Mediocrities

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

It’s easy to be forgotten when there are so many that are better than you. So why exert the extra effort when you can get along by simply doing as little as possible.

Virtually everyone has heard of Confucius, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Aquinas, and Locke, to name only a few of the most notable. Many aspects of our personal and professional lives are influenced by the thinking, teachings and writings of one or more of these great minds. Yet there is one forgotten philosopher who is followed by more people than any other.

Mediocrities is the forgotten, and uncelebrated, but most followed philosopher’s who taught, “Do only enough to get by.” Why excel when it’s so much easier to easier to fail? Why make something perfect if good enough will do?

Strangely enough, many people even unknowingly adhere to his philosophy in raising their children. Do you remember being told that things should be done in moderation?

Think of all the people you know who go through life satisfied with doing just enough to get by when with a little more effort, they could do more. Usually when you say this people will tell you something like, “It’s not just a little more, it’s a whole lot more. If all it took was just a little more, everyone would do it.”

Not true. A little goes a long way.

In USA Gymnastics history, Peter Vidmar is the highest-scoring gymnast. At the 1984 Games, he collected a gold on the pommel horse, after earning a perfect 10, and a second place finish in the individual all-around, becoming the first American to secure an all-around medal at the Games.

After winning the Gold Medal, Vidmar was the keynote speaker at a National Utility Contractors Association annual meeting many years ago. During the banquet, the press was given the opportunity to sit at the table with him. I got super lucky and was seated next to him. While we talked during the meal, I asked him what he had done that gave him the edge to earn a perfect score 10. He commented that during his competition, he noticed that the one common denominator was that everyone who won, won by just a little bit more than the person to beat. It was a tiny point spread between the winner and number two. It was tenths of a point, tenths of a second, or millimeters.

He said that he figured he didn’t have to be a lot better, he just had to try to be a little bit better. To accomplish this, he said that he pushed himself and worked out 10 minutes longer than anyone else and that the added 10 minutes gave him the winning edge.

Mediocrities says, “Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow. Maybe someone else will do it and you won’t have to.” If you follow this advice you will not only never win the Gold, you’ll never get a shot at it.

We have (or will have in a few days) newly elected representatives in Congress as well as all other political offices on the federal, state, county and municipal level. We need these people to put in an extra 10 minutes a day so that we can move forward on all levels. There are so many pieces of legislation that need to be handled; so many things that need to be done that are pending, such as the highway bill. We too need to put in an extra 10 minutes a day communicating with the people who have recently been elected to represent us making certain that they remember what got them elected and why they have assumed the responsibility of representation.

Don’t worry about Mediocrities. He may be forgotten but his philosophy will prevail, just as it has for centuries.

Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary.

Warren Bennis

The difference between greatness and mediocrity is often how an individual views a mistake.

Nelson Boswell

Mediocrities will appear in the November 2014 issues of the 13 ACP magazines.

The 2014 Elections are Coming!

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

It’s been a long time since I’ve looked forward to an election. I’m old and have been around for three quarters of a century. I proudly served four years in the Air Force and have worked for more than six decades. I’ve voted in 14 presidential elections, a couple dozen congressional elections and who knows how many local elections.

During this time, I have seen numerous politicians come and go. Most were concerned about the country and its future. Today’s politicians seem to be more concerned about their retirement packages, pay, benefits and getting re-elected than they are about the good of the country.

I remember World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War and can say in all honesty that since Vietnam, I’ve lacked the confidence in our leadership that I had during WWII and Korea. Today’s America is not the America I wore a uniform to protect and serve.

For all practical purposes, we have spent the last 14 or 15 years politically bickering and pointing fingers of blame at everyone. But immediately following 9/11, we were a united, unified America. We were reminiscent of the America that won WWII, that saw us through Korea, that our founding fathers dreamed of, for whom so many died.

However, we have since returned to disagreement, discord and
discontent.

We’ve come through a recession that crippled our economy and inflicted economic pain on thousands, many of whom were retired seniors who will never recover. We are still struggling to recover.

We can join those who point fingers of blame or we can accept the responsibility for the part we played in what has led us to these current conditions. You have to start by answering the questions: Did you vote? Did you vote responsibly?

If we aren’t satisfied with the performance of our elected representatives, we need to communicate with them and let them know. If we’re still dissatisfied, then it’s our responsibility to replace them with a better choice.

Elections should not be about party politics but about selecting the best people to represent us in
Washington.

