Baby Think

May 29th, 2015 by Nick Jacobs No comments »

What do babies understand and how do they think? In a 2011 TED talk that I recently watched by Dr. Alison Gopnik, she hypothesized that broccoli may be the secret to finding out just how babies think.

The study leaders gave the 15 and 18 month old babies a bowl of raw broccoli and a bowl of goldfish crackers. When the adults study coordinators pretended to love the broccoli and then asked the babies for food, the result was somewhat amazing, and this is where the fun comes into this equation.

The 15 month old babies handed out only the goldfish crackers because they just couldn’t believe that anyone would actually like that broccoli. They stared in disbelief when the adults made a positive fuss over the broccoli and had clearly decided that everyone loves goldfish crackers.  

The 18 month old babies might have had trouble comprehending why anyone actually liked the raw broccoli, but if the adult pretended to like it, that’s exactly the food that the baby would give them. If, on the other hand, the adult made a positive fuss over the goldfish crackers, the babies responded accordingly. They gave the adults whichever food they pretended to like.

This experiment demonstrated that the older babies had actually figured out that, not only did people like different things, but also that, if they wanted to please these adults, they should give them what they loved. Just thinking about the sophistication of that decision making should make your adult heads spin just a little becuase I’ve known several adults who have not progressed that far in their thinking.

The question is how do babies learn so much in such a short amount of time? It turns out that there is a direct relationship between how long a childhood any particular member of any species has that is directly related to how big their brains are. For example, as Dr. Gopnik pointed out, crows are very smart while chickens are not. Baby crows depend on their mothers to feed them for up to two years while baby chickens are usually independent within a couple of months. Dr Gopnik’s talk indicated that this may be the reason why crows are incredibly smart and chickens “end up in the soup pot.”

Some animals are great at doing only one thing while others are phenomenal at multi-tasking. Because human beings have bigger brains in relation to their bodies than any other species, we’re smarter, we can learn more, but we’re much more dependent as children than any other species.

The way that evolution seems to have solved this problem is that we have a lot of baby time to do our research and development. Babies’ brains seem to be the most powerful scientific computers in this world. Babies are actually making complicated theoretical decisions based on the scientific method using conditional probability measures on a routine basis.

As it turns out, four year olds are much better at finding unlikely answers to questions than adults might be. When children experiment we call it “getting into everything,” but when you ask a kid to explain something, they actually employ scientific hypothesis.  

While adults usually decide that something is relevant and then typically focus on only that element, babies and children find answers through their open mindedness.   They can take in lots of information from lots of locations at once. This demonstrates exceptional neuroplasticity.   (Which is why creative people may be more childlike in their thinking as well.)

Dr. Gopnik ended by saying that coffee mimics the effect of a baby’s way of thinking.   “Being a baby is like falling in love in Paris for the first time after having three double espressos,” but she went on to say that this type of living might also contribute to waking up and crying at three in the morning!

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Memorial Day and the Girls

May 25th, 2015 by Nick Jacobs No comments »

My son and his wife were leaving for her best friend’s wedding.  This gala weeklong event was to be held on some island in the Caribbean. The funny part about that is that, when I was his age, a wedding on an island might have been Neville Island by a Gulf Oil storage tank, not the Grand Caiman Islands.  And the trip there would have been in a used Chevy.

Because I was designated as the babysitter du jour, I picked up the Pittsburgh girls to take them to Johnstown, to hang with their cousins.  It would be another city cousins meet country cousins for Memorial Day week-end event. They would go from their comfortable, pet less, Pittsburgh home with its 3D television, American Girl dolls, and comfortable fenced in backyard to their cousins’ home, the Ponderosa.  There they would play on a trampoline, a swing set, and ten wooded acres of magnificent trails and craziness with two giant dogs and a dozen other little kids.  Oh, yes, and they would swim in the new pool and eat all of their favorite picnic foods while waiting to see the fireworks.

The first thing that we had to do, though, was to go shopping at their local Target department store. I bought a masculine looking gardener’s kneeling pad (no pretty flowers or goofy butterflies), a bucket, a manly trowel, a dirt digger-handheld little rake kind of thing, and some man-sized gardening gloves, a.k.a., Macho Gardening!

When you live in a city condo without even a balcony, gardening tools are not a necessity.  My current collection of condo tools consists of two screwdrivers (one of each kind), a crescent wrench, a roll of duct tape, pliers, and a hammer. In fact, when my grandson asked me about my tool box, I told him that it was very small and black.  He raised his brows in consternation until I reached in my back pocket and showed him my wallet.

