Carl T. Holscher fights for the customers.

Month: July 2015

Tech Writer

I am terrible at covering technology. I don’t write reviews. I won’t tell you about the latest gadget and why it’s worth your money. I struggle to prove why anyone should more than one thing that serves the same purpose.

I won’t give you app recommendations nor phone preferences. Technology is a tool to use. It’s not a religion to go to war over. It’s not worth the words spent and tears shed over the cruelties of which brand our plastic and metal shells come from in China.

I won’t tell you Mac or PC. I won’t mention Linux or its variants. I won’t waste your time and mine debating something pointless.

There are a great many people who will tell you all about technology and how you’re using it wrong. They’ll tell you how to use it better, how to make it work for you, how to hack your life and what you need to buy.

I say use what you have. Use the tools you can afford. Use the tools that make you happy. If you don’t need a smart phone, don’t buy one. If you don’t need a Mac, a Chromebook or slim Windows laptops will serve you well.

Technology has become a lifestyle and a fashion symbol. But it’s all branding on the same plastic box. It’s a ruse to get more money from you every year.

To buy the latest and the newest. To have the best all the time.

If that’s what you want and what makes you happy, I’m very happy for you. But it’s not the way I feel. It’s a way to feel.

So many times I see people writing as if their way is The One True Way. Whether it be the writing application they use or the operating system their computer runs or telephone they carry.

Here is my great truth.

There is no One True Way.

There is no single answer. There is no right and wrong. There is only what works for you.

Therapy beyond speech

Being a therapist is hard work. Working as an art or music therapist is doubly hard because in addition to doing hard work, you’re constantly having to explain, evangelize and defend your work to people who have no idea what you do. ms. kris neel wrote a great post with Music Therapy info. She writes:

What is Music Therapy?

The official website for the American Music Therapy Association cites that “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”

All of these factors set us apart from other musical services offered such as recreational music or music performance, so it’s important that we understand what that definition actually mean.

Music interventions and individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship: Music therapists don’t just pick a song and something fun to do with it. Each client has goals that are specific to their strengths and needs, and their music therapist will choose music interventions (based on the research!) to assist the client in reaching those goals in a safe and motivating environment. Just because it looks like fun and games doesn’t mean that’s, in fact, what it is.

She includes a couple of links to music therapy in action. I had no idea Gabby Giffords’ recovery was due in large part to Neurologic Music Therapy. I remember the story of Dilbert creator Scott Adams regaining his voice through speaking in rhyme. (Original link is dead.) Each one of us has an extremely powerful relationship to music. A song can teleport me back into a specific point in my past. I have strong associations with music and my history. Music is medicine. The TED talks Kris linked too were enlightening. She fights a good and important fight.

My wife faces this same struggle. She is an art therapist and has the same problem with people not knowing what she does. Or thinking she’s an art teacher.

She specializes in working with seniors with dementia. It’s a specialized but growing population that often gets overlooked. She chose to work with them and has focused her efforts on understanding them and tailoring her efforts to getting them involved and to stimulating their minds. In her words, “I help people use art as a way to express themselves or deal with the challenges of life.”

The goals of therapy can be different depending on who is getting the therapy and it’s a vital profession. But one that is badly misunderstood especially once you branch out from the image people have in their heads of Dr. Freud and a patient lying on a couch.

Traditional therapy cannot work for everyone. There are entire populations of people who cannot speak and tell you what they’re feeling, specifically children and the elderly with dementia.

To reach them, you need to use other therapeutic techniques such as art or music therapy. Since what do you do is the first question most people ask upon meeting, I’ve listened to my wife explain, again, what it is that she does. And no, she is not an art teacher.

I’m sure Kris gets tired of repeating herself and hopefully by now she has the “elevator pitch” of what she does. It’s a line you’ll be using a lot.

Long Distance Love

Long-distance relationships are hard. This is not news to anyone who’s been in one. I’ve spent far too many hours driving through Virginia.

I met the woman who would become my wife when I lived in Richmond, VA and she was in school at Virginia Tech. Almost every weekend this meant driving out to Blacksburg or waiting for her to do the same. These were the longest drives ending in the hardest Sunday nights I’ve had. The tearful goodbyes and painful distance meant the weeks were full of video chats, IMs, text messages and as much remote contact as we could manage.

It didn’t get any better once she graduated. She was in Northern VA and I was still in Richmond. Our weekends were the same long drives, but different destinations. Instead of I-64, it was I-95 into the heart of DC traffic and back again every weekend (or as close to that as we could manage.)

Annie and me from October 2007

I remember the stretches of three weeks without seeing each other feeling like the longest times of my life. The computer gives bad hugs. And it never kisses me back.

So while we couldn’t be close to each other, I got to know this wonderful woman deeper than anyone else. We talked. For hours. Everyday. About everything. We shared our loves and fears. Our taste in music and movies. Stories from our lives and our daily existences. I knew Annie and she knew me. We grew ever closer as we learned more and more about each other.

We didn’t have silent movie dates followed by mouths full of food. We had talked all week. We knew each other.

It made every moment we had together all the sweeter. We would spend every moment of those weekends together. The delays in traffic hurt so much because they cut into that precious time together.

It was a rough part of my life. And it lasted far longer than I hope it would. But I eventually found work in DC and moved closer. We eventually got married and moved in together.

The long-distance was the hardest part of our relationship but it also made it so much stronger. It’s always hard, but it will pay off in the end. Use the time you have apart to talk and really get to know each other. Make sure the relationship is worth it. You will be richly rewarded.

Bobby Bonilla should thank Bernie Madoff

This morning, I came across the fascinating story of why the Mets pay a long-retired player a little over $1,000,000 every year. This is the tale of Bobby Bonilla, Bernie Madoff and the luckiest baseball contract ever signed. Enjoy your money Bobby, you’ve set yourself and your kids up to have a good life.

When it came time to negotiate with The Mets, Bobby Bonilla was smart enough to secure one of the most forward thinking contracts in sports history. He knew The Mets wanted him gone but technically owed him $5.9 million. He also knew he had a young son and daughter who would be looking to go to college, and as a 36 year old, he likely had many years worth of life to live. So at this point, Bobby and his agents offered a unique compromise: The Mets would release Bobby to play for another team and they would delay the $5.9 million payment for 11 years, with interest. In essence, The Mets agreed to pay Bobby a total of $29.8 million (instead of $5.9 million) in 25 annual installments of $1.192 million, starting in the year 2011.

Bobby Bonilla

So why would The Mets agree to this deal?

The Bernie Madoff Connection

In 1986, Real estate developer Fred Wilpon purchased 50% of The New York Mets for an undisclosed sum. He purchased the remaining 50% for $135 million in 2002. Wilpon was also one of the biggest investors in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme hedge fund. Prior to the fund’s December 2008 collapse, Madoff was returning a consistent (and completely fake) double digit rate of return every year.

With those returns in mind, Wilpon knew that The Mets would actually make a huge profit by deferring Bonilla’s $5.9 million. Even though that meant agreeing to pay him more than five times the amount they owed ($29.8 million), Wilpon could safely estimate that the Mets would make $60-70 million off $5.9 million over those 25 years investing with Madoff.

I hope Bonilla sends Madoff a Thank You card every year. This is a fantastic tale that I’d never seen until it was a Facebook trending topic this morning.

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