“Task Well Done” – Humor by Musafir

    april 20 humor

For three years, lifetimes ago, I was Stu’s superior at a major auto company. During those years, without exception, I never fired anyone. Probably this was because everyone quit first. I was also opposed to death penalty for similar reasons. Stu was a miserable employee. He was always wrapped in financial troubles; his marriage was on rocks and his short fuse, quite frequently, landed him in odds with the law. My superior, Jack was an aimless man who wanted me to fire Stu. I managed to evade him every time as I was bent on reforming Stu instead of firing him.

Stu was lazy and incompetent, but who was not? Our organization was full of people who were lazy and nincompoop. One time Stu was jailed for three weeks. I had no choice but to hire a temp to get the work done. The temp agency sent a twenty-one-year-old woman, Paula as his replacement. Paula did an outstanding job and was willing to take over Stu’s position. To top it off, she brought Jack his morning coffee and whoppers with fries for lunch every day, something that Jack couldn’t have imagined Stu doing for him.

Now Jack had a stronger case for firing Stu and replacing him with Paula. Since I was vehemently opposed to that idea, I reminded Jack how that could be deemed against company rules. Stu had to go through corporate retraining program first. I also suggested that Stu should go to an anger-management class at company’s expense. I consulted the personnel and they agreed with me to justify their own top heavy staffing. More irrelevance meant more job security for them. Jack had no choice but to abide by my suggestion. Presumably there is a way to fire people, but jack had not mastered that yet.

I always thought about the ways to reform Stu. During the next annual review, I recommended a hefty raise for him which put Jack at his wit’s end.

“Are you crazy? How can you recommend a raise for Stu when he is so incompetent and is often absent due to serving jail time?” Jack seemed really agitated at me.

“Jack, a good manager has to know how to get the best performance out of his subordinates. Do you realize the root cause of Stu’s problems? It’s obviously money, Jack! He gets in fight with his wife due to his weak finances. Money will certainly contain his temper and combined with corporate retraining and anger management program, he will become productive, “I tried to convince Jack..

“ What do you suggest for Paula?” Jack asked anxiously.

I’d make her permanent and will put her under Stu as his direct report. That way Stu will get much needed managerial experience after his reform. And don’t forget Jack that you’ll still have Paula bring you morning coffee and whopper with fries every day.” I suggested.

Jack very much seemed to like my idea. He smiled under his mustache and went to Paula and winked at her.

A year later, Stu’s performance and attitude had really improved. I gave all the credit for that to Jack. The management was so happy with him that he was promoted to a more responsible position in another organization. Jack took Paula with her as he gathered his other trophies from his wall. That was a task well done by everyone.

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Anil Shrivastava, CRE,CSSBB

Academic Coach Lean Six Sigma at University of Southern Indiana
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Welcome to Millennium 2, Decennium 2 by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

    April 20 Roaring-20s-

I am told that that 1920s was a very good decade. During that period Charles Lindbergh made the historic first nonstop flight from New York to Paris. Besides that, electric iron, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, electric toaster, television, frozen food, bread slicer, Model-T and many more items were invented that shaped not only the American life but the lives of people around the world for forever. However, it’s not always good to project this century based on what happened in the last since we won’t like a repeat of the Great Depression in the following decade of this century.

Coming to the present decade, first of all, it has a catchy name, the decade of 2020. It’s the number of perfect eyesight, thus I hope that we will be able to see things clearly free from prejudices and preconceived notions and our politicians will not lose either their sight or focus from the needs of their constituencies. I also hope that people will think more independently and will change for good.

I can safely predict that the babies born today will emerge into a world light years away from any generation that came before them.

1. In this decade, humans will be on the cusp of going around Mars.

2. Cure for many kinds of cancer will be found through stem cell research and the technology that edits genes.

3. Hyperloop travel will be tested successfully between either Los Angeles and San Francisco or between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The travel between the two cities will be completed in approximately 36 minutes.

4. “Deep learning” will enable machines to learn what to learn making them super intelligent.

