Monday, December 15, 2008

Bailout Landmine Commentary

As our elected leaders continue to grapple with allocating the new 850 billion of debt on behalf of all of us, with the intent of making our mutual economic future brighter rather than even more grim, I revisited the wisdom of Peter Drucker. It seems to Bonnett and I that the rush that allocated at least half of this amount, without having anything like the process we have recently witnessed for the auto companies, was foolish. Where is the accountability, to us as taxpayers? What provisions were built in to the allocations to make sure that our national interest was and will be served?

We are curious to actually be informed about whatever may be decided upon in the months to come, and to know if it will make sound business sense to the companies involved, and to us, the financers. It is only right that this happen prior to money being handed out, so we have time to weigh in on it prior to final votes.

We hope there are also provisions to call back in the money, and take possession of the outstanding company assets, should these beneficiaries of the money continue to make decisions that handsomely reward top management, while losing money and asset value.
It is our hope that the focus for the coming ‘jumpstarting’ capital infusion will be used to rebuild infrastructure, as that is the only way we can be assured of long-term benefits from such huge expenditures.

Please take a minute or two to click on this Peter Drucker link, as well as this Warren Buffet link, for some inspiration of how to do things in a more successful way.

- Richard Chandler

Friday, November 14, 2008

How Music Lowers Blood Pressure

We just heard about a new study on the news today that demonstrated that listening to one's favorite music lowers blood pressure, as the walls of the veins and arteries expand as one listens. So put on a cd and relax your way to better health!

- Richard Chandler

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Model for Success by a Surprising Source

“We are pleased with our performance in the quarter, given the challenging economic environment, ... We continue to strive to be an innovator in the industry by constantly updating our products and merchandise as we seek new customers, while remaining faithful to the traditional Polo customer. This strategy, balanced with sound business practices in a competitive marketplace, is what built Polo Ralph Lauren and made it a leader for three decades, and this strategy will take us into the next decade.”

- Ralph Lauren (1939- )

How the Junior Senator Barack Obama, while still in his first term, could run for president and win (even winning the primary against the Clintons), is mind-blowing!

For me, a good part of that success seems related to what Ralph Lauren said in the quotation shown above and again below. There is something magical about serving people by innovating, finding new customers, [new voters, Independents and Republicans], being responsive to present customers, [Democrats], and having sound business practices. [Running a campaign very efficiently]

We might all do well to utilize this model for success in whatever large venture we would like to successfully execute. It works. It has worked for decades and will work far into the future because it is based on what matters most... serving others in responsive, intelligent and respectful ways.

- Richard Chandler
First Published on Famous Quotes Homepage

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Honoring Veterans Day

Today, we had a day to commemorate our veterans, including those who are no longer with us. Bonne and I hope you might find something you can do to participate, even doing something so informal as to thank a current or past military man or woman for their service to our country.

I have the good fortune to play contrabasson in the St. Cloud State University Wind Ensemble. We are put on the "American Spirit Veterans Tribute" concert this evening at SCSU in their Ritsche Auditorium at Stewart Hall. It is a treat for me to play these American arrangements, including two by one of my favorite composers, John Phillip Sousa. I hope you too found some ways to honor our veterans today.

- Richard Chandler

Monday, November 10, 2008

Living Composers Featured

I had the good fortune to hear the live broadcast of the Friday night Minnesota Public Radio broadcast by the Minnesota Orchestra in which they played seven new works by living composers. The pieces played were unique and profound. Our orchestra played them with beauty and conviction. We do well to remember that "all music was once new." Please check out the links below to read about how living composers are generating new works for our times and perhaps for the very distant future.

Composers Institute nurtures talent and new orchestral music
From Belarus to Minnesotat, a composer's journey

- Richard Chandler

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What We Can Do To Help Our Country, Our Planet & Ourselves

What can you and I do as citizens to help our country.... starting today? We can do our part to help the environment and reduce dependence on foreign oil by doing these things, that ironically, will also personally save us money!

1. Immediately throw out all of the incandescent light bulbs that you can replace today with compact florescent light bulbs. This will pay for itself relatively soon in lower electric bills. Bonne and I did this and find that our lower energy costs far exceed the initial investment in new bulbs. (Please remember that the compact fluorescent bulbs contain mercury and you must be very careful if one breaks and make sure you recycle them by returning the burned out ones to the place of purchase.)

