Month: April 2013

The Truth is out There

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Yep, stacks of money!  Hyperinflation from printing too much money.

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Those are for a loaf of bread.

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Thousands of Marks being tossed in the streets as it was worthless.  Look up hyperinflation. 

I was and still am to some degree a fan of the X-Files.  Does that mean that I believe that UFO’s are visiting us?  Nope, I appreciate Science fiction and as a matter of fact have written some.

Area 51 gets more publicity than it disserves as it is nothing more than a place where “we” develop prototype airplanes, and I would suspect that it could be used as a landing field.  The government allows the rumors of ufo’s to persist as it makes great cover for what they are really doing.  Why do I say that?  A quick look at Google earth, type in area 51 and there a few miles from Las Vegas sits air strips that are much longer than most.  That is most likely to accommodate great speed and time to slow down.

When Jack Nicholson (who is one of my favorite actors) said “you can’t handle the truth” may have been on to something.  I would guess that we as a people don’t have a clue what is really happening in the world political arena just like we don’t really know why the government is purchasing billions of bullets for the TSA.

The story one reads on the internet is that the Social Security folks have ordered 174,000 rounds of hollow point .357.  A reasonable conclusion would be that when the tap runs dry, as it will, the folks who are currently on government assisted living will become unruly.  They most likely are preparing for civil unrest like we have seen in Greece and other countries of late.  We are so far down that road, I don’t see any way of it not happening.

At some point when you print enough money, the US dollar will be worth nothing.  The folks living off of the government will not be the only ones affected.

Is that fear mongering?  No, it is simply stating the facts and anyone who has ever read history can testify as to the legitimacy of what I am writing.

When the local dollar store turns into the two dollar or five dollar store, some of the eighty percent might wake up, just a little.

The “truth” is that a large percentage of people don’t give a damn about the goings on in Washington and simply vote a party that they relate to.  It is in fact those people who are responsible for the mess that we are in.

A third party growing up out of this “situation is not inconceivable.    If I were a political strategist I would seek to get votes from the underpinnings of both groups.  The key will be to get people to “see” something besides football, baseball, basketball and hockey, not to mention the mind numbing sitcoms that grace the airwaves.

Yesterday when Jason Collins came out as gay, so what, who cares; can he still play ball?  Gay is the new normal right.  It just about seems to be fashionable to be gay!  This is the perception coming out of Hollywood.  One thing that I have never heard uttered from the president before is the support for a gay athlete.  Are you kidding me?  The world is on fire, our economy is one domino short of failure, some 29 year old xenophobic psychopath has his fingers on the buttons of a nuke who threatens this country often, and you actually have time to comment on Jason Collins?  This is not the first time that this president has done some pretty “un-presidential things” but when Clinton also made a similar comment, what the hell!  Truth be told; this president is still in campaign mode.  It would have been much better if Jason was from Mexico; then he could have killed two birds with one stone.

Don’t read into this that which is not there, I have no issues with gay folks.  Love is great wherever you can find it.  I do have issues with my president pandering to different groups to aid the democratic push for 2016.  Somewhere he has a strategist telling him to say what he says, and of course never let an opportunity go to waste, aka Jason Collins. That also explains Bill Clinton’s remarks.

Politics by definition is to sway, (manipulate) the masses to think that your group is a better, friendlier, kinder and of course smarter group than the other evil people.  That is exactly how Hitler came into power.  Don’t believe me, look it up.

More people should be looking things up; instead of passing around these stupid eCards demonizing the other party. Eighty percent of the population will simply vote their gut, without a scrap of information.  Some of those will vote because they get free stuff, and don’t give a damn who pays for it.  Truth be told; your great grandchildren will be paying for it, if by some miracle we manage to avoid a “reset” of the economy.

So, can you handle the truth?  The truth is out there, you simply have to open your eyes and ears and listen to talking heads from both sides of the isle, as well as from different countries where they have not picked some side.

-Best to you and those that you care about!

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Simpson’s Tapped Out

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I was asked, “Don’t I ever write about something whimsical?”

I don’t understand why pinworms are not whimsical but, In light of that comment here is my attempt at whimsical.

In April of 1987 the Simpsons were introduced as a cartoon short on the Tracey Ullman show.  After which she went out to the audience and bellowed her now famous ending to her show.. ”GO HOME…GO HOME!”

I was watching that night and thought that the creator of the Simpsons might have something. Twenty Six (26) years later the show is still on during prime time and there seems to be, like me a “faithful audience”.

Without the DVR, I must confess that I would probably not watch it, but that can be said of just about all TV.  I know too many folks that live their lives around the lineup on different channels.  I would prefer to live my life and fit in television entertainment when I have nothing else going on.

Recently during the Christmas Holiday, during a visit with family;  I discovered “Tapped Out.”

I have played every day since then, sometimes several times a day.  What is my draw to this game, and more importantly why do so many folks play this game!  I am not a gamer and do not generally play games.

The recreation of the Simpsons characters that I have watched for so many years and Quimbie’s evil laugh, are probably two of the largest reasons.

Pros:  I think that the game introduces children to some Time Management skills in that in order to succeed in a short amount of time one must know what each and every toon is doing and more importantly, when they will come off task.  This is so they can be “re-assigned a task.”  Giving them task which correspond with the times that you will be able to “play” once again are key towards efficiency.

