Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The American Jobs Act White House Tweetup

 My "Golden Ticket"

Welcome to Jamestown, NC

The President was safe and secure

with lots of news coverage (including yours truly)

at the Mary Perry Ragsdale Family YMCA venue for the "bus tour" stop.

My copy of the American Jobs Act

Finding my seat

among Americans of all walks of life;

Americans through and through.

The press box was filled with broadcasters from all over

and from the floor, your White House tweetup spokesman for today.

The following is a tweet-by-tweet (with a few video inserts and photos) of President Obama's speech:

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
To all the children at Cathedral School in Raleigh, NC, I hope you enjoy the #whtweetup of President Obama's American Jobs Act today!
9:33 AM 

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
 #whtweetup  at the Jamestown YMCA is filled to capacity and more coming in the door. The air is thick in anticipation of Obama's arrival.
9:56 AM 

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
Sitting next to Senator Hagan's staff and enjoying a bipartisan conversation on economics at #whtweetup
10:15 AM

The introductory speech by Linda

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
And here comes President Obama entering the YMCA in Jamestown, #NC for the American Jobs Act "bus tour" at #whtweetup. "Hail to the chief!"
10:57 AM

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
President Obama praising teachers and educators in Jamestown, #NC as an intro to the American Jobs Act. #whtweetup
11:23 AM 

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
Rebuilding America where if you do the right thing and everyone contributes will take time to rebuild but America will do it. #whtweetup
11:25 AM

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
American Jobs Act will be paid for by those who make over $1 million per year. #whtweetup
11:27 AM 

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
The American Jobs Act includes health care provisions and tax cuts for small businesses. #whtweetup
11:34 AM

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
I will be interested to see just how the tax cuts for small businesses really play out to be.Having run one myself this is needed.#whtweetup
11:36 AM 

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
#NC has faced teacher staff cuts while Korea is importing them in drives to compete against the USA according to Obama. #whtweetup
11:37 AM

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
The Jobs Act will provide the manpower to fix infrastructure issues like schools,roads,bridges,etc.So we don't fall behind China #whtweetup
11:39 AM

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
"Don't be bambuzled," says the President about how the Jobs Act will be funded. The top 2% people in our economy will pay for it.#whtweetup
11:43 AM 

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
The weight of the Jobs Act does not address other issues like taxing unemployment checks and other hardships. #whtweetup
11:44 AM 

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
I do agree with the President in that parts of the Jobs Act will improve the economy - he is breaking it up into smaller acts. #whtweetup
11:45 AM 

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
Standing ovation for the President's speech. #whtweetup
11:47 AM

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
Great experience seeing a standing president of our fine country here in Jamestown, #NC for th American Jobs Act. #whtweetup
11:48 AM

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
And with a few handshakes, hugging babies, and the occasional wave goodbye, the President moves on. What a privilege to be here.#whtweetup
12:01 PM 

twubbell Ken Hubbell 
Waiting for President Obama's motorcade to leave so we can exit the YMCA here in Jamestown, #NC#whtweetup
12:08 PM

And so ends my detour to Jamestown, NC, today, where I took a short step to the left and joined a majority of Democrats in hearing the President talk about real change for Americans. I don't agree with all of the provisions in his plan, but for those I am in favor, I hope that both parties in the Senate and Congress will quit playing games with the lives of average Americans and remember that we put them in office to do the right things for all of us, not just their favorites.

What a memorable experience this was, both to be there for the speech as well as to be able to share the experience with all of you.

- Ken

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tweeting the President

I have always said that grassroots politics and lobbying are only accomplished by professionals in the field and folks without day jobs. Now, the latter part is not necessarily true given the number of people who like to volunteer for their cause, but unfortunately for me, fourteen to eighteen hours a day six and sometimes seven days a week did not accommodate my desire to support the cause. Tomorrow, however, courtesy of my recent surgery forcing me to take a leave of absence from the daily grind (and enjoy naps in the afternoon to aid in my recovery), I found myself with a morning in North Carolina with nothing to do but watch bad television or read or take up the invitation I received from the White House to tweet from the Jamestown, NC stop on the American Jobs Act bus tour led by President Obama. So tomorrow morning, I will be taking a detour on my way home from dropping my son off at school to head a little farther east to capture the words and images of our  44th president.

Now to be fair, I must point out that I am a registered Republican and have been a staunch conservative most of my life. I was actually surprised to receive the invitation, but I want to believe he desires a balanced audience. And as such, I promise to give a balanced #whtweetup of the President's message to North Carolina and to the country at large. You can follow me @twubbell.

