Protected: Archive: Message to the kids from 2005

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The world would be a happier place if we could smile on our passport photos

We are not allowed to smile on our passport, drivers license, and other ID photos. Now, we have to look so serious. For passports, this has an effect on Customs agents. It has to! Looking at thousands of grumpy passport photos all day affects their whole mental attitude. If they saw all these smiling faces it would lighten them up. “Hey, great photo, looks like you were having a great day.” Customs officers would become cheery, happy representatives of their countries, and in no way taking away from the seriousness of their jobs.

Do terrorists smile? Do they look happy? If not, what a great way to pre-screen people. And its free! Suspect those who don’t smile, and don’t pick on the average, cheery gal or guy.

Getting passport and drivers license and other ID photos would be more fun. Instead of “look straight ahead, don’t smile and look serious“, it would be “Smile and look at the little birdie. Squeak squeak.”

How do they do it in Bhutan with their Gross National Happiness? Do they smile on their passport photos?

One of the best ways cheer ourselves up is to smile, a real genuine smile, with eyes turned up, lips parted and teeth showing. Try it! Smile, and the world smiles with you!

BNI: President

Today at my BNI Valley Voices meeting Doreen announced that the new roles need to be filled for next year, that Jennifer Hannah, who oversees our group, picks the president, and that will be me. There was applause and congratulations.

I am looking forward to next year. Now to see who will come forward to fill various rolls. Exciting times.

BNI Chilliwack part two

I went to the first information meeting for a new BNI session, 7:00 am at IHOP. There were six other people, including one organizer, my nephew and his business partner, and the BNI coordinator for this area.

My concerns, from yesterday, were unfounded. The BNI Managing Director, Laura Leoni, did an excellent job: enthusiastic, good presentation, knowledgeable, positive. i was there for colour commentary.

I hope the group does well, and I’ll come back as a visitor if i find myself in Chilliwack on a Tuesday morning.

BNI Chilliwack part one

Last April, when my nephew told me what his new business was, I told him he had to seek out and join a local BNI group. When I went looking for one, through the BNIBC website, I found out there were none in the area. I left it at that.

Yesterday, at a Japanese restaurant with my father, he picked up a Coffee News. I looked through it and there was an ad for an information session to start a BNI chapter in Chilliwack. I got excited! I called the number on the ad, introduced myself, and invited myself to the meeting.

Then I called my nephew and invited him.

Then I made notes, because I recalled my very first BNI meeting, around the turn of the century. It was also an informational meeting. The presenter was very poor, unexciting, and unenthusiastic. I did not come away with a warm feeling. The feeling I came away with was that I had escaped a shark tank.

I vowed this meeting would be different. If there was a poor presenter, a dull, unreceptive crowd, I would do my best to get them excited an motivated, because I am a convert, I see the power of BNI.

Let’s see how it goes.

I sent a text home. Elizabeth responded. I put my BlackBerry in my pocket, and it pocket-texted a smiley emoticon.

Cute. It read my mind.

Starting The Year

Had my hair cut yesterday. Conversed with my barber, Heesun, about investing and people we know who’ve made high risk investments and been burnt, badly, and lost homes, retirement funds, damaged personal relationships. While it tends to be true that the higher the risk, the greater the rate of return, one should be acutely aware of what one could lose if the investment goes south and what the negative impact will be. Depending on one’s circumstances, invest an amount so that if one loses it, there is no hardship.

Back on the Mat

Made it to a half hour yoga session at Steve Nash Fitness World. It was very enjoyable. It has been too long, over two years since I had to give up going there.

Long Live the Prince

A new member of the Royal Family was born yesterday, now third in line to the throne. We could say he is one of the few people in the world who knows what he will be after he grows up: King.

With all the hype and royalty watching, there will be the usual grumpy naysayers who say we should abolish the monarchy. They usually claim it is an archaic institution and not worth the money. I do not agree with them. I could say “in a perfect world.”