The currency in this game is interesting as there is cash and then depending upon the event there are special things like hearts from Valentines Day which earn one special gifts. Coins from Christmas or the “winter holiday” earn special things that are only made available during the event, and like now there are eggs from the snakes from the whacking day event.  By whacking larger and larger number of snakes one can get more prizes.

In order to succeed at these events you need to have friends that will help.  It is imperative that your friends visit your town and give you what you need and in return, you visit their town and reciprocate.   So in a way this is teaching team work.

There are remedial financial lessons to be learned as you have to do something with time being the common denominator to earn cash with which to purchase land or houses or what have you.

The Cons:  Donuts and cash..

There is another currency which is of all things donuts.  You can earn donuts but with such infrequency it is almost not worth mentioning.  People purchase them for real money.  A dozen for $1.99 and the price goes up from there.  Now if they are using this money to pay the programmers I am ok with that except “kids” are playing this game and some young enough that they may not correlate that money that they are spending with the actual value of what they are buying.

Scratch off’s.  I am sorry but, this part of the game with the $1 option to play for donuts is tantamount to gambling.  I am not certain how this has skirted around the laws but, here you could have children gambling, thinking that they are going to win “mega donuts” for a dollar and only get a few.  This is germane in that there are certain items  only available for purchase with donuts (cash).

There are several flaws with the graphics that constantly plague this game.  The characters often end up doing a “moon dance” backward and through buildings and houses and what have you as well fragmented buildings or dumpsters or houses often clutter the screen causing one to shut down the game and start again.

All too often we get to see Bart with a network cable in his hand telling us that it cannot reach the servers, please retry.

I would like for FAT TONY and some of the other mute characters to have a voice as well.

One positive about this game as it evolves in parallel to the show.  Something is added or changed with each new show and that keeps it lively.

If you like this and you happen to play this game, I am staylor823 using the Origin account and I need eggs!  LOL (Was that whimsical enough?)

Good playing or fishing or whatever makes you happy!

-Best to you and those that you care about!

Design, Nature or Luck?

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Today I want to visit with you regarding a subject that will not interest about 80% of you.  So for you 20% who find interests in subjects that are not widely talked about or even known about, let’s go!

The Pinworm is fascinating.  There are three known species of these creatures scientist proclaim.  There are two that we can talk about as we have evidence of their existence and how they live.

One breed lives inside the chimpanzee and one breed lives inside us… It should be no secret that the human host parasites but, the pinworm is a creature that with some effort can be removed from you and your family’s bodies, if you happen to have them.

The pinworm infects the host either by inhaling the eggs, or by ingesting them.

This is probably the best argument for keeping pets out of your bed as the pinworm eggs can live on an animal’s hair, migrate into your bed sheets or other linen, and make their way into your system.

From the womb to adulthood most people sleep with a hand near their face.  I would argue that this is a leftover behavior from sucking the thumb from inside the womb but, I digress.  The simple fact is that we do.

The pinworm is ingested either by being airborne from possibly making the bed, or your child’s bed, or by petting your pet causing the eggs to become airborne.  They are also ingested by placing your unwashed hand either in, or by your nose or mouth.

Once ingested, the worm (egg) stays in your duodenum (opening to the small intestine), until hatched.  From there, it makes it way through the small intestine and takes up residence in the ileum.  It is in this area that the pinworms set up house.  They live by extracting nutrition from colonic contents.  They mate here and shortly after mating the male worms die, and are expelled with the fecal material.

The female worm or (gravid), becomes almost completely filled with eggs.  When the time is right the worm makes her way to the anus and actually comes out to

A: get air for her eggs

B: lay her eggs in the folds of the tissue of the anus.

By her wriggling around during this process this action can cause an itching sensation to occur.  Part of the reason that this condition affects children, more than adults is children will scratch what itches, and will not in most cases wash their hands afterwards.  The eggs get trapped under the fingernails and are now ready to be disseminated either from what the child touches, toys, each other etc, but also to re-infect the host by the child eating something that he or she touches or by simply putting that thumb into their mouths.

Adults are not immune as we also have pets that may get into our bed and we also hug and cuddle the little host known, as children.  How many times have you seen an adult or, possibly you have done this; allow the child to put their hand into your mouth.

Once inside the mouth, the process starts all over again or in the case of the adult begins.

Never fear, once detected there is a cure that usually involves the entire family and the frequent washing of pajamas and bed linen until the all clear sign is given by your health care provider.  It is also a good idea to wash the Childs toys with some sort of disinfectant, especially if your child is in a day care facility.

On a side note, it would be interesting to know if there are protocols in place to keep this sort of germ / parasite transmission down in daycare facilities.

Why does this interest me you ask?  My interest in this is the process that the animal lives and propagates.  We see many symbiotic relationships not only in the animal kingdom, but with plants and insects, plants and animals and so on.  Here is one more “relationship” where this animal depends on us, and our nature.

The mechanism for which this animal survives, by causing the itch around the tissue of the anus for the host to “scratch” that itch and the eggs are then either transported to other opportunities, or to re-infect the host. (Scratch what itches, and put our hands near our face or into our mouths.)

One other way that we stay infected (argue some scientist) is that the new born pinworm makes its way back through the anus and “goes against the current” so to speak, making its way to the ileum to become part of the process of reproducing.  This process is highly debated and if indeed it can occur in this manner than the rate of reoccurrence by this method is low.

