Saturday, December 17, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy Illusion to you

Henry Wordsworth Longfellow wrote a beautiful Christmas hymn that we sing this time of the year. He wrote it in the 19th century. He lived 1807-1882. The hymn is I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day . It is a stirring hymn and the first and third verses contain these words:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day.
Their old familiar carols play.
And wild and sweet the words repeat.
Of peace on earth, good will towards men.

And in despair I bowed my head.
"There is no peace on earth," I said.
For hate is strong and mocks the song.
Of peace on earth, good will towards men.

I studied Longfellow at Huntingdon College back in the 60's in an English literature class I was required to take to obtain a degree. He was a prolific writer and is quite famous for the words which he penned. He wrote An Ode on Intimations of Immortality . He demonstrates himself as a man of faith and strong religious beliefs.

I am approaching my 66th birthday and have walked the paths of life for some time now. I have experienced: Christmas as a child, baseball, football, basketball, track and field as both a player and supporter. I have lived the thrill of: first kisses, sunrises, sunsets, starry nights, scary storms and new and old dreams. I have survived: getting married, getting divorced, many moves to new towns, new jobs, old jobs, heavy assignments and aches, pains and fevers. I have met many people: Young folks, old folks, regular folks, important folks, humble folks and arrogant folks. I have stood on stages and taught or spoken to large crowds, small groups, classrooms, and mentored people one on one. I have seen people at their best and their worst. I have comforted small children and dying friends. I have been complimented, flirted with, prayed for and preyed upon. I have been spoken ill of, spoken ill of others, debated, confronted others and been betrayed in the most injurious ways. I have loved, been loved, treated kindly and unkindly and swept aside by people that I gave 30 years of my life to.

Yet from where I stand, I know that I will experience many more things both good and bad before I sleep the deep sleep of death. I am convinced that life is an illusion. We make of it what we will. That is not an original thought or idea. We can choose to be cynical about the scars we have been dealt or to be happy for what we have overcome.

I have experienced the birth of all my children and grand-children. I have held them close and hugged and kissed them and tickled thier tummies. I have seen them accomplish some special things in their lives. They are a lively and special tribe of people. I have brought home puppies from the pet store to squeals of laughter and adoration. Is anything as soft and warm as a small puppy asleep in your lap? I have taken those puppies to the vet for one last visit and have had their lives ended. Is there anything as despairing as the helpless grief we feel at seeing them leave us?

We live in a fallen and selfish world. I practice in the world of real estate. Trust me there are a lot people out there who need to be locked up somewhere away from decent people. I have lobbied government all over the country. Trust me there are people out there that only care about you for your vote, your financial support or your influence. I will take the company of a grand child or a warm puppy anyday to theirs.

Longfellow wrote in his fourth verse of this song:

Then peeled the bells more loud and deep.
God is not dead nor does he sleep.
The wrong shall fail the right prevail.
With peace on earth, good will to men.

It is that peace which I seek. I wish it for you. Particularly so at this time of the year when much of the world is an illusion of commercialism, greed, malice and downright hostility.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Losing and lessons learned

Ray Charles addressed this issue about as well as can be addressed in his song Born to Lose.. One of the truisms of life is that we are all going to lose sometimes. In fact every time someone wins then someone else loses. As parents I believe that our primary function is to build up our children to believe that they are winners. Then we must build that concept so high and deep that when they lose, which they surely will, that they still believe that they are winners.

We are fortunate if we have someone who believes in us. That is the role of a Mother I think predominantly. I believe that there is a bond between child and Mother that is like no other. A Mother accepts and nourishes her child no matter the shortcomings of her life's creation. Is that always the case? No, not hardly. There are many people who give birth in an act of misgiving over bad choices. They then spend the rest of thier lives resenting and disavowing that child. The child fights an uphill battle in trying to amass some feelings of self esteem. Many times serendipity provides a collateral artery of life giving affirmation. It could be a coach, a friend, a church congregation, a spouse, a cause, etc. There has to be something occur in the life of every human being that resonates with the idea that they are important to someone. They are a winner.

I watched Alabama play LSU last night. It was a very entertaining game. Alabama lost in overtime. No one scored a touchdown. It was a clearly defined, oldtime defensive battle. Both teams made mistakes. The mistakes were magnified because of the lack of scoring. I was intrigued by how the coaches stood up for the players on both teams. Les Miles, the winning coach, bragged on his players and the opposing teams players. Nick Saban, the losing coach, bragged on his own players and the LSU players. Is it a possibility that successful coaches mirror the nurturing nature of a successful Mother? It would be hard to carry that analogy too very far.

When we lose at anything there are lessons to be learned. We miss out on a job we want. We don't get accepted to a particular school. We don't get the promotion at work. We get the crap kicked out of us in a particular form of competition, golf, tennis, bridge, chess, a beauty contest, and so forth. It is hard to isolate the lessons in losing.

Losing teaches us to be humble. Humility is a valuable lesson. The other side of humility is arrogance. Arrogance is more of a negative factor for living than losing on occassion. We have all met people who are not gracious losers. They are numbered amongst those who are embittered and brooding personalities.

Losing also teaches us that we need to train harder. If you lose a marathon with a lousy time then you know if you ever want to win you need to train harder. If you lose consistently at golf becaue you cannot putt, then you need to practice putting until your back hurts. If you consistently miss the business as a salesman then you need to work on your closing skills, presenting skills or get out of the business and become a mortician.

You can bet that Alabama is going to go out and recruit the very best kickers they can find for the upcoming seasons. I suppose that the definition of a loser is someone who does nothing after they lose. Becoming a winner is a proactive pursuit and requires a lot of help along the way. That help comes from people who, for one reason or other, chooses to believe in you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Some call it sexual harrassment

When Eve told Adam why she ate the apple she explained that she was beguiled by the serpent and he influenced her to make an unwise choice. So called Lucifer, the son of the morning star, must have had powers of suggestion, some sort of compelling appeal, charisma. He used those along with his other talents to change the course of creation. To this day this sort of influence continues all across the network of humanity.

A little third grade boy gives up his favorite dessert from his lunchbox to a little third grade girl for no other reason than she influenced him with some sort of fascination with her personna and appearance.

Some years ago the corporation where I worked for thirty years required that I attend a conference that was dedicated to sexual harrassment in the work place. I spent a week in a luxury hotel listening to a team of hired specialists that represented a hired consultant organization that had developed training on this subject. I was required to sign a document that stated that if I ever became aware of any sort of sexual harrassment in the workplace that I had a singular responsibility to report it to our human resources department.

Why do you suppose that they would go to all that expense and effort to lay down such a footprint on the conduct of business? The answer is clear and concise. There had been many instances of supervisors intimidating female workers into embarrassing situations that surrounded their jobs and the security of their jobs. Some had filed law suits successfully and had received large awards for having had to endure these unsolicited advances. Once a person had attended one of these seminars they were locked into a dangerous place. An off color joke, a ride in a car unchaperoned with a person of the opposite gender or a compliment on appearance could land you in some hot water. The female person only had to raise the spectrum of impropriety. If they threatened a lawsuit the corporation was safe because they had held a work shop on the issue. You see Mr. John Doe attended our workshop and agreed that he would abstain from such tomfoolery. Here is his written affadavit that he would eschew such a practice. You can go after Mr. Doe, who incidentally doesn't work here anymore, but you cannot pursue us because we have done all that is necessary.

The roll out on all this over the years has been interesting. Did it curtail fooling around in the work place? Not hardly. To me it seemed like it put the whole work place into absolute role reversal. It was always presumed that the more aggressive male workers were the culprits. I have personally seen that it seemed to make women much more bold. They seemed to become more aggressive. Not only in their new supervisory positions but in their speech and actions. It seemed to me that whereas males were on alert as to anything that they said and did might be interpreted as sexual harrassment, women went just the opposite direction.

I have been out of the workplace for almost ten years. I work by myself and have not thought much about all that until the headlines of this morning and Mr. Cain's predicament brought it back to my mind. In the court of the people's minds, the accusation has only to be raised and the perpetrator is considered guilty. Mr. Cain is most likely guilty of repeating a joke delivered in bad taste. If you are the boss, welcome to the world of sensitivity of the female mind. "Why, I was appalled by his comments. I was made to feel diminished, small, an object of lust and derision." I have been in the presence of females who have unabashedly told a joke or made a comment to which they have no accountability. If you were a man and went to human resources reporting that you were sexually harrassed by a female co-worker you would be laughed out of the office. Yet we all know it goes on and have experienced it at one level or another.

At the heart of all this is the tort system that protects some of us and throws the rest of us under the bus. The same book I read the stuff about Lucifer and Eve I also read a quote about lawyers and hypocrites. And so it goes in this fallen, ever worsening world that we live in. You just have to wonder what is next?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

For the love of money

It has been a while since I posted to this BLOG. I have just sort of been in a dry spell as far as ideas. I decided to post on a subject that is far too wide to say anything especially cogent about. That is money and the relative merits of what it does to drive or lessen our basic characters.

