Monthly Archives: December 2015

Lake Powell and its Magnificent Canyon Walls

Lake Powell in Cathedral in the Desert

Lake Powell emerged as an positive aspect of the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River and has emerged as a superlative freshwater kayaking destination. In the 1960s, there was much hostility from environmentalists and anthropologists toward the contentious proposal to dam the Colorado River and flood the Glen Canyon, establishing Lake Powell. This was equivalent to filling the Grand Canyon with water. Yet few could deny that the resulting artificial landscape is a staggering sight.

Named for explorer John Wesley Powell, Lake Powell has more coastline than the west coast of the United States. Lake Powell green-water tentacles stretch from the main 185-mile watercourse into 96 side canyons, where kayakers can propel without tides, waves, currents, and motorboats.

Crystal-clear turquoise waters mirror the soaring rich-red canyon walls that ascend from the water, interspersed by astonishing arches, superb spires, and sandstone buttes, as well as countless inlets, and sandy beaches. The lake stretches for 186 miles across southern Utah and northern Arizona, and encompasses 2,000 miles of coastline and 96 water-filled side canyons, many of which are reachable only by boat.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Lake Powell Really, the finest way to appreciate the delights the lake has to offer is by houseboat. Only a houseboat allows a visitor the choice to search out remote corners in which to dock the houseboat. Houseboat rentals are available at Wahweap, Bullfrog, and Antelope Point marinas. Boats range from the deluxe, complete with hot tub, and wet bar for up to fourteen people, to those that include only essential comforts.

At the outset, boat throughout this vast network of canyons, with its astounding contrasts of blue water and sere land. After that, take a hike into the ostensibly endless landscape of stone swoops and mounds that appear in shades of tinted salmon, melon, and maize.

Water sports dictate the baking summer in Lake Powell and fishing enjoyed in the cooler months: April through June and October to November. The most fashionable mooring point is close to the near the amazing Rainbow Bridge National Monument. 290 feet high and 275 feet across, this breathtaking geological formation is a deeply spiritual place and is renowned as the world’s largest natural bridge.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

The Michigan Flute Orchestra

The Michigan Flute Orchestra is an ensemble of dedicated and accomplished flutists from the southeastern Michigan area. The instrumentation of the orchestra comprises the entire spectrum of the flute family: bass flute, alto flute, the conventional C flute, and piccolo. This unique orchestra performs a varied repertoire of music which displays the tonal richness and cohesiveness of the flute family.

The Michigan Flute Orchestra has performed with world-renowned flutists Jean-Pierre Rampal and Claudi Arimany and has been the guest artists at the Michigan Flute Festival and the Western Michigan Flute Festival. They have also performed on the stages of Detroit’s Orchestra Hall, the Midland Center of the Performing Arts, Calvin College, and other sites throughout the state of Michigan.

Shaul Ben-Meir of the Michigan Flute Orchestra

Shaul Ben-Meir of the Michigan Flute Orchestra Shaul Ben-Meir, the founder and music director of the Michigan Flute Orchestra, is a former flutist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 1962 he was awarded the Silver Medal at the International Wind Competition in Helsinki, Finland. He is the former principal flutist of the Haifa Symphony, under Sergiu Comissiona from 1961 until he was invited to the United States as Visiting Professor of Music at Ithaca College in 1965. Subsequently, he was appointed Artist-in-Residence at the University of Buffalo, participating in modern music research and performance under Lucas Foss.

Mr. Ben-Meir studied both in his native Israel and in England. His teachers included Geoffrey Gilbert, Joseph Mariano, and Jean-Pierre Rampal. He has appeared frequently in solo recitals and master classes around the country, and as a member of the Renaissance Woodwind Quintet. Currently, Mr. Ben-Meir is widely recognized for his transcriptions and arrangements of symphonic repertoire for the flute orchestra medium. He has recorded solo albums and CDs with Golden Crest, Coronet, and Megido Records.

The Michigan Flute Orchestra at the Detroit Institute of Arts

On 26-Oct-2014, Sunday, at the Sunday Music Bar at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Michigan Flute Orchestra played,

Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

How to Create Collaboration

How to Create Collaboration

The goal of collaboration is to achieve a desired outcome in the best way possible for all parties. Cooperation, synergy and teamwork can only be achieved if the parties pay as much attention to how they work together as they do to the work itself.

Before agreeing to collaborate, people must know the key elements: parity among participants, mutual goals, shared responsibility for participation and decision making, shared resources, shared accountability for outcomes, and mutual trust.

Collaboration is a highly interdependent process that requires an upfront commitment to work within these elements from all participating entities before going forward.