You ask, “How do you know if you or your child is infected.”  Before the child’s morning bath, take some cellophane, “transparent” tape and apply it to the area of the anus.  Remove the tape and seal it into a plastic bag and take it to your health care provider.  He or she can examine it under a microscope and not only give you a positive or negative result but, if positive can identify your particular critter.  There are drugs to kill them.

Are they harmful?  The most common side effect is enterobiasis or (anal itching).

My apologies if I have “creeped you out.” So go wash your hands and insist that your family does the same.

Fun fact: did you know that “creeped” has recently crept into our language?  Although spell check does not like it; the word is viable and in fact means: off-putting, or to weird out or possibly even frightening.

-Best to you and those that you care about.

Electric Cars, a Case for the Combustion Engine

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I went into an office the other day and noticed a small car parked up front, rather stylish but the name caught my eye, “Volt.”

As an electronic gadget loving guy, not to mention one who designs circuits for one thing or another, I was rather intrigued. Walking around the other side of the car there was this device sticking out of the fender with a long thick cord attaching it to some sort of box with another cord extending from the box to the outlet outside the building.

I really don’t want to rain on the electric car parade but, I think that this technology is too immature for prime time.

When an electric car is fully charged you are going to get a maximum of 100 miles (maybe.) That most likely is predicated on perfect road condition, traffic etc. The radio, air conditioner, windshield wipers and stop and start traffic all play a role.

100 miles to empty in most peoples cars is like somewhere between a quarter and an eight of a tank of gas till empty. Put another way, the little gas light is either on, or about to come on.

Now think about this, you go to work 15 miles each way. You go to lunch maybe 5 miles to lunch and 5 miles back. So far this is good, only 25 miles used. Add to this the trip to the school or the store and then home again, you might make it happen. After work and back home now you have errands to run, but you can’t because the car has to re-charge.

Add to this that each and every night you have to get this cable out of the trunk, drag it across the driveway or what have you and plug everything in or guess what, the next day you will be calling a cab to get to work.

As these cars make more of an impact on society, office buildings and possibly stores will provide a place to hook up your car for a little boost while you are working or visiting the doctor or even shopping.

We are not there yet.

Propane powered cars never took off as there are few places to get propane. It was a natural for cities as they can house the filling station for their fleet. Propane now cost more that gasoline however; and most probably because it can be used for transportation instead of only heating and cooking. Those using propane that live in the country, know exactly how much that has changed in the last few years.

I would imagine that if and when someone makes an electric car that will go further than 100 miles, and they become more ensconced in our way of life, the price of electricity will skyrocket as well as there will be more demand it.

One other thing that the dealers don’t talk about regarding the electric car is the replacement cost of the batteries.

There is a huge difference between the batteries that goes into the Prius (Hybrid) vs. a pure electric car or EV. The Prius battery has been known to go 200000 miles. That is mainly because the Prius battery assist a gasoline engine and is charged every time the vehicle brakes.

Not only are the chemical differences something to be considered, but lets say you “kill” your batteries. That is known as a deep discharge and will in fact damage the battery over time.

Secondly let’s say your drive is only 50 miles a day. When you charge your car every night the batteries will in fact loose some of their ability to hold a charge and before long you may not be able to make it even the full 50 miles.

While GM and Nissan both offer a warrantee on them, they do consider that the batteries diminished capacity is not a warranted item.

You laptop battery uses the same technology. Does it last as long as it did on battery the day that you bought it?

The lithium ion battery which the EV uses, needs “lithium” which this country does not have in abundance. The interesting part if this equation is that Afghanistan is loaded with it. Chile also has large deposits as well as Bolivia. If this country as well as others start driving EV’s in any quantity guess what the cost of lithium will do, not to mention its availability.

Since this is earth week, are EV’s “green friendly?”

Pure Ev’s are charged from the grid. That means that the same power plant that burns coal to create electricity is now putting energy into your car. Since there are no tailpips to allow exhaust to get out and pollute the planet, remember that the “juice” in your batteries came at a carbon cost.

If I were really concerned about getting better mileage and not adding to the carbon foot print I would purchase a hybrid of some sort. No limits on miles, charges from the vehicle braking and can be charged from the grid.

If my mileage was incredibly predictable I might consider an EV at some point. The battery technology and the eventual disposal of them is still to new and since I don’t have thousands of dollars to piss away, I will stick with what I know.

If, and this is a big if, you could get an EV, charge it from your solar array or wind farm, you might have something. Alternate forms of energy producing things are way too expensive for the normal guy, not to mention take up lots of real estate.

It is a free country “still,” and your mileage may vary.

-Best to you and those that you care about.

Electronic News

Many of you will not really have much knowledge of what I am going to talk about here as it relates to the electronic industry and your pocket book. By the time your done reading this, you will be enlightened somewhat.ImageImage

Not too long ago some Chinese company produced something known to me and anyone who knows technology as a capacitor.  These live in just about any electronic device that you might have.

The problem is that the formula for these was invented in Japan and it was liberated “Stolen” from the Japanese plant and sold to someone in China.  Industrial espionage happens all of the time and there are many famous cases that I could site; The TV and Radio are two off the top of my head.

The problem with this formula is that they did not get all of it.  They got the part for the dielectric, (the part that separates the internal plates from shorting) but they did not obtain the stabilizer for the dielectric; so after a few months to a few years the dielectric breaks down and fails.   These capacitors were sold to many different manufacturers including Dell and LG to name two.

