Friday, April 20, 2018

Houston, I Think We Have A Problem

Houston, I Think We Have A Problem;

At Least To Me!
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, April 17, 2018

It is impossible not to get involved in politics in one form or another in a country currently divided based entirely upon your political party affiliation.  Never has this become so obvious than having just witnessed what involved Television/Radio Talk Show Host Sean Hannity and the ongoing Russia Collusion Investigation.

It may be impossible for people to put aside their political beliefs to consider what I am suggesting in this Nugget; I sincerely hope they can.  What happened to Hannity by a Federal Judge COULD happen to anyone one of us. If it CAN happen to one, it CAN happen to MANY!

To my knowledge, Sean Hannity is NOT under any investigation by anyone.  Of course I could be wrong but I seriously doubt that his name surfaced as a result of the investigation being conducted by Special Prosecutor Mueller.  If that is the case, explain how Sean Hannity’s privacy can be totally disregarded by a Federal Judge when that Judge REQUIRES an attorney to provide a list of names of everyone that the attorney lists as his or her client.  If Sean Hannity did nothing illegal, how can his name be dragged through the courts mud hole as if he did?

I spent over 33 years in the real estate business.  I cannot remember how many attorneys I have spoken to over those 33 years; trust me, there were many.  Only one was an attorney that I actually paid legal fees to for services rendered personally to me and that was to create a Will.  If any of those attorneys ever found themselves in a situation such as President Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen found himself, would they be REQUIRED to release to the court my name as they did Sean Hannity’s? 

Compare what happened to Hannity with what has already happened to a great many Americans whose names have been inadvertently discovered during wire taps of foreign entities.  Those names are MASKED by the Federal Government so that no one can have their name tainted by those conversations most of which contained no illegal activities.  To UNMASK those names requires a special request and until the Obama Administration such approval of those requests were the exception, not the rule.

“Houston” my question is this.  Why do Americans have their names protected through the “masking” process but those same Americans can have their privacy exposed through in a Federal Court by a Federal Judge when there was no evidence presented that the American, Sean Hannity, had done anything illegal?  The simple act of releasing a name such as that of Sean Hannity “suggests” that Hannity had done something wrong or illegal. 

In my opinion, repeat OPINION, the releasing of Hannity’s name was nothing more than political grandstanding by a Federal Judge.  Think about it without the blinders of a political bias. The judge could just have easily asked for a list of the attorney’s clients and then based upon any charges being considered release ONLY the names of anyone who “might” be involved but even then, that is presuming that someone is guilty instead of presuming them to be innocent until proven guilty.


DISCLAIMER:  I am NOT a Sean Hannity fan; in fact, I do not like his television show and have only listened to his radio show a couple of times.  But I know when something is not right and this frankly stinks.  If you fail to understand that, I pray that what happened to Hannity never happens to you so that you discover what the power a judge can hold over you and your family.  I am NOT an attorney but I believe the Rule of Law was just thrown out the window.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Heart of a Nurse Leader Book Review

By Bob Dent and Joe Tye

A Book Review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, April 12, 2018

Disclaimer.  I have read just about everything Joe Tye has written/published so I am a bit biased in my opinion of this book.  Nonetheless – it is a great book.

Do NOT let the title dissuade you from reading it if you are not involved in the Healthcare Industry.  You could easily substitute REALTOR® for Nurse or Car Salesman for Nurse or just about any profession imaginable for Nurse and the book would still not only be applicable, it would be a very useful guide to creating a better business/profession.

Dent and Tye lay out what it takes to be a leader.  Therefore if you have no desire to be a leader or if you have no desire for your business to operate at a higher level where employees love what they do and do what they love, then you probably should not read this book.  If on the other hand you want not only your employees to be happier and therefore more productive but for you to also be happier and more productive I would encourage you to read this book.  Once you have read it and agree with my assessment and I know you will, buy copies and give them out to your employees.

I retired after 33 plus years in the real estate business as a salesman, broker, manager, trainer and owner.  As I read this book I constantly thought of my real estate agents and how the book would apply to them.  When you read the book I am confident you will do the same for your business whether that is in the Healthcare Industry or some other profession.  It applies to everyone!

