Heart stress test

This blog post documents (with images) my Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram that I had yesterday at the Park Nicollet Heart and Vascular Center.

I was strapped to a bed (it wasn't even soft!) .... see image above. Several crazy people operated the electronics.

An attendant ripped my heart out for visual inspection. This was less painful than I thought it would be! They pronounced it good ... and I went home. I'm not sure if they kept the heart or not!


VDI ... something new at work

Believe it or not, I used to have 3 computers in my work area. Two XP workstations (one dedicated to web development) and a Vista workstation.

That all ended about 3 years ago.

Now just one Lenovo T-410 Thinkpad.

Two weeks ago I requested a VDI for testing. Earlier this year I had three VDI's (2 more than what I needed). That testing function ended and they went away. Three weeks ago I upgraded to Internet Explorer 10. Turns out that we have internal websites that really don't function well with IE10. So I requested a VDI. It's a connection to another virtual computer (hosted at a data center).


The Grandpa thing

Comment: My job today .... get her to smile as much as possible. I tried: "woof woof" (Nope) .... "moo moo" (Nope) ... "meow ... meow" (Yup) ... and then a "whoop whoop with a rising pitch" (Yup) ... tickle toes (Nope) ... tickle belly (Yup). More fun than a kitten!


Denny's CEO explains restaurant wages

$15 Minimum Wage? Denny’s CEO Weighs in on Worker Pay Battle


According to Glassdoor.com Denny’s line-cooks are pulling in $11.32 per hour on average, with hostesses making $8.32.

Those are admittedly extremely low rates but Miller makes no apologies. For one thing the level of employee turnover in the service industry is extremely high, skewing the average pay numbers towards the starting wage.

Most workers hired by the casual food industry don't hang around long enough to get a raise, but the ones who do can advance quickly.

What Miller and Denny’s franchisees are really offering has nothing to do with starting hourly rates.

Start-up jobs are all about opportunity. In the case of Denny’s, those opportunities are going to people who might not otherwise get a foothold in a workplace where upward mobility is a realistic goal.

“The benefit of this industry is we’re one of the largest employers of those who don’t have a good start otherwise,” he says. “Many can start in this industry and work their way to management or ownership." If the pay is low to start in the service industry the chances to advance are much higher than other fields. “This industry should be the poster child for how it ought to work because we give people a place to start,” Miller states with what seems an obvious point that those on the side of offering career-level pay for start up jobs seem to miss.

Most industries don’t have the scale to give so many people a place to start. To those who scream in protest at the idea of someone going from the bottom rung to penthouse suite simply by working hard, Miller points to Dawn Lafreeda. After starting at Denny’s as a hostess when she was 16 years-old, Lafreeda bought her own franchise by the time she turned 24. Today she’s one of Denny’s biggest franchisees with 70 locations in six states and revenues of over $60 million. She also has 1,800 employees, some of whom she mentors by making them partners.

Is she the exception in a cutthroat industry? Of course. That’s how capitalism is supposed to work. The best and the brightest are rewarded. If they have a semblance of decency they try to help others up the ladder. For the employees who seize that opportunity the rewards are vast. Those unwilling or unable to stand-out in a good way leave Denny’s with invaluable experience dealing with people and a sense of responsibility that comes with honest work.

... As for the argument that no one can feed a family earning minimum wage, Miller says that’s an issue for the employees and their families to work out for themselves.

Denny’s pays slightly better than the free market rate for the work they offer. If that’s not enough for a worker perhaps a job at Denny’s isn’t the right fit.

Ultimately the argument on employee pay comes down to free market economics versus the injection of government between the private sector and its employees. Denny’s is why that model works. The company generally treats its workers well because happy workers lead directly to a better customer experience. “Continuity of staff and stability means repeat guests and the continuity of stringing together consecutive positive sales quarters,” Miller concludes. “Those employees are a critical part of that and it plays a role. In context you have to run the business.”

The elegance of free market economics can be a beautiful thing.

Comment: Makes perfect sense!


On knowing God's will - a graphical representation of my view


Three rows:
  • Inputs: Opportunities, Interests, Circumstances, Limitations, Resources, Talents / Abilities (also giftedness)
  • "The process" box: Mindful of God (Matthew 22:37, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind")
  • Outputs: Valid, Christ-honoring choices
Example: HS graduate who:
  • Interest: Has an interest in being a policeman
  • Circumstances: Lives in US, Father was in the USMC, Uncle is a State Trooper. Athletic in HS
  • Limitations: No outward physical limitations. Family has financial limitations.
  • Opportunities / Options: Local community college / "The U" / Military service in various branches / Bible college that would mean dorm living and private college tuition
  • Resources: Already mentioned financial limitations. But he would probably be eligible for Pell grants, et cetera
  • Talents / Abilities: Hunts with his Father / outdoorsman
  • Valid Christ-honoring outcomes / choices:
    • Join the Air Force (or another branch). MOS = military police
    • College: Community College / Bible College / "The U" all valid choices
A good book on the subject: Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View


ENI .... the littlest of "Big Oil"

Comment: You've got to give 'em a shout out for a very cool logo. But I'm not sure why this beast has 6 legs!

