Blog Post #314 Gossip:

So  what about gossip?  

An online dictionary defined gossip as:  

  • Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature.
  • A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts.
  • Trivial, chatty talk or writing.

Many times gossip is malicious – some of the conversations are true, while some are not.  (that is rumors or just talk).

“Did you know that Cyndi is pregnant?” Might be a true statement.  Maybe Cyndi hasn’t wanted to share the news. Maybe Cyndi lost a baby to a miscarriage and wants to be farther along in her pregnancy with a few more checkups and verification of a valid pregnancy before sharing with friends and office coworkers.   

Maybe somebody should check with Cyndi before sharing that news.  

It seems like the rumor mill (gossip mill?) can go crazy with jobs.

“Do you know that Ryan is taking another job and moving to Oklahoma?”.  While it might be true that Ryan is looking for jobs and even doing some interviewing, do we know it is true?  What if management hears of this and was thinking of promoting Ryan to a higher position, but, hey, if Ryan is moving to Oklahoma – or even considering leaving the company maybe we don’t want him in that higher position.

Coaches are frequently targets of gossip.  “Did you know that Coach K from Duke is leaving and going to UCLA?  Yes, they made him a BIG offer that he couldn’t refuse.” Again, this may or may not be true.  But, if it is recruiting season and Coach K has some prime recruits looking at Duke, if they hear he is leaving, those recruits might pick another college.  

Of course, the rumor mill  / gossip mill could be right.  It seems like many deny the rumors / gossip one day and then two weeks later say “Yes, it was right”.  

Taking the Coach K rumor.  Maybe UCLA did call and talk to him.  My guess is that Coach K is very happy with the legacy he has at Duke and told UCLA that he wasn’t interested.  But somebody ‘heard’ him talking to UCLA. Or some person at UCLA ‘leaked’ that information in an attempt to lure him to UCLA.  Maybe Coach K had recently been the target of an NCAA investigation into players getting easy grades so they could stay eligible; or that NCAA was checking into the concept that some Duke players were being paid to play at Duke by wealthy alumni.  Maybe Coach K is “on the hot seat” and really is looking.

For me, I don’t particularly like gossip.  It can be malicious.

Malicious example:  I work in the same department as Tim.  For some reason I don’t like Tim – maybe he got promoted and I didn’t.  So, I start a false, malicious rumor about Tim. “Did you hear that Tim got called on the carpet for embezzling funds?” – or – “Did you hear that Tim has been sleeping with the boss” (either male or female). If not true, the intent is to discredit Tim and make him look bad.  

So, I tend to walk away from gossip.  

Part of this goes to the old adage “If you can’t say anything nice about a person, don’t say anything at all”.  I think it can be judgmental, it can hurt the person to talk behind his/her back.

What do you think?  Do you gossip? Do you listen and then drop it, or do you hear and pass it on?  

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #313 Artificial Intelligence in Retail:

We’ve been looking at AI – artificial intelligence.  Today, let’s look at retail sales – maybe not as exciting as autonomous cars.

CRM – Customer Relationship Management.  

As a form of AI, CRM is able to maps people to products.  First think Google searches. Google has our searches down.  When we search for something Google maps that into prior searches and finds connections.  It is said that Google knows more about me than I do.

Let’s say I start to look at cars.  Google (and Facebook) and others will start putting car ads on their pages that I visit.  As I click through the ads and start to identify particular makes and models, those social network pages start to narrow the ads as well.  Let’s say I am interesting in a BMW convertible. But I start looking at cars in general, then new cars, then new cars that are convertible.  Google makes money by selling ad space to retailers. And when the search narrows and gets more in focus, they can charge the retailers more for the ads.  

Personal:  A while back I was looking for a particular item.  One morning I spent several hours looking, checking out product reviews.  The ads followed me for months!!!

Some retailers are experimenting with robot assistants on the retail floor.  With some machine learning and well developed algorithms they can be more valuable than humans.  For example, let’s say a woman is looking for lingerie – but the only person around is a man and she feels funny asking him for a bra fitting.  The robot will be anonymous enough to ask for various dimensions, styles, colors, events and options. It should also be smart enough to bring an appropriate woman to help with the bra fitting.  

Recently the political arena was surprised that such AI topics could be used in elections.  By tailoring political ads to the consumer’s interest, their candidate could gain votes. Maybe I’m an anti-gun activist (which generally points to Democrats), but also an anti-abortion person (which generally points to Republicans).  Could ads from Democrats show pro-life Democratic candidates that want gun control? Could Republican ads show anti-gun and pro-life Republican candidates? Could the ads subtly change my point of view?

It is said that with a reasonable margin of error, data analytics in retail can point to the next time we will go car shopping.  And … they can point to which vehicles might be more attractive to us. Are you a soccer mom? Are you a retired professor? There are cars that just might appeals to us and the data can be stacked against us.

