Monday, March 5, 2018

Anna's Interesting Choice of Books

These are the five books that our 4-year old daughter, Anna regularly pulls from our bookshelves to "read." Why she chooses them, I don't know, but there's probably something significantly symbolic about it. Mom gave me The Bible. The Quran, Book of Mormon, and Daily Thoughts and Prayers (Vendanta Hindu), were given to me by dear friends whose different religious beliefs influence and make me a better person by their role model. The Statistics text is from Laure's masters degree. To me, it symbolizes the uncertainty in all religions in their attempts to explain humankind's existence in the Universe. We can only approximate our understanding.

Why does Anna choose these books? Is it just random?  It will be interesting to see her life unfold.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Working on START

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was a bilateral treaty between the US and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on the reduction and limitation of strategic nuclear weapons. The treaty was signed on 31 July 1991 and entered into force on 5 December 1994. While working for TRW, I was on contract with the National Security Agency to conduct a threat analysis on the US nuclear command and control system, as a consequence of START.

Below is a thank you letter from NSA for our team's contributions to START. Ron Gault, my dearest friend and companion, who was my boss at the time, was the reason we landed the assignment. It was one of the most fun, interesting, challenging, and meaningful periods of my life, and I got to do it with my best friend. It doesn't get any better than that.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Our Violent Society

On Feb 14, Valentine's Day, a 19-year old man entered a Florida high school and randomly murdered 17 students and teachers.

Every opinion needs to come towards the middle for the sake of our children and country. Tighter gun control alone won’t solve the problem, but it will help. Gun buyback programs alone won’t solve the problem, but they will help. Stopping the production of and patronizing violent movies, video games, and TV shows won’t solve the problem alone, but it will help. Putting more counselors and social workers in classrooms to identify and mitigate high risk students won’t solve the problem alone, but it will help. Increasing the physical security and presence of armed security in our schools won’t solve the problem alone, but it will help. Publicly emphasizing the importance of Golden Rule civility and better parenting won’t solve the problem alone, but it will help. We need a national campaign comprised of political, corporate, and religious leadership. It needs to be organized now. It needs to stay active and work on this problem for the next 10 years. We need a leader.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Thanks to Ron Gault and Bob Bloss

Endless thanks for these two men in my life. Bob Bloss, on the left, was Ron Gault's and my boss at TRW during the hay-day of the company. And during its hay-day, TRW was pretty amazing. I was exposed to and learned more in those 7 years of working with Ron and Bob than most people would see in three lifetimes. I was lucky to work with them at TRW, surrounded by engineers and scientists that made my Fort Lewis College academic pedigree look like... well... Fort Lewis College.  Bob let us do just about anything, as long as it brought in new business and revenue and we didn't create an international incident. And so we did do just about anything.

A partial list of projects: White hat (good guy) attacks and threats against the US nuclear command and control system, from the President to the warhead. Risk assessment of the Hanford Nuclear Waste Site. Software testing and validation for the Peacekeeper and Minuteman ICBM launch control and targeting programs; and the Predator drone. Forensic analysis of the accidental detonation of a Peacekeeper rocket motor during maintenance. Supported the START Treaty. Supported the Project Sapphire to safely secure former Soviet nuclear weapons. Designed and developed the worlds largest data warehouse at the time, used for management and maintenance of nuclear ICBMs. Designed the Strategic Execution Decision Aid for the President and other National Command Authorities. White hack attacks and threat assessment of computerized US voting systems. We built a team around artificial intelligence technology when it was barely emerging, and applied it to all sorts of problems, including healthcare imagery such as x-rays and ultrasounds. Bob let me start a healthcare line of business, which included a research grant for the application of cognitive technology (AI) to healthcare. That grant funding went to Jerome Soller when Jerome was still a PhD student.

So, I owe Ron and Bob my healthcare career... should I thank them or blame them? :-) In any case, I love them. Profoundly wonderful influence on me and more than best friends to this day.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sage Advice & Coincidences

Our Aunt Harriet Pyle Manuel wrote this to me in my high school graduation card. I didn't get it back then, but I learned to get it as I grew older. I pay attention to it in my personal and professional life. There is truth and beauty in it.

"There are meaningless coincidences in life and there are meaningful coincidences in life. Your heart will know the difference if you listen to it. The meaningful coincidences are God's milestones, telling you that you are on the right path. Watch for those milestones. Be worried when you don't see them; be at peace when you do see them, and stay on that path." 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Veterans Day Reflections: Military vs Healthcare Career

A shout out to all my friends and family who served... especially my Dad and brother.
Sheesh, what a youngster in this picture. I was a first Lieutenant... about 1986, 26 years old in this picture, giving a briefing and tour of the Looking Glass Airborne Command Post to a Colonel. It looks like I was wearing an "Alert Crew" badge, which means that I was on a week-long assignment, staying at the crew quarters in the alert facility at Offut Air Force Base. At the time of this picture, there was a Looking Glass aircraft that was constantly airborne with a battle staff crew, and an alert crew on the ground, waiting to go airborne in case of national emergency, or the airborne command post needed immediate relief.
The Air Force gave a few of us the responsibility for "turning keys" that could launch all 1,000 nuclear ICBMs, plus, the responsibility for communicating the Presidential Emergency Action Messages (EAMs) for launching nuclear bombers and submarines, too. And, if that wasn't enough, we were also responsible for reconstitution of the US government in a post-nuclear world, based on anyone who survived. I exited the Air Force a few years later and went to work for TRW. The work we did with NSA was, no exaggeration, straight out of Clancy novels, and even better, thanks to Ron Gault. We were doing very important and cool sh*t to keep the bad guys away from nuclear weapons.
There is nothing that compares to the intensity of responsibility that you experience in the military. Healthcare is a form of mission-based service. It has been interesting, occasionally fulfilling, quite a bit less dangerous... but also incredibly frustrating and frequently boring in comparison. I keep talking about leaving healthcare and going back into the military/national intelligence world, but Laure says "No way. We have babies." 
Aim High. Fly, Fight, Win.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A CIO's Life: The Ups and Downs

That's the moon shining down on a moored sailboat, owned by Red Sail in the Cayman Islands. I forwarded it to them and they used it for their Christmas card that year. Camera was a plain old Backberry phone.
Taken at 3 am on a sleepless and troubling night, this scene was profoundly meaningful and spiritual to me. The timing in life was perfect. It calmed the waters of my heart.
I'd been living in the Caymans alone for about three months. What's not to love about that, right? 😳 Well, my first day on the job, in September, as CIO for the national health system, was greeted by a computer virus outbreak that disabled every computer in the organization, including every computer used in clinical patient care. In November, when I took this picture, many of us were still working 18 hour days to recover from the disaster. I'd never solved a problem like this before, in my 25-year IT career. Every single computer was infected and inoperable. One of our public health nurses was in the emergency meeting of our executive team to deal with the problem. She made a passing comment about reacting to public health outbreaks-- isolating infected patients and treating them one at a time. That prompted the same thought in my head... the only way to solve this problem was to disconnect every single computer from the network, and treat each one before reintroducing it to the "public" from isolation. There were 2,200 infected computers and it took an average of 90 minutes to treat and repair each one.
Exhausted, but not able to sleep, I walked out to the beach, wondering if I'd made the right choice by taking this new job. This scene was my answer.
Thank you Mighty Creator.

Anna's Interesting Choice of Books

These are the five books that our 4-year old daughter, Anna regularly pulls from our bookshelves to "read." Why she chooses them, ...