Other computer board manufacturers are also loaded with these defective capacitors.  One of my LG monitors stopped working and for about $6 and change and about one hour worth of work, I replaced all of the capacitors on the power supply/ inverter board and, Viola; the monitor is as good as new.  The most difficult part of the procedure was taking the monitor apart without damaging it.

Last night one of my desktop crapped out.  The power supply went south.  I happen to keep new power supplies on hand so I simply upgraded the power supply from 300 watts to 600 watts which also sports a larger cooling fan.  It was a win win!

As the power supply houses some pretty cool parts for those of us who still build things, I took it apart and there it was, a capacitor that was bloated, standing out like a sore thumb.  The fix probably would have cost me $.50 but as it was a 300 watt power supply I elected to scrap it.  300 watts is really too small, and of course much cheaper than a 600watt.

A few weeks ago I was working on a dell for a gentleman and the onboard video card was working terribly.  There were lines in the picture and it was not syncing correctly.  Examining the board around the GPU I noticed, you got it, puffy capacitors.  I installed an inexpensive video card and turned off the internal one. Problem solved until some of the other capacitors in the box fail.

A friend of mine works for a City here in Texas and part of his job has him traveling to the Dump of all places.  There in some building at the dump are flat screen TV’s microwaves and so forth that have been discarded.  He picked up several flat screen TV’s that were discarded and for a few dollars repaired them.  While he is the ultimate recycler, it is a shame that we do not repair things any more.  One has to wonder if we are spending too much time with video games instead of tinkering. One night at dinner with some friends I was gob smacked to learn that one of the guys at the table had no idea how to change spark plugs.   These are the type of people who call on people to do things for them.  While it may make financial sense to do this I simply cannot pay someone to do something that I am perfectly capable of doing with a few exceptions.

This week being “earth week” I would encourage you to think about getting things repaired instead of trashing them when they break.  Electronics are known in the industry as Ejunk.  There are companies that specialize in recycling this type of thing but, they are becoming harder to come by.   I suspect that the EPA makes this type of business a tough one to run, and not be out of compliance in some small way.

Most of us have no reason to know this but, the dumps all over the country are filling up.  There is a dump not too far from me here in north Texas that at one time was low land covered in water; and is now reminding me of the foothills in NorthernCA.

A lot of this e-junk is shipped to third world countries where families hover over open fires, melting the solder with the fire, removing the parts off the circuit boards for the metals that they contain.  Since it is an open fire, the board is blackened and the people doing this breath in those toxins along with their children who are helping.  It does not even stop there as this residue litters the grounds, the water supply, the air, and what have you.  We here in this country do not have a clue; we simply think that we do our part by most of the time, throwing that soda can in the blue bin.  Once we toss stuff into the bin do we ever think about it?

I come from a time when there was not so much stuff trashed.  I bought a broken TV at a garage sale for $5 as a kid; and learned how TV’s worked and for about $3.50 for a new high voltage rectifier tube, I had a nice looking portable TV at the age of 10. At 13 I wanted money to buy a new CB and antenna.  Mowing lawns seemed like a good job. One could make $4 a yard…. Currently I pay $25 a week, and this is one thing that I will not give up.  As I put my plan in the early 70’s together, I would first need a lawnmower as my dad was dead set about me not using the family lawn mower on others peoples yards.  He was right to be concerned as I killed 3 lawnmowers on one person’s yard for $2. That is another story..

Again I went to garage sales and found a lawn mower that did not work.  I pulled it through to make sure that there was compression and nothing bent, and bought it for $15.  After a trip to the library checking out a book on small engines, I digested the book.  Lawn mowers have points and a condenser under the flywheel and those are known to be problematic.  I checked for spark and there was none.  The local grocery store sold parts such as these and for a few $$ back in the day, so I now had my own lawn mower.

I purchased three lawnmowers all together in similar fashion along with an edger.  Gas cost about a quarter to fill up my can and that would last me about a week.  I created my fist direct marketing campaign at the age of 13 with three sheets of paper, two pieces of carbon paper and my best penmanship that I could muster.

I mow yards

Please call 242-XXXX

For an estimate, ask for Scott.

I wrote this until I filled up a sheet of paper and then cut them out much like Avery labels would look today. Armed with a shirt pocket full of “flyers” and some scotch tape I went door to door canvassing my entire neighborhood.

The interesting thing about all of this is that those types of campaigns have about a 2% return or hit rate.  That was the figure 42 years ago and oddly enough, that is still the figure today! I still do direct marketing campaigns; just not to do yard work. J

I did this for several summers; it paid for my first car, and lots of photographic equipment, and oh yes a CB that quickly turned into Ham Radio equipment.

Where are those entrepreneurs today?

As you can tell, I still do this today.  Not that I go buy things at garage sales to repair but, I do restore antique radios that I have purchased either online or from individuals. Some just make their way too me as friends know that I do it, and they are tired of storing it.

So when your flat screen TV dies if you know anyone with any technical prowess, have them search the web to see if someone has posted a fix.  It may very have been me.  Have them try it.  The parts are available in the form of a kit from some people online for as little as $12.

There is a good feeling that comes from repairing something that otherwise would have been put into that growing mountain of pampers, kitchen waste, and of course defective electronic devices that needed about $6 to $10 in parts.

As a side note I did this with cars as well.  At one time I had 13 cars which I bought for next to nothing as they were broken. I picked up parts from a junk yard that the owner had an old TV, which always needed fixing.  I would fix them and sell them and I enjoyed the process.  That was back before the computer was installed into the car which controls everything relying on sensors for information.

