Sunday, May 17, 2015

New President Interview -- Part 29

Is TQM Connected to a College Education?

May 17, 2015


Q: Recently I read about a game from the 1990’s called "Guns and Butter." [fn 1] In the game players pretend they are in charge of a country’s economy and have to decide the investment balance between armaments, food and infrastructure. If the player spends too much on arms, the people starve. If the people starve, they won’t be able to support an army. How does this balance play out in the college? What is the connection with Total Quality Management (TQM)?

A: “Guns and butter” is an economic theory that is based on a concept of how to best build a strong nation. Does the nation build arms or feed its people? Dictatorships frequently choose to build a strong army and use external threats as a justification for actions against the good and prosperity of the people. Dictators make excuses for not spending resources to create a nation that is strong in the promotion of peace, intelligence, and happiness. For example look what happened to the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. After the war Germany and Japan with the external threats removed, they built strong economies.

In an organization such as a college or business “guns” are the quick fixes and “butter” is the investment in infrastructure. Infrastructure includes the physical resources such as buildings and tools, training of personnel, and business processes that promote the smooth running of the organization. Also needed are control systems for resource management such as procurement, spending, inventory, income, scheduling, time management, and personnel. An organization that presents a strong public face, but has weak products and support will not succeed. Support systems have to encourage staff and faculty by having the tools so that they avoid wasting time on tasks not connected to their jobs. Since these words seem to be circular reasoning, let me give examples. One should not have to waste time searching for proper procedures and policies. The staff in charge of equipment set up should keep equipment running so that faculty members don’t waste time asking for help. The building should be maintained for optimal classroom use. A directory of people, places and responsibilities should be available to all faculty and staff. One should not need an information network to figure out who does what.

Every organization has economic pressures. No college can exist without paying attention to the financial bottom line. However, the accountants in a distant office can not be allowed to rule the classroom. Some academic programs may lose money, but they are worth keeping. Reasons to keep a money losing program include the program supports a community need or is important as a component or precursor of another program. For example: Imagine a small program with 30 students that is the only school in the area teaching that discipline. If there are no other schools to enable students to be prepared and trained, then that profession or industry may suffer. The community needs the program. Another program such as a MBA program may be one of 20 in the area. If that MBA program closes because it is not financially viable, the community will not suffer.

Q: What kinds of quick fixes should be avoided?

A: A quick fix is anything that looks good, but does not solve the problem. Of course in building maintenance sometimes the quick fix is good enough. That kind of quick fix may last until a better solution can be devised. For example if a pipe breaks a quick fix may be to use pipe repair compound until a plumber can be called to replace the pipe. However, if the whole plumbing system is broken, a quick fix will just postpone the inevitable and not solve the problem.

W. Edward Deming is credited with starting the movement called, Total Quality Management (TQM)[fn 2]. Every aspect of the business from how the phones are answered to the
Quality
sourcing of raw materials and creating the final product is dedicated to quality. One of his examples is a company that makes white marbles. Early in the manufacturing process the marble machine was making 85 white marbles and 15 red marbles for every 100 marble batch. The quick fix would be to ship 100 marbles and charge for 85, letting the customer throw out the defective ones. Another quick fix would be to have a selection or inspection process to remove the defective ones. The Total Quality solution would be to figure out why the defective marbles are being manufactured and fix the whole process. Embracing quality and constant improvement are important part of Deming’s philosophy.

Q: What does this have to do with education?

A: Colleges need to have success metrics. Two metrics in vogue throughout the country are retention and graduation rates. The logic is seemly simple -- the goal of going to college is to graduate and launch oneself into a career. However, as we learned graduation is not always the goal or the planned outcome. Higher education, once only for the well-to-do, academic elite, or the extremely motivated, became a national priority with the National Defense Act of 1958. [fn 3]  The act begins with the reason for the law.
The Congress hereby finds and declares that the security of the Nation requires the fullest development of the mental resources and technical skills of its young men and women. … We must increase our efforts to identify and educate more of the talent of our Nation. This requires programs that will give assurance that no student of ability will be denied an opportunity for higher education because of financial need…

The National Defense Act gave opportunities for financial help to millions of students including myself to attend college. The act did not even refer to graduation and retention. Most students in those years were highly motivated to finish. It was the student’s responsibility to complete the degree, not the college. Then as now not everyone who started college, finished. Many students left because they were not college material (either self discovered or the college asked them to leave) or had financial pressures. Personal and financial reasons are still the main reasons students don’t complete programs. Economically for the college it makes sense to retain students until they graduate. As in any business it is better to keep a current customer than find a new one.

