Since the financial items out number the psychological
ones, we will start out with them.
Have you been paying attention to the budget agreement
Congress has passed on to President Obama? It takes
away a Social Security provision that allowed retirees
certain benefits and could impact those nearing retirement.
A second financial item relates to a mislabeling of
of municipal bond yields. Evidently bonds are offered
issued at a premium over par. They are often called
before maturity. Meaning– lower yields than labelled.
A third financial item relates to benefits to ACS
member who are unemployed.
The non-financial item is about a book describing
“productive habits” we all might benefit from.
NEW SOCIAL SECURITY RULES
SOURCE: A. Tergesen, WSJ 10-31-15, “New
social security rules to end key filing strategies“
I sent my brother who recently turned 66 this article
that spells out the end of social security spousal
benefit upgrade for some retirees. There is a
six month period before the regulations go into
effect. This could be several thousand dollars a
year difference for those who are affected.
MUNICIPAL BOND MISLABELING
SOURCE: J. Zweig, WSJ 10-31-15, ” How
Muni Bonds Yield 4% in a 2% World”
Those investing in low risk, no tax municipal
bonds might be in for a shock to find the real
return is nearly half of what is advertized. Zweig
suggests asking your broker or adviser to
reveal the “yield to worst’ on your municipal
bonds, adjusted for return of principal.
ACS MEMBER BENEFIT
SOURCE: T. Connelly, letter for the executive
director to members, 10-1-15
In this letter seeking our membership renewal,
each one of us 158,000 (~5000 less that last
number in memory), might benefit from the
“members-only benefit” of up to 3 years free
membership (not sure if it is sequential or
additive) if you are unemployed. There are also
some benefits that you should ask for if you are
faced with such a personal challenge. In our
new world of temporary or episodic employment
this might be meaningful.
SOURCE: Peter Bregman, “Four Seconds“,
Harper One, 2015
Bregman goes into how we instinctively form
habits to live through our daily lives. He breaks
them down into mental, relationship, work,
self-defeating, and what I call productive habits.
He spends effort on boredom, how we become
our worst critic of ourselves, perfection and
What I liked were his descriptions of “productive”
habits– taking a “4 second pause” to develop options
when you face a problem, a 4-second pause when
attacked to ask questions [reducing tension in a
situation], a 4-second pause to establish focus each day,
to follow through and to prepare each day what are
short term and longer term priorities.
Two dozen grad students attended a class on learning about their
emotional make-up. They had been given assignments to complete
their MBTI profile and also asked to assess their values 2 3 and
behavior tendencies 2 3 .
Each one of these grad students is very smart and are
put into situations where they might wish to look smart
[leading a problem solving class, tutoring, giving seminars,
It reminded me of an article by Sue Shellenbarger of WSJ who
conveyed “the appearance of intelligence is [done] largely
with nonverbal cues… People get high marks when they talk in
simple, straightforward language with a lot of energy and
engagement. Make eye contact. Speak in a pleasant voice.
Articulate words clearly, pause between sentences. Listen
closely to others and be transparent about what you do and
do not know.”
Attempts to talk over people’s heads by using jargon, big words,
or complicated sentences will be quickly seen as a pose.
Observing how the class was widely divided in terms of
MBTI preferences [10 of 16 MBTI subcategories were
revealed and confirmed by descriptions found in two books*].
Their different preferences view the world and decisions they
made with different lenses and criteria. It was revealing and
several remarked that this puts a whole new view on working
* S. J. Scott and Rebecca Livermore, Confident you…2015
Isabel Briggs Myers, Introduction to Type, 6th edition, CPP
A collaborator on several projects recently shared some proposal
writing links when we were networking recently. We had a
conversation a couple of years ago about proposal content.
N. Wagner, this time, shared letter writing for SBIT/STTRs which
is the federal governments seed funding arm for technology
development by small business who collaborate with research
institutions in Phase I and Phase II, bridging the gap between basic
science and innovation commercialization.
Let me share some insights gleaned from recent eBook by
Michael Nir, Silent Influencing, that offers meaningful
guides enhancing our communications and interpreting
others combination of verbal and nonverbal messages.
- Use a “cluster” of signals, gestures and “emblems” to
provide clearer messages. In other words avoid choosing
to interpret one nonverbal element in interpreting another’s
views, thinking or opinion.
