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)


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Strain Capital Leverages Clause International Ltd


My mind tends to wander when not engaged. I’m sorry, but this is where it went overnight.

We have seen the very last of Santa Claus deliveries on Christmas Eve, at least for the near future. This afternoon, the Director of International Acquisitions and Operations for Strain Capital, Semore Layoffs, announced the leveraged buyout of Santa Claus International, Ltd. The oldest continuously operated family enterprise and located at the North Pole has fallen on tough times as of late.

R. R. Reindeer, the official spokesman for Claus stated in a press release just last week that the shrinking of pack ice due to global warning has reduced the availability of inexpensive labor in the region. The operation has had to import workers from regions outside the regular commute, paying expenses as well, and now sees profit margins dwindling.

The company is now scheduled for a complete overhaul—the usual result for a Strain Capital acquisition. Layoffs stated that several major changes are in order starting immediately after the completion of this holiday season’s delivery schedule.

Advance personnel are already reconnoitering sites at the more-stable South Pole and the move will begin on 26 Dec 12. The first of the major changes will be accomplished fairly easily due to the current administration’s cut back in funding of the sciences—those guys in D.C. are looking to cut all social spending. The availability of adequate shelter at the South Pole will expedite the move to new facilities.

Then the big challenge begins. Where will Strain find labor? Several colonies numbering in the hundreds of thousands make their home in the area, but are mostly unskilled labor. “We all realize the obstacle that brings,” Layoffs says: “but they have met this challenge before and sees no real problem overcoming it.”

The seasonal change to a new delivery date seems to be the largest problem facing Strain and its management team. The 25 December delivery date is expected to shift to 21 June—the shortest night of the year. Semore indicated that the new date fits nicely with the organizations goal of efficiency improvements. “We don’t need a long night to get deliveries made.”

The manufacturing schedule will be augments wit temporary workers and Black Friday will be moved to the American holiday Memorial Day—lobbyist are already in place working on legislative action to reschedule Memorial Day from a Monday to a Friday holiday. “OK, we know it’s a purely American holiday and we know we are going to get pushback in this area, but get over it Germany and Great Britain!” Layoffs was quoted as saying.

Layoffs went on to point out that the increased efficiency they believe they will gain by outsourcing delivery from the tried and true reindeer powered vehicle to conveniently established organizations and a newly developing franchise in the Far East with costs will diminishing quickly.

Current plans call for the Western Hemisphere deliveries to be divided UPS and FedEx with the senior firm, UPS, being allocated the northern half and FedEx getting the southern half. These two firms have proven that they can accomplish overnight exactly what is needed to reign in costs and insure deliverability. In an abrupt and unexpected move, a niche market was cut out and allocated to the United States Post Office. The District of Columbia seems to deserve special handling—it is note quite sure the overnight schedule will be met here, but this is the current plan—maybe they deserve a little less attention than the rest; it sure seems that they have paid in kind to their constituents.

A bold plan seems to be in order for the Western Hemisphere where a start-up company, ChiEx will assume the load for this region. ChiEx has plans on the table for some interesting approaches planned to meet the overnight market and continued operations throughout the remainder of the delivery market that now exists as a very slipshod situation.

With enormous resources available—let’s just say billions here—at minimum costs, ChiEx plans to reallocate assets hemisphere wide. One of the unique approaches is the human chain where the organization will stretch out hordes of humanity from all the major population centers to the country sides and deliver small to medium packages by hand. A second approach revealed just lately is the three-person rickshaw. Utilizing two runners and a jump seat allowing the third operator to rest in turn increases the usual stamina associated with this mode of transportation two to three fold. The new mode of transportation—currently labeled the Thrickshaw—is believed to be the preferred method for the larger requirements. No images are available of the Thrickshaw were available as yet but it is believed to be a modern and sleek upgrade to current models available on regular markets.

The entire market seems to be wide open for opportunities and improvements. The biggest question remains to be the ability of Strain to complete the turnaround in the small window the plan calls for. Markets will be watching closely, as will the delivery receiving public.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Money returns and a Raise also!

I recently had the opportunity to sign up for Social Security. It was very easy; all online and not one problem. The checks started hitting my account down at the credit union almost immediately and have so for a couple of months.

The guys down at the credit union called and ask if I would like to come down and see my money, What a treat! I took them up on the offer and went down and gave the cash a look.

I was dumb founded! I actually recognized some of the bills laying there in my account. I hadn't seen them since some time in the early 70s, but I recognized them. It was like old home week. We sat there and commiserated with each other over the journey each had taken over the years.

I go back after each deposit and check out the cash. Still recognizing some of them but nothing from the 80s yet.

So, I been with this Social Security System for just a short time and low and behold I get great news. I got a raise after such a short time.

I tell my wife, with a great big smile on my face, "I got a 1.7% raise!" She, being the ever encouraging Human Resource professional she is replied: "What? Only 1.7%. The national average is 3.5%."

The wind left my sails immediately. Any more good news from my System buddies, I'm gonna keep to myself.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mukluk Central



It seem that this blog has become Mukluk Central. Anybody and everybody wanting to know anything about making mukluks has found it lately.

Last night I received the 15th request for my copy of Making Mukluks And Mittens With Fur. As far as I can determine, the State of Alaska has stopped printing this pamphlet and I may have the only copy still in existence—other than those who I have provided a copy when requested.

Making Mukluks and Mittens With Fur

Now, besides requesting a copy of the pamphlet, I am being ask to provide information on hides. I used to have a couple of Beaver pelts out in the garage but my hardhearted wife made me dispose of them some time back—she’s like that sometimes. I had those pelts from way back in February of 1972 when I had purchased them at the street auction at the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous—a long time ago, but no more.