2. Use surge protectors that you can shut off for all ac/dc adapters that power most computer, television, telephone and a host of other electronic equipment.

3. Shut off the lights when you are not in a room!

4. Pump up your tires. Most tires are under-inflated and your gas mileage suffers as a result. More money back in your pocket, less use of oil and fewer carbon emissions poisoning our air.

- Richard Chandler

First Published on Famous Quotes Homepage

Sunday, October 19, 2008

3rd Obama – McCain Debate Commentary

Barack Obama - John McCain 3rd Presidential Debate

Many of you will be quite pleased that with this last presidential debate, I'll quit commenting on the politics of the day.

Not much changed in terms of the candidate’s messages or their ways of delivering their respective message.

Some of what I found interesting were the nonverbal responses made by one candidate as that person listened to his opponent, particularly when an attacking statement was made. The listening candidate’s expressions and gestures seemed to clearly show how they felt about the statement in many instances.

Both candidates’ various messages seemed more defined this time, (but still not in anything like a definitive way.)

We watched a network that gave undecided voters a way to weigh in on what they thought of each candidate’s message as it was delivered, which we saw as a line on the screen that went above the middle line for a positive response to what was said and would show a ‘below the line’ reading for a negative response. It showed that these undecided voters did not like the attacks. The reading went above neutral line most often when the message was positively focused on how to move our country forward by solving a particular problem.

All of us as citizens might benefit from this same approach. Perhaps we will all have much higher marks if we place the focus on how we can work together to solve our critical problems and create the nation we wish to have, leaving our more petty concerns, fears and grudges behind. In light of how much needs doing to restore prosperity, focusing on anything else is self-sabotage.

- Richard Chandler

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Commentary on 2nd Presidential Debate

My observations on the second debate were much the same as what seemed to be the case with the 1st debate, but perhaps it was even more clear with this second one. Both candidates looked and acted like they could be our president.

So the real question for me, (and perhaps for you too), is which candidate has the ideas that you feel will be most helpful for you as a citizen and will best move us forward as a nation.

- Richard Chandler

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Commentary on Biden - Palin V.P. Debate

It seemed to me that we were left with the sense that both candidates for the VP position were stronger than our perceptions of them prior to the debate. I noticed that the questions of the moderator were actually answered much more frequently and with more specificity by Senator Biden.

There was more civility between the two of them than I had expected, and that was heartening, as at the end of this election it serves all of us to work together for our common good and not waste valuable time bickering over non-relevant topics.

Having said this, people like you who go to this quotations website are likely to decide who to vote for based on the content of the candidates answers and not so much on who we personally like or can best identify with in terms of their personality, gender or biographical story. And of course, what we individually believe is best for the country will vary widely for all of us. Please vote... Our future is best served by an engaged citizenry.

- Richard Chandler

Monday, September 29, 2008

Commentary on the 1st Obama McCain Debate

I watched and listened to the presidential debates. I watched and listened to some of the more neutral commentary from news people. And I watched and listened to the partisans on both sides emphatically state their viewpoints in ways that were not unlike the many political commercials that we have heard.

After mentally dismissing virtually all of what was said by the partisans, a great deal of what was said by the candidates, (as it was simply meant to discredit the other), and some of what I heard from the more neutral news commentators, I was left with an overall good feeling about the debates. Here are three reasons why:

Unlike what I remember from George W. Bush’s debates, it seemed like both candidates where to some extent thinking on their feet and not just reciting parts of their speeches.

They both showed a good deal of toughness while at the same time not abandoning civility. It looked to me like both candidates had what it took to be our president.

All of us have widely varying differences on which candidate’s policies, views and plans would be best for our country for the next four years, and for that, it serves us as engaged citizens to discuss and debate these issues and vote for who we feel would be the best president for our country.

At the same time, based on this debate, it is hard for me to understand how anyone could deny that either candidate would not be up for the job. So for me - separating out why I feel that one candidate has ideas that make more sense to me in terms of what we as a country should do and how we should do it – I was left with a feeling that both had outstanding leadership skills, even though there might be wide differences of opinion on which way we as a people should be led.

- Richard Chandler

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Why Stack Rocks?

Quite often, the people who are out on walks past our property will stop for a minute and ask us the following question: Is there a meaning behind your stacks of rocks? They often go on to say they have seen this sort of thing before, in places like Sedona, Arizona or in Alaska. There is a meaning behind rock stacking, even though our reasons for stacking rocks did not have to do with this explanation.

