Author Archives: Rick Ladd

About Rick Ladd

Born in 1947, I am an officially retired pensioner who remains intensely interested in, and fascinated by, Systems Thinking, Decision Intelligence, Knowledge Management, and Business in general. I am also conversant in such concepts as innovation and ideation, collaborative tools and strategies, crowd sourcing, and the use of social media to accomplish goals ranging from improving business processes to promoting small retail businesses. Recently I began a new career as an editor/proofreader and have done a bit of technical writing as well. There's lots more where that came from. Need some help? Perhaps another set of eyes? Contact me. The first one's free! ;0)

Making Sense of All That Data

Deep Data

Transforming Big Data Information into Deep Data Insights

Yesterday I posted a question to several of the groups I belong to on LinkedIn. It was related to several of the things I’m interested and involved in: Systems Thinking, Knowledge Management, and Decision Modeling. It was somewhat informed, as well, by an article appearing in the Huffington Post, where Otto Scharmer, a Senior Lecturer at MIT and founder of the Presencing Institute, talks about the need to make sense of the huge and growing amounts of data we have available to us. He argues the importance of turning from “Big” data, where we mainly look outward in our attempt to understand what it is telling us about markets and our external influence, to “Deep” data, where we begin looking inward to understand what it’s telling us about ourselves and our organizations and how we get things done.

The question I asked was designed to seek out capabilities and functionality that people would like to have, but that is currently unavailable. My interests include working with others to understand and provide for those needs, if possible. I thought I would present the question here as well, where it will remain a part of my online presence and, hopefully, might elicit some useful responses. Here it is:

With the growing proliferation and importance of data — a development at least one author and MIT Lecturer has suggested is moving us from the information technology era to the data technology era — what tools would you like to see become available for handling, understanding, and sharing the new types of information and knowledge this development will bring?

In other words, what would you need that you don’t have today? What types of technology do you think would offer you, your colleagues, and your organizations a greater ability to make use of data to bring about a transformation from primarily siloed, outward looking data to collaborative, inward looking data as well?

I would love to hear of any ideas you might have regarding the kinds of tools or apps you could use to better deal with data by turning it into useful information and knowledge . . . perhaps even a smidgen of understanding and wisdom.


Does Your OCD Conflict With Your ADD?

OCD & ADD Hat

Do you find yourself bouncing from one thing to another? I do.

I have always had eclectic tastes and my interests are wide and varied. Couple that with being a bit OCD in some respects and a little ADD in others, and you get . . . where was I? Seriously, I have long referred to myself as a stimulus magnet. For instance, I was never able to work anywhere near peak capacity if I listened to music, especially if lyrics were involved. It wouldn’t take longer than a minute or two before I’d be tapping my feet and wanting desperately to sing — which, of course, when sitting in a cube farm is not really a good thing to do.

A long time ago, I used to play a game with two friends where we would sit on a couch and the two on the outside would carry on separate conversations with the one in the middle. These conversations had to be more than just idle chit-chat as well; otherwise, it wouldn’t have been much of a challenge. I was pretty good at it and, in retrospect, I’m sure it helped me be able to multi-task, which we all know isn’t possible, except it actually is. I will, however, accept that doing so does reduce each task to being a little less efficient than it would otherwise be if one were to concentrate solely on it.

The advent of the Internet hasn’t made me more focused either. Like many people I know, my browser normally has a couple of dozen tabs open. Part of it probably just related to my being an information pack rat, and having a difficult time closing something interesting. I have a hard time escaping the nagging feeling that I’m going to want that document/page shortly after I close it, knowing if it’s any more than an hour or two afterward I’ll have difficulty finding it in my browsing history.

I also bounce around a fair amount, as a word, phrase, or sentence sends me scurrying off to find out more. Thankfully, Chrome includes the ability to highlight a word, right click on it, and look it up in the dictionary. The results also include info from wikipedia and a thesaurus as well . . . most of the time. This is becoming more and more useful as my internal dictionary and thesaurus are suffering from wear and the inevitable gumming up one experiences as one ages.

Frankly, I don’t know if others experience these things, or if some of it is age-related as most of my online friends are considerably younger than I am. I’d send out a survey, but I’m quite certain it would piss off too many people or I would just be ignored . . . as I so frequently am normally.

