How to Run an Effective Meeting

September 27th, 2015 11:59pm - Posted By: Mark Cohen

How to Run An Effective Meeting

1. Show up at the meeting at few minutes early so you can read all the meeting materials that you should have already read.

2. At the appointed time, say in a loud voice something like, "OK, it's noon. Let's get started." Pause for two seconds. Some people will still be yacking after that, so in a loud voice say, "The first item on the agenda is X. Are there any comments?"

3. After each person makes a comment, say something positive such as, "That's a good point, Bob" or "Nice insight, Marcy." Do this even if the comment was the most stupid thing you have ever heard.

4. When all the comments are done or the comments begin to get redundant, say, "Is there a motion?" (Someone will make a motion).

5. Say, "Is there a second?" (6-8 people will second the motion so they can feel like they contributed to the meeting and see their name in the minutes at the next meeting).

6. Say, "All in favor?" (Everyone will raise their hand or say 'Aye.')

7. Say, "All opposed?" (Nobody will oppose it).

8. Repeat this process for each agenda item.

9. When the last agenda item has been concluded, say, "Is there a motion to adjourn?" Nearly everyone in the room will say, "So moved."

10. There is no need to ask for a second since anyone who did not say, "So moved" will immediately say, "second."

11. Say, "Thank you all for coming and for all your hard work. I'll see you all again on (insert date of next meeting).

That's all there is to it.  Is there a third grader in Colorado that could not do this?

Posted in: Humor

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Climate Change in 802 Words

September 27th, 2015 11:44pm - Posted By: Mark Cohen

The issues confronting man today are sometimes complex. Few of us possess the knowledge necessary to evaluate complex issues like climate change. To complicate matters, people and organizations with their own agendas devote tremendous resources in attempts to sway public opinion. This column focuses on one such issue – climate change.

Many of us have seen video of some forlorn polar bear standing on a small ice platform, surrounded by water, seemingly wondering what happened to all the ice.  We’ve read articles about glaciers receding and ocean levels rising. And some of us are old enough to believe the weather we experience today is more extreme than when were young; as a boy I never saw Lake Dillon as dry as it is today.  But I will ignore these things even though they offer anecdotal evidence of man-made global warming.    

I ignore them because climate change deniers typically respond to such evidence by pointing out that climate change is cyclical and asserting that even if climate change is taking place there is no evidence that man is causing it.   I also ignore those anecdotal bits of evidence because there is an easier to way to prove the deniers wrong – ice core samples.

Earth keeps a journal. Instead of words, Earth records each day’s events by preserving natural objects. One way Earth does this is by trapping air bubbles in glacial ice. By drilling deep into the ice in places like Greenland and Antarctica, scientists can determine the levels of gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide present in the atmosphere at any point in time during at least the past 650,000 years.

Here is what the ice core samples tell us. During ice ages, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were around 200 parts per million (ppm), and during the warmer interglacial periods, they hovered around 280 ppm. In 1950, the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide went above 300 ppm for the first time in 650,000 years. In 2013, it went above 400 ppm – a level not seen on Earth in millions of years. Moreover, the rate at which these levels are increasing is accelerating from decade to decade. From 2005 to 2014, the average annual rate of increase was 2.11 ppm. This rate of increase was more than double the increase in during the 1960’s.  

We also know the Industrial Revolution did not begin until the mid-1700’s and that man’s use of fossil fuels increased dramatically with the invention of the internal combustion engine and the mass production of automobiles in the early Twentieth Century.

Do these facts prove with certainty that man is causing climate change? Nope. It’s theoretically possible the dramatic increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases during the past few hundred years is completely unrelated to the dramatic increase in man’s use of fossil fuels during the same period – an incredible coincidence. You can even find a few scientists that claim warmer temperatures are not the result of increases in greenhouse gases, but are instead the cause of those increases.

But is certainty the correct standard? We do not require certainty in death penalty cases, but instead require only proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” And in everyday decisions we often employ a lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard.  If an oncologist told you there was a 60% chance you would die within six months unless you underwent chemotherapy, what would you do? If you sought opinions from ten oncologists and nine gave the same opinion, would you believe the nine or trust the one telling you everything is fine?

If man continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate over the next few centuries, scientists predict the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide will rise to 1500 ppm. Our descendants will likely witness rising sea levels, rising temperatures, warmer oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, more extreme weather, ocean acidification, and decreased snow cover.

I recently presented this information to a climate change denying friend and his response was, “So what?” I admired the speed with which he went from denying climate change entirely to conceding it and asking, “So what?”  In response to that question, we can look at any number of things – severe drought and higher food prices, increased cancer rates, loss of oceanfront property, loss of wildlife habitat, loss of species, and many other consequences. We may not even know all the possible repercussions.    

