Recently posted quotes:

"There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress." Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.” -Will Rogers (1879-1935)

"Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it." -James Madison (1751-1836)

"Liberty must at all hazards be supported." -John Adams (1735-1826)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Frustration of becoming a Writer-Author – NOT!

I spend a good deal of time on the websites Writer’s Digest Community or Writer’s Market and in groups titled: Nonfiction, Memoir, How to Improve your Blog for FREE, Self-Publishing. Additionally taking in the innumerable Blogs that offer input on:

- How to get your book published

- How to write a query

- How to write a proposal

- Etc.

This has brought me to the conclusion that there is no right way to do any of this. If you search even the minimum amount of time, you will find conflicting opinions on any subject out there. It doesn’t take long.

In addition, EVERYBODY seems to think they are an EXPERT. I do mean everybody. Just take a look. You can not escape it.

I have probably downloaded and subsequently studied, I’m not kidding you, 50 gig of files describing the very best way to get published. One could spend the rest of their life studying how just to accomplish this feat.

So what’s a guy to do?

It seems to me the best solution is to write every day and when you have accomplished that; start writing more every day. Next you have to edit your work every day and then edit it more; trying to make it the best you can make it. There seems to be one object lesson that not one shies away from: “If it is good, they will buy!”

I sent out many queries, most prior to finishing (what I thought was finished) my project and did not receive one valuable response. I wasn’t ready and neither was my project. I have now self-determined that it was no way near ready and still isn’t. I learn more every day on the route that I should take to make the work better. Most of this knowledge comes from listening to what others say and deciding whether their thoughts are worthwhile.

I will continue to work on improving my craft. This I have decided after looking back over my career and realizing that I continually improved my former craft constantly through out my entire career. I didn’t get to be good at what I did right away; it took years of getting better all the time.

I don’t have years to accomplish this new craft but I have time to make it better. There is always time to do something right!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Introduction to Leadership

Over the last two years I have been recalling and documenting my professional career and the strife, trouble and opportunities that presented themselves to me and just how I handled each of these. I have thoroughly enjoyed this task. It has brought back some great memories as I tried to recall the exacts of what actually took place during each of these moments.

Some of the events were not that hard to recall as I had found opportunities to use the stories over and over all during my civilian career. These stories were tagged about one third of the way through my tenure in manufacturing as Moose Stories by a young man who worked for me in multiple capacities at several organizations. I discovered Warren Sanford as he jumped up and down and hollered at me from behind a production line during my time at Tandy in their Personal Computer Division in Ft Worth, TX. Warren was just the guy I needed for a come-in-late and stay-late printer and PC specialist during a software implementation project converting Tandy from a homegrown system to a standard MRP system. Warren also worked for me as my Network Administrator during the time we spent at Sun Engine, a remanufacturer of automobile engines in Dallas, TX.

During the twenty-five years I spent working in numerous manufacturing assignments; I found opportunities to use what I had learned from the people and situations I had previously been associated with. Many of the learning points were associated with my experiences while in the Army. While they were military in nature, the situations were still all about people. These adventures with people resulted in a much more basic understanding of those people and their thought processes. While most of those I was associated with in the manufacturing arena had little if any military experience they all related to the characters and the predicaments in the stories. The people lessons that I took away from these stories helped in making both me and those around me understand better what we could do to improve our lot in life. People, their actions and the results of their actions are the major time consumers that take up the majority of most manager’s and supervisor’s time; both good and bad people are the real players in the continuing story of our daily endeavors.

When a particular situation presented itself that I thought the relating of a previous experience with a core theme aligned with the current situation might be appropriate I would gather those on my staff and do just that. I told them a story. Then we discussed the predicament that I had just related to them and through our discussion I pulled from them the outcomes I desired. They worked out their trouble and routinely were better off as a result. As it seemed to work each time I tried it, I continued to use this tactic more and more.

Usually after working with an organization for some time and recognizing the need to relate one of these adventures, I might start in and then be interrupted by one of those that had been there for some time asking: “Is this gonna be another moose story Howard?”

