Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Life and Donuts

This is worth top-posting. Other good stuff is a page or two down.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Envy and Fear are the two deadliest sins

The President speaks all the time.  I watch little TV and listen to random bits of radio.  I'm afraid to say my consumption of real news is no better than vegetables.

But I do read Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winning economist and solid thinker.  So when he recommended that a recent speech by the President on income inequality was note worthy I looked for it.  It turned out to be very good.

I am worried about income inequality.  I believe the chasm of hope it creates between two peoples who occupy the same country is dangerous.  This speech lays out where we are and a little about what we need to do.  Nothing will change until a major event requires power to shift.  And I'm afraid that will be near revolution in its impact and destruction.  The combination of Fear (that a family's children won't succeed) and Envy (that other children's prosperity will be unfairly earned,) is a powerful force for upheaval in a society.  

I'm sure others have studied this trajectory and know a lot more than me about the outcomes and risk.  I'm just an observer.  But I don't like what I see and it makes me afraid.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Time is relative

Another Rotary Invocation - November 2013

When Greg Albright sent me an email last week reminding me about this week's duty to present another invocation I was a little surprised.  I had intended to pass it off to another member because I was involved with a CEO-Net event in Carmel on the same day . . . and I had just given an invocation.  I was stumped for a subject.

The end of Daylight Saving Time last weekend gave me the idea to talk about time.
Ever since I was a boy I’ve been fascinated with time. 
Back then, science could tell time to the millionth of a second.  Now, we keep it to better than a trillionth.  For comparison, light travels about one foot in one nanosecond – one billionth of a second.  GPS and the Internet can’t work if clocks are wrong by just a few of them.  We’ve gone from telling time by the change in the colors of the seasons to telling time by the change in the color of light that reaches us from the stars. 
Most of us live minute to minute.  By comparison an impossibly vast amount of time – if you’re a computer.  It’s all relative.  Einstein, the expert of relativity, noted the time you spend with a pretty girl is relatively short when compared to the time you spend sitting on a hot stove – though both time periods may be the same. 
Everyone wants to save time – but there is no hoarding it.  Time is the great equalizer.  Everyone has less than they need, but according to Chief Red Jacket, of the Six Nations of New York, everyone has all there is.
Time and tide wait for no man. 
I see time pass in the birthdays of my grandchildren.  I wonder if they realize those ‘endless days’ til Christmas, til Spring, til birthdays, til whatever will someday pass like ice melts in hot tea.  Look away and it’s gone. 
How to make time slow?  I’ve found one way: live today.  The setting of appointments and anniversaries is particularly problematic.  Like the time between them is ‘fly over country.’ Lacking an excuse to pay attention, time filled with work, we compress away those spaces like ‘filler,’ and lose the time to anticipation.

Oliver Wendell Homes, the astute early 20th century Supreme Court Justice said: ‘I do despise making the most of one’s time.  Half of the pleasure of life consists of the opportunities one has neglected.’  ‘Life is What Happens To You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans,’ wrote a more contemporary artist of our language, John Lennon. 
Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity* 
Dr. Seuss said: “How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”
* Henry Van Dyke

Sunday, October 27, 2013

3D Printing Book Report

I was asked by TechPoint to present a brief 'book report' on 3D printing 10/17 at their Tech Thursday event for October.  It was a lot of fun and the audience was really engaged.  I gave a similar presentation to the Indianapolis Public Library 10/24.  The goal for both is to tell the big story about how 3D printing is changing manufacturing and represents an opportunity for 'clever kids' to stake out a career with new skills that will span generations.  I call it: ST3M: Science, Technology, 3D Printing and Math!

From the TechPoint blog (which makes me sound really smart :)
  • You can turn your dreams into parts now, which is really cool. It comes with some caveats; these new tools have new rules.