What do you think?  

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #312 Simple Artificial Intelligence Part II

Yesterday we looked at some of the parts of AI: machine learning, robotics, expert systems.  Today let’s look at natural language processing and massive data analytics.

Let’s look at each:

Natural Language Processing:  For years interpreters have had the job of taking one language and changing it into another – including sign language. Or spoken language into written language (like closed captioned TV).  The old joke is that a translator was translating a Biblical statement from English into Russian. The statement was “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. (Matthew 26:41). The translator had a hard time with that as the ending translation (in English) was something like “The vodka is very good, but the meat is undercooked”. (Vodka = spirit; meat = flesh).

So, let’s think about it.  Some words in English have multiple meanings – like I like to run; and I am running for office.  In the example ‘spirit’ could mean the human spirit – or a liquid spirit. In terms of spirit, it could mean the Holy Spirit or a evil spirit / ghost.

Maybe while sipping a vodka drink I could say “This is a nice spirit”; and maybe as I am replying to a comment say “That has a nice spirit to it”.  

How could a computer know which ‘spirit’ to use?  Humans read into their interpretations by the context.  What is being said here? Language translators (humans) can tell by the spoken word the context and can make the adjustment in the second language.  Natural language processing is much more than just translating, but the concepts are similar. “What is being said here”.

An extension of natural language processing is in computing.  If you have done databases with SQL (structured query languages) you know that the structure has to be pretty well defined “List all * from database 1 where last_name is equal to “Smith”.  Natural language processing always more flexibility. Your Siri and Amazon Echo products are building on Natural Language processing.

A final AI topic for this blog today is massive data analytics.  Think of analyzing (all that is ALL) of the data from cancer studies, tests and trials.  Think of all the possible moves in a chess game. Being able to analyze and synthesize large amounts of data quickly.

Now think of autonomous vehicles (that is ‘self-driving cars’).  Taking all the inputs from all the traffic, road signs (speed limits, stop lights, yield), driveways, people and more and steering the car through them.  Now that is massive data crunching!!!

What do you think?  

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #311 Simple Artificial Intelligence

I’m excited (and scared) about artificial intelligence.  Loosely to me that means machine learning, robotics, expert systems, natural language processing and massive data analytics.

Let’s look at each:

Machine learning:  Learning is very human.  As kids we touched the stove and found out it was hot.  We learned not to touch the stove. We also learned not to put our tongue on metal poles in the winter in the north as it could stick to it!!!  Having computers ‘learn’ is an interesting concept. The stove is not always hot; the metal pole is not always cold. How do we (humans) determine whether it is the wrong season or wrong time to touch the stove or pole?  

So, getting computers to reason – something like:  “My sensors tell me that the stove is hot; therefore do not touch it”.  Now some things need more analysis. A particular stock is going down in price / value – is it time to sell it?  Even financial analysts have trouble on that. More data is needed – is the company having a hard time? Has the company made some changes that will put it back up in price?  Are tariffs and governmental policies going to help or hinder this particular company and it’s stock price? The great stock brokers / analysts put research into the matter – and that helps determine that (a) this is good time to sell; or (b) with the price down, this is a good time to buy!!

Robotics:  What a great time for robotics – and only going to get better.  With computer vision (and artificial intelligence) robots are building cars, sorting packages and doing a bunch of mundane things that might not be very exciting for humans.  Most (all?) car manufacturers are using robots to assemble cars – to weld and to create a better car than humans. Will we have R2D2 and C3PO robots soon? Not sure – but someday that will happen.

Expert Systems:  Trying to put the expertise of a human expert into machine form.  I was just in my garden before doing my blog. I was looking at my tomato plants.  Would an expert put on more fertilizer now? Would an expert suggest staking the plants?  Would an expert see the small bugs on a plant and suggest ways to solve that problem?

For my dissertation I did an expert system on advising undergraduate students.  It was a pretty good attempt. I wish I would have stayed with that line of research!!  I could have been a leader in AI / Expert systems!!

More on AI tomorrow!!

What do you think?  

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #310 Things beyond our control – Part II

As mentioned before after my surgeries of last year that I suffered some depression.  While my primary care physician has prescribed medications, she also requested a meeting for me with a social worker / counselor.

I don’t talk about mental health issues frequently (or … maybe not at all).  Attitude and mental soundness are important, but there are times that a person needs somebody to talk to / talk with.  That might be a counselor / social worker as in the case for tomorrow’s appointment. It might be a close friend (non-judgmental), minister, priest, rabbi or other.  I have a friend who is in spiritual direction and another who is a social worker / counselor. For this experience I wanted a new person. Counseling can help a person get back on track, to find hidden flaws and help correct them, and to ease the burden.  

