Saturday, September 22, 2012
2)Match your passion to your job.
3)Immediately love your life. There is a Christian variation on this teaching that has always made me feel rather guilty and inadequate as a believer. 1)Find God’s perfect will for your life.
2)Follow God’s will to your perfect job.
3)Immediately love your life. However, that is not the way I have actually lived my life. Nobody ever seemed willing to pay me to pursue my passions or God’s perfect will for my life. After working in American factories for nine years, I looked around and made the following decisions. Working as the night superintendent at a saw chain factory was not any kind of life that a sane person might want to live. I liked machines and machines liked me. Working as a mechanical engineer in a Government research center seemed like a pretty good way to earn a decent living. After watching layoffs and factory closings the security offered by a Government job seemed like a pretty good idea. I went back to school, earned my engineering degree, got my job, and (as they say) the rest is history. There is a price to pay for not following your dreams and passions. Somehow I feel as though I have done a pretty good job of living someone else’s life. On the other hand a stable, secure, interesting job has allowed me to be a faithful, though certainly not perfect husband and employee these many years. In fact, I followed the alternative advice offered by Ramit Sethi in “Follow Your Passion is Bad Advice. Do this instead.” 1)Identify a Target Lifestyle (not a target job)--How much money do you need to live the life you want to live? My wife and I wanted to live a comfortable middle to upper middle class lifestyle. 2)Find a Supporting Job Amongst Many Such Jobs--Being a 20th Century industrial man, my mind was pretty limited to opportunities in major manufacturing corporations or the Federal Government. That is where I did my job search. 3)Train a Rare and Valuable Skill--Once I found my job, I worked to improve my skills as project manager, as the branch expert on industrial processes, and in the area of contract management. 4)Leverage Your Value to Move Towards Target Lifestyle--Well I have paid off the mortgage, enjoyed vacations in Hawaii and such places, paid cash for new cars, and now it looks like I will be able to retire with some measure of comfort and dignity. Guess it worked. The author believes achieving mastery in your career will lead to passion. He states that, “Feeling passion for your work is a great goal, but identifying a passion in advance, and then matching it to a job, is not a consistently replicable way of achieving this goal. The better strategy is to work backward from a target lifestyle, pick a supporting job, cultivate a skill, then leverage your value. If you study people who really do love their careers, you’ll find that most used some variation of this strategy as the foundation for their happiness.” As I have said before, it has been over 27 years since I did the job search thing. My knowledge and experience in this critical area is out of date. From my research Ramit Sethi’s blog, I Will Make You Rich, seems to have the best variety of practical tips to find a job, at least on the websites I have explored. He is young, urban, and edgy. At times some of my more genteel readers might find him a bit offensive, but I think if you are looking for a job or know someone who is looking for a job, he is well worth your time. Read the original and watch the video
Sunday, September 16, 2012
You are not that important.
Your life is not about you.
You are not in control.