I am averse to farfetched predictions, therefore, I have chosen the above based upon what are definitely possible in this decade (2020s).

That sounds good and dandy, but the bigger issues needing our attention in this decade should be of our prime concern. Some of the dangers facing our future are mentioned below. If we don’t take action now, the following decades may bring miseries to our planet.

1. Can we provide adequate health care to ever growing population around the globe?

The World Health Organization estimates that one billion people go their entire lives without seeing a health worker because of distance, unavailability of health providers, poverty and lack of any health education. As the population grows beyond 7 billion in this decade, this problem will intensify even further.

2. Will we face a nuclear holocaust?

Nuclear bombs are no more prod possessions of a few countries alone. Soon many more countries including rogue nations will have these weapons in their arsenals. They won’t hesitate to use them against their enemies like they use bombs and guns now.

3. Will we go back to the Stone Age?

There are a couple of possibilities that this may happen. First of all, the war of the future will be fought in space. If the enemies destroy each other’s communication satellites, we’ll definitely not be able to function due to our dependability on satellites for practically everything we do today.

Secondly, there are possibilities of big meteors colliding with the earth and annihilating a major part of our population.

4. Can we save earth’s atmosphere?

According to NASA, earth’s climate has reached a dangerous level due to human-made greenhouse gases. This is not an imagination of a fickle mind or a part of any political agenda. NASA’s survey also reveals that Antarctica has lost much more ice to sea than it gained from snowfalls. Similarly, Arctic is melting and we all are aware of this fact.

We have two choices in 2020s. Either we enjoy the epicurean and esthete life while it lasts or we care and plan for the future so that we are not forced to rusticate and become ascetics sooner than we want.

“Young Women as Role Models” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

 

jan 20 prime minister ne zealand

I live in a state where our governor is a young woman, Gretchen Whitmer. Our representative in Washington is another young woman, Elissa Slotkin. You may have noticed that this trend is sweeping many countries and is not limited to the state of Michigan only. Finland, considered one of the happiest countries in the world, elected a woman Prime Minister in Sanna Marin. She is only 34, the youngest Prime Minister (PM) in the world. Not only that, her party will be ruling Finland with the support of coalition of four other parties led by women. Three of those women are in their 30s.

New Zealand has a similar story to tell. Ms. Jacina Ardern assumed the office of PM of New Zealand in August 2017. Ms. Arden is 39 years old. This is also important to note that more than 40 per cent of elected members in New Zealand’s House of Representatives are women. That will be a topic for some other day.

It is heartening to see a new generation of women stepping forward to address some of the many challenges that we all face. I, personally, don’t see this as women’s empowerment. I see this as an alternative to self-serving old men who have traditionally been leading the world into chaos and corruption. None of the women mentioned above were elected on the basis of their gender. They were just convincing to the voters.

Women leaders know that they have to be different from their old male predecessors so that the world can realize that they are here to work for the people sincerely. I have seen this trait in young women leaders of today. Becoming PM was not easy for Ms. Marin. Born in 1985, she had a chaotic childhood moving often from place to place as she came from a low-income family. Politics seemed out of reach for her. She moved up from ranks of her political party to the top job helped by her extraordinary and proven organizational skills.  Rather than focusing attention on herself, Ms. Marin only talks about issues at hand. Speaking to reporters shortly after being sworn in earlier this month (December 2019), Ms. Marin avoided questions about herself saying, “She was focused on governing.”

New Zealand’s current PM, Ms. Jacina Ardern also is a breath of fresh air for the Kiwis.  She was elected in 2017. By the way, New Zealand was the first country to grant women the right to vote in parliamentary elections in 1893. Despite being the Prime Minister Ms. Arden leads a very ordinary life. Ms. Arden had to face nasty terror attacks in two mosques in Christchurch, a city in New Zealand. She showed her strength in calming the nation with a forceful speech and compassion for the victims. When Donald Trump made a condolence call and asked what support the U.S. could offer, she told him, “Sympathy and love for the victims.”