I don’t have the opportunity to do much hunting any more—maybe the best I might be able to offer up is my backyard squirrel, Toby. But if I somehow manage to capture Toby just what would I do for a back yard squirrel. I betcha that his nest up in the top of the big elm out back would be hard to find a renter for—it’s pretty a good sized nest and might suit a family of squirrels.

Toby, the only squirrel in Texas

I have convinced my grand kids that there is only one squirrel in Texas, Toby that is. When they happen to see more than one squirrel at a time, I have planted the notion in there minds that the problem exists with the vision and their brain: “Ya see, I tell them. Your brain is not processing light into and out of both eyes appropriately. The second squirrel you see is actually where Toby was in the near past.”

So if a family of squirrels moves into Toby’s nest, how will I be able to explain the new squatters to the grand kids? To much for me to think of right now so I’ll just have to pass on providing hides to those requesting them. Well at least for now.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Grand Kid’s Visit


Alison and Gavin ask to come back with us last Saturday—we were up in McKinney for daughter’s (Stephanie Winters) high school theatre class’s presentation of Little Shop of Horrors—staying the entire week.

We try to fill the time with adventure and educational stuff; but sometimes they find things to do on their own that amaze the older group attending. For instance, Gavin didn’t even know until Sunday afternoon that he could handle the monkey bars and here it is Monday and he’s chasing his sister:

  video
Planning adventures for each day is fairly easy but sometimes the adventures take an unexpected twist and they do just fine on their own!

video


Grand Kids; don’t you just love them?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Now what? The election is over and nothing changed!



So where do we go now? More than $2 Billion dollars later and nothing has changed. The Democrats still have the White House plus the Senate and the Republicans still have the House. Other than a couple of scallywags who don’t understand what Rape is; most everybody is exactly where they were when we started.

So what’s missing from the equation?

Well, I’ll tell you what’s missing!

One word sums it all up—Compromise. The art of compromise has escaped every living individual in the city of Washington D. C.

How can that be? After all, Washington D.C. is the original Great Compromise. Has this fact been lost on the brethren that work there now?

At 57 Maiden Lane in New York City—the home of Thomas Jefferson, in the year 1790; 222 years ago—a meeting took place that solved the two biggest problems haunting the nation as a result of the recently won Revolutionary War. The first problem was where to establish the new seat of government—in the north or in the south—neither open for debate by either side. The second was the question of the war debt owed by the south to the north—a rather hefty sum.

Jefferson, the Secretary of State, thought he could bring together the two sides and solve the problem and this he suggested to Washington. Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, was pitted in a battle with James Madison over both issues. There remains some doubt that Madison was at the forefront of the argument with what we now know about his collaboration with Jefferson but nonetheless Madison was the opposition leader.

Civility has never been a strong suit in D.C. but there is little doubt that there has never been any two leaders that so thoroughly despised each other more than Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton—no democrat and republican can come close to matching this hatred today.

In any event, Jefferson invited the two, Hamilton and Madison, to dinner at his house. The current seat of government was in New York City, a bitter pill to all southerners and the continuous ragging about the war debt did not help the situation.

Over dinner and a little wine (no beer summit this) a compromise suggested by Jefferson was established that located the new capitol at a site that incorporated both the north and the south—with the Potomac River intersecting the district—and the payment of a sum for the Pennsylvania and Potomac land that coincidentally matched exactly the war debt of the south $21.5 million dollars.

Thus both birds in the bush were killed with a single bullet.

A history lesson is in order for Inauguration Day. The entire crew, The President, the Senate and the House of Representatives should be forced to review the original Great Compromise and just maybe they should take an exam on the subject and those not posting a sufficient grade proving their understanding sent home and replaced by someone who does understand.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Have you tried an Outhouse lately?



Well, have you?

Just the other evening one of my stories was being read during my writers’ group meeting. Actually it was Kelly reading—I love to hear Kelly read my stuff. At any rate, the story contained several references to outhouses and the comment was made something to the effect “You just might be slighting those of us that aren’t outhouse aficionados.”

I had never considered the fact that not everybody had experienced the outhouse adventure. Only one other in the group had ever ventured inside an old country crescent moon operation. Oh sure, most of them had a port-a-let experience or two, but not the outhouse of days gone by.


Not having a current pix to share, I obtained this one from a public domain.

I guess I give away my age when I can report that at one time this style of movement operating adventures was common place. Now I’m not reporting that I grew up in this environment; but I will say that I routinely came across this adventure maybe just a little more than the rest.

I feel a little sorry for my colleagues that haven’t had this experience; whether it be just out back behind the house, off to the side of a cotton patch or one of those Tishomingo, Mississippi[i] or Snook, Texas[ii] operations that I most frequented during my youth—I will not say the pleasure was all mine—at times they were the only game in town.

The facility was not anything like those referenced above. The outhouse in question was erected on the drop zone west of Fort Greely, Alaska and didn’t have the accompanying odor problem that routinely is associated with that rural southern type of facility. The reason for the lack of odoriferous content is because the aroma generally associated with outdoor facilities is astonishingly done-in by the extreme elements of the Alaskan winter weather fairly immediately. Just about everything freezes amazingly quick in these conditions. My experience reminds me that this phenomena starts to take place somewhere close to -30ºF.

However my experience that day in question took place at a temperature some  50ºs south of the -30ºF mark—but I will save that story for another time. I will say, it was a trip that I will never forget.