You are going to die. I am not the center of the universe, yet I persist in believing that the universe “owes” me something if I make decisions on the basis of my own prejudices and assumptions. The flip side of this insidious shortcoming is the belief my bad fortune is always unjust, but that when something bad happens to my neighbor, they deserved it. As we watch the world and our own mental activities, look deeply into your own heart. Examine your motivations and your operating assumptions. When you find you are making decisions on the basis of fear, ignorance, or greed, be merciful; forgive yourself. Then look deeply into the truth of the situation. You can tell when you are headed in the right direction. The truth will always make you more awake. The truth will always make you free. John 8:  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Mark Cuban The buildings that line Wall Street are filled with people who are smarter than me, richer than me, more informed than I will ever be, and probably a lot of them are prettier than me. Don’t forget there are sharks swimming in that ocean and they are looking for a meal. If a genius billionaire like Mark Cuban can be taken to the cleaners, don’t think you can outsmart the street. That doesn’t mean you should hide your money in mason jars. It just means you need to understand your own motivations and limitations. In an excellent article by Barry Ritholtz 10 Ways for Dealing with the Sharks on Wall Street the author examines some recent examples of people who thought they were sharks only to discover they were in fact, dinner for the real sharks. Greece successfully disguised their bad financial condition from their partners in the Euro zone through a complex dollar/yen swap for Euros. It netted Goldman Sachs, the engineers of this deceit, $600 million dollars! It netted Greece national bankruptcy. A San Diego school district attempted to avoid financial responsibility by issuing bonds that make no payments for 20 years. They pay 6.8% tax free rather than 4.1% that was available at the time. Over the course of 40 years this folly will cost the taxpayers nearly $1 Billion for a $105 Million loan rather than $300 Million for a normal loan. In both instances politicians were attempting to avoid responsibility until after they were retired at the expense of the future. The sharks were only too happy to help them on the road to ruin. After all the deal makers got their money up front. Always examine your own heart. If you trying to pull a fast one on the world, the chances are you will lose. Just ask the folks that took out liar loans during the real estate bubble. Take your time. Collect good information. Understand unless you happen on a bit of inside information, the institutional investors have more knowledge than you do. The institution can and does hire the best accountants and attorneys money can buy. Seek out wise counsel, preferably someone who will not benefit from your decision. Keep it simple. If you don’t understand something don’t buy it. The insurance company pays their lawyers big bucks to write those incomprehensible 40 page annuity contracts. All those clauses are not there for your benefit. Those contracts exist to protect the interests of the company. Ask who gets what from whom and when do they get it. This is true of financial products sold by commission salesmen, but it is also true of more complex traps for the unwary. Think about the current student loan mess. The university can raise the price of their service because there is a large pool of federally guaranteed money to pay the university no matter what they charge. $40,000 a year is no longer limited to the Ivy League. The university gets their money, up front, in cash no matter what they charge or whether the student graduates or fails. The banks are guaranteed a wage slave for a decade or more. Student loans are not discharged in bankruptcy. The student is guaranteed nothing, not a job, not even a degree. Barry Ritholtz ends his article with a observation that is so good, I have used it as a stand alone quote. “There is no free lunch: Repeat after me: There is no free money, no riskless trade, no way to turn lead into gold. If you remember no other rule, this is the one that will save your hide time and again.” Psalm 131:  LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
 Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
 Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Well, you got to walk it for yourself
Ain't nobody else can walk it for you
You got to walk that valley for yourself
Monday, September 3, 2012
Automation is not going away. In fact it is combining with globalization. IBM is replacing computer programmers laid off in this country with programmers in India, the new back office of the world’s industrial combine. New York City famously contracted with an Indian company to process their parking tickets. And, Oh yes, now radiologists in India are reading your X-Rays on the Internet.Finally, some economists describe the current economy of the developed world in terms of a “Kondratiev Winter.” Nikolai Kondratiev was a Russian economist who studied long term economic cycles. A Kondratiev Winter occurs after major sectors of an economy reach saturation. That has happened in a variety of industries from steel to electronics. Even though prices are dropping, demand is not increasing fast enough to cover the sunk costs in capital. The onset of a Kondratiev Winter “Is characterized by a lack of good investment opportunities that leads to low interest rates. In the past, investments offering exceptional returns or low interest rates, or a combination, led to lowered credit standards which, in turn, created a speculative boom and high debt levels, followed by a crash and financial crisis.” (Wikipedia) Sound familiar? Perhaps the most important feature of a Kondratiev Winter is an overhang of bad debt that strangles out productive economic activity. The governments of the developed world, as well as the average middle class American are facing an enormous overhang of bad debt. Nearly 1/3 of American homeowners are underwater. That means they still owe more on their house than that house is worth. The baby boom is desperately attempting to pay down its debt prior to retirement. This demographic tidal wave is also downsizing, getting rid of stuff, not buying more stuff. In past recessions the insatiable appetites of the American consumer rode to the rescue. Not this time.
Sunday, September 2, 2012
 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.