In some respects my recent completion of a Stephen Ministry training course (and commissioning as a Stephen Minister) also fits the role of a counselor.  

It is intended to be a non-judgmental, but Christian ministry experience – one on one with the person.  Although I have not been assigned a person, I am eager (and somewhat scared) to start the process. I consider myself an encourager and motivator.  With the Stephen Ministry I can help a person by listening to them. I am not to solve their problems, but to discuss their problems.

Maybe I need a Stephen Minister for my situation.  I hope to both benefit from my counseling session tomorrow and to be to apply the concepts in my own ministry!!

 

What do you think?  

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #309 Things beyond our control (maybe)

Blog Post #309 Things beyond our control (maybe)

Some time back, I was just listless – lacking energy, getting tired easy.  I was trying to get my exercise (generally walking in), but it was taking longer and not as much fun to do.  (I generally take my phone and audiobooks when I walk – and track my walk with “Map My Walk” app on my phone).  

My wife was talking to a friend who suggested “I bet he has vitamin D deficiency”.  I called my primary care physician and set up an appointment. She indicated that I should do a blood test before coming in.

The blood test showed I was deficient in Vitamin D.  I added that to my diet and got more energy. Vitamin D is sometimes called the ‘sunshine’ vitamin because sunlight does give vitamin D.  With my walking I was surprised to have the deficiency. But, with it still being spring, not much of my body was subject to sunlight, so maybe I just wasn’t getting enough.

SO – something beyond my control – that came into my control with the doctor’s assistance.

Plus, after my surgeries last year, I was depressed.  The doctor indicated that was generally normal (especially for men – with recent retirements – thinking that their lives were pretty much worthless).  She prescribed an extra dose of the depression medicine I had been on. That also was beyond my control – but with the doctor’s help came into my control.

What I’m trying to say, the body is a unique thing.  Minute traces of vitamins and minerals can make a difference in one’s health.  

In similar fashion, the Irish potato crop failed and many died.  The potatoes died due to a fungus that was beyond the peasants control – but with science it was in their control.

And also, pineapples in Hawaii started to die, but with science a trace mineral saved the day for pineapples.

So … things outside our control can be brought under control with wise counsel and with science.

So, if you have been done and depressed for a while, see a doctor – it might not be a bad attitude, it might be a lack of vitamins and minerals (or a poor diet).

 

What do you think?  

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #308 Smiles

Here are some quotes about smiling:

Dr Seuss:  “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Mother Teresa: “Peace begins with a smile..”

Roy Bennett: “More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.”

Roy Bennett: “Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”

I was in a service club (Kiwanis) and at the end of our luncheons we sang:

Smile and the World smiles with you; sing a song;

Don’t be weary just be cheery all day long

When ever your trials, you troubles and your cares

Seem to be more than you can really bear

Just smile and the world smiles with you, sing a song.

I was just reading an article about frowning – and how that takes both you and the other person down.  Be upbeat, smile. The old 1950’s song “Let a smile be your umbrella on a rainy day” (Perry Como) is true.  That song has lyrics of “A smile will bring the sunshine and you’ll never get wet”

It is all about attitude – smile, be happy – OR – frown and be sad

 

What do you think?  

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #307 Carrying a grudge Part III

Do you have something against somebody?  Do you carry a grudge? Today I tell a story about carrying a grudge too many years.

Forty years ago our daughter was born!!  It was a standard birth, good healthy girl, good maternal care, good delivery – and NO insurance!!!

I was teaching high school in Keokuk Iowa and as I’ve mentioned before we ran out of money before we ran out of month (as I got paid monthly).  Somehow to economize, I had changed our health insurance to a cheaper version. While I don’t remember the conversation, seemingly the insurance agent had asked if we were going to have more children (after the birth of our son two years prior).  Maybe I misunderstood as if my wife was pregnant now (which she wasn’t when we changed the insurance). So after the birth, I submitted the bills to the insurance agent – who informed me that child birth was NOT covered in our policy!! I was dismayed (maybe not quite irate)!!  As a young couple who loved our first child and who (at least to ourselves) had planned for more children – of course we were going to have more children. The agent patiently said “No, you are not covered. You changed your plan and your coverage and that is not covered.” I was mad at the agent (and, of course mad at myself – even though I couldn’t remember making that change).  

Fortunately friends helped us pay for the delivery and financially it came out okay, but I harbored a grudge against my insurance agent for failing to make this clear to me – for years – even after leaving Keokuk.  

But, a few years ago, I went back over some grudges I had carried and carefully dismissed this one (and others).  What was done could not be undone. While I maybe was upset, the agent wasn’t. I seemingly had picked this cheaper coverage.  Even with miscommunication possibilities, I was wrong – I should have read the small print.