All this greatly affects my ability to concentrate and causes me to constantly struggle to focus. Do you experience this? Is it just normal nowadays, given the firehose of information we are all inundated with via our computers, notebooks, and smartphones? I don’t think I’m the only one who deals with this, but I’m not entirely certain.


Dear everyone who keeps haranguing me to donate, donate, donate!!!

Political Donations

Give! Give! Give! There’s No End to it.

I am well aware the Republicans are threatening to take over the Senate and retain control of the House. I am also well aware that democracy as we think we know it is in danger of going the way of the Dodo bird and the very structure of the universe is threatened.

Unfortunately, I’m kind of stretched real thin and I’ve given about as much as I can for now. Do you want me to take out a second on my home? I receive about a dozen pleas each day, some of them worded so direly as to make me want to vomit.

I can only do so much, even if each one of my $3.00 donations will be tripled. I’d still end up donating a couple hundred dollars each and every week. You know that old saying, “You can’t squeeze dollars out of someone who’s living on a fixed income”, don’t you?

I’ve tried unsubscribing, but each time I sign an online petition about something I really do care about (even if I can’t afford to donate to it) I’m subscribed again because many of them don’t give me the opportunity to opt out. Really. I’m not even a Democrat; you’re too conservative for my tastes, but I am a pragmatist and I will generally vote Democratic. You’re beginning to make me wonder why.

PS – I would definitely vote for Bernie Sanders.

Update!

We have AT&T’s U-verse in our home and The Daily Show doesn’t air until 11:00 pm Mon – Thu, so I record it (along with The Colbert Report) and generally watch the next day. Shortly after I posted this, I went to watch last night’s show and, lo and behold, Jon Stewart addressed this very issue in his opening segment. It’s a great piece, so I’m adding it below in case you haven’t had the opportunity to see it. Unfortunately, I can only find it in two parts. Once again, he nails it and this time he’s skewering the Democrats, who richly deserve every word.

Here’s Part 1

Here’s Part 2


Boy Are Your Pipes Wasting Water!

Down the Drain

The Cost of Wasted Water Waiting for it to Heat

So . . . I finished taking out the trash, garbage, and recycling materials to the curb and, as is my wont, I took to the kitchen sink to wash my hands. Because I’m far more acutely aware of our water use due to the drought, I ended up washing them with cold water; I just didn’t want to let the water run long enough to get hot.

That got me wondering about how much water could be saved if we had instant water heating. I did a little research into tankless water heaters and quickly found out how little the technology seems to have progressed in the last 10 years or so. Most articles I came across suggested the break-even point for installing one that was reasonably efficient/effective would probably exceed your lifespan.

In the process, I came across figures for the number of gallons of water an average household runs down the drain while waiting for the hot water to push out the cold that’s in the pipes between the sink/tub/shower where it’s going to be used. The figure I came across is 26 – 29 gallons. I also looked at the US Census to see how many households there are in California. The number of housing units listed, as of 2013, is 13,790,495.

So, taking the number of households and multiplying by the more conservative number of 25 gallons per day down the drain, I determined the following. If we could find a way to heat water directly at the point of use, thereby not wasting that 25 gallons per day, the State of California would save 125,838,266,875 gallons of water per year. As it turns out, that’s a third of one percent of the water in Lake Tahoe. Drop in the bucket, or significant savings? Probably doesn’t matter, unless you’ve got an idea for how to provide on-demand, on-location hot water . . . cheap.


Did You Know Medicare Doesn’t Cover Dental?

Oral & Heart Health

Be Good to Your Teeth and They’ll Never be False to You.
~ Soupy Sales

Are you aware of just how important your dental health is to your overall health? The two are far more closely related than you may realize. It’s been almost 10 years since my mother’s death, but her oral health played a major role in what brought her life to a close. She had been admitted to the hospital and was awaiting a triple bypass. Coronary bypass surgery has become pretty routine nowadays and the operation she was facing wasn’t all that dangerous, although at her age (81) recovery would have been somewhat lengthy.

However, the real problem was her teeth. The surgeons would not operate before she had eleven teeth pulled. My mother was not one who faced pain all that stoically and she had neglected her oral health. This was, of course, exacerbated by an inability to afford good, useful dental insurance. She was on Medicare, through Kaiser Permanente, and there is no dental coverage offered as part of the overall plan. The reason they wanted to pull her teeth is the very real danger of Endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). According to the Mayo Clinic, “Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.”