The book is positive!  It builds your attitude!  It provides a roadmap to guide you to better thinking.  It also serves as a guide to evaluate where you presently are as compared to where you want to be and then shows you a path as to how to get to where you want to be. 

Who should read this book?  EVERYONE!  Would I read it again?  Most definitely.  Would I give it as a gift?  Absolutely! 

Note:  We all see doctors from time to time, some of us more often than others.  Why not buy a couple of copies of the book, personalize them and then give them to the nurses in the offices/hospitals you routinely visit.  Make sure you write a personal note on the inside cover to let the Nurse(s) know how much them mean to you.

Monday, April 9, 2018

A Clarinet, A Typewriter and A Teacher

A Clarinet, A Typewriter and A Teacher

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, April 9, 2018

You are probably wondering what these three things have in common, I’m so glad you asked.  I could have titled it “Educational Malpractice.”

My mother was musically inclined having played saxophone in an all girls band back in the 30s; my father, not so much.  When it came time for me to consider playing an instrument as a youngster having music in the family seemed a natural fit – we selected the clarinet.  I don’t remember how old I was when I first started but the best I can remember I was in elementary school. 

I took lessons and played through High School.  What did I learn playing the clarinet?  One of the first things the music teacher taught me was finger dexterity by requiring me to exercise all the fingers on BOTH hands by doing coordinating exercises.  What does that mean?  I would take a finger on my right hand (I was right handed) and I would move it in a certain motion and then replicate the motion on the corresponding finger on the left hand and match it while increasing the speed of the movements over time.  I would do this for all 10 fingers and that obviously included my thumbs.  It seemed like a dumb thing to do when you were only 9 or 10 years old but it did pay huge dividends later in life.

Playing the clarinet taught me several things. 

  • Coordination between my right hand and my left hand
  • Coordination between the music I saw on the page and the movement of the fingers on both hands
  • Timing
  • Being an integral member of a team working as one (once I joined the school band)
  • Believe it or not, the bigger picture of a completed project – playing a piece of music on my clarinet that others would be able to recognize and hopefully appreciate
  • Self satisfaction of learning to play a musical instrument

Of these skills, the hand coordination was probably the most important lesson learned that proved to be invaluable throughout my life and this is why.  During Junior High School, my mother insisted I take a typing course.  I played sports in school and I took a lot of criticism from my fellow teammates for taking a “typing course.”  Looking back, it was unquestionably the most valuable of any of the courses in all of my 14 years of formal education as it paid and continues to pay dividends for me.  I can’t say that for the rest of the courses I took in school most of which I can’t even remember what they were or even name more than 3 or 4.  I envy people who remember the names of their various teachers and then explain how much they have meant to them.  Me?  I can’t remember the name of just one such teacher.  I was either unlucky in regards to having memorable teachers or they were simply not very memorable; I believe the latter.

At the risk of immodesty, I became quite good on the clarinet (also played the Baritone Saxophone in the dance band and drums in the marching band).  Having dexterity using both hands on a clarinet worked FOR and AGAINST me in my typing class.  When I signed up for typing, I indicated on the class entry form that I had never typed before which I had not.  Extremely important to remember is that I had been playing the clarinet for several years using both of my hands and fingers to do so.  Compare that to my classmates who were also typing for the first time.  They were either Left or Right Handed but few if any ever used BOTH of their hands and fingers to do anything coordinated before in THEIR short lifetimes.

THE BAD: I barely passed the typing course; did so with a C if I remember correctly.  Why is that important?  It was an extremely valuable lesson that I did not appreciate until much much later in life.  If there were 30 students in my typing class, you would think that we all started to play on a level playing field.  But that was not true.  I was light years ahead of the rest of my class in my ability to use both hands and fingers in unison.  As for the rest of the class, not so much.  I picked up the typing technique very rapidly thus causing the teacher to believe that I had previous typing instruction and/or practice and graded me accordingly.  The lesson I later learned – how it is impossible to prove a negative? 

I could NOT prove to my teacher that I did not know how to type when I entered her class.  There was no way I could – thus the C grade.  I was furious but there was nothing I could do to sway her thinking.  In her mind, one size fit all and we all were suppose to be that one size or in this case, no typing skills and that was true.  But in regards to two hand coordination or eye to hand coordination; that was an entirely different story at least for me. 