She negotiated with the conservative opposition party to enact immediate and sweeping changes to the country’s gun laws, banning all assault rifles and military-style semiautomatics which is a major achievement in a country with a sizable rural population. The fact that the conservatives supported her in this deal shows her ability to work amicably with the opposition. According to my observation, most leaders in the world lack the skill of deal making.

Coming to the young women leaders of my own state, Michigan, USA, we elected a new governor, Ms. Gretchen Whitmer in 2016. She also leads an ordinary life in person and is very approachable. She started the construction of a new bridge over the Detroit River going into Canada that was pending for at least a decade. One of her first acts after becoming governor of the state was fixing the highways and byways of Michigan which were shamefully the worst in the United States. Her predecessors neglected the roads as they kept on bickering about the funding.

I find these women leaders empathetic, courageous, adaptable, assertive, kind and caring, something that old career politicians usually lack according to my personal experience. It will be naïve to assume that all young women leaders will be as good as women mentioned above, but I do welcome the trend set by them. May be the young women of today will take the clue from them and will treat them as their role models.

Book Review: “Finding Chika”​ by Mitch Albom

 

Jan 20 chika

“Finding Chika” is Mitch Albom’s third book that I have read, first two being “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” Like the previous two books mentioned above, this book is also a portrayal of someone in his life.

This is a story of a little girl, Chika whom Mitch and his wife Janine brought home in Michigan from the orphanage in Haiti for the treatment of a tumor in Chika’s brain. After two years of care in the custody of Mitch and Janine, Chika couldn’t be saved.

During Chika’s treatment, Mitch and Janine, explored extensively all means possible that could have saved the little girl’s life. The story told by Mitch is poignant and is a lesson in love that only a parent can bestow on his/her child.

The vicarious chats between Mitch and Chika are adorable:

“Does God have powers?’ Chika asks.

“Yes,” we say.

“Is he brave?”

“Yes.”

“Does he protect horses?”

Mitch tells the story of the little girl, Chika through the combination of his imaginary conversation with Chika and narrations. He is both expository and persuasive throughout the book. If you love kindliness and innocence, you’ll love this book.

      -Reviewed by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

“So We Want To Impeach Mr. Trump”​ by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

We all know that the Democrats started working on Mr. Trump’s impeachment right after the latter took the oath of office in January 2017. Many key Democrats couldn’t accept Mrs. Clinton’s defeat in the hands of President Trump. Rep. Maxine Waters was one of the first Democrats to call for Mr. Trumps’ impeachment. She said this in 2017, “Why would we let somebody like Trump, a con man, come in here and turn it all upside down with his lies and his disrespect? And so, I personally feel very strongly about this and I’m going to keep working until he’s impeached.”

Rep. Rashida Talib complemented Ms. Waters soon after she was elected to the Congress with these famous words, “Baby ……. we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherf#@&!r.”

Our congressmen/women and Senators were elected by their constituents to work on critical issues facing the nation such as healthcare, immigration (including DACA), education, environment, budget caps, infrastructure, social welfare reform, new NAFTA just to name a few. I am sorry to report that our Congress has accomplished none of those.

Talking of Mr. Trump, many of his wounds are self-inflicted. He has added fuel to the fire facilitating his own impeachment. Here are some examples:

· 1. He has demanded that public officials put their loyalty to him ahead of their duty to the public

·2. He encouraged the department of Justice Launch criminal probes into his critics and political adversaries

·3. As Mike Bloomberg put it recently, Mr. Trump is tweeting more and leading less

· 4. He doesn’t trust his advisors; interferes in their work to make them ineffective. In turn they become his enemies

·5. He lacks the tact to work with opposition. (However, in his case the opposition refused to accept him as a legitimate president to begin with.)

