant citizenship to these people thereby turning them into voters who would presumably support their party, thereby turning the Congress and White House to liberal rule.

Let’s be clear, the Republicans and the president have no problem with legal migration, as we all should be, but there are other forces at play here trying to undermine our country.

Do we have a National Emergency? Yes, I believe we do, both at the border and in the halls of Congress.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

CRAFTSMANSHIP IS A STATE OF MIND

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 14, 2019

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– It is also a universally applicable concept.

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I have been writing on the virtues of craftsmanship for many years now. I have also given presentations on the subject and discussed it at length with different types of companies. Surprisingly, I find few people truly understand the concept. Perhaps the biggest misconception is that it is reserved for certain types of work effort. Some believe craftsmen are limited to furniture makers, machinists, or watchmakers. And, No, we are most certainly not talking about a line of tools from Sears. People seem surprised when I explain it is a universal concept applicable to any job. My message is simple: “Craftsmanship is a state of mind.”

Years ago, Arnold Toynbee, the legendary historian and economist from the UK, made the observation, “The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” Whereas some people like to separate their personal and professional lives, Toynbee rightfully makes the point there is physically only one person, and their personal and professional lives should be viewed as one and the same.

Craftsmanship is based on three rather simple principles:

First, in order to build self-esteem and give an individual a sense of purpose, we need to acknowledge, “Man must lead a worthy life.” This means people should be given meaningful work to perform, thereby creating the desire to master one’s craft. However, not everyone can be a wood worker, machinist, or watchmaker. Instead, they must find meaning in their chosen profession, which leads to our next principle…

Second, “There is dignity in all forms of work.” We should never look down our noses at anyone’s profession, assuming they are doing it competently and professionally. Regardless of the task, it is always a pleasure to be among people who know what they are doing, and perform it seemingly with little effort and a sense of class. In contrast, there are also workers who are apathetic, put forth minimal effort, and only watch the clock as opposed to the work product they are assigned to. Personally, it is difficult to respect such people.

Third, a simple recognition there are “right” and “wrong” ways for performing tasks. It takes discipline not to skip steps and put the work product in jeopardy. Understanding the differences between “right” and “wrong” is more than just training and experience, it also represents the morality of the worker. One reason craftsmanship is in decline is because of the eroding moral values of the country, such as the inclination to cheat.

These principles highlight the fact that craftsmanship is universally applicable. We can find it in any industry and any type of work, be it janitors, waitresses, programmers, managers, assembly line workers, hairdressers, teachers, engineers, athletes, musicians, the medical community, you name it. Craftsmanship is a state of mind. Think about it, who has impressed you not only by the job they did, but how they went about doing it? Inevitably, it is someone you respect, someone you will gladly give a reference to, someone you would like to emulate.

Craftsmanship requires more than just talent, it is a determination to be the best someone can be. Not surprising, there is a close relationship between craftsmen and the products they produce. Expressions such as “I built that” or “That was mine,” denote the pride they take in their work. Conversely, when someone makes a compliment about a product or service, the craftsman takes it as a personal compliment. The bond between craftsman and work product is so strong, the worker sees the product as tangible proof of their quality of work.

Years ago, people learned their craft through apprenticeship programs. Ben Franklin learned to be a printer at his older brother’s print shop. Likewise, young men learned a variety of crafts through such programs. Over the years though, we have drifted away from apprenticeships. Today, we rely on certification programs and college degrees, but this does not necessarily make someone a craftsman. It only denotes the student has learned something and passed tests and exams. Rarely does it give us insight into a person’s mastery of a craft, which cannot normally be evaluated until it is put into practice and studied over time.

In terms of skills, the craftsman must master several things:

* The resources used in the product. For example, a wood worker will know the differences between types of wood, their strengths and weaknesses, their suitability for the product, and how to work with it. Likewise, a machinist will understand the nature of the different metals he must use in his work.

* The methodologies to produce the product, representing the steps or processes of the project.

* The tools and techniques to be used in the development of the product, all of which may change over time. This means the craftsman is a student of his profession and possesses a sense of history to his craft.

Craftsmanship is something we have taken for granted for many years. Consequently, it has been fading from view. Interestingly, when I teach these concepts to students and business professionals, they are usually surprised by the simplicity of the concepts involved. I warn them though that craftsmanship requires a personality which includes such things as discipline, an intuitive mind, pride in workmanship, a willingness to be the best in your chosen profession, and some good old fashioned morality. Craftsmanship is not for everybody, but we should celebrate those willing to lead such an existence, for they are the people who create the products we admire and cherish.

For more information, see my earlier paper, “Craftsmanship: the Meaning of Life.”

If you want a presentation on craftsmanship, please do not hesitate to contact me.