If the metric is to measure retention and graduation rates, the institution changes behavior to increase the rates. This endangers lowering the bar to graduate. I heard a story from a colleague who told me his son just got an A.A. degree from a community college. I congratulated him and he responded, “My son hasn’t been in the college since 2005.” He had already graduated with an undergraduate and masters degrees and has been working full time for 7 years. It seems that someone in the administrative office of that college was looking for students who were close to the 60 credits required for graduation. Students received letters asking them if they took courses after leaving the college. If so, the office requested a transcript. If the credits were transferable, the students were sent a diploma. This meant nothing to the students. It was just to make the graduate rate higher.

In 2004 Vincent Tinto in an article [fn 4] for the Pell Institute wrote about retention and graduation. Without an interpretation of the student’s attainment of goals only 10% of students who started in a community college completed a bachelors degree within six years. [fn 5] Compare this to a 58% completion rate for those who started in a four year college or university. There are many factors involved such as income above $70,000 and parents who had completed college also had higher completion rates. Confounding all our statistics and measuring of graduation rates are those students who have no intention to graduate. They may want to update their skills, complete pre-requisites for a career change, or just learn to satisfy their curiosity. [fn 6]

The common reasons that students don’t complete their degree include lack of academic support, family support, and financial. Many low income students are not prepared for academic life for many reasons. Tinto suggests that the ways to increase graduation rates are to increase financial aid and academic support systems. The Federal and State governments need to remove the disincentives to serving low income and first generation college students.

Here are additional articles that support Tinto’s conclusions by Ann M. Gansemer-Topf [fn 7] and John F. Ryan [fn 8]. Doug Shapiro and Afet Dunbar suggest in chapter 13 of Handbook of strategic enrollment management [fn 9] traditional measures of success give a limited understanding students’ path to success. They say that existing studies on graduation and retention use flawed tools and metrics. They conclude that colleges must understand their student pathways, including where they come from, how and when they arrive, and why they leave. Colleges must devise and implement policies that lead to increase the number of successful students and (getting back to total quality management) institutional effectiveness (i.e. excellence.)

Based on this research, here at the College we are trying to measure success with metrics that relate to student success. Before I even started, the application included questions concerning student goals. Students who are attending without a desire to graduate are not included in retention and graduate metrics. We marketed the summer session to visiting students whose home town is here, but attend college in other cities. This led to more students attending summer session classes and we were able to offer courses to fill their needs.

We marketed college readiness courses for the summer session to high school seniors wanting to attend in the fall. They enrolled and by fall most were ready to take college level courses. When the summer session concentrates on readiness skills, the outcome in the fall was much better. The students got to the work of learning soon after high school graduation rather than waiting 2-3 months until the fall. The college readiness program is a dynamic process. We are always learning how to best serve the students with academic, personal, familial, financial and other needs.

Q: How does this relate to TQM?

A: In a previous article “New President Interview -- Part 24 Culture of Excellence” I talked about excellence. Now I am trying to find metrics to measure quality and excellence. So far I am having a hard time coming up with answers that both the faculty and the accountants can agree with. If we find out students are dropping courses we try to examine the reasons. If problems exist that we can correct, we take corrective action. If staff and faculty report processes that are not optimal to meet our goals of excellence we work on ways to correct them.

A first step is trying to define the products the College has to offer. TQM is about listening and understanding as much as acting to make change. A future article will deal with leadership.

Q: Thank you very much.

=================

Notes:

Part twenty-nine of imaginary interviews with the president of the College. After more than 20 interviews the president is no longer “new,” but since we are all works in progress I am continuing the series as if s/he were a “new president.” Please feel free to suggest new ideas for interviews and presidential comments. This article is for your information, amusement, and edification. Any connection to a real college or president is strictly coincidental.