I should digress a bit here and give the reader some background.

During the earliest years of my career, I was serving in the United States Army and stationed at Fort Richardson (Fort Rich), just outside of Anchorage, Alaska. Initially I was assigned to B Company (Maintenance & Supply) in the 172nd Support Battalion of the 172nd Infantry Brigade (Separate & Light). In an attempt to improve operations the platoon I was assigned to was detached from B Co. and attached to the 54th Transportation Company to form a Supply & Transportation unit; my first stint in a provisional//test unit - this remained a central theme throughout my entire military career. I started as the Section Leader of an element in the Supply Platoon. Having the dubious luck to follow two First Lieutenants who were relieved as platoon leader and petroleum officer, I being the only Lieutenant remaining who had not yet wandered into tragedy and trouble, found myself as the Supply Platoon Leader with the additional responsibility of being designated the Accountable Officer for all supplies coming into and going out of the Brigade.

172nd Infantry Brigade (Separate & Light)

172nd Support Battalion

The platoon’s mission was to provide supply and service support in the areas of rations (food), petroleum (POL), ammunition, clothing, general supplies (tents and the like), construction and barrier material (building material, concertina wire and other like material), and major item re-supply (weapons, vehicles, helicopters, etc). The only classes of supply not provided by my organization were repair parts and medical items; these came from two sister units within the Support Battalion. After almost three years of testing the organization the unit was designated as Delta Company (Supply and Transportation) and assigned to the Support Battalion. Change didn’t always come in a timely manner in the Army of the ‘70s.

Support operations conducted while in Alaska

Oh yes, the Moose connection. During the four years I spent in Alaska, I experienced more than several sightings, encounters, confrontations, happenings, run-ins, arguments, disagreements, quarrels, rows, conflicts, clashes, and skirmishes with moose – many more with moose than any other animal in Alaska.

An animal that takes up as much room as your run-of-the-mill Bull Moose and weighs in at as much as twelve to fourteen hundred pounds demands attention and most of the time, the right-of-way. In the far, far woods, as my son would come to call the area adjacent to our quarters, I would frequently find myself during the deepest part of the winter playing tag with a bull or cow moose in and around Ship Creek which passed just one hundred yards or so behind the home the US Army was so grateful to allow us to utilize during our stay.. These encounters would routinely make my wife furious as you might imagine – at me, not the moose. Tapping a moose on the nose and dodging behind a tree was akin to the same game we would play with a bull or mean white-eyed momma cow back in Texas during my teen years.

Moose out our back door

These encounters might also involve a run-in with a moose in the morning formation just outside the Battalion’s barracks area. Or maybe the incident might take the moose through the glass doors into the building itself. Once observing a confrontation between a moose and a VW Bug on the highway into Anchorage gave me a real healthy appreciation for these antlered obstructions. We even experienced a hungry bull that had crawled on his knees under our back porch in order to get to the only grass available that winter just outside the dryer vent coming from the basement of our quarters.

Well, not everything revolves around a moose experience, it’s the people who work with and for you that step into, instigate, or cause a problem that makes up a manager’s day. During the thirty-seven years I spent in the management, supervision and consultation of operations, both in manufacturing and the military; I continually found myself in the study of these people who cause the situations to happen to and around me. While a good deal of the stories are somewhat military in nature, largely due to the fact that I spent time at more than sixty posts, camps and stations; they are primarily just stories of people, the situations they find themselves in, what got them there and how we//they sometimes resolved the dilemma(s) that we found ourselves in.

Ft Greely Alaska, Feb 1974 -98°F

Ft Greely Buffalo herd in area later the same day Feb 1974

Eventually I realized that often I really had to watch out for that guy, Warren, knowing that I enjoyed telling the stories maybe even more than they enjoyed listening and learning from them. During routine meetings he might say something like: “Tell us another moose story Howard.” This was sure to lengthen the meeting’s duration and kept managers and supervisors away from their intended responsibilities.

