Tuesday, October 29, 2019

First Snow in the Upper Peninsula

The first snow is one of the most beautiful. White, fluffy, soft with a dusting on the tree tops. With pristine beauty comes a price. You must make the effort to get out and see it! There are miles upon miles of hiking and hunting trails in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan just waiting for you to explore. When you need to get out of the city and into nature to gain peace of mind head north!  These pics were taken on Days River. I'm pretty sure "Chewy" my dog is wondering whether he has some husky blood in him. 😮

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Market Research as a Process and Decision Making Tool

Creative Commons
Market research allows companies to understand the market and what types of products and services have value for revenue generation purposes. Without this knowledge companies are blind making intuitive judgement about things they don't really understand. That works great when your company is small and doesn't have a lot of capital. Exploratory behavior can make a big difference, but when companies are big and there are investors involved it makes more sense to have a scientific understanding of the market. Science can give you a road map.

When I used the term "scientific" I don't necessarily mean it has to follow the highest level of scientific scrutiny. I have some colleagues that will disagree with me because they are scientific purists. Something simple like a survey needs 3 years of preparation and contextual literature review. Don't forget validation! Silly!

If you are trying to change public policy with a survey you should go through all of the steps...but if you are simply trying to gain some understanding of what your customers want then you might be ok asking straight forward questions. Conducted in the right way gracious customers will give you more information than you want or need.

A problem arises when we want to justify the answer through a line of research. In our head we believe we know what the study will tell us and in turn subconsciously design the questions that give us the answers you seek. I see people do this in their everyday conversations when they have a point to make and skip over all the logic. The conclusion is not justified in the least! Leaving out important information, framing things incorrectly, designing leading questions, etc...all lead to biased results.

What you measure will also determine what results you get so make sure you are get into the details. Read this article on digital economy and its influence, or lack thereof, on GDP calculations (Click Here). If your really really really motivated you can read the full study and understand the studies design and what it truly indicates (Click Here) You will see that the way we calculate things can have some serious economic consequences.

How that data is collected and processed determines the overall value of the outputs. This is one reason why studies have limitations. It can't be everything to everyone and the inherent design of the study creates limitations! You should be well aware of what they are before you collect data!

Designing strong studies that have internal validity are important in the overall process of understanding the market and creating some predictive modeling. Be sure you know what you want to measure, do your background research and design the study in a way that leads to answering that specific question. If your lucky you can create a model and apply that to other places.

Sometimes you must complete preliminary research to ask the right questions. You think it would be easy but it really isn't. Having a general sense of the problem but might need to explore the idea a little to define it specifically for a research question. This research question becomes the basis for everything else within the study. Your single focus is/are to answer this question (s).

You will find as you begin to collect the data that it can start getting jumbled up and you will lose track of what you are trying to accomplish. Data is the source of all experiments and you might want to find some way of taking in that data, analyzing it, manipulating the variables, etc... Consider that collection may require specialized equipment or round about ways of getting the information while the encoding and analyzing of that data is more statistically oriented.

Once you have this mountain of data and it has been scrubbed and categorized there will be a need to analyze that data. The type of analysis you do will depend entirely on what you want to accomplish and what type of data you have. Some scientists want you to conduct huge analysis for a survey. In the business world you used what is most prudent and provides the most useful data. Statistics, regression analysis, etc.... is a little too complex for this discussion.

Three points of key advice:

1. Define your problem as everything revolves around this.
2. Design your study to ensure it is measuring what you say it is measuring.
3. Ensure you collect and encode data properly so as to create a stronger analysis at the end.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Corazon de Vida 25th Anniversary for Orphans Celebration

This organization is near and dear to me. I have met some of these children and I can say they are truly worthy. There was a new orphanage that didn't even have running bathrooms that they came in to help out on. This is money well spent that changes lives!

Here is a donation page if you are not attending but still want to help https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/1984592

Join the Corazon de Vida family at the most anticipated gala of the year in San Diego! Our Noche de Gala is only two weeks away and it's promising to be an unforgettable night in celebration of our 25th Anniversary at one of the most magnificent venues in San Diego, the Crown Room of the Hotel Del Coronado.
Guests will be greeted with an ocean view champagne reception featuring live music and beautiful sunset backdrops. Beverages tastings will also include tequila, Baja wine, and mezcal. Guests will then proceed to the famous Crown Room for a mouth-watering Baja inspired dinner. The live and silent auction will feature incredible experiences, vacation packages, jewelry, and more for bidding on. The night’s festivities with DJs and dancing!

