Saturday, November 30, 2013


while raking leaves...
man walking dog:  "Do you know who's cat this is?"
me:  "No.  It's weird.  I don't like it"
man walking dog:  "Yes.  It acts odd.  I don't like odd cats."
me:  Pointing to a house.  "There's a nice cat that lives there."
man walking dog:  "That cat is a lot of fun."

We all like the cat that is fun.  All of the neighbors like him.  We disregard the "on a leash" regulation because he's just a nice cat, even when he climbs in the car or walks into your house uninvited.  The weird cat is owned by some weird neighbors.  How appropriate.

at Menard's buying doors...
me:  "I could use some help with doors."
geezer employee with cane:  "OK.  What doors do you need?" Grabs cane an starts hobbling toward doors.
me:  "The cheap ones.  The ones on sale for $29.  The six panel with the fake wood grain.  I'm confused about rough openings."
geezer with cane:  "Show me what you have."
me:  We go over the size and swing side.  He immediately memorizes the 8-digit part numbers and calls for assistance an rattles off the part numbers to two Asian guys on a fork lift.  "Are you sure those are right?"
geezer with cane:  "Yes.  That's what I do.  Let's go back to the desk and I'll give you an invoice.  You can pick up the doors at Door #2."
me:  After receiving invoice..."How do you like working here?
geezer with cane:  "It's great.  John Menard sends every employee a give on every holiday.  He knows that he asks people to work on days they would prefer to have off.
me:  "That's pretty thoughtful."
geezer with cane:  "It is thoughtful.  It's not normally an expensive gift but he has at least 10,000 employees.  He has nine employees working full time just to manage the gift program."
me:  "That's great.  How long have you worked here?"
geezer with cane:  "Sixteen years.  Home Depot wanted me to manage the Woodbury store when they opened it.  They had a phone interview system with their headquarters in Atlanta.  After doing that interview I decided they could never pay me enough to work there."
me:  "Menard's must be happy with you.
geezer with cane:  "They put up with me now.  I have all sorts of leg problems and work part time.  They are good to me."
me:  "That's a good relationship to have.  You have a good weekend and thanks for your help."
me:  At Door #2 picking up my doors.  I'm staring at them.
forklift Asian guys:  "Would you like help with those doors?"
me:  I could handle it myself but ... "Yes, that would be nice."
forklift Asian guys:  They make two quick trips each.  I thank them.
me:  I drive to the renovation location.  I break a ceiling fixture in the lobby when carrying in the second door.  When taking the third door up the elevator I accidentally pop the suspended ceiling out of the elevator and am clueless how to put it all back together.  I pondered just throwing it away in the onsite dumpster.  Finally I get it to stay in the ceiling but it's definitely not right.

at Marianne's Kitchen...
patron:  "So, John, how are you and have you decided what you are doing next?"
me:  "I had planned on taking off the month of October.  I did that and I took off November, too.  I'm feeling now like the transition is in process.  Early on I don't thing I had let go."
patron:  "It takes a while."
me:  "I'm going to re-focus on this after the first of the year but I am going to make a trip to Denmark in late February or early March."
patron:  "That sounds like a great plan.  You should use the time when you have it."
me:  "That's what I'm thinking.  Some of the things I was focused on initially are morphing a bit and I thing giving that more time will help bring things into focus.  I want to market myself with clarity not because of loss or recent departures or changes."

at the computer...
Thoughts & plans continue, but right now I am going for a taco.  After the taco I'll work on my marketing plan again.  I would also like to make progress on Ruby on Rails.

Friday, November 29, 2013


This evening I attended a get-together with people I've know for 40+ years.  Most if not each of them has had more or less successful careers in private industry and government and a couple worked in professional services or started consulting firms.

All of them looked older if  not old.  Other than the few that really have not worked I was the only person technically unemployed and considering another gig.  Lengthy conversations with three was interesting since those three were all within twelve months of just being done working.  Only one seemed to have a good reason and that was a longstanding plan to spend two years overseas.

It's a talented group.  I'm very happy to have known them for so long and for them to have been inclusive.  They've been friends so long I'd forgotten that I had worked with about half of them in the 1970s.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

On Being Sixty-Two + Day Fifty-Seven + Thanksgiving

The Cows Have Left The Barn
 Cows have not been in the Groningen Barn for at least twenty-five years.  It still smells a bit like cows and miscellaneous  equipment lays where left.  Perhaps next year we'll have a couple of steers that can eat from the pasture.  It's time for livestock to return.

I use the main floor for storage and I'm starting to store too much.  Now when I walk it it appears that something is actually happening, that all this 'stuff' is of some value.  The corn hanging upside down is broom corn.  It's ornamental.  These stalks are drying and I'll retrieve the kernels for seed...or the various inhabitants of the barn will eat it.

