I’ll even let you hold the remote.

Adam Sandler
Happy Birthday to the Man who makes our TV set a Little less Remote

Happy Birthday to the Man who makes our TV set a Little less Remote

Posted by martin.parnell |

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog about those handy little things that, for some of us make life a little easier. I was reminded of this when I noted that today, December 4th is the birthday of inventor, Robert Adler.

According to Wikipedia, Adler was born in Vienna in 1913, the son of Jenny (née Herzmark), a doctor, and Max Adler, a social theorist.  He earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Vienna in 1937 and, following Austria's annexation by Nazi Germany in 1939, Dr. Adler, who was Jewish, left the country. He traveled first to Belguim, then to England, where he acted on the advice of friends, and immigrated to the United States. He began working at Zenith Electronics in the research division in 1941. In his lifetime, Adler was granted 58 US patents.

The invention Adler is best known for is a wireless remote control for televisions. While not the first remote control, its underlying technology was a vast improvement over previous remote control system.

Eugene Polley, anther engineer at Zenith  invented the first wireless remote control, replacing the signal cable based remote control devices, which never were a success. The Flash-Matic used directional flashlight in the transmitter device, and photo cells in the television set itself. One of the major shortcomings of this technology was that if the television set was exposed to direct sunlight, it could inadvertently trigger one of the remote control functions. The company president sent the engineers back to the drawing board to come up with a better solution. 

A system based on radio waves was briefly considered but rejected because the signals could easily travel through walls and could inadvertently change the channel on a neighbour's television. Furthermore, the marketing people at Zenith desired a remote control which did not require batteries, as it was perceived at the time that if the battery died, the customer might think something was wrong with the television set itself.

Adler's solution was to use sound waves to transmit signals to the TV. The first remote control he developed, the "Space Command", used aluminum rods, analogous to tuning forks, struck by hammers toggled by the buttons on the device, to produce high-frequency tones that would be interpreted to control functions on the television set.

In the 1960s, Adler modified the remote control to use ultrasonic signals, a technology which went on to be used in television sets manufactured for the next 25 years, until replaced by infrared systems which could transmit more complex commands, although, ironically, they still needed batteries to work.

Present-day remote controls are commonly consumer infrared devices which send digitally-coded pulses of infrared radiation to control functions such as power, volume, channels, playback, track change, heat, fan speed, or other features varying from device to device. Remote controls for these devices are usually small wireless handheld objects with an array of buttons for adjusting various settings such as television channel, track number, and volume.

An article in the New Yorker, reported a story about one member of the Z-Wave Alliance, an association of about two hundred and fifty so-called “home-control” manufacturers and service providers.  This past August, he climbed nearly twenty-seven thousand feet to the peak of Cho Oyu, in the Himalayas. With the push of a few buttons, he used his smartphone to adjust thethermostat, flip the lights, and unlock and lock the doors of his New Jersey home. 

Remote control has continually evolved and advanced and now include Bluetooth connectivity, motion sensor-enabled capabilities and voice control.

So, the next time you use that remote control to record your favourite program, let you skip through all those TV ads or simply turn up the volume, from the comfort of your armchair, give a thought to Robert Adler.

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Beginnings are easy. The thing is to finish the race.

Victor Belfort
Finish the Race Attitude: How to Make it Work for you in 2018

Finish the Race Attitude: How to Make it Work for you in 2018

Posted by martin.parnell |

What is a “Finish the Race Attitude”? Well, Attitude is defined as “A way of feeling or acting toward a person, thing or situation” and “Finish the Race”, is getting things done!

In this blog I want to talk about the three steps to having a “Finish the Race Attitude”: Goal Setting, Goal Execution and Goal Completion. 

Yogi Berra, baseball legend, said — “We're lost, but we're making good time.  Is that how you feel about elements in your business? Zig Ziglar, Speaker and Author said “You need a plan to build a house. To a build life, it is even more important to have a plan or goal” and the key to successfully achieving that goal is to write it down. 

Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, recently studied the art and science of goal setting. She gathered two hundred and sixty-seven people together — men and women from all over the world, and from all walks of life, including entrepreneurs, educators, healthcare professionals, artists, lawyers and bankers. She divided the participants into groups, according to who wrote down their goals and dreams, and who didn’t.

She discovered that those who wrote down their goals and dreams on a regular basis achieved those desires at a significantly higher level than those who did not. In fact, she found that you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis. So for those of you that do write down your goals ask yourself these questions:

Do you review them monthly? Do you review them weekly? Do you review them daily?

Why daily? The key is to look at what you are doing on a daily basis to see if it’s aligned with your goals. If it is great, if it’s not then ask yourself “Should I be doing this?”.

So remember: In Goal Setting: Write it!

The Second Step I want to talk about is Goal Execution. Fine, so I’ve written my goal down but it’s so big, so over-whelming I just don’t know where to start. As the old saying goes “How do you eat an elephant, one piece at a time”. In 2010 I undertook to run 250 marathons in one year. Initially, the excitement of the challenge and the fact that I had people join me on the run kept me going however after a few months the excitement and the people disappeared. 

It wasn’t so much a physical challenge as a mental one. I was running 5 marathons a week and by mid-year I was literally running on empty. I remember waking up at 5.00am after running 4 marathons that week. The rain was pounding on the bedroom window and I just wanted to stay in bed, have a cup of tea and read the newspaper. The only way I could face the day was by “Chunking it down” in 10 minute blocks. 

I got up and in the first 10 minutes had a tea and breakfast. Then, for the next ten minutes, I’d go and just dress up in running gear, no harm in that. The rain was still pounding down. Next, I’d get in my car and take a ten minute drive to where I would start my run. This was the difficult 10 minutes. I’d then say to myself “Martin just go and run for 10 minutes, if you don’t like it then turn around and come back”. 

Well, after 10 minutes I was out there and turning around was not an option. Chunk it down. Use the technique on anything you’re tackling: Blogs, newsletter, cold calls and even writing a book. 

I’ve had two books published, MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and each have between 65,000 to 70,000 words. By chunking it down to 500 words a session and setting aside time each day to work on it, the manuscript was completed in six months. Could I have done it quicker? Possibly, but the bottom line was got it done. The power of consistent action cannot be over emphasised. 

So remember: In Goal Execution: Chunk it! 

The third step I want to talk about is Goal Completion. At the end of the day you’ve either successfully completed your goal or you haven’t. One of the hardest things is to take on something and it doesn’t work out. 

In 2013 I set a goal of running the Calgary Marathon while attempting to set a Guinness World Record for the fastest time in full lacrosse gear. The purpose being to raise $10,000 for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. The rules stipulated that it had to be under 4 hours and I had to wear a helmet, elbow pads, shoulder pads, and gloves while carrying a lacrosse stick and ball. 

On race day the temperature started at 15C and increased to 20C. My black helmet, probably not the best colour, became an oven. I started to overheat and my heart rate went through the roof. Up to the 38 km marker my pace was on target but then the wheels came off. I was dizzy and my legs went to rubber. I crossed the line at 4 hours 18 minutes and they rushed me into the medical tent. 

Nelson Mandela says “I never lose, I either win or learn”. So what did I learn? Well, it was probably one of the stupidest goals I’ve ever set however from a fund raising point of view it was a success. I think I got a number of “Pity Donations”. The temperature had done me in and there wasn’t a lot I could do about that. Sometimes when you take on something and given it your best shot it still doesn’t work out. The key, accept and move on. 

That’s why, when we do have successes, it’s so important to celebrate them along the way. This year I facilitated a number of workshops for indigenous men and women in Morley on “Unlocking your Potential”. We talked about Goal Setting and Goal Execution and then shared our thoughts on celebrating on Goal Completion. 