I was reminded that I should define management.  In 2006(revised many times) I defined in my article, Knowledge Management Terms what is management.
 Management is the organizational process that includes strategic planning, setting; objectives, managing resources, deploying the human and financial assets needed to achieve objectives, and measuring results. Management also includes recording and storing facts and information for later use or for others within the organization. Management functions are not limited to managers and supervisors. Every member of the organization has some management and reporting functions as part of their job. http://home.earthlink.net/~ddstuhlman/defin1.htm



[1] The Wikipedia article on the topic en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns_versus_butter_model explains the concept and its history. For this article, it is just important to know the model is a balance of goals – infrastructure vs. armaments.

[2] Deming had 14 points in his management theory. See “Deming's 14-Point Philosophy A Recipe for Total Quality “ http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_75.htm for details.

[3] 20 U.S. Code Chapter 17 - National Defense Education Program Public Law 855-864. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-72/pdf/STATUTE-72-Pg1580.pdf Note the program was only for students of public or non-profit regionally accredited institutions that granted bachelors degrees or 2 year programs that transfer to bachelors degrees and graduate programs. Up to 50% of the loan would be forgiven for teachers in public elementary or high schools.

[4] Tinto, Vincent. “Student retention and graduation facing the truth, living with the consequences” Washington, DC : Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education July 2004 Available via ERIC http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED519709 or http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED519709.pdf

[5] Ibid. p.5.

[6] I know one person who took a course every sem

ester in a community college just because he liked to be academically challenged. He was even on the board of the college. He had to stop when he retired to another city. He then enrolled in the local community college and took courses until he died at age 91. I never asked what courses he took. He had more than 60 credits required for a degree, but refused to take a math course so that he could never graduate.

[7] Gansemer-Topf, Ann M. and John H. Schuh. “Institutional selectivity and institutional expenditures: Examining organizational factors that contribute to retention and graduation” In: Research in Higher Education. September 2006 Volume 47, Issue 6 , pp 613-642.

[8] Ryan, John F. “Institutional expenditures and student engagement: a role for financial resources in enhancing student learning and development?” In: Research in Higher Education, March 2005, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 235-249

[9] Shapiro, Doug and Dunbar, Afet. “New context for retention and persistence.” Chapter 13 pages 249-265 in Handbook of Strategic Enrollment Management / edited by Don Hossler, Bob Bontrager. San Francisco. Josey-Bass, 2015.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

What’s a Book?


Here is a picture of a library patron holding an object. Do you know the name of the object blocking the student’s face? There is no doubt that most English speakers would call the
object a “book” and the person is holding the book is in a library. “Book” has synonyms such as codex (from the Latin meaning a tablet for writing), volume (from the Old French and Latin meaning scroll or to roll) or tome (from the French), however, those words have more specialized meanings than book. In the library world “codex” is a type of book with a cover and pages as opposed to a scroll. A scroll is book that has pages rolled up. “Tome” is used as a $50 word for book or for a large, valuable or very special book. “Volume” is used for a one out of a collection of books such as one volume of a series. “Volumes” are individual books while a multi-volume set has one title.

What if another language speaker was describing the object? In Latin it is liber which is the root the French livre which gives us our English word library. In Italian or Spanish (libro) and other romance languages the words are similar. However, the Latin word for library, bibliotheca, is from the Greek word biblos (meaning book). In French (bibliothèque), in Spanish (biblioteca), and German (Bibliothek), the word for library is from the Latin via Greek. The Greek biblos is the root for bible, bibliography, and bibliophile. The German Buch is the source for the English book. Don’t you wonder why we don’t use “biblioary” or “bibliothek” when we want to visit a home for books?

To visit a book store in German you would look for a Buchhandlung. In France you would visit a librairie. I am amused when students confuse the library with a book store. Are they thinking in French or confusing the role of the library and bookstore? Libraries acquire, store, and help patrons retrieve knowledge. They don’t buy book for resale as a business. (Don’t tell me about used book sales. That is not the primary activity of a library.) We don’t charge directly for library materials. The library is supported by the fees paid by students and other stakeholders.

To the Yiddish speaker the object could be a bukh or a sefer depending if it is a secular or religious book.