The hay loft reminds me of some many things.  I go up there and listen to the wind and once in a while take a swing on the ropes.  It's not clear why a farmer would not have a stairway to the hay loft.  This requires climbing up a ladder and entering the loft through a trap door.  Often we do things the way they have always been done, not the easier way.  

Obviously the hay loft serves no purpose now that hay is put into 1500 pound round bales rather than 90 pound rectangular bales.  I've thought about producing small bales which are half the size of the rectangular bales.  Hobbyists and gardeners like the small size of seedless straw for, well, hobby things and garden cover.  This seems like an obvious small business opportunity.  I'm moving that to the list for 2014.

Space and Time
I'm work structuring my space and my time.  It's a wonderful blank palette to have after all these years.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 55 too late in the day

Day 55 & 56 were a mess and I think I missed my day 55 post.  Day 56 is almost over and I'm dragging so I'm going to post this and embellish and polish them both up in the AM, Thanksgiving morning.

I did upgrade my internet service and spent the last 90 minutes dealing with that.  Strangely enough I had some excellent support from CenturyLink.  The fact that I'm even saying that is a good indication that I need sleep.

Update Following Sleep and Caffeine

Day #55
Not going to a standard job does cause one to lose the rhythm of the week.  The original plan was to head 'up north' on Monday, Day #54, but in cleaning up my 27 year backlog the entire day was spent dealing with issues and mail from 2012 and early 2013.  At a minimum the census bureau will quit calling me daily regarding my agricultural filing.  Voice mail is full of messages from them.  It's possible I've actually memorized the 888 number and my case number without ever writing them down.

Not only did Day #54 evaporate but so did the first half (daylight) of Day #55.  Leaving after lunch put me in sunshine but a rock solid 18 degree (Fahrenheit) road trip.  Following a stop at 'the barn' for insulating covers I headed out to wrap up a couple of bee yards for the winter.  In the fall you steal all the honey that you can and then you feed your colonies sugar water to ensure their survival in the MN winter.  Smart beekeepers take all the honey, put the hives on a road trip to OK or TX and let the bees be street people for the winter.  I wrap mine up and hope for the best.

At 30 degrees they will fly about.  Normally at 18 they are going to be quite slow to move and unlikely to go airborne.  Working in the fall one does not need to 'suit up' in protective gear which is required certainly at 95 plus degrees.  During the cold months the bees go into a winter cluster, an eliptical mass of bees where they snuggle to keep warm.  When I popped the cover on the last hive they apparently had not received the memo regarding "winter cluster time" nor had they paid attention to the temperature.  What they paid attention to was the guy wearing a black coat (bad), sunglasses (bad), a black hat (bad) and no protective gear (bad).

That was the highpoint of Day #55.  In 1964 we did 'vocational notebooks' in middle school.  This must have been for the purpose of helping us plan our lives.  My three occupations of choice were fire protection engineer, nuclear engineer and beekeeper.  At the time the teacher ridiculed my inclusion of a beekeeper career.  It's fifty years later and I'm still muscling heavy colonies about and having bees in my face most of the year.  Despite my ongoing internal debate regarding my future in beekeeping it must have been a better choice than the other two.

Day #56
 Day #56 was Wednesday.  During this 'up north' trip I was supposed to pick up supplies that were needed 100 miles south Wednesday AM.  In the schedule in my head I was going to head south in the PM.  This resulted in two trips and an extra 150 miles.  The planned Day #56 actually started about noon after I took care of the ... actually this is all confusing.  I lost track of the days.

Early winter is upon us and I've been burning a lot of wood.  There's not much snow so I did haul another load of logs and spent some time cutting a previous load up.  For those not familiar with the process you are always working a year or two in the future and typically you have to move whatever renewable resource (logs) at least two or three times before getting any heat out of them with the exception of getting hot moving things about.  I guess I could just move wood all winter in lieu of burning wood.

You also need to have sort of an animal sense about when it's going to snow and prevent all this moving about.  When that happens you need to have t where it needs to be.  This supplements propane and oil which also are problematic.  Despite the simple meters which tell how much is remaining it's easy to forget or write a note an lose it.  This becomes part of a social movement with hundreds if not thousands of other winter dwellers also failing to read their meters or forgetting to order until it's an issue.  There are a lot of hours spent waiting for the "the propane man" and the "fuel oil man" to arrive.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Last year I was thankful for having a job.  This year I am thankful for not having a job and hopeful for another in the future.  It's all good.

Monday, November 25, 2013

54 54 54 54 54 54 54

Battery Maintenance
March is only a few months away but yet I'm pulling 12v batteries out of everything.  It seems that disconnecting things that tend to drain them and hooking up trickle chargers is the way to go. Of course I've bought a lot of trickle chargers and it appears as I dig through this 27 year backlog I have more than I thought I had and certainly more than I need.  There was even a box of wire and connectors that I purchased at least four years ago that I was going to jump several batteries and connect them to a single trickle charger.  That seemed like a good idea.  Of course there are at least two or three bigger chargers, too.  It's probably a trade-off.  I have enough extra chargers to have purchased a few batteries.