So, I am at a loss for the appropriate advice when it comes to getting today’s world acquainted with the outhouse of the days-gone-by. You’ll just have to search out your own opportunities.

This is one of those experiences that you have to have on your own—not a single soul can do it justice. I guess its all up to you.

If you, on the other hand are an expert in this area; I welcome your comments.


[i] Tishomingo, Mississippi is about as far as you can go in the northeast corner of Mississippi. In fact, it is so far into the corner there that it just might be in Alabama. At any rate, I came across a rural outhouse there in the summer of 1965 that tied for the second most foul order I have ever come across. Its mate at number two is probably an Army portolet at Oak Grove, North Carolina that had to be at least two or three days past due on its pumping schedule.

[ii] The foulest smell, by far, I encountered in Snook, Texas when I was just a lad of twelve. My Dad had high jacked me to attend a community BBQ with him in the community of Snook. The activity was being held in a pasture just off the main street of Snook. The only public facility, as far as I could determine, was a four-holer, separated by a wall (two on one side and another two on the other) dividing the activity between men and women. This was absolutely the worst smell that I ever came across in my entire life – very bad, man!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Immigration deportation hold vs. Vets claims processing



I’m not sure exactly where I stand on this illegal deportation hold executive order released by the current administration in D.C. The strict conservative in me says: ”Hold up there; is this right?” The kind hearted soul that I am says: “They didn’t cause this mess; cut them some slack!”

But here’s the rub.

The other day there was a report in the New York Times stating that “More than 82,000 illegal immigrants have applied for a two-year reprieve from deportation in the first 30 working days of an Obama administration program, and 29 (thousand) have been approved, officials from the Department of Homeland Security said on Friday.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/15/us/us-cites-fast-pace-on-reprieves-for-young-illegal-immigrants.html?_r=1

That’s a little over 35% claim clearing efficiency. Additionally “63,000 applicants had already been scheduled to have fingerprints and photographs taken for a criminal background check, the second step in the process.”

What’s more, “Officials had originally predicted it could take several months after they began receiving applications on Aug. 15 for the first immigrants to be approved.

Only several months to get these claims cleared? Just where did this efficiency come from?

On the other hand, I find this report from the same New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/13/us/13backlog.html?pagewanted=all&_moc.semityn.www

 “Nearly 18 months went by before the Department of Veterans Affairs granted his claim late last month”

and

“the vast majority of the 82,000 claims the department received each month were not from veterans returning from the current wars. “We’re still getting a lot of Vietnam vets,”

But the stated VA Goal is “is to process all disability claims within 125 days, at a 98 percent accuracy level, and eliminate the claims backlog in 2015” and “All 56 VBA regional offices will be operating under the new organizational model by the end of 2013


"Despite unprecedented (Veterans Benefits Administration) claims production — completing over 1 million claims each year for the last two years — VA's backlog has grown,"

“As of mid-June, the VA had 870,000 pending cases; and 66% had been pending more than 125 days, according to a special analysis of data cited by Hickey. At the same time last year, the VA was dealing with more than 836,000 claims, with 59% pending more than 125 days, according to data on the VA's website. The VA has set a goal of processing all claims in fewer than 125 days by 2015.”

Now I ask you; just where is the disconnect between the Current Administration’s handling of these two important topics? Is one more important than the other? Regardless of how you sympathize with the immigration issue; don’t we owe some priority to those who have fought and served us in the past as well as being ready to support those currently serving and fighting for us currently?

It seems that the current administration feels that helping the illegal issue is more important than providing for our Vets—sure seems that way to me.

Compare the 35% claim efficiency rate established above; just since 15 August—36+ days back—and the expected finish date of only several months—let’s say 90 days.

Extrapolating the same claim efficiency rate to the number of backlogged Veteran cases, the VA could clear some 304,500 claims in the same period. That’s more than 300 thousand vets better off by the turn of the year—not sometime in 2015.

How ‘bout we put the effort where it’s deserved or as a minimum get these claims people working one Vet case for every one immigrant case? Fair is fair!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

From the outside looking in



I was again reminded just yesterday of a saying those of us have that call ourselves Aggies. “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”

The occasion to recall was prompted by an acquaintance and former colleague of mine, Jeff Whittle. Jeff had attended the Florida Gator – Texas A&M football game over the weekend at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. He posted a very poignant blog entry detailing the treatment he and his group received before, during and after the game.


“This weekend I got a lesson in organizational culture I’ll never forget.  I went to my first football game at Texas A&M University.”

“We steeled ourselves for the harsh and sometimes insulting epithets to which we had become accustomed in places like Baton Rouge and Knoxville, where foreigners are considered fair game and common expectations of decency often suspended on game-day afternoons. ”

“It was a remarkable experience, and as the day wore on I realized that I was witnessing perhaps the most pervasive positive culture I had ever seen.”

 

 Jeff Whittle (blue gator jersey for our color challenged friends) with Company A-1 of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets 08 Sep 12

At the time I reviewed the blog post there had been some 131 comments made there. A great number of them were thank yous to Jeff for his kind words. They were really nice, I have to admit.

Then there were the detractors—those longhorn fans that just can’t leave thing alone. Oh, I think I saw a few Tech and Baylor fans mixed in.

You know the type:

LonghornFan
I have no hard feelings towards the Aggies, but if you had come to Kyle Field for a game against Texas wearing burnt orange then you would have had the complete opposite experience.

