Friday, October 25, 2013

Happy Dance Time

Ok, is it time to do a happy dance around the kitchen?

It just hit me that my book, "The Awakening" was released 52 days ago. The last 42 days straight, the book has stayed in the Top 25 of Amazon Kindle Top 100 Paid list. Out of 73 reviews, 19 are four star and 40 are FIVE star reviews, with a total 4.2 out of 5 star average.

"One of the best in the genre"
"this book is so close 2 reality that it gives me goose bumps"
"one scary-assed book!"
"A Must Read"
"Love it"
"want more!"
"Teaches and Entertains"

Oh, yeah my latest interview: http://ekkomysteries.blogspot.com/2013/10/v-behaviorurldefaultvmlo.html

Also, I have an upcoming pre-recorded interview being released next Wednesday - I will post that podcast when it is live, and I have been asked to do an interview with the largest survival/SHTF podcast in the world - 1M downloads a day - that will be recorded first week of December...

Not wanting to toot my own horn, but HELL YEAH!!!

You can find the book at Amazon by clicking: http://ow.ly/q57PN

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A challenge to all 8th District of Ohio Republican candidates


I had this crazy idea yesterday. One that would take a lot of my time, but in my opinion be worth it. I want to support all of the Republican candidates running against John Boehner by offering them a way to get their message out, free of charge, through an online debate. Why? Well, to be honest, for me, the eighth district of Ohio political arena is one of great interest, simply for three reasons. First, I grew up in the eighth district. Second, I still have family and friends who still live in that district. Last but definitely not least, there is a very high possibility of seeing John Boehner voted out of office next year and kicked to the curb. This next election could be a knockdown, drag-out fight for John Boehner, because there are already four republican candidates who have already completed the legal legwork and have announced that they are running. I mean, seriously, we are still two months away from 2014 even starting and these candidates are doing meet and greets, shaking hands, and kissing babies.

Therefore, I think it is my responsibility to help provide the citizens of the eighth district of Ohio with a way to get to know their candidates. Since they already know John Boehner and he has his massive campaign trunk overflowing with donations, I am not inviting him to the party. My idea for an online debate is just for the underdogs. The four non-multi-millionaires, who are just common hardworking blue and or white collar Americans. They are just four different men who appear extremely fed up with Washington politics, their representative, and are now going, if he cannot represent the voters—I will!

As a result, last night I sat down and wrote the ground rules for the debate, which I am providing below in this article. I also started reaching out to each candidate through Twitter, asking them to respond to a request for debate— I will also reach out to them via Facebook, email, and if their websites have a phone number, I will call them directly. Amazingly, I immediately got a response from Matthew Trisler, so all I need is for one more of the candidates to say yes, and this debate will go up in a few days.

Now, I need to say a few things on a personal level. I want to do this because I think John Boehner has let down all American citizens on multiple occasions. This will be excellent marketing exposure for all the underdog candidates. It will provide the readers with a chance to get to know their options on Election Day. In addition, it is something that other media outlets have not yet offered to provide to their consumers. Finally, I need to say this as well, if I do not hear a response from any of the other three candidates, I will throw all of the weight of my social media skills into supporting the one that replied a yes. Why? For the very fact that he is willing to answer six to ten questions that I think people of the eighth district of Ohio want to hear about.

Here are the ground rules and introduction to the debate:

The reason that I am holding these interviews with you and your fellow competitors for the 8th district congress seat is that I feel it is vitally important that the voters of the 8th district of Ohio get all the opportunities possible to hear from the Republican candidates running against John Boehner.
Here are the ground rules for this online debate.

  1. All questions listed below are the same for all candidates who are willing to respond.
  2. There will be a two-day response time limit if you agree to do this interview/online debate. The reason for only a two-day response time is in a natural live debate you would be responding instantaneously to the other candidate’s responses. It is understood, that all of you are extremely busy and thus instead of a shorter time frame such as 24 hours, two-days was chosen.
  3. Please fill out your response to every question asked.
    1. Lack of a response will automatically have – Candidate refused to answer question.
    2. You are responsible for all grammar and spelling – you answers will not be corrected or edited in any way, so please have a proof-reader look at your responses and make sure Word has spelling and grammar check turned on.
  4. Once everyone has returned their responses, the answers will be compiled into one document. At which time, the document will be sent back out to each candidate. At that time, you will have the opportunity to respond to any comments from the other candidates.
    1. If you do not have a response to another candidate – it will be noted in the final draft: Candidate 1 did not have any follow on statement for Candidate 2.
    2. If you do not meet the deadline for returning the responses – it will be noted in the final draft: Candidate 1 did not have any follow on statements for Candidate 2. In addition, you will not have the opportunity to further comment in the debate for any other questions. It is vital that we keep a schedule for this debate, so please respond in the required time format.
  5. Once the second round of responses have been received, the answers will be compiled into one document again. At which time, the document will be sent out for a final time. This time, you will only respond directly to any comment by another Candidate directly to you. An example the debate format will be as follows:
    1. Question 1: What do you think of … 
    2. Candidate 1: I believe that…
    3. Candidate 2’s response to Candidate 1: While Candidate 1 thinks… …I believe that….
    4. Candidate 3’s response to Candidate 1: Candidate 1 is completely wrong in his thoughts and this is why… Now, I believe…. 
    5. Candidate 1’s response to Candidate 2: Unfortunately, Candidate 2’s thoughts about how to handle…. 
    6. Candidate 1’s response to Candidate 3: Candidate 3’s plan has some merit, especially with… unfortunately, though….