Mice...Computer Pointing Devices
My best work is done at my desk which has at least three desktop computers functioning.  There's a standard Microsoft three-button mouse that's been there as long as there have been three button mice.  There's also a Microsoft mouse with a rolling part the size of a golf ball.  This seems to be a logical device for graphics work.  It's been there (connected and functioning) for five years.  I've used it three times.

The most frequently used PC is a Samsung Chromebook which is a forebearer of the future of computing and is used only with web apps, cloud solutions and was $249.  The more powerful Thinkpad accompanies me when I need some "off the grid" horsepower.  Each of these notebooks and my "up north" notebooks have pointing devices that are good for basic operations but not for graphics.

I began a search for a mouse that I could throw in my traveling briefcase.  The home office yielded a new in the box Logitech wireless mouse which I purchased to replace my wired mouse shown in the image.  Of course the wired mouse works fine so the Logitech sat on the floor gathering dust.  In a box of cables and connectors I found three two-button mice and in the trunk of my car I found three wired three-button mice.  There's no logic to why they were in the trunk but there are also four umbrellas and two boxes of latex gloves there, too.

This was a progressive day.  The agricultural census from FEB was returned so hopefully the federal government will quit calling every day.  I also increased my DSL speed seven-fold for a 20% reduction in cost and found that I can actually go to70mb for about what I was paying for 3mb.  This is a deep, deep 27 year hole.  

This evening I'm re-visiting a few job boards and working on some personal vision statements.  It's good. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

11/24/2013 53

Channeling...moving from -27 to +27
There has been significant progress on physical, electronic and psychological transition from the past 27 to the next 27.  Thinking of past work people, tasks, responsibilities...well everything was taking too much time.  There was no positive, progressive outcome to those backward looking thoughts but when you think about an organizational network every waking hour for 27 years it's a tough cycle to break.  

Rarely do I have trouble going to sleep and if I turn on the radio sleep comes within moments.  After a few nights where backward thoughts delayed that transition I had an idea.  I think about a lot of things but trying to transition at those more frustrating moments to thinking about any of a lot of things did not work so I made a mental list of three topics that I enjoy.  Now I just switch on the "three things" list.  This working well and is part of +27.

My personal network of other employees, owners, vendors and contractors has also been sort of a -27 disappointment.  I'm focused now on new people, new connections.  It's entirely possible that the key to +27 lies not in the past network (sorry LHH) but more in the future.  It's entirely possible that that is what LHH has been saying but it's taken a while to hear it.

Prior to 1982 I did not own any computers.  Most of us just went to work to do computer sorts of things (like programming).  Over the years a lot of PCs ended up here.  During the month of SEP I recycled all the dead, ailing and old computers and monitors and a cubic yard or two of power adapters and miscellaneous cables and drives.  That was good but I keep finding more.

In 1982 I spent no time at home doing computer things.  Now I spend hours per week, actually probably per day, doing real tasks, looking things up, writing (like this), managing money, etc.  I'm not sure I like this.  It detracts from things like outside activities, good books, stacking firewood, etc.  I'm seriously considering some sort of off-grid time.  It's really more an off-PC and/or off-smartphone time than off-grid but I did not want to load up Gimp ( a free sort of Photoshop tool) and create a new graphic.  I'll do that tomorrow after checking the job boards, making a few more connections on LinkedIn, tracking world events on Twitter and sharing pointless information and links on Facebook.  How much off-grid time do I need.  My former neighbor, a retired architect, was obsessive about his yard work but took Sundays off.  I might try a day a week.  Perhaps off-grid time would include time doing thing like this, writing.  Longhand is too tedious and I disposed of my typewriter probably in 1984, about two or three years into my PC life.  

I'm increasingly committed to +27.  The opportunities and rewards look much greater than -27.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day #52 more, more motivation...

My Previous Job/Career in Four Boxes...
Yesterday and today I decided to unpack the residue of my more recent job.  During the weeks before I left I went through all of my files (paper and electronic) and drawers and aggressively deleted and recycled most of it.  It was an interesting process.  I'd look at something and decide if it was immediate trash, if it was something I needed to think about or look at again (delayed decision) or if it was something that my successor might want of need.

When I left I did leave several tidy piles of budgets, personnel files, strategic plans, contracts, organization charts and memos on various topics for my successor.  He has done with them what I would have done with such a treasure.  He's ignored it all.  Good for him.  History is meaningless I've been told, and my vision of the future certainly is of no value to your vision of the future.  On this particular topic I did fail to take my own advice about leaving things for your successor which is based entirely on About Schmidt, a movie I frequently recommend.