Bill
No, Aggies are absolutely NOT polite no matter who you are. We have experienced their hatefulness time and time again.
Have you seen the billboards they have placed all over the place? Polite, I think not!!

Bill
Clearly you aren’t around Aggies enough! I am not a Longhorn fan, but live in Texas and have never been treated more poorly than a group like the Aggies. If they are so welcoming, why in the world do they not let any cheerleaders or band from the opposing team on their field?

Bill
Not a Longhorn fan, but we are absolutely going to love our conference without A&M! Time for some classy schools. Enjoy the SEC!

Bill mounted his horse and never tried to get off.

Several Gators responded to the post also—here’s a couple of samples:

UFG8rs
My experience was similar as the one expressed in the article. Went to the game with 5 Gator couples and had only positive feedback from everyone we met. A family took us to the firing of the cannon before the game which was followed by the band and cadets. Was probably explained from at least a dozen different Aggie fans about the history of this pregame ritual and enjoyed each ones interpretation. We were included in BBQ as we walked through the tailgate area. Thanks to all the good people in College Station. Please come to Gainesville and expect us back in the future.

Kent
I also attended the game Saturday with 16 other members of GatorNation ranging in age from 24-70+. Jeff’s experiences were exactly the same as ours. After the final whistle had blown and we were back gathered around the tailgate there was a little bit of armchair analysis of the game but the majority of the conversation was on the hospitality of EVERY Aggie we encountered, including sitting in the middle of the students for mid-night yell. Thanks for a most memorable weekend and welcome to the SEC!

Now back to the commentary:

Every one is entitled to their opinion and experiences make up our perceptions of the world around us. I’m sure that LonghornFan and Bill both have good stories to back up their feelings. Having grown up in the Bryan-College Station area attending every game from 1955 through my graduation after the 1969 football season and
Holding season tickets for a while after departing the U. S. Army; I can tell you that I occasionally saw an inebriated fan spout his head off at the attendee of a challenging university—it’s gotta happen every-now-and-then—human nature.

Having said that; I am positive that the Aggie culture is pervasive enough to insure 98% of the Aggie fans attending the games at Kyle Field are just as Jeff found them to be.

I have the inside scoop on the blog poster; having spent eleven months working with Jeff Whittle in Cameron, Texas at Royal Seating and Texwood Furniture.


Jeff did a very good job explaining the culture from the outside—better than most that try to attempt it. Good job Jeff

Thursday, August 16, 2012

There's a Moose in the Guard Shack - he's gonna kill me!


Here is a teaser outlining the chapters of my book and a short description of the chapters involved in the project. Each chapter tackles a specific anecdote and the professional leadership traits and tactics that I took away from the incident. The entire project is designed to be entertaining while still discussing specific troubles and problems that managers and supervisors deal with on a daily basis.

Tommy’s Moose
Attitudes – Beliefs – Values - Truthfulness – Fairness – Consistency – Getting’ Better and Efficient
Tommy’s Moose is an adventure that takes the reader on a trek of terror and the steps taken to abate that terror. There’s an unscheduled late night visitor to a lonely guard post—what excitement that visitor creates. Discussion points include: the attitudes – beliefs – values of those you work with, the role of being truthful – fair & consistent with those you work with, and the goal of always striving to make your organization better and more efficient.

The Doors blew open
Calm vs. Excited - Trust
The Doors Blew Open is adventure that really wasn’t. What happens when there is almost an adventure, a bad situation and the reactions to what might have been? The level of excitement achieved an extremely high point. The discussion points revolve around excitement and what Chicken Little would do given the opportunity.

Nenana – Two shorts and a long
Human Skills - Technical Skills - Interviewing for Technical Skills - Conceptual Skills
- Writing Skills- Interviewing in general - Ability to Lead
Nenana – Two Shorts and a Long relates the when brains are not engaged occurrence involving an experienced petroleum handler//truck driver who makes a small mistake and ends up feeling the brunt of it. I discuss human and technical skills and how one should go about interviewing for those skills. Additionally we look into conceptual skills and writing skills and I hit briefly on the ability to lead.

Coaching the Cosmos
Matching requirements with employees  - Motivating individual employees - Final note on our participation
Coaching the Cosmos is all about putting kids in the game and the part luck can play in that game. Luck with the addition of skill and the results that just might be obtained. The importance of matching requirements with employees and motivating of individual employees is explored.

Walkabout Aggressors
Leadership
Walkabout Aggressors is a story that has never been told before as far as I know—others might have but I haven’t. The tale takes the reader along on a short trip through the woods, never knowing what might be around the next corner. What happens when others want to be part of the excitement and what levels will they go to accomplishing their involvement. Turning bad times into good times is sometimes much easier than one might think. I discuss counseling, leading a group, the importance of reading the vine—the preverbal grapevine.

Mess Hall Cups - It’s just a flippin’ Coffee Cup
Communication (good & bad) - Meetings: their agenda and conduct - Get it right the first time - Organization and opportunity
Mess Hall Cups is all about how crazy situations can get when communication is less that perfect. The simple becomes next to impossible.  Here is a discussion of communication; both good and bad. Pointers are covered on holding meetings and advice on getting it right the first time.

Hurricane Heaters and Practice in Combat Parking
More on authority, responsibility and accountability
Hurricane Heaters and Practice in Combat Parking is a tale about authority and what happens when that authority is not applied correctly. I address how you correct inaction when it should have been applied and discuss some additional pointers on responsibility.