Over the past couple of months I have made it a point to volunteer to feed the homeless at the local shelter. This is an effort by our community to deliver some of the charitable means that are garnered by many. The United Way and part of the city of Tallahassee's budget are pointed in this direction. Food and commodities are made available from those budget funds. What is needed are actual boots on the ground to serve the food to the 150-200 consistently hungry folks that are the recipients of this effort. I generally feel good about participating.

This morning I happened on to a live Senate hearing on the subject of charitable dollars and their eligibility as tax deductions. Several members of a committee chaired by Utah's Orrin Hatch queried numerous holy men who represented those who cling steadily to that tax deduction allowance. It seems that the recession is having its toll on those funds. People are more in survival mode than ever at the lower rungs of our society. The question on the table, as I watched, was would it be possible to set limits on what people gave or put a bottom level on how much you could give and still deduct it from your taxes. There was great animus reflected amongst the participants.

There is also this phenomena ongoing called "occupy wall street". This is an effort that seems to take its bearing from the communist manifesto. It seems that the homogeneity of this group is the theme that they represent the 99% of Americans who think that corporate greed is a decidedly bad thing. I for one think it is dangerous to qualify the free enterprise system, the root of capitalism, as "greed".

This system has fostered the greatest society that has ever peopled the planet. What is the solution according to these misdirected people is to attack our system and demand that there be a redistribution of wealth. That would flow from the greedy one percent of the haves to the 99% of the have nots. Those who have applied their creativity and taken great risks and become wealthy would, if the anti-greed people have their way, give all their money to them.

I feel that what they fail to see is that the same love of money prevails in their minds as it does in the minds of those who have strived to attain wealth. They seem to take the position that their thirst for money is more noble than the wealthy.

I do not see a demarcation between the two camps.

Do yourself a favor and copy and paste this little video link into your browser. Takes 2 minutes to run and is a quick study from a great mind.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Home does not have to be ostentatious to be special

I have been doing some reflection here lately on the brands and styles of homes that are the current appeal to consumers. I am in the home sales business. I see a current trend towards simplifying in choice of homes. Most of the press I read expresses the fact that people in general are leaning towards this simplification in terms of housing. Not that long ago the McMansions were the order of the day. A home purchase was predominately for the purpose of gaining equity so that you could spin off and buy something bigger and better eventually with that equity.

Now you are lucky if you have a mortgage payment that is manageably within the framework of your family budget. There are many, many homes sitting without occupants that are memorials to the tendency of Americans to use the home for a cash cow in second and third mortgages to finance expensive vacations, buy bigger cars and purchase those beach houses. Those are all lovely things but unfortunately the current financial crisis has exacerbated many people in the direction of short sales and foreclosures. If you do a walk through of the current MLS I would wager that 1 in every 3 offered for sale is a short sale. We live in hard times. Hard times that are largely of our own making.

Back in the early 70's my sweet wife was into needle point. She loved to make little samplers with pithy little sayings, framed for display in the homes of those she loved. One she made for her parents said this: " A house is made of brick and stone. A home is made of love alone." That is a pertinent call for reflection.

Her parent's home was a monument to living within one's means. It was just the three of them in that home. You had to search very far to find a little family that just flat out loved one another and led a more happy life than they did.

I was raised in a home that my grandmother owned in southern West Virginia. There was a total absence of indoor plumbing. I had to follow a well worn path some 500 yards from the house for bio-function. We drank water from an old cistern that was gathered from the rain when it came. I remember very well getting our first TV and our first telephone.

I now live in a much nicer house. It has three full baths indoors. We have phones galore, wireless ones, cellular ones and have a TV in three of our four bedrooms and of course one that is much bigger in our family room. There is a pool in the back yard and a golf course 50 yards from the front of my house.

Do all of these amenities make me a happier person? Not in the least. My happiness is drawn from the person I am married to. The three children who have given us, so far, 7 grand children are the reservoir of happiness for myself and my wife.

So I sit back and reflect now at 66 yoa and think back to a thirty year career chasing a paycheck which could buy me a little bigger house, car and play things and realize that the pursuit was superfluous to the things that matter. Perhaps that is one positive aside from this recession/depression that we find ourselves mired within. I think that we have all learned a valuable lesson from this belt tightening experience.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Biding our time

One of the Associate editors of the Tallahassee "mullet wrapper" did an interesting little column this weekend on his experience of waiting an excessive amount of time in a physician's office and finally walking out without seeing the physician. I think that all of us have had that experience.

For twenty years of a thirty year career I used to have to try and access physicians in thier offices to detail them on our pharmaceutical products. I facetiously called myself a professional waiter. The drill went thusly: you walked into an office and presented your card to the receptionist and asked if there was any possible way that you might grab their doctor for a moment. You then sat down and waited. Many times the receptionist was kind enough to tell you that there was no time today because they were slammed. Towards the mid part of that twenty years, I would wait 30 minutes maximum and then leave some literature and be on my way. Otherwise you could be sitting in the corner there for hours.

I have observed steamed patients giving the receptionist an earful of painful monologue, interjected with severe profanity after having spent 2-3 hours in the pursuit of an appointment and still no face time with the physician. " If I ran my business as inefficiently as you run this business, I would starve to death." I had a man almost attack me once in a parking lot as I was putting my detail bag back in my trunk. I had just spent 30-45 minutes with the physician talking about drugs, football, the war and telling jokes. This man had been steaming in the waiting room to see the physician and blamed me for holding him up. His wife held him off from taking a swing at me as I advised him that the samples he held in his hand came from my trunk or one of my competitors. He was old, agitated and markedly short tempered. Of course who is to say that he didn't have a handgun in his pocket. I was therefore apologetic and diplomatic.

I could tell the personality of a physician before I ever met them. If you walked into a bright, cheery office and were greeted civilly, you can bet that the physician was bright, cheery and fun to be around. He enjoyed his job and took good care of his patients. If you were greeted cooly by a grouchy receptionist and the staff looked cowed and nervous, you could bet your boots that the physician was a near tyrant having a bad day. Best to steer clear and be on your way. I always liked that part of my job. I could have a very unpleasant exchange with the physician or a staff member and get my plow cleaned. However, as I drove away I assured myself how lucky I was to not have to work there. I had so many potential clients to call on that I really never had to go back into that office. Pity the poor people who had to go there everyday.

My wife has to go see a vitreoretinologist here in Tallahassee. One time she waited for 4 hours to have him spend 1.5 minutes with her. Cost? $120. That office is sheer chaos. The up front staff are the most sanguine, unfriendly people you will ever meet. Why do you suppose that is? I would conjecture that they catch heat every day from one or more patients over the extraordinary wait times. The physicians are overworked because there are no other such specialists within 2-3 hours of Tallahassee. They are the only show in town. You would think that they would set a schedule and adhere to it very rigidly. If they got off course then maybe you would be 30 minutes to an hour off your appointment time. But FOUR hours? Hardly excusable.

I remember calling on a physician in Blountstown named Elga White. He was a general practitioner and had a very busy practice. He would see drug reps just before lunch and just before 5:00 PM. On occassions he would see you in between I am assuming if he had a no show or two. On those occassions he had a nurse who monitored his time. If you got too embellished with him and took too much time she would come into the room and advise him that he was 5 minutes off pace in seeing patients. He would politely conclude his visit with you and return to his patients. Now that was a man in control.

I once read a book on time management. I cannot remember the name of it but I do remember one very impactful quote." Time is life. It is irreplaceable and irreversible. Waste your time and you waste your life." As I have meandered down the road of life I find myself into my 66th year. I am becoming more and more conscious of how I spend my time. I am prioritizing more than I used to. I am irritated when people waste my time. They will do that seemingly intent on sucking the life out of you. You have to get in control of what you agree to do and you act on decisions related to time investment. It is a precious commodity. Bide your time and do it with stinginess and thought.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One Frosty, Cold, Day in Tallahassee

I had an interesting experience in Tallahassee a few months ago. Florida State University was hosting an intercollegiate men's golf tournament at Southwood golf club where I played most of my golf. I noticed a petition for volunteers to help with the tournament and called a phone number listed in the paper and soon had a volunteer job.

Now this was mid-March. You non-north-Floridians most likely think that the weather was warm and tropical with our palm trees gently flowing from a soft gentle breeze. Those of us that live here year round know that the opposite generally holds true January through March. The weather for this tournament was bitter cold. The first day had wind gusts in the 30 mph range and the wind chill was in the teens. I was out there with sweater, jacket, gloves and thermal underwear.

My job was pretty simple. I was to drive a 6 passenger golf cart between green and tee box on particular holes. I generally had a threesome of players from the 12 universities participating. I loved rubbing shoulders with them and shooting off my big mouth. To me it was a mitigated carnival atmosphere. Shuttling the players helped to move the pace of play.

On the second day that I was there, I drove to the course to start my shift by 7:00 AM. Once I got there I found that there was a frost delay 'til 8:00 AM. In order to fill my time for an hour, I went up to the practice tee to watch the players warm up.
I spoke to several parents and friends of players watching their golfer. I welcomed them to Tallahassee, asked about their player and made general chit chat. They didn't know for certain that I was not some tournament official so everyone made nice to the old geezer, entertaining my arcane questions and comments. Until I came to this one older couple.