Some of the things they would do included: Have a steak dinner at Montana’s with friends, have a BBQ with supporters and friends, show certificate, take family to Disney World, house warming party, go mud bogging with truck, go camping with friends, have a special gathering, share with others. The key is share your successes. 

So remember: In Goal Completion: Celebrate it! 

In finishing, I want to leave you with 3 “It’s”. In Goal Setting, Write it; in Goal Execution, Chunk it and in Goal Completion, Celebrate it. 

If you follow these three steps then you will well on your way to having a “Finish the Race Attitude" and an incredible 2018.

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No one has ever become poor by giving.

Anne Frank
How to Support others Locally, Nationally and Internationally during the Holiday Season

How to Support others Locally, Nationally and Internationally during the Holiday Season

Posted by martin.parnell |

As I mentioned, in my last blog, I’m currently making preparations for my 8th. Annual Run/ Walk event, to be held, on December 31st from the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, here in Cochrane. Participation is by donation and all of the money goes to the charity that I have chosen to support, that particular year. Although, sometimes, I think it’s the charity that has chosen me!

This year, I will be supporting girls in Afghanistan, through the charity Free to Run. This is a NGO, whose mission is to use running and outdoor adventure to empower and educate women and girls who have been affected by conflict. Now I know that there are some people that wonder why I don’t solely support local or National charities. My answer to that is “I do”.

Personally, my wife and I support several charities, including CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the blind), the Alzheimer’s Society, the Alberta Lung Association, the Cochrane Food Bank and The Cochrane Activettes, to name but a few.

But it’s not all about donating money, sometimes, just giving of your time can make a huge difference to a worthy cause.

It was with this thought in mind, that I was moved by a story, by Sarfraz Manzoor, published in last Sunday’s British newspaper, The Observer, about a Muslim couple, who decided to enter the fostering system, in the UK.

This is part of their story:

Just before Christmas seven years ago, Riffat and Sajjad were at home when the phone rang. It was the foster agency letting them know that three children they’d never met would be arriving shortly. The children – two sisters and a brother – were in urgent need of short-term care. Sajjad and Riffat had been approved as foster carers only two months earlier and these would be their first placements.

“We were excited, but I was also a bit nervous,” recalls Sajjad, 50.

Both Riffat and Sajjad are observant Muslims of Pakistani heritage. Riffat, 46, was wearing a headscarf when we met, and prays five times a day. How did they cope with the arrival of three white English children raised in a Christian household?

 “I will never forget that day,” recalls Riffat, who grew up in Pakistan and moved to Britain after marrying in 1997. “It really was like being thrown in the deep end.”

That evening, once the children were asleep, Sajjad headed out on an urgent shopping mission. “We are Muslims and we’d never had a Christmas tree in our home,” says Riffat. “But these children were Christian and we wanted them to feel connected to their culture.” So he bought a Christmas tree, decorations and presents. The couple worked until the early hours putting the tree up and wrapping presents. The first thing the children saw the next morning was the tree.

“I had never seen that kind of extra happiness and excitement on a child’s face,” remembers Riffat. The children were meant to stay for two weeks – seven years later two of the three siblings are still living with them.

Riffat has grown used to surprised looks from strangers and people asking if the reason she has such fair-skinned children is because she married a white man. But she focuses on the positives – in particular how fostering has given her and Sajjad an insight into a world that had been so unfamiliar. “We have learned so much about English culture and religion,” Sajjad says. Riffat would read Bible stories to the children at night and took the girls to church on Sundays. “When I read about Christianity, I don’t think there is much difference,” she says. “It all comes from God.”

Just as Riffat and Sajjad have learned about Christianity, the girls have come to look forward to Eid and the traditions of henna. “I’ve taught them how to make potato curry, pakoras and samosas,” Riffat says. “But their spice levels are not quite the same as ours yet.” The girls can also sing Bollywood songs and speak Urdu.

