Thursday, June 26, 2008

Here in Las Vegas - The Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation will partner with the Torino Foundation and the Clark County School District by creating the
Torino Classroom in Sunrise Children's Hospital.

The program, the third of its kind in the country, ensures in-patient children at the hospital receive classroom education during their hospital stay, including home tutoring.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The day the slacker died!

From Asia Times Online, Front Page, June 10, 2008
By Spengler

Two events on June 6 might denote the death of the "slacker" as an American cultural archetype. The first was the largest monthly jump in the US unemployment rate in two decades, due to an unexpectedly large number of young entrants into the labor market. The second was the release of the film Kung Fu Panda, which transposes the ubiquitous slacker-makes-good story line into the incongruous setting of Chinese martial arts.

America might be the first country in recorded history whose culture celebrates not only indolence but also the sheer absence of ability. Byronic loafing is the birthright of genius, but slacking has become the entitlement of every young American. American popular culture puts a special premium on doing nothing, which is what the protagonists of such popular television series as Friends, Sex in the City, The Office and Seinfeld did. Aristocrats throughout history loafed because they could afford to. Until very recently, so could Americans. That has come to a sudden and ignoble end, on which more later.

The popularity of slacking is evident from the success of films on the subject. Well, they knew their demographics those who crafted Kung Fu Panda, in which a fat and feckless panda who in two easy lessons becomes a kung fu master. As film critic Carina Chocano lamented in the Los Angeles Times, "The slacker panda whose favorite word is 'awesome' is singled out for heroism when all the other characters have worked long and hard (the definition of kung fu) and sacrificed for what they've accomplished. The message - believe in yourself even when all evidence suggests you shouldn't - is annoyingly familiar and frankly overdue for a serious debunking." A young martial-arts practitioner of my acquaintance said it more simply: "Who made this movie? I want to rip out his trachea."

Underlying the seemingly good-natured adolescent humor of this exercise is a nasty streak of resentment. Young Americans profoundly resent the notion that they must subject themselves to the discipline of authority in order to learn and advance - precisely what Asian martial arts propose to teach. The easy success of the panda protagonist (with the annoying voice of actor Jack Black) is a gob of spit in the eye of authority.

The market is teaching Americans better. In a few years, I predict, young Americans will wear neckties to work and say "Yes Sir!" and "Yes Ma'am," and spend their evenings at night school rather than drinking beer with their buddies.

In an essay entitled American idolatry (Asia Times Online, August 29, 2006), I suggested that American music's gradual descent into mediocrity expressed growing resentment against artistic standards. But there is no resentment like well-funded resentment, and it is the tragedy of American adolescents to have had too much money at the worst possible time.

America is the only place in the world where a gaggle of acne-pitted, pizza-gobbling, beer-guzzling mind-altered college dropouts in cut-off jeans and flip-flops could start a website and become billionaires. A decade ago, a couple of ex-hippies sold an Internet greeting card site for US$4 billion. The window for such weird occurrences shut forever with the collapse of the Internet bubble, to be sure, but the memory of rich rewards to slacking persists among American youth.

The Internet bubble presumed that the world would pay staggering sums for future delivery of American popular culture. The world never really liked American popular culture, though; it liked what it thought that culture represented, namely, limitless opportunity and upward mobility. Bloated expectations about the financial future of web-based delivery of pop culture were a case of a bad idea chasing its own tail.

American college dropouts ceased to become Internet millionaires in 2001, but the sense of entitlement continued. As the world's savings washed into the United States, reaching the improbable level of $1 trillion last year, American asset prices rose, and the cost of capital fell. Americans nearing retirement ceased to put money away, assuming that all of them would be able to sell their houses to each other at some future date. Home prices doubled in the decade through 2007.

American families stopped saving for their children's university education, which at a good private institution costs roughly $200,000 per student. Families expected to take cash out of their homes, and students expected to borrow money at low interest rates, to defray these costs. Borrowing rather than saving for college became universal, and the volume of student loans outstanding reached $48 billion last year.

It is hard to think of a comparable case in social history: a country borrows from foreigners to lend money to its young people to spend four years binge-drinking at a university that pretends to prepare them for the world. Textiles to India and opium to China financed the slacking of three generations of British toffs, but the current-account surplus and the student loan securitization markets paid for the slacking of American undergraduates.

Now it appears that a few hundred thousand college-age Americans have fallen off the gravy train. Most American banks who offered student loans have exited the market entirely. It is not that students have ceased to pay back their loans, but rather that the banks are short of resources after the collapse of the mortgage-lending market and associated portions of their asset books. In May, the US government proposed emergency legislation to provide more government loans to students, but this will not make up for what the banks have taken away.

Families that expected to take cash out of appreciated homes had a rude awakening this year. Most American banks have stopped allowing mortgage borrowers to refinance and take out additional cash. So-called home equity loans, or second mortgages on homes, are the cause of the crash of US bank stock prices during the past few weeks. The well is dry. That leaves the youngsters in the lurch, which is precisely where most of them deserve to be.

A profound sense of panic appears to have gripped American youth, which might explain why so many of them are seeking a messiah in Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barak Obama. But there isn't much that Obama or anyone else, for that matter, can do to help the slackers

Americans have to work harder, save more, and defer gratification. Instead of spending four years in a non-stop party at a taxpayer-subsidized state university, the middling American student will work during the day, go to night school, and save for a dozen years to buy his or her first house (at a much lower price than the present owner paid for it). They will stop complaining about boring jobs and oppressive bosses, and feel grateful to have the work. Their parents won't bail them out; in fact, their parents will postpone retirement and work and additional 10 or 15 years.