The man was in his late 60's to his early 70's. I said to him, " Welcome to Tallahassee. Are you enjoying your stay? Where are you from? Who is your golfer?" The man turned towards me as if his neck was stiff from sleeping on a strange pillow. He had a snow white cardigan sweater on and enormous cigar clenched in his teeth. He did not speak to me or acknowledge my presence for one split second. As a matter of fact he looked as if it was taking all he could do to restrain himself from expectorating on me. The BIGGGGGGG FREEEEEZE ! I felt like a complete doofus.

Almost instantaneously his wife jumped into the conversation. She was as ebbulient as he was condescending. She advised me that they were from Sarasota and were in Tallahassee to follow their grandson who was a North Carolina golfer. She was a lovely lady with a confident and pleasant air and I felt better. She was obviously trying to make amends for the frosty treatment this man had given me.

I made my way to the snack bar and got a drink and a snack readying myself for my shift. Mike, the Southwood golf pro, came over to sit a moment and visit. During our visit this couple walked by. I asked Mike who the old guy in the white cardigan was. He responded with do your remember the name Tony Jacklin? I thought for a moment and I said sure. Didn't he win the British Open in about 1970? He did. He was also the lead player on the 1969 European team that won the Ryder cup in a brilliant performance. I told Mike about the experience on the practice tee and he said that was a shame. I responded to him that I didn't mind. Can you just imagine how many people interupt him around golf courses when they find out who he is.

I later told my wife the story and she of course never heard of him and categorized his demeanor as unacceptable, no matter who he was. I told her, " He is Tony Jacklin, a living legend. If I was him, I would probably act just the same way." She told me that no I wouldn't. I was a pronounced people person and no matter the other person's station in life I would treat them kindly, because that was just the sort of person you are. He on the other hand is a jerk." I really couldn't argue with her.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The luckiest of weeks

My goodness. I am overwhelmed at the luck that has followed me around this week. It has been a stellar week and I am afraid to wake up on Monday morning to see what else wonderful is going to happen to me.

I was nominated for the prestigious Who's Who in America. This prestigious distinction is determined by Frank and Moe's panel of business excellence, headquartered in Pathetic, AK. Not only was I nominated by this panel but dozens of other panels with even more prestigious credentials. It is just overwhelming. I knew all along that I was born to greatness but this is way beyond expectation. I am just numb with shock and awe that I have been so fortunate.

The nice folks at Frank and Moe's have gotten sort of upset at me because, I hate to admit it, I am a procrastinator. I keep neglecting to acknowledge my candidacy and they are now threatening to take me off the list of candidates all together. Golly, gee-whiz they just sent me a FINAL NOTICE for acceptance. I put it in the pile of the twenty other FINAL NOTICES from similar Who's Who in Business, Who's Who in Agriculture ( I grew a fabulous tomoato plant in a pot this spring ) and Who's who in Golfing prowess and too many others to list.

If that is not enough I got an e-mail from a lady named Tammy Sue, who told me that I was the love of her life. I have not divulged this to my sweet wife, Nancy, with whom I just celebrated 38 years of marriage. Tammy Sue tells me that she has fallen madly in love with me and that she has posted pictures of herself on a select internet site for my viewing pleasure. She encouraged me to follow the link and make sure I had a credit card handy as I logged on. I have not done so because I am really not in the market for a girl friend but I don't want to hurt her feelings. After all to have expressed the undying love and devotion she has for me is quite humbling.

Then to just set everything else aside, I got an e-mail notification from an attorney in Nigeria. He represents a member of Nigerian royalty who is in exile and it turns out that this man is my Uncle. He has no other heirs and I am in a direct line to inherit millions of dollars. Of course there are understandeable bureaucratic hurdles that need to be overcome. That will require that the attorney represent me before the Nigerian consulate of dispensation to heirs. Looks like I am going to have to up front $10,000 and most likely more before we get the estate through probate. But, c'mon, what's a few thousand dollars against an inheritance of millions?

So you can see, that I have had an unbelievable week. Heavy emphasis on unbelievable. My son works as a financial crimes investigator and he tells me that all this pales against some of the other schemes out there. Good thing I have him to consult to keep my feet on the ground, huh?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Green Thing

I got this e-mail recently and found it amusing. I am posting it as follows. Kermit said it about as well as it could be said, " It ain't easy being green." I have been aware of the green thing for awhile. I could, if I wanted, pay $500 and sit in a class room and become a "green" realtor. There is actually some sort of certification for that. I still am puzzling over just what that means. I am of the personal opinion that it is a byline or buzz word to drive acceptance of a radical point of view. Every phase of the neutralization of human thought patterns carries it's own buzzword. I will let you play the list in your mind. I can put together a sizeable list dating back to the early 60's.

In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store.. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized
and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb
into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana ..In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart ass young person.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Real estate and alchemy

It seems to me that the practice of real estate is getting more and more like alchemy. You know the mystical art from the middle ages wherein a wizard, sorcerer, mostly schizoid types that thought they were such, try to turn iron into gold using various methods.

Now before you write me off as a lunatic just think about it. We mix together buyers and sellers in a chaotic market and try to align the elements of a transaction. Buyers are loosely connected to reality because they have been told that they are in charge as it is a buyer's market. Most sellers are in denial that the market is as bad as they read and hear so they set their prices beyond reasonable expectations.

Now the realtor is supposed to take all those elements and bring them together into a viable transaction that gets to the closing table and laces everyone's pockets with gold. You have to in many cases turn the lender's scrutiny into a positive element knowing all the while that it has never been harder to qualify for a loan. The seller's lender, in many cases, has to agree to take it in the shorts on the loan that he made to the seller all those several months ago when we were all living fast and loose. They have to agree to accept cents on dollars in short sale arrangements otherwise they own a piece of property in a distant city that they could care less about.

If that is not bad enough, once you get those elements looking lively then you have to endure the appraisal. That process has become a minefield. Mix in all the foreclosure and short sales, comparables are so diluted that not even a sorcerer can divine what a property is worth. Yet we press on in this mystical process we call appraisal. We accept their opinions as if they were the Rosetta stone of truth and accuracy. The truth of the matter is that they ain't got a clue. The old process has been "improved" by the government that now employs clearing houses that are assigned to retain an appraiser for a transaction. You could possibly get a Moultrie, Georgia appraiser coming into Leon county to perform an appraisal. They have no basis in experience or knowledge of a market that is foreign to them. Ala-Kabatra, Ala-kazam..........your property is worth zip! End of process and usually the sale.

Now we bring in the element of property insurers. If you are fortunate enough to get one of these guys to return your call then you are subject to all sorts of Harry Potter sorts of intepretations. From the four point inspections that they do to their interpretations as to how wind worthy your house is. After you have negotiated this complicated maze then you are off to the title search.

The title search turns up all sorts of strange manifestations, ranging from mechanic's liens to estate disputes amongst surviving heirs. You can apply all the eye of newt you wish in some of those challenges but you can likely forget getting a clear title to hang your hat on.

Add in covenants and restrictions of homeowners associations, surveys, home inspections, wood destroying organism inspections and just the general orneriness of all parties involved you had better have some elements of an alchemist within you.

To quote the wizard of Id, " Frammin' on the jim jam and frompin on the fritz !!! ". Turning iron into gold or spinning straw into gold is akin to trying to successfully get many real estate transactions to closing in our present day scheme of things. Wish it were not so, but it is and will be for some time to come.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

American Jurisprudence

Well, the Casey Anthony verdict is in. I first detected that fact when I saw a blistering barrage of cries of FOUL PLAY on Facebook. I know, I know why do you waste your time on Facebook? I really don't spend a lot of time on it because most of the traffic there begins with " Sally done clobbered herself a gopher out in the pea patch." But there is the occassional declarative statement that is pithy and borderline meaningful. I also sometimes find pictures of friends and family that I enjoy perusing.

The facts and whys and wherefores of the case are deplorable. Little Caylee Anthony's death goes unsolved and justice seems to have slipped away. The verdict replays American sentiments at the OJ Simpson verdict. I still remember the collective gasp that OJ's acquital brought onto America. What was that twenty years ago? I still remember the CNN replays of Johnny Cochran's, " If it don't fit, you must acquit !" I suppose that in the case of the prosecutorial team, they just flat out did not present evidence that led the jury to render a verdict that left reasonable doubt in the rear view mirror. Beyond a reasonable doubt !!

Have you ever served on a jury? I have been the victim, uh, er...........I mean the chosen citizen charged with rendering a verdict on whether someone committed a crime or not, on four occassions. There is a lot of focus given to the fact that the prosecution and evidence must present a case that the accused is guilty " beyond a reasonable doubt." That means if there is one little whit inside you that is not convinced that the accused is guilty, it is your honor-bound duty to render a verdict of not guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt. That is what makes our judicial system stand muster.

This example does not stand as a reasonable comparable to the Anthony case. I will offer it just because it makes the case for what a state attorney must do to bring the guilty verdict. I was called to serve on a jury about 25 years ago. I was one of 6 jurists empanelled to determine the guilt of 2 FAMU football players who had switched the labels between a six-pack of Heinekens and a six-pack of Budweiser. The difference was 85 cents. Warehouse Foods convinced the state of Florida to go to the time and expense of trying these kids on theft charges to set a standard. I suppose they had reached the threshold of tolerance in a flurry of shop lifting in their store.

