AIRPORT EXPERIENCE


I have had the privilege of using many airports. I have used some of the largest and busiest and some of the smallest. My most recent experience at Orlando International Airport (MCO), Orlando Florida as confirmed my suspicions. Maybe my outlook is colored by my experience with my favorite airline, JetBlue.

I consider an airline and airport as utilities that are to be experienced and not noticed. They should not be the destination, but the means.  As such, I like all of us want the system to just work. It should be like plugging in an appliance, the electricity should not be a concern. This is the type of experience I have more often than not when using MCO. The traffic around the terminals is well-managed, parking either short-term or long-term are easy to get to and clearly labeled. The shuttle to and from long-term parking is utilitarian, just gets the job done. The curbside experience, at lease with JetBlue, is organized. Best of all, even with long lines the TSA security screen is organized, efficient and staffed with polite officers. As a black man these are the only people in uniforms that do not routinely make me uncomfortable.  They are calm, give clear instructions and are generally very helpful. It almost feels like I am at a Disney Park. The shuttle from security to the gates is so pleasant as to be almost invisible. Once at the  gates there is an up-scale mall feeling. The comfortable seating, the clearly labelled charge up points and the free wi-fi just works. I love it all.

I love MCO because it is clean and just works. Do you love your airport?

WAKE THE FUCK UP AMERICA!


As a parent I want the best for my children. I want them to achieve more than I have. I want them to be fully equipped to take on the challenges ahead. The only lasting thing I can give them is an opportunity to get an education. The education they get will determine their ability to make a living and be productive citizens. Their education will help them avoid the pervasive scams in our society. The education I fight for them to attain will improve their ability to survive. I will continue to fight for their right to be given a competitive education. As such, I am proud to support the goals of common core. It seems I am among the minority of persons who believe that common core is a good thing for the American K-12 system.

The continued attempts to disparage the goals set reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what education means. It is a reflection of how urgent the need for better education is. The problem is that most Americans know enough to complaint but not enough to assist in the fix. We are a very poorly educated society in spite of the graduated masses. We are a society that prefers quick answers rather than long processes. The truth is that getting the correct answer is less important that understanding how you arrive at it. Every time I see a story decrying the ills of common core I see another example of a parent or teacher who lacks the fundamental understanding of what education means. Our education is lacking and we cannot compete, but we want to go back to the old ways. The old ways have not worked. The old ways have created people who oppose change not because the change is bad, but because they are so poorly educated they do not understand the change.

 
Someone suggested to me a novel solution. The parents who do not want their children learning in the common core “way” should be allowed to go to their own schools and the rest of us learn a common core based education. That sounds great to me, but the truth is that the educated will continue to suffer at the hands of the stupid. Do not be stupid and destroy your kids ability to compete. If you want to disadvantage your child let me thank you now. Thanks for removing my childs competition.

Can we please wake the fuck up America.

EXAMINE YOUR LIFESTYLE.


The new year is here and I still cannot believe it. 2014 came and went at a seemly quicker pace. The truth is that the speed of time as not changed. What has changed is how we experience it. We continue to allowed procrastination to decrease how much we achieve. We over think and neglect to take the actions that would allow us to attain more of our goals. As we second guess our decisions the universe continues forward at the same pace we found it. We are achieving less and the feeling that time is going by faster is just a reflection of our lack of focus on the important things.

For the new year we all should stop thinking and start doing. I am a parent and want to leave a better planet for my children. What are you planing to leave to your children? The discussion about climate change is just one of those issues where we could improve the world for our children. The facts are not in dispute, the climate of earth is changing. I do not dispute that human activity is the cause. If you dispute that I hope we can at least agree that the climate is changing.

With that in mind I would ask you, how do you think climate change will affect your children or grand children? I would suggest that the most likely direct effect will be on the quality and quantity of food and water available. The current estimate of people around the world going hungry is about one billion annually. Concurrent with that is the fact that some of the most productive agricultural areas are in regions whose water supply is dependent on seasonal rain and snow falls. It is already evident from current objective measurable data that these regions are close to breaking point in their water balance. The drought in California, which is the current bread basket of the United States is worrying. The gravity of the danger is not being addressed. But if the level of the water in Lake Mead Nevada is any example we should all be much more concerned.