In a number of native cultures, including the Hopi Indians of Arizona and many of the Eskimo Native
Americans of Alaska, a stack of rocks was
seen as a symbol of a protective entity.

Because a vertical stack of rocks looks like a human figure to some extent, these stacked rocks were seen as entities protecting the property, perhaps warding off harmful spirits and helping to protect the sacred space of a particular outdoor area.

We actually have the same tradition in Christian culture, where gargoyles were fashioned out of stone and added to the borders of cathedrals constructed from medieval times through the renaissance, for the purpose of protecting the sacred space of the cathedral from infiltration by malevolent spirits.

So placing stacks of rocks around one’s property might be seen as a pragmatic way to do to ward off negative influence or predatory energy.

Our own reasons for stacking rocks were not so esoteric. We wanted a fence to separate our property from the adjoining park that would let the dogs and kids know where the park ended and our property began. But a chain-link fence seemed too utilitarian and a solid fence was too closed off. Both kinds of fences are not all that aesthetically pleasing. They are also very expensive.

So what we did is plant a series of small arborvitae bushes every 10 feet alternating with a stack of rocks between each bush along our property lines. This creates the illusion of a fence, and to our taste, is much more interesting, organic and artistic.

We were inspired to do so by the art of Andy Goldsworthy, who uses found objects in nature, including rocks, icicles, driftwood, twigs, leaves, rocks, and a host of other nature mediums to construct his art. The picture is from his roof top exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art.

And if these stacks of rocks also ward off evil spirits… all the better.

- Richard Chandler.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bonnett & Richard’s Solar Project - Part II

How We Lowered Our Carbon Impact Along with Our Utility Bill (If you missed Part I, you'll find it in the post just below this one)

So here is how it works: Our water is piped from the city water system into our mechanical room. Just after the meter, the water splits into two pipes… one for cold water and the other as it travels toward the hot water heater. A few feet prior to where this ¾” copper pipe enters into the natural gas hot water heater, we soldered a series of valves and two copper pipes enabling us to divert the water in a way that follows a parallel pathway to the pipe that leads to our outdoor faucet for watering the lawn.

These two pipes connect to two new outdoor faucets and the faucets in turn are connect to six interconnected 120’ lengths of ¾” commercial grade black hose. This hose totals 720’ and is the solar collector.

The parallel lengths of hose are set into the inside corner of the house and travel up onto the roof where the hose is wrapped around the roof vents to keep it in place.

After gathering heat from the sun and the surrounding shingles it travels down again, into the return faucet, copper pipe, inside valve and finally flows into the gas hot water heater at a very warm temperature when the sun is shining and at the outside air temperature when the sun is not shining. Through this process, our gas hot water heater has only a little firing to do when the sun is out as the water is now much closer to the optimal temperature.

Once we again return to freezing temperatures, all we have to do is to drain the hoses by disconnecting them from the outside faucets. I will use gravity to do most of this work and hook up a small air compressor to one of the hoses to make sure the water is blown out for the winter. Inside the house we simply turn the inside valves to reopen the direct flow to the hot water heater and shut off the diverted flow which goes to the outside.

To get the very most out of this solar system we will focus our times of doing laundry and running the dishwasher during the day when the sun is out. Because hose is only ¾” in diameter, it doesn’t take long to heat up a fresh batch of hot water.

Even though our old Maytag washer worked perfectly fine, at the end of 2007 we purchased a frontloading clothes washer which has significantly cut the gallons needed to do each load by over two thirds. Since we have a very busy massage therapy practice, we do a great many loads of laundry in addition to our personal laundry.

Our new solar collector combined with the new washer will significantly reduce our use of energy, saving us money and lowering our carbon footprint. Even though this project cost us some money, we feel our financial investment will be paid back in a couple of years. Prior to the monetary payback, we take pleasure from knowing that we are immediately helping our planet in a small way. We are also gaining confidence that as individuals we can find many more innovative and low cost ways to go green. We have compiles a few environmental and commentary quotes here.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bonnett & Richard’s Solar Project - Part I

How We Lowered Our Carbon Impact
Along with Our Utility Bill!