500 Lb Bomb found – We’re Movin’ Out
Organization structure - Training status - Review (evaluation) process
500 lb Bomb Found – We’re Movin’ Out delves into organizations and their ability to react. The selection of the players is of prime importance just as the selection of every employee within a society: work, social, whatever. Organization structure is explored along with the training status and review and evaluation process

Fitz and His Spare Tire
Think like Fitz - Giving instructions - Stupid questions - Personal skills inventory - Mentoring - Integrity and principles
Fitz and His Spare Tire lays out an adventure that took place because of someone thinking instead of following instructions; people are individuals and almost always want to do well. I tell of one of the best lessons I have ever learned—a real life lesson. Think like Fitz and be sure you giving good instructions. I also discuss how to handle those stupid questions and methods of developing a personal skills inventory of those working with you along with mentoring, integrity and the importance of principles is also discussed.

Let me tell ya ‘bout Cold
Common Sense
Let Me Tell Ya ‘bout Cold asks the question: how tough can you take it? Put yourself in the situation and see what you would do? Just how cold have you ever been? Can you imagine real cold? Victories have to be found wherever you can find them. Can you take it?

They came from outta the sky!
What’s going on? Planning - Organizing – Leading - Controlling – Just Maybe
Great Ping Pong Ball Drop    describes what can happen when the lack of a good plan becomes the problem. How would you act if you had the market cornered? Knowing what’s going on in your organization and how to plan, organize, lead and control are the discussion points.

To Jack’s House - Part I
Responsibility – Accountability - Authority and Power
To Jack’s House and Back is about another short trip, the confrontation involved, the struggle getting back home again and things that shouldn’t go bump but often do. Responsibility, accountability, authority and power; where they come from and how to deal with each are the center of the message here. What precedence is and the New Guy syndrome add to the tale along with the obtaining of authority and what to do in the face of the unexpected.

To Jack’s House - Part II
Who makes the decision? – Precedence - The New Guy

Back from Jack’s House - Part I
Allowing Supervisors to supervise

Back from Jack’s House - Part II
Obtaining authority - The unexpected - Consultants

Up and Back – Part I
People vs. Mission Orientation - Skills and Talent - Tell vs. Not tell – Self recognition
Up and Back and Up Again is an account of people and perseverance under trying circumstances. The adventure takes place on a one day trip (convoy) that ends up requiring two days due to unforeseen complications and the actions of a few bad apples. The leadership discussion concentrates on: are you a people vs. mission orientation manager, skills vs. talent decision, telling vs. not telling employees everything, just what’s important to you, are you having a good time, self recognition, second guessing your subordinate managers or supervisors, cycles – changes – paying attention and addresses the question: think you got it tough?

And Up Again – Part II
Perseverance - Second guessing - Cycles – Change – Attention - What’s important to you? – Turn-over (Got it tough?) - Have a good time!

Huntin’ downhill (Bonus Anecdote)
Fun - Camaraderie
Huntin’ Downhill reminds us that ya just gotta have fun, not at the cost of the mission, but while you are getting there and almost every step along the way. I also discuss what to do if you’re not having fun and why it should be of prime importance in your career. Camaraderie with those you work with is looked into.

Appendix A - Howard’s Law
Howard’s Laws are a set of principles that I have gathered throughout my career and always had posted just inside the door in every office I have inhabited over that time. They are very simple and pretty much apply universally.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Who might you meet in my Book?


Are you wondering if you are going to be in my business management project when it gets published? Well. Maybe! Volume #1 is complete and ready for an agent and//or publisher. There are many characters in volume #1 and most likely there will be many more added in volume #2. Those anecdotes are in progress—not as I type here (still with only two fingers, but two more at rest just waiting to take the first two’s place should the need arise).

Here is a short run down of several of the characters you might meet, remember or know very well (entries in no particular order):

Tommy Wilson and his moose (Platoon clerk and chocked full of excitement)
David Fitzsimmons (Fitz) (2nd Platoon clerk and the hardest at working to impress)
Frank Lefevers (Best 2nd right hand anybody could ever have)
Alan Grant (Platoon sergeant and professional)
Donald Jenkins (Pillsbury Dough Boy – enough said)
Joseph Guarino (trouble from day one)
Martin Snyder (Best ration sergeant in the United States Army)
John Workman (The other best ration sergeant in the United States Army)
Marvin Craighead (Always looking for the next challenge and never afraid to take on a problem)
Ron Acuff (My platoon’s 3rd Class II & VII Section Leader and good at it)
Larry Wilson (My platoon’s 2nd Class II & VII Section Leader and 2nd POL Officer – a great guy and a good friend)
Dave Elberfeld
Vince Festa
Ted Kuchta (My platoon’s 4th POL Officer)
Doug Brown (My platoon’s 3rd POL Officer and a former NCO with a good head on his shoulders)
Pat Phillips (A tragic loss that came way too soon)
Vince Fuentes
Roger Issacson
Stan Pearson
Peter Burbules (My Battalion Commander during some hard times with great struggle)
William Krukemeyer
Phil Rivard (My boss during a challenging time of change)
Ed Armatoski (The guy that pushed me toward Alaska in the first place)
Denys Danley
Pat Crumbliss
Howard Kerr (Important mission on the coldest night of the year)
James Maggard
Chief Maynes
Sgt Stone (Never knew his first name – probably was sergeant for all I know)
Thomas Steel (One of my most trusted NCOs during the years I spent at Fort Bragg)
SFC Torric (The source of some hard lessons – both taught & learned)
Warren Sanford (Another one of those 2nd right hands that made my job easier)


These and many more will be revealed during the course of my story telling and advice rendering. The title as it currently stands is “There’s a Moose in the Guard Shack – He’s gonna kill me!