Like the lawnmower, back then you needed spark, gas, air and compression.  Today you need an analyzer of some sort that can interrogate the onboard computer and find out what the failure is.  Usually some sort of sensor that you did not know that you had.

-Best to you and those that you care about!

Effectively communicating and succeeding as a Manager, using Speech and Non-Verbal Techniques

ImageWhen you see the word “speech” it may conjure up that heart stopping moment when we are ask to get up in front of the class, a group of peers, or perhaps in front of hundreds of people and give a talk.  Even if you are the SME (subject matter expert,) that does not make it easier to get up in front of a bunch of folks and talk.  (With lots of practice it gets easier.)

Today; that is not the topic of this particular blog.  Today I would like to address how we communicate as employers or managers to our subordinates.

I could not help but notice how some managers, “ask” their subordinates to accomplish some task.  Really? .. ASK?

If I were “asked” if I wanted to sweep the floor, or some other mundane task, my immediate response (possibly just in my head) would be “hell no!”  If I have a choice, the choice is “let someone else do it.”

If on the other hand, I am instructed to sweep the floor (not asked,) I will grab the broom and go about sweeping the floor.

My point is, not only in verbal communication do we “Weaken our speech” with seemingly innocuous phrases like “if you don’t mind, if it is ok with you, how would you feel about, when you have time to…” and the list goes on.  We in fact loose authority and run the risk of sabotaging our project, when we weaken our speech.

So when you speak as a manager, use that authority that you have been granted with that title.    Do not ask how someone would feel about this or that.  Tell them what and when you want this or that done, and do not give them the option of telling you how to run your department or business.  When they earn the title of boss, then they can tell their subordinates how they want things done, right now, it is your turn.  This of course comes with the understanding that you have done your due diligence. That you know what is going on with each part of whatever it is that you are working on; and know what each and every employee is doing.

We also do this in e-mail or other interoffice memos. The main difference with e-mail and memos is that once in writing, it is there forever, for anyone who may be copied in on it, or it gets forwarded to.

We are in fact judged by how we speak, or write.  Whether it is the politically correct thing to do or not, “we do it!”  We all do it!  Remember that old axiom “better to keep your mouth shut and people think you a fool lest you open your mouth and remove all doubt?”  Sometimes we are forced to open our mouths, so educate yourself before you reach that point.

While e-mail has become the norm as far as communication with peers and alike, many of us did not take English class too seriously, and it shows!  No time like the present to learn how to craft simple e-mails.  Once you “pen it” and hit that magic send button, you have no idea the life that it will take on, where it will go, and who all will read it.

I once authored a memo that went to a corporation of over 30,000 folks.  There was a typo in the memo (you instead of your) and while my supervisors were no literary geniuses, and took a screw-them if they can’t take a joke attitude, I was mortified. Treat e-mails and memo’s as if they are “IED’s or road side bombs with a hair trigger.”  Do not get in a hurry when writing an e-mail that may be seen by your boss, or potential boss. Spell check, read it out loud, and if you have a trusted friend, ask them to proof it.  One trick that I find that works is to print it, and read it from the paper.  I realize that on “earth week” that is probably not the most politically correct thing to say, but it is true!  I am not one for political correctness anyway; I think we have taken it way too far.  That is another topic for another blog.

When I first entered into the corporate world, which seems like yesterday; the executive dictated a letter to his secretary.  She wrote it down on a steno pad, in something called “greg shorthand” and then went about the task of typing it up.  She would then put the letter (draft) into his in box where he would read it, mark it up, make changes and then she would once again type it up.  This process could go on all day.  There was a study done once that concluded the average business letter cost about $100, back in the 70’s.

Today we have no secretary to “fix it” and make it pretty.  People from the board-room to the mail room have the same e-mail, which connects not only to everyone in the corporation, but to the outside world. We no longer write many formal letters, as e-mail, text (sms) and instant message is on our desktop.  Are you beginning to get a sense of how important that English class was that you slept through?

How many times have you read something that someone has written and found a typo, or a grammatical error?   I frequently find them in books that have reputable publicist.  What is the first thing that you do or think?  Yep, we judge them.  We either think that they are not very smart, or very clever, or we may even question where they went to school, or if they did.

“The pen is mightier than the sword” is not simply something for writers to gloat about (which they should not do, as most writers could probably not even lift a sword,) it is in fact a powerful tool.  Unfortunately, like Damocles sword it is double edged, and is indeed hanging by a thread. Be very careful and deliberate what you write; keeping the audience and secondary audiences in mind.

I heard an impressive lady the other day who said, she speaks her opinions like they are facts!  They are indeed “her facts!”  She claims that she is perceived as a bitch, and I can see that.  Is that wrong?  Should she care how she is perceived?  I for one was very impressed by her talk, and I am not easily impressed.  In management we are entrusted by our superiors to get the job done, and your employees become “your tools.” While I don’t use the phrase “tool” in the pejorative manner that we hear it used today, employees are in fact implements of and end to a means.  The manager uses the expertise of his or her employees, to reach an objective or several objectives.  If they start asking their subordinates to do this or that, their timelines may suffer as well as the project(s) as a whole.  When you give up that authority to your employees, (when you have time) you are no longer an effective manager.  Your employees usually don’t have the whole picture or the sense of commitment or urgency to the project or end goal which you do!  Clear task with authoritative language broken down into milestones and expectations set by you are mandatory, if you are to succeed as a manager.