In 1985, I had the privilege of attending a speech by then President Reagan at Reynolds Coliseum on the campus of NCSU. The thrill of seeing a president of the United States in person was one of the highlights of my college days. I am anticipating a similar feeling tomorrow, for though I may not see eye-to-eye with him on many political issues in the end he is the leader of the most powerful and respected country in the world and he's our president.

I have skimmed over The American Jobs Act being promoted by the President and the Democratic members of the Senate and House of Representatives, and I will say that the sections on small business tax reform are right on target. For those of you who have shared my story here and in my book, you know the trials I and my family faced during the first decade of this new century because these types of reforms were not in place. Same goes for a decent health care policy and improvements to the unemployment system. We have to have some kind of change to both motivate our people in the short run and serve the well-being of our country in the long run.

Come back tomorrow night for a recap of the day's detour. Later this week I will have a complete after event blog posting with photos (I hope).


- Ken

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thanks, without you, I wouldn't still be here!

Stitches, staples, shunts and other techniques and technologies provided the means to save my life. They do not happen by themselves, however, and I would like to pay tribute to one of the finest team of doctors, surgeons and nurses I have ever known. Of course I would never have had the opportunity to meet this fine team were it not for the insistance of one person that I go to the hospital in the first place. And so, without further ado, my thanks to:

  • Heidi Zdrojeski (Supervisor and Mentor) – without whose insistance I would be no more
  • Dr. Steven A. Josephson, M.D. (Gastroenterology & Hepatology) – whose confidence and brilliance left me with no doubt that I was going to make it. Not to mention his diagnostic and emergency surgical skills helped me stay around long enough for the portal shunt surgery
  • Dr. John Hanson (gastroenterology,transplant hepatology and internal medicine) – head of the team
  • Dr. David Eagle (Internal Medicine, Hematology, and Oncology) – his energy and diagnostic approach led to the determination of my blood, liver and spleen condition
  • Dr. Lon Brian Eskind (Surgery and Liver Transplants) – no-nonsense analysis, determination and execution of the surgical strategy that ultimately saved my life
  • Dr. Blair A. Wormer (Surgery) – his bedside manner and clear explanation of the procedures reduced patient and family anxiety during the surgical process
  • Nurses Janet, Sean, Jessie, Matthew, Steve and many others both at Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville and Carolinas Medical Center for their care.
  • Family, friends and teammates for their thoughts, prayers, rides, meals, cards, flowers and visits.

And above all, the guiding hand of God empowering us all to survive this ordeal. He truly has a plan for us (I know He does for me or else why save me again?) and I hope all of you have experienced His love and strength through my experience.

- Ken

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Road to Recovery

There are moments in your life when you realize you are in control of nothing. Recovering from major life-saving surgery is one of those moments. I can go from feeling almost fine to so tired I can barely move in an instant. My body is in complete control right now and courtesy of some well-placed advice from those who know and love me most, I believe I am going to listen.

Being an ‘A’ type personality is not a good thing when you are in recovery. Relaxing for long periods of time is not in my nature. Don’t get me wrong, I like to take some time off here and there to spend with the kids or to read a good book. But anything beyond an afternoon of playing outside or the occasional “three chapters to avoid the dishes bathroom break” I start getting fidgety to accomplish something. When watching sports, unless it is one of my kids’ games, I have to have something else to do or else the downtime between plays is excruciating. Even back in high school, the teachers included a note in my folder that said, “Make sure Ken has a book to read every day so that when he finishes his assignments early he has something to do!”

In business, this requirement to stay busy has served me well for the most part. I usually juggle two or three main projects while maintaining an inventory of smaller research projects and white papers. This allows me to provide immediate service to our stakeholders while planning for future technology requirements.

So, when faced with several weeks of recovery on short term disability inhibiting my ability to perform my duties at work (meaning DO NOT DO WORK, RECOVER!) what’s a guy to do? In the past, I had no disability insurance, in fact this time they had to explain to me what it is and how I was supposed to use it. When faced with my previous two surgeries a decade ago and more, I simply worked; whether in the hospital or laid up in bed. Back then we didn’t even have the benefit of the Internet. My wife transported files back and forth via a large portable hard drive. But the reality was I worked. Now I was a bit younger in those days, however, since I was working from home I could set my schedule based on when I was sleeping and when I was awake. It gave my mind something to do while just lying there in bed. Was this the best mode of recovery? Based on what I now know, no. At the time, however, it was and it kept the lights on and the mortgage paid.