Explore our amazing silent auction HERE for more incredible items like the one above!
And remember that even if you can't make it to the event you can still bid on your favorite items! Make sure to register and check back on Monday October 28th when the online auction opens!
Noche de Gala tickets will be available HERE until Monday, October 28th at midnight and include: 

  • Outdoors Champagne Reception
  • Delicious Baja Inspired Dinner
  • Cash Bar
  • Live and Silent Auction
  • Live entertainment and DJ 
  • Baja Wines, Raicilla and Mezcal Tastings

If you have any questions or would like a little extra help purchasing the tickets please call our office at (949) 476-1144

We look forward to seeing you on November 2nd!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Old Mackinac Point Light House

The Mackinac Lighthouse has a long history that pre-dates European arrival. Native Americans lite fires on the banks so they could navigate the straits. When larger European ships arrived a light house was constructed to determine points of entry. When the Mackinac Bridge turned on its lights in more modern times no one needed the light house anymore as a navigational tool.

It is helpful to understand that lighthouses were a key part of the supply chain. Without them our economic world would be limited and expansion difficult. The Great Lakes were a major shipping lane. The cost of lighthouses was a type of insurance policy.



Monday, October 21, 2019

Mexican Orphans as a Vulnerable Group-Can we do something?

Orphan children don't have the natural protections that come with being part of a family, community, and people who support them. For one reason or another, they have lost their families. Sometimes it is circumstance, while at other times it is because the children have been seriously abused or neglected. No matter what their horror they are vulnerable to all types of mistreatment and need the protection of caring and loving people.

Without help most of these kids are likely to continue their lives as homeless, sexually abused, malnourished or exploited in some way. It is hard to imagine a world without anyone at the tender age of 10 or even 7 years old. They do what one has to do to survive on the streets avoiding the constant traumas from a harsh world. The pain of life's poorly dealt cards may crush their sole before they are old enough to have a chance.

I think its important to reflect on this for a moment. When you were seven what were you doing? Playing with toys, hanging with friends, watching movies, playing soccer and having birthday parties? These kids have no clue about what a "normal" life looks like and some of them need to spend their time finding food versus watching cartoons.

In Mexico there are over 700 orphanages with over 650,0000 children (1,2). That number isn't accurate as other figures put the numbers between 400,000 to 1.8 million (2). Many may not find themselves in the protective environment of an orphanage and those that do still may not have enough resources for a descent life.

A lack of records makes any real projections as to what happens to orphans when they leave the orphanage on their 18th birthday. Well run orphanages like Corozon de Vida provide a sense of family so the children have some place to return even when they become adults. Those that are working or going to school have a home are always welcome and many of these adult orphans come back to help their "siblings".

Without education, holding the baggage of a tough background, most will slip back onto the streets.  The goal at Corozon de Vida seeks to end the cycle of poverty and crime through educational programs. The non-profit will pay for college or skilled trade programs so that they give these children a chance to succeed in life.

Not All Orphanages Succeed

Mexican orphanages are not always well run and the U.N. has declared the situation to be a humanitarian crisis. While the people of these orphanages are doing their best they don't have access to resources, have little oversight and few records. Under these gruesome circumstances the good hearts of the people who are trying to help can only do so much in the often violent and chaotic environment these kids live in. Squeezing money for donation is difficult out of pressed budgets.

What can you do?

Much of it is about money to provide basic food, clothing, facilities and education. Other times it is more akin to encouraging our officials to put pressure on Mexico to do more for their orphans. It is a little like fighting an uphill battle where the children's concerns are below all the other stakeholders in society. They don't have much of a voice and it takes people like you and me to give them one.