Anyway, back to the tool purchase.  When we got to the checkout counter, I felt tangible sticker shock.  These four little, stupid things cost over $50, and the real tragedy of this purchase is that they would not be used again until next Memorial Day.  The $50 did not represent the entire purchase, though, because, while we were there, we had to buy Shopkins, TicTacs, bubble gum, and an outfit for baby, Pete.  “Buy this one, Poppa, how cute.  He’ll look so cute in this one,” they both cried out as we swept through the baby department.

Why the bucket and tools?  You see, the girls were going to learn about planting flowers on their great and great great grandparent’s and their twin great uncle’s graves for Memorial Day.  The youngest and baddest had already asked me three times if we could skip the working, planting, digging dirt part and just get right to her cousins, but with their other great uncle still hospitalized, it had been my pledge to him to get this obligatory task done before Monday.

We drove the 60 minutes to the first graveyard, and I had to explain that we were not going to dig up my mother and father and that yes, my dad had been buried in a blue suit. He hated blue. Then, at my grandparents’ grave site, I had to explain why there was a tombstone right beside theirs covered in Steeler’s logos. (The guy must have been a dedicated fan.)   Finally, at my twin brothers’ grave, things went very well, very fast and we were done for the day.

As we drove by the house that was my childhood home and headed off to the mountains where we made a promised Blizzard stop at Dairy Queen, I tried to explain the day one more time.  Maybe someday they’ll understand what this trip was really about, and maybe I will, too.

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I’ve Seen Fire, and I’ve Seen Rain

May 17th, 2015 by Nick Jacobs No comments »

I’ve flown over the Sahara, visited Italy, France, Germany, Spain, England, Nigeria, Bosnia, Serbia, the Netherlands, Greece, Turkey, Corsica, Malta, Mexico, Aruba, Canada. Hawaii, Alaska, and thirty eight other States.

I’ve danced until I dropped, I’ve been operated on seven times, have been in love a few times in my life and was only ever in one fist fight at age 11, and it ended in a draw.

I’ve been robbed of tens of thousands of dollars at least three times by unarmed men in suits that I trusted. I’ve almost been fired at least three times that I knew about, quit once, and retired once. (Hated retirement.)

I’ve ridden up the side of a mountain on the back of a mule, eaten Afghan food with my fingers, been chased by a goose, had arguments with generals, spent an evening with a Prince and Princess, eaten alligator meat, and chocolate covered ants, but not on the same day.

I’ve had pretty good food in some darn good restaurants, owned a few dozen cars, held both of my parents in my arms as they took their last breath and have literally lost my heart to my kids and grandkids.

I’ve had too much to drink a few times but never used recreational drugs, and love a cold beer on a hot day.

I’ve survived a violent automobile accident without serious injury, have had dozens of close calls, hit three deer, a garbage can and the pillars in my parking garage twice. In college I’ve smoked cigarettes, a pipe, and as a young teacher chewed snuff once and side chew but stopped immediately after I threw up both times.

I’ve seen and heard some of the best jazz and rock musicians who ever lived and even played backup trumpet for a few of them. I’ve directed bands, orchestras, jazz bands, combos, and even musicals.

I’ve lived. I’ve laughed, and I’ve loved. I’ve also cried, and I’ve mourned.

I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain . . . James Taylor.

I’ve been employed in over a dozen jobs: railroader, glass factory worker, store clerk, and not so handyman, choir director, music teacher, trumpet instructor, arts manager, tourism executive, hospital administrator, research institute executive, healthcare consultant, and throughout all of that, I still feel like I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of living yet.

I’ve never jumped out of an airplane, never scratched a lion’s belly, never skied the Alps, have never seen the Pyramids or the Taj Mahal, and haven’t visited Norway, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, China, Antarctic, South Africa, Granada, Tahiti, Australia, Peru, or New Zealand.

I’ve never seen the Himalayas, don’t know anyone named Sven, and only saw St. Petersburg on the Travel Channel.

I’ve never drank mare’s milk or eaten mule cheese. I’ve never been to Mardi Gras or the Fantasy Fest in Key West. I’ve never seen Maui, Vancouver, or Tahiti, and I’m not really sure where St Barth is in the Caribbean.