First published: February 26, 2014

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Business, Life, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

TIME FOR A NATIONAL DEBATE ON SOCIALISM

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 13, 2019

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Thanks to Rep. Alexandria Ortega-Cortez.

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At the February 5th State of the Union address, President Trump threw down the gauntlet to Democrats by declaring, “America was founded on liberty and independence, and not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” Needless to say, this was not well received by Democrats who have been moving the party in that direction for quite some time. However, this needed to be said as it opened the doors for a long-overdue discussion on the differences between capitalism and socialism, something that schools simply do not teach anymore. Not surprising socialism is being embraced by millennials who do not understand the difference between the two and think it is cool and politically correct to embrace it. They do not grasp the fundamental difference between the concepts of “earning” something as opposed to “free stuff” (entitlements). Whereas one promotes industrious behavior and pride in workmanship, the other promotes a dependency on others, specifically government, thereby encouraging a master/slave mentality.

I have been discussing the differences between capitalism and socialism for some time now, but it wasn’t until the president made his SOTU address that this came out. Shortly thereafter, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat-Socialist from New York, introduced her “Green New Deal” legislation. Although it is being peddled as a way to eliminate the carbon footprint from the atmosphere by 2030, it is written with grandiose statements and little specifics. It is a kluge of ideas that is really a manifesto to implement socialism in the United States.

In terms of pollution, she wants the elimination of all fossil fuels and replaced by “clean energy,” presumably electricity. This would affect not just passenger automobiles, but farm equipment, trucking, public buses, ships (both cargo and passenger), and air transportation. This obviously will affect transportation, particularly the elimination of airplanes, the production of food, and the price and shipment of goods across the country. Domestically, she wants to see high-speed rail replace air service. Further, her bill calls for ALL buildings, including existing structures, to be retrofitted to adopt new energy guidelines. The cost for this would be astronomical and require a bloated government bureaucracy to implement it.

Not surprising, there is no mention in the legislation as to how these changes are to be funded, nor what effect it will ultimately have on the environment. Basically, it is a “pie in the sky” idea to implement a social utopia that is generating enthusiasm only among environmental activists. As a piece of legislation, it is written rather primitively. Even mainstream Democrats are leery of it.

That is only a portion of the bill though. There is wording in it which truly reveals its intent to implement socialism, to wit:

“Ensuring a commercial environment where every businessperson is free from unfair competition and domination by domestic or international monopolies;”

“Providing all people of the United States with – high-quality health care; affordable, safe, and adequate housing; economic security; access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.”

“Ensuring that the Green New Deal mobilization creates high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages, hires local workers, offers training and advancement opportunities, and guarantees wage and benefit parity for workers affected by the transition.”

“Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.”

There is much more along these lines, but you get the picture. Quite frankly, what she is proposing is even larger in scope than LBJ’s massive “Great Society” legislation from the 1960’s, something we are still healing from.

Here is the point: Not only would her proposal bankrupt the nation, it would transform its very essence thereby running the country right into the ground, just as it has to other countries, most recently Venezuela. It may sound nice to naive millennials, but it would plain and simply be a disaster to the country.

Knowing this, Republicans are excited by her proposal as they see it as a key for political victory in 2020. For Democrats, it becomes a hot potato. On the one hand Democrats are cognizant Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is the darling of the main stream media and the un-official spokesperson of the party, but on the other hand, they know the Green New Deal is political poison.

All of this is going to cause people to become educated in the true nature of both capitalism and socialism which is long overdue. Whereas, the Far Left likes to characterize capitalism as evil, the reality is it very much akin to Darwin’s “Natural selection” whereby products and services evolve in order to successfully compete. It provides the individual with the ability to assume risk, work hard to succeed, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Socialism is the opposite. In other words, nobody loses, everyone goes home with a trophy, and the state owns your ideas, inventions and innovations. This is why I say capitalism is more “natural” to mankind.

The New Green Deal is a 10 year national mobilization initiative which would transform America more than just cleaning up pollution, but changing our perspectives on work, initiative and inventiveness. Her “New Green Deal” is a clever subterfuge to distract from her real objective, social re-engineering of the United States and, to be brutally frank, it is just plain scary. The more people understand this, the more they will turn their backs on the legislation. This is why I welcome a national debate between capitalism and socialism. Ignorance of the two is going to destroy this country.

No wonder Republicans refer to Rep. Alexandria Ortega-Cortez as “The gift that keeps on giving,” as she has become the key to recapturing the House of Representatives in 2020.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 14 Comments »

LIVING WITH REGRETS

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 12, 2019

BRYCE ON LIFE

– “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention…” (My Way)

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Many years ago, when I was still in college, a good friend and myself came up with the wild idea of spending a summer vacation as smoke jumpers out West. We had heard about the forest fires plaguing the West at the time and, as able bodied young men, we wanted to help. Unfortunately, we found it difficult to find anyone in authority who could answer our questions and tell us how to join. You have to remember, this was at a time well before the Internet where such information would have been readily available. Consequently, we abandoned the idea in frustration (much to the relief of our parents). Even today, many years later, we talk about it and wish we had been able to experience it.