     











==========
April 27, 2015  I fixed two minor typos that readers pointed out.  Spell checker does not find all the mistakes when using so many languages.   The /v/ and /b/ sounds are very close.  Sometimes the same root is expressed in one language with a /v/ and another with a /b/.  In French libre means "free" and is the root for the English "liberty" and "liberal."  It is not the root of "library."  In Hebrew the /v/ and /b/ sounds are expressed with the same consonant bet ב.  The only way to differentiate between the sounds is the dot (called dagesh) inside the letter.  There are grammatical rules for when the letter has the dot and when it does not.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Calendar

The Calendar

Do we take the calendar for granted or are we totally dependent on it? Over the past few weeks several calendar related questions were asked of me. In the last blog article I stated that the reckoning or changing of the date of the year varied by time and place. Someone
asked me to elaborate. Since the holiday of Pesah is coming and Nisan is the first of the months, someone asked me why is Nisan the first month and Rosh Hashana at the beginning of the seventh month. Another person pointed out that some units of time are natural (i.e based on astronomically observed events) and some are human convention. The calendar is designed for societal needs. There many kinds of calendars. Some list only holidays or events and others list every day of the year. As long as the calendar meets societal needs and it is consistent in the following of its own rules, it is accurate. This article attempts to seek out the common basis to answer all these questions.

A full calendar is marker for time that we use to keep track of the days of the week, the days of a month, the months and the year, but did you ever consider that some measures for time are natural and some totally artificial? A day is the rotation of the earth on its axis. A month is the time the moon rotates around the earth and a year is the rotation of the earth around the sun.

How did an hour become 1/24 of day and an hour divide into 60 minutes and a minute into 60 seconds? Hours, minutes and seconds are human conveniences. In today’s number systems we use base 10 which is commonly thought to correspond to ten fingers. In other systems such as ancient Babylonia and Sumar, they used base 12 or 60. Twelve is the number of digits (also called phalanges) on our fingers when not including the thumb. The thumb could have been used to count the digits. Hence 24 is both hands and 60 is five fingers times the 12 digits on the other hand. This is speculation as we have no documentary evidence.

The first clocks were sticks placed in the ground to act as a sundial. A refinement was to add marks to measure and calibrate movement of the sun. The time between sunrise and sunset was divided into 12 parts. In the ancient Jewish time calculations this was a halachic (legal) hour. Twelve parts or hours are either from the base 12 finger counting system or from the twelve yearly cycles of the moon.

This was the same way that the ancient Greeks and Romans divided the day. Noon, when the sun is at its greatest height in the sky is halfway between sunrise and sundown. The length of the hour varied with the season. In the Middle East the number of daylight hours varies less than in Chicago. For example the range from the most hours of daylight to the least in Chicago is about 6:05 hours and in Jerusalem it is 4:09 hours.

The exact measurement of time was important for religious rituals. The ancient priests in the Middle East had rituals that were time dependent. For example the very first chapter in the Talmud, Berakhot discusses the correct time for reciting the prayer, Shema and the morning prayers. Ancient Egypt and Babylonia also had time dependent rituals.

Sun dials were fine when the sun shined. At night people needed to use marked candles, oil lamps, or dripping water clocks. People needed to know time more precisely than in hours.

What is week? There is no natural reason that a week is seven days. The 354[1] days of a lunar 12 month cycle and the 365 [2]  days of the solar year are not evenly divisible by 7. One theory is that 360 is close to the number of days in a year. 360 is evenly divisible by three and six (i.e. no fractions or remainders) unlike 10 or 100. The Bible gives us six days of creation and the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath, the day of rest. That is our week.

What is the first day of the year?

There is no straight forward answer. The first chapter in Talmud Rosh Hashana discusses the four new years, Nisan for the liturgical year i.e cycle of holidays; Tishrei for counting of years and sabbatical years, Elul for animals; and Shevat for trees. I am only concerned with the first two. The Torah tells us that Rosh HaShanah of Tishei is the seventh month and Nisan is the first of months. We change the year of calendar on the first of Tishrei. The counting of Pesah as the first holiday of the year really makes very little difference in keeping track of time or dates. The interesting question is why January 1 is the beginning of the year. Tishrei is connected to fall and Nisan with spring. In the solar/secular calendar fall is a natural beginning because the summer harvests are over. We start our school year in the fall. Spring is natural for a new year because the plants that were dormant over the winter start to grow.