‘Once the document has been completed – I will send each of you a copy in PDF for your own press releases and websites. I will also be posting this on several blogs and zines on the internet. Again, I want to thank you for your commitment to our country you are willing to make to better our government. I wish you all the best of luck and again thank you for your time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Reply to Reuter’s article and Mr. Lange…

For the first time that I can remember, I am completely blown away by an article on Reuters.com and not in a good way.  Typically, I prefer Reuters as a news source over the likes of the typical liberal Main Stream Media (MSM) news sites or for that matter the conservative sites like Fox, Independent Journal Review, or Red State.  The article, “Analysis: Little evidence yet that Obamacare costing full-time jobs” found  seems to be completely over the top “follow along” with what the administration reporting.

I know that last statement is a little harsh but let us face the facts it is true.  

Being a small business owner myself, talking with other small and medium sized business owners, along with following multiple news sites from both sides of the fence, I find that the author of the article really looked at more than a press release from White House Council of Economic Advisers and the liberal supporting Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  I am not in any way a properly trained journalist, but I know how to use Google and how to read, so shall we see what we can find?

With a few keystrokes into Google, we can find that there are lists and lists of companies that have publically announced changes in their benefit policies, reducing work force, or is changing their hiring practices based solely on the new healthcare law.

Living in Georgia, I will start with two locally headquartered Fortune 500 companies that has been in the news here, as well as on most national news networks.  First up, Home Depot, on September 19, 2013, Bloomberg reported that the world’s largest home improvement retailer was changing their benefits program, effectively shutting off the health insurance program and shuffling 20,000 workers off onto the Obamacare platform.  The second Fortune 500 company, is of course UPS, one of the world’s largest logistic companies announced on August 21, 2013, that they will be removing 15,000 white collar worker’s spouses from their healthcare plans provided the spouse can get insurance elsewhere, according to a bizjournals.com news article. 

Let me see, unlike the fuzzy math often found in DC, I think just these two companies equate to 35,000 affected Americans.  Am I right?  Let’s see: 15,000 plus 20,000 is 35,000.  Amazing, that is more than the number of successful enrollments on the Obamacare web site since the launch of the website filled with “kinks.”  Maybe the 30,000 were all from UPS or Home Depot?

Now typing in a few most search terms, I find that among the growing list of companies directly affected by Obamacare, we have Darden Restaurants, the parent company of such chains as Red Lobster and Olive Garden.  The Orlando Sentinel reported on October 21, 2013, that the due to the changes in healthcare laws, aka Obamacare, the 1,000 workers that Darden Restaurants had previously provided healthcare to even though the workers were part time employees, the company would no longer be allowed to, and thus another 1,000 American’s would be forced to find their own insurance. Also, we can find with an additional search, John Schnatter, the CEO of Papa John’s has made several public statements that Obamacare will cost consumers as his franchisees are forced to provide health insurance or face fines.  Finally, one more quick search on Google, and I find another outspoken CEO against the Affordable Healthcare Act has been Whole Food CEO John Mackey, who actually compared Obamacare to “fascism.”

So with just a little bit of Google searching and having the ability to read and think independently on my own, shows the complete opposite of what the author of the Reuters article is claiming.  Truly, I wonder which one of us is right?  I would like challenge the author of the Reuters article to do a little research on his own.  I am sure that the CEO’s that I mentioned would take a press call from him, after all he does work for Reuters, where as if I called them, I wouldn’t get past the gatekeeper.  Up for the challenge, Mr. Lange? 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Simple Challenge

Our society is sometimes simply shocking to me.  I just watched a YouTube video where a man was soliciting people on a sidewalk with a fake petition to remove our Bill of Rights, several of which without hesitation signed the fake petition.  I am sure many of you have seen this video as it has had over 380,000 views.  What I find alarming is the simple fact that so many of us are lacking knowledge or even the simple understanding of how things work in our country and government.  I know I just used the word “things” in that last sentence, but honestly, it fits this situation.  Things, small to large, from how the Electoral College actually elects the president and vice president, not the votes you and I cast during the general election; to how the Federal Reserve, which is not a government agency, sets economic policies that can directly impact our country and even the world’s marketplace, to simply reciting all the presidents of the United States.