· 6. Many of Mr. Trump’s actions seem autocratic not democratic

·7. He withheld military aid from Ukraine until they (Ukraine) agreed to investigate some business dealings of Burisma involving VP Biden’s son, Hunter Biden (a quid pro quo)

Of all the examples above, the Democrats think that Ukraine issue is an impeachable offence. The House of Representatives’ Leader, Ms. Pelosi took this accusation to the level of bribery. No one knows, for sure, whether allegations against Mr. Trump are impeachable charges or not. Representative Adam Schiff, whose committee is leading the inquiry will prepare formal charges against the president and will put that for an up and down vote on the floor of the House. Since Democrats have a 36-seat majority in the House of Representatives, it’s very likely that President Trump will be impeached, but most likely he will be acquitted of all charges by the Senate.

What Will Happen if President Trump Is Impeached?

That will be very interesting to watch because never in the history of the United States of America an impeached president has run for the White House again. Out of the two presidents ever impeached by the Congress, Andrew Johnson was denied nomination by the Democratic Party for the 1868 presidential election. He later became a Senator from Tennessee in 1875.

President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 during his second term. So, he couldn’t have run for the office of the president, anyway. Interestingly, Andrew Johnson was acquitted in the Senate by just one vote and all the Senators who voted for his acquittal lost in the following elections. Bill Clinton was acquitted in Senate by 10 votes.

In the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s impeachment there are two possibilities on the horizon. First, Because Mr. Trump’s offense was not compelling, overwhelmingly clear, and unambiguous and because people are tired of inaction of the legislative branch, his base will be energized behind him. Many independents and moderate Democrats will vote for Mr. Trump and other Republicans. Trump will be re-elected and the Republicans may recapture the House.

Secondly, many voters who supported Mr. Trump may not like to cast their votes for an impeached president. They may also express their anger against the Senators who would vote for Mr. Trump’s acquittal repeating the scenario that followed President Andrew Johnson’s acquittal in the Senate.

Whatever, the outcome, the do-nothing Democrats (and Republicans) have clearly engaged in a purely partisan project. In reality those Democrats (especially in red states and swing districts) are worried about the inquiry’s effects not only on their own reelection chances, but also on the balance of power in Washington.

The following dialogue from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice aptly applies to both the Democrats and the Republicans:

      Salarino: “Why, I am sure, if he forfeit thou wilt not take his flesh. What’s that good for?”

            Shylock: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

“The Whistleblower” –A Satire by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

 

whistleblower-silence-ts-100616847-largeAccording to my maid the rumor was going around that I was a philanderer.

“Who told you that?” I asked.

“I can’t reveal that. I was given this news on the condition of anonymity. My source got this from an anonymous source. No one knows who that anonymous source is.”

As a matter of fact, I always felt disappointed thinking that I was a man of no consequence. I always expected someone would notice me, and then when no one did, I felt lonely. So, I was flattered listening to this allegation from my maid but I hid my emotion from her.

Anonymous source? I fell in love with that phrase ever since the anonymous source got after President Trump. It happened to important folks only. Now I was one of them. Wow!

In the next party to honor Chirkut for quitting smoking after 70 years (having damaged his heart and collapsing his lungs), I was the center of attraction. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on me. I don’t know what ladies were thinking about me now that I was a man of dubious character. It felt good, but who could be this anonymous source? One thing I was sure of that the culprit was present in that room since my maid worked for many of the same ladies who were present there. Their (ladies’) pastime was to spread rumors.

“Anonymous Source!” The anonymity was killing me. I took a group picture of everyone present there in the hope of pin-pointing the suspect later. That night while in bed, I heard a whistling sound in my backyard. Thinking that it may be a bird mistaking the night for the morning, I went back to sleep. Following nights I heard the same whistle sound in my yard. Yes, this was certainly a whistleblower. Maybe this was the same whistleblower that the maid referred to as an anonymous source.

I thought of catching that whistleblower right there, but got reminded of their legal rights. I realized that whistleblowers had certain rights that I was not supposed to violate. For example, Whistleblower protection laws and regulations guarantee freedom of speech to them. Whistleblowers are protected against retaliation or threats of any kind. Considering that, I gave up the idea of catching the whistleblower because I didn’t want to get into any legal trouble. I remembered the statement of Adam Schiff, the leader of the Trump impeachment inquiry, “By law the public cannot learn the identity—and perhaps the motivation—of the “whistleblower.”

