Category Archives: Uncategorized

For our daughters and sons

Saturday December 15, 2012

Dear Mr. President,

As I write this, my daughter is asleep in the next room. She’s in the second grade. Tomorrow we’re going to a performance of The Nutcracker. She has a new dress, hat and shoes that her grandma bought just for this occasion. She sleeps tonight in safety and security, anticipating the joy and wonder that tomorrow will bring. And I know that tomorrow when I wake her up, she will never have looked more beautiful to me, never more precious. Her eyes will never be more blue, because of what happened.

My heart breaks for those parents in Connecticut who will not wake their daughters and sons this morning. To borrow from Abraham Lincoln’s famous letter to Mrs. Bixby, how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile them from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. I cannot imagine their horror, for it is, most truly, unspeakable.

Many people have said today that, “today we must grieve, and tomorrow or the next day we can talk about what happened, and why.” While I can understand — and even appreciate — the reasoning behind this sentiment, I cannot, and I will not, agree that we must wait to have a national discussion about the growing epidemic of gun violence in the United States. And I urge you and the members of Congress to do the same. Please do not wait to have this debate. And please, Mr. President: be strong. Something has got to change. What we saw today is not what James Madison intended when he wrote the Bill of Rights. It cannot be.

What we need now is to get real. We need to put aside the rhetoric of the past, and we must focus on a new future, one that represents the reality of today, and honors the memories of those sons and daughters who died needlessly. This is the greatest country the world has ever seen. And yet, for some reason I cannot comprehend, and I cannot explain to my daughter, we are killing each other at a rate much higher than every other developed country in the world. How can we be at once so great and so murderous? It does not have to be this way. How can we, as a free people, accept this much murder as the price of living in a free country? I’ve tried to understand it, but I cannot.

You and I have many things in common, and I’m sure we’d enjoy each other’s company. I’d very much like to share a drink with you someday. I’m sure we’d tell each other stories about the daughters we both have, who we’d do anything for. And I hope when that day comes, we can share that drink in a nation that has found a way, has seen the imperative, to prevent these mass killings from happening.

Our daughters and our sons deserve nothing less.


Brian Sibley (Bellingham, Washington)

Five Things You Need to Know About Obama’s Public Health Insurance Option

The choice of a public health insurance plan is crucial to real health care reform. Here’s what you really need to know:

1. Choice, choice, choice. If the public health insurance option passes, Americans will be able to choose between their current insurance and a high-quality, government-run plan similar to Medicare. If you like your current care, you can keep it. If you don’t—or don’t have any—you can get the public insurance plan.

2. It will be high-quality coverage with a choice of doctors. Government-run plans have a track record of innovating to improve quality, because they’re not just focused on short-term profits. And if you choose the public plan, you’ll still get to choose your doctor and hospital.

3. We’ll all save a bunch of money. The public health insurance option won’t have to spend money on things like CEO bonuses, shareholder dividends, or excessive advertising, so it’ll cost a lot less. Plus, the private plans will have to lower their rates and provide better value to compete, so people who keep their current insurance will save, too.

4. It will always be there for you and your family. A for-profit insurer can close, move out of the area, or just kick you off their insurance rolls. The public health insurance option will always be available to provide you with the health security you need.

5. And it’s a key part of universal health care. No longer will sick people or folks in rural communities, or low-income Americans be forced to go without coverage. The public health insurance plan will be available and accessible to everyone. And for those struggling to make ends meet, the premiums will be subsidized by the government.


1. “Words Designed to Kill Health Care Reform,” Huffington Post, May 7, 2009

2, 3, 4, 5, 6. “The Case for Public Plan Choice in National Health Reform,” Institute for America’s Future


… dusting off the cobwebs … *cough, cough*




December 7

Day #22


Day #20

How Are We Doing?

My team and I working on a customer satisfaction survey for a client right now. This client is a very successful company, with a huge share of its primary market. The company, like most good companies I know, is continually striving for improvement. They see a survey of their customers to be one vehicle for assessing areas for improvement.

In a meeting with the president last week, where we presented the question set, he brought up a very interesting point. He said the the sales VP’s (who had driven the tone and angle of the lion’s share of the questions),

“You guys skewed this set of questions to target the things you know you’re not doing well. Why do you need the customers to tell you something you already know?”

The company is asking several questions about specific areas in which they know they need improvement (processing returns, packaging & shipping, billing), and none about areas where they truly excel (marketing, sales, management).

This brings up an interesting situation. Given that you almost always find what you’re looking for when doing research , is there any value in researching anything other than what you need to improve? How significantly could this (or any) company benefit from addressing areas of strength rather than weakness? Why is it that we so frequently ask people only what we’re doing wrong, instead of also asking what we’re doing right?

Since people are more likely to tell you when you’re faltering than when you’re excelling, doen’t it seem that perhaps the information that most needs communicating is the positive? Can’t we learn just as much by analyzing data about our strengths? Couldn’t we gain by drawing out that which more people are reluctant to share – the things we do well?

Using all the letters

You probably remember the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” as being the shortest meaningful sentence that uses all the characters in the Germanic alphabet.

We recently discovered the following, more “grown-up” alternative, which accomplishes the same task:

“Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.”

Universal Airport Wi-Fi Now!

SALT LAKE – 5:30 p.m. August 10, 2006

Dateline Salt Lake City International Airport. Sometimes I think it’s a shame we live in a capitalist nation. The fact that wireless internet access is so cheap to offer makes it perfectly suited to offering at a ridiculous cost ($10 per day in this airport… at that rate, my home internet would cost over 300 bucks a month). The ISPs are cashing in.


Of course, it goes without saying that the people who travel and use laptops in airports are the same people who can afford to pay ten bucks for a brief internet connection. So I should be able to afford to pay to send the emails sitting in my inbox right now. But I don’t want to. That’s my point. I don’t think I should have to, especially in an airport.


I think it should be part of the deal. Part of the ticket price, maybe. The airlines could easily afford to shell out a few bucks out of the millions of tickets they sell each year to provide free wi-fi in all airports in which they provide commercial service. It would be a welcome and inexpensive perk that many travelers would enjoy. It’s not like it would be a cost-intensive build-out, the bandwidth is already in place, serving te ticketing and reservation systems and the countless other IT services provided to the airport’s permanent customers.


For those of us who pass through and have time on our hands, it would be nice to just turn on the computer and send some email without having to line the pockets of the monopolizing ISPs.