[”steepling one’s fingers” is a ‘gesture,’ while “stroking one’s
chin,” as if thinking about something, is an ‘emblem’.]
- When there is an apparent contradiction between nonverbal
signals and words of speech, many choose to find stronger
meaning in the nonverbal signals. Think of a person shaking
his head “no” and saying “yes” with arms folded and eyes looking
down to the ground.
- First impressions stick with us and our human tendency is
to confirm our initial impressions, rather than keeping an open
- It is possible to influence thinking, judgment and decisions
by changing simple things like seating arrangements. The
surrounding environment can sometimes make a difference.
- To overcome resistance or reluctance revealed by a silent
and closed and distant person, engagement by enlisting
support and handing them something to induce opening
up, coming closer and agreeing to participate
In preparing for a future class on assessing our personal
emotions that effect our behaviors and decisions three
books came to my attention, that I wish to tell you about.
- Peter Whybrow, The Well-tuned Brain: Neuroscience
and the Life Well-Lived, Norton and Company, NY, 2015
- Neil Postman, Amusing ourselves to Death: Public
Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Elisabeth Afton
Books, Viking, NY, 1985
- Neil Postman, The End of Education: Redfining the
Value of School, Vintage Books, Div. of RandHouse, NY
I was curious to learn Whybrow’s take on how our brain
works as we go through our daily activities and thinking.
We describe most routines as habits that seem to be a
repetition from before and we go into auto-pilot to
perform. Intuition is based on implicit learning a pattern
of facts, cues and events that we synthesize while going
about our daily activities. We unconsciously use both.
The class intends to help discover them using MBTI,
values and behaviors assessments.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU
Research reveals that although human brains attain 90%
of their size by age 6, it will take 2 or more decades to achieve
functional maturity with different regions varying in pace
To achieve self-command we must learn what drives us
and accept that we are often ruled by the short term and
habit, although intellectually driven, curious and self
LOSING THOUGHTS REVEALING CONNECTIONS
Humans sense the need for order in the changing world,
an understanding of our place and purpose which imagination
and traditions/culture offer “touchstones” and signify our
values. Postman, Whybrow asserts, reflected on a technopoly
which represents an invasion into our imagination organized
realm due to our now gadget-driven, time-limited, distracted
world. Education is no longer providing the basics to allow
thoughtful questioning, open and adaptable curiosity to
We have allowed our memory, values, curiosity and imagination
to be outsourced drawn by hyperlinks, video clips, side-bars
distracted thinking and superficial learning.
Schools reinforce the culture of learning for economic utility.
consumership and technology. This reality, Postman asserts
is a Faustian bargain… we gain a little and we lose a lot.
- the advantages are unevenly distributed
- while seeming simple, there is complexity embedded in
- new technologies replace older ones in a competition
which speeds up and loses some of its benefits because
of intellectual and emotional biases and financial incentives
- it is believed that there is a common core with a global
view, but there is too much and much has to be displaced.
–arbitrary inclusion and exclusion results.
It is the beginning of the 2015 Fourth Quarter and the
stock market has not been universally good this year.
Not going into any of those details, but will point you
to an article about some opportunities that certain
technical professional investors might calculate for
themselves using Turbotax of similar software.
ROTH IRA RECHARACTERIZATION CALCULATION
SOURCE: L. Saunders, WSJ 10-3-15, “Why it’s prime
time for Roth IRA”
Roth IRAs are the “gold standard” of tax sheltered
retirement plans from which withdrawals are presently
tax-free on untaxed gains and after tax contributions.
The issue is in the short term past many investments
lost value. This article suggests Roth investors might
undo Roth conversions last year or this year and
avoid paying the taxon value that has “vanished”.
Deadline is Oct. 15. Comments might be helpful
DIGITAL LIBRARY AND OPEN ACCESS
SOURCE: ECS Open Access
Alternative Article Impact
Got my first email from ECS Weekly Digests from two technical
areas that I signed up for. They inform me of recent publications
that this society reviewed and accepted. Beyond my expectations
was outstanding other services that will allow me to communicate
better, learn new areas and deepen my understanding of the
practical outcomes of scientific investigations.
Sometimes cartoons in “digital libraries” can be outstanding
in effectively communicating results, impacts and directions.
BONUS: SCIENCE OUT OF THE BOX