As the future comes more into focus, I must admit that, although I’m not a rich guy, there are plenty of rich guy things on my bucket list and my bucket is getting closer to that proverbial kicking tee every year.

Yes, like everyone else my age, I have some physical challenges that could eventually be problematic, as in fatal, but right now I’m still ambulatory and inquisitive, interested and attentive.

The reality that I’m facing though isn’t one of additional personal stimulation through self-indulgence.

Rather, it is how many people can I help in how many ways before I’m no longer effective? So, the conundrum of “To see or not to see.” is not really my challenge.

My challenge is “To do and how long to keep doing it.” It’s my burden, but it’s also my legacy, and my personal reward.

Darn you, mom!

 

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Abraham Flexner – Good News – Bad News – New News

April 14th, 2015 by Nick Jacobs 1 comment »

Having spent nearly thirty years as a non-clinical, healthcare insider, the treasure trove of knowledge that I’ve accumulated has been both fascinating and frustrating.  It is very clear that the overall goal of those individuals who have chosen health care as a career path have done so with one very real goal in mind, to help their fellow man.  What is also clear to me is that there is no absolute singular pathway to that end.

When exploring the history of Western medicine, we see numerous influences:  the discovery of antibiotics, the progression of military medicine, hand washing, vaccines, and attention to drug interactions.  But there has been one other major milestone that has had a key influence on modern medicine that is not as well-known.   This was a report by Abraham Flexner produced in 1910 on “Medical Education in the United States and Canada” (The Flexner Report) for the Carnegie Foundation.

When Flexner did his research for this extensive report, traditional medicine was being challenged by several competing modalities, including: homeopathy, chiropractic medicine, naturopathy, and osteopathic medicine. Flexner noticeably mistrusted the scientific validity of all forms of medicine other than that based on pure scientific research.

As a result of his personal beliefs he endorsed only the scientifically based practices of medicine.  Any other medicine that did not promote the use of scientifically documented treatments to avoid or cure disease and illness was assumed to be synonymous with trickery and deception. Medical schools that offered training in other world health modalities were required to drop these courses or fail to receive their accreditation and financial backing. Eventually all of the schools either conformed to the Report or ceased to exist.

The complete irony of the Flexner Report was that, in spite of its faults and blemishes, it accomplished some incredible things for which we should all give thanks.  The quacks were driven from the profession, the curriculum became standardized, and the quality of physicians rose as the standards for admission became more stringent.

On the other side of that proverbial coin, virtually every other type of care that had been practiced internationally for hundreds and even thousands of years was eliminated from medicine in the United States and Canada. ( As an aside he also recommended negative admission standards toward African Americans and women.)

It has been my very unique and distinct pleasure to first be an observer, then a participant, and now an advocate for several of those evidence based modalities that were thrown out with the proverbial bath water all those many years ago.  We now know from definitive, scientific research that many of these banished treatments are not only effective, they are also amazing supplements to or work exceedingly well when integrated with standard Western Medicine and they are now evidence based as well.   Energy medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and osteopathy all have a role to play in the healing arts.

In my writing and speaking engagements over the years, I’ve often referred to a poem by Samuel Walter Foss entitled The Calf Path in which he describes a journey made by a primeval calf that resulted in a path that a dog, a bell-wether sheep, and eventually men on horseback followed until it was turned into a road that bent and curved and bent again, but was blindly followed by all of those who ventured on it.  This path that was made some 200 years before and was never re-examined.   We’ve all traveled those roads.

Well, the work of Abraham Flexner created a calf path that we still follow today.  Yes, it helped to get us to a destination, but now we are so locked into the heal to the pill mentality, that we have become complacent in our exploration of wellness and prevention.

Diet, exercise, stress management, group support, unconditional love, and a dozen other things can help keep us well.  Open your minds, and open your hearts.

 

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On Time and Life and Goodness

January 25th, 2015 by Nick Jacobs No comments »

 

One uncomfortable truth about getting older is that it sometimes feels wrong and even intellectually wasteful to me. As our brains fill with more and more useful and exciting information and our ability to problem solve grows exponentially while our lists of contacts and areas of influence expand, we begin to realize that there’s plenty of time, but often ask, “Is there enough life?”

Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Time stays long enough for those who use it.”

My goal, instead of watching life passing by, has been to enthusiastically work on creating a legacy that helps others? I’m not striving for Sainthood or even historical immortality through these actions, it just seems so much more productive than the alternative.