Look for it soon.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Currently Editing


Heading into the weekend, I am still busily editing the What-I-Took-Away approach to my business management project There’s a Moose in the Guard Shack—he’s gonna kill me! This process is not the easiest. I already know what’s on the page and reading through the verbiage is difficult as my mind is probably five or so words ahead of my eyes. It’s not that my mind is that quick. It’s just a fact that it already knows what is coming.

This state of recognition plays a old dirty trick on me by suggesting that my mind knows a better way to say what I have already spent numerous hours trying to get it down as best I can and currently believe that I have it close to perfect. Still, I go about changing the sentence I am working on. Then there it comes. Right in the very next sentence sits exactly the fact, the statement, the sentiment, whatever… that I just changed the preceding sentence to include. Why is this? Is it my mind that plays this trick or maybe the Literary Giants of yesteryear? Would Twain, Faulkner, Thompson, or Fitzgerald go out of their way to pick on me. I could understand it if it was one of the Marx brothers. I’m for sure that I am not in their league. So, for what possible need would they see fit to pick on me?

 
 Mark Twain
 
 William Faulkner
 
 Hunter S. Thompson
 
 F. Scott Fitzgerald
 
 No, not those Marx!
 Karl Marx
Maybe it isn’t the Giants picking on me. Maybe the task of editing is meant to be hard. Getting the rough draft into memory isn’t near the problem that editing seems to be. Well, maybe changing the original direction to the What-I-Took-Away concept has proven to be much more difficult than I originally thought it would. I have now been at this for some time and still have more than several chapters left to work. It does seem to get a bit easier as I move from one to the next. The task goes on.

I have put behind me: Tommy’s encounter with the moose, CPT Love’s camping encounter with artillery shells landing all about him, the Florida 500 lb bomb, more mess hall trucks than one ever wants to imagine, hunting snowshoe hares and my relationship with the Cosmos.

Still ahead is the Pillsbury Doughboy, spare tires, Jack’s House, terrifying plane rides and the great ping-pong ball drop.

I can hardly wait to get started again.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Did you realize – Your eBook data is being collected by sellers


That’s right. It is my impression that many people reading literature over the newfangled devices do not have any idea that they may have traveled back 28 years to 1984. While it may not be Big Brother looking over your shoulder, it may be even creepier than Big Brother. These guys might make real use of the data being collected.

I’m not trying to be an alarmist here; just my effort at sounding the Paul Revere and passing on what I have been able to gleam from what I understand about the situation.

 

No, Not that one, the other one!

 

The information I would like to pass along comes from an article published in the Wall Street Journal the other day entitled “Your E-Book Is Reading You”: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052702304870304577490950051438304-lMyQjAxMTAyMDIwODEyNDgyWj.html

Interesting, ver-r-r-r-y interesting!

It seems that if you are using a iPad, Kindle or Nook to purchase and read books or projects off those available from the internet suppliers; what you have done is being monitored. Every time you revisit the supplier’s web site they are updating minute bits of data on what you have accomplished on your reading device.

The article states (from Nook as an example) “Data collected from Nooks reveals, for example, how far readers get in particular books, how quickly they read and how readers of particular genres engage with books. Jim Hilt, the company's vice president of e-books, says the company is starting to share their insights with publishers to help them create books that better hold people's attention.”  

Mr. Hilt further states “that the company is still in "the earliest stages of deep analytics" and is sifting through "more data than we can use."

So, just what is it that they want from you?

The second paragraph is very revealing as to what they might pull from what is being recorded every time you take out your Kindle and begin.

1 – do you skip the introduction?
2 – do you stop after three pages and never come back?
3 – how fast do you read?
It goes on and on.

They are looking for the point that you become bored in certain genre books and will be trying to come up with a hook that will keep you interested, whether you want to stay or not. Maybe it’s a movie trailer of what’s exciting ahead—anything to hook you.

The article further points out that Amazon knows what part of a book the readers like best and actually highlight.

The watchdogs are out and preparing for battle as we discuss the situation. Here’s an excerpt:

“"There's a societal ideal that what you read is nobody else's business," says Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for consumer rights and privacy. "Right now, there's no way for you to tell Amazon, I want to buy your books, but I don't want you to track what I'm reading."”

This photo from the Wall Street Journal article just fascinates me:


Photo credit – William Duke

Look back over your shoulder—is anybody watching? Maybe all you have to do is look straight ahead—there they are!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Agent Consult Experience - #WETCon12


I try never to be negative—there’s just so many ways to be positive instead. So I have chosen to relate the positive side of this experience that took place this last weekend at the Writers’ League of Texas Agents Conference.

During my original selection process, I had maneuvered through each conference agent’s web site, special interests (business, in my case), access to major publishers (works with major publishing houses, as well as regional publishers that handle niche markets), special notes (looks for projects that present familiar subjects freshly or less-known subjects presented commercially) & ("This agency focuses on adult nonfiction, stresses strong editorial development and refinement before submitting to publishers, and brainstorms ideas with authors.") There was more to the process than the mentions above, but these several stood out above the others. There was also the mention that the agency had sold 35 titles last year alone.

I selected this agent for my consult and responded to the Writers’ League and the deal was set.

I wanted to be as fresh as possible so I had waited until two days ahead of the conference start to do my in-depth research on the selected agent’s web site and supported product. I gathered as much data from the information available and set off to dig in and be as prepared as possible.

I copied the titles from Business, Memoir and Humor and then conducted research on the authors and the title’s plus the author’s position on both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble sales sites.