The collaborative process involves creating guidelines for how people will work together. You might customize these seven items to fit your situation:

  1. Bring the parties together;
  2. define the scope of the project;
  3. define success, expectations, or desired results;
  4. discuss leadership, roles, responsibilities, support, ownership, control, communication, decision-making, time management, prioritization, disagreements, accountability, resources, milestones, rewards, recognition, and evaluation;
  5. identify possible barriers to collaboration and problem solve around those;
  6. identify components that may not need to be completed collaboratively; and
  7. obtain a commitment to collaborate from each member to move forward under the guidelines.

Once people engage in the collaborative process, they are well on their way to achieving superior results. The process is not for everyone or for all situations that call for greater teamwork. It needs to be used with the right people, for the right reasons, and with the full support of management.

Posted in Management and Leadership

The Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Teton National Park

The Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

This rustic Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration was built in the summer of 1925. First services were held here on July 26 of that year, and on August 16, it was consecrated by The Rt. Reverend N. S. Thomas D.D., then Bishop of Wyoming.

The first suggestion for a chapel in this location was made about 1920 to a group seated around a campfire at the summer camp of Dr. George Woodward, of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Having made a long and tiresome trip that day from their camp near the outlet of Leigh Lake to the nearest place of worship in the town of Jackson, Mrs. Woodward expressed the wish that a chapel could be built at Menor’s Ferry, which was the center of what was the “dude ranch” portion of the valley. She discussed the idea with her friend, Miss Maude Noble, who owned and later generously donated the land where the chapel stands.

Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Plans for the building did not fully materialize until the early spring of 1925, when Archdeacon R.H. Balcom came to take charge of the Mission in Jackson’s Hole. He became actively interested in the idea, designed the building, and wrote of his plans to Mr. C. B. Voorhis, of Pasadena, California. Mr. Voorhis, who had a beautiful ranch on Torrey Lake, near Dubois in Wyoming, had been a lifelong friend of Bishop Thomas. He was greatly interested in the bishop’s work and had contributed significantly to the church and the first hospital in Jackson. Discussing the plans for a chapel at Menor’s Ferry with Bishop Thomas, Mr. Voorhis assured him that he and Mrs. Voorhis would be glad to finance the project. From that moment, work on the Chapel progressed rapidly.

The Chapel is built of lodgepole pine, with pews of quaking aspen, cut in the valley. Above the altar is a plate glass reredos window framing the Grand Tetons. For twenty-four hours every day during the tourist season, the door is open to all who come.

Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Teton National Park is built of lodgepole pine with pews of quaking aspen.

The Chapel is named most appropriately in commemoration of the Gospel story of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28–36), where we are told of Jesus going into the mountains with Peter, James and John and appearing to them in the company of Moses and Elijah, resplendent in dazzling white clothing. Then a cloud enveloped them, and a voice said, “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him.” When the cloud went away, Jesus was seen, standing alone, by His disciples.

The Altar was given as a memorial by the C.B. Voorhis family; the font was given in memory of Miss Quita Woodward; the vestibule stained glass was presented by Miss Jessie Van Brunt. The bell, cast in 1842, is from St. Barnabas Church, Irvington, N.Y. The organ was given in 2009 by those who love worshipping here.

Address all communications to St. John’s Episcopal Church Jackson Hole in Jackson, Wyoming 83001.

Posted in Faith and Religion Travels and Journeys

Leadership Manifesto

Leadership Manifesto

Leadership is in a state of retreat bordering on confusion, as we go from crisis to crisis, scandal to scandal, outrage to outrage. Normalcy is waiting for the other shoe to drop. More CEOs and CFOs are coming in conflict with the law. Once powerful companies are going belly up for cooking company books, creating fictitious bottom lines. Perpetrators are hauled off to jail in Armani suits. These outrages manifest the arrogance of power and greed. We are adrift in a maelstrom without a rudder.

People are partners to leadership. They control the rudder. Yet, most are passive, obedient obsequious, polite, conforming, dependent, submissive, rudderless, or clueless. They are of no service to themselves, or their leadership. This translates into learned helplessness and irresponsibility. We get the leadership we deserve. Crisis and scandal do not occur in a vacuum.

All are vulnerable. Our culture abhors a snitch, stoolie, or tattletale. We don’t “challenge authority“. We react to it.

I can’t divine what will replace CEOs and presidents, but many “leaders” no longer lead and never learned how to follow. Their eyes are guided by history, not vision, by what they know, not what they can find out, by what has worked, not what is failing now, by a sense of power, not a sense of people.

I contend that most work can be conducted much better without managers.