2LT Brown & Sgt Garcia standing on top of 10,000 of Jet Fuel

The adventures I have documented are all true. I know that for a fact. I was there when they took place and often was the one that they took place to. Usually they all had reasonable endings; some more reasonable than others. The situations I intend to relate in the book (should it ever become such) taught me more than I could have ever learned in a management or supervision class tucked away somewhere on a college campus or a one-two-or-three day seminar taught by the very successful presenters of that type material. Just like many of you out there; the lessons of life are much more real than the case studies that professors will ever cause you to study. You all have been involved in just as many as I have and through this volume of work I will endeavor to spur just the slightest amount of memory and realization that you may know more about what leadership, management and supervision is all about than you previously thought you did.

I had this same jeep the entire 4 years in the command

I hope you find the stories and information to be enlightening, helpful, sometime even humorous, and at least interesting – the original cast and their actions were just that. Some of the names will have to be changed, but please remain assured that the stories are true and the dubious names may be factious only to save embarrassment; a point readers will subsequently understand. This understanding of people and their reasoning is what I took away from some very interesting, sometimes stressful or physical demanding but always memorable people experiences.

Monday, November 15, 2010

National Museum of the Pacific War 13 Nov 10

My son (Joe Pat) came down from Forney and my brother (Kenny) came over and with Patsy, the four of us drove over to Fredericksburg to visit the National Museum of the Pacific War and take in one of their re-enactments. We were very glad that we did.

We started with the re-enactment. This was probably a mistake. We shoulda waited until the sun would be shining on the seating area. It was breezy and really cool sitting there. BUT, all-in-all, we really enjoyed the show. The volunteers putting on the show were very knowledgeable of their areas and the live fire (blanks) may for a real good show. They demo’d every individual and crew served weapon used in the theatre by the Marines during the war.

They also had several landing craft and a tank or two – only one of the tanks was operated during the re-enactment.

But, man, that flame thrower was impressive. You were not gonna get away from it.

The big Marine with the cigar stole the show. You just had to like the guy.

We next went up to the museum to see the new exhibits there. This place was fantastic. We spent over 2&1/2 hours going through it and could easily have spent another 2 hours in there. There is just so much to see. I especially liked the conversation spots where they had six or so (at each spot) recordings to listen to from actual GI//Marines telling their story. These were fascinating.

This is a museum to not be missed. Everybody I know has some link to WWII and most to the Pacific Theatre. You should all go and see this.

Kenny and Joe Pat resting up before going to find grub!

After all of above we walked back over to Main Street and found a Beergarten to eat in. Good German food and a Great Museum; you just can’t beat it!

Here’s the website to check out:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran’s Day Parade - 11 Nov 10

Did I see you at the parade this morning? The parade was supposed to start at 0900 hrs, but it looked more like 0925 hrs before I saw movement down the route. No big-a-deal. What’s fifteen or twenty minutes when watching a parade is involved? So, we waited. Then it came. The turnout was pretty good for a Thursday morning. There seems to be more and more Latinos showing up on the sidewalks every year. I’m glad to see that. If you served, you served and need to be proud of that fact. Did I see you there?

It is sometimes just way too easy not to put forth the effort to do what’s right. Stay in bed, stay home and watch the tube. If you had to work or were on your deathbed (or standing at another’s); you get a pass. But if you didn’t have to work you shoulda been there or somewhere honoring a Vet. There’s just no excuse.

When I arrived, there was plenty of room for more to come; places right on the curb. Soon the festivities began. Bucky Godbolt of the Bucky and Bob Morning Show on KVET was our MC this morning.

Then came the bands. Not just one but many.

There’s always room for pretty girls and these are just an example of those that showed up.

Three Navy WAVs are always there. I think they served in WWII.

The Purple Heart gang.

Time for military vehicles.

A new group, the Emergency Service Pipes and Drum Corps; They were really good.

A guy in a Texas Flag shirt singing the Ballad of the Green Berets was outstanding.

The Knights of Columbus representatives are getting up there in age; but still impress.

The Austin Retired Air Force Chiefs are always represented. That’s Dale Lyons, a friend of mine, driving the car.