I prayed for forgiveness and I prayed for the insurance agent and agency.  

Folks, life is too short; we all make mistakes – and I make a lot of mistakes.  Learning to forgive myself is something the hardest.

 

What do you think?  

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #306 Carrying a grudge Part II

Do you have something against somebody?  Do you carry a grudge?

Psychologists tell us that having a grudge can really affect us – we start to dislike the other persons involved in the situation.  “If that person is in charge, I’m going the other way!!” Our body language can be affected, we can be ‘stiff’ or ‘formal’ to the other person.

The Bible has this about grudges (Matthew 5:23) “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

This suggests we are to be reconciled to the person – make-up.  This implies that they have something against you – but “go and be reconciled” anyway.

I have a friend whose father was an alcoholic and (as I understand it) wanted a boy but got a girl.  He rarely complimented her growing up and his alcoholism hurt his communication with her.

She eventually had to come to terms with him.  She had to forgive him – even though he had been nasty to her.  

I’ve seen people who have been separated from their family for some reason.  Maybe the son was gay and the parents were opposed to homosexuality. Maybe the son became a drug abuser; maybe the ‘son’ become a ‘daughter’ by being transgender.  Whatever the reason, at some point the parties need to make up.

Maybe the son or daughter need to forgive the parents and even if the parents do not forgive the child back, at least it gets off the back of the one who was grieved.  I’ve also seen people on their death bed who have forgiven those in their lives that they had something against them.

The general concept is to get over it, forgive and forget.  At least get to peace for yourself – and move on. If they accept and forgive you – great; and if they continue to harbor the grudge, that becomes their problem not yours.

What’s done cannot be undone.  But, with forgiveness and facing the situation in an adult manner, reconciliation can happen.

What do you think?  

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #305 Carrying a Grudge

Carrying a grudge

Do you have something against somebody?  Do you carry a grudge?

A grudge is: “: a feeling of deep-seated resentment or ill will:

Maybe something like “Five years ago I should have been named Dean of the College of Business, but somehow they named Susan Wright as the dean.  

“I bet it was only politics and they wanted to look politically correct to have picked a woman as the dean.  It wasn’t fair. I had been the associate dean for six years, I had been at that university for twenty years, I had ‘worked my way up’, I was a team player, I knew the people, I knew the finances, I was involved with AACSB and went to the AACSB conferences on accreditation, I did most of the work on the last AACSB accreditation visit plus all the work on the curriculum changes that NEASC asked for.  I should have been dean. She is petty and hard to deal with. I think she has permanent PMS”

Or “I should have gotten an “A” in that class.  I did all the work – on time and expertly. Yes, I know the professor is required to have no higher than four A’s in a class of that size, but she should have made an exception in my case.  I’m as good if not better than the other four that did get the A grades.”

“That person cheated me”

“They went over my head and got me fired”

And more in that vein.

The situation may or may not be as the person thought.  Maybe the Academic Vice President wanted Susan Wright over me because I can be petty (like carrying a grudge).  Maybe the committee was split in the decision – and maybe the aspect of having a female dean did help Susan Wright get the position.

Guess what, the only person who feels this is YOU (that is, the person carrying the grudge.  How ever the situation happened – no one cares anymore about it. It was five years ago. Get over it!!

Psychology Today has this:

“The problem with grudges, besides the fact that they are a drag to carry around (like a bag of sedimentized toxic waste that keeps us stuck in anger) is that they don’t serve the purpose that they are there to serve. They don’t make us feel better or heal our hurt. At the end of the day, we end up as proud owners of our grudges but still without the experience of comfort that we ultimately crave, that we have craved since the original wounding. We turn our grudge into an object and hold it out at arm’s length—proof of what we have suffered, a badge of honor, a way to remind others and ourselves of our pain and deservingness. But in fact our grudge is disconnected from our own heart; while born out of our pain, it becomes a construction of the mind, a story of what happened to us. Our grudge morphs into a boulder that blocks the light of kindness from reaching our heart, and thus is an obstacle to true healing. Sadly, in its effort to garner us empathy, our grudge ends up depriving us of the very empathy that we need to release it.

It is like the grief I have written about in the past few days.  Eventually you have to get to acceptance.

I know people who currently are carrying grudges related to the last Presidential election “It was unfair.  My candidate should have won”. Guess what, that is now two years ago – get over it (and get ready to vote in the mid session elections in November and in the next Presidential election in 2020).  

What’s done cannot be undone.  (Although in the past some have decided they CAN undo something by assassinating the President.  Thank goodness that hasn’t happened since President Kennedy was killed in 1963!

Tomorrow we will look at ways to get over the grudge and get back to psychic happiness!!!

What do you think?  

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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