Leadership is often personified in a charismatic leader (political leader), a central figure (Pope) or a person that sits at the top (CEO). I find this perspective too narrow. Leadership is far more universal, pervasive, organic, and encompassing. Everyone is a leader, or no one is!

Posted in Management and Leadership

Benefits of Moving More Services Online

Moving More Services Online

Many companies are looking to regenerate positive momentum. The business conditions we face are clearly not for the faint of heart. The times are daunting, volatile, and uncertain. Uncertainty makes planning harder to do, but more important.

For the last 20 years, planning was relatively easy. Economic trends were positive, steady, and predictable. It was a time of optimism in the technology and equity markets. The Internet frenzy was in full swing, and many believed that the tech sector was immune to downturn. Traditional assets were viewed as a liability. Virtual companies flourished, unencumbered by the economic rules other businesses had to live by. The promise appeared unlimited.

Reality, however, intervened with the economic and market downturn in 2001. Many business leaders paused, reflected, and decided to trek back to solid ground. Perspective on the Internet, too, clearly changed. But just as the most vocal advocates of the Internet were guilty of overstatement back then, so too are today’s doomsayers. The Internet has made a lasting impression on our personal and our business lives.

Today’s winners will have the greatest flexibility in their technology, infrastructure, and business model. They don’t just respond to change, they embrace change and become better and stronger.

Posted in Business and Strategy Software and Programming

Ben Franklin’s Fable of The Lion And The Dog

Ben Franklin's Fable of The Lion And The Dog

In January 1770, in the London newspaper The Public Advertiser, Benjamin Franklin published a fable about a young lion cub and a large English dog traveling together on a ship.

A lion’s whelp was put on board a Guinea ship bound to America as a present to a friend in that country: it was tame and harmless as a kitten, and therefore not confined, but suffered to walk about the ship at pleasure. A stately, full-grown English mastiff, belonging to the captain, despising the weakness of the young lion, frequently took its food by force, and often turned it out of its lodging box, when he had a mind to repose therein himself The young lion nevertheless grew daily in size and strength, and the voyage being long, he became at last a more equal match for the mastiff; who continuing his insults, received a stunning blow from the lion’s paw that fetched his skin over his ears, and deterred him from any future contest with such growing strength; regretting that he had not rather secured its friendship than provoked its enmity.

This is one of the many his articles, letters, hoaxes, and other pieces of political propaganda all aimed at convincing the British colonial powers that its oppressive treatment of the American colonies would sooner or later backfire. Franklin was acting in his capacity as the spokesman in London for several colonies.

Franklin “humbly inscribed” this to Lord Hillsborough, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, who had become Franklin’s most ardent opponent.

Lord Hillsborough (Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire PC) served as the colonial secretary from 1768 to 1772, a critical period leading toward the American War of Independence.

For a great collection of the writings of Benjamin Franklin, see ‘A Benjamin Franklin Reader’ by Walter Isaacson. Not only was Franklin a self-made man, but he gave great advice about connecting with people and interacting with others both from a business and from a personal point of view.

Posted in Leaders and Innovators Philosophy and Wisdom

The Best Jokes from Jerry Seinfeld

  • The Best Jokes from Jerry Seinfeld “I was the best man at the wedding. If I’m the best man, why is she marrying him?”
  • “The idea behind the tuxedo is the woman’s point of view that men are all the same; so we might as well dress them that way. That’s why a wedding is like the joining together of a beautiful, glowing bride and some guy. The tuxedo is a wedding safety device, created by women because they know that men are undependable. So in case the groom chickens out, everybody just takes one step over, and she marries the next guy.”
  • “It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.”
  • “Dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them’s making a poop, the other one’s carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge.”
  • “There’s very little advice in men’s magazines, because men don’t think there’s a lot they don’t know. Women do. Women want to learn. Men think, “I know what I’m doing, just show me somebody naked.””
  • “Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason”
  • “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
  • “What is a date really, but a job interview that lasts all night? The only difference is that in not many job interviews is there a chance you’ll wind up naked.”
  • “To me, a lawyer is basically the person that knows the rules of the country. We’re all throwing the dice, playing the game, moving our pieces around the board, but if there is a problem the lawyer is the only person who has read the inside of the top of the box.
  • “Men want the same thing from their underwear that they want from women: a little bit of support, and a little bit of freedom.”
  • “Men don’t care what’s on TV. They only care what else is on TV.”
  • “I once had a leather jacket that got ruined in the rain. Why does moisture ruin leather? Aren’t cows outside a lot of the time? When it’s raining, do cows go up to the farmhouse, “Let us in! We’re all wearing leather! Open the door! We’re going to ruin the whole outfit here!””
Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

Discover the Superb Shrines and Temples of Nikko

Beautiful Vermilion Shinkyo Bridge in Nikko

“Build a small shrine in Nikko and enshrine me as the God. I will be the guardian of peacekeeping.”
Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, 1542–1616

Packs of chattering monkeys stand between you and the entrance to this distinctive shrine complex in the mountains of northern Japan. Avoiding the creatures as best you can, pick your way through the woodland up the final stairs, and you will find yourself face to face with the remarkable Rinno-ji temple, founded in 766. Its large hall is full of treasures from Edo-period Japan, and there is a beautiful nineteenth century landscaped garden outside.

