The New Year and Change

Recently is was reflecting upon how much I would like to improve, change etc., And with the customary start of the year, now is as good as time as any other to think about change. However, i have been reflecting on what to change and why…

This lead me to consider the 4ts of risk management. Tolerate, transfer, terminate or treat. While change is not necessarily easy, it does require one to know what the goal is and a path forward. Offer we think we can do this alone, or supplemented by the naive assumption that internet searches can fix all one’s problems. For all four Ts, risk assessment begins with understanding. As we think about resolutions, I feel that is often were good plans become failed dreams as the follow through becomes the roadblock to success, and we tolerate more then anything thing else. The easy path is to continue, but that may not always be the best path

Bruce’s Self Defense Advice

Over the years, people told me they wanted to get into martial arts for self-defense. And there is some good reason to have some basic martial art training, such as learning to not “freak out” when grabbed, controlling your state of flow when your adrenaline is pumping or functioning when you are injured or tired, or the “fog of war”.  And one may never know when someone will just hit you on the head (like this poor minion).  

I respond by telling them you do not do martial arts for self-defense; you do it for self-improvement, conditioning, or other reasons.  Physical self-defense is different from training for martial art.  For example, there are plenty of stories of  “lucky punches,” fights, etc., but it takes dedicated training to be effective in a street situation.  Most people do not want to train to be a fighter, but everyone wants to be safe.  

So, I always tell them a list of things to do.  (DISCLAIMER – this list is not “full proof” and is only offered as advice.)

At home

  • Know your neighbors,
  • Invest in essential home security equipment,
  • Look at your landscaping, etc., as related to lighting, security, etc.,

Away from home

  • Make sure your car works. We have seen enough movies to know how this ends!
  • Walk where it is light,
  • Leave any bar or restaurant before 10 pm,
  • Remember, everything in your wallet is replaceable. EVERYTHING!
  • Notice your surroundings when you enter a room/building, especially exits,
  • Do not get drunk/intoxicated in public; this especially applies when you are on vacation. You do not know the “lay of the land”, and a false sense of security may result in an incident you did not want.

General Skills

  • Have some essential physical/mobility, such as being able to get up from the floor,
  • Be able to run a quarter of a mile – Notice I did not say run fast – just be able to run a quarter of a mile,
  • Be aware of what weapons may be at your disposal beyond a gun or a knife. A pen, newspaper, etc., can be effective in certain situations.

(One aside – Notice, I never tell people to get a firearm.  That is a personal decision.  If one does get a gun, there must be a dedication to learning how to use the weapon effectively, which requires constant training.  This may also require a change in mindset that you are willing to use the weapon when warranted, as there are legal consequences related to the degree of the attack and your response.  There are also legal obligations when one possesses guns in a home.)

I am sure there are many things to add to this list, but the list itself is unimportant.  The focus is on getting people to recognize their role in their safety.  By focusing on awareness and preparation, one will do well in reducing risks to one’s self and property.  However, please do not take my word for it.  This article from Lifehacker begins with the statement, “Prevention Is the Best Self-Defense”.    That author expounds with more tricks and techniques, and one can do a quick search to supplement my list.  But not all self-defense occurs not only in a physical space, as this list from Wagner College discusses, which echoes my thoughts on awareness before physical action is required.

Self-defense begins the moment one becomes prepared in a safe environment.  It does not mean one needs to engage in proving what one knows or does not know unless one chooses to do so.  If you must prove that you have the necessary skills to engage in physical self-defense, join a gym/dojo, etc., or find a friend and start training.  And once you think you have learned something, train it again.  (I can attest to paralysis analysis when one is sparring!).  Knowing martial arts will not make you safer if you do not know how to apply the technique, as Jim Carey demonstrated in this comedy sketch.

So, you are at least starting when you become aware and act in a manner that reinforces your dedication to self-defense.   And that attitude of preparedness can make all the difference.