It's not going to be fun, but there's no helping it. The sooner Americans reconcile themselves to a tighter belt and a longer day, the better.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Can't We Smile and Be Courteous? --- By Tony Pellegrino

The other day I went into a store to buy an item. As I approached the clerk to ask where it was on the shelf, she turned to me with a scowl on her face which said, “Can’t you see I am busy?” I was so furious I almost screamed, but I instead walked out of the store without purchasing what I had come in to get. Later that day I had to go to one of the government agency offices to inquire about a problem. Three of the employees were huddled over a computer chatting and laughing. I waited a moment and then softly said, “Hi, can someone help me?” They turned to look at me as though to say, “Can’t you see we are busy? Wait until we finish.” Wow! I thought. Excuse me for breathing.

Aren’t you fed up with these attitudes towards us both in the government and in the private sector when we approach for assistance. Have you ever experienced the same rudeness? I don’t know how you feel about it, but it is time to consider changing those insulting attitudes. When a clerk stares at me or ignores me, a sudden flash of red rushes to my head and I want to scream. But I hold my temper. Aren’t these people employed to serve customers and make them feel good while they purchase an item or a service?

Patiently I stand and wait for some response. Finally the person turns and with a blank look gives out a grunt. I hang my head and repeat my request. This is the average courtesy we receive daily. Why is it? Why are so many employees so rude and indifferent?

To me the only explanation is that the rude or disinterested employee is a very unhappy person. He/she has little motivation for what he/she is doing. But, you know, I really shouldn’t blame him completely. I really blame the supervisor or manager because that is the attitude and lack of training conveyed to the employee from above. It is unfortunate that these so-called managers must be reminded why they are in positions of responsibility.

Especially when competition is very keen, I would imagine that every tool would be used to treat customers with respect and win their loyalty so that they keep returning. In my own companies, whenever any employee shows disrespect, he gets a single warning. Should he keep repeating his attitude, he is out the back door. It is much easier to hire another employee than to find another customer. Yet on the other hand when I receive a compliment, I immediately tell the employee about it.

Many times I have told clerks who display rudeness or poor service to find another job. By doing so they will not hurt the owner’s business, scare away customers and they will become happy doing what they like instead of suffering and making everybody’s life miserable.

More restaurants and small shops shut down because of lack of customer service than any other reason. To these incompetent managers I heartily recommend that they read several books on customer service. One of the best is Dale Carnegie’s classic book: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

I have jotted some TIPS for the next rude and inconsiderate employee you meet. Copy these suggestions on small cards and hand them out to each rude employee you encounter.


1. Act interested in me. I need your assistance.

2. SMILE! SMILE! SMILE! It will not cost you a cent but it will earn you my good feelings and my business.

3. Be a good listener. I want to explain my problem and I hope you can solve it.

4. I am here to spend money in your shop, help me to do so.

5. Make me feel important and do it sincerely. We all need that feeling.

6. Show respect for my opinion. Don’t say bluntly: “You’re wrong.” Do
it nicely.

7. Begin in a friendly way. It opens up a dialogue.

8. If you are wrong admit it quickly and emphatically.

9. Try honestly to see things from my needs and ideas.

10. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest
and most important sound in any language. Isn’t yours? Please
use my name when you address me.

11. If you are not enjoying this job, please find another one in which
you will be happier.

12. Practice the above and I will be loyal customer and will bring
others with me to your shop.


1) 1% die. 2) 3% move away. 3) 5% have new interests or new

friends. 4) 9% change for competitive reasons. 5) 14% become

dissatisfied. But… 6) 68% never come back because of rude or

bad service!

Courteous-friendly service is what we deserve! Give it to us!


“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us—we are dependent on him. He is not an outsider in our business—he is a part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him—he is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do so. If we don’t take our customers, somebody else will.” (Quoted from Henry Ford)

Let’s smile and be courteous wherever we work—in the private or public sector. Study these TIPS (To insure polite service) and practice them. Remember we are all customers and servers. Wouldn’t you appreciate being treated in a polite and prompt manner?

I just have to get these feelings off my chest. But it’s time clerks learn to treat clients with respect. However let’s enjoy a few light moments before we plunge into our daily activities.

These should make you smile:

1. The parts of speech are lungs and air.

2. The inhabitants of Moscow are called Mosquitoes.

3. The four seasons are salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.

4. The spinal column is a long bunch of bones. The head sits on the
top and you sit on the bottom.

5. The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 opossums.

6. The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.

7. You can’t kill yourself by holding your breath.

8. Banging your head on the wall uses 150 calories an hour.

9. Americans on the average eat 18 acres of pizza daily.

10. A census taker is a man who goes from house to house
increasing the population.

Despite all the problems and uncertainties in our daily life, let’s recall the delightful song from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: “Whistle while you work.” It will make your troubles go away. Smile and let’s be courteous.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Apple has it Right in One to One Learning

Really, the easiest and surest way to LEARN is from teacher to student in a One to One session. Expensive? Not at all! Apple Computer provides a good example for what can be done in this regard: 52 one hour lessons, if you wish, at approximately US$1.90 per One-to-One, face-to-face, in person lesson. An excellent example of most effective teaching in the 21st century, hopefully an example to be followed not only by industry, but especially educational institutions at all levels. This is what Apple says on its website regarding the One to One teaching program:

Sometimes it’s easier to learn with the help of a real person. With over 200 locations worldwide, Apple Retail Stores are your source for personal training, free group workshops, and expert advice.

Learn more, and learn faster, with One to One personal training sessions. ... trainers - experts in all things Apple - will create a program customized to your interests and skill level. Learn more ... and learn it faster ...

Topics taught include • Getting Started • Mac 101 • iPhone • iPod + iTunes • Digital Photos • Moviemaking • Musicmaking • Websites • Podcasts • Presentations • Productivity • Open Project

Learn more about Apple One to One at