In total, I probably spent close to twelve hours reading and lining up notes to study before my consultation. I was prepared.

I studied my pitch and had it down as perfect as I considered necessary—I was positive I was ready for the meeting.

After the conference start, I made sure I attended at least one session that the selected agent sat on the presenting panel. This allowed me to gat that extra-positive feel that I at least had so idea of what to expect when I entered the consult room.

Twenty minutes prior to our meeting, I took the elevator to the seventeenth floor, all the while keeping my eyes on the elevator door—never once looking at the seventeen floor drop that loomed behind me should I somehow encounter a gust of wind that would send me through the glass and tumbling down.

Departing the elevator, I took my seat on murder’s row and awaited my turn. Low and behold, the pitcher preceding me failed to show and I was almost immediately shown into the consult for our ten minute hurrah.

I introduced myself and rolled my pitch as perfectly as I had ever practiced.

Miss Agent responded with one question—almost immediately also: “Where are you working?”

My response, being as upfront as possible: “I’m retired.”

She, again almost immediately, started in on the reasons why she couldn’t take on a business project authored by someone who wasn’t currently working in industry. Her explanation went on for some six or seven minutes. I knew there was not to be an author-agent meeting of the minds—while I was born dumb, I have been getting better ever since.

I’m positive that she never commented once on the quality of my pitch, nor did she ever offer any advice about a different approach. I ask several questions trying to probe her advice on what I had gleamed from other agents and the possibility of different approaches. I’m positive that she had nothing positive to say about the other agents’ advice.

I’m pretty sure that this was my chance to do some talking about my project. I am fairly sure that I spoke no more than a total of one and a half to two minutes out of my allotted ten.

I thanked her for her time, said good bye and departed the room.

I am positive that I am not going to waste much more time in the agent search.

Considering the recurring theme that resounded over and over during the conference, I am positive that I am going to look considerably harder at self-publishing and eBook opportunities.

I am positive that I can do a better job of representing myself than any near sited agent cut off from the reality of the business world and the people within it.

I’m positive.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

There’s a Moose in the Guard Shack—he’s gonna kill me!


There’s a Moose in the Guard Shack—he’s gonna kill me!

Did you ever run across the Pillsbury Doughboy hitch hiking Alaska? Whadda you do when an artillery round lands right beside your G__ D___ tent? What actions can a pair of novice military dads take to not screw up the world of competitive youth soccer on West Point? Have the bad guys infiltrated your inner circle? Just what would you do if a Moose walked into your Guard Shack?

These pressing questions and more business management dilemmas are discussed and recommendations put forth during our travel and tangents on the way to Jack’s House in this nonfiction  business management project detailing real people, real events and real answers and guidance to these and many more situations facing managers and supervisors in their everyday life in the fast lane.

The true life anecdotes detail typical troubles and problems that employees get into, out of  and the situations these problems create. Always stressful, but often humorous to look back on, the troubles can stretch across a wide range of industries when using just the slightest bit of imagination, you will recognize employees and situations familiar to many business endeavors.

Give it a read and improve your organization’s leadership today.


Pitch disclaimer: Absolutely no Vampires, Zombies or Werewolves were harmed during the gathering of material nor the flushing out of the prose during the workup of this project.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hot preparation for Writers’ League of Texas Agents Conference #WLTCon12


Every day lately I have been preparing for this weekend’s Writers’ League of Texas Agents Conference (#WLTCon12)—no small feat, I’m here to tell you.

This will be my third visit to the conference and each time I attend, I seem to learn more and more about what I need to be doing to get an agent and get one of my books published. As yet, I haven’t wrung the bell at the end of the race, but I believe I get closer and closer each time.

Besides the knowledge I take away from the conference, I meet some real interesting peoples and a few characters here and there. The sessions are very informative and hearing advice from other authors and those much sought after agents is interesting at the least. Now, if I can just turn that into an agent selecting me to work with, I will have met the second goal of this quest.

The primary goal being the writing of the book (now 2). I never imagined I had that in me to begin with. Although I had spent a great deal of time writing letters, procedures, regulations and the such my entire career; I never had to put anything into story format.

Oh, I have been a storyteller all along. The primary difference here being that I likely had somewhat of a captive and interested audience and could tailor the depth and length of each story to match the situation. As a great deal of my stories are of a military nature, the translation factor often comes into play during a monolog and this not-be-the-case when writing for a more general audience.

I do keep looking online for other activity under the conference #hastag but as yet have seen very little.

I am looking forward to Friday and this activity getting kicked off and running with it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Found my favorite Nonfiction Author


Found is probably not the correct word to use. I probably decided the first time I read some of his works or works about him. Near the end of the last account of a portion of his life I came across a quote that has stuck with me and I can’t get it out of my mind—it continues to roam around in there (lots of room available for roaming you realize) and will not exit. It actually woke me up in the middle of the night last night.

Now there’s a couple of what most would classify as fiction writers that I admire for their nonfiction work. The two that come quickest to mind are Mark Twain and Jack London. A great deal of both their work is actually nonfiction disguised as fiction. Nobody reading the works would have believed otherwise.

But, for my money you can not get any better observations of the people and the world they inhabit than those recorded by Theodore Roosevelt. I was taken aback by his phraseology and the real look at those he came into contact with and wrote about.