The U.S. give approximately 290 million a year to Mexico (5) of which much is for narcotics. A lot of drugs move their way across the border to high priced markets in the U.S. The victims of drug wars and narcotics are these kids who have no parents directly due to fighting. They are also America's kids who have addict parents and have been neglected. I wonder if there is a way to rearrange the aid a little to help fund orphanages or other activities for kids? We love to give money for the drug wars and other pet projects but may be overlooking the people directly affected by this money. My argument is that the kids are true victims and by helping them we show the U.S. has concern over the young people in the world and wants them to think of us as partners to their futures.

If you want to Donate You can Do it Here https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/1984592

The Main Site https://www.corazondevida.org/

1. https://icfdn.org/not-orphanages-equal-make-sure-support-trusted-organization/
2. https://www.borgenmagazine.com/orphanages-mexico-human-rights/
3. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8618/0f0ea586ee4fa49cca8fe66e95e64d8f2b60.pdf
4. https://www.orphanslifeline.org/mexico

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Bravery in the Face of a Shooter-Rethinking Mental Health in Society

Your faced with that defining moment where a student threatens to do the impossible and you can't stand there and do nothing. Your adrenaline kicks in and you must act on instinct. Your brain stops processing and your heart starts pumping. That is what happens to almost all of us...but in this situation.... the teacher did something different....he hugged the gun-toting shooter. A little love went a long way! That does get us thinking about long-term mental health.

We can start resolving some of these problems before they become an issue by thinking about mental health and health plans. While a hug may save the day today it may do nothing tomorrow. A student that is unsure of what he/she is doing might be willing to hug but one that is bent on causing pain on others might not be so responsive. Its time for us to think about a better long-term approach.

It takes a lot of insight to understand that this teenager wants recognition for his/her pain but has never received any help. With the proper skills that teenager might have came forward and asked for help, someone would have cared enough to step in years ago, and this problem would have never existed in the first place! The root to this stems way back in chronic failure to love.

As a man of science, I seek to understand so we can find solutions to these issues long before they become issues. We are in a bigger world and lost many of our social connections. With a loss of social connections comes a lost of empathy and with that....we have a perpetual problem.  Without a more effective mechanism we need to rely on insurance companies to better cover mental health services and that in turn create more problems of cost and plan management.

It will be a political mess to even think about......

Mental health in this country is a big concern. Our experts think they understand it but often mislabeled, skip over, misjudge, and mishandled these issues all the time. Many of the people in our prisons are suffering from mental health issues that if they would have dealt with a long time ago would ensure they are productive members of society (Yes there is a cost to not rethinking mental health and its relation to prisons).

What we might do....

1. Get experts together and start formalizing what the essential root of the problem is and the potential solutions
2. Develop better national guidelines and encourage legislative change when appropriate.
3. Encourage health insurance companies to consider adding better mental health coverage.
4. De-stigmatize mental health. People who need the help don't often ask for it.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Bald Eagles in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

The U.P. has bald Eagles that are as rugged as the lifestyle of the area. Vast miles of untouched forest, small towns, and clean air the Eagle finds its nesting places. The area offer an insight into what life was like for many early Americans who lived and breathed nature as though time never changed. The eagle is the master of the skies and there is no other that can touch it.

The Eagle was the first bird to screech for freedom and became our national emblem in 1782. http://www.baldeagleinfo.com/eagle/eagle9.html

Before this The Native Americans honored the eagles through rewarding of feathers, protecting its meat, and honoring its meaning. As a medicinal animal it was a leader and a messenger from the heavens. http://www.native-languages.org/legends-eagle.htm

No doubt its a beautiful creature! Protecting our eagles helps each generation respect and recognize its historical significance as leader among the flocks and how that became part of our collective conscious. They have vision that is one of the most powerful in the world and is up to 8 X that of people.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Borrowing From Our Children to Pay for Today-Government Budgeting and Balance

Debt is a popular thing! Credit cards, mortgages, car payments and just about anything else our little paychecks can't cover! Governments are made of people and they also borrow money for projects and day-to-day functioning way beyond their needs. Sometimes the interest is so low that the money can be borrowed for free (or near free) while at other times, it may be a crisis that forces countries right into a default interest rates. One this is for sure...most countries are in debt and run dangerously close to insolvency and if they don't change course we may have more serious consequences.