I and 5 others took two days to listen to the state make its case. We heard from the arresting officer, the store manager and countless other people who had seen these two thirsty young men do what the state was trying them on. At the end of the second day the defense attorney, Roosevelte Wilson, in his concluding defense argument, asked the state to produce the evidence. The judge then turned to the state's attorney and asked for them to produce the evidence. The state admitted that they were unable to produce the evidence. It had been removed from the evidence room by a thirsty bailiff or trustee of the sheriff's office and been consumed. The judge pounded his gavel and said " Since the state of Florida cannot produce the evidence then this case is dismissed." The jubilant accused and their defense attorney almost skipped out of the room.

I and my fellow jurors walked away scratching our heads pondering how a judicial system could allow such a waste of our time, courtroom time not to mention the cost to the court in such a case. The state's attorney must have known that the evidence was missing all along. Such is the state of affairs with our judical system.

Like it or not, our system bears the burden of proving guilt beyond any iota of doubt. It is far better for us to err on the side of a guilty person being freed on occassion than allowing an innocent person to lose their freedom or lose their life. Such is the system we live under. Less civilized countries presume your guilt. They then lop off your hands or your head sometimes on the weight of very flimsy evidence. Pardon me but I like our system better.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Big Oak

If you travel roughly 30 miles north on US 319 to Thomasville, GA. you can visit one of the biggest trees on the east coast. The Big Oak is over 319 years of age and the span and girth of this large plant is "sun burn your tonsils" astonishing. You can imagine that this tree dates back in history to the late 1600's. True it was just a little sapling then but imagine the stories it could tell of our American history.

I have been to the Joyce Kilmer national forest in North Carolina. There you can see some virgin pines. As you will recall the early settlers cut down every tree in sight as they settled our country. They either built buildings with those trees or used them for fuel and warmth. The Joyce Kilmer forest contains a few trees that escaped the settlers axes and saws. You remember Joyce Kilmer penned the poem I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. Those trees are pretty impressive.

I have also been to California and observed the Seqoiuas, Redwoods whose girth is awe inspiring. However I am here to suggest to you that none are more inspiring than the Big Oak of Thomasviile.

I had a real estate client who told me an interesting story about the Big Oak. It dates back to when Dwight David Eisenhower was running for re-election to the presidency of the United States. He was running a whistle stop tour by rail. They were due in Thomasville and the people had all gathered around the train depot to hear Ike give a campaign speech. This would date back to roughly 1955.

Now Ike loved his golf and he also was quite a good photographer. On this particular occassion he and a secret service agent sneaked out the back of the train because Ike wanted to find the Big Oak and take a picture of it. They were able to find it and Ike was looking for just the right camera angle to capture its grandness. It worked out that the camera angle was from the front porch of one of the fine homes near downtown Thomasville.

Ike and the secret service agent went to the door of this home and knocked on it. The housekeeper opened the door and was astonished to find the president of the United States standing at her door with a secret service agent. The president introduced himself and the housekeeper assured him that he needed no introduction. Ike asked for the owner of the home. The housekeeper advised him that everyone who lived in the house was down at the train station waiting to hear him speak. He then asked her if she would mind if he shot some pictures of the big oak from their front porch. She assured him that would be fine and asked him if he would like some lemonade. Ike said that sounded very inviting.

After the president shot his pictures he and the secret service agent lingered on the front porch on a lovely summer afternoon sipping lemonade with the housekeeper. They lingered so long that Mamie, the wife of the president, had to make his speech for him. After a while the president and his guardian sneaked back on the train just as it was pulling out the station.

I have verified that the story is true from friends that I have in Thomasville. So the big oak is worth a drive up the road to visit. Even presidents have taken time to admire its stately branches.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Invisible Man

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be invisible? What a cool concept. You could get into every kind of fee paid event absolutley free. You could fly on any airplane to anywhere in the world, stay in the finest hotels and eat absolutely free in all of the world's finest restaurants. Invisibility, now that could be a really exciting gig.

There are numerous ways to test the waters of invisibilty. Go to any busy mall and stand anywhere with a clipboard and tell people that you are taking a survey and would they have time to answer a few questions. If you elicit an occassional, " Get out of my way." comment you have had a pretty good day. Otherwise you will absolutely see into the world of invisibility.

Take up a cause. Wear a name tag that espouses your allegiance to a certain religion, political candidate, cure for a disease or anything else that comes to mind. Everywhere you go people will avoid you like you have ebola.

Become a sales person. Better yet a door-to-door sales person. Pick out any neighborhood and start to knock doors and ring door bells. You will see the occassional curtain pull back and maybe even an eyeball looking out at you. But they cannot see you because you, my friend, are invisible.

Go anywhere looking shabby. I mean put on your worst sneakers, tee shirt, shorts and don't comb your hair. Pretend to have a myocardial infarction in some busy place. People will step over you like you are not even there. Total and rapt invisibility.

Now here is a sure fire way to test the world of the unseen. Get old. I am telling you that is tantamount to if not total evolution into the non-reflective. There are numerous reasons for this chronologic descent into the world of invisibility. First off you don't look so good anymore. You can only stave off old and ugly so long, even with the best microsurgical intervention. Your stomach is going to sag. Your hair is going to lose its luster and when you lean over your teeth could actually fall on the floor along with your chin and facial muscles.

You don't move as adroitly as you once did. Nor do you think and verbalize things as efficiently. Don't believe me? Try getting up in a theatre as the movie ends and move to the exit. See how many 13 year olds either run over you or through you. Remember, they cannot see you because you are invisible. Try telling one of your many memories of life and how it was when you were a boy or a girl. Watch your own children roll their eyes and try to make an excuse to leave the room.

I recently took up playing golf with a septogenerian. He is a very capable golfer and a pleasure to be around. He and I both have difficulty finding golf partners because younger folks do not have the flexibility of time that we do. Also they choose to not play with oldsters because we are a little slower and more methodical and we get to hit from the senior tees. And there is also the fact that I cheat.

There is a huge advantage to being invisible. I remember in my 30's, 40's and 50's being worked to death in my church. I always had a measurably important assignment. I belong to a church that is totally run by volunteerism. Now that I am 65 I don't have anything to do that is weighty. Also in the community. Whereas I used to be asked to serve on this and that committee or teach a class or give a speech no one calls me. I can just see the speculation in those private moments that someone might remember me as to whether or not I am even still alive.

Well I suppose that it is just a matter of time to when I am totally invisible and subterrainian. I suppose that what I am experiencing presently is more a fading away. I have to say that it is not too bad. No one cares what you think or what you did back in the 60's. They are much too busy worrying about themselves to put a lot of time into using me up.

I have also not been sleeping all that well lately. I suppose when I assume that subterrainian posture I can catch up on all of that lost sleep.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

PFC James Clayton Reed

My thoughts are turned this Memorial Day weekend to my first cousin, Jimmy Reed. He is one of 3 children born to my aunt Delores and Uncle Clay who lived in Los Angeles, California, light years from where I lived in West Virginia and later Montgomery, Alabama. We shared some happy childhood experiences. We did not see each other often but when we went to visit them or vice versa it was for extended periods of time. I remember him as being funny and entertaining. He was my younger brother's age almost exactly. They could always make me laugh.

Well here I am turning 65 in two days. I had a thirty year career with DuPont and got to travel a lot. I was able to carry some important assignments for DuPont and achieved some degree of recognition. I met a wonderful girl and we fell in love and raised 3 children. We have 7 grand children. I used to coach softball and baseball, volunteer in scouting, work in PTA, go on family vacations and just generally have had a great life.

Jimmy died just west of Khe Sanh during operation Purple Martin March 20,1969. That was just a little more than 30 days before his 19th birthday. He was a member of the D Company, First Battallion, Third MarDiv, USMC. He died that day along with 2nd Lt. Mike McCormick of Wellston, Ohio; LCpl Max Baer of Goshen, Ind; LCpl Steve Byars, Lakeland, Florida; LCpl Ernest Elders of Shelby, NC; PFC Norman Beck of Rockford, Il.; PFC Jeffrey Forry, Marion, OH and PFC Larry Knox of Harrisonville, MO.

I graduated from college in 1969 and rode a student deferrment to avoid military service. I also pulled a 344 as my draft lottery number. Were it not for those two happenstances I well could have had my name engraved onto that war memorial wall in Washington, DC. I have been there and was able to find Jimmy's name on that wall. It is a somber and eloquent memorial fitting as a requiem for those who gave their lives on various battlefields of the Vietnam war. For whatever purpose that war served I honor his memory this Memorial Day. I wish I could pick up the phone and call him and tell him a joke or two but that opportunity was nullified by the winds of war. His Mother, my aunt Delores, has grieved every day for her fallen son for 42 years now.

