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Happy Thanksgiving!

Everyone at PSSI wishes all our customers, partners, friends and families a peaceful and restful Thanksgiving holiday!

 

 

(We’ll return to more serious business next week.)

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Well then, I guess we know how everyone around the office will be thinking about you today…

Nonetheless, everyone at PSSI would like to urge you to forget about software today and have a very happy Halloween!

P.S.: Don’t scare anyone!

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tech-politicsWhile a bit off-topic from our usual biz-tech postings, today’s post is no less relevant in view of our nation’s recent political transition in Washington.  Our comments today are gleaned from a Wall Street Journal article by Personal Technology editor Geoffrey Fowler that asks the timely question: “Can Tech Make Democracy Better?”

Fowler points out the difficulty of what you’d think would be an easy task: Can you identify the roughly 30 public servants who represent you from the local to the national spectrum?  It’s harder than you’d think.  Fowler searched for online tools that might help.

One notable site is the Internet Archive’s searchable database of everything newly-elected President Trump has said on TV, assembled and hand-curated by humans and focused solely around Trump’s 800+TV appearances.  There will always be value in “checking the tape,” he notes, at a time when facts are often considered “up for debate.”

Open-data advocates including the Sunlight Foundation and Code for America have attracted thousands of volunteers who have put a lot of data online.  But while there are a lot of databases out there, what’s currently posted is just a fraction of everything the government is up to.  Fowler has found a few nonpartisan tech tools he says “could empower us to keep politicians honest,” and which we offer to our readers today as a public service.

There is no single source to find all your representatives, he notes.  Start at myreps.datamade.us, created by a civic data firm in Chicago.  You type in your address and find your representatives in the national and state capitals, as well as some city representatives.  Even there, only about 50,000 of all 519,000 elected American officials are listed.

A site called Govtrack.us lets you “follow specific legislators in Washington to see their voting records.”  The site also sends email alerts on bills your representatives may sponsor.

Votesmart.org links issues to details about what specific politicians have said and done.  Another site, Washingtonwatch.com helps convert pieces of national legislation into the cost or savings for the average family.

Yet another site, Brigade.com, is working to turn politics into a social network, and is currently oriented toward elections.

And then of course there’s Facebook and Twitter, where you can follow as many of your representatives as choose to post their views on pages there.

Taken together, you can consider these sites your Civic Feed.  In today’s new digital democracy, these new sites and portals provide citizens with some of the basic data we all need to stay informed, hear a candidate’s own words and views, and decide on candidates whose views most align with ours – not to mention, the truth.

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Everyone at PSSI wishes you — our customers, partners, family and friends — a happy ending to 2016, and high hopes for a wonderful year ahead!

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Happy 2017 Everyone!

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May your Christmas be filled with family and good cheer.  Give thanks for your blessings, and never take them for granted.  

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Merry Christmas everyone from your friends at PSSI!

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A post that’s way obrian-in-snowff-topic today, but please indulge me.  It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing…

I’m a runner.  More of a jogger, actually.  Well… maybe a plodder.  Still, plodder that I am, permit me this small boast: Today, I lapped the planet.

I am nothing if not consistent, running four miles, four times a week, with nary a miss.  Once a month I bump a run up to 10K (6.2 miles), mostly just to prove I still can.  And I say plodder because my seven-minute miles of 30 years ago have melted away into a more laconic eleven-minute variety.

The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles, and that’s the lifetime distance I have ‘officially’ run as of today.  How do I know this?  Because ever since that first run in May, 1981, shortly after I turned 30, I have meticulously logged every single run I’ve ever done.   (And to think that my wife thinks that’s anal!)

Turns out I’ve slogged my way through 6,815 runs (but who’s counting?), over 426 months (not that I’d noticed), traversing by my count exactly 24,901 miles as of today.

Since my log includes ‘notable events,’ I also know that I’ve run in a lot of places.  I’ve run in St. Croix and Santa Rosa… in Cancun and Quebec… from Palm Springs, CA to Franconia, NH… from Boca Raton, FL to Bellevue, WA.  I’ve even run on the Pacific Ocean, or to be precise, on the Canadian/Alaskan Southeast Passage, doing laps on the deck of a cruise ship.

I’ve run in heat-indexes over 100 and wind chills of 40 below.  In rain, snow, ice, sleet, heat, sun, as well as many a lovely morning (those are the ones I prefer to remember.)  And yes, always in the morning.  Runners are funny about those things.