In a nutshell, we wanted to do something more. While our florescent light bulbs were in place throughout our entire house and we just finished converting our outdoor light fixtures to accommodate the new fluorescent floodlights, we wanted to do more… something more dramatic.

The idea of preheating the water with the sum before it entered our natural gas hot water heater had been percolating for sometime. It seemed simple enough… find an inexpensive way to route the water out of the house and into some kind of solar collector, and then back into the house a whole lot hotter than it left. Have it leave the house just before entering the hot water heater and then back in and directly into the gas hot water heater at a nice hot temperature.

While this idea works well for the months before it freezes, it can’t be used in the colder seasons, so any system we constructed would have to allow us to easily switch it back to a direct route into the hot water heater as well as to drain the water out of the collector.

Even for us Minnesotans, limited as we are to only 7 months when water doesn’t freeze, it seemed to us that if the system was easy to build and install, and didn’t cost us too much, it would pay back the cost of it in a few years and give us some savings from then on. More environmental quotes and commentarty here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Powering Your Future With Today's Supply Of Fuel

The electric power went off in our home, along with approximately 9,999 others in St. Cloud, Minnesota for a good half-hour on Sunday evening. We scrambled for flashlights and candles. Our pet birds were out and we gathered them up using a flashlight and put them back into their cages, while observing their questioning looks and unusually quiet concern.

One thing about outages… at the time they are happening, we have no idea of how long they will last. So we are uncertain and don’t know if we need to continue to find and light more candles, or just go about our business as best we can, with little light, no heat or cooling, while noting the many reminders of how much of our modern life is tied up in activities requiring electricity.

My recurring thoughts during that time were along these lines: “How can we be more prepared for an outage the next time one occurs? What do we need to have in place if the outage lasts for more than a short time? Why is it so easy for us to put off these kinds of preparations when we know that being prepared is vital and the only time we actually can prepare is when everything is working just fine?

Much of our success in life revolves around these very issues. Retirement is a good example. Upon reaching some age, it is likely that we will no longer wish to work. And even if we do wish to work, we may no longer have the physical and mental acumen to be able to continue working.

We also know that a paid off home along with our retirement social security benefit, (if it is there for us in the amounts that are currently being projected), will be insufficient to give us enough for our health-care, transportation, utilities, food, clothing, insurance and other required expenditures to be met. And if we want even more than this - some travel, educational enrichment, leisure recreation, replacement for vehicles and maintenance for our homes – it is paramount that we save and invest while we are working, so we can live independently and fully into our old age.

Then there are the unexpected and unplanned events, along the lines of power outages, such as serious or chronic health issues or accidents that prevent us from working, uninsured losses or downturns in our personal or the country’s economic condition, leaving us short of income, but with just as many or even more personal expenses.

As you read this, consider that it is easy to tell yourself that you ought to do something, but much harder to act on those thoughts. It’s easy to put off taking action, especially when it seems that there are so many areas to prepare for.

So here are three action-oriented ideas you can do right now:

If you haven’t done so already, gather up your batteries, flashlights, matches and battery-operated radio and store them in a place where you can easily find them in the dark. If your supply of any of these items is insufficient, immediately write a note to yourself, so you remember to purchase more of them, the next time you are at a store. (7 – 12 minutes)

2. Find a jar with a lid and stick a Posti-note on it that says: “Save and Invest!” Gather all of the loose change that is sitting around on your dressers and counters and place it into the jar. Keep it out to remind you that a little saving and investing on a continual basis will increase your happiness and wellbeing in the present because you are taking care of your future. (5 minutes)

It may also be a prompt for you to call your bank and arrange for a small amount of money to be automatically transferred each month from your checking account into a tax-deferred retirement plan, such as an IRA.

3. Have a conversation with your mate or family members about some easy-to-implement ways that all of you can prepare for sudden unexpected events. Even simple ideas, such as stocking up on sale-priced grocery commodities, personal care items, gasoline and paper products will be helpful in the event of sudden spikes in prices or shortages. (5 – 15 minutes)

So even if a power outage only lasts a half hour, because a squirrel worked his or her way into the power company’s equipment, as happened here in Saint Cloud, you can feel more confident now, and grateful in the future, when the next unplanned event occurs, because you took some small actions in the present to secure stability rather than suffer through a stressful, chaotic and predictably painful future.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Relax….. Accomplish!

I have two overriding fears in my life… plus a whole host of other ones that, at the moment, don’t quite rise to the level of ‘overriding fears’.