If you think about it, you are actually leading and mentoring by example.  Employees (not just yours) watch you.  They observe more than you think, and that includes the two hour lunch, or the fact that you passed gas on your way to the bathroom.  You are held to a higher standard. It is probably not fair but it is the way of the hourly vs the salaried employee.  They are long gone by the time the managers day usually ends; but they are not there for that.

So instead of “how do you feel about coming to work on time” vs. “the office opens at 8, and I want you here.  If you can’t do that, I will find someone who can.”  Will the latter earn you the title of bitch or bastard? Who cares?  When they work for you, they play by your rules, not theirs.  If you worry about how your employees perceive you, than your are in the wrong line of work.

To be fair, if they have issues getting to work on time, you probably need to find someone else to do the job anyway.  Conversely, if you have good employees, as I have been blessed with on so many occasions, I will go out of my way to take care of them in compensation, training, bonuses etc. While there is no need to deliberately alienate your employees, they are not your friends; and you are not theirs.  At the office there is an expected decorum that must be adhered to; not only by them, but by you as well.  The phrase “it is lonely at the top is not just a phrase, but can be a way of life, at least from 8 to 5.

One last piece of advice that I will share that is a little off topic, “Never under any circumstance hire anyone that you cannot fire!” I want you to go back and read that again.  Read that until it sticks!  Make certain that you have no sacred cows working for you.  By that I simply mean, everyone; “including you” is replaceable.  If you own a company and you have certain employees that you cannot live without, change it fast!  No one should be held hostage by having to keep someone around because they are the boss’s kid, or they are the only one who knows this or that program or system; or they are “your friend!” The largest screw-up that I see constantly is that there is no documentation, anywhere on the systems, processes, key players, vendors etc.

If you want to see how survivable your business is, run a disaster recovery drill with non-key players or bring in temporary employees from a staffing firm that have the skill set, just not the experience with your company.  Then using your “living document,” re-create your business in a hot site.  If that does not go well for you, and you want to fix it, call me!  http://www.guard-protect.com

Hope this helps!

-Best to you and those that you care about!

To Lock or not to Lock

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This is not the first time that I have written about air travel.

On a recent trip the bags went one way, and the passenger another.  Now if you tried to do this deliberately, you could not orchestrate it but; trying to keep the bag and passenger on the same plane is proving more and more difficult.

The bag finally was returned a week later, and after many phone calls to several different airport personnel who did not have a clue or care. It was almost as if, “hey you are bothering me, I am just here to draw a check, not actually do something!”  I was going to say I may be exaggerating a little but actually no; not at all.  This was the attitude! When asked for her name she would not give it.  Hmmmmm…  And we wonder why the airlines have to cut services, charge more for the services that they still do have, and are still going broke.  Get rid of the dead weight airline people!  Grow a pair!

Usually; when my bag has been rifled through, looking for god knows what; there is a lovely piece of paper in it telling me that it was searched.  “Like I need a piece of paper telling me that my once neatly folded clothes, now appearing as if some gorilla had worn them for a week was not clue enough.”  Still, some notification of who did this would be nice.  On a recent trip the bag was searched, the lock went missing and there was no piece of paper.  Can we no longer afford the paper or did somebody else go through the bag?

These locks are not cheap and for my money not very secure either; as we have no idea who all has the magic “TSA Key”.  I am guessing that there are more than a few baggage handlers who have them in their possession.  So where are all of the missing locks?  A quick look on eBay and I found several “lots of airline TSA approved locks all set to 0.”

I wonder if the seller either works for the TSA, or has family or friends that do, surely not, they surely would not be that stupid.

Here is another issue with this.  I realize that this puts me out there with the conspiracy folks but what if someone wanted to use your luggage to smuggle something out of the country or state, or into the country?   If the luggage (with the payload) makes it through, it then is simply intercepted at the other end. You file a missing bag claim and nothing happens as nobody gives a damn anyway.  You chalk it up to the lousy airline, buy new stuff and write a blog about how crappy the airline is.  But what if the TSA actually doing there job while trying on your clothes, finds the “payload.”  Then they get all puffed up thinking they have found the “bust of the year, their name will be in all of the papers and they will be a hero to women and children alike!  Wheaties will even want to put their picture on a box and they will get money for their likeness being used!” Well, maybe not, maybe then just a simple promotion for doing their job.  Meanwhile; you get arrested and have to explain “the payload.”  Like who would be stupid enough to put something illegal in their own bag.  Well, some idiots do and thank goodness that they do or there would be nothing for the “locked up abroad” folks to write about.   I digress.  Think about it though. Because your luggage is now “unsecure” what if?  Do you realize that in a lot of countries you are not presumed innocent, until proven otherwise?

While the TSA is doing an excellent job of feeling up old ladies and small children, and of course looking at everyone’s “rude bits,” I would be a whole lot happier if they would secure my luggage with cameras, people and of course honest TSA agents.

My advice for now, use a carry-on if you can. Consider shipping your luggage via USPS or UPS or even FED-EX as even that would be cheaper than trying to prove to someone in Bora-Bora, that the drugs or money or what have you in your bag, are not yours.