Of course there are always some REAL old soldiers from the Revolutionary War and the Confederate contingent always shows.

I had a good time. Wish I had seen you there.

Friday, November 5, 2010

59 Summers later, Finally a World Series game

While walking out of the Ballpark in Arlington the other night after the Giants ended the World Series’ hopes of the Rangers I was thinking back to the first time I ever saw a Major League ballgame. That was 59 summers ago at the old Sportsman’ Park in St. Louis, Missouri. My family was living in Taylorville, Illinois at the time and had traveled to St. Louis with another family assigned to the same seismograph crew as my dad. We made two trips that summer to see the Cards play. I was just a kid but I can still see it just as clear in my mind today as the day I was there.

The first game we attended was between the Cardinals and the Dodgers – the Brooklyn Dodgers – of the 1951 version. I had never seen so many people in my life as there were there that day. The crowds were terrifying. As we were making our way to our seats from the ticket stand and the entrance we were held up by security – my family at the very front, my brother hand in hand – while the Dodgers came out of their dressing room and made their way to the tunnel to their dugout. My brother, only thirteen months younger, and I had not seen very many black people (colored people as they were called at the time) in our short lives – even after having lived in Louisiana and Mississippi up until that time. As the Dodgers passed by my Dad pointed out certain players to us as he recognized them by their jersey numbers: “That’s Pee Wee Reese. That’s Gil Hodges. There’s Duke Snyder, Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella.” We just stood in awe of getting to see players we had only heard of over the radio; this was three years before we were to see any of them on TV – we hadn’t even seen or heard of TV at that time. Soon we were released to go down the aisle.

Having traveled not very far we encountered a family of colored folk heading to their seats also. The mother had three small children about the same size as my brother and myself in tow. My brother in his always inimitable fashion looked up at my mother and said in a somewhat elevated voice: “Look mama. There goes a bunch of little Jackie Robinsons!” Needless to say, there was some immediate shushing taking place even though my brother nor I understood at the time what he had done wrong.

We were Cardinal fans and I remain true to them to this day. My favorite player was always Stan Musial – there was no one better than Stan the Man.

You see the Cardinals were the most western team geographically in either league and therefore the team most familiar to those of us living in the Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma areas and listening to radio stations broadcasts. It was our team, my dad’s and I, and that’s the way I liked it.

That day I had the opportunity to see in action seven players and managers who would eventually make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame: St. Louis- Stan Musial (6), Red Schoendienst (2), and Enos Slaughter (9); Brooklyn- Jackie Robinson (42), Roy Campanella (39), Pee Wee Reese (1), and Duke Snyder (4).

Later that same summer we made another trip to see the New York Giants play the Cards. That was also a treat as I got the chance to see Willie Mays in his rookie year and several other Giants that were of note during that time and later on also: Leo Durocher (manager), Al Dark, Monte Irvin, Sal Maglie, Eddie Stanky, Bobby Thompson. Three of the Giants have been inducted into the Hall of Fame: Willie Mays (24), Monte Irvin (20) and manager (and former player for the Dodgers) Leo Durocher (2).

That year the Cardinals finished third behind the Dodgers who lost in a three game playoff to the Giants with Bobby Thompson’s walk off home run. You remember Bobby Thompson don’t you – he hit the shot herd ‘round the world and “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”

I checked the Hall of Fame website and validated the numbers. I currently have seen live 71 players, coaches, or umpires that are members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. There is still time to increase that number as I continue to attend ball games – who knows where the final count will end up?

My son and I at Cooperstown and Stan's locker.

Having said that, I really didn’t see any player that might eventually match a hall of fame type career at the Ballpark in the two games I saw over the weekend. Tim Lincecum for the Giants and Cliff Lee for the Rangers are building their reputation but as yet do not come close. Maybe over time; we have to wait. But as far as the position players go, nobody stuck out. Josh Hamilton might have the goods, but he accomplished only a solo home run and the team was already out in front with a lead that was never overcome. He has to do more.

I did enjoy every minute of both games. I wish the Rangers had done better, but they were there and there were 28 teams that weren’t.