“I now look forward to going home. I have two girls and my wife waiting,” says Sajjad.

I love this story because Riffat and Sajjad didn’t let the barriers of race, religion or culture stand in the way of their desire to help others in need.

I sincerely hope there are lots of people out there who feel the same and will be joining me, on December 31st. and, if you can’t make it. You have the opportunity to donate directly to this worthy cause through my website www.martinparnell.com . Just hit the big red “DONATE” button.

If you think that a local or national charity is where you would like to donate your well-earned money, then that’s great too.

All I ask is that you consider the act of donating and making a difference in the life of someone else, next time you go shopping and are tempted to buy just one more decoration for the tree, one more stocking stuffer, or that extra box of chocolates.

Happy Holidays!

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Books are a uniquely portable magic.

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Books, the Perfect Gift idea for Last-Minute Shoppers

Books, the Perfect Gift idea for Last-Minute Shoppers

Posted by martin.parnell |

I’m sending this blog a few days early, because I doubt many of you will be logging on to read my latest thought, on Christmas Day. As I’m posting it just before your last chance to do any gift buying, I thought I’d try and offer some help. 

For the past few weeks, my wife, Sue, has been wearing a button which reads “All I want for Christmas is Books.”  I should mention that she has only worn it around the house, as this is a message specifically for me. (Other family members got the message long ago.) 

This is great, as I know that whatever book I choose for her, it will be greatly appreciated. It does help, of course, that she has a “Wish List”. I’m mentioning this because, just in case you still have some last-minute Christmas shopping to do, I would suggest that you can’t go far wrong with a book, in some form or another. 

I prefer the traditional type that you hold in your hands and requires a book mark, “A great stocking stuffer that the craftier ones amongst you can have great fun making and personalising”, according to Sue. However, for some people an audio book is more convenient and there are others that would rather read books downloaded onto their laptop or Kindle. 

Whichever way you enjoy a good read, you know the pleasure a book can give whether it’s one that you have specifically requested or a complete surprise. We love to give books for gifts, especially to children. We tend to go for the classics, in the hope that they will be treasured, for years to come. Browsing around your local book store or searching through suggestions online, can be fun, but a bit bewildering, especially if you are limited for time. 

So, I thought I’d try and help out by suggesting some titles you might like to consider: 

  • For young children:   “Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter or   “Nuptse and Lhotse Go To The Rockies” by Jocey Asnong. 
  • Children 6 – 10:  “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery or “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg.
  • For teens and young adults: Check out “The Yellow Hoods” series by local author Adam Dreece. 

I could suggest a huge number of books for adults, but I’ll just stick to a few I’ve personally enjoyed or look forward to reading – once I’ve opened my Christmas parcels! 

Everyone, but especially runners and dog lovers will enjoy “Finding Gobi” by Dion Leonard. A fascinating and amusing non-fiction read is “The History of the Snowman” by Bob Eckstein. Thriller readers will be happy with “A Legacy of Spies” by John le Carre, but if you think that might be a bit heavy-going, then how about the latest from Stephen King, co-written with his son, Owen, entitled “Sleeping Beauties”. 

On the business side, one book I really enjoyed was Lois Creamer’s “Book More Business –Make Money Speaking”. No nonsense and lots of great tips to apply in 2018. 

Of course, with adults, as well as children, if you want a Christmas – themed read, you can’t go wrong with one of the classics like Charles Dickens’  “A Christmas Carol” or the more recent “The Christmas Train” by David Baldacci. 

Books, especially the hardback versions, can be expensive, so why not check out your local thrift store? We have picked up many second-hand books and audio books for just a dollar or two. 

I do hope this has been of some help and I hope you receive some good reads this Christmas. 

I would tell you which books are waiting for Sue, under the tree, but she occasionally reads my blog! 

Merry Christmas.

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