After numerous iterations it came done to just a few files and a few boxes.  As I've opened them I've chuckled a few times and I've also looked at things and wondered why I brought it home.  I did find four toothbrushes and four brand new tubes of toothpaste in my desk.  You know, the kind that dentists always give you after a checkup.  There were always good intentions of brushing my teeth at work but apparently I cycled through quite a few cleanings, x-rays, discussions of gum issues, etc., without ever brushing my work.

At my home working locations I have my favorite pens, miscellaneous items of distraction, nail clipper, dental floss and who knows what.  The boxes I brought home contain from my previous work 'working' location my favorite pens, miscellaneous items of distraction, nail clipper, dental floss and who knows what.  There is some duplication and yet some unique items but I don't want those work working location items at my home working location.  They worked where they worked.  At home they are misfits.

As of Day #52 I really care little about my past work, increasingly focused on my future work.  I'll recycle the four empty boxes.

LHH has a lot of good ideas about selling yourself and penetrating the networking world and making progress on job searches.  Today I ignored part of their advice and found another great position which is an IT leadership position (good), which is a large company initiative on small business (good) and which is about 3500 feet from my house (good).  This is worth pursuit.

The other most recent online application had a succinct response which was in total as follows:  
 Hello John,

Thank you for your interest in employment at XXXXXX, Inc.. If your qualifications match our needs, we will contact you to learn more about your fit in this position.

Thanks again for your inquiry

Was this a bot response?  Should I follow up with a phone call?  Should I email them?  They are also looking for an HR person so I probably cannot call their HR person.  I know a lot about HR.  Perhaps I should apply for their HR position along with the other position.  It seemed that there were quite a few positions at their organization that would be a fit.  If none of my qualifications meet any of their needs I'll have to shrug off any thoughts of "you are a misfit for for all kinds of jobs you think are right for you!"  I'm good in bad weather so I'm going to shrug (or shake) that premonition off.
Writing motivation seems to be a roadblock to many people, often.  Bill Holm provided quite a bit of motivation for me when I realized you could write pretty much about anything.  It's not clear why it took so long for me to figure that out.  In the visual arts it was clear long ago that you could drive to the mountains to make so-so images or you could work within a fifty foot radius of where you happened to be standing an creatively look at mundane objects and package them with interest.  With the right purpose our words can do the same.

As motivation my son sent me this link to an interview of David SedarisI'm sure I've listened to him on MPR and I'm not sure that I've read any of his work but I did order Naked not because of the title but because of his thirty-five year writing career of describing and sharing normal events in his life. 

My daughter reads this, too.  She's different in her commentary and feedback.  The other day she said "you are a mess."  When I asked why, she said the blog posts seemed to indicate...that I was a mess, but she went on to say that there seemed to be some clarity, some balance emerging.  She's right.  This is an adjustment and it's not a twenty minute oil change.
Writing every day is good.  It's probably improving my spelling and sentence composition. There does need to be some focus on style variation.  My typing has been about the same for a long, long time.  In earlier posts I'm sure I've given tribute to Miss Ruth Woods my 8th grade typing instructor (1964?).  "Don't cross your ankles!"  She speaks to me when typos become frequent.  I also keep a wooden 12" ruler in my middle drawer.  She carried one and whacked us with it.  I have one at my home 'work' location.  I never had one at my work 'work' location.  That might have been what was missing.

There are a lot of memories.  He was a great President to be the first President for a young person to be aware of.  He was bright, had a differentiating accent and spoke to all of us, encouraging us to be be hopeful  and to be part of the future. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day #51 Reflection

Keeping Track..
My two-day contribution to a single post does meet the goal of a daily blog contribution but it messed upmy numbering.  Today's effort was first posted as #50 but it's actually #51.  I think I'll check the Google Calendar application an see if I can just create a calendar there with the right count.  Sure there is an app for that.

Networking and Connections
Everyone has trouble with trailer hitches and trailer electrical connections.  I'm going to assume that bigger trailers have brake problems to add to that, but it's all about connections.

A couple of years ago I had a tip-up trailer that was, in theory, really good for moving my lawn tractor or ATV from place to place.  Back then the coupler was smooth, the connectors on the truck and the trailer were new and unweathered and worked fine.  The operator failed to check the pin and retention clip that kept the trailer in the horizontal mode.  At about 60 MPH there was an unexpected tip-up.

Now that some time has passed in my initial serious networking and "job' connection work it's clear that there must be some coupler or electrical (synapses?) issues in this process.  Like everyone else attempting to make job/consulting connections there appear to be a short somewhere.  I know that every time I hook up a trailer I'll be thrilled either by getting to my destination without a problem or I'll be thrilled with excitement as the problem occurs.  Over the weekend I'm going to go over my job materials again and look for shorts.