I offer you these examples (with references):

Roosevelt writing on Leonard Wood, originally his immediate commander in the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry (Rough Riders): “This was an army surgeon, Dr. Leonard Wood. He had served in General Miles’ inconceivably harassing campaigns against the Apaches, where he displayed such courage that he won that most coveted of distinctions—the Medal of Honor,…the qualities of entire manliness with entire uprightness and cleanliness of character.” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 2)

Two of the young Cherokee recruits came to me with a most kindly letter from one of the ladies who had been teaching in the academy from which they were about to graduate … One was on the Academy football team and the other in the glee club. Both were fine young fellows. The football player now lies buried with the other dead who fell in the fight at San Juan. The singer was brought to death’s door by fever, but recovered and came back to his home.” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 13)

“we had abundance of men who were utterly unmoved by any antic a horse might commit.” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 19)

“The tone of the officers’ mess was very high. Every one seemed to realize that he had undertaken most serious work. They all earnestly wished for a chance to distinguish themselves, and fully appreciated that they ran the risk not merely of death, but of what was infinitely worse—namely, failure at the crisis to perform duty well; and they strove earnestly so to train themselves, and the men under them, as to minimize the possibility of such disgrace.” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 24)

Theodore Roosevelt of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry

“No outsider can appreciate the bitterness of the disappointment. … the hardest and most disagreeable duty was to stay. Credit should go with the performance of duty, and not with what is very often the accident of glory.” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 31)

“No man was allowed to drop out to help the wounded. … but war is a grim game” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 51)

Waking the morning of the battle he had waited his entire life for, Roosevelt wrote: “It was a very lovely morning, the sky of cloudless blue, while the level shimmering rays from the just-risen sun brought into fine relief the splendid palms which here and there towered above the lower growth. The lofty and beautiful mountains hemmed in the Santiago plain, making it an amphitheatre for the battle.” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 65)

 Detailing his unsupported charge up the Kettle Hill and toward the San Juan blockhouse, Roosevelt wrote of his crowded hour: “I jumped over the wire fence in front of us and started at the double; but as a matter of fact, the troopers were so excited, what with shooting and being shot, and shouting and cheering, that they did not hear, or did not heed me; and after running about a hundred yards I found I had only five men along with me. Bullets were ripping the grass all around us…” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 76)

1st United States Volunteer Cavalry (Rough Riders) Regimental Toast: “The officers; may the war last until each is killed, wounded, or promoted.” Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 69)

Roosevelt writing on Captain William O.(Bucky) O’Neill at Santiago as the regiment was taking Spanish fire: “As O’Neill moved to and fro, his men begged him to lie down, and one of the sergeants said: “Captain, a bullet is sure to hit you.” O’Neill took his cigarette out of his mouth, and blowing out a cloud of smoke laughed and said, “Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn’t made that will kill me.” … As he turned on his heel a bullet struck him in the mouth and came out the back of his head; so that even before he fell his wild and gallant soul had gone out into the darkness.” Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 69)

In an argument with Congressman James E. Watson, the House republican Whip, President Roosevelt, (semi mobile on crutches) meeting to discuss the strike ramifications should the United Mine Workers walk out in October of 1902 and questioned on the Constitution and the seizing of private property “grabbed Watson by the shoulder and shouted, “The Constitution was made for the people and not the people for the Constitution.”” - Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex, Random House, 2001, (p. 165)

On the Monroe Doctrine and Germany, Roosevelt said (of the big stick policy): “power, and the willingness and readiness to use it” would make Germany understand the Monroe Doctrine fully. - Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex, Random House, 2001, (p. 184)

Continuing on the Monroe Doctrine, Roosevelt told Sir George Otto Trevelyan, British Diplomat in May 1904: “I had much rather be a real President for three years and a half, than a figurehead for seven years and a half.” - Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex, Random House, 2001, (p. 327)

 White House Portrait

Roosevelt wrote on his discussions with E. H. Harriman, an American Railroad executive: “It tires me to talk to rich men. You expect a man of millions, the head of a great industry, to be a man worth hearing; but as a rule they don’t know anything outside their own businesses.” - Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex, Random House, 2001, (p. 327)

“I know the American people, “ Roosevelt stated in 1910, “They have a way of erecting a triumphal arch, and after the Conquering Hero has passed beneath it he may expect to receive a shower of bricks on his back at any moment.” – Henry Fairchild Osborn, Impressions of Great Naturalists, New York, 1924, Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, Anchor Books, New York, 2005, (p. 12)


Gathering of Expedition participants prior to setting off down the River of Doubt

I mentioned to Ms. Millard, the author of the last several observations (one above and the one below), when I got her sign another of her books at the Texas Book Festival this past October that she was going to be the reason for my eventual divorce. During the questions and answer segment of the session where she had discussed her latest project, Destiny of the Republic, she had been asked several questions about her Roosevelt and the River of Doubt book and now I had to get it also. Patsy had warned me earlier that if I bought another Teddy Roosevelt book se was gonna leave. Well, Ms. Millard, if divorce comes about, it was your fault—ya made me do it.

But the most poetic and the phrase that I can’t get out of my mind is this statement written by Roosevelt after the killing of one of the camaradas Paishon by the thief and murderer Julio and  Paishon’s subsequent burial: “Then we left him forever under the great trees beside the lonely river.” – Theodore Roosevelt, “Through the Brazilian Wilderness,” p. 308, (p. 293), Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, Anchor Books, New York, 2005, (p. 12)

This seems so final and forever. Did TR realize that the jungle would reclaim the grave quickly or that nobody would ever stumble upon it in the wilds of Amazon Basin for time immemorial? Very few things in our world are never, ever, or forever any more—this act might just be one.

For whatever reason, this has stuck with me and I can’t get rid of it.