  • What used to be an assembly of many different parts is now a single 3D part. The quality control and inventory implications alone are enough to justify this technology. You don't have to make as many different parts, you don't have to measure them, you don't have to keep them in stock, you don't have to assemble them and measure them again, and you don't have QC guys floating around. So there are a lot of positive impacts aside from the geometry of 3D printing.

  • 3D printing is not just for rapid prototyping anymore, we're making parts that are being used in actual products.

  • Autocad is so 90s. That way of thinking doesn't work anymore and we have to be able to represent objects that have depth in order to stay competitive and innovative.

  • 3D printing is a "scratch your own itch" medium. You can now make just one of something instead of needing all of the infrastructure that it used to take just to make one.

  • Subtractive manufacturing vs. additive manufacturing: In the old way, we used to whittle away material. Today, we can give you any shape you want and you are only paying for the actual molecules of the part and no waste.

  • Everybody should stop what they are doing and go download free software like Sketchup or 123D or similar tools.  They are easy ways to learn and draw in 3D. 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

An open letter to Indiana's 6th District Representative Luke Messer...

I learned today that Federal employees furloughed by the shutdown will now be paid retroactively.  That seems to take all the pressure off of Congress to act quickly to bring this mess to a close.  

I believe the Republicans have acted irresponsibly and un-patriotically.  Not only has your behavior jeopardized the standing of the United States in the world and caused significant harm to millions of citizens, but it is insulting to Federal workers and damaging to their morale and retention.

Despite the Republican talking points, you can't deny this debate is about a law passed by Congress, endorsed by the electorate (given the President's re-election on the issue) and upheld by the Supreme Court.  Why can't you just amend the law if you think it's broken?  Why can't you simply run for re-election yourself on the basis of your disagreement?  I believe the Republican charge that the ACA will irreversibly damage our country is speculative - but the damage done to our country by the shutdown and partisan politics practiced mainly by Republicans is certain.

The words of your colleague Marlin Stutzman are embarrassingly revealing.  The Republicans don't know what they want besides the destruction of the Obama administration.

This is a clear result of too much money in politics - Congressmen must pander to increasingly polarized constituencies continuously to retain their offices.  And gerrymandering has created districts that can be dominated by one party - and pushed farther and farther to extremes.

At least this debacle may present teachable moments in Government classes.  Hopefully a generation of young people will take their patriotism more seriously than most of the members in Congress and place the good of the country ahead of their selfish ambitions for more power.


Kim Brand

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Is it the truth?

The Invocation schedule got shifted around and so they asked me to do another one sooner than normal.  This is a subject I've been thinking about for a while; seemed like it would be a good time to develop the idea.  Our guest speaker on the the day I'll deliver the invocation is Karen Crotchfelt, President & Publisher, Star Media.  A newspaper attempts to deliver the truth every day - or should.

Rotary Invocation
September 10, 2013

Is it the Truth?  When we were children we were taught to always tell the truth.  The truth must have been simpler then.  As if the choice between telling the truth and telling a lie was a task suited to the naiveté of a child.  The bible doesn’t assume the reader is much more sophisticated and it simply commands us not to lie.  The truth is apparently far more difficult to tell.

The truth is subject to interpretation.  That much is obvious.  How can so many news outlets tell the truth but tell different stories?  So the truth is actually a product of facts and perspective.  What happens when even the facts are in doubt?  The truth becomes a very flexible thing indeed.

Rotary relationships depend on the truth.  And we ask ourselves at every meeting will the things we think, say and do be guided by it.  The success of our club depends on it.  And our hundred year legacy would only be possible because of it.

But now our nation is challenged to know the truth about so many issues.  The War in Syria, Equality of Opportunity, Privacy of Personal Information, Climate Science, Economic Policy.  The sides in these debates hold the truth as their keystone asset.  But how can that be?  How can we know the truth?  Knowing the truth must be much harder than we were led to believe.  Maybe we were lied to about the truth?