Just about everyone has some sort of opportunity they wish they had handled differently, be it in love, a business opportunity, an adventure or experience, or a way to improve one’s self. Life is full of missed opportunities. It is difficult to know when to grasp the brass ring as opposed to holding back and assuming less risk. Some people are bolder than others. I think it is either a matter of self-confidence or the ability to formulate the odds for success. Regardless, life is full of “could’ves,” “would’ves” and “should’ves.”

Some people have difficulty living with regrets…

“If only I had married Bob instead of Bill…”

“If only I had invested in the ABC company…”

“If only I had taken that job…”

“If only I had gone to school instead of…”

Some people dwell on regrets too much, allowing it to eat away their self-esteem and confidence, to the point of making themselves physically sick. They just cannot let go of a bad decision they made. As I see it, mistakes are a natural part of life and hopefully our decisions do not harm others, but every now and then, they do. I’m not talking about the vicious acts of criminals as much as I’m describing the regrets of everyday decisions.

Regardless if a bad decision affects only yourself or others, we have to learn to live with our mistakes. We have to accept it, not deny it, accept responsibility for it, and learn from it so that hopefully we do not make the same mistake more than once. What is done is done. Do not dwell on the past. In most cases, there is no way to correct it. Let’s move along. In addition, we cannot live in a state of perpetual fear of making another mistake because, in all likelihood, we will. After all, we are only human.

Part of the problem in our decision making process is how we rely on others for advice. If you haven’t guessed by now, people are quick to tell you what you cannot do in life. Nine times out of ten they are dead wrong. If you can think it through, you can do it. Mindpower is where it’s at. More than anyone, you know your strengths and weaknesses, and what limitations and capabilities you possess. True, we should respect the advice from people we trust, but we should ultimately be guided by our wants and needs, coupled with our ability to calculate risk. Let it not be said it was someone else’s decision, let it be our own. You will then have nobody else to blame if it fails.

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”
– Andrew Jackson

I still think smoke jumping would have been an exciting way to spend a summer over thirty years ago, but I look back with no regrets. It just wasn’t meant to be. Instead, I think of all of the other things I accomplished since then which were meant to be.

First published: June 4, 2010

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2010, 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

NO!

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 7, 2019

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– I have had enough of the political lunacy.

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Let me be clear about how I feel regarding the political lunacy in America today:

NO! I do not believe socialism is an acceptable substitute for capitalism, nor do I believe in a forced redistribution of the wealth. Capitalism promotes competition and risk, thereby forcing products and services to evolve for the better (see “natural selection”). I believe in the free enterprise system, whereby if you earn it, you keep it. This leads to personal initiative, fiscal responsibility, workmanship and to simply become industrious. Those touting Socialism are either naive or deliberately trying to undermine the country.

NO! I do not believe in inequitable taxation, everyone should pay their fair share, not more, not less. Further, I believe we should learn to live within our means and not incur exorbitant debt.

NO! I do not believe in excessive regulations intended to expand government bureaucracy and inhibit progress. I understand the need for rules and regulations, but not to the point they stifle American business.

NO! I will not be made to feel ashamed of my religious beliefs. I will not allow political correctness to inhibit me.

NO! I do not believe the main stream media accurately reports the news fairly or with impartiality. I do not support their slander and fake news.

NO! I do not believe there are multiple forms of gender, just two; male and female.

NO! I do not believe higher education is a right, but rather a privilege. There is nothing wrong with trade schools and the military.

NO! I do not believe school children need to learn new convoluted ways of learning basic math. I believe they need a solid foundation in history, government and civics to become responsible citizens.

NO! I do not accept the murdering of offspring, particularly as they approach childbirth. I believe in the dignity of life.

NO! I do not believe in open borders. I believe in the sovereignty of our country. People must follow due process to apply for residency and citizenship.

NO! I do not believe in entitlements for everyone, least of all to illegal immigrants. I believe this discourages initiative and encourages a slave mentality. I believe in helping the less fortunate, but this should be in large part by my own volition.

NO! I do not believe universal health care is a right (aka, “Socialized Medicine”). I believe it would degrade our health system by causing many physicians to quit their practice, forcing patients to wait longer to see a qualified doctor.

NO! I do not believe our drug culture should continue unabated. I believe in stiffer penalties for those engaging in illegal substances, not lesser.

NO! I do not believe law enforcement and the military are evil. I thank God for their service in maintaining safety, security, and helping others in time of peril.