Big Oil:
Wiki article = SuperMajors: "As a group, the supermajors control around 6% of global oil and gas reserves. Conversely, 88% of global oil and gas reserves are controlled by the OPEC cartel and state-owned oil companies, primarily located in the Middle East"


Stockbrokers are not required to have fiduciary duty ... and they should

Look Who’s Locking Horns Over Retirement Accounts


By law, a fiduciary—like a doctor or a lawyer—must act in the best interests of his client and seek to avoid all material conflicts of interest. Investment advisers are required to act as fiduciaries, but stockbrokers and insurance agents generally aren’t—yet.

... The heart of the matter: Fiduciaries should avoid conflicts, but brokers are generally required only to disclose them.

... Meanwhile, ask your adviser: Do you or your firm earn more money for recommending this investment? Can you suggest a simpler, cheaper way of accomplishing the same goal? Investors can always act as their own fiduciaries—just in case their advisers aren’t.
Comment: I dumped our financial advisor for what I felt was a case of not advising with fiduciary duty (what I italicized above). Image source with article.


Lending Club & Prosper continue to grow

Consumers Find Investors Eager to Make 'Peer-to-Peer' Loans


Prosper and Lending Club together originated about $871 million in loans last year, more than double the prior year's total and up tenfold since 2008. Lending Club says it is on track to lend $2 billion this year. ... Prosper, which began making loans in 2006, says its annual default rate is 5.8%. Lending Club, which opened in 2007, says its annual default rate is currently 4%.
Comment: I formerly invested with Prosper. At the max I had about $ 5,000 in loans. My return was about 3% (not high enough for the effort in my own view). But I could look at this again. I feel I need to make at least 7% to make it worth my time.


Skipping the Second Car

Skip the Second Car to Save Money


As financial blog 20 Something Finance points out, getting rid of your second car can save you thousands of dollars. Moreover, if you live close to work or if your schedules can accommodate it, you can skip the second vehicle with minimal inconvenience to your daily schedule. ... The author estimates (very roughly) that skipping the second car can save a few thousand dollars per year, assuming that the amount of driving doesn't change at all.
Comment: Our 2nd car is a 2002 Chevy S-10. It's 13 years old and has $ 25,000 miles on it. We average under 2,000 miles per year. Our objective is to sell it in 2 years and have just one vehicle. I'm not sure about saving us thousands a year, but I would guess it will save us about $ 1,200 per year.


Former Wells Fargo Chairman and CEO Dick Kovacevich backs peer-to-peer lender Daric

Former Wells Fargo CEO Dick Kovacevich backs peer-to-peer lender Daric


Redwood City-based Daric, a peer-to-peer lending platform competing with Prosper and Lending Club, has raised money from some of the Bay Area's top players in financial services. The company's registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission lists as investors former Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) Chairman and CEO Dick Kovacevich and Jennifer Johnson, chief operating officer at San Mateo mutual fund giant Franklin Resources (NYSE: BEN).
Comment: Daric (screen shot of home page above) is not yet open for business. I could be interested.

Post Turtle

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old rancher, whose hand was caught in the squeeze gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.

Eventually the topic got around to Obama and his role as our president. The old rancher said, 'Well, ya know, Obama is a 'Post Turtle''.

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him, what a 'post turtle' was.

The old rancher said, 'When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a 'post turtle'.

The old rancher saw the puzzled look on the doctor's face so he continued to explain.

"You know he didn't get up there by himself, he doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, he's elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just Wonder what kind of dumb ass put him up there to begin with."
Comment: Just about right!

Remembering Sergeant David Kenneth J. Kreuter & the USMC Lima Company

David Krueter is back row far right. I understand that all but one in the above photo died in combat

Death Visits a Marine Unit, Once Called Lucky


Most of the Marine Reservists from Lima Company were just getting their start in life. But for the young men from Columbus, those lives were changed almost overnight. Their unit was called up in January. In February they were training in California. And by March, the members of Lima Company were part of the 1,000-strong Third Battalion, 25th Marines, Fourth Marine Division - 3/25 in military lingo - and engaged in full-scale war. Their first few weeks in Iraq were so uneventful that the company of about 160 marines took on the name "Lucky Lima."...
Ohio Town Mourns Marines Lost in Iraq