The Road
Sometimes it's not clear if you are in the median or a sane lane.  For the novice, the sane lane is where you can drive at excessive speeds during rush hour if you have passengers (endangered passengers) or you pay some extra money.

Usually the sane lanes are inbound in the AM and outbound in the PM.  There is probably some sort of job like Sane-Lane Direction Technician who deals with this.  I am not applying for that job.

Events, life...
Once in a while you are asked of significant events in your life that shaped your thinking, your world-view, your beliefs, fears, etc.  I always mention Viet Nam for the obvious reasons.  Our parents or lack thereof are good answers as is mention of our spouses, lovers and partners.  Today, as in many years I'm reminded of John Kennedy.  In a conservative, Lutheran town, one did not make jokes about Martin Luther but the Pope was fair game.  It's only been in later years that I've know more of the Kennedy legacy, of Camelot, Marilyn Monroe (you must watch "Happy Birthday Mr. President" on YouTube) but the events of the assasination, the reactions of older people who has experienced the loss of beloved Presidents, the funeral, the riderless horse with the reversed boots, the Oswald murder, etc., certainly evokes not some much emotion; I was but a early teenager then, but a flood of memories.  Fifty years have passed. I can still hear the funeral procession.

Hopefully this will never happen again.  We do need to have more beloved Presidents and we need to respect the history and the legacy and the honor due the Commander-In-Chief, regardless of our own party affiliation.

The Dates of this Search Journey
Today is 11/22/13.  Given my family genes I have a good change of making it to 11/22/33.  Given some life style issues who knows.  I might still be looking for work on 11/22/33.  I'm going re-phrase that.  I'm planning on still being engaged in productive gainful work on 11/22/33.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Making Connections ---- Day #49 & Day #50

Thanks, son!
My son challenged me on this effort to write every day.  For the past twenty minutes I've been distracted by some old Creedance Clearwater Revival which reminds me of a summer of chaos forty-four years ago when the U.S. involvement in Viet Nam was already more than a decade long.  But with less than ten minutes left in Day #49 I do have something to say.

Making Connections...
I have three minutes left in Day #49.  My comments on this image and thought will be continued on Day does not seem like fifty days.  This is good.

Seven Hours Later...

Real Work Connections...
Trailers are problematic.  Anyone who is a regular trailer person knows that couplers, lights, light connections, weight issues, tire issues, loading issues and last but not least safety issues surround that seeming simple connection.  I could not possibly get my rural work done without a trailer which is attached to my truck which I originally thought would solve all my transportation issues.  Actually I could use a bigger trailer.

Computer  Connections...
Late yesterday I had to crank out some ad copy and some product artwork, neither of which should have taken much time.  Two computers, two printers and an online cloud application were involved.  My fifteen minute task list turned into two frustrating hours including one overly taxed PC, printer alignment issues, difficult-to-locate artwork components, missing fonts, slow online application and of course a couple of issues with my actual artwork.

Organizational Connection...
Finding the right connectors for a job is a similar endeavor.  You have to find the right people, find people who will articulate their employee/executive needs, and locate organizations who are good at connecting opportunities and resources and who can effectively bring solutions to market.

This is all more difficult than it should be.  I'm going to introduce this 'connection' thought into my introduction letters and also integrate this theme into my resume.  I might even include the photo from this post.  Is there any reason blog content is not good resume content.  The recent application specifically looked for one's web presence.  Thoughtfulness, content and purpose in your online persona seems relevant.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

11/19/18 Day #48 Back To Where I Did Not Want To Leave

  • Yesterday I left where I wanted to be, only because I had an DR appointment this morning.  All is well, so I guess I could have skipped it.
  • Now I'm headed back for 24-36 hours.  My son says this seems like a lot of driving.  It is.  He lives in Denmark and rides his bike and the bus.  He's 26 and never owned a car of his own.  I admire that.
  • We own three cars for the two of us.  That does not make sense.
  • There appear to be at least a dozen usable and used PCs in our home.  That does not seem to make sense.
  • There are at least a dozen USB memory sticks and three, no five USB drives within reach.  A couple of the drives are for backups but Backblaze does a much better job than I can, and of course I store pretty much everything in the cloud, anyway.
  • I'm enthused about the application.
  • One more application this week and a Bush Foundation call are on the agenda.

Full Moon #2 Day #47

I Must Have Missed The Harvest Moon...
This evening as I headed away from where I wanted to be there was a light in the eastern night sky.  Being not far north of the historic Hinckley fire area it was possible that another inferno was in the making.  Perhaps it was some alien event which I've been waiting for ever since the TV series "V" which ended with some sort of red sky that probably killed everyone.

October was a bit odd and that must have been the harvest moon since I have not found any standing corn in Pine County.  This must simply be "deer hunting moon" or "first moon on frozen lake" or "the moon that means it's too late for anything left outside that you don't want to have freeze."  Regardless of any significant meaning it was scenic.  This was reflected on a pond just west of Finlayson.