As we begin to notice the sands in your own personal hour glass rushing through like meteorites in fictional hyperspace, we realize that the panic or unrest that we sometimes experience is not so much fear of death, but fear of not having the purposeful time left on this planet to get done whatever we think we were put here to do. At least that’s been my challenge.

For those who think that this existence might all be random or arbitrary, that burden can be unbearable. The envy that this consideration makes many people feel toward their religious friends can be almost immeasurable. Yet, understanding those who reject evolution becomes easier because we can see that those individuals can’t bear to think that this all might be accidental. It is impossible for many to wrap their consciousness around infinity within nothingness.

If they are to embrace the knowledge that man and all of life simply evolved through billions of years of complex reactions and chemical interactions, there has to be some safety net, some handle to grasp onto tightly or they might free fall through infinite intellectual space.

To simply believe that all of this is just an explainable result of that evolution, like a tree or a butterfly that is here until it’s not here, then meaning has to be derived or created from some other source, some other means.

Obviously, it would be much easier to go through this fleeting journey with no guiding principles, no moral compass, and no ethical boundaries because every day could be a random holiday of self-gratification without retribution. On the other hand, the emptiness of that narcissistic journey is well documented.

We now know, definitively, that we are connected at a molecular level with everything and everyone in the universe.

So, back to time.

If we think positively, we can feel peace in this quote by Rabindranath Tagore, “The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.’

I once had a philosophy professor say that actually finding God was like looking for a black cat with its eyes closed in a dark room. Religion, of course is the most popular way of dealing with this challenge of balancing infinity and mortality, but maybe there are other ways as well; like goodness.

Possibly, just embracing goodness can be a great answer, a wonderful handle upon which to grasp.

Think about the ethical implications of The Golden Rule. It exists in some form in every religion of the world. Maybe just doing the right thing can be enough.

If we acknowledge our complex web of connectivity, why not spend each day being good to others, and thus being good to ourselves?

It shouldn’t be about guilt. It should be about making clear, positive choices between things like giving vs. greed or loving vs. hating; kindness vs. meanness; positive actions vs. negativity. Those values represents something good.

What if we’re born, we live, and we die and that’s it?

Deriving meaning from that experience, and facing our own mortality though that reality can be an overwhelming challenge.

I say, “Regardless of our personal beliefs, simply embrace goodness. You can’t go wrong.”

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Everybody Has a Story

October 8th, 2014 by Nick Jacobs No comments »

Everybody has a story.  This morning I stopped in two coffee shops over a three hour period, one for caffeine and one to give back the coffee I had consumed at the first shop; read-bathroom break.  Regardless, in both places, the idle conversation of the patrons caught my attention as one described a mystical, medical anomaly that her son had experienced, and then a young, healthy looking man had a brief discussion about his leukemia treatments.  There was a table filled with 60-something women who were discussing challenges that they were experiencing, and three other guys in the corner were lamenting their difficult jobs.

The conversations weren’t all medical, but they certainly were living-related, and it reminded me of a motivational speaker that I had heard several years ago who described the two sides of The Great Barrier Reef.  The side that was pummeled daily by the ocean.  He explained that that was where all the living things were thriving, and the other side which was calm, the Bayside, had no life.    It takes the stress of life to give us life.

Just the day before, one of my friends and former employees was discussing his absolute complete fear of retirement, and I can certainly relate to that because I have no interest in sitting idly by watching the sunset every time until the very last time.

The night before that I was seated randomly at a table with a grandmotherly looking, white haired woman who looked to be in her very late sixties or early seventies.  After a glass or two of red wine, I boldly asked her about her background.  At that point she said in a very soft spoken voice that she was a government bureaucrat.

Quite frankly, when she described the agency for which she worked, I had visualized that it was filled with older ladies who looked like her, but wore red high top tennis shoes and couldn’t for the life of them do anything but check off boxes positively or negatively as they approved or disapproved of various applications.  As I forcefully delved inquisitively into her life, my eyes and ears were opened to someone with a real story.

This little old grandmother had been a nurse, but she didn’t stop there.  She went to graduate school and then volunteered to serve for three years during the Vietnam war assisting with the locals.  Of course she was able to speak the language and still does as she seeks out the wonderful Vietnamese restaurants in The District of Columbia.