One aspect of government in a democracy is balance: giving balance to the various branches and arms of government. In a perfect world, there is balance, governments manage the land, the rights of the individual and the minority are not trampled. If one arm of government gets oppressive, one of the others, with the support of the people, can counterbalance. In this country the Prime Minister’s office wields the most power, including, in a majority government, control of the House of Commons. Much as we malign the Canadian Senate (only a minority of senators abusing their roles), it can work as a balance to the House of Commons. A PMO that had lost the support of the people would have a harder time making the usual threats to abolish the Senate, if the people agreed with the Senate.

With the Governor General, who is the Queen’s, and after her demise, will be the King’s representative, in Canada, also has that balancing role. The GG has the power to dissolve Parliament. This is done when the PM says so, essentially, giving the GG a figurehead role. But if the PMO went bad, lost the support of the people, and had become truly heinous, the people could appeal to the GG to dissolve Parliament so we could elect a new government. If the GG refused, we would have recourse with the monarch. If the monarch refused, we would be screwed.

It is nice to know, that the balance exists. We live in what is close to a perfect world in this country, much as we pick on our political institutions, and much as some of us become infuriated or dejected over government policies, we really don’t have much to complain about. Hopefully my points above continue to exist merely as fodder for a futuristic political intrigue Canadian novel.

Abolishing the monarchy, or the Canadian Senate, does not have my support. Modifying the Senate: yes.

As for the belief that the monarchy is expensive and not worth the cost, they are a huge tourist attraction. What do royal watchers, even the mildly curios, do? They spend money. They travel, they wait in crowds to view a Royal. They eat. They drink. They buy souvenirs. If they have traveled far, they will visit other tourist attractions. This is of great benefit to the tourist industries and their spin offs. Do not forget the security. All the overtime that gets paid to police, military, private security, and the spinoff industries of security devices and equipment. A chunk of this money, in sales and wages, is taxed back, so that ideally this money is much greater than what the government spent. The Royals are great at circulating money in an economy. Rather than abolish the monarchy, we should encourage them to make more trips, to make more official visits.
The little prince will visit one day.

On Problem Solving

Had a conversation today with another small business owner. She read recently that one of the strong skills successful small business owners have is that of problem solving. Whether there are production issues, or client issues, or staff issues, or regulations, we have to be able to solve problems. That is what I do, solve problems. I thought of making it a company motto that “We solve your problems” though that is too vague. A professional hitman could use the same line.

As I watch or listen to performances of talented people, in music, dance, the arts, what goes through my mind when I think about talent is that I strive to improve things, to make them work, to find a more efficient way of doing things. “I just want it to work.” That is problem solving. When we solve problems, we improve things, we improve processes, we improve outcomes. At least we strive to.

One aspect that separates excellent employees from average employees is the ability to problem solve. Excellent employees use their skills and experience to solve problems, to deal with an issue. I prefer that over passing the problem to someone else, or procrastinating on it. Sometimes I get questioned on an issue and I want to say “Think! Think about it. Think it through. You know the answer. You don’t need me to tell you.”Even if the action turns out to be wrong, or does not have a good outcome, I try to keep in mind that the person tried, to the best of her/ability, and I work on improving the outcome.

That also brought up the conversation about our school system in which we spend twelve plus years telling our children what to do, how to do it, and what to think. Then we wonder why so many become brainless and get to the point where the highlight of their day is vegetating in front of the TV, usually with a shot of alcohol, so they do not need to think. The world has changed so much in the past two decades, how do we educate people for a world that we cannot conceive of? One of the most valuable skills will be that of problem solving. In this province our school system is failing at that.

Music and Software on Canada Day

On this Canada Day, after visiting two locations to take part in the festivities, I wrapped up this BF day with music. I attended a performance by Michelle Mares, with her Chopin Etudes, Opus 25 by Frédéric Chopin, at the University of Victoria. Michelle introduced each of the twelve pieces, explained each one, then performed it. Her performance and interpretations reinforced that music is so subjective, like computer programming and software creation.

A composer writes a piece, and will annotate how it is to be played. A musician interprets and plays the piece with a personal style. A programmer will write a program, or snippets of code. Another programmer, or a coder or designer, will interpret that code to create something new, often in a way not intended by or conceived by, the creator.