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  • Acting Without Theory Often Results in Wasted Effort

    If you don’t understand why you take action you will find yourself wasting effort. You must have a theory that you can test in order to test what is working, what changes actually lead to improvement and to learn. If this bird wants to find food it will discover this method isn’t effective.

    I wrote about a similar example before: Experience Teaches Nothing Without Theory.

  • Thoughts on Security Risks while Traveling (especially risks of violence)

    How to travel safely?

    Not getting drunk at bars proactively addresses a significant portion of issues.

    Second, if you are coming from the USA or many other fairly high personal crime countries there are many places you are much safer while traveling than average risks at home are.

  • Foreign Ownership of USA Stocks Reached 26% in 2015

    In 1965 foreign ownership of USA stocks totaled about 2%, in 1990 it had risen to 10% and by 2015 to 26%. That the foreign ownership is so high surprised me. Holdings in retirement accounts (defined benefit accounts, IRAs etc.) was under 10% in 1965, rose to over 30% in 1990 and to about 40% in 2015. The holdings in retirement accounts doesn’t really surprise me.

  • Reporting on the Noise Level of Lodging Options

    I would love a service that reports on the noise level of hotel rooms, apartments for rent etc.. I am far more sensitive to noise than others. And in my nomadic existence the most annoying thing for me was noisy places.

    Reading reviews will provide some level of noise warnings when past travelers complain about noisy conditions. But this is time consuming (reading through lots of reviews to try and see) and not very accurate.

  • USA Health Care Crisis: Opioid Abuse

    Opioid abuse has greatly increased these deaths in the last decade. Chronic pain is a real problem we need to manage. But the current practices are leading to troubling results as are our methods for dealing with drug abuse (including illegal drugs such as heroin). Abusing prescription drugs such as addictive opioids and illegal drugs such as heroin are both leading to an increasing number of deaths in the USA in the last decade.

  • Reflection of the Washington Monument on the Vietnam War Memorial

    Photo of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. Most of the photo is shows a reflection in the shining granite of the memorial.

  • Golden Rules for Making Money

    P. T. Barnum wrote the Golden Rules for Making Money in 1880. He provides a few paragraphs on each of the 20 golden rules:

    1. Don’t mistake your vocation
    2. Select the right location
    3. Avoid debt

    ...

    "Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business. Large stores, gilt signs, flaming advertisements, will all prove unavailing if you or your employees treat your patrons abruptly."

  • Cliff Norman and Ron Moen Discuss the History of the PDSA Cycle

    Ron emphasized the importance of the iterative nature of learning supported by the PDSA cycle. The importance of iterating the PDSA cycle multiple times is something that I find most organizations would benefit a great deal from. Another API consultant spoke on this importance at the 2006 Deming conference.

  • Curious Cat Tax Proposals

    My plan would have 3 parts. I like a flat tax, I doubt it will ever happen, but if we could get one I would be happy. Cruz proposes that (at 10%). I am fine with his proposal to eliminate all deductions but mortgage interest and charity. I would definitely tweak that some – no more than $50,000 in mortgage interest deduction a year and the same for charity. Basically subsidizing it a bit for the non-rich is fine. Subsidizing these for the rich seems silly so I would cap the deductions in some way.

    Increasing the giveaways to trust-fund baby as Cruz and Trump propose is the single worst tax policy change that can be made. I have explained previously how bad an idea this is: The estate tax is the most capitalist tax that exists.

    Social Security taxes are nearly equal to other income taxes. They are highly regressive. I would eliminate the current elimination of the tax on high income earners. I would just have the tax due on all earned income (no cap). If that let me reduce the rate, great, if not fine it would just make the fund solvent for longer. I would not increase the benefits due for high earners beyond what it is now.

  • Software Testing and the Impact on Quality

    The aim for software testing is not just to fix the bugs software testers catch but to function as part of a system to figure out the reasons those bugs were created and improve processes so fewer bugs are created in the future.

  • Statistical Techniques Allow Management to do a Better Job

    For all four groups of people [management, statistical administration, research, front-line workers], the statistical method is more than an array of techniques. It is a mode of thought-sharpened thinking. It helps anyone in the four groups, be he a machine operator or an executive, to make better decisions, and to do his work better, than he could do otherwise.

    --- W. Edwards Deming

    Those who continue to thinkW. Edwards Deming was focused on the factory floor alone have missed most of what he proposed. Improving the decision making at the executive level was always Deming’s focus. Continual improvement should be a part of everyone’s job but as executives have more authority the impact of improving their performance multiplies, or stifles, the impact of improvement anywhere else in the organization.

  • Common Sandpiper, Tanjung Piai National Park, Malaysia

    Common sandpipers on the beach in Tanjung Piai National Park – the Southernmost Point in Continental Asia (near Johor Bahru, Malaysia and Singapore).

  • Systems Thinking: Feedback Loops

    A reinforcing loop encourages the system to continue in that direction (e.g. a damn starting to leak, as water flows over the damn wall will further erode the wall which leads to more water flowing over causing more erosion).

    When the reinforcing loop is undesirable it can be referred to as a viscous cycle...

    An example of a positive reinforcing loop is building trust in an organization.  As people gain trust (and fear reduces) people are more willing to be trusting and cooperate, that behavior then encourages more of that behavior and so on.  A positive reinforcing loop can be called a virtuous cycle.

  • Leaving on a Jet Plane

    If your preference is to increase your odds of having a successful digital nomad experience then I suggest taking longer. Do 3 things:

    1) Get experience earning money in a location independent way (you can do that where you live more easily than anywhere else).

    2) Save up some money...

  • Functional Websites are Normally Far Superior to Apps

    Just like old school businesses were only comfortable with their old business models and didn’t create functional websites (instead using the web just to advertise that you should go to their store, or giving you forms to complete and fax back to them…) new businesses are often stuck on only using apps even though they often provide a lousy user experience compared to a functional website.

    There are some apps that are very useful and not having a functional web app can make sense, but it is fairly limited. Getting a ride apps I can see as only apps. Driving instructions and live maps using GPS to locate you is another great app use...