It is pure irony how some of us end up pursuing the military option. Today we have a totally volunteer military. You press the statistics on the makeup of our armed forces and you will see a lot of people who just seemed to have no other option than to join the military. The impetus is largely economic with job prospects being what they are. In mine and Jimmy's youth the draft was rampant. The selective service boards were steaming at full speed. In my case, had I not been a student it was a certainty that I would have been drafted into the miltary.

I recall that in those days you would report for a college class and two or three of the people that had been in the class the day before would be gone. You had to maintain a class standing to keep your draft exemption of 2-S. In order to do that you had to be in the upper 1/4th of your freshman class in academic performance. Fail to do that and you were draft fodder. Sophomores had to be in the upper 1/2 and Juniors in the upper 3/4. If you made it to be a senior then they left you alone. Along about my freshman year they administered the selective service standardized test. The guys at Harvard made the claim that the students in the bottom 3/4 of their freshman classes were superior to the upper 1/4 of the freshman class at State College X. So the selective service came up with the standardized test and administered it to us all in the second semester of my 1st year. You either had to maintain your academic standing or have scored 75% or better on the test. I remember scoring a 78 and my worries were ended.

There was also a point at which I was thinking I needed to drop out of college. I checked with the draft board and I was told the day after I did I would be reclassified 1-A and almost certainly drafted into the military. I do not know of Jimmy's circumstances but while I was studying Mark Twain in English 301 he was most likely doing basic training at Paris Island. Talk about worlds apart.

When I ponder the freedoms under which I live and also ponder the 58,220 war dead from the Vietnam war, the 405,399 from WW2 and the 116,516 from WW1 I feel guilty and appreciative at the same time. I do believe that those fallen willingly sacrificed their lives so that we could continue to breathe the free and unfettered air of liberty. I have to ask myself what sort of life have I led to justify the single death of my cousin Jimmy, not to mention the 100's of thousands of war dead who made similar sacrifices.

I suppose I have made small sacrifices but the bumper sticker I read once that said "All gave some but some gave all" makes me realize what an investment we all have in our freedom. Just about every American can tell a similar story as mine about my cousin, Jimmy. I contemplate why he had to lay down and die that day in Vietnam. It was because he felt the call to duty and like others of his family before him felt the obligation to serve. Pure and simple.

May we take a little time to really remember those who sacrificed their lives and well being to keep us safe and free this Memorial Day weekend. God bless you Jimmy. You were way too young to die. I hope to see you again someday, if I am worthy, and shake your hand and say thank you in person. I hope that you will see someone standing in front of you who you can feel justified your sacrifice. I need to work to become such.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A contentious world begets contentious activity

I would like to post about contention. Does it have a place in our world and in our hearts? Our country has been in an advanced contentious mindset ever since 9/11/01. Most of that contention has been directed towards Al Quada and specifically Osama Bin Laden. Now we have a president named Obama who set the Navy Seals on Osama and now we no longer have a primary outlet for our national contentious spirit, bummer.

Wonder where it is going to be directed now? Will we take on a kinder aura now that Osama has assumed room temperature? Do you think they will disband the Seals? Somehow, I don't think that is in the offing. It is just a matter of time that we all direct our innate contentious leanings towards something or someone new. Gas prices, illegal immigration, same sex marriage, taxes, etc. Those are most likely all worthy targets. But we usualy need to vent more specifically on a person. It looked like it was going to be Charlie Sheen for a while. I suppose that there are all sorts of likely candidates.

We just live in a contentious world. I don't know about your job but most people work where there is contention, either overt or mitigated. Office politics is a classic medium for contention. There is always someone who is a little less extraverted than others and may have some quirky mannerisms. They become irresistible targets. Why it even spills over into our schools even down to elementary schools. Little children bully one another. It is so bad that state legislatures intervene with anti-bullying laws. Enforceable? Hardly so. I remember when I was a kid, and I am now 65, there were always bullies around. Somehow you learned to deal with them. You either handled them yourselves or got some friends to help you handle them. It was sort of like in the wild west.

One overt symbol of our addiction to contention is our fascination with reality television. If we can sit down in front of the one-eyed monster and witness people yelling at one another we are deliriously happy. Just check out the ratings when you get a moment.

So what is the antidote? I think it is pretty simple. We need to make a resolution in our own minds that we are going to treat one another with kindness and civility. We need to inculcate some positive vibes from somewhere along the way. Reading a good book, meditation, spiritual pursuit of some sort, taking a friend to lunch and having a nice visit. I am not so sure the answer is golf. I find that to be a very demeaning and yes contentious activity. The war is between you and that infernal little ball and an inadequate swing. Well, that is another post for another day.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sharpen the saw.

This is Steve Covey's last habit of his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Have you ever tried to cut wood with a dull saw or ax? How about trying to carve the Thanksgiving turkey with a dull knife? How about trying to enter a conversation with some quick-witted thinkers having a dull mind? I suppose that is sort of like trying to be interested in one of cousin Harvey's oft told war stories after all that monosodium glutenate you partook of at the Thanksgiving feast.

It is absolutely necessary to sharpen the saw. I just finished reading a continuing ed course book and taking the test. In order to renew my real estate broker license every two years I have to earn 14 hours of continuing education credits. That exercise forces me to study various facets of my profession and try to sharpen up on them. It is the same with all people who are licensed to practice a profession. Even physicians have to earn 36 hours of continuing education credits to renew their licenses to practice every three years. My physician son-in-law is on his way to Washington, DC in a couple of weeks to a medical convention where he will earn so many CME's.

Sharpening the saw is absolutely essential. No matter what we do in life we have to renew ourselves. We should constantly be challenging our minds with good reading material. We ought to be active in a church, synagogue or a social club. We should surround ourselves with good friends. People that we just flat out enjoy being around that stimulate us and stretch our horizons a bit. Don't discount the influence of your family. Don't let too much time go by without drinking from the fountain of family memories.

Last year about this time my wife, Nancy, was in a rehab hospital recovering from a life threatening infection. Our daughter, Beth, went to the specific effort to schedule a week for us in the Smokies around the end of July. Nancy and I thought long and hard about going because she was so weak. We decided finally to give it a try. If it got too hard on her then we were only about a 7 hour ride home.

That week was one of the most important aspects of her recovery. She had cousins from New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina all come to enjoy being together. We had a Bar B Que one afternoon where we had almost 50 people. Some of the younger Mothers had organized water balloon races and fights and a talent show for the children. It was the zenith point of our week together. Nancy tied up with an old college room mate who came over and visited one night. That was a night of laughing and telling tall tales and was restorative on its own.

Whilst I worked for corporate America over my thirty years of service we had a CEO of our company named Kurt Landgraf. He ended up being the COO of DuPont. He would always speak to us off the cuff. He would often say to us that the company had a pretty liberal vacation policy. " Take your vacation. Get away from your job. That is very important !" Doggone if that wasn't so. Every time I took off and played a little golf or went on a trip with my family I came back renewed and a little more enthusiastic about my job.

Sharpen the saw. It is vitally important.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Covey's 6th habit is SYNERGIZE. What an interesting word. What does it mean? I used to sell a product called Percogesic. Percogesic was a combination product. It had Acetominophen (APAP) and Phenyltoloxamine (PTLX) in the formula. Of course APAP is the principal ingredient of Tylenol. PTLX is an antihistamine. Percogesic was indicated in the treatment of pain. The pitch on this product went like this: " The PTLX is contained in the combination for its synergistic effect. You see the PTLX potentiates the APAP. The one makes the other more effective causing it to work much more quickly and smoothly."

So Covey is telling us that in order for us to be effective in life we need to take the various elements of our life and combine them to potentiate one another. That makes sense and requires a little thought and a little strategy.

I like the experience I had in Boy Scouts of America as a leader. A scout is immersed in a myriad of experiences. He earns 21 merit badges and performs various projects and advances through scouting until he becomes an Eagle scout. The end result of scouting is that hopefully we see an individual who can draw on all those experiences to the benefit of the whole. One would hope to see a fairly balanced person with an ability to work through goal setting and earn confidence and effectiveness along the path. The fluer de lis which is the symbol of scouting represents the three different important aspects of the individual: physical, mental and spiritual.

I hold a bachelors degree from a liberal arts college, Huntingdon, in Montgomery, AL. I feel as though I received a good education there. I was not the Valedictorian of my class, that guy is now a U.S. Senator named Jeff Sessions. However, I did pass through the curriculum and attained the baccalaureate. All of those elements of my liberal arts degree, the math, history, philosophy, english lit, etc.combine to make me a more balanced human being. In my 30 year career with DuPont I drew on all of those elements to help me in my various job assignments.

Networking is a great example of synergy. When you combine all the elements of your contacts in your neighborhood, workplace, church, clubs, schools and so forth you will find that you have a fairly formidable network. When you need to you can use all those elements in a synergistic fashion to drive to a goal.

The most overused example of this concept is a football team. It is just too ripe to ignore. Our defending collegiate championship football team is Auburn. Now Auburn did not just fall together in perfect alignment to go undefeated and win the NCAA championship. It took people who knew how to block, tackle, kick, throw, run and so forth. It also took the coaches to put it all together in game plan. All the parts came together in a synergy that produced a champion.