The first one has to do with being at the end of my days on the planet and looking back at what transpired. What I hope to feel at that time is some degree of contentment arising out of having created and accomplished much of what was of interest to me, and which contributed to the wellbeing of others with whom I had direct and indirect contact.

It would be simpler if my interests were more focused to just a few areas. But they aren’t. Is this an issue for you too? Do you find that you have interests, even passionate ones, in a number of unrelated arenas?

For me, these arenas include music, writing, learning, natural health, yoga, environmentally ‘green’ living, as well as the ones most all of us share… time with our mates, family and friends, doing my best in our vocations, financially keeping things solvent now and building some reserves for retirement, and having adequate leisure time to relax, unwind and rejuvenate.

It often feels like a lot to juggle! Yet there is nothing in my list that I could leave out, without feeling the pain of neglect from the growing hole in one of those areas of my life. What are your life’s vital interests? How do you manage to make time for them all?

And the second fear is born out of the first. The fear is that both my wife and I are living with too much stress, which has the potential to increase risk for major health problems, inevitably leading to loss of lifestyle options and a shorter tenure on earth, than might have been the case had we been more committed to relaxing and less obsessed with accomplishing.

So I have a kind of strategy. It’s not all that elegant of a strategy, but it is all that has occurred to me thus far. (I’m hoping you will have some ideas to share in the comments section for my benefit and the benefit of those that read this blog.)

What I endeavor to do is to categorize a good deal of my activities that I wish to accomplish under the umbrella of ‘relaxation’. For example, today I did some yoga and shoveled the driveway and sidewalk for exercise. It was relaxing being outside in the sun pushing snow and scraping ice and my yoga was ‘free form’… I had no particular agenda for accomplishing a particular routine or putting in a prescribed amount of time doing yoga.

I practiced some saxophone and hope to put in 10 – 15 minutes of piano practice before bed. (Bonne and I take an hour piano lesson together every other week.) This is pure enjoyment for me, even though I do have music lessons in the next few days on both instruments and I like the idea of having practiced sufficiently to play the pieces well.

Then there were the websites that I updated and of course the time for writing this blog. Again, doing these kinds of projects are my idea of a good time. And Bonne and I had some very wonderful time while alone together today. It was a pleasure… none of that time was under the category of accomplishment!

Let me know how you sort out the polarities of accomplishment and relaxation in your own life. If you wish, please leave a comment about the ways you put together your life so it feels balanced and you feel fulfilled and satisfied.

In friendship,

Richard Chandler

First Published on Famous Quotes Homepage

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.”
- Walt Disney (1901-1966)

Thursday, February 28, 2008


This being my first ever blog entry, it seems like something profound, memorable or at least a bit ‘catchy’ would be warranted. I know a writer, Susan Montag, who teaches writing techniques in workshops for writers and to college students, who told me that perhaps the biggest obstacle to writing is that we all want it to be very good writing from the onset and therefore find it very difficult to actually start writing. She had a solution for this kind of self-imposed pressure...

She said the first thing to do was to buy a notebook, and not all that good a notebook. The very worst ones were the beautiful kind, hardbound and made with tasteful covers and expensive high-quality paper. She said that very few people could bring themselves to write anything at all in this kind of notebook as hardly anybody’s writing was all that good as a first draft. Purchasing that kind of notebook was the surest way to never get started.

Her instructions were to go to a drugstore, maybe even Wal-mart, and buy the cheapest, crappy spiral-bound one that you could find. The next step, she said, was to find some pens, and scribble up the cover as well as quite a few of the inside pages. Spilling coffee on it was also recommended.

Now, she said, you have the kind of notebook where you can write anything you want in it and you won’t care that there is nothing profound, memorable or necessarily interesting about the writing. You can actually make a real start as a writer with this kind of a notebook.

With that in mind, here then, is my first blog. Subject areas for future entries will be music, natural healthcare, yoga, more successful and happier living, ageing parents, adult children and the somewhat offbeat life that my wife Bonnett Chandler and I share with the rest of our flock, (2 cockatiels and a parakeet), Igor, Bela and Mason.

“I shall be so brief that I have already finished.”

- Salvador Dali (1904-1989)

PS More quirky quotes, a few pictures and a very brief bio. of Salvador Dali here:
© February 28, 2008 Richard Chandler