Friday, March 24, 2006

George Mindling Column 03-24-2006

Weighty Issue for Charlotte County Folks


According to an article in the February issue of Florida Trend by Amy Keller, we are fatter than our neighbors on either side in Lee and Sarasota Counties.

Not being sure of the significance of that information, I started digging through the article to see if that was an indicator of potential economic growth or newly discovered political trends. Apparently, between 21.9 and 25.5 percent of the adults in Charlotte County are qualified as obese. Obesity is measured by the Body Mass Index, or BMI. A BMI over 30 is obese.

BMI is measured by multiplying your height in inches by your height in inches, then dividing the result into your weight in pounds. Multiply that number by 703 to get the BMI. There’s a web page at the Center for Disease control that will do the math for you. Just key in your weight and height and hit “calculate.” The page is at: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/calc-bmi.htm

Now I know how to find my BMI, but I’m not sure what significance that plays in the statewide numbers game. Surprise! The article in Florida Trend states “ the counties in Florida with the highest percentages of obese people tend to be rural and poor…” The same headline states, “but more than half of all Floridians are either overweight or obese.” An accompanying chart shows neighboring DeSoto County as up one level from Charlotte, at an average of 25.6 to 30.2 percent obesity, with nearby Hardee County in the worst range, 30.3 to a whopping 38.9 percent obese population!

Does that mean that Sarasota and Lee counties, with a 15.2 to 21.8 percent obesity ranking is more urban or wealthier than Charlotte or her neighbors? The article lets the reader reach their own conclusions, but Keller states, “the thinner, wealthier counties are also better educated. In the seven counties with the highest BMI’s, only 10 percent of resident’s, on average, held bachelors degrees.”

According to http://www.fedstats.gov/qf/states/12/12015.html, the percentage of Charlotte residents with a bachelor or higher is 17.6, below the state average of 22.3 percent. Sarasota on the other hand is over 27 percent with at least a bachelor degree. Do better-educated people eat smarter? Well, maybe, but I think there may be more.

Buttermilk biscuits and fried chicken tend to be standard southern cooking, and the rural counties mentioned are bound to traditional family cooking more than the highly fluid coastal communities that are more geared to the social set than the tractor seat. Thanks to progress, today’s farm work takes less physical work than just a generation ago. The food stays the same, the calorie burn rate has gone by the wayside and the result is obesity.

How does that mesh with education numbers? Most rural farming communities don’t have the higher percentage of college graduates simply because the traditional farm doesn’t require a four year degree in liberal arts or philosophy to birth a calf.

George Mindling

Friday, March 10, 2006

George Mindling Column 03-10-2006

Pushing Against A Brick Building


While cleaning out old files, I can across an article given to me by my first business mentor. I had saved the tattered, well-worn pages of the old typewritten essay on staff work for many years. I found the advice invaluable, not just in its simplicity, but because of the insight into how executives look at staff work.

I once had a manager give me an “Average” performance review even though he said I was an extremely hard and conscientious worker. If he told me to push against a brick building with my bare hands, he commented, I would push and push with all my might, but at the end of the job, the building would not have moved a single inch, therefore I was not really accomplishing my job. I have often been criticized of being intolerant of poor management, but most managers aren’t concerned about the professional growth of the employees, only in the bottom line of any business: numbers! It was quite a surprise to work for someone who thought with a little professional guidance, I might actually be more of an asset to the company other than just a body to push against a brick building.

What then is a mentor? A mentor is someone who actually cares about your business or professional development. A mentor must like you personally and may actually become a good friend. The key word is trust. Mentors within a workplace most often act as silent partners. Often a mentor may have several people serving in similar positions and helping one without helping others would surely create a legal situation that would not be beneficial to either party. That is not truly mentoring, that is group training. Often, attention from a boss or manager that showcases or favors one employee in front of other employees is detrimental not just to the unit, but to the very person the manager favors. Favoritism is not mentoring. The two may be based on personal views of a person in a supervisory or management position, but the end result of the two is diametrically opposed. One is a short-term reward or favor; the other is an education that will affect how a person grows professionally and personally over a lifetime.

A mentor sees the hidden or undeveloped talent or skill that may not exist in others. It is also a personal interest that rises above the workplace. A mentor’s opinion is considered as an honest and educated, often invaluable experience. A mentor is a true advisor. They won’t make your decisions for you, but they want you to understand what your decisions are. The mentor’s interest is genuine, not based on ego or money. They want to see you succeed. They invest time and attention and do not expect rewarded with accolades or awards.

How about you, do you have a mentor? Or, more importantly, have you ever been one?

George Mindling

Friday, January 13, 2006

George Mindling Column 01-13-2006

Technology Gets Smaller


Looking at the new pen-shaped computers that shine the keyboard image and the display screen on the surface of your desk much like a flashlight beam, I realize that I will likely lose this future generation PC as often as I used to lose my old Cross pen. Not only are PCs shrinking, so are all the other electronic gadgets we have come to love and cherish. Everything will be smaller and no unit will be limited to only one function. The units of the future will have some sort of computer, telephone, video, and whatever else technology creates a need for, all built in. It will be a handheld wireless unit that can communicate with just about anything else. Wireless Bluetooth technology has shown the desirability of interconnecting seemingly unrelated components. Any Bluetooth capable unit can communicate with any other Bluetooth capable unit in proximity, almost anywhere in the world.

Downloading videos and movies for large flat-panel home theaters as well as PCs will become a real threat to traditional theaters. The popularity of the new flat screen, high definition televisions and the advent of superb home sound systems have already been blamed for a downturn in traditional theater attendance. The transfer of data will increase with the capabilities of the media. In the business arena, older methods of data transfer, such as faxing are already fading out, replaced by Internet and PC document transfer using formats such as Adobe’s PDF.

With the ability to interconnect different technologies, such as through Bluetooth compatible components, the trend of combining functionality is as important as miniaturization. I have a serious problem though; my fingers are already too big for most cell phones and many remote control units. I assume the next generation of users will have little, pointed stylus instead of fingernails. Either that or voice recognition will become the defacto computer interface. Just like Star Trek.

Cell phones have had Global Positioning capabilities for several years now, and if you have a GM car with On Star, you probably were told you were sitting in your driveway the first time you used it. How long will it be before all this is microminiaturized and placed in an incredibly small chip?

Having spent most of my working life on call, I used to joke about having small microchips imbedded in our sculls that would allow our employer to keep continuous track of our whereabouts. With the advent of identity microchips being commonly implanted in dogs, I am now beginning to worry. I’m sure security microchips of some sort have been developed, but I haven’t seen a multifunctional video receiver/cell phone that can be implanted in a human yet. I have no doubt an electronics designer somewhere has considered it. Imagine watching Fox news or CNN, or your favorite sit-com whenever and wherever you want. Just shut your eyes and kick back.

Marshall McLuhan was absolutely correct: “The medium is the message.”