Exercise Program For Seniors

I was looking through some old .txt files when I saw the following:

The Doctor told me I should start an exercise program. Not wanting to harm this old body, I’ve devised the following:

Beat around the bush
Jump to conclusions
Climb the walls
Wade through the morning paper

Drag my heels
Push my luck
Make mountains out of molehills
Hit the nail on the head

Bend over backwards
Jump on the Band Wagon
Run around in circles

Advise the President on how to run the country
Toot my own horn
Pull out all the stops
Add fuel to the fire

Open a can of worms
Put my foot in my mouth
Start the ball rolling
Go over the edge

Pick up the pieces.

Kneel in prayer
Bow my head in thanksgiving
Uplift my hands in praise
Hug someone and encourage them.

Whew! What a workout


There is a lot of truth in how we often confuse action for outcomes, resulting in a whole day to pick up the pieces!

I do like the final charge-Hug someone and encourage someone.  No matter what we do, we can not do it in insolation, for we need others to be our best selves. Nor do we know the burden that others may carry, which may be lightened, if only for a moment.  And that is not a bad way to end a crazy week!

Credit – This was an email I received in 2004.  No citation or authorship was ascribed other than the Prince posted the message.


There is No Free Lunch in Kiev

We have all heard, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”. As economists, we believe every exchange requires the reallocation of resources, even in the case of theft. But how much does war cost?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been raging for almost a month. No one will deny the reality of the destruction, with images from Ukraine blasted across the world. While the world watches, the Ukrainians are mounting a heroic effort. But such losses are not isolated to the battlefront alone in a global economy. The refugee crisis is flooding neighboring countries, putting pressure on their social networks and the associated budgets to service these refugees. There are costs associated with military ordinances, hiring soldiers, moving men and materials into the battlefield, separate from the costs of moving people from the war-torn areas. War is not cheap.

But these are but the short-term costs. Replacing damaged buildings, transportation, and public goods, would take years, and in some places, historical buildings, icons, recorded history, and works of art may be lost forever. (And based on the reports from Syria and Georgia, the Russians are ineffective nation builders.) There will be other costs, especially regarding the people who fled, who suffered from the death of loved ones, or simply the destruction of their way of life. (And living in Louisiana, where people take years to recover from a hurricane, I can only imagine how long it takes to recover from a war.)
Some of the other costs will be the payment for ramped-up military spending. We will see a continued militarized Europe over the next twenty years. The world will also struggle with energy independence, which may push for more internally generated fuels from alternative sources. But in all cases, these investments will take away from other public goods.
While military and humanitarian aid flows to Ukraine, the western response has been to impose sanctions. Despite reported shortages in Russia, I will bear some costs associated with “defending Ukraine”, as I pay more for other goods. But I am lucky when compared to those in developing countries as the threat of food scarcity remains an issue.
But despite the degree of challenge, we can instantaneously follow the war through podcasts, Twitter, and other social platforms. In many ways, the material streaming from Ukraine and concerns over Russian-supported “Big Lie” propaganda made this conflict, at least here in my immediate circle, more engaging. If the Vietnam War was called the “living-room war”, the Ukrainian invasion may become the “app war”.
The Russian Invasion of Ukraine highlights not only the role of interconnected economic networks but also socially connected networks. There are costs spread out across all of these networks, even as the discussion on limiting information, “fake news”, etc., remains a reality.

So, while Russian bear attempts to “consume” Ukraine, we will all pay a portion of President Putin’s enormous lunch tab, both today and into the future.

Flying Books? Celebrating the Love of Reading

I discovered this video several years ago. I fell in love with this story, as reading was a big part of my childhood (especially as there was no internet, books on tape, etc., when I was a kid.) I also enjoyed the Hurricane scenario and the New Orleans vibe in the video.

I find the story bittersweet, as the man lives wholly within his world of books, but he remains content.  (And no, it’s not the Time Enough at Last,the Burgess Meredith Twilight Zone episode, and it ends on a more positive note than Anton Chekhov’s “The Bet“.)