When she came back to the States, she went to Johns Hopkins University where she got her PhD, and she has been involved with public health ever since that time.   This lady was hardly the red, high-topped tennis shoed clerk that I had anticipated.  She had an amazing, giving background that was indicative of many of the bureaucrats that I’ve met over the years; super smart public servants who want to make their country a better place.

Bottom line, though, everybody has a story.

A friend of mine wrote a speech for me once called Bubblewrap.  The primary content of the speech was that we should look at people as precious things often covered in protective, cushioned bubble wrap, and until they are taken carefully out of their bubble wrap, we really have no idea what their story is.  We really don’t know what their contribution has been to society, what their talent is, what their motivations are, what they love, what makes them tick, or what has hurt them.  It’s one of those, don’t judge a book lines, but more importantly, it’s a everybody brings something to the table things.

We all have a story.   I’m sure you do, too.

 

 

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An Amazing Idea . . .

September 25th, 2014 by Nick Jacobs 5 comments »

No one can escape it, aging that is, unless of course we come smack up against its alternative.  We want to have some fun, enjoy ourselves, live a little, but if we wait too long, we often times miss the zone.  The zone is when we have enough energy, good health and flexibility, to still dance and have fun and not suffer from borderline feebleness.  Unfortunately, that oftentimes is exactly what happens when we are strapped financially.

Some wise person once said that life is backwards.  We live our early adulthood with limited or stressed incomes due to babies, houses, education loans and the like.  Then, when we finally are just a little bit comfortable financially, we are often faced with the realities of the aging process.  Well, I’m happy to report that there is a remedy to this problem that works so well it is almost incomprehensible. It’s called living as a family.

When I first observed this phenomena, I was flabbergasted and stunned by how well it worked.  Having said that, I’m sure there must be some very real drawbacks, but generally, it appeared to be an incredibly effective way to live.

My introduction to this concept was during my recent trip to the little town in Italy where my grandparents were born.  My great Uncle Marco had built a modest house on the Main Street upon which additional stories were added as successive generations were born.  In this three story house lives a mom, a dad, and two children and their families.  They have a three car garage with additional parking spaces in the driveway and many nights they share the evening meal.  They all have their own space and yet, they share a roof. What a concept.

When I thought of my own family it hit me that we had done the same thing as kids.  We lived with my grandparents in our own space, and that form of modest living allowed my brother and I to get college educations with little or no debt to pay off afterwards.   Of course, if you raise your kids in a rural area and they want the stimulation of an urban area or vice versa that changes the equation considerably.  The other wild card would be if they married awful people; the stress generated from those decisions can devastating and painful.

But the families that I observed seemed to have balanced their freedom, independence, and love very well, and by pulling their resources in the form of NO MORTGAGES, occasional built in grandparent babysitting, and shared second vehicles, their financial needs were incredibly less.   In fact, it seemed like they could do things like pursue their dreams without fear of homelessness or being ostracized.

One of my cousins was a professional musician who also delivered bread from his cousin’s incredibly successful bakery. Another had just completed a bed and breakfast in what had been one of their garages and on the adjoining land they had created a petting zoo. Everyone had a big garden, jarred and canned fresh fruits and vegetables and made their own wine.  Still one other cousin had fenced in the acreage for an ostrich farm and another was harvesting olives for olive oil.  They didn’t appear to have much discretionary money, but no one suffered because they had plenty of pooled resources.

Of course they all went to church and danced at the church festivals, and they all spent at least some time together over shared meals. It seemed simple, beautiful, amazingly supportive and loving.        What would life be like with a scenario like this in America, relationships where the family elders could share their wisdom through potentiation sessions with grandchildren; where recipes could be learned and passed on from generation to generation and love would be at the center of everything?

The scenery was amazing, the ancient ness was overwhelming, but family was everything.

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Become Certified in Integrative Health!

September 4th, 2014 by Nick Jacobs 1 comment »

Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine (AIHM) Offers First Course & Certification in Integrative Health for Executives

DULUTH, Minn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine (AIHM), the organization that created the de facto standard in certification in integrative medicine for healthcare practitioners to assure exemplary holistic care, announced it will offer its first course and certification in Integrative Health Administration. The new course and certification program entitled, Certification in Integrative Health Administration (CIHA) will be held as a post-conference October 30 and 31 as part of the AIHM annual conference: Science and Connection: A New Era of Integrative Health and Medicine in San Diego. It is designed for healthcare executives including CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, clinicians, and professionals in marketing, strategic planning, nurse management, as well as supervisors and directors. Enrollment is limited to 150 in 2014.