I read a little book to one of my grand children that comes to mind. It is called There was an old lady who swallowed a fly !. At one point the story goes like this: " There was an old lady who swallowed a cow. I don't know how she swallowed a cow ! She swallowed the cow to swallow the goat. She swallowed the goat to swallow the dog. She swallowed the dog to swallow the cat. She swallowed the cat to swallow the bird. She swallowed the bird to swallow the spider, that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her. She swallowed the spider to swallow the fly. I don't know why she swallowed the fly."

So that is the way we synergize. We spend our lives in pursuit of swallowing concepts, ideas, experience, etc. The end result is that we are able to accomplish the end result by drawing upon all of the foregoing elements. Our effectiveness in life sort of hinges on the elements which we have incorporated.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Seek first to understand then to be understood

What a long header for one of the seven habits. It is as wise as it is lengthy. How many times do we fly off half cocked in one direction or another? I suppose that is the nature of most of us. We live in a world of instant gratification. Why most of us cannot go without tweeting or facebooking for more than just a few minutes.

I remember a fictitious story of a woodcutter who was a widower and had his small infant son and a German shepherd living with him. He had to go out for some supplies so he left his infant sleeping quietly and trusted his dog to watch and protect his child. When he returned home he found his little cabin covered in blood and his child was not anywhere to be seen. He drew the conclusion that his dog had betrayed him and attacked his child in his absence. He quickly put an end to his dog’s life as it had obviously become a man eater and killed his child. It was not until after he had consummated this act of vengeance that he heard his child’s muffled cry from under his own nearby bed. It was then that he noticed the crashed in window where the intruder had come into his home. He then found the corpse of the wolf that his faithful dog had fought off, courageously protecting his child. One can only imagine the great remorse of the woodcutter when he discovered how he had jumped to an erroneous conclusion.

It is so very vital, especially in business, that we seek to understand before we require that we be understood. I wonder if Florida’s newly elected governor has inculcated this habit? I wonder if he truly anticipated the great wave of discomfort that he will cause in disrupting the lives of so many state of Florida workers in his policy implementation? I notice that he was booed rather emphatically as he served as the grand marshal of our Springtime Tallahassee parade. I wonder if he and his advisers truly sought to understand the plight of the citizenry when they sought to move quickly to make good on campaign promises.

I have noted that great wave of political correctness that has made public figures think carefully before they utter one particular syllable being concerned with how it will be spun. I think of people like Fuzzy Zoeller, Mr. Don Imus, Senator Trent Lott. The list goes on almost into the ifinite. They should have spent a little time seeking to understand what their declarations were going to do to the people who listened to them. Their careers all ended on their inability to understand.

We must do all we can possibly do in amassing information that will lead us in the direction of correct choices. To neglect this habit is to put ourselves at risk in our careers. I think back on my own lapses in judgment over the years and I wince in some degree of anguish. How I wish I had taken time to speak a little more carefully, not react to a particular rumor or push a plan of action in a wrong direction.

I remember an experience that I had back in October of 1999. I was a busy government affairs manager for my company and had been in the fight of my life with a legislative issue. I was exhausted and badly needed to get away from work and town. My wife and I took a trip to the Smokeys in the midst of the change in leaves. I swore to myself that I was going to forget work and not even check my voicemail. Well I lasted into about Wednesday and whilst my Mother-In-Law and wife were in the Sylva, NC WalMart I decided to check my voicemail. I fielded a call from the state of Florida director of the board of pharmacy. He advised me that I had lost the support of an important member of the board and he was launching torpedoes in my direction to scuttle my product. If he were successful then my company would lose millions in dollars of business on my watch. As I hung up, my vacation was over, I had to immediately respond to this situation. I was in the darkest of moods. As I waited for my wife and her Mom to come out of the WalMart I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was waiting for someone to pick him up. As I looked out at the mountain vista before me with leaves that were just sparkling with color, I mentioned to the man that I was from Florida and had not ever seen these leaves as beautiful as they were currently. I was not ready for his response. He said, " They tell me they are beautiful. I live here but I have never seen them. I have been blind since birth." I was speechless. Here I was caught up in the business disapointment, fearing failure and loss of revenue and maybe even my job. However, I could see the leaves, my wife's face, the road ahead, etc. This man corrected my perspective immediately and set me on the proper pathway. I thereafter went on my way with a measured sense of well being and set a clear path forward and corrected the business threat and continued to stay on the winning side of the issue.

Seeking first to understand the proper perspective on all things, rather than having others understand you, is vitally important.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Think Win - Win

I was raised in a very competitive environment. I played sports all through high school and prior to. Even today when I line up with my good buddies to play golf, my goal is to beat them. It was just the way I was raised.

When I sold for thirty years my goal was to beat the competition and win the business. I always played fairly but my plans and implementation of same were to one end, beat the other guy.

When I lobbied the legislature, my goal was to win on any issue I faced. I wanted the vote to go my way. Hang the other side. I win. You lose. That is the way I have always been taught to perform at any level.

I was at war with the competition. Either I kill you or you kill me. What's the point of building that FAA-22 Stealth fighter if we don't intend to win? I have no mixed feelings about the war we fought in Iraq. We lost 3000 innocents in the twin towers event. My philosophy is that someone has to pay for that and so we go to war. Not to make a statement but to WIN.

I find myself in real estate negotiations where someone has to win and someone has to lose. However, as I have tried to apply this Coveyism of win-win I have softened my approach somewhat. That does not mean that I don't represent my client as hard nosed as I ever have. I just try not to leave the blood trail strewn with dead bodies.

Covey suggests that one of the main elements of win-win is character. We need to elevate the feelings of the other side as much as possible. We may take the negotiation right down the path that we wish but we do so with diplomacy and compassion. I am learning those lessons a bit late. I would have been much happier as a lobbyist if I had been a bit more diplomatic and less warlordish. I never lost an issue but I did lose more than a few friends along the way. My attitude was it is my way or the morgue, you choose. I used to see people running away from me in the halls ahead of me. That was a period in my life where my character changed. I did not particularly like the person I had become. I can certainly see why others would feel the same way.

Even now, I find myself going to def-con 2 & 3 positions in discussions that don't amount to a hill of peas. We have to soften our approach. Is it really all that important to win the argument? Is it really possible to play win-win? Yes it is ! Negotiation is what diplomacy is all about. We must take the position that we will do all we can to influence the outcome but we are not going to all out war over the event. I used to report to an EVP who used the following quote often, " You know, sometimes that hill is just not worth the climb." He's right. It is possible to get into a mindset that you are always right and no other perspective matters.

I learned that on into my career when I had to represent my company in the marketing of HIV/AIDS products. I roamed around the country meeting with gay advocacy groups, pre-selling our product to them. Now, I am a conservative, 60 yoa and very heterosexual. Here I was thrust into a culture that was completely foreign to me. I had to be processed through sensitivity training with a consultant firm hired by my employer for the purpose of helping me and numerous others to understand a culture completely beyond our comprehension.

The process of relating to this new group of customers pushed me to my limits. I soon learned that I had to compromise or I would surely fail. In the end I became a little softer, a little more understanding and more importantly a lot more tolerant. I don't feel that I have any stronger understanding of the gay lifestyle but I do have an understanding of the emotional and hellish life that the people who live in this arena endure. I believe that there is something going on in the inner workings of people who take on that lifestyle that we just don't completely understand.

Win-win. I am still working hard to not arm my missiles in certain situations I am forced into. It is possible for an old dog to learn new tricks. I cannot claim to be Christian and take an unmoving, intolerant position against any of my fellow human brothers and sisters, regardless of what their lifestyle might entail. The Master Himself was criticized by the authorities of his time for taking bread and drink with the sinners and publicans. I remember he said, " The whole hath not need of the physician." I need to try and be more like Him and I am not going to give up trying.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Putting first things first

I heard a man say once upon a time that there is only one job wherein you start at the top. That is 'digging a hole.' It is hard to argue with such logic. On any project we first have to lay some plans and then put all the elements in place one by one.

The third habit of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is putting first things first. There are building blocks to life. Some of us come by them naturally. If you are a great mother or father, then chances are that you were raised by a great mother or father.

My son at this very moment is the criminal investigations lead on a tragic murder this morning in a neighboring county. He got the call at 4:00 AM to go to investigate this murder scene. It was a double homicide wherein a 62 year old man was killed along with the boyfriend of his daughter who was also attacked. This all according to WCTV reports. There was a little one year old child present. The presumed perpetrator has been arrested and imprisoned. One has to wonder how in the world something like this occurs. This action is duplicated many times over, every day across this land of ours. Something has gone terribly wrong in the setting of priorities in the lives of these people. It pains me that my son has to wade in to try and find patterns in a crime of this nature. He did, however, go through an immense amount of preparation to be in a position to do this sort of work. He had to attend a law enforcement academy and seek statewide certification and then put in many hours of his life in climbing the ladder of experience to become a detective.

There are building blocks with every occupational pathway. I have always found that one of the most effective ways to get along in life with others is to place others first. I used to be a disciple of Zig Ziglar the famous pitch man, positive thinking guru. He said that in order for you to get what you want, predominately in sales, was to help other people get what they want.