So, I gave up on the whistleblower and decided to concentrate on the anonymous source instead. The next time the maid came to my house, I confronted her heads on and asked her to identify the culprit. “Was that Cindy, Mindy or Sita, Gita or Yolanda, Miranda or was that Ching, Ming?

The maid breathed in slowly through her nose, closing her eyes and replied, “Sir, you ae coercing me to identify the anonymous source. Do you realize that this can put you in legal trouble?”

“Legal trouble? My foot! Let me tell everyone that you seduced me and you do the same to all your client’s men. We’ll see who goes to the court. You should also know that during the course of litigation, the court may require you to disclose the whistleblower’s identity,” I threatened her.

The maid turned fearful and accidently dropped her unzipped handbag on the floor. I saw a whistle dropping out of her bag. We both reached for it. After some struggle, I got it first and immediately blew the whistle. It made exactly the same pitch that I had been hearing from my bedroom.

Ultimately, the mystery was solved as I had found the whistleblower and thus the anonymous source.

Current Affairs: “Mercury’s Visit – What’s the Fuss?” Compiled by Anil Shrivastava “Musafir”

mercury A very significant celestial event took place in our own solar system on November 11, 2019. The planet Mercury crossed the disc of the Sun on that day. In laymen’s term, the planet Mercury came directly through the path between the Earth and Sun. So what’s the fuss about it? After all, this event will happen again in the year 2032. (By the way, planets Mercury, Venus and Earth are the nearest planets from the Sun in that order).

These celestial events are significant because of a couple of reasons. First, this is only during these transits when we can view Mercury in the sky. Secondly, these events help determine the distance of our Earth from the Sun. It’s true that we already know those distances, but they are still approximations to some extent. Every time these transits happen, interplanetary distances are further fine-tuned. Also, once any one distance gets known, it becomes easier to tell the distance of other planets from the Sun.

Fine tuning of the distances between the Sun and other planets is very important. Cassini and his fellow scientists determined the distance between Earth and Sun at 87 million miles. Now the same distance is readjusted as 93 million miles. We owe these accuracy to these transits. Scientists measure those distances by observing the transits from different points on earth. The distance between the points of observations combined with the transit time of the planet in front of the Sun permits accurate calculation of the distance of the planet Earth from the Sun using trigonometric parallax. (You may do your own research to find out the math behind this). A similar method used in 1771 determined the distance between Earth and the Sun to be 95 million miles. (Now this is adjusted to 93 million miles).

Though the above method has been superseded by radar measurements of the distances to other planets in the solar system, transits of planets along the disc of the Sun have other advantages too such as looking at the planets beyond our solar system (Extrasolar planets) and discovering facts about our own planets such as atmosphere and composition. These are enabled due to the dimming effect and creation of fuzzy halos on the planet in transit.

More significantly, in the future, the distance between the Sun and its planets will keep on increasing because our Sun is constantly losing energy and hence it’s mass, which allows the planets to move to larger orbits. This is not a good news for us earthlings, but we’ll keep on refining interplanetary distances through these transits as long as we’ll walk on the terra firma.

“Hope over Fear” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

I was diagnosed having ulcerative colitis in 1995. Despite diet control and medicines including occasional use of steroids, I kept on bleeding, sometimes profusely resulting in a severe weight loss. God granted me the serenity to accept the things I couldn’t change. But my condition started worsening. Many of my friends and acquaintances started showing concerns over my deteriorating health. I never revealed having ulcerative colitis to either my friends or my employer. I decided to choose hope over desperation, fight over flight. I got the entire colon removed and a J-pouch built from my own body tissues in place of the colon. That was in 2004.

After a few years, the J-pouch started malfunctioning giving me incessant cramps, stomach aches, diarrhea and urgency to go. Doctors told me that there was no way out except replacing the inner pouch (j-pouch) with ileostomy (wearing an external pouch through my stomach). I had to decide between living with the present condition confined in home or go for ileostomy. I still kept working and socializing with constant fear and insecurity of losing control. After all, “When God gives you lemons, take a bow.” (Dale Carnegie).

