Wednesday, January 29, 2014

STATE OF THE USA UNION 2014 - no big deal in my personal opinion

For the first time in my life, I did NOT get "teary-eyed" and patriotic during the State of the Union speech last night. I am finding myself "afraid of what the USA government has become" and what it stands for. The night time raids and killings under the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOP) and the activities of the NSA are both unacceptable under my personal beliefs.
I am personally actually getting "scared" of the activities of the USA Government and the potential limitations to my civil liberties. I really don't care much about keeping my identity and communications confidential as I don't believe I have anything of interest to be worried about.
But I feel that what the USA government is now doing -- to be way out of line from what the "founding fathers" of the republic intended - even keeping the differences in current times in the equation.
I agree with this reporter's take on the speech: STATE OF THE UNION 2014 -- Good Speech, Modest Agenda, Diminished Leader -- Americans may have already tuned out Barack Obama.
.... Another cold, hard fact: Obama may not have the skill, the will, or the time to do much about it.
The rest of the folks in Washington are also in my opinion not one bit connected to the wants and will of the population. With their "special interests" they are all far too busy filling their pockets with our GOLD.
And finally on my "soap box" tonight - I say "SHAME ON" all you "others" just sitting on the sidelines and accepting all this second rate government.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"Pat on the Back Machine" - Patent applied for in Latvia and many places in the USA and around the world

I simply love the writing style for NEWS these days. The Headlines are all about attention "grabbing".

Latvia: The country that fell for the euro

Why do we as reader of all this over-hyped NEWS get so worked up over potentially meaningless trivia?

In my opinion Latvia's future is NOT based on which currency it's folks choose or are forced to use to go about their daily lives.
Also, Please be careful with all your PRAISE on the previous Latvian government.s effort to control overheated spending. Especially comments and praise based on percentage (%) statistics.
Five (5%) percent growth of a small base number is still a VERY small number.
My point is that the "so called Latvian miracle" may NOT be so much of a miracle as the "spin PR machine" is selling to the world who will listen.

photo - Patent Applied for by Latvian Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament

Concerning the Prime Minister's "miracle" austerity effort., in the process, he has failed to make the tough changes that the country really needs in order to grow and thrive. His toughted successes are nothing more than some tough whacking at the bottom line of the budget numbers without any serious understanding of how the government really operates in it's interactions with the small business community.
Any reference to EURO FUNDS - is / are what monies that are clearly visible to the average Latvian - and that is / are the road infrastructure improvements and numerous building sites that have sprung up - with some still only empty shells or built with faulty designs and materials - soon to crumble.
Further the point should be made that the government's austerity program was nothing more than a bottom line budget cut -- and has failed to understand and IMPROVE the real system of HOW the government operates.
The market in Latvia is tiny compared to many other EU countries and is still shrinking. Even if you quote some percentage increases in certain sectors, a 5% growth of a small base number is still a small number.
In addition, the complexity of the tax system and tax reporting system makes it very costly to operate a small business in Latvia. I personally don't see any mad "rush" to open small businesses that will really add enough jobs to make a difference.
Also, the cost of utilities is very high further complicating the ability of small business to turn a profit and then grow.
Not to mention the continuing exit of capable workforce with Latvian language skills.
Even if Latvians finally accept immigrants to settle in Latvia, it will be a very long time before these new residents obtain sufficient Latvian language skills to really be effective in the business community.
What Latvia has left after all the capable folks have left to find employment, and families abroad is NOT sustainable for future generations.

Meaningless Percentages -- Here we go again more news reporting based on percentages (%)

Here we go again.... more news reporting based on percentages (%)
Give me a break.... a 5% change based on a small number is a "small number" and meaningless.
So can we as educated people continue to write such meanless reports?

message to the Editorial Staff at RTT News.
message to:
With regards to two of your recent NEW reports about Latvia, you have chosen to use percentage numbers to make your point - and a HEADLINE announcing a conclusion.
I am suggesting that better reporting might be to do some historical research and determine the natural statistical "fluctuation" of the numbers with Three Sigma Control limits.
Then take your actual numbers for the reporting period and put them into context to the natural swing of the process being discussed.
This is true especially for a tiny country like Latvia where the base numbers are small to begin with.
If you take a 0.4% change in a tiny number you have another tiny number which may or may not be meaningless as compared to the natural wandering of the subject being discussed.
Just a suggestion to "PUT some MEANING" into your news reports.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Are you ready and prepared for a disaster in your life?