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush recently opined that for people to declare the science on climate change has been decided is “intellectual arrogance.” No, Jeb, it is arrogant for humans to believe we can do one thing (burn massive amounts of fossil fuels) without it impacting other things such as the delicate balance the Earth developed over millions of years. The canary in the coal mine is singing and these fools want Mozart.

Posted in: Politics

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Remembering Norris Weese

September 27th, 2015 11:40pm - Posted By: Mark Cohen

Great Moments in Denver Broncos History: Remembering Norris Weese 

When most Denver Broncos fans think about great Broncos players, they think first of John Elway.  That is as it should be.  Then they may think of Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, Steve Atwater, Randy Gradishar, or Tom Jackson.  Older fans may also recall Floyd Little, Haven Moses, and Dr. Charley Johnson. These players had long, successful careers with the Broncos.

This article is not about a great Bronco.  Norris Weese played only four seasons with the Broncos (1976-1979).  He was an undersized backup quarterback.  In his entire NFL career he completed 143 of 251 passes for 1,887 yards.  He had twice as many interceptions as touchdowns (14 to 7).  He had 69 rushes for 362 yards.  And he punted 53 times, 52 of them in 1976 when he also served as the team’s punter.    

Norris Weese may not be on the list of great Broncos players, but for those who were Broncos fans on October 16, 1977, Norris Weese is and always will be a cult hero – a freakin’ legend who will live forever in Broncos history for a single play. 

On that day the Broncos played their arch-rivals, the hated Oakland Raiders, in Oakland.   Both teams were 4-0.  The Raiders were coming off a Super Bowl Championship and were heavily favored.  Denver had been the laughingstock of the AFC for most of the franchise’s existence.  Before the game, veteran Sportscaster Charlie Jones said, “I don’t think anyone can beat the Raiders right now.”

Leading 14-7 in the second quarter, the Broncos lined up for a 32-yard field goal that would extend their lead to ten before halftime.  Denver’s kicker was the 37 year-old veteran, Jim Turner.  Turner was last of the straight ahead on kickers.  Today’s kickers kick soccer style and some even kick barefoot, but Turner always wore black high top football shoes with square toes and kicked straight ahead.

Jim Turner was a reliable kicker, but not a great athlete.  He had a paunch around his middle.  Denver Post columnist Woody Paige once quipped, “Turner runs the hundred yard dash in about three days.”

In those days the backup quarterback almost always held the ball on field goal attempts.  So Turner, Weese, and the rest of the team lined up for the field goal attempt.  They would have been happy to go into the locker room at halftime with a ten point lead.

The snap was perfect, and Weese placed the ball down.  But then something funny happened.  Weese had a better idea.  He pulled the ball back as Turner swung his right leg through to finish his kick.  Weese rolled right looking for an open receiver or tight end Riley Odoms, but the coverage was solid.  And then Weese looked back to his left.  And there, all alone, was the overweight 37 year-old field goal kicker in high topped shoes who had drifted out to the left flank.  Weese floated the ball to Turner.

And then, for a few seconds, nearly every person in the Mountain Time Zone held their breath, waiting to see if Turner could catch the ball.  He did.  Then the old man lumbered into the end zone in his black high tops for one of the easiest touchdowns in league history.  Turner later said of the play, “I ran into the end zone out of fear. Speed wasn't involved.”

The Broncos went on to humiliate the Raiders by a score of 30-7, picking off Kenny Stabler seven times, with Broncos Linebacker Tom Jackson taunting Raider Coach John Madden on sideline by yelling, “It’s all over fat man.”  (To this day there is a website for Broncos fans called It’s All Over Fat Man at www.itsalloverfatman.com).  That may have been the most important regular season play in Broncos history.  It changed the rivalry forever.  Denver trounced the Raiders and went on to the team’s first Super Bowl that season.  Since that day the Broncos have had one of the best winning percentages in the NFL. 

It’s not clear whether the Weese to Turner fake field goal was a designed play or whether Weese made the decision on his own.  It didn’t look like a designed play.  Weese looked like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown.  I like to think Weese made the decision on his own. 

After Turner retired, a reporter asked him about that play.  Turner said, “Sometimes it aggravates me.  I kicked 304 field goals in my career, and that’s all they want to talk about, that play.”

The Broncos named Weese their starting quarterback in 1979, but a knee injury ended his career.  He became a certified public accountant in Denver.  Norris Weese died of bone cancer at the age of 44. 

Thanks for the memories, Norris.

Posted in: Sports

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