The Master said " The first shall be last and the last shall be first." When I think of that scriptural declaration I cannot help but think of a man whose name I do not even know. It goes back to the air crash of an Air Florida jet flying out of Washington that went into the Potomac river in the dead of winter. There were many boats and helicopters quickly to the aid of the victims. There was one man who when he was handed the end of a rope to save himself, quickly handed it to a lady who was in the water with him. He did not even know her name. As she was being hauled to safety he slipped under the water to his death.

I can agree that this particular habit is a tough one. It entails overcoming our inherent selfish nature. I cannot think of anything more difficult to do. However to master this habit surely sets us apart from the rest of the herd.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Begin with the end in mind

The second habit of highly effective people as presented in Steven Covey's book the Seven Habits is " begin with the end in mind." Now just how does that apply? I remember when I worked as a lowly clerk in the dairy industry we had office memo pads that said " Plan your work and work your plan. "

How much time do you spend planning? For thirty years I was required by my management to submit goals and objectives to my manager at the start of every new business year. There were check points along the way that were called sub-objectives. I still do that at the beginning of each year. Only now they stop with me the CEO of my own little company. It does help to set some stepping stones along the way. Education, certification, social mixing.

I wonder if people ever set as a goal: " I want to be an abject failure in life." I suppose that is a pretty silly thought. I think that people simply fail to plan. You know the old saw. " Fail to plan and plan to fail."

Somtimes people are just destined to fall short from their birth. As in the case of 3rd and 4th generation welfare recipients. My wife is a former social worker. She worked for the old HRS division Aid to Families With Dependent Children. There were and are people who criticize welfare recipients as sorry, lazy, low-down, trash. That always made my wife a little miffed because she actually went into the homes of these people and saw the conditions of their lives. There were little children who literally would go hungry were it not for the State of Florida's monthly check.

There is a story told about two brothers. One of them was a very successful businessman who rose to weighty responsibility with the Fortune 400 company he worked for thirty years. He lived well and had a lovely and successful family. The other brother was a drug addicted former convict. His family lived in poverty. His children became either drug addicts or alcoholics and a couple of them went to prison like their Father. A reporter became interested in the contrast between these brothers. He interviewed both of them independently. The successful brother started the interview by saying, " My Father was an alcoholic and I wanted to do better......................." The other brother started by saying, " My Father was an alcoholic and that paved the way for my failure.................."

Isn't that interesting? I believe that the primary difference between those two brothers was that one of them set goals and the other just got up every day and putzed about willy nilly.

Goals must be realistic. How many people do you know that never got married because their goal was to marry Miss America? or Kirk Douglas or the actor du jour? You may want to be president of the United States. Might you settle for being the president of the Little League or your neighborhood association?

The bottom line on all this is that you must visualize yourself accomplishing some specific goal. I want to get married. Perhaps it would be a good idea to start to date people. I want to be a surgeon. Perhaps it would be a good idea to get into medical school. You get the general idea. No revelations in this post. Just a recant of a very solid and specific management approach. Begin with the end of mind.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Be Proactive

I BLOG today about the first habit of Steven Covey's blockbuster book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This book lies on the little table at the head of my bed and has for years. In my opinion it is one of the most effective books ever written on managing yourself as well as managing a team or running a corporation.

It was precisely nine years ago that I sat at my desk at home and had a nice conversation with a lady with Human Resources of Bristol-Myers-Squibb telling me that I no longer had a job there. They had purchased our division from DuPont and had decided that they did not need any of the managers in my sector any longer. It is an oft repeated scenario in corporate America. They treated me kindly with severance pay, health care and outplacement counseling. I had worked for them for thirty years. They had helped me raise my family, kept a roof over their heads and educate them.

Now what? I was 55 years of age, male and a non-minority. I learned a lesson very quickly. No one and I do mean NO ONE wanted to help me. Most of the people that I had helped to get jobs, get hired as consultants, mentored, advised and otherwise forwarded their careers, would not even return my phone calls and e-mails. Some few did and I actually had a handful of interviews. The lesson hit home impactfully. No one wanted to hire someone who knew more than they did and had accomplished more than they had in their own careers. My resume' was killer. I had done a lot of impressive things. I could not dampen it and misrepresent who I was.

I quickly learned that " If it was to be, then it was up to me." I decided that I would become a Realtor. Hah, what a revelation. There were almost 3,000 realtors in the Tallahassee area in that day and time. If you do the math you make the following conclusion: Tallahassee had a population of approximately 300,000 in those days. If they lived 4 to a home then that would make 75,000 homes in our town. Let's assume that 50% of them owned homes. So that makes 37,500 homes that could possibly be marketed. So the conclusion is that there was already one realtor for every 13 homes in Tallahassee. Now those are some tough odds. Currently there are about 1200 agents covering Tallahassee.

Last year I was in the top 13 percentile of realtors by volume of sales in the Tallahassee market. That is to say that 87% of those licensed as realtors in our town sold less than I did. My brokerage sole proprietorship stood at #99 in sales volume. There are 367 brokerages. I have been successful in this gig. How did I do it? Simply stated I was proactive.

Major premise: No one gives a damn about you in the employment world. Minor premise: You have to be your own advocate. You have to re-invent yourself. You must take the skills and knowledge you have accumulated over the years and find a way to ply them to your advantage. That is just what I did.

I would say that one of the most important aspects of being proactive is to promote your self at every opportunity. As you can tell by the timber of this BLOG I have no problem doing that. You cannot accomplish this self promotion in a vacuum. You have to get amongst the people. Join a club, take up a hobby involving others, if nothing else go to the mall and just speak to people. Take some classes, volunteer at the hospital, etc.

As you meet people don't be shy about telling them about yourself. Develop a little "Me in 30 seconds" speel. Ask people about their jobs. Get their cards. Ask if they would mind if you send them a resume'? As you do all this you are building a network. That network will work for you.

Get up to speed on any phase of technology that you are weak in. Smart phones, computers, internet, and so forth. Post up on Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, My Space, etc. Post onto them often. BLOG. Create yourself a website. You can do this for free. Link all your social networks onto your website. If you Google "Tallahassee+realtor" you will get 513,000 hits. I will come up in the top 30. Why? Because of all that I just described to you. All that stuff combines to give you a better web presence.

How do you become successful in your campaign? The same way a dark horse wins a political office. Constant promotion. Staying on message and never giving up.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Peace that surpasseth understanding

This is Maggie. She came to live with us Christmas of 2005. She was a catharsis for my wife, Nancy, whose only two grandchildren were moving 200 miles away from us as their Dad was beginning a medical residency. She was the cutest little 8 week old puppy ever. She won her way into all of our lives. She was playful and frisky and loved everyone who came within her reach, instantly. She was my walking partner and constant shadow. She saw me through a very hard time almost exactly a year ago when my wife was in a health crisis. I would leave and be at the hospital all day long and then return home sometimes late at night. She was always deliriously happy to see me and anxious to hear all about how her mama was doing and when was she coming home.

She was a lazy sort, like myself. She loved to roll over on her back and put her feet up on the entertainment cabinet/bookshelf whilst I was in my recliner and soon we would both be snoring. Often I would awaken to find that she had matriculated to lie by the side of my recliner so that when I would awaken I would have easy access to her ears or belly both of which she loved to have scratched and rubbed.

To be with her brought a sense of peace and contentment that is hard to describe. The love of a dog is like listenting to music that you love. It strikes some sort of harmony within your soul. Dogs never speak to us but they communicate in a way that must be very much like how spirits communicate to one another. It is like how you can look at your wife and know exactly what she is thinking. How you can hold a baby and feel like there is no other physical connection on earth more important than that one at that particular moment.

Maggie left us yesterday through a pool accident that caused her to drown. I had carelessly left the kiddie gate unlatched to the pool and she got in and must have walked out on the pool cover and slipped underneath it. My poor wife called me while I was golfing with my son Drew and told me that she could not find Maggie. She drove the neighborhood as I connected the dots as to what happened. I left the course and my son followed me home and I found her right where I thought she would be. I will carry the image of her right there for the rest of my life. When she needed me most I was off playing. Because of my negligence her life ended. Had I only had that gate locked she would still be here with us.

I know that she harbors no malice towards me. She is incapable of such. I just came from taking her remains to our veterinarian. She will be cremated and we will bury her remains in our back yard along with Pokey and Cleo. My soul is in turmoil. I cannot stop weeping. However, I know that there will come a time quickly when my mind will rest and my soul will be soothed. I will experience that peace that surpasseth understanding. It is provided for us by an all loving Saviour who accounts for all living emotion and experience. He provides us the ability to live within our relative scope of inadequacy. His grace will spill out and wash over me and I will return to vitality and wholeness.

I will miss my little Maggie. I did love her so,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Leaving out the trial lawyers

I read today in the Tallahassee Democrat an article with the headline: Drug company increases cost of a drug to prevent premature birth from $10 to $1500. Now that sort of headline gets your attention.

The article is about a drug called progesterone which is used to slow down a woman's potential for premature labor during pregnancy. The drug has apparently a history of efficacy and use. It seems that no one in the US manufactured this drug until recently. Prior use has been off label and compounding pharmacists have been making the product for use by physicians by orders from physicians.