The 14 Marines killed in Iraq Wednesday and the six killed Monday all belonged to the same Ohio-based battalion. The Headquarters & Services Company, 25th Marine Regiment, 3rd battalion is headquartered in Brook Park, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. The Wednesday attack, in which a roadside explosive detonated beneath the Marines' amphibious vehicle, is the single most deadly improvised explosive attack on U.S. forces since the war began.
David's Father's words

They all did that, the Men of Lima Company. They carried out their chosen responsibilities to a fuller extent than most men, under conditions that would test any and all to the extreme. They were Marines, they had an incredibly difficult job to do, and they were determined to do it right. I stand in awe of these men, and wonder if I could have done their job so well. ... I think of him every day, many times a day, but seldom with the sharpness this image brings. It represents only a small portion of his years, but the pinnacle of his growth and achievement. Face-to-face, I love him, I miss him, I respect him, I admire him.

Memorial panel - David Krueter right

Comments: Pause for a bit and read the articles and view the photos. David was the son of two of my high school classmates. I feel their pain and pray for them. My own son has been and will soon again be in harms way.

Coleman Young's vision for Detroit .... and why we shouldn't pay for his fiasco

How Coleman Young Ruined Detroit


Young [WIKI Coleman Young] was far left, a fellow traveler of the CPUSA through membership in affiliated organizations and was deeply involved with the UAW. He was Mayor of Detroit for 20 years, from 1974 to 1994. I believe he made a cynical decision to make Detroit a majority black city, largely for his own political benefit. Whites had left the city in large numbers following the riots in ’67, but Young, I believe, was happy to see them go and subtly let them know they weren’t really wanted there anymore. The higher the black to white ratio in the city, the tighter was his grip on power.

In his years in power there were two techniques he used to cement his power and influence. One was to pack the city payroll with supporters, a tried and true tactic of municipal governments everywhere. However, his deep ties to the union movement opened the door for a huge amount of influence in compensation negotiations resulting in the high wages and generous benefits, including pensions, which are plaguing the city now....
The second technique he used was to keep race relations at a boil. When I moved here in 1978 the Detroit metro area was almost unbelievably segregated. Most suburbs, with a few notable exceptions, had only tiny black populations. Almost all the blacks in the metro area lived in the city and almost all the whites in the suburbs. My first drive up Jefferson Ave from the center of the city into the Grosse Pointes was eye opening. Within 3-4 blocks it changed from a filthy street with abandoned buildings and rundown store fronts covered with graffiti and protective steel gratings to a tree lined avenue with large well maintained homes with immaculate landscaping. There was a virtual Maginot line at the border of Detroit..

Young was a master of exploiting this divide and creating friction with the “suburbs” (dogwhistle for “whites”) and regularly used this to foster a “them (white) vs us (black)” mentality in his voter base. He was always the guy standing up to “the suburbs” and they loved him for it. He was mayor for life. Sadly, this technique was extremely effective, to the point where it not only worked on blacks in Detroit, it also worked on the whites in the suburbs. To this day, almost twenty years after Young left office, the animosity is such that any cooperative endeavors between Detroit and its surrounding communities are always fraught with a significant dose of racial politics. Blacks always think that whites want to take over and whites don’t see any benefit in doing anything that helps the city.

While the racial segregation of the Detroit metro area has eased over the years, this has actually worked to the detriment of the city. Over the past several decades crime has gone up and services have declined, making the city a much less desirable place to live, as population figures confirm. The vast majority of that population loss, I believe, has been the black middle classes who left the city for the suburbs. It is perfectly understandable that they want to move their families to where the streets are safer and services are better, most notably the school districts. The result is that the city is now largely populated by an underclass that is very poorly educated and pretty much only capable of working at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. Functional illiteracy has been estimated at nearly 50% and over a third of the population is on welfare. It is a tragedy and it will be a primary factor in keeping the city from any meaningful rebound, at least in the next couple of decades. The human capital is just not there to rebuild an economic infrastructure capable of lifting the city out of its financial difficulties. (Digression: if current lawsuits filed by pensioners to protect their interests are successful a huge proportion of meager city operating finances will be untouchable and other city services will suffer enormously in the future, digging an even deeper hole for the city.)
Dems Favor Federal Bailout of Detroit, But Majority of Public Opposed

A new national poll from Quinnipiac University shows that a majority Democrats believe the federal government should bail out Detroit, but an even larger majority of Americans oppose such a move. Fifty-one percent of Democrats support Washington providing federal assistance to Detroit, which last month became the largest American city ever to seek bankruptcy protection. Not surprisingly, there is a strong partisan divide on the question of a federal bailout for the Motor City. Seventy-three percent of Republicans oppose a bailout, while only 18 percent support the idea. Independents are nearly of the same mind as Republicans on the issue: 68 percent oppose federal assistance for Detroit and 28 percent support it.

Comment: Detroit should stand as a monument to Democratic "leadership" .... so all can see the folly