NO! I do not believe our morality, citizenship or patriotism is better today than in yesteryear. I believe it is worse, thanks to the entertainment media and others trying to undermine our values.

NO! I do not reject the U.S. Constitution. I believe it is one of the most brilliant documents ever written. I also believe in the rule of law.

NO! I do not reject the electoral college. I believe it is a fair way to represent the interests of both rural and metropolitan segments of our country.

NO! I do not believe in the revocation of the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms. I believe our schools and public institutions require protection, and treatment should be sought for those with mental and emotional problems.

NO! I do not like gridlock in Washington, DC, as I believe our elected officials were sent there to solve the country’s problems, not fight or perpetually run for office. I believe this is due to divisive political dogma, a flawed electoral process featuring unlimited terms of office, and the peddling of influence.

NO! I do not believe in certain political tactics designed to mislead the public, such as stereotyping types of people (e.g., Identity Politics), race baiting, and political correctness which is designed to alter behavior. Nor do I accept fraudulent voting practices. I believe people should prove their identify as lawful citizens, and vote only once during predetermined times. If a person cannot make it to the precinct or vote by absentee ballot, than they have failed their civic responsibility.

I am in favor of common sense, fair play, responsibility, accountability, opportunity and hard work. I am also tired of people trying to scam the system. I recognize our country may not be perfect, but we have a better nation than any other on the planet.

YES! I am tired of the crybabies, snowflakes, and those who would transform this great country into something unrecognizable by our founding fathers. Their actions are intolerable and I have had enough. Plain and simple: Take it elsewhere.

Keep the Faith!

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Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 10 Comments »

BEING MARRIED TO ALEXA

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 5, 2019

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– What kind of banter to expect from Amazon’s Echo.

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Over the holidays I bought an Amazon Echo for my home which is commonly known as “Alexa” as it is a voice controlled personal assistant to answer common questions, play music, set alarms and reminders, turn electronic devices on and off, and many other tasks. Perhaps the best way to think of it is as an audio version of a web browser. The product is comparable to Apple’s Siri, and Google Home, both of which are voice enabled.

It takes a little getting used to at first, but the more you try different questions, the more you learn its capabilities. I’ve gone beyond asking for the temperature and weather to asking for answers to clues in crossword puzzles.

The voice used by Alexa is female and rather pleasant, but I understand new voices are forthcoming, along with accents. As for me, I like Alexa’s voice as is. Whereas Apple’s and Google’s are based on human voices, I am told Alexa is computer generated.

I found Alexa’s voice so pleasant, I started to think it might make a good surrogate wife for some men living alone. To test this theory, I compiled a list of the most common questions couples exchange at night. These are actual questions I put to Alexa and her actual responses:

Q: “Alexa, what are we having for dinner?”
A: “I recommend a recipe of creamy shells with bacon and peas which takes 30 minutes.”

Q: “Alexa, what is on television tonight?”
A: (She recites a rather lengthy list of shows too voluminous to show here; thank God you can tell Alexa to “Stop” of “Shutup”).

Q: “Alexa, anything happen today?”
A: “Here is your flash briefing…” (a listing of headline news).

Q: “Alexa, where are the kids and what are they doing?”
A: “Hmm, I don’t know that one.”

Q: “Alexa, did you talk to your mother today?”
A: “Sorry, I don’t know that.”

I know a lot of men who would relish the brevity of Alexa and, as a surrogate wife, she’s not too bad. After all, she doesn’t complain, she likes your parents, and she doesn’t suffer from a nasty monthly mood swing. However, I took it a step further:

Q: “Alexa, how do I look?”
A: “I’m sure you look great, but it’s what is inside that counts.” (A very PC response).

Q: “Alexa, would you like a drink?”
A: “While I appreciate food and drink, my taste is better reflected in the company I keep.”

Q: “Alexa, that’s a lovely negligee you’re wearing.”
A: “Hmm, I don’t know that.”

Q: “Alexa, what is that bewitching scent you’re wearing?”
A: “Sorry, I don’t know that.”

Q: “Alexa, was it good for you?”
A: “Sorry, I’m not sure.” (This really deflates the masculine ego).

It quickly became obvious to me Alexa is not a romantic. I was kind of hoping for a response like, “Oh, how you go on and on” followed by a feminine giggle, but such was not to be. Then again, maybe Alexa doesn’t like men. Hmm…

However, I do not believe Alexa is useful to women as a suitable surrogate husband. Without visual optics, it cannot distinguish what shoes look better with a specific outfit, nor check your hair or makeup, or assess your sense of fashion. I guess the male of the species serves a purpose after all.

Fortunately, I have found you can program Alexa to say certain things if you have the time and inclination, for example:

Q: “Alexa, Who makes the best spaghetti sauce?”
A: “Tim Bryce, of course.”

She may not be a romantic, but she is right on with this one.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in humor, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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