So, here I am today, lying in my bed, recovering slowly. The older tissues are mending well, but the soreness and weariness is a lot more than I remember from the past. Ten years applies a lot of wear to the body. Fortunately, with the exception of the recent vena caval issue, I am in great shape and the healing process is proceeding according to schedule. Maybe even a little faster than expected. For me it seems like eternity.

I am catching up on the grad school work I missed while in the hospital for two weeks. I have started the most recent “Change” Novel from SM Stirling. And, I have attempted to keep everyone up to date with semi-regular Facebook entries and mass emailings. And, as promised to my boss and my wife, I have not done one ounce of work while on disability. This is not to say I have not thought about it or what I would like to accomplish once I get back (you know you’re in trouble when you start dreaming of learning solutions in your sleep), but I have not acted on any of it; no papers, wireframes, PowerPoint slides, etc.

I think the best part on the road to recovery has been the people who have joined me from time to time. The loving support of my friends and family both outside and inside of my work has been amazing. Between the cards and emails and food and flowers and prayers, I have felt more loved by more people than any time in my life. I am truly blessed by God and all the angels he has sent my way. I was faced with a human burden of the flesh and through His grace he provided me with the best medical care and the best support team possible.

I am not sure how long this road will be. Initial estimates were the end of October. I am hoping for a week earlier, but we shall see. I at least want to be driving by this weekend, but we shall see. In the meantime I eat, sleep and occupy my waking hours with Netflix, Sci-Fi novels, grad school and the occasional blog post. The great thing is that there is an end to this road, and contrary to where I started two weeks ago, I am going to make it alive and well.

- Ken

Friday, September 16, 2011

A few pints low...

For the second time in my life I narrowly avoided the reaper this week. What started off as symptoms of a potential bout with the flu last Thursday turned into a racing heartbeat and extreme lethargy over the weekend and ended with me in the emergency room Monday morning eight pints of blood low and at death's door. Turns out I have been slowly losing hemoglobin for months, and even though my body had compensated well, this weekend I hit the point of no return.

So instead of life as usual (like there is such a thing) I have spent the past week receiving blood transfusions, MRI scans, upper and lower GI probes (always highlight events) and a barrage of shots, shots and more shots. I think the worst part, with the exception of drinking the GI GoLytley prep, is that I haven't had solid food since Sunday night.

As for what happened, while we don't know all of the details yet I will piece together what I think happened. About nine or ten months ago I started periodically bleeding internally. The cause of the bleeding stemming from pressure caused by my liver. This in turn affected my spleen causing it to begin reducing my red blood cells. Although my body compensated for a long time, I started feeling colder at my extremities (if that ever happens to you, go see the doctor immediately) especially at night. My skin color got gradually paler and paler as I lost more and more blood. My energy level was impacted but again my body compensated and just took stored energy from other areas of my body. During the final weekend, my body just couldn't keep up and my heart started racing. I could physically feel my heart pounding and I could hear it in my ears and head. I slept most of that weekend and had I not gone into the ER on the advice of my boss on Monday and instead gone home to sleep, I would have most likely never gotten up again. When you lose too much blood, you organs start to fail and that is bad.

Fortunately, by the grace of God, almost ten years to the day of my last miracle, I found myself in the care of Presbyterian Hospital of Huntersville (an awesome hospital with a great staff) where I am receiving the best care and hopefully will determine why my blood is not behaving correctly. The big thing I have learned from this ordeal is that medical science is the most complicated science of them all. The human body is a not just a single machine, but more a gestalt of many machines all working together; some with mutual dependencies. So when something is not working, it is not a simple this plus that equals reason. The answers are much more complicated and the process of elimination takes time.

The team of doctors working on me are examining each piece of the puzzle and hope to have the problem mapped out soon. Once we know the cause we can determine a solution.

In the meantime, I have time to reflect on all that is important in life. Yesterday I got to eat liquids (I had only had clear liquids til then) and enjoyed tomato soup and grits. As I said to my boss, it's the little things that make life worth while. For me that includes having my wife and kids around me and my parents who were coming to watch my son play a JV football game Thursday and got to see me too. I even received a YouTube video from my team at work wishing me well. Now that's what it is all about - family and friends!

More to come.

- Ken

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In his shadow...