Finding The Rhythm...
I'm making progress on my 27-year backlog.  There will be visible progress within another month or two.  It's quite interesting that much of the backlog is electronic.  Often I think the PC era is pretty recent but the reality is that it coincides with the 27-year backlog.  I have one PC left that has a 3.5" floppy drive and only a few scores of diskettes left.  Certainly there will be some epic material on at least one of them.

The plan now is to apply for one job per week.  I'm being selective.  I'm only interested in working for organizations of value and projects of worth. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day #46 ... Bad Day For Crime

Lights Off & Lights On
One of our neighbors decided that the ever-on security light was not complimentary to rural star watching.  Apparently security lights simplify life for criminals because they don't have to carry flashlights or night vision equipment.  So...he/she had the security light removed.

Two nights ago the neighbor in the other direction awoke to find two people in his house at 2:30 AM and a handgun pointed at his head.  Without getting into all the details the homeowner's 9mm Glock sent the 23 year old criminal to an early death.

Tonight it appears that all the neighbors have turned on all the lights they own.  That should make it easier for the low-lifes to case everyone's stuff.  In this rural area you would expect a lot of gun ownership.  This event along with a big string of arson events a few years ago may result in even more lights and more Glocks and hopefully fewer dead criminals face-down in the front yard.

Monday Expectations
My online application and 'interesting' resume may evoke some quick response.  I expect that there will be a phone conversion this week but I also expect age to be a play...perhaps good, perhaps not.

Tuesday Tasks
Now that I'm on a role I'm going to send a resume to the property mgmt firm.  My connection request on LinkedIn to the CA AEC firm was also confirmed so I'm going to send him a resume, too, in anticipation of their midwest expansion.

All is good, today.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Post #45 Keep This Private!!!

LHH Advice...Keep This Private!
My Lee Hecht Harrison personal coach advised me to keep my Facebook and blog postings private.  Given that the NSA knows every phone number I've ever called and probably every web site ever browsed (yikes!) I'm not really sure that keeping this private will keep a progressive IT firm from finding all my web tracks.

My LinkedIn profile is fine.
My FaceBook page is not offensive.

My Twitter presence is quite minimal.  I'm too wordy to be successful.

My personal web page is sort of 2003-2004 era-like and has not been updated.

This blog, in it's 45 days, gives a very small window view into my interests and skills.  Like many other venues it's a work-in-process.

The Company That I Applied To on 11/16/13
My standard comment during the 27 year gig was that I hoped, and knew, that that was not going to be the last place I ever did good work and that my best work was yet to come.  During the course of the last forty-five days I've mused all around the topic of what I like to do.  I did a lot of what I liked during the past 27 years but now I want to re-set the employment/partnership platform to work with the kind of organization and the kind of people where everyone sees the future, not just the end of the current fiscal year (or Friday) and where they act on the future. 

At the risk of cutting off my own foot I've shared all my web presence with them. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Post #44 11/15/13 Technology Might Be Holding Us Back

Septic Tank Pumping...
Our rental house has a well and a private septic system.  Never, ever, have rental property that has a well and a private septic system.

It's been two years since I had the tank pumped and the tenants have two little children so I'm assuming there are a lot of solids sitting at the bottom of the tank.  When things are not working correctly and we get a hard, early, deep frost all of this can actually work backwards.

My MSOutlook account (former work) had a contact for that property location.  In the 'notes' field I kept track of propane orders, water testing info, septic tank pumping contact, etc.  When I left I exported all my contacts to a CSV file in anticipation of importing them into something.  A PDF of all that contact info also seemed like a good idea.  The operator (me) failed to include the 'notes' field in the export or the PDF.  The contact info for American Septic something or other was not to be found.

I recently updated to an iPhone 5.  It appeared that my MSOutlook contacts all synched from MSExchange during my employment.  Unfortunately that property contact record did not have all the information in the notes field, but it did have some of it.  My iPhone 4 did have all the info but it was dead in my briefcase.

It appears that the iPhone 4 was synched correctly with MSExchange.  At some point, probably more than three or four years ago, I must have imported the contacts from the iPhone 4 to my Gmail contacts.  The iPhone 4 info appears to be correct as of APR of 2013, reflecting the many changes in my contacts during that period.  When I switched to my iPhone 5 I must have synched the Gmail contacts to the new phone.  

So...I need to synch the iPhone 4 contacts to Gmail and then synch the Gmail contacts to the iPhone 5 and then synch the iPhone 5 to iCloud.  If I try to synch to iCloud before I do all that other stuff I'll lose everything.

A simple paper address book would be nice right now.

I think I should re-consider the iPhone as the best option.  One platform for all this makes a lot of sense.  I've spent years dealing with MSOutlook and MSExchange upgrades and issues.  All of this is not as complex as it needs to be.