THE GOOD:  Think about this, as a result of the typing class, I can type 250 words a minute without an error!  Think not?  Think again – I just did it for you!  Get it?  Also, typing became second nature to me.  I began on manual typewriters and progressed through to the computer terminals of today.  During my service in the Coast Guard I taught typing for about 3 years.

I learned another valuable lesson by taking clarinet lessons.  I could play almost any instrument “by ear.”  What that means is that I could pick up an instrument and with no instruction, I could play music I have heard before and play the instrument as if I had training to do so.  That is why I was able to play so many different instruments in the High School Band.  I remember playing at least 8. 

The problem with being able to play by ear was that I was also able to improvise the music that was on the sheet music by adding notes while playing what was on the paper.  My music teacher had a choice that I did not recognize or understand at the time.  He could either make me play what was on the sheet music as written or he could have encouraged me to “take off” and do “my thing” with the music.  He chose to stifle my creativity and made me stick to the sheet music.  As a result, I lost interest in taking lessons and eventually quit.

Some people may say the music teacher did the right thing.  Others would disagree.  It is easy to look back to see what should have been done.  In my case I should have been encouraged to be creative.  Living in New Orleans I have witnessed firsthand what it means to be musically creative.  You can see and hear it every day of the week in the French Quarter.  Yes it was important to learn how to play the music as it was written but it was just as important NOT to require someone to color ONLY within the lines.  There is a wonderful world outside the lines and teachers should recognize that some students should stay within the lines while others should be encouraged to explore.

Here is a more important question that even today goes unanswered.  If a teacher makes a statement on any subject you want to consider like music, English, math, science, art, or whatever, and then expect that EVERY student will accept what is taught in the same way, that teacher is doing a disservice to his or her students.  Let me explain.  I remember teachers making a statement and then my mind would literally take off.  I would mentally expand on what the teacher had just said; my mind was like a rainbow of ideas all related to what the teacher had put forth.  Then I would realize that 5 to 10 minutes had passed and I had not heard a word she had said after making that initial comment.  Do you think that may have affected my grades?  You know it did.

I later discovered that there is a Left Brain/Right Brain concept and it was explained to me that I grew up a Right Brain person in a Left Brain world.  That may sound abstract but it made perfect sense to me once explained.  People either have technical type minds (Left Brain) or they have creative type minds (Right Brain).  School systems back in the 1950s and 1960s and probably sill are designed as Left Brain Models meaning that it was the desire of the education system at the time that all of the students that graduated would be identical to each other based upon what was taught – same input – same output.  That was the objective and it worked great for Left Brain students; not so much for Right Brain students like me.  It turned out that I am living proof that a one-size-fits-all educational system is NOT the ideal system for everyone.  Just like not every student in my typing class started out equally, not every student in a math class started out equally yet the standard for teaching, at least back then, was that everyone was taught the same way.

In reality, I had a very difficult time staying focused on what was being taught in all of the courses I had taken.  This was for two reasons.  First it WAS the Left Brain/Right Brain thing but more importantly to me, it was that I had absolutely NO INTEREST in most of what was being taught.  I can say with certainty that of all the courses I took, the typing course benefited me the most.  I still use it today followed closely by what was then taught in English Class (as compared to what might be called a Writing Class today).  I can no longer dissect a sentence and graph it out as we were all taught.  Still I can recognize a good sentence as compared to a poorly written sentence.  If you want an example of the latter, just read almost any page of Sean Penn’s latest book (it is so bad I won’t even provide the title).

I attended two years of college where I supposedly majored in Marketing and Advertising.  In my two years I NEVER took ONE class on either of those two subjects.  The result is obvious to me now but not so much then.  I did not fit well into the 4 year college educational system where you HAD TO TAKE a lot of useless courses that you/I had absolutely no interest in.  Case in point – explain to me what taking a course in Geology had to do with Marketing and Advertising.  Answer – NOTHING!  I don’t remember all the courses I was required to take in College except for the Air Force ROTC classes.  The ROTC classes reinforced my belief that my future lie in a military career and that is what I ultimately did – a twenty year career in the U. S. Coast Guard and I LOVED IT!