Will the truth set you free?  Maybe.  Will the truth lead to world peace?  Probably not.  There are just too many versions of it.  The most we can hope for is that men and women of good will can move beyond the belief that only their truth matters and constantly ask the question: Is it the truth? even of their own beliefs.  That is why the question bears repeating.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Another Rotary Invocation - May 2013

I just turned 60 last week.  By any measure, a milestone.  Several friends and relatives didn’t make it this far.  My 40th high school reunion included time for memorials, my brother died at 55.  May is the month of Memorial Day.  The thought of passing out of this life has become more personal lately.

Many people I know, and me included, live their lives in Drive.  At 100 miles per hour we boast.  May is also the month for racing.  Presumably we’re all heading somewhere better than where we are.  Moving away from here (which is somehow not good enough) and going there, which is full of promise.  The expressions: ”He’s going places,” “He’ll go far,” and “She’ll get somewhere someday” have an almost magical attractive sound to them.  Like here is nowhere you’d want to be.

So just for today, just for this Rotary Club meeting, I’d like you to find another gear to be in: Park.  Sit a spell. Cool your jets.  Smell the roses.  These too are old sayings with equally valid advice, that from my more mature perspective, sound just as magical to me now.  I actually remember Parking as a teenager quite fondly.

It is far safer to enjoy the scenery when you are in Park.  It is far easier to talk and listen and think when you aren’t running.   You can’t put more gas in the car unless you stop every once in a while.

My hope for you today and every day is that for all the time you spend in Drive you reserve some time for Park.   Or, as the lyrics from Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘59th Street Bridge Song’ advise:

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Message to Dan Coats, Sen (R) Indiana

Dear Sen Coats,

I learned today that you may filibuster legislation that regards imposing new restrictions on the sale of guns.  I am in favor of reasonable limits on the sale of guns; for example criminal background checks, waiting periods, demonstration of proficiency, mental aptitude, etc.

Please allow a vote on this legislation to proceed to the floor of the Senate.  I believe our nation deserves a vote on this critical issue.

Also: the pull-down list under 'Subject' didn't include Gun Control.  I selected 'Health Care' as a last resort because in my view when people die it is a Health Care issue.

People are fat in this country because of the abundance of cheap food at more outlets, at more times of day, that satisfies every appetite with maximum convenience.  I believe deaths due to guns may be explained the same way.  Make guns more available and more people die - make guns less available and fewer will die.

Thank you,

Kim Brand

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Startup advice delivered by Pillow Logistics

One of the great things about being involved with the Business Ownership Initiative and Julie Grice, our executive director, is the great contacts I make.  Wednesday night I sat down with George Pillow, founder of Pillow Logistics.  An Indianapolis business success story.

After a couple+ beers I don't trust my memory to recall everything he said, but here is the gist of it - like getting an MBA in a bar (which happened to be The Columbia Club!)

Accounting.  You must understand numbers.  On your feet in front of a customer and with your accountant, bankers, employees and alone when you are thinking about what to do next.

Networking.  You must constantly make connections and seek relationships that can spread your message.

Marketing/Communications/Sales.  You must learned how to speak with everyone from the board room to the shipping dock.  The first impression you make is what you say and how you say it so don't blow it.

Friendship.  You must adopt a curiosity about people and friendliness that deepens the relationships you share.  While I was sitting with George he made a point of greeting every person in the room by name.  Dale Carnegie said: "There is nothing so sweet as the sound of a person's name to them."  In a competitive world of noise and distraction you need more friends to amplify your results.

George acknowledged the help of many mentors.  Among them Mickey Maurer, Cambridge Capital Partners and Jean Wojtowicz in particular.  He also the critical importance of the small business loan provided by Lynx Capital to get him started.

Finally, despite his success, George remains humble.  He said there is always something to learn, thanks to be paid to someone who helped and gratitude acknowledged for the community which makes personal success possible.  Most of all George told me, he credits his mother for the guidance and counsel that got him through the hardest times.

We all start small - and if we grow up tall it's most likely due to the care and nurturing of our first friend: our Mother.  George said that his Mother was his best friend.