One of the Positions....
that I applied for used an online application process.  There was an open-ended question where they wanted me to write something that really hopped off the page and made them take notice.  They also wanted to read any blogs that I kept.  Since I'm living a bit on the edge I think I'll actually include a link to this blog.  What can I lose?  I'm already unemployed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Post #43 11/14/13 Numerologists Would Like This Title

Car Fatigue
The high point of today was the fact it was garbage day, recycling day and yard waste day.  The red squirrels have determined that there must be something of value in all of those 70 gallon containers and gnawed away at the tops.  The garbage might yield something but given that we eat at the cafe and never at home the garbage is usually old metal things, concrete debris and wood leavings.  Perhaps the squirrels do this to not just my cans but all the neighbors.

The long drive left me not really wanting to talk much today and I'm not sure that ten hours of rock music did much to enhance my auditory acuity. 

Is This a Cloud or a Hat?
During the past year everyone started talking about the cloud and cloud solutions, especially those who really never could grasp traditional or mainstream data management.  Just to blame someone I'll blame Steve Jobs and Apple because of their marketing pitch "There's An App For That!"

Is there an application for helping find my pocket knife that I lost somewhere between the UPS Freight Truck and my home office?

Is there an 'app' to gather up my neighbor's leaves that are now 6" deep on my yard?

Is there an app to undo years of bad conversation or turn tired friendships into new?

While the cloud is fraught with issues I'd like to recover even 1% of the time I've put into failed hard drives, corrupt operating systems and Microsoft application licensing challenges over the past 30 years.  I'm trying to do the math in my head and I remember distinctly a conversation with a vendor about the rationale to switch from CP/M to MSDOS so that had to be around 1982 so it's 31 years.

Today I found that one of the firms on my 'good, progressive company' list has a couple of interesting openings including a Director of Operations.  Friday I'm calling them.  It's a company based around delivering cloud solutions and since I've been a closet advocate of such for a long time AND the fact that my Samsung Chromebook and Google Applications is/are my first choice and most frequent choice AND the fact that the typical user is still a bit dismissive of both this sounds right up my alley.  It's not mainstream yet but 3-5 years from now this will be the de facto solution for most businesses and private users.

Perhaps the image is of a hat.  If that is the case I would be cautious of it, just as I am of all things "cloud."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day #42 Ten Hours +

A Large Rat...
As I parked last night to eat dinner a large rat ran across the sidewalk.  I moved to a spot around the corner.  Apparently in most large cities, and there would be no reason to not assume small cities, as well, there is at least one rat per person.

A Long Day of Driving...
Ten hours with two business stops and two rest area stops and one stop for gas at Deer Valley which was on top of a bluff made for a long day.  It seems that you could do a lot of good thinking while driving.  People who go off to prison (white collar) believe that they are going to read and better themselves.  I've known a couple of white collar criminals.  They said they read very little and simply played basketball and they did not get very good at that.  Being in a car for a long time is much like being in prison.  The food is bad.  You are in a cramped space.  Other people in your space smell bad and you get tired of whatever it is that they want to talk about and finding a clean pleasant place to use the rest room is impossible.

There were no conclusions, insights or deep thoughts.  Thursdays are my favorite and most productive days of the week.  We'll see how tomorrow goes.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Toilets, Innovation & Carp ... Day #41

Don't Fix What Is Not Broken...
After at least three missed connections Victor the Plumber appeared.  Of course I/we could not get the water inflow part of the toilet to leak.  "This is old stuff. You don't know what's going to happen when you start taking it apart.  My gut tells me to leave this alone."  After trip out to the plumbing truck to get a better understanding of the 'spud' and the spud removal tool, I, too, agreed that we should not take this apart.  There are a couple of good plumbing rules: 1) don't start a plumbing project on SAT afternoon 2) don't take old stuff apart if you don't know how it's going to end.

Victor is wise. 

Organizations, too, need to focus on big problems, not small ones.  The best advice often comes from workers who have inadvertently dug a deep hole.

During my leadership of the lean process improvement initiative we focused on big problems, the process challenges that could result in major decreases in loss.  Later leadership, and executive leadership, chose to focus on low-hanging fruit.  When you focus on low-hanging fruit you never get to the hard work.  Do not back off from challenges.

I'm re-reading "Ten Types of Innovation" by Larry Keeley.  He identifies a range of innovation opportunities, companies that have succeeded within single and combinations of those ten types.  When faced with a multitude of opportunities and strategies it's best to not be over-whelmed but to pick some doable but difficult challenges.

Along with the opportunity of throwing a dog a bone and the dog's happiness
with that, we can also consider that people will stand in line for 'trash fish.'  The opportunity is all about packaging and price.