The stunningly beautiful Nikko Historic Areas, with its well-protected historic buildings, was named fourth best in National Geographic’s 2008 “Places Rated” Destination Stewardship survey.

Venture farther into the shrine complex and you will find that the temples become more and more magnificent, with lines of ornate stone lanterns, tombs, treasure towers, and statues showing antique samurai baring their teeth and ferociously flashing their eyes at visitors. The Taiyuin-byo Shrine, which houses the ashes of shogun Tokugawa lemitsu (1603–1605), is especially superb. It sits at the top of a series of decorative red and golden gates, in grove of Japanese cedars.

Taiyuin-byo Shrine, Nikko, Japan There is something about the geographic isolation of Nikko, a village set high in the mountains, that makes this multiplex feel very different from other shrines and temples you may see anywhere else in Japan. The Shinto belief in Kami, the existence of a spiritual being or genius of a particular place, seems remarkably moving here in the silence of the forests, and the sensation that something enchanting lurks nearby is not easily shaken off.

Close by, the historic, vermillion Shinkyo Bridge and Nikko Botanical Gardens are also very picturesque, as is Ganmna-ga-fuchi, a scenic river that runs a pastel, mineral blue through the old lava flows of nearby Mount Nantai and has a statue-lined footpath. The beautiful vermilion arch of Shinkyo Bridge is the classiest image of Nikko. The current structure of the sacred bridge was built in 1636 and went through major renovation in the early 2000s. Nevertheless, there has been a bridge on the site right through recorded history. Originally, it was only open to the highest levels of aristocracy; but after the restoration, it has been open for the general public to cross. And the five-story pagoda is one of a striking selection to be found in the shrine complex at Nikko.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

How to Downsize Right

How to Downsize Right

As companies downsize, executives must choose who stays and who goes. Done correctly, a layoff can produce a team of people who move further and faster than before. Layoffs create a time to reevaluate, reinvent, and reposition the company for renewed growth. How can you design a layoff to remove the not-so-great people and keep the best, and thereby reignite growth?

First, create a clear vision of what the company will be like after the layoff when you have a tight, cohesive, talented team of people. The more specific you are in describing what will be new, different, and better after the change, the more obvious the strategies will be for getting there.

Also, clarify the core values—the ways in which people will work to achieve success. Set guidelines that describe how people act when they behave according to that value. Describe the behaviors that embody core values. These guidelines will help you to evaluate people, guide your downsizing, and ensure the process is fair, compassionate, and respectful.

Those who fulfill the values should stay; those who don’t should be first out the door. This includes senior team members. You can’t afford to have a dysfunctional top team. Look for both outstanding performance and adherence to core values in leaders.

What to Look For

The people who stay should have four characteristics:

  1. They are self-motivated. They have a personal mission, want to make a difference, and set personal goals. They are committed to the company’s mission and vision and see the need to be customer focused. Their values are consistent with the company’s values. They take responsibility for doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
  2. They are respected and admired, and, in turn, they are respectful of others. They ask other people for advice and ideas and respect others’ opinions. They work well in teams, enjoy the process, and inspire others.
  3. They are creative thinkers and proactive problem solvers. They challenge the status quo and conceive and articulate new possibilities. They take risks and learn from successes and failures. Their great ideas help the company innovate, grow, and make profits.
  4. They are learners who also help others learn. They stay ahead of the curve, match or exceed the company’s growth, learn from their experiences, share knowledge with others, adapt quickly, and are not afraid of change. Try to keep the people who fit this profile. Remove people whose performance and adherence to values are less than stellar. Move some people elsewhere. Better to retrain great people to fill a new role than to lose them. With a clear vision, defined values, and strong leadership, the people you retain will excel at their jobs, even if those jobs are new to them. They will focus on the right things, pursue the best options, and create ways to do more with less.

Bottom Line: Ensure a layoff is not just an exercise in reducing costs but a way to power growth.

Posted in Management and Leadership