Failing that, save some money, Use a cable tie to lock your bag.  It is too much trouble for the average baggage handler to cut off, and if the TSA wants in there, they can cut off a lock, they can certainly handle a zip tie.  Put a few extra in your carry on, purse or wallet for the rest of the trip and leave nothing of value in your bag.  Realizing that some Blue Jeans can sell for over $200 a pair (you know the ones with holes in them,) you may want to wear them.  Besides, if they have enough holes, the TSA will have less to grope!

It seems a sad state of affairs when the people who are providing a service think that it is ok to steal from you.  It is equally sad that Americans and for that matter anyone that travels by air; is forced to submit to this treatment.  A major news outlet actually did something that was not politically motivated by taking part in apprehending two TSA agents who on two separate occasions absconded with two different iPads. You would think that in this day and age of cameras everywhere, that the airport folks could put some security in the areas where people’s bags are.  Now that we know what is in everyone’s underwear, how about turning the cameras on the fox’s watching the hen house?

-Best to you and those that you care about!

Bugged

I love chocolate; well to be fair, I love just about anything that is sweet and purports to be candy of some sort.  Like all the years before; I buy extra Halloween candy (the good stuff) and probably like most families, dig into it before the holiday.

The mini candy bars are my favorite for a number of reasons, but the main reason is that most of the time you really want to satiate the desire for the candy but not fill up on it.  Portion control is paramount for weight control, not to mention blood glucose levels; which is a topic for a different blog. The bite size goodness of Snickers or Butter Finger or that ever popular “Mounds Bar,” do the trick quite nicely.

After this particular holiday passed, in order to assist with my families desire to keep the sugar out of site, I put it into a Tupperware container and tucked it away where only I know where it was.  “Don’t Look behind the books that are not dusty…

Making my way through Christmas, Valentines and of course Easter (my favorite candy holidays) I went in search for that treasure trove of chocolate goodness from October 2012.

With my taste buds all primed for that peanut butter crunchy stuff covered with chocolate, opening the container and grabbing one of the Butterfinger bars I noticed something on it which looked like the remains of what used to be a creature of some sort.

Dumping the entire contents of the Tupperware out I noticed that there were several holes in the packages and lots of evidence of some happy bugs.  The candy which I was looking forward to made its way into to the bin, and I was left to wonder, how those creatures got inside that sealed Tupperware?

As it turns out; I bought them as part of the package.

According to ABC News, the average chocolate bar contains eight insect parts. Anything less than 60 insect pieces per 100 grams of chocolate (two chocolate bars’ worth) is deemed safe for consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.  My guess is that eggs are considered part of the formula for “bug parts.”

Aside from chocolate, cockroach parts also make their way into peanut butter, macaroni, fruit, cheese, popcorn and wheat. The roach bits can affect people with asthma, as well causing migraines, cramps, itching or hives in people who are allergic to them.  Some people think that they are allergic to chocolate when indeed they are allergic to cockroach…

The prevailing wisdom is, in order to produce food without bug parts would necessitate more pesticides, which would be more harmful than eating ….BUGS….

If I had to offer my 2 cents worth, I am guessing that it is more of a financial burden than a worry about pesticides but, that is just my cynical self thinking out loud. They really need to kill anything in the food; and that could be done with radiation or some other process that would not harm the food, just the living bugs and or eggs.  While I would rather eat a bug than pesticides, I think that someone really needs to complain to the FDA and make a “federal case out of this” (no pun intended.)  This good old’ boy mentality of paying people under the table to do things on the cheap, or look the other way, really needs to stop.

Anyone who has not discovered a worm in an apple or peach (well, half a worm) is deprived of the gut wrenching decision whether to stick a finger down their throat or just role with it.  I have been in the finest of restaurants and noticed that acrid taste (more than once) of some sort of bug in my salad (well mouth.)  Chew, swallow without making a face, swish some wine down quickly and move on to the next dish.

In order to eat something without bug parts or bugs, one would just about not be able to eat.  At least with food that you prepare, you can cook the hell out of it so anything that made it past your watchful eye is at least dead!

The dilemma is this, being a huge fan of Chocolate; do I forget the bug parts and just continue on, or do I swear off of the one candy that really makes me happy…really happy…

I would think that the different chocolate companies could rake up if they could find a way to keep bug parts out of their product.  One final thought, who counts the bug parts in each chocolate bar to make sure that they are in “tolerance?”

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-Best to you and those that you care about!

Transformation

Our way of life is transforming as the days and weeks pass.

Not so long ago traveling by air was not only easy, but enjoyable.  It was actually a treat to arrive at the airport; people were there to make your trip pleasurable, from helping you at the gate to making sure that you were comfortable on the plane.  The flight attendants, “stewardesses’” back then, treated you like they appreciated your business.

Once in the air, the beverage of choice was offered.  You could even get a deck of playing cards to help you pass the time, no charge.  Food was offered on most flights and it was of a quality that was palatable and in some cases “if you flew first class” compared with some fine restaurants.

On longer flights you were provided a small kit with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and some even included a small razor and mirror.  There might also be one of those mask that you put over your eyes so you could block the light out and snooze through the flight.  Traveling by air used to be pleasurable.

In stark contrast today one must arrive at the airport two hours earlier than the flight.  Once there, you get the distinct impression that you are being looked at as a possible suspect for a crime that has not been committed yet.  You are cautioned about making jokes to the TSA as they could arrest you or at the very least detain you simply because they wanted to.  You are stripped of your shoes, belt, jacket and anything in your pockets and then subjected to a virtual strip search where anonymous people in some room examine your naked body, looking for anything that is suspicious.  During this process these folks without a sense of humor order you around like you are indeed a prisoner in some sort of exercise yard, which happens to be a terminal.