There is so much that needs to be done and yet so little gets accomplished. How long do we have to wait for a new highway bill? Immigration? Clean water? Fair wage bill? The list is virtually endless. There are thousands of bills waiting and more being introduced daily.Bills qr20140915141335-300

Our representatives in Congress are the people who will promulgate some of these bills into law. The quality of the people in Congress depends on us and how well we have chosen. Do some homework and know something about the people for whom you vote. It’s a good idea to know if you can trust them to voice and express your opinions and concerns when making decisions for you. You are putting your future, the future of your children and the future of your country in their hands.

How important is voting?

“Which constitutional right is the most important? You might answer ‘freedom of speech’ or ‘free exercise’ of religion. Some think it’s ‘the right to keep and bear arms.’ Criminal lawyers think of the guarantee against ‘unreasonable searches and seizures,’ trial lawyers think of jury trial in civil cases. But which right appears most often in the Constitution’s text? It’s ‘the right to vote.’ The Constitution mentions ‘the right to vote’ five times.”(The Atlantic, September 18, 2012)Vote qr20140915143149-300

This year’s elections are only days away. Remember, it is important to vote responsibly and intelligently, not politically. Exercise your right and vote.

This editorial appeared in the October 2014 issues of the ACP magazines.

A Walk on the Great Wall, Watch Fires Part 2

China China 2

Patches Are Not Solutions

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Patches are not solutions. As I drive from home to anywhere I run over numerous patches. In fact, it’s difficult to find a stretch of road around her that isn’t paved with patches. Don’t get me wrong; there has been a lot of road construction this summer and 3-mile stretch of a heavily traveled road has been, once again, resurfaced hiding, but not fixing the patches. Right now the surface is smooth, relatively speaking, but by next spring it will require new patches.

The pavement patches are one thing; the highway bill patch another. It is in keeping with our political philosophy – why do today what can be put off until tomorrow. When the last highway bill was passed everyone knew it would be up for renewal. Years before it expired industry groups and coalitions started hammering Congress to get busy developing a new long-term bill that would address our transportation infrastructure needs.

The result?

Another patch on top of another patch on top of yet another patch, just like the unsafe roads we’re forced to travel. The bill was pushed back because there’s an election and the politicians, oh yes, I forgot, “our representatives” promulgate a piece of legislation that might raise taxes, create user fees or influence us to not re-elect them.

The attitude seems to be, To hell with the roads, your safety, the damage to your family cars, the increased cost freight transportation…

You will spend more money on car repairs that are a direct result of being forced to drive on patched pavements than you would pay in an increased gas tax!

I apologize for climbing up on my soapbox again; got carried away because after my last editorial I was accused of being a spokesperson for asphalt pavements. I love concert pavements as much as asphalt.

Here are some concrete facts:

Concrete pavements have been a mainstay of America’s transportation infrastructure for more than 50 years. The country’s first concrete street, built in Bellefontaine, Ohio, in 1891, is still in service today. Concrete pavements are not confined to one region of North America, nor to a specific type of environment or climate. Concrete can handle the freezing winters of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the scorching heat of the Southwest.

Regardless of the type of roadway or current pavement conditions, there can be a concrete solution. It can be used for new pavements, reconstruction, resurfacing, restoration or rehabilitation. Concrete pavements generally provide long life, low maintenance and low life-cycle cost.

Concrete pavements Typically remain in service on highways and roadways after 30, 40, or 50 years.

Rigid concrete pavements hold their shape, resist potholes, and offer excellent skid-resistance for vehicles.

Concrete pavements are recyclable. Concrete is one of the most recycled construction material in the world. For example, recycled concrete can be used to create base materials for new roadways or as ‘rip-rap,’ large pieces of concrete used for erosion control and flood prevention.

Asphalt or concrete, concrete or asphalt, it doesn’t matter. There are professional highway engineers who can and do design roads for the geographic regions in which they are laid with the materials that will provide the best service over the longest period of time. But like everything else in life there is a price tag attached. And like everything else in life, there are mitigating factors that influence the longevity of our roads: traffic volume; type of traffic – autos or trucks; climatic conditions; freeze-thaw cycles; temperatures below zero; roadbed base; base materials; pavement thickness; etc. The list is long and detailed. Building a road is not simple. The best roads require constant maintenance, regular repair, scheduled upgrades and a commitment to preserve their integrity and safety for continuous future use.

Our roads are a precious national resource – asphalt or concrete. It is our responsibility to protect the investment in them. Repairing today’s damaged roads tomorrow will be too late, especially for the people who suffer and die because of this neglect.

Greg Sitek

Note: This editorial appeared in the September 2014 issues of the ACP magazines.

A Walk On The Great Wall: China’s Changing Economic Trends By Matt Wisla

China’s Changing Economic Trends China’s Changing Economic Trends2