Without getting into a prolonged discussion, the winter solstice is associated with the constellation Capricorn. In astrology this period is December 22 to January 19. Capricorn is ruled by the planet named for the Roman god, Saturn. Ancient Rome had a holiday, Saturnalia.[3] This was a festival of lights. Originally the date was December 17, but because of the Julian calendar corrections, the day became December 25 [4]. Seven days later is January 1, which is Kalenda.[7]

In Talmud Avodah Zara 8a is a description a pagan festival called Saturna which occurs eight days before the winter solstice. It is followed eight days after the solstice with a festival called Kalenda. The Talmud ascribes the origins of this festival to Adam, who saw that the days were getting shorter and thought it was punishment for his sin. He was afraid that the world was returning to the chaos and emptiness that existed before creation. He sat and fasted for eight days. Once he saw that the days were getting longer again he realized that this was the natural cycle of the world, so made eight days of celebration. The Talmud states that this festival was later turned into a pagan festival.[5]

The darkness gave Adam what we call winter depression. Adam did not know the cycle of the year is to have days that get shorter and after winter solstice they get longer. Saturnalia became a festival of lights to conquer the darkness. Note the connection to lights on the Christmas tree and the lights on the menorah. The lights of Hanukkah increase each night to match the increasing length of daylight. The winter solstice can not be assigned an exact Hebrew date that will work every year. However, since Pesah always falls in the spring, we can count the days until Kislev, making Kislev correspond to the beginning of winter. In the cycle of the lunar months, the 14th or 15th of the month is a full moon, the day with most moonlight. The last week of the month is the darkest as the time is before the new moon. The new moon is the first day the moon is visible. Hence, Kishlev 25 is a good choice. A celebration [6] on that begins on Kishlev 25 that lasts eight days will include the new moon or rosh hodesh Tevet.

In the Roman calendar, Kalenda (Kalendae), would make a good choice for the new year because it was the 8th day after the start of the winter solstice holiday. Just as the days stop getting shorter, there is a holiday to celebrate the new year of longer daylight. Saturnalia and Kalenda were legal holidays in Roman times when no business was conducted. Perhaps this is an explanation for a “natural” reason for a January 1 new year?

We already have a fall and a spring new year date; why should the winter date be any more reasonable? The information on the Ancient Roman calendar is limited. We do know that the year had 10 named months. That is why September means seventh month and December means 10th month. Bernard Allen , referring to O. E. Hartmann, [9] suggests that the 10 month year corresponds the ten month vegetation year and is analogous to our 9 or 10 month school year. The 60 days for the months of winter i.e. January and February were not numbered. Hartmann speculated that farmers did not do much in the winter months. That would indicate that March 1st [10] is a “natural” choice for the first day of the year and that was the date for new year in pre-Caesarian Rome.

Janus was the two faced Roman god of change and new beginnings; one face for the future and one for the past. January was named for Janus and the first day was a celebration. January 1st was the 8th day after December 25th. January 1st was the date the Roman consuls began serving their term. In the Catholic liturgical calendar January 1 was the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus, but this is confusing two time periods. Europeans celebrated the new year on December 25, March 1, March 25, and Easter.[11]

In medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the new year were considered pagan and unchristian like, and in the year 567 the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year and forbade celebrations. At various times and in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year was celebrated on Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus; March 1; March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation [12] ; and Easter.

H. J. Rose [13] suggests that what we know about the calendar before Julius Caesar is speculation. The early Roman calendar, unlike the Jewish calendar, was not connected to the seasons. The early Romans did not seem to care. Since the 10 month year of either 295 or 304 days depending on how you counted was not even close to the solar year, November was not always in the fall. Eventually to correct this, an extra month was added about three times in eight years to keep the numbered months in the correct season. Few Roman days had special names. The Jewish calendar has named holidays associated with a particular day of a particular month. However, in the Torah the months don’t have names.