Our water usage patterns are unsustainable and more forthrightly has led us to a very dangerous place. Agriculture is the primary user of water both for plant and animal production. Animal production is an especially egregious drain on our every decreasing available water sources. The continuing willful deafness of many of our leaders to the coming and already present crisis is criminal. The low intelligence of many of the people on mass media discussing the topic is genocidal in their effect. As we continue to neglect the obvious the problem worsens and the solutions become evermore burdensome. The unfortunate consequence is that the poor all around the world are already experiencing the trauma of food and water insecurity. Even the wealthier among us are being affected. The difference is that most of us can afford the increasing cost of our basic supplies. The larger question needs to be asked, what will happen when the squeeze truly gets to the richer among us?

I am of the scientific persuasion and believe that all the evidence points to mans central impact in leading to climate change. However, I will acquiesce to those who have not attain that clarity. I need only you agree that no matter the cause climate change is occurring and that we need to act to protect our global society.

I would suggest that we start by examining our consumption patterns. Change your lifestyle and change the world. We are all apart of the change that we need.

WHERE IS THE CHECKLIST?


I have loved health care for as long as I can remember. I cannot imagine doing anything but providing care . What I have learned in the trenches is that the love of providing care is not enough. Over time i have realized that a fundamental problem with health care is not in the expensive of it but in the nature of the people in it. We want to provide care, but we bring into the system our biases. Those biases allow for less attention to be paid to some patients because of their language or skin color. We may say that we provide the same care to all patients, but as a black physician I see otherwise. My experience of the system at institutions where I am not known by members of staff is vastly different. The consequence of this uneven care is a system where those that can afford care and are the correction completion receive care that is more compassionate and timely.

How do we overcome the inherent bias in the system? The answer is not more training nor necessarily more diversity. The answer will be in the wide-spread use of evidence based payment structures. Our medical systems are complicated and expensive but are systems in name only. We have a complex string of components. All the parts are mostly well-trained and competent. However the results we obtain are not commensurate with the level of training nor the level of expense. The incongruity of expense and quality of results continues because those attempting to improve the system have not acknowledged or do not recognize the biases of the system. The gap in quality of outcome is most obvious in communities of color. The often given excuses are truly just that. Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step to a solution.

Paying for quality work is the only avenue to improved results. The question as to how we get better care for all patients is simple and complicated, but we have a great example in the aviation sector. My brother is an airline pilot and his training is extremity rigorous, but he starts his day with a checklist. He does not feel that his autonomy is being challenged, but that he is making sure that he does not kill himself. We in health care do not have any real skin in the game. Until the decision makers have some skin in the game we will not embrace what is necessary to make our constellation of components into a functioning system. Let us start delivering quality care by implementing checklists. Checklists are reminders of the quality in our options. The checklist is not for you it is for your parents and friends. That checklist is not for you, it is for that provider that is on her sixth surgery of the day. It is a nudge because she is tired. A checklist is for every one of us. It helps us by removing silly mistakes from our systems. For me the checklist is my hope that I will be treated like a patient deserving of care on the off-chance that I am a patient in a strange place where all that can be seen is the color of my skin.

DOCTOR, TAKE A STAND.


The debate around health care in our fair country as heated up again. The strange thing about the process is that the majority of the people commenting already have great insurance. They can afford to pay for great health care. The ACA is flawed and all should admit it, but it is not the cause of the chronic underperformance of our system. We have a closed unresponsive system that is constrained by an ill-informed electorate.

We need to exposed the entire system, both strengths and flaws, to the public. Doctors need to be in charge of care decisions and also need to be cognizant of the economic realities. Patients need to have realistic expectations, which should be set by their doctors.

Doctors need to stop listening to the ill-informed lobbyists. Those lobbyists are not working on our behalf, they are working for other economic interests. Doctors need to stand up and start voting our economic interests because the lobbyist are voting for their own. The interests of the lobbyist only rarely intersect with our own.

Let us take a stand together. Let us take a stand firstly for our patients and secondly for our own self interests.

