Thursday, December 30, 2010

A final farewell

It is the time of year when we look back and review the year just past. It is a feature news broadcasts, magazines and newspapers show for weeks. What do we remember about the year past? As a general rule I do not follow these lists closely. They run the gamut from sports champions, tragic stories, the political headlines and everything in-between. Although one should remember the past as it gives a foundation to grow with, one should not live continually there. Look to the future.

That being said, the one list I tend to find or listen to or read is the one that reminds us of who we lost, who has passed from this earthly world. I read this not as a fascination of mortality or as a morbid curiosity, but as a passing farewell to those who I have known from afar as my life moves on. You find that you have heard of the deaths of most but every year there are one or two where the news slipped by or you just forgot.

This years deaths held some memorable personalities, some of long-time fame and celebrity while others held sway over several generations for other reasons. Some may not spring to mind as they aren't famous in the Hollywood sense but what they contributed was more than influential. As I place virtually no one of fame or celebrity on a pedestal, there were a few names that left me saddened as they were stars from my parents days.

If you are a list follower I hope you find one that tickles your fancy. I for one will look forward hoping the coming year brings joy and new discoveries.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The day after

Christmas is now over, the gifts are unwrapped beneath the tree and snow is falling softly outside my window begging for the driveway to be shoveled. The gift-giving was fun as all my children were present. My daughter laughed when I opened an outside thermometer. "You like such old people gifts," she exclaimed.

To some extent she is accurate. My gift list this year (which I only give out once prompted, actually prodded to do so) included warm socks, bourbon, a new remote for the garage door (as mine gave out eight months ago and I'm too cheap to buy a new one) and baked goods. I suppose as you get older baked goods are a very important step in the aging process. However, my daughter would someday like to open a cupcake bake shoppe. Why wouldn't I want some of those tasty morsels?

The older I get the simpler I need my presents to be. I have nearly everything I want that wouldn't be considered an extravagance. I don't want anyone buying me something they couldn't or shouldn't be able to afford. If I want something that badly I'll get it myself. The simpler presents are the best as they come from the heart and not actually from the store. My family together watching my grandson, his brother and the kids tear through packages makes the whole morning. Top that off with sharing those moments with My Beloved and that's all I need for Christmas.

Hope all had a wonderful Christmas morning. And, a hearty happy birthday to The Stache on his momentous day after. I always thought he got shorted a present every year to make up for the birthdays but I could never prove it.

See ya'll in '11.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I can't fix that

Technology in the modern day is wonderful to some, a bane to others. We live in a constantly changing world where everything is getting smaller and smaller due to advances in microprocessors, circuitry and electronics in general. Years ago it was science fiction to have the Dick Tracy arm band. Now, that is reality.

But what has it cost us? What are the benefits? In the everyday world, what have we used this new bounty for? We have a great new way to listen to music. It's an MP3 player in some form or variety. Back in the day it was a transistor radio. Guess which one you could listen to for free? Today, it's expanded televisions with high-def capability that you plug into the world of cables and satellites. Back in the day, television was plugged into a wall. Guess which one is/was free to watch.

Many things in the past were user fixable. I had to have a repairman come out to see why the television got such a crappy reception. He had to make adjustments, run a series of diagnostics, cut wires, change out a video box to fix the system. As handy a person as I generally am, not something anyone can do by themselves in the present day. Simple repairs now take an electronics degree and extra training on top of that.

The new electronic world has given us the computer and placed it in nearly every home. From my talks with my customers, about 85 percent of them can't do much more than turn it on and email or watch videos. Everything else is a mystery to them. A very small percentage of the population even knows what type of printer cartridge their machines use.

So, what have we wrought from all this technology? What benefit do we reap, the average citizen? We have spent colossal dollars to listen to music, play solitaire, watch television, talk on a phone and read what some idiot posts on an internet blog. Has this made anyone's life easier? Not in my book. Other than a few random acts during a week, most technology to the average Joe is highly overrated.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Workers and feigners

Work is a natural part of life. It is a necessity actually. It takes place every day, day in and day out. Things must get done. But have you ever noticed who is really working? There are the ones who talk about working, some who seem so busy they must be working, some who actually work and another group that simply gets the job done.

As a long time manager and tasked with the job of getting people to accomplish things, I am very familiar with the workers and the fakers. Most are easy to spot but some may take a little more time to ferret out. The talkers are so busy talking about how to get things done and what should be done and in what order, most of the task is accomplished except the final acts by the time they join in the fray. This gets them out of most of the work and they help with the remnants which actually makes is seem as they did something.