Having an office full of “stuff”, I can attest to the job of reading both new and familiar books.  I am glad that my parents encouraged us (myself, my sister and brother) to read.  A lifetime of pleasure has been my reward.

If You Want To Learn More About Ports and Pandemics

In early March 2020, “COVID-19” was the only topic of discussion, as Seattle became the nation’s first COVID “hotspot”.  No one was prepared for the ripples from the countless public and private changes that continue from that point.  (Last years, I suggested 2020 will always be  footnoted, “COVID-19 Pandemic”.

From March to the Fall of 2020, everyone was assessing how the local port industry was adjusting to the changing safety protocols.  In some ways, the response went from understanding the science of COVID, to the adoption of changing regulatory/scientific recommendations, to ultimately handling the surge in container volumes.  No one could have seen how 2020’s reactions would exist into the present day. 

During the summer of 2021, I discovered UNCTAD was offering a course on the Pandemic.  Having observed the U.S. response, I found it informative to see how others experienced the pandemic in their respective regions. 

UNCTAD is offering the course again.  See the following note if you are interested:

Dear Colleague,

We are very pleased to invite you to the UNCTAD TrainForTrade special course Building Port Resilience Against Pandemics (BPR) that will be delivered in English, French and Spanish from 7 to 31 March 2022.

This two-week online self-paced moderated course followed by simulation exercises and a webinar is open to all profiles from port communities and related government agencies. There is no registration cost thanks to the financial support of the United Nations Development Account and Irish Aid.

We would be grateful if you can share the information in your networks. All interested participants should register themselves at by 25 February 2022 using the passcode corresponding to the language chosen:

  • English: BPR2022EN
  • French: BPR2022FR
  • Spanish: BPR2022ES


Proving My Academic Contributions

While I am not a medieval scribe, I have occasionally written or contributed to a journal article, book chapter, or presented in an academic setting over the past thirty years.  As such, information regarding my “academic writings”, are scattered to the four winds as I never thought I would be working on a Ph.D.  As such, I spent the past few weeks assembling the materials to prove that I am competent and to get my doctoral points approved.

(My home office is not this organized!)

To do this, I started organizing my “academic writings”.  Initially, I turned to Google Scholar, which searched a lot of publications, many of which I would not call scholarly, such as my writings while at Institute for Trade and Transportation Studies, such as blog posts, working papers, newsletters, and general reports.  Most of my articles and academic writings were posted correctly.

I then discovered ResearchGate and created a similar account.  Many of the same listings were there, in addition to a few more.  (Again, there is no distinction between peer-reviewed articles, presentations, working papers, etc., so these are not necessarily academic writings.  I created a Scopus Account, which did focus on academic writing; however, I had to request Scopus to correctly link some articles to my account, which they did when asked.

Finally, I set up an ORCID account, documenting my academic writing in yet another format.  I did link this to my Antwerp Student account.  (I also need to make sure ORCID is linked to the review work at TRB, something I failed to do in the past.  Also, I probably should be reviewing more peer reviewed documents, as these are a great source of understanding current thinking on a topic!)

What did I learn in the process?  Not all things are considered academic, nor are all things captured accurately. (And there are a few Bruce Lamberts who have published academic articles!) Some papers have been lost to the sands of time, but it is nice to see that others remember some of what one accomplished over the years.  

My First Three Albums

I have always been surrounded by music.  My father had an 8 track tape player in his truck. He would alternate between the radio and a mix of older country, 1950’s rock, and “easy listening”.  (KTDY in New Iberia still played easy listening songs/oldies on the radio, while KSMB was an album oriented rock station.  My dad never listened to KSMB.) 

I received a record player/8track tape player/radio  for either a Christmas or my birthday (when you are born in early January, the dates run together). Although the unit remained in the living room, it was several months before I purchased my first three albums:

At the time,  I had no idea what an album was, but I know I wanted a song off each album: Such as “Moving Out (Anthony’s Song)“, “Point of No Return“, and Come Sailing Away.  (I felt  buying 45’s was a waste of time, as you played one song and then had to do something with the record!)