“Bringing Integrative Medicine to Your Practice and Health Care System.”

The course includes two days of onsite activities followed by six hours of online learning entitled, “Bringing Integrative Medicine to Your Practice and Health Care System.” The online learning portion includes nine modules. Each module is followed by a brief online post-test; each must be completed by December 15th, 2014. Participants must achieve a score of 80 percent on each post-test to earn certification.

The program leader is F. Nicholas (Nick) Jacobs, FACHE, a ground breaking national consultant in implementation of comprehensive integrative care programs in major healthcare systems. Jacobs is the author of two books on integrative care. His work has attracted the attention of the national media including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, USA Today, Becker’s Hospital News, and professional journals and websites. Jacobs is a partner at SunStone Management Resources, VxVentures and LifeSEQ, LLC.

According to Jacobs, “Delivery of excellent integrative healthcare is not enough. Intelligent patient care must be accompanied by business acumen to assure economic survival. We are finally moving toward health care that is outcome based. Outcomes in healthcare are a two-sided coin: the health of the patient on one side, and the economic health of the medical institution on the other.”

Participants in the certification program will gain deeper knowledge about evidence based integrative medicine approaches. Utilization of these modalities assist in diagnosing the underlying causes of health conditions, and can drive down the cost of healthcare. This knowledge is becoming a key ingredient to economic survival.

In addition to Jacobs, other luminaries in integrative medicine will teach the course, including Mimi Guarneri, MD, FACC, ABIHM, Jeffrey Bland, PhD, FACN, FACB, Mark Tager, MD, and Robin Guenther, FAIA, LEED AP. The program includes an exclusive tour and private reception at Dr. Guarneri’s state-of-the-art integrative center, Pacific Pearl in La Jolla.

The certification fee is $1500 including tuition, course materials, online content plus associated post-tests, certificate, breakfast and lunch both days, and the aforementioned tour and reception at Pacific Pearl. Participants who are also attending the main conference will receive a $600 discount off the CIHA fee. A discounted group rate of $1200 per person is also available. Please call Scripps directly to register a group at 858-652-5400.

ABOUT AIHM:

The Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine (AIHM) is an international, interdisciplinary, member-centric organization that educates and certifies healthcare professionals to assure exemplary holistic care. The AIHM’s training incorporates evidence-based research, emphasizes person-centered care, and embraces all global healing traditions. www.abihm.org/aihm

 

Contacts

Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine
Seth Romanoff, 218-525-5651 x 1002
saromanoff@aihm.org

 

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Preparation for Life!

August 26th, 2014 by Nick Jacobs 4 comments »

It all started at the age of eight with my paper route. Each day the three paperboys from our little town, Howdy, Roy and I would sit in front of my aunt’s grocery store chewing double bubble bubble gum, or dipping a one cent pretzel rod in a ten cent Coke while we waited for two trucks to drop off our papers.  One contained the Connellsville Daily Courier, the other had The Uniontown Evening Standard and the Pittsburgh Press.  The trucks drove by like NASCAR racers and the tightly wrapped bundles of papers would come flying out of the back and hit somewhere in the muddy front of Aunt Mildred’s property. Usually the Uniontown and Pittsburgh papers arrived early.

I’d count the papers carefully to make sure that they hadn’t short- changed me.  If they did, my parents would have to sacrifice their paper for one of my other customers.  Then, I’d count them again (until my fingers were black from the ink),  to see if they gave me any extra papers that I could try to sell.   That didn’t happen often, but when it did, I could make some extra money and recruit new customers.

My take home pay was $.015 (one and a half cents) for the Pittsburgh Press and $.02 (two cents) for the Uniontown paper.   My total profit was about $1.00 a day and $2.50 on Sundays.  On Sundays I’d deliver 50 papers from a red metal wagon with white metal sides.   Sections of the Sunday papers came on different days, and, on Sunday morning we’d put them together into one big fat newspaper. Eight dollars and fifty cents a week was ENORMOUS MONEY for a kid in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

Eight dollars and fifty cents in 1950’s money is worth about $70 now.  Think of it.  Seventy dollars a week in spending money! Heck, I could buy shoes, a shirt, socks, and dress pants for about two weeks’ worth of work. I spent most of my money on clothes.  My second addiction, however, was building plastic models of airplanes, rocket ships, boats, and cars.  My room was filled with models.