I try not to talk about my running too much.  It’s really a very solitary thing, this loneliness of the short distance runner.  My longest slog was a half marathon that I stitched together in 1993 by adding a 5K to the front end of a ten mile Hospice Walk fundraiser that I ran instead of walking.  I never ran another half-marathon again, and never had the desire to run a full one.  I just keep running.

Two years ago, I suffered the only injury that required I take off more than a week.  I’d switched shoes to a pair of those newfangled ones that force you to run on the balls of your feet, in a more forward position.  They made me faster all right, but they aggravated a latent planter fasciitis condition that forced me by dint of pain to quit running for three full weeks.  Twenty-one anxious days.

That hiatus brought crashing down a series of ‘streaks’ that I knew one day had to end: 1,465 consecutive weeks of at least one 4-miler… 281 consecutive months of at least one 10K… 27 straight years of at least 200 runs.  Not to be deterred, for three weeks I gleefully rode a bike along winding park trails and rolling countryside instead, a dozen or so miles four times a week.  I loved it.  But as soon as I could, I was back to pounding the pavement.  Runners gotta’ run, right?  I’m working on new streaks now.

But here’s the thing.  There is no particular significance to running the girth of the globe.  It just feels noteworthy.  I’m blessed and grateful even to be able to run for so long.  I do it for the health benefits of course, but also for the time I get to spend inside my own head… for the pride… and for the sense of accomplishment.  I do it to push myself, just to make sure I can.  I resist the temptation to ‘skip’ as in, “Hey it’s just one day…” because I know what a slippery slope that can be.  In that sense I suppose, running keeps me honest.  With myself.

Despite all that, there’s nothing here that’s finished.  Tomorrow morning, I’ll get up and go at it again.  I’ve learned in life that persistence matters.  A lot.  Or as my old Slovenian grandpa used to say in his halting English: “Take it slow, keep it go.”

I’ll be starting my second lap tomorrow.

 

 

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SJCEO_SBTribWe’ll veer way off-topic today, but for a good cause. 

Last year I had the privilege of being introduced to, and starting to work somewhat closely with, a terrific new venture in our area named St. Joe CEO.  They are the local affiliate (in St. Joseph County, Indiana where our firm is located) of a growing national program whose web tagline says it all: “CEO is the standard for entrepreneurial education in the United States.”

Locally, this is the inaugural CEO class, consisting of 23 carefully selected seniors from every high school in our county.  The goal is to prepare them not for just entrepreneurial opportunities, but in the larger sense, for managing their lives.  Students become immersed in real life learning opportunities that include plant tours, guest speakers, relevant reading assignments and class projects.

Right now, CEO student teams from committees that include finance, sponsor solicitation and marketing, among others, are planning a huge fundraiser to be held on February 25th in a giant hangar at the South Bend airport.  There, via attendance and auction – augmented by sponsor contributions (Platinum, Gold, Silver, and still available!) — the students plan to raise the funds that will help seed the creation of their own, real-life businesses.  At the same time, they’ll be promoting a local organization called “Ignite Michiana” by presenting student sponsored “Ted”-style talks that promote the accomplishments of area youth, to an expected audience of over 700.

As a longtime business owner and entrepreneur, I’ve personally taken a fast and deep interest in their efforts, and volunteer three mornings a week to help work with and teach the class.  The program director, Iris Hammel, is a hands-on, energetic leader who manages to pull all the pieces together in directing the efforts of the various student committees as they prepare for the big fund-raiser next month, and their subsequent real-life business start-ups.

But here’s the thing: In order to participate, besides the heavy work load, students must commit to attending a daily session that runs every morning before school from 7:30 to 9:00 AM… then, they head off to school.  Yet, as more than one has noted, the program has changed their life.  Most love the program so much – and the challenges it serves to them – that they wouldn’t think of missing a session.

Here’s the other thing: As an instructor/helper/mentor, it’s a terrifically engaging opportunity to give something back (to students yearning to learn to be business people and entrepreneurs), but also to get something in return – the satisfaction of the doing, and the learning, that comes of working with younger people.  In all cases – and this is why I’m writing about it and recommending such a path to others – what you get back is more than equal to what you give.

And that is my New Year’s Wish for you dear readers!  Learn more about St Joe CEO from a great recent article in The South Bend Tribune you should find here.

 

 

 

 

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