Each song spoke to me differently at that age.  I loved the car squealing on “moving out” but also the sentimentality of “Just the Way You Are” (although I have no idea what love really meant at the time), the idea of going to the end of the world as an explorer, although over the years, I found only “Come Sail Away” still emotionally resonates with me due to its nostalgic line of “Childhood Friends, and the Dreams We had”.   Maybe that is because I remember talking music to my schoolmates at St. Cecilia in Broussard. 

Music was (and I am sure remains) a hot topic in middle school.  There were a few people who were clearly in the “Kiss” are musical gods camp, and others in the general rock (we all hated disco but listened to KSMB, so we were all rockers!)  And what better time to learn about music, as 1977 remains one of the seminar years in pop music, but you don’t see the transitions when they are gradually unfolding around you!

Over the next ten years, I accumulated a lot of albums, mostly for my own listening pleasure,  although I did DJ parties in high school and college.  Eventually that came to an end, due to marriage and kids, but I count that as a small loss.

I still enjoy listening to albums versus singles.  Although this is mostly on Spotify, the music experience, while still rewarding, does not require getting up to turn the album over! 

And yes, I still play my first three “loves” on a regular basis.




A Brief Thought About How Decarbonization Efforts Must Address the Principal-Agent Problem

There are many entities, in both the public and private sectors, pressing for decarbonization goals to address global warming. However, these groups, pushing for change through the creation and adoption of innovative technologies, operating systems, education, etc., must balance that against the current inertia of other activities. This creates the Principal-Agent Problem, where differences in priorities may influence the development of these technologies and timelines for adoption and deployment.

The principal-agent problem assumes the following: The principal, or the person responsible for paying an agent, will want the agent to achieve a specific goal or outcome at the lowest cost to himself. While working to achieve that goal, the agent may act in a rent-seeking manner that may not be in the principal’s best interest.  For example, the principal pays a sales agent, but the sales agent may seek payment for additional expenses.  Decarbonization goals, while laudable, require firms to examine their operations. However, they have to do so through the following categories:

  • Existing assets/systems that are internal to the agent.  These projects, already constructed, require maintenance, etc., but also budgetary commitments to remain viable.
  • Currently developed projects undertaken by the agent.  These projects may have funding or preengineer work performed, but are actively in development.  These  projects also can tie up short term capital.
  • Planning Process to support the agent’s long-term goals  These are often of a longer term manner, and must operate within the current permitting/regulatory activities.


The role of decarbonization does not necessarily fit into these internal processes, but firms will seek to engage in this effort through the use of their existing organizational structure.
As such, planners who are conformable with the “status quo” may not be willing to learn new tasks to meet decarbonization goals. Construction teams will build to the contract, and in some cases, these plans cannot adopt these innovative technologies. Finally, there remains the ongoing asset management needs to service existing programs.

As new funds and programs are proposed, there could be disincentives between principals and the agents responsible for adopting the innovation.  The question becomes, “can we manage our expectations without pointing the finger at others”?


Reflections on Visiting the Panama Canal in 2009

In 2009, the Institute for Trade and Transportation Studies joined a mission sponsored by the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to visit the Panama Canal. The mission, with a variety of public and private participants from the States of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee,  received two excellent briefings on Panama and the Canal. Mr. Rodolfo R. Sabonge, Office of Market Research and Analysis Vice-President from the Panama Canal Authority, outlined the traffic patterns through the Canal and the basic expansion plans. Mr. David Hunt, with the American Chamber of Commerce, discussed how to do business in Panama and the Panamanian economy. The following day, the group toured the Miraflores Locks. On Saturday, the group transited the Canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic. While a long day, it was worth the trip!! 

Over the ensuring years, ITTS sponsored a second trip to Panama with other ITTS member states and prepared additional presentations and reports on the Canal.  However, I have not been back since the Canal was opened.  I think it’s time for a return visit to tour the finished locks!