On October 5, 2019 my original surgeon at Cleveland Clinic took a chance. She opened me and found that the J-pouch she had created was choking under massive scar tissues that I had developed in my stomach over the years. Fortunately, she was able to correct the problem. Consequently, I got rid of unyielding misery and sinking feelings. I got a new life.

The purpose of the above story is not singing the blues. I am not trying to declare valiance of any kind either. I simply realized that I had now the capability to make an effort towards accomplishing many things. I don’t believe in the saying, “You can accomplish anything, if you have life and health,” but we, certainly, can make an effort to achieve anything.

We become quite adaptable to any condition when we are forced into a do or die situation. I came across many people around me struggling and going through more intense situation than mine. Their courage gave me something to aspire to, something to emulate.

During the many tedious hospital visits that were part of my life, I came across hundreds of people with afflictions worse than mine, young patients going through painful therapies, patients too weak living with bouts of pain. Many had spent much more time in the dreaded hallways of hospitals than I did. Their struggles opened my eyes.

I now have the ability to maintain a daily routine, learn new languages, and acquire knowledge about new technologies. And a chance that I will maintain my health removes that gut-wrenching feeling in me (no pun intended).

I’ll leave you with the lines of Longfellow to ponder:

Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal; …

Let us, then, be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait.jan 20 hope

Book Review: “Capitalism in America”​ and “Women Who Hate Other Women”​

Jan 20 Book Review

“Capitalism in America” Authors: Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge

Capitalism in America is an excellent book for everyone who wants to understand the reasons for American economic might and what causes economic ups and downs with a historical perspective. The authors, a past Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan and an economist, Adrian Wooldridge also consider whether America will retain its economic superiority or will fade into mediocracy.

The most important reasons for America’s unprecedented economic superiority, according to the authors, are innovation, creative destruction and encouragement provided to the entrepreneurs.

Creative destruction is described as the dismantling of long-standing practices in order to make way for innovation. Creative destruction was first coined by Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942. Thus, creative destruction is also called Schumpeterian process

The authors give credit for America’s economic growth to Laissez-faire. Further on, the authors suggest that entitlements reform and more pragmatic reserves ratios at big banks are essential to maintaining our economic superiority.

Entitlement reform is making changes in government programs such as Social Security and Medicare so that they are less expensive. Cash Reserve Ratio is the percentage of deposits which commercial banks are required to keep as cash.

Capitalism in America is a must read for a clear understanding of capitalism vis-à-vis democracy.

women

“Women Who Hate Other Women” Author: Heather Hodsden

I came across Women Who Hate Other Women by Heather Hodsden while browsing Linkedin.com. The introduction of this book states, “My goal is to shed light on the problems they (women) face and to tell women’s workplace horror stories.” This subject, which is extremely close to my heart, has been overlooked, ignored, and ill-addressed.”…” The goal of this book is to let other women who have been verbally assaulted, fired for no reason of their own, and gossiped about by another female coworker know that they aren’t alone.”

The book’s Chapter One starts with Heather’s own experience at Sayreville War Memorial High School where she was employed as a French language teacher. There she was bullied, ostracized and humiliated by none other than her female co-workers. To add insult to injury, the school administration fired her at the end of the 2003 school year without taking any steps to act on Heather’s complaints. The other teachers were jealous of her superior pedagogy. Later, a male teacher gave her the shocking news that her own mentor (a female) felt insecure due to her (Heather’s) teaching abilities.

Heather suggests that women should fight against this malaise. She reveals that “The “history” of women in the workplace is to pretend that “hating” doesn’t exist.” She gives facts and figures about women’s abuses at the workplace and provides the needed suggestions about the remedies and resources to get help.

The book is easy to read and very interesting. The problem is that the book’s title and the first chapter, “Sayreville- My Story” gives the impression that Women Who Hate Other Women may just be a sob story. In fact, it’s not so.