The calendar that Julius Caesar enacted with names for the months and fixed numbers of days per month is pretty close to our current calendar. This is the Julian calendar. This calendar modified by Pope Gregory in 1582 with the addition of ten days to correct the shift of dates and realign the solar year to the date on the calendar. By 1582 the vernal equinox was March 11 not March 21. The vernal equinox sets the date of Easter. The Gregorian calendar was immediately adopted in Catholic countries. In other countries acceptance was slowed by political or religious reasons. Russia only accepted it 1918 after the revolution. Greece was the last European country to accept it in 1923.  [14]

Perhaps you are wondering how 16th century scientists knew the exact date of the equinox, solstice or length of the year? After all Galileo Galilei first pointed a telescope to the sky in 1609. 16th century observations used a room sized camera obscura. The room was a darkened church and the pinhole in the roof made a lens that focused the sun’s image on the wall. The wall had a map with a metal line that charted the movement of sun at precisely noon. The extremes of the line made by the sun were the winter
and summer solstices. 

Summary

The calendar was created for the convenience of society. In an agricultural society, people needed to keep track of seasons. Agricultural holidays commemorated the change of seasons. When society needed times for religious ritual a system of time was invented based on solar observations. For example the times for morning prayers and the times to start and end the Shabbat and holidays needed to be predictable. Since the length of a day and month are not evenly divisible into the length of a year, some compensation needed to be made to keep seasonal festivals in their proper season. The adjustment is a leap month, leap day or leap second.

Each of the dates for the new year, fall, winter and spring are based on the movement of the earth around the sun. Since the new year automatically starts at the moment the old year ends, this article while it ends here, never will be completed. 

----------------------------
Postscript for April 1


The origin for April 1 as "April Fool's" is not certain.  In today's Time Magazine Daily Brief is an article by Jennifer Latson (http://time.com/3757913/history-april-fools-day/)  suggesting that it started in 1582 after France adapted the Gregorian calendar. In many places new year was celebrated on March 25. If there was an eight day celebration, it would end on April 1. Those who celebrated New Year on January 1 called the March 25thers  fools.  This theory is suspect since Chaucer mentions a new year in the Nun's Wife's Tale  http://sites.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/teachslf/npt-par.htm#TALE

   Whan that the month in which the world bigan,
   When the month in which the world began,
   That highte March, whan God first maked man,
   Which is called March, when God first made man,

   Syn March [was gon], thritty dayes and two,
    Since March had gone, thirty days and two

Thirty-two days after March 1 is April 1.
 


Notes:

[1] The Jewish year could have 354, 355, or 356 days depending on how many 29 and 30 day months.


[2] The actual length of the year is usually rounded to 365.25 days, requiring a leap day every four years.  More precisely the length of the solar year is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. The Gregorian calendar corrects this by making years ending in 00 a regular year except when the year is divisible by 400.  The Jewish calendar corrects the lunar/solar cycles by having seven leap years within a 19 year cycle. An extra month is added before the spring in a leap year. The one prayer that is totally dependent on the solar year is the recitation of “Tal Umatar” which is supposed to be recited 60 days after the autumnal equinox.  For a full discussion of the date see:  “Regarding the Date to Begin Reciting Tal Umatar” http://judaicseminar.org/halakhot/talumatar.pdf


[3]   For a fuller discussion on Saturnalia see:  “Saturnalia” in Wikipedia   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia. The holiday’s customs changed over the years. 

[4] December 25 was a pagan holiday long before it became a Christian one.

[5] See Menachem Leibtag’s article,  “Chanuka - its Biblical roots - Part Two”
 http://www.tanach.org/special/chanuka2.txt where he discusses this Midrash.  The Talmud describes observances of the Roman holidays of Saturnia and Kolenda that are very close to the Romans sources described in the above Wikipedia article.  The legend also appears in Ginzberg, Louis
Legends of the Jews, (Philadelphia; Jewish Publication Society, ©1937) v. 1 page 89. 


[6] There is a musical play, Celebration, book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt that opened on Broadway in January 1969 and closed after only 109 performances. The title song has the theme of the sun setting and never rising.  When that doesn’t happen they want to “make a celebration.”

[7] Also spelled Calenda and it is the root for the English “calendar” and German “Kalendar.”