IT WILL BE WORTH THE INVESTMENT


As Americans we expect to be the best in every field. Our expectations have been built on both historic experience and much self-delusion. We have achieved much because of  a long history of  focusing on our challenges and working together to solve them. There is no golden era,  just a time when Americans expected much and worked harder to achieve.  Today we have gotten used to the idea of achievement, but lack the vision or leadership to achieve. Long after we have done anything to declare us better than the rest we still believe ourselves to be.

This delusion is killing us slowly. It is allowing us the luxury of contentment. It is allowing us to believe the delusion that our children are getting a world-class education. It has allowed us to believe that our kids do not need to be the best in maths or science, but that they are more creative and will still be the winners of the next generation. We will one day find out the truth. Winning  as a nation means setting high expectations for all our citizens. Ensuring the continued success of our nation will depend on ensuring a second-to-none education for all.

Expecting little from the majority of our students is a recipe for disaster. All of our children deserve to be pushed hard, because they will not break. I believe all of America’s children can excel,  but only if we expect them to and begin giving them a shot at a world-class education.

Rigorous and challenging classrooms are what we need more than ever. Fun and education focused homes is where we need to start. Along with car seat education every parent should be given a blueprint as to how to start their child’s education. From birth to kindergarten is where the real focus needs to be. Parents need to be guided as how to challenge their prized little ones. It is that challenge and example that will determine their trajectory in life. Let us focus some pennies on our children’s education. It will be well worth the investment.

WAR and PEACE


The cycle of war and peace continues like the flow of water. Unlike the processes of nature, it is not inevitable. The process of life is about choice. We have the ability to choose the path we take. The decisions we make are not preordained, we are our life’s directors. As we direct our life we must take care of the vulnerable among us. War is a selfish act, resulting from the disregard for the many. It is the result of disordered thinking, that justifies killing as a means of protection. The incongruity of that argument is evident if we would reflect on it. Our reflection must consider the social nature of our species where we will follow those among us that profess caring and loyalty to the group. Unfortunately, the malicious and selfish among us have and will continue to exploit the majority, until the majority decides to be as concerned about the stranger as we are about the ones closes to us.

The more important question that needs examining concerns what will our future be if we do not break the cycle. War may bring a temporary peace, but the underlying discord will resurface. The cycle must be broken, if humanity expects to survive. The cycle can be broken when we address the root causes. Where the root of war is usually the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few. We must reconsider our use of the planet’s resources. It will be painfully to many, but will be beneficial to the most. We may not think that we are exploiting anyone, but if we examine our life it will become clearer that many of us are consuming excessive quantifies of the available resources.

If we all consider and re-order our life’s the great masses of the deprived on our planet could have the possibility to improve their lives. The cycle of war with interludes of peace could be broken by each of us say no to exploitation. We all have a responsibility to our species. Our care needs to extend further than down the street. We need to extend our care and concern to the father thousands of miles away that cannot feed his family, while we dump more food that we eat.

War is and always will be about resources. Let us all take a stand and share.

CLASSROOMS AND TECHNOLOGY


The current buzz in education is about bringing technology into the classroom. I am fully on board with the idea. The time as come for education to fully embrace the wonders that technology can bring to the classroom. I remember as a teenager watching physics and chemistry video lessons in my high school in rural Jamaica. When I could stay awake they were great. Staying awake post lunch was always a problem.

The current rush to bring computing devices into the classroom is both admirable and dangerous. The danger is that the implementations will be haphazard and teach kids the wrong things about technology. I would love to focus on the admirable part. I love technology and often I am out on my little branch working and ignoring the current fad, because I have already been there. In the 1990’s while in college I taught myself enough Pascal to be dangerous and later learned to assemble my own computer and explore alternate operating systems alone with Windows. From playing around I learned a lot about technology and about how I learn. The freedom to deconstruct the hardware and software was vital to my experience. I would suggest that giving kids that freedom will be beneficial to us all.

However, we must not become reliant on the technology to teach. Teachers are still the most important part of the equation. Teachers need to go back to the basics. Our classrooms need to revert to the apprentice models. Our teachers need to be competent and fluent in technology so that the technology will be integral but not overpowering. The balance is hard to achieve especially with the sums of money that are at stake. The big technology companies want to sell a product. They are not interested in education. This leads to school systems buying expensive hardware and software and loosing focus on the educating part of the mission. Technology is a tool, not the destination.