Never mind the fact that you are being exposed to ionizing radiation, the government(s) have decided that the laws of physics have magically changed and now this radiation is safe, compared to how unsafe it was just a few years ago.  They compare it to the radiation that one is exposed to at high altitude and how in comparison it is not that much.  They are also talking apples and oranges as cosmic radiation is different from ionizing radiation but, they don’t offer that up as that does not fit their agenda. Keep in mind that the “truth has no agenda.”  I would look for frequent flyers to have a higher rate of skin cancer in the future.  If I were a frequent flyer, or flight attendant or pilot, I would make having a good dermatologist a priority, as well as keeping my yearly visits.

I am reminded of the board of directors from the different tobacco companies sitting before congress telling them that tobacco products and all of their additives were totally safe and did not cause cancer.  People will say anything when it fits their agenda.

Your baggage and clothes are not safe either.  When I travel, I take the clothes that I am going to wear to the cleaners and have them cleaned and folded so when I arrive at my destination, I have clothes that have some modicum of professionalism; in that they are not wrinkled beyond belief.  On my last trip my bag was opened by the TSA and my folded laundry packaged in plastic see through bags (much like it would look straight from the store) was opened, disheveled and crammed back into my bag, like I have done when returning home, simply getting the soiled laundry back into the bag to once again make its way to the cleaners.  I think that I will start just packing my soiled laundry, cramming it into the bag and once at my location, send it off to be cleaned.

Traveling by air is just one place where it resembles more of a police state than it should.  Any form of public transportation is scrutinized by different means of security.

In most of my travels I can not help but notice cameras at every intersection.  I may have read 1984 one too many times but, it certainly bears paying attention to the facts that these are probably not for traffic control.  In major cities all around this country at least, and I suspect others, there are cameras watching everything.  I would argue that your privacy is being invaded in ways that you don’t know about.

The local police have devices that can detect heat signatures (FLIR) in total darkness.  I have been told that these can detect the presence of heat through a wall.  I would suspect that the local police are not really interested if you are home or where you might be but, my guess would be that via flyover or random screening in the debt of night, they could be looking to see if you are growing things inside your home that you ought not to be.  To my way of looking at this, it is an invasion of your privacy and should not be allowed without a warrant.

Technology is outpacing our humanity.  Today we have a 29 year old, holding the keys to nukes in a xenophobic country; threatening the stability of an entire globe.  We have companies like Raytheon and others manufacturing drones that have been used successfully in the war effort, now in the hands of a government that seeks to “fundamentally transform our country.”  They now think that it should be legal to fly these drones over the US. These drones have the ability to peer in open windows miles away and see what is going on, to tracking your cell phone and who knows what else that it can do.  I do know that it can tell what clothes you are wearing (or not wearing) while flying at 17,500 feet.  By the way unless you happen to see it flying over head, it is silent enough that at altitude you will not know it is there.  I know this because while floating in the pool, looking up, I saw one flying overhead.  There was no sound.

Today most of us carry smart phones. I have no doubt that they can be controlled by third party entities, at their discretion, switching on microphones and or cameras at will.  We have seen this in laptops sent home with school children, do you really think that you have any expectation to privacy in your home?  With built in GPS, they know down to a few feet, exactly where that phone is.

One really has to wonder why we are giving so many free phones to people that cannot afford them.  Is it really to “give them a shot” or is it a way to get inside Intel into their lives and activities.

While this sounds like 1984 and the work of science fiction, I would not be surprised to learn at all that this is not fiction at all.

This much power in the hands of any government is simply dangerous at best and could be disastrous.  Please remember that absolute power corrupts absolutely! The new facility that the government is building 25 miles south of Salt Lake City may very well be the control center for these types of activities and not the data retention facility that it is touted to be. It may very well be a data retention center too, but my gut tells me that it is much more than that.  It would take a facility that large to house the amount of people necessary to accomplish the surveillance of that many “people of interest.”  Those people may very well include anyone that attends church, or works for a particular company, or possibly those who are on the government dole.

History is rife with abuses of this government, as well as others.  J Edgar Hoover was notorious for abusing his power.  We as a people have forgotten history or failed to learn from it.  History is cyclical when you fail to learn from it. “We will repeat it.”

With the creation of the patriot act under George W., we Americans gave up rights that we may never get back.  With this recent explosion in Boston, we may see new laws created, taking away even more of our rights to “protect us.”  (Remember, “Never let a disaster go to waste”) The random acts of violence “terrorist activity” are one way to get people to not only submit to further oppressive measures by a government but, they may very well cause some to insist upon it.

With our borders unsecured,  we have no control over whom and what comes into our country or for that matter what or who leaves our country.  The government should be focusing on that rather than chipping away at our rights as Americans. We as a people should be demanding that our borders be secured instead of worrying about the feelings of potential voters.  To politicize immigration is simply treasonous and all who do this should be fired.  Protection of this country, its people and its constitution should be their primary goal, and anything else should not come before this.

Full disclosure; I am a writer of science fiction.  I think outside the box; which is great if you are a writer.  I would also offer that through history, most science fiction becomes science fact.  I have no inside informants or sources of info other than what can be observed by looking, or researching topics of interest on the WWW…

-Best to you and those that you care about.