Standing at just shy of six feet tall, the smallest of my children now casts a long and dark shadow over his old man. With shoulder pads, another three quarter inch for cleats, and stiff posture, he smiles down at me from his lofty height. Grinning from ear to ear, this once tiny toe-head beams because he knows he still has more to grow, whereas I will stay as I am, looking up at the young man he has grown to be.

Just days away from his first high school football game, he explodes with enthusiasm. I look over at him on the way to practice and he is fidgety, not in the nervous mousy way of some, but more like a tiger twitching his tail, scanning the horizon for prey, anticipating the attack with every fiber of his being. The muscles along his arms and shoulders ripple under his t-shirt. The hot summer months have tempered and transformed his body from iron to steel.

I watch him as he defends his position. On the "O"-line, he protects the quarterback's right flank as tackle, overpowering defenders larger and older than himself. He is eager to use his power, yet controlled and precise in its application. From novice to starting line, he is learning to master this game one down at a time. Leveraging the experience of each play to improve his performance and provide the teamwork required to move the ball across the goal line.

The transformation has been all encompassing. He no longer looks at our geographic migration as a penalty of life. Joining the grid iron fraternity has made him a part of something bigger than himself. Any time spent away from the field and his teammates is now seen as a deficit. And his past relationships remain strong over the distance courtesy of modern day communications and the knowledge that he is only one hundred and eighty minutes away by rail.

The hours of practice have not been limited to forging steel alone. Where the field of battle may have made him stronger, hours of rehearsing have continued to hone his musical skills into instruments of the finest qualities. He has set his sights on lofty goals and his talent and ambition will take him to heights I have only imagined. As he finds each new pursuit, I look forward to finding other shadows in which to stand.

Graduation from junior high school was both exciting and distressing. The calendar mocked him daily through the months of June and July. August has enjoyed the benefits of his stature and new social network and he is eagerly counting down to the first day of classes. This fall he starts his freshman year wearing his football jersey in the company of new friends with nothing but opportunities in front of him.

One might think to build him up this way is to unfairly set unrealistic expectations. In actuality I expect nothing. I am merely reflecting that at this time I have the wonderful opportunity to be there to enjoy the cool shade while sharing these moments with him. And I know that wherever he goes and whatever he does, I get to look up to see where he is going and he knows I am there taking in the view.

- Ken

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Like a ferret on caffine...

There are times being passionate about your work can be both a blessing and a curse. Having others want you to be a part of their projects is the blessing. Having the patience to wait for them to decide they need you and your ideas is the curse. And this curse can cause great consternation for everyone including me.

I have a tendency to rapidly connect the dots when analyzing problems and mentally half way through the project before many are even aware of what the problem is (the blessing). This does not in any way mean that my solution is the only solution or even that it is the best, it just means that I have one and therefore I need to share it or I might explode (the curse). The internal battle that wages within me is how to control this desire to be first with the breakthrough, first to the table, and then have to spend the balance of the time explaining and convincing why the idea was valid in the first place.

This is not to say I am not a team player (sorry for the double negative). On the contrary, I enjoy sharing the expertise of others inside and outside of my field. Where I experience difficulty is in not steam rolling the direction of a project just because my ideas jelled more quickly.

My boss calls it being "like a ferret on [caffeine]" (actually, she uses the work crack, but given its connotations, I decided to change it for this entry). She watches me with curiosity these days to see when I go into ferret mode. Fortunately, with her help, the ferret is becoming more manageable. It's amazing what you can learn even as old as I am.

So what am I learning? Well today was a perfect example. We were outlining initiatives for 2012 we want to act on to improve our learning deployment. Everyone on the call had items to contribute including me. As each person went through their lists, I could feel the passion rising, the need to put mine out there, all of them, and quickly. This morning, however, I elected to be patient. And, not only patient, I also decided to contribute but not dominate the process. This of course meant holding a few ideas back for another time or even better, for another person on the team to be able to contribute.

This was a major step for me. To put a few and not all on the table and then sit back to see what else might come. And come they did. And from their ideas I could add to them without owning them myself. And, after so many years, I was liberated in the knowledge that I would benefit from being patient and sharing the ideas of others.

This is especially important as my role is changing to be more and more strategic in nature. Transitioning from a historically tactical position to strategic means looking at the larger picture without being trapped by the nuances of the solution of "how" it will get done before painting the vision of "what" and "why" it is at all. This new found behavior of patience is critical to my success. Fortunately I have a mentor willing to help me recognize my flaws and develop the skills to manage my passion without losing it in the process.

- Ken