It amazes me that we, as citizens of the United States, have such a lack of understanding for the basic operations of the nation under which we live.  I honestly can’t say if it is because technology has made us have shorter attention spans or if there is a large percentage of the population that just don’t care as long as they have access to their Starbucks, iPhone, and McDonalds seven days a week.

I remember a long time ago that I had to learn where all the fifty states were on the map of the United States of America.  I remember that I was complaining to my parents about it, which honestly, was a big mistake considering they were both professional educators.  I can still remember the conversation with my dad that happened more than twenty-five years ago, where he said, “you are lucky, you only have to learn where the fifty states are on a map.”  When I inquired why, he said, “well, son, when I was in school, we had to remember a lot more, such as The Gettysburg Address, and name all the presidents starting with George Washington.”  I should have known immediately that I was being setup by my father, because I responded with, “yeah, but can you still repeat them?”  And of course, he stood there, starting with George Washington, and counting off the presidents until he got to the current leader, which I think was either Carter or Reagan, then without pause started off with those so famous and eloquent words, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation.”

Today, I know that I could not repeat all the presidents from George Washington to our current president, nor could I rattle off the Gettysburg Address, which only took President Lincoln two minutes to deliver on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863.  Yet, as I write this article, I took a break for a few minutes to call my father asking him if he, at age 75 could still recite all forty-four presidents.  He laughed when I explained why I wanted to know, and then proceeded to run backwards while I was looking at the list on Wikipedia.  It is amazes me that it has been more than 60 years since he had to sit down as a student to memorize them, yet he only missed three.

The question we need to ask ourselves is how do we educate our society?  I whole-heartedly believe that if the general population of the United States had a better awareness on how “things” worked within our government, we, as a nation would be in such a better place, economically and figuratively speaking.  Does this effort to provide better insight and understanding start in our schools, or do we work at creating more awareness now before it is potentially too late for us as a nation?  That is the real question, so as you sit down tonight, instead of grabbing the iPad or your cell phone when eating dinner with your children, I want to challenge you to instead, start a simple conversation with your kids.  See what they know, see how much you know, perhaps we can all start together to bring back what has been apparently lost.

Monday, October 21, 2013

U.S. Shovels Ready... cause Healthcare.gov is a pile of horse manure

I have been in the information technology arena for eighteen years, eleven of those in some type of executive management position, and the last eight years as the founder and chief executive officer of an information technology-consulting firm based in Atlanta, GA.  During these last eight years, we have led multiple large-scale projects – everything from designing an intranet for a Top 100 asset management firm, to migrating an entire data center onto new equipment for a large food distributor, to redesigning a Microsoft Exchange global clustered environment holding several terabytes of email. 

So where am I going with this, or am I just bragging about the work my company has done over the years?  No, absolutely not; I wanted to lay the foundation of my professional experience, so that as I start discussing the Affordable Healthcare web site, you can understand that I fully comprehend the processes involved in a software development life-cycle.

Let me first travel back in history some.  In 2008, President Obama started claiming he was ready to kick-start new U.S.-based jobs.  In fact, one of his campaign promises during 2007, was to bring jobs back to America.  In addition, during the first two years of his presidency, while his party held complete control of two of the three legislative branches, he signed one of the largest and most controversial pieces of legislation into law.  If you have a heartbeat, you know the law that I speak of is the Affordable Healthcare Act—affectionately known Obamacare.

Now, I am not going to harp on whether we should defund it, or not.  I am sure there will be future entries on my thoughts about that. Instead, I want to discuss the website in general from a technical prospective.  

A website that has been having “kinks” as Obama called them in a speech today (10.21.2013). Kinks? Did I really hear him call the issues kinks?  Ok, let us be completely honest here, they are not kinks, Mr. President, they are design flaws, major design flaws.  How bad are the design flaws?  In a recent USAToday.com article, several technology experts claimed that the site is using Web 1.0 technologies in a Web 2.0 world.  In laymen terms, this means that the firm awarded the contract that designed the site, used ten year old development languages to complete the work.  To fix or repair the code, will require several months of redesigning and re-programming of the code in newer technologies and languages.  