I can’t be alone in my thinking.  I would challenge anyone who completed High School and then graduated College to make a list of the all courses they took where they can say without exception that THIS COURSE or THESE COURSES made them better at what they eventually did for a career. Your High School and/or College Degree may have enabled you to be hired but I seriously doubt you knew what to do on your first day on the job based solely on what you learned in High School and/or College.  Most people learn what they must do, ON THE JOB!

For anyone reading thus far, I would HIGHLY recommend you read Dr. Bryan Caplan’s book, The Case Against Education; Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money.  As I read through this wonderful book I had the recurring thought – HE’S TALKING ABOUT ME!  But he is NOT talking only about me; he’s talking about everyone that ever attended formal education in the United States and probably the world.

To all the parents or would be parents of the world, I would also strongly recommend that you do research on the Left Brain/Right Brain concept and then make an effort to evaluate each of your children to determine how it may apply to them.  It will make a difference as to how they are able to learn.  Ideally you should want to match your child’s ability to learn to a school system that can adapt the way they teach to match.  Sadly that is much easier said than done.

Here is an excellent place to start that research:

This is my story and I’m sticking to it.  I can still type 250 words a minute without a mistake – see I just did it again.  I haven’t played the clarinet in over 50 years.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

How Times Have Changed!

How Times Have Changed!

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, March 27, 2018

The photo is NOT me but I did wear a white belt with a student traffic guard badge on it.  I remember when it was issued to me; one of the proudest days of my life.  In the 6th grade I was selected to be the Captain of the Student Traffic Guards and that too was a special day.

For those who do not recognize the photo, let me explain.  Approximately 15 minutes before school would let out and/or start for the day, the student traffic guards would go to the Administrative Office of the school to pick up the 10’ aluminum poles with the STOP flags at one end and then check to see which intersection each guard or guards would be assigned.

We would use the poles to stop the students in my elementary school from crossing the intersection(s) until such time as it was determined to be safe to do so.  Then we would step out into the street and extend our poles across the roadway for the purpose of stopping any cars that may come along.

Several things come to mind when I saw the above photo.  First and foremost is the responsibility that the schools gave to its 5th and 6th grade students to do the right thing and be accountable for the safety of other students in the school.  We learned the value of being selected for the responsibility, for showing up on time regardless of the weather and then acting in a responsible manner while performing our duties. 

The second thought I had was that drivers back in the 1950s seemed to be much more respectable on the road than they are today.  I currently live on a corner in my subdivision.  The corner is a 3-way stop intersection.  I have not done a scientific study of how many cars/trucks ignore the stop signs but I can assure you that it must be close to 30%.  Of the 30% who ignore the stop signs, more seem to be pickup truck drivers.  It is NOT a matter of just slowing down like you might in a rolling stop; they just blow through the intersection with no attempt at stopping or slowing down. Using elementary school students to combat such drivers might be a bit much to ask of today’s students.

Then I thought of how most of us would walk to school every day, rain, snow or sunshine; school buses were used only for students who lived a great distance away from the schools.  I don’t remember exactly how far the school was from our home but it would be my guess that is was at least a half mile.  So the kids in my area would walk about a mile every school day.  Compare that to today’s students who are driven to school every day either by their parents or on a school bus.

As soon as we would arrive home, most of us would immediately grab our sporting equipment as determined by the season of the year, get on our bikes or put on our snow boots and head off to the local playground to play baseball, basketball or skate in the winter.  No one was driven, we all rode our bikes or we walked.  We would play baseball until it was too dark to play and then go home.  I remember skating until 9:00 pm when they closed the park and then trudge home in the snow in the dark.

In 2018 my parents would be arrested for permitting us to do what we did growing up in the 1950s.  And if all that were not bad enough, consider this, most of us would drink water directly from the garden hose.

Oh how times have changed.  We recently went out to eat at possibly the nicest restaurant in our area.  What did I see?  Children AND adults on their cell phones while sitting at their tables.  I saw men coming in wearing t-shirts and flip flops.  Oh how times have changed.  It is hard for an “old schooler” like me to accept what appears to be the “new normal”, a “normal” that I don’t particularly like or endorse.

When did parents forfeit their parental duty of instilling manners in their children to the smart phone and tablets?  When did it become acceptable to intentionally not stopping at stop signs or traffic lights?  When did it become acceptable to dress down when going out?  Been to a wedding lately?

Oh my God, I sound like my parents.  Who knew?  They were right!