[8]  Allen, Bernard Melzar. “The Early Roman Calendar” The Classical Journal, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Dec., 1947), pp. 163-168.  Retrieved from Jstor:   http://www.jstor.org/stable/3293732 Another  article on the Roman Calendar talks about chronology and is not totally relevant to this discussion :   Johnson, Van L.  “Early Roman Chronology and the Calendar” The Classical Journal, Vol. 64, No. 5 (Feb., 1969), pp. 203-207. Retrieved from jStor: http://www.jstor.org.ccc.idm.oclc.org/stable/3296216.

[9]  Hartmann , Otto Ernst. Der Römische Kalender.  Leipzig : Teubner, 1882. pages I0 -I4.

[10] The “ides” is the middle of every month i.e. the 15th.  In a lunar month this would be a full moon.

[11] To read more see: Brunner, Borgna.  “A History of the New Year : a move from March to January”  Infoplease http://www.infoplease.com/spot/newyearhistory.html#ixzz3VohVixFo. Old Tappan, NJ :  Information Please® Database, Pearson Education, ©2007. I do not totally agree with Brunner’s analysis.
   
[12] I’m not going to get in a Christian liturgy explanation of the Feast of Annunciation.  In England the day was called Lady Day. You can look at the article, “The Feast of the Annunciation” in the Catholic Encyclopediahttp://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01542a.htm . The important aspect for my analysis is that the day is close to the vernal equinox and it was the end of the quarter for the tax year.

[13] Rose, H. J. “The Pre-Caesarian Calendar: Facts and Reasonable Guesses” In: The Classical Journal,  Vol. 40, No. 2 (Nov., 1944), pp. 65-76. Retrieved from Jstor: Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/
 [14] The Wikipedia article “Gregorian Calendar” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorian_calendar has a chart when each country adapted the calendar and when they start changing the year on January 1. Great Britain and its colonies (i.e. British America) adapted the Gregorian calendar in 1752 when 11 days were added to the date. This change was established by the Calendar Act of 1751. This was accomplished on Wednesday 2 September 1752; the next day was Thursday 14 September 1752. This did not change Shabbat for that week.  For dating of books and documents one must use a dual dating or conversion factor.  This act also established January 1 as the date to change the year.  Previously it was March 25.  The text of the act may be found at: http://www.webexhibits.org/calendars/year-text-British.html   

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pesah and Wisdom



Pesah and Wisdom
 
This is the week before Pesah and this Shabbat is Shabbat ha-gadol.  Since Nisan is the first of the months, I am preparing a longer article on the calendar.  After Pesah we start reading from Perke Avot and I want to discuss a few management ideas found there.

Communication and trust are concepts that encourage people to work hard.  Arcane rules and busy work make people more concerned with the following the rules.  Rabbi Shammai in Perke Avot 1:15 tells us to “say little and do much.”  For some people words escape from one’s mouth easily. One can spend too much time talking and too little time doing.  An action leading to an accomplishment is more effective than endless chatter.  Bright people do not require elaborate explanations.  They have the intuition and power of analysis to figure things out.  This is not a science.  Sometimes the neophyte needs an explanation of all the steps.  That is the learning process.  Eventually the mature learner needs only to be pointed in the right direction.  Never use 100 words, when 10 is sufficient.

Rabbi Shimon in PA 1:17 reminds us that deeds are more essential than study. This does not tell us to act without thinking or preparation, but tells us not to lose sight as to what is the ikar (essence) and what is the road leading to the ikar. He is not telling us to not study, but the message is never forget that reason for learning is to perform the deed.

Knowledge is getting the right information from the right people or sources in a timely manner.  Getting people to act, to perform deeds, and complete projects is the management process based on knowledge. Knowledge is the basis for action.    Wisdom is the use of experience, knowledge and previous actions so that new problems and challenges can be solved.  Wisdom is the basis for strategic decisions.  Making wise choices should be a source of gratification for us.

The Pesah seder gives us an opportunity to perform actions after all our preparations.  The symbols of the holiday on the sedar plate and in our food are a constant reminder that words lead to deeds and study leads to proper correct actions.  May the wisdom we gain empower us to do mitvot and other good things.

Hag samah v'kasher.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Shannah Tovah 5775





This is the time of year when we celebrate a new year. We spend a month preparing by adding a psalm to the evening a morning services and hear the shofar every non-Shabbat morning.  This leads us to the solemn mood of the actual days of Rosh Hashana.  They are days of prayer, reflection, thanks, and appreciation of family, friends, and community.  Rosh Hashana is the birthday of the world.  The day is universal. Rosh Hashana is a fall holiday always on Tishri 1.