Public Pressure to Borrow

Government is about helping one's fellow countrymen/women, at least in theory, and wherever resources are available there will be a lot of people interested in obtaining those resources. A lack of money doesn't stop people from wanting things :) Compounding our problems psychologically, lawmakers may not feel any real guilt over obsessive borrowing. It is removed from their daily lives. When faced with not pleasing their constituents and making tough calls; most will give in!

Do you want to be the person who says "No!"? Few elected officials would have even the slightest desire to run a foul of the pressure to keep the government faucet open. We may know we should close down some programs but getting people to agree on what no longer is needed can be a nearly impossible task that only the daring and foolhardy want to take on! Thus, balancing budgets isn't about restricting programs, it is about not forcing our needs today on people tomorrow.

I would like to provide some wisdom here if I may. The global financial markets are complex and move billions/trillions around the world everyday. One mouse click and entire markets can shift. Money is too often seen as a depersonalized abstract concept far removed from people's everyday lives. It no longer something we see dwindle out of our pocketbooks but is mixed with credit and savings in a way that is no longer "real" for people.

What is Money? A Unit of Measure

Money is a unit of work, time and effort at its essential root.  It isn't just a number but is based in its productive value on the market. We receive money based on our ability to produce things of value. If we produce a lot of value, we should receive a lot of money. Countries that have higher labor value typically earn more money then countries that have low labor value.

Prior to cash and electronic currency trade was the primary way of obtaining goods. A chicken for two loaves of bread was the nature of daily commerce. When the clock was invented, money became a little more like a unit of the value of time. The Industrial Age soon followed and time and wage connection spread throughout the globe. Alas we in our modern time money became a measure of creative capital.

Removed from the Consequences of Spending Money

Countries that borrow excessively are burning resources from the future. They don't have enough dollars in their pockets today to pay for all of their needs and therefore need to reach into the labor of future eras. Our children and our children's children are the recipients of our financial decisions now!

An ethical dilemma is created. As parents we may have a hard time taking our children's college money (i.e. wages, savings, etc...) to buy just one more car, toaster, or toy. In those terms our hearts would break. With national debt we do this collectively because the consequences are far removed and abstract for the average person who feels little obligation to that debt.

Politicians have a responsibility to be frugal with our nation's money. It isn't their money and spending "numbers on a piece of paper" is easy when the consequences don't come to rear their ugly heads until decades later. The old farmer mentality of NOT getting into debt are long gone. Electronic versions of money have warped our view of spending.

What Can We Do?

Let's get wise about money! Money is about capital and value on the market. We can't just borrow from our grandchildren without serious thought. Balancing the budget will take some time but if we continue to push our lawmakers to make better decisions in their budget expenditures we can start shaving off percentages of waste without necessarily impacting the total benefits.

We can also continue to innovate our services for greater market value. Once we start down the path of re-tooling our services, without a doubt, we discover avenues to betterment that can have a long-term influence on U.S. sustainability.  We need people like you to encourage your political representative to take a serious look at budgets to start reducing the debt burden on us all.

We can step back as Americans and wonder if we are truly being heard by the politicians who claim represent us. As they rise there are lots of promises but once they are in the mix all of those promises seem to be less important. Real action requires real people. The constant arguing an deadlock by bother parties seems to influence our future chances of success.

You can find your political representative here to encourage more thought before spending.....


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Cut River Upper Peninsula Michigan

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan hosts some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Protecting these rivers while allowing industry to continue growing is possible with improved environmental technology innovation. Whole new clean up and carbon reducing technology is possible with the right clusters development.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Noquemanon North Trails Trailhead-Protecting Nature for the Future!

Protecting nature is an important function of government. We know that the world is not getting larger and population sizes are rising. Land is a commodity that when it is gone, or our natural environment is damaged, we can't go back and make more. Our options are to clean, protect and expand our environment whenever we can.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

U.S. ISM Factory Index Falls to a 10-Year Low

Watching the market and how it changes can tell us what to expect. The problem is that few can see through the "crystal ball" to truly determine which way the freehand will sway. It can be hard to determine whether a slow down in one area will impact other areas. In this case, it appears the experts are saying this may be just a sign of a temporary slow down. Let us keep our fingers crossed! 😧😬😢