The increased introduction of closed hardware and software to children will likely stymie their development. I would like to see schools adopt an open hardware and software platform. These are the key design elements I would focus on.

1. Open hardware
2. Open software
3. Student support
4. Recycling
5. Hardware and software as an integrated learning environment.

LEADERSHIP CANNOT BE TAUGHT.


Leadership cannot be taught, it has to be encouraged. That is my view of the world and nothing I have seen in my very short lifetime has shown me otherwise. The problem of leadership in American culture is a complex challenge. We have bought into the idea that leaders are created in business school with ever more specialized management degrees. This philosophy could not be further from the truth. Leadership is about getting those around you to perform above their own expectations and to feel included and empowered. Leaders are great managers, unfortunately great managers are not necessarily great leaders. Business school can turn poor managers into great managers, but cannot create leaders.

The education that creates leaders starts in early childhood. It starts in the home at play. Creating leaders is about allowing your toddler to make decisions. It is about allowing her to be her own change agent. It is about explaining why. It is about explaining your yes and no answers equally. It is about recognizing that our toddlers learn from us. They are sponges and their best and worst habits are learned long before they can explain their decisions. Early training prevents later correction.

As the father of the two smartest daughters in the world I can attest to the strength of character of toddlers. My girls are now 3 and 5 and it is clear that they have very different personalities. In spite of their differences they both are confident and insist on making their own choices. They don’t readily follow the crowd. They, like little girls everywhere have been infected with the princess bug, but I smile when they choose the “boy” toys or face paint patterns. I am happy that they have been allowed to make their own choices and will not follow the other girls to the dolls but more often than not want both the doll and the truck. Having a community that supports our  girls is vital for the development of future female leaders.

For me, growing up around equally strong men and women instilled a powerful sense of place and robust confidence. This is what I want for my daughters and all our daughters. However, there is a noticeable lack of strong female leadership in our country. I would consider myself a feminist and believe that my girls are capable of doing and achieving anything they desire. Because there are physical limitation does not mean that she is not capable. The question is, are we willing to design and improve so she can express her full potential? This is the key question that needs answering. I know what my answer to that is. My daughters will never be told by me that they cannot. No one in my presence will go unchallenged if they suggest that my daughters cannot. I will lovingly push and challenge them, because they are just as capable as their male peers. It is time for us to use technology to level the playing field and allow all who would to be challenged by all this worlds has to offer.

I WILL NOT BECOME A STATISTIC.


As the world stands by and watches the flames of conflict I am saddened. I am saddened because humanity continues to destroy ourselves. We continue to sow the seeds of distrust and anger among our children. We seem not to be able to remember the pain that we have endured. We call on others to pursue peace as we beat the drums of war. How can peace be attained while retribution is supported? How can we support the process of peace while developing the means of war?

Some will say that war will always be with us. The truth is more complex and challenging than that simple statement. War will be with us as long as our leaders are cowards. As long as our leaders behave like street thugs, but are not held to the same rules. The problem is, there is no one to hold the powerful to the same  rules as the weak are held. Fundamentally the thugs that rule world politics are rich in resources both monetary and civic. They are primarily rich in civic resources. Powerful people support the slaughter and protect the barbaric.

We wonder why young educated and economically stable people join in the barbarism of conflicts all over the world. That questions is only asked by the morally deprived. I was brought up with a deep moral compass, in a country that has a longstanding history of supporting the “little” guy. The sun and fun of Jamaica was always equally matched by our deep mistrust of world powers, because we have suffer at the hands of the powerful. The powerful will always abuse the weak as long as the weak allow it. The arc of history is long and today’s victory for the morally deprave will turn into tomorrows sadness.

Many of us, and I include myself have long ago stopped being attentive to the many slaughters on the world stage. We have stopped paying attention because our anger has no outlet. We have joined the ranks of those that have chosen to deliberately not follow the happens in the world. We have stopped watching because the answers are obvious but will never be acted on. The powerful are amoral and the killing of non-combatants has become acceptable. We have stopped watching because there is no one willing to call out the complicity of those that pretend to represent us.

I have stopped watching because it makes me angry. I will not allow my anger to push me into the world of the depraved. I will not become a statistic.