Now enters the pharmaceutical company Ther-Rx Corp. They are the blokes who have taken on the manufacture of this obscure drug to benefit a handful of patients in a specific condition only relating to high risk pregnancies.

It is interesting to me that no mention is made in the complete article about the mill costs, start up costs, cost of studies and the big one LIABILITY. It always seems that our friends the trial attorneys are never made mention of. I am here to tell you that the fear of getting sued by the local attorney du jour on the occassion of tragic side effects or outcomes looms large in this scenario. Any company entering into the manufacture of anything that is to be ingested by a tort minded citizen is taking on a huge risk of liability.

I remember back in my lobbying days, and yes I did lobby for the pharmaceutical industry, that the Florida legislature circa 1995 tried to do something about the high cost of malpractice insurance in our state. FACOG ( Florida Academy of College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ) spent many thousands of dollars in a grass roots effort to make the public aware that malpractice premiums were driving practitioners to other states where reforms and caps on liability had been implemented. Back then it was not unusual for OBG's to pay $125,000 per year in malpractice insurance premiums. The same applies today.

FMA ( Florida Medical Association ) carried the water for the states physicians and The Florida Academy of Trial Attorneys took the opposite side. Both sides represented deep pockets. You want to know who won? The trial attorneys. The people voting on the legislation were largely from amongst the trial attorney pool. Malpractice still looms as the single biggest cost in practicing medicine. It also casts a long shadow over the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals.

Yet no one ever hears anything about this cost in all the print and electronic media. The threat of law suits lies below the surface in all things that touch the practice of medicine.

All during the debate on nationalizing health care did you hear a peep from anyone about why don't we limit the amount of damages in malpractice cases? You remember John Edwards. This guy ran for Veep with John Kerry. He made his millions from suing physicians almost exclusively. All the press that we have had concerning national health care over the last couple of years and I challenge you to find much written about tort reform. Fingers point in all directions but it never seems to point in the direction of the trial attorneys. Why is that, do you suppose? Do you think they pour any money at all into the pockets of the people who make our laws and carry the debate?

I once attended a meeting of a group called ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). It was held in Nashville at Opryland. This was an amalgamation of legislators from states all over the country and private enterprise. Lots of lofty principles were bandied about. I remember one of the exhibitors offered me a free tee shirt if I would give them my e-mail address so they could hit me up often for a donation. I needed a free tee shirt to jog in so I signed up. Upon arrival home back here in Tallahassee my wife read it and told me that someone was going to beat me up if they read the message. It was on the back of the shirt in pretty large print. I told her that I would only wear it in the dark when I ran early in the AM's. The message said: " Do trial attorneys make any of the products you use? No, they only make them more expensive."

One day a man and a woman came up to my rear as I was puttering along on the sidewalk. The lady asked the man, " Are you reading his tee shirt?" He responded, "Yes, I see it." He then addressed me introducing himself as a trial attorney. However, he said I am not one of those. I happen to agree with the message. Now how weird is that?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Honor code, what's that?

I live in a world, as a real estate broker, in which you hear a lot of chatter about ethics. I lived for 30 years in the realm of pharmaceutical manufacturing and marketing. The Pharmaceutical and Research Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) made a lot of noise about their code of honor.

Back in the 60's there was a senate investigation into the way the pharmaceutical industry marketed their products. A Senator Keefover chaired the investigation. Seems that the various companies in the business were plying their customers with incentives that bordered on shady. If a physician wrote so many Rx's for a certain antibiotic, for instance, they could get a Rolex watch or a TV from their friendly pharmaceutical representative.

The impropriety of this arrangement was obvious. Who paid for those gifts? Why the little grandmama or papa in the midwest living on a fixed income paid for them in higher prices. The Senate was chaffed about this arrangement and threatened to put price controls on the industry's products. The industry declared a big " Holy crap !" and created the trade association PMA, which later became PhRMA. The industry did not want government oversight on pricing and they swore to surveillence their own members. The R (research) was added later to keep generic, copy-cat, manufacturers out of the club.

Snap forward about twenty years and after things had relaxed for a while the same old incentives crept back into the promotion of drugs. Pharm companies would grant prescribers trips and honoraria in return for wink, wink prescribing of their products. Hold on said the Senate, what about your honor code? Did you not tell us that you would surveillence yourselves a few years ago? Another senate investigation ensued now chaired by none other than Senator Ted Kennedy, the very epitome of the honor code.

PhRMA then began an extensive dialogue with congress about their role in helping physicians to attain continuing medical education credits. To do that they had to assemble them in resort hotels in various places, provide airfare and even honorarium and expense money. This was not promotion of their products this was education. You use our products and we will educate you and your spouse in far off exotic places at our expense. Congress rattled the price control sabre and the industry did another big " GULLLLP !!". They begged and pleaded that they be allowed to clean up their own workplace, once again. Congress relented. Do not forget dear reader that this same industry is handing out millions of dollars to members of congress, simultaneously. So congress backed off. Nowadays pharm companies will not even provide prescribers with pens and note pads. That is a resolution by PhRMA to stay on the good side of legislators and regulators. All the while they extend the noble chin and point to PhRMA's Honor Code .

The same happens in real estate. National Association of Realtors with all of the state affiliates and regional affiliates paste the smug grin on their faces and point to their Code of Ethics. Why we are so squeaky clean we have a code of ethics. I would love to have a dime for every breach of the code of ethics that I have observed in my brief 8 years in this business. There are some slimy practitioners in this world. When you choose a realtor do so with measured care.

I cannot help but note the sports headlines of this morning. Brigham Young University just suspended their power forward, Davies, for the remainder of the season. BYU just rose to #3 in the polls this past week. They were being spoken of as a possible #1 seed in one of the NCAA regionals. Now we note that they have suspended a seriously big element of that team. Not because the NCAA told them to. They did it internally. Here was a student who violated the honor code. Ergo he is out. No fuss no muss.

Now what do you suppose he did? My wife is a BYU alumnus. I have many friends who are alums, due to my church affiliation. That honor code is serious business. You violate it if you do not live the standards of the church that owns that institution. Violations include premarital sex, drugs or alcohol usage, cheating on a test, not attending church, improper dress, etc. They can get away with that because they are a private institution. Live the honor code or go to State U in your own home town.

Please if you would, go back in your mind's eye to late in the football season. Auburn University's, Cam Newton, looked pretty likely to have violated NCAA sanctions. If Cam had been a BYU player, he would have been long gone at the first hint of impropriety. Instead he went on to win the Heisman and then a national championship.

There are honor codes and then there are HONOR CODES.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spending more than you make hits government

Re-Post. I posted this back in 2009. In light of the activity coming out of Madison Wisconsin currently I thought it was worthy of a revisit.

A lot of us all around this country of ours are feeling a smack on the head by that man who discovered gravity. I know we are here in Tallahassee and around the state of Florida. I believe that the old failings of mankind are at play. A lot of folks want to be Aesop's grasshopper and play the fiddle and smoke a little hoppergrass and ignore the hard working ants who are putting it away for a rainy day.

I got into real estate in 2002. That was my first year. Man, to apply robust to describe the market would be like describing water as wet. It was up, up and away for all players: buyers, sellers, lenders, realtors and government. Here in the state of Florida our property taxes flew off the chart increasing 100% in 5 years. Property values just floated that tax to injurious levels. Some smart folks put together the Save Our Homes regulations, capping taxes for permanent residents at no more than 3% per year. However, if you sold your home and moved up your taxes could knock you unconscious. I had a very successful client who sold his $400k home and moved to a $1,200k home. His property taxes went from around $3700 per year to almost $10,000 per year. As I said he was successful and able to take that hit but he did not like it. Others of us, less successful, applied the Save Our Homes acronym of SOH to Stay in Our Homes .

Now where did all that money go? It went into the vaults of various cities and municipalities across our state. The coffers were running over. Week after week county commissions and town councils would convene and plan how to spend all that lucre. Where was it written that, that had to be the case? Who said you had to spend all that loot?

Snap forward a few years and you see a Governor get elected in Florida who made a campaign promise based on property tax reform. He has made good his promise. This reform coincided with the bursting of the real estate bubble. Both effects have been synergistic. The one potentiates the other.

Now here we are. Cities and municipalities decry the depletion of funds. The state of Florida's 2009 budget is sure to be the leanest in many years. You see and hear every day about school Districts that can't make their budgets work. Cities say they may have to lay off workers. What ???? The sun is suddenly coming up in the west ! Used to be if you could land a job with the state government, you were set for life. We had a former Governor who referred to such people as lard bricks. ( His term, not mine ). They just went to an office and sat their and put in their time and one day retired and collected their pension. What a country !!

Once again, Sir Isaac Newton's law of physics reminds us that " What goes up, must come down." We also glean the genius of Aesop who taught us that it is best to put away during the plentiful years for the, sure to follow, lean years.

Our current circumstances will improve one day. That grasshopper will play his fiddle again and the circle of economic life will continue on. Sure is not fun to watch it, nor experience it.