Before 1752 the date of the new year in the western world had several dates, January 1, March 1, March 15, March 25,  September 22, December 25, and Easter. March 25 (for the spring solstice) and Easter are close in time to the Jewish month of Nissan, which is the first of months according to the Torah.

January 1 was the beginning of the civil year in Ancient Rome beginning about 153 BCE.  It was the date the year tenure of the consuls began.  Julius Caesar introduced a solar based calendar called the Julian calendar in 46 BCE.  He decreed the new year started on January 1.  This date became consistent in the Roman world.

In the middle ages celebrations of the new year were considered pagan and unchristian.  The new year date was not consistent.   In 1582 when Pope Gregory introduced calendar reforms to correct discrepancies between the calendar date and the solar date.  10 days need to be added to the calendar.  This meant the date in England was not the same as the rest of Europe.  The Julian calendar was 11.5 minutes less than the solar year.  The Gregorian calendar differs from the solar year by 11 seconds per year. The Jewish calendar is a lunar-solar year that is corrected by adding seven leap years within a 19 year cycle. This makes the dates seem to late or early compared to the civil years,  but with the cycle the holidays always occur within correct seasons.

On September 2, 1752 British subjects including the U.S. Colonies went to bed and woke up on September 14.  The days were added to the calendar to put England into sync with those countries using the Gregorian calendar.  Russia adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1918 after the revolution.

The early Christians celebrated their new year with reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to improve, echoing their Jewish roots.  In ancient times and continuing to modern China noise and fireworks are used.  This is custom is believed to bring good luck by scaring away evil spirits.  In the United States new year is a time for parties and celebrations, football, parades, and the Times Square gathering.

I wish you a Shana Tovah, a good year full of good things and events.  May you, your family and friends, be showered by haKodesh Barechu with Gezunt (health), Parnassah (income) , Yiddishe Nachat (pride from your children and families), wisdom, and may you have the honor and respect that you deserve.  May all your Tefillot (prayers) be answered for the good and may we only share in Simachot (happy occasions) and support each other in times of need.

May we be zoche (deserving) to experience peace in our personal lives, peace in our communities, peace in Israel, and peace in the entire world for the coming year.  We should pray for peace, prosperity, and justice for all for now and forever.

Ketiva v'chatima tovah! May you be inscribed for a good year, a sweet year!  May God bless us and keep us, shine his face on us,  and send us a happy and good year for us and all those we know.

Spread the good wishes to all your friends, family, and contacts.

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Comments:  Sept 21, 2014

After receiving many nice comments and discussing some of the academic points above I have additional comments.

Connection to library cataloging --  Entering the year is an important part of the catalog record.  The date helps keep editions straight.  There are well established practices for entering Hebrew dates and making sure the correct civil date is indicated.  For example from now until January 1, 2015, one must be careful about the Hebrew year of 5775.  The the year may be entered as 2014/2015.

Every year publishers will issue books with the following year on the title page.  For example the publisher puts "2015" on the title page and copyright date, but sells the book months before January 1.  The rules tell the cataloger to record the date as written on the title page and usually a note will be added to remove confusion.  Before I wrote the above piece I never thought about a difference in date on a British book when compared to the date in Europe.  We would record the date from the title page.  The first law of copyright, The Statue of Anne was effective in February 1709.  However, the year was 1710 in Europe. 

Noise making -- The sound of the shofar is loud and piercing sound.  In the month before Rosh Hashana we blow the shofar every morning.  On the morning of the 29th of Elul we do not blow the shofar with the reason given, "we want to confuse the Satan (evil spirits).  If the shofar blower has difficulty blowing on the day of Rosh Hashana the folklore says that Satan is in the shofar preventing the sound form emerging.  These ideas may be related to the noise making on new year for other cultures.  The difference is the law of blowing and listening to the shofar.  One is required to listen to 100 sound blasts. Someone calls out each sound so that the shofar blower can concentrate on the sound.   Each blast must be perfect or it must be repeated until it is correct.