What is scarier is the fact that according to a Washington Examiner news article, the website did not go through a quality assurance test until a week before the launch.  Now, I have worked on several large-scale development projects, and as module of code come in from development, the modules should immediately go through an extensive quality assurance-testing phase, if any errors found within the code of the module, the whole or part of the module are kicked back to the development team.  When this happens, the project managers involved will not check this module off as complete or release ready.  I have to wonder, what was this software development company thinking waiting until the last minute to test such a large application?  Folks we are not talking about a simple website like www.michaelkayebooks.com, we are talking something as large and complicated as Google’s search engine, or Facebook’s website.

Another item that I am having a hard time grasping as a professional in this industry is the lack of project management on both sides—the development company and the department from the government responsible for the website.  There should have been project managers—certified Project Management Professionals (PMP)® from the Project Management Institute—on both sides of the fence keeping control of the project’s scope agreement.  A comprehensive scope of work would have bill of materials, statement of work, the work order, and the actual contract.  This will be as detailed as possible in regards to every feature function and requirement of the site.  The project managers on both sides guard these scope agreements, so scope creep does not occur in a project.  A scope creep can result from poor change control, lack of proper identification of requirements and objectives, weak project management, and poor communications between both parties.
 
How do we know there was a ton of creep within the three-plus years of development time?  Let’s just look at the costs to build the site.  A Canadian firm, CGI Federal, was awarded the contract to build the healthcare web site for $55.7 million, according to a recent Reuter’s article, over the course of the three years that it took to develop the site, the contract for CGI Federal is no valued at $292 million.  That is 5 times more than the initial contract award.

Now, think about this:
  • ·         The site was built with 10 year old code
  • ·         The site was not tested until the week prior to going live
  • ·         The project went 5 times over budget
  • ·         We will be spending even more tax money to resolve President Obama’s “kinks” in his website.


However, most importantly, I thought President Obama wanted to create more jobs for America.  Let me ask, why was this multi-million dollar contract awarded to obviously an incompetent company from Canada, instead of a firm based here in the good old U.S. of A?  

Oh, yeah, I forgot, the jobs Obama promised were “shovel ready,” not high quality technology jobs America needs most. Then again, maybe President Obama is creating "shovel ready jobs", cause this website is one giant pile of horse manure and it will definitely take a lot of shovels to fix the mess.  

Quick thoughts on the economy

Every day in America, we hear constant debate from our leadership about fiscal policies— one side wants to spend more, the other side wants to rein in spending.  Our debt has grown year after year from one party’s president to the next.  In fact, over the last fifty years, there have been only six years when the U.S. had a balanced budget.  Right now, the U.S. debt is currently at $17 trillion.  That is just the operating debt, in fact, the U.S. actually has an additional $80 trillion of unfunded liabilities.  While over the next ten years, these unfunded liabilities will continue to grow an additional $110 trillion.  At this moment the U.S. debt is greater than any other country, in fact, if you combine all the debt of the European Union, the U.S. debt is still greater.  

The question that should be on everyone’s mind is how much farther we can keep kicking the proverbial can down the road before it hits the brick wall.  Think about this at $190 trillion in total debt, a newborn baby in 2023 will owe a staggering $575,758 .  Personally, I cannot see how the U.S. dollar does not collapse within the next ten years if not sooner, let me explain why.

The U.S. gets away with having more debt than anyone else is simply because the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency.  Being the world’s reserve currency has its privileges.  No other country can run up a bar tab like us and not have an economic collapse.  Having the status of being the world’s reserve currency means that the global economic market prices their goods in U.S. dollars, countries buying and selling must trade in our currency a large percentage of the time, this causes the dollar to have demand and thus a value.  Most American’s think we will always be the world’s reserve currency, however if you ask many economic experts today, most will hint that we are facing large challenges.  The largest is from China; they are slowly gaining traction to replace the US dollar with their own.  Currently, China has established 37 currency swap deals that use their currency instead of the U.S. dollar.  The following is the third paragraph from a recent article on Reuters about the new China/EU swap deal:

"The deal is the latest of a string of currency swamps that China has created with other nations to promote usage of the yuan in global commercial and financial transactions, with the ultimate goal of rivaling the dollar as a reserve currency"

Let me leave you with this, what do you think would happen to the U.S. dollar if tomorrow, it was announced that the U.S. dollar would no longer be used as the world reserve currency?  The answer is, it would lose valuation, extremely fast and here in the U.S., we would see something called hyperinflation.  Hyperinflation is when the general price of goods in an economy increases rapidly as the currency quickly loses real value.  This happened in Argentina and Russia and it will happen in the U.S.