Are you ready and prepared for a disaster in your life?

The big question is  ...  when will you make your disaster plan ?
There are lots of samples and information available, but ...

No more "buts" make your plan "come alive" before  "IT happens"

Disaster communications plan - "the silence is deafening" !

Copyright (c) 2005 - 2014, Mike Johnson, Disaster Response Planning Consultant

What's Happening in a Disaster Communication Plan

The old adage says: "the silence is deafening" !

A Google search on this phrase returns a long list of books, news articles on the mistakes and embarrassments of failing to communicate.

Again and again bad or no communication "happens" and it is sad because the damage may be done in precious seconds and then takes years and lots of energy to make it right.

Of course a lot depends on the situation, who and where are the interested parties from within your building to just down the street to around the world. The basic concepts are the same however, with only minor tweaks to fit the situation.

We will avoid another old adage "first you should do..." There are a lot of firsts to be done so unless you have some preplanning and prepared "canned" information ready to go at easy to access locations in the worst of situations your "firsts" will be a drawn out series of actions.

Don't get caught in that trap, please.

Plan, plan, plan and more preplanning is the key to a successful disaster communication plan. Then when "IT" happens: communicate, communicate and much more communication quickly is the lock to assure you look like an comfortable door to your employees; suppliers; clients; shareholders; interested world citizens; and don't forget your innocent neighbors just looking for a reason to gossip.

In your preplanning we recommend that the following be included as target deliverables to be stored in an easy to get to but secure location(s)... yes have a backup location, too.

In addition, if your organization uses the Incident Command System (ICS) for responding to disasters, then your plans should conform to your ICS system design plans.

The Communication plan may be either a part of the Information Officer's role or linked to this role. However, during the time when an incident is in process, all aspects of the Communication plan should be cleared with the Incident Commander before any information is released.

1. Communication mediums: paper copy; bulletin board; press release; telephone tree; remote telephone call center; remotely stored information for retrieval by others; out of area contact personnel, etc.

2. Templates and samples: canned statements and background information on key personnel, locations, customers, suppliers, charts, graphs and diagrams and maps for complex areas that would be difficult to communicate in written or spoken form. Also develop a set of forms to track various messages and a log form to document sources of information, decisions, management approvals, etc.

3. Easy to understand and train other instructions; "how to" note sheets
laminated in plastic so they won't get damaged in water, etc.

4. Develop a set of code words and phrases linked to detailed documents and instructions that can be shared and stored in remote locations and personnel so you don't have to struggle with detailed complex communication during stressful times. You may say over the hard to hear telephone line or perhaps by pager or SMS message: "code 123" and the receiver will pull out document 123 and implement the instructions contained in the document.

5. Working with management and technical/engineering personal develop a set of guidelines as to what information, topics, subjects are considered to be company/organization private and should not be discussed openly without a special set of approvals. Determine in advance what approvals are required and what is the procedure to obtain these approvals.

6. Develop a contingency plan should the computer where you have this information be stored does not work; there is no power or you can't get access to it. Don't prepare all the information on special software and spreadsheet files. Use simple easy to use (.txt) files and Multiple copy floppy disks; CDs; flash memory sticks and consider storing it all on a remote Internet server under password protection.

7. Develop relations and perhaps a contract with News Service agencies or Press Release agency services or subscribe to a disaster planning service. These agencies may be useful to you to add effective manpower to your staff during the difficult times of a response to a disaster.