I really liked most of my customers. Generally, they were sweet people.  Of course some weren’t.  At least six of my customers tried to stiff me every week. They would hide when I came to collect the 42 cents that they owed me.  It was great practice for my future, losses from accounts receivable. It used to take me one and a half hours to deliver about 45 papers every day. Because of my paper route and my love of music,  I developed the discipline to live on a schedule.  I used to deliver those papers, go home and practice my drums or trumpet, take a nap, do homework, eat dinner, practice more, and then stay up to watch the Johnny Carson, alone every night.

Sometimes life on my paper route was cluttered with complications, challenging personalities, and, every type of weather, ferocious dogs, slippery sidewalks, and the occasional town bully.  But all of this was like an amazing internship for what would become my adult life.  As I went from playing drums to trumpet, to becoming a band director, to arts center director, to tourism president, to hospital administrator, to founder of a research institute, and now to entrepreneur, those days of my youth have served me well.

I still buy my own clothes, interact with the good and the bad personalities, the rip-off artists, and the kind, loving, gentle people who only want to make life better. Because of my paper route, I understand that I was given an amazing opportunity to learn, to grow and to get a head start on adulthood.    Some days, as I watch my grandchildren on their I’s (I Phones, I Pads, I Touches, I Pods), I just feel a little sad that they don’t deliver newspapers.

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BMW . . . ing

August 20th, 2014 by Nick Jacobs 1 comment »

 

If you don’t know what that abbreviation stands for, Google it!  I’m not referring to: BMW: Born Moderately Wealthy, BMW: Brought My Wife, or BMW, Bring More Worries.  In fact, I’m not thinking about anything that is directly related to a thing, okay, well, maybe I am.     

What I’m referring to is the phrase, Bi*ch, Moan, and Whine!   For whatever reason, I’ve recently been inundated with individuals who are not happy about various things impacting their lives.  I’ve been hearing about money, jobs, marriages, fees for cable TV, healthcare and college costs, the government, animal cruelty, gasoline prices, racism, city manager selections, and a dozen or so other issues.  In fact, even though Heinz just had to pull their tainted baby food off the shelves in China (Now, that’s a reversal of fortune, Mr. Buffet).  The only thing that I haven’t heard people complaining about (euphemism for bi*ching) is the “price of rice in China.”   

Ha, bet that rang a bell for you ole folks.  What ever happened to that phrase?  We used to say that all the time in the 50’s and 60’s?  When someone was babbling on about something that we thought was meaningless in our lives, we used to say, “Now what’s that have to do with the price of rice in China?” 

Guess it’s not so meaningless anymore? (If you’re interested, you can look up the “Live Rice Index” for the price of rice in China), but I digress. My philosophy has always been, if you can do something about it, then do it.  If you can’t . . . then move on, my friend.   Truthfully, in this country, we hold the power to change nearly everything, but we choose instead to join the BMW Club.  

Think about it.  We have in our hands the amazing ability to influence and to change almost anything that exists.  It’s a simple formula.  We ban together and say that famous line from the movie, Network, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”  

Could you imagine showing up en masse anywhere and yelling that?  It would be international news.  If we could get enough people to come together to offer alternative solutions to almost any problem that we face, the offenders, enforcers, and especially the elected law makers would be forced to pay attention, and public pressure could change everything.  

The key to this tactic is to find enough people who care about ANYTHING.  

We’ve all seen what Rosa Parks, The First Lady of Civil Rights, The Tianamen Square tank man, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, and now Pope Francis, the former night club bouncer, have done to contribute to CHANGE in our world, but we . . . you, me and tens of thousands of our closest friends, can really make a difference. 

Heck, thousands of us just threw cold water on our heads to make a statement about ALS, and before that . . . ?  Probably a lot of the participants thought ALS stood for Advanced Life Support or Apply for Disability! 

What’s the quote from Margaret Mead? “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  (She also said, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think,” but that’s a different column for a different day.)  

The whole idea here is to get us together, to unit, to make change!  What would you change if you could?  Want lower gas prices?  We could do that.  Want to stop dangerous, unmarked oil trains from driving through our towns and cities.  We could do that. How about big corporations not paying taxes? 

The key is to stop the BMW-ing, and get your friends together and present positive ideas to the folks who can make the changes.  It’s an American right.  

Oh, and you might want vote this year, too! 

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