The next group are those who work so hard at avoiding work they would actually do less if they simply joined the party and did the work. Every one knows them and every family has them. They are always at the family functions and seem to disappear when anything needs to happen. They must step outside to do something or run an errand just when the dishes need washed, dried, floor swept or anything else that accompanies a multi-family event. (Golly, Wally, did I just slide from work-place to family? How did that happen?)

The next group are those who simply get in the way. They try to help but always seem to be doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. When they get involved things get thrown into chaos and the work slows to a snails pace. They are generally not very organized and you can see it in most everything they do. It's best to give them other tasks to do which have nothing to do with the main event. As is the case, this should also be done in work situations.

Finally, there are those who simply get the job done. They have a sense of organization, protocol and timing and just know when to do things and in the proper order. Every work place needs these people as does every family at a family event. They are the first to arrive and the last to leave. They aren't waving goodbye when the last few items need finished. They are the ones who sweep the floor and turn out the lights, even though it wasn't their event to do in the first place.

Here's to the workers and the getter-doners; Merry Christmas and thanks for the party.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

'Right' or wrong

A discussion I heard on the radio this morning gave rise to this thought. It was a radio show with call-ins on the topic of airport scanning and security. Although I differ slightly with North of 50 on this topic, what intrigued me was what different people believe are rights and privileges. It kept surfacing that flying was either. It is not. Flying to me is actually neither. Flying is simply an alternate form of travel. Flying safely I would consider a right but flying itself is not. What's the difference? Glad you asked.

A right is something everyone should be able to expect in society. Walking down a street in safety is a right. Being able to operate a motor vehicle is a privilege. One takes permission and a modest amount of practice and skill. And from what I observe on the open road daily, very little practice and very little skill. Air travel is not a right or a privilege. There are alternate ways to arrive at your destination it just may not be as convenient.

There are rights guaranteed us by our constitution. Many norms of society should be a right. But just because you want to do something doesn't make it a right. Many complain about rights to privacy. In my area red-light cameras are often argued as an invasion of privacy. No, if you are in a public place there is no privacy nor right to privacy. Likewise, if you choose to travel by airplane you must accept the norm of inspection. It's not the same world it was in 1999. One function of the government is to protect it's citizenry. Terrorist attacks are no different than an invading army on public security. If you are embarrassed by a scanning machine, ask for a pat-down. If you think a physical search is too 'personal' don't fly. Personally, I would only draw the line on a physical search if someone cupped their hand and placed in on my scrotum. Eight inches away isn't any different than three inches away. Horseshoes and hand grenades.

If you don't want the hassle or what you think is embarrassment, go Greyhound. The only right in air travel is the right to travel safely.


There is a picture in our bedroom. It shows Dearest Kelley at age 2 or 3, at Christmastime (her favorite) in a blue dress with a white collar, head up, eyes shining, a bright and eager look on her face, all full of wonderment at what the world has to offer, all of the potential she has to offer almost jumping right out of the picture.

It is my favorite picture of her.

My eyes mist up every time I study that picture as I think about her determination, her "look out world, here I come!" outlook that was so tragically snuffed out ten years ago today.

We love you, Baby, and miss you more each day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

All grown up

Today two of my staff asked me a particular question; when do you become a man? Now, since I am the leader of the band, the oldest person in the store, generally thought to be scholarly and am revered by all, mostly because I control the payroll, I thought it was an astute question. As well, they are quite younger than I, one in college and one in his early twenties, while I am a grandfather.

The question took me off guard and required a few moments of thought. When does one become a man? Could it be different for different people? Certainly. Do some actually never become real men? Absolutely. I would however think there is a generally universal theme or time when one graduates from being a young man to a man.

Is one a man when he graduates from school, be it high school or college? I would say no. Having the physical attributes of an adult male has nothing to do with becoming a man. Some may argue a soldier is now a man. Some yes, some no. The dangers one faces in the armed forces generally doesn't make one become a man. It may hasten the process, however.

Does one become a man at, say twenty-five? No. Again age doesn't necessarily have much to do with it. How about thirty? Gosh, I would hope so. But why? That person is certainly older and in the eyes of the public looks like a man. If you walked down the street and saw him, you would certainly say he was a man but outer appearances can be deceiving. So what is the answer?

I can't speak to another's viewpoint but I would offer the following. A young man becomes a man when the world stops revolving around himself. He moves out of a self-awareness and becomes aware of a greater world, a greater responsibility. His family becomes more important than himself. His relationships with others change and often he may be secondary to others needs. As a young man a life is often viewed as a straight line. He is here and there is where he wants to go. He sees his future as an arrow. Unfortunately the world doesn't work like that and ones future and dreams takes a weaving course and being a man is how you deal with those changes while you maintain your relationships.

Life is a construction project and being a man is to be the best foreman you can be while respecting and keeping the respect of others while staying true to your underlying principles.