8. Establish a set of technology based tools including Internet sites, BLOG sites, email addresses, Toll Free access telephone numbers, Internet telephone lines, and satellite telephone and FAX lines.

9. Prepare a detailed training plan to train the potential responsible people in the organization that will need to be involved. Be sure to include personnel "up" the organization including top senior management and support personnel like telephone operators; lobby receptionists and weekend security guards.

10. Should the time come, be prepared for the wolves in reporters clothes! Have "spotters" on the lookout for those with microphones and notepads and make sure they don't get the wrong story from the wrong person. Make sure the security guards; parking lot attendants; elevator operators; engineers; receptionists; telephone operators and on and on know how to spot a reporter. Make sure the newshounds are controlled and herded to the proper spot where the trained designed spokesperson is in control.

11. Finally develop a testing plan and schedule periodic realistic tests of the plan. Use realistic scenarios and role play techniques to add realism to the drill.

In conclusion if all else fails, use good common sense. Communicate as much as your organization is comfortable with as quickly as possible. Communicate in simple language using short clear statements. Use pictures, charts, and easy to read overhead slides to make sure that the important items/aspects are coming across to the receiver.

If you have limited communication methods, then exercise your remote locations and stored canned messages using code words, SMS messages, etc to broadcast the desired information.

Under all circumstances, obtain management approval prior to releasing any information outside of your organization. Be sure and use your log forms developed in area 2 above to document each communication and who approved it and to whom it was sent.

Plan, Organize, Lead and Control the flow of your communication to your benefit before others take the advantage from you by default!

Copyright (c) 2005 - 2014, Mike Johnson, Disaster Response Planning Consultant

Preparing your home or business is not the only part of a disaster plan.  You also need to prepare yourself and all the family members.

Some questions before you start:

1. Do you have an Out of Area contact person selected?
2. Do you have school age children?
3. Do you have either good friends or relatives out of the area where you could store an envelope with copies of important documents?
4. Do you live in a single family house? Own or rent?
5. Do you and/or your significant other work in walking distance or within
30 minutes of your home?
6. Are your children's schools within 30 minutes of your home by walking?
7. Are you close to electric power lines or possible chemical storage
8. Do you like to eat rice?  (Tell you why later)
9. Do you have a gas powered lawn mower?
10. Do you have a gas fired BBQ or charcoal BBQ at home?

Copyright (c) 2005 - 2014, Mike Johnson, Disaster Response Planning Consultant


Monday, October 10, 2011

What Happened to Common Sense ? The Green Thing?

This is so true!! -- Where did "The Green Thing" come from ?

In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."
The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart ass young person.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hewlett-Packard's board vs. Mark Hurd: The right decision?

Hewlett-Packard's board vs. Mark Hurd: The right decision?


From my vantage point, the board has performed its governance role admirably. Its action was particularly important because it expressed the character of the company and showed it is living up to the espoused values the leaders are legally and ethically bound to uphold. In this tragedy, the chief executive permitted his self-interest to override the greater interests of HP. The board made its decision based not on his personal failings but on his betrayal of corporate values.

The board's response sent a clear message that dishonesty and deceit will not be accepted at HP. Its decision to allow Hurd to resign and to keep his contracted severance package was humane. It acknowledged his record of excellence in his professional performance while conveying the unacceptability of misuse of funds.
In announcing his resignation as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, Mark Hurd said: "There were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect, and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career." I have no way of knowing who wrote and approved that statement, nor whether the last phrase is true. But as an observer of how difficult situations are discussed publicly, I can say that Mark Hurd's statement is an impressive model.
There is no attempt to wriggle out of the accusations, nor to spread blame ( for example, on the media). And, importantly, Hurd praises a company that, even after the death of its founders and the unhappy tenure of Carly Fiorina, still occupies a privileged niche among major international corporations. In the past, when someone said that he or she worked for HP, it meant something special. The speed and manner of Hurd's resignation increases the likelihood that working for HP will continue to mean something special. Redeeming that likelihood is the challenge for the next leadership, thousands of supporting employees and, especially, the board.