I will never forget the look on her face when she told me about their plans. She made an expression I had come to recognize over the years that said “I don’t like it, but I have no control so I’m giving up.” Give up is what she did. Within two days she lost consciousness and quickly died. I can still see her expression and it breaks my heart.

Yesterday, I created a petition at “We the People“, a part of Whitehouse.gov. As someone who is currently on Medicare and who has a difficult time affording a good dental plan, and as someone who recognizes the importance of good dental health to overall health (not to mention someone who does need a little work) I am appalled that Medicare doesn’t cover — at the very least — routine examinations and bi-annual cleaning. I know of no studies, but I have a feeling offering such coverage might actually bring down the overall cost of Medicare.

I know there are some issues with whether or not this kind of thing works, or if the Obama administration is either taking it seriously or paying much attention at all. However, I’m bound and determined to do what I can to bring attention to this problem. It only takes a moment of your time to sign and I think it’s worth raising awareness.

Below is the text of the petition. Please take a moment and sign it. Here’s the link. If you have a moment, you can also share through the Facebook and Twitter buttons just below it. Surely you have family who may benefit from this expansion of coverage and, whether you like it or not, you’re going to get old yourself. Will you be able to afford a dental plan? In the long run, I’m in favor of universal health care. However, in the meantime, let’s ensure our older population has the means to remain as healthy as possible. Maybe we’ll all die of less expensive diseases. ;)

“Recognizing the role oral health plays in the overall health of our citizens, as pointed out by such organizations as The Mayo Clinic, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health promotion, and the Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health in America, we believe it is prudent and economically imperative to provide coverage for Dental Services to all recipients of Medicare. Many of those who have reached the age of eligibility are healthy and desirous of continuing to contribute to our country’s well-being. Ensuring their dental health is important to ensuring their overall health as well. Many people who have reached the age of eligibility for Medicare are unable to afford separate coverage for dental health. We ask the administration to work toward achieving this goal.”

Thanks from the bottom of my heart . . . and my mouth.


Twenty Years of Blogging – Congrats to Dave Winer

To Blog or Not to Blog

To Blog or Not to Blog

Dave Winer has played, mostly unbeknownst to me, a critical role in the development of blogging and other forms of online communication, including outliners and other types of online authoring and publishing software. I have been blogging for about ten years and I just recently came to realize his role. Actually, ever since I began following him on Facebook and experimenting with his numerous free offerings, e.g. Little Facebook Editor, which currently allows you to post to both Facebook and your WordPress blog, as well as edit and update both simultaneously, Little Card Editor, with which you can upload graphics (with added text) to both Facebook and Twitter, and Fargo, a quite useful outliner I’m using for a couple of things I’m working on.

Today, he posted in celebration of his twenty year anniversary of blogging. It’s an interesting explanation of what he’s been through (not exactly pretty) and what he thinks he’s learned from it. You can read it here. It’s really worth your while, especially if you’re a blogger and you sometimes wonder if it’s worth it.

I occasionally wonder why I’m doing this, as I’ve no intention of making any money off of my efforts but, rather, am merely looking for a way to express myself and, hopefully, reach a few people who like what I have to say. My biggest reason for blogging nowadays is to leave something of myself for my children, who may or may not find anything of value in it. I keep writing, though it’s sometimes a struggle – especially in terms of sharing some of my more personal thoughts, observations, and desires.

Anyway, this is my way of thanking Dave for what he’s done and recognizing his work in making all this possible. If you’re a blogger, you may not realize the role he’s played. Perhaps you should. At the very least, I always find it interesting to learn more about how we got to where we are. It’s frequently not terribly apparent unless you seek it out.

Mazel tov, Dave. Thanks for the ride. I, for one, am deeply appreciative.


Why Do They Grow Up? Because.

Love it when they feed themselves in the morning.

Love it when they feed themselves in the morning.

There’s a large part of me that doesn’t want my children to grow up. I miss my three-year-olds and the ability I had to pick them up and hug, kiss, or tickle them. I miss the intimacy and the feeling I was enjoying the most important love affairs of my life.

Then there’s the other part that can’t wait until I don’t have to take anyone to school and pick them up every day. I’m also glad they can finally make their own breakfast. Aimee even makes pancakes sometimes on the weekend, though Alyssa is just figuring out how to use the toaster oven.


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