  • using your smart phone as a hotspot is expensive
  • headed to a couple of WI stops on WED, the final day of the road trip
  • made a couple of calls in regards to one open opportunity
  • moving to CA might not be in the cards for right now

Monday, November 11, 2013

Road Trip Issues Day #40 Post #3A

Back in the old days road trips were about car issues and challenges.  They simply run a lot longer with a lot few issues than in the old days.  We can thank WWII, Mr. Demming and Mr. Juran for that.

Before embarking I did check the oil and the tires.  Other than that the critical item list included the following:

  • tooth brush, tooth paste, floss
  • Samsung Chromebook
  • Samsung Chromebook wall charger
  • Thinkpad
  • Thinkpad wall charger
  • Sharkk Bluetooth external speaker
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5 car charger
  • iPhone 5 wall charger
  • iPhone 4
  • iPhone 4 wall charger
    • The second phone requires explanation.  My Outlook contacts synched to my iPhone 5 are older than those synched to my iPhone 4.  That's odd.  The iPhone 5 contacts were imported to my Gmail contacts.  I need info on the iPhone 4 (contact 'notes' to be specific).  All of this s/b resolved via a synch to the iCloud but ususally 'synch' results in what you want being over-written by what you don't want.
  • Kindle Fire with  charger
  • Yaesu VX-2 w/ extra batteries (dorky Amateur Radio stuff)
  • 'Computer' prescription glasses to be able to see without more eye strain than that incurred by an eight hour drive to Half Day Road.
There was a time when getting in the car and going was simple.  My better half said that I brought more chargers and adapters to Alaska than I did clean clothes.  She was probably right.

Making all of this work is a lot simpler than it used to be.  Of course the entire US workforce wastes time doing this...and waiting for the next iPhone release.

Veteran's Day #40 Post #2

It Takes a Whole Day to Get to Half-Day Road
This is real work.  After an eight-hour drive, about thirty minutes longer than normal I've arrived a the destination.  TUE is plumbing day.  What more real work can there be?  Flushing with a bucket should be fixed tomorrow.

Traveling across greater Wisconsin to Illinois takes some time.  I like to keep track of dead deer (17), bald eagles (3) and WI highway patrolmen (8).

I've put together a pretty simple system to thinking forward rather than backward.  When the 'previous employment' issues enter my consciousness I run through the following list:

  • the next employment (three employment and one consulting)
  • the next technical creation (AWS solutions)
  • process improvement opportunities (had a call today)
  • entrepreneurship (w/o employees or inventory)

Veteran's Day #40 Post #1

Veteran's Day...
We're here because others are not.
I get free lunch at Applebee's.  I find it a bit patronizing.

The road trip starts...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

39 ... Draft

  • cubicles are sea anchors to adventure & creativity
  • offices are bigger sea anchors
  • veterans day road trip

  •  I (i) have my old iPhone and my new iPhone.  The contact info I really want backed up to iCloud is the content from my old phone.  I sense impending data loss when 'sync' come into play.
  •  I do not care to sync my life with cubicle. Impending data loss would come into play.

Friday, November 8, 2013

38 Days of Waking up Without a Job

Waking Up Without A Job
Waking up and not having to go to work was a joy back in the college days.  Having a week or two weeks or longer to "do whatever" is something many people look back on fondly.

Mortgages, cars, kids, dogs, bills, etc. seem to change that notion, that calm excitement of waking up without a job.
You have a nice piece of meat.  When finished you look at the bone.  If it were 20,000 years ago we'd eat that, too.  Even a hundred years ago we'd beat it with a stick and suck out the marrow.  Now we throw it to the dog...who is thrilled.  

Today I feel pretty good.  Not having a job does not start off the day necessarily well.  On the other hand were situational garbage a bone, which it is, I, like a dog, would be quite happy.  I am.  It's like being back in college but not having to go to class or write any papers.  This is good.

I'm going to work on my bone.  There is lots of flavor (and opportunity) left in what others discard. 

SAT is a busy day.  SUN is a beekeeping day and 3/5ths of next week is a road trip, but mobility is key and I'm going to focus on some Amazon Web Services products and talk with the Bush Foundation grant contact person MON.  The resume has been posted and distributed.  There are a lot of bones about. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Topic 37.2

During my tenure running the lean process improvement program I learned a great deal about the 'flow' of
work and the multitude of types of waste in an organization. There are the obvious wastes such as scrap material or re-work but the real waste is waiting, waiting for real work to arrive at your station.  That can take the form of material or products in production environments but even more loss-ridden is the waste related to waiting for information to make a decision, waiting for information for a design element, waiting for approvals, etc.

Many organizations believe that they have the best people.  Some organizations might but it's a feel good platitude to stress the 'best.'  The majority of organizations have a mix of people, good, average and those who hopefully are improving.  With a rigorous employee-driven process improvement program those same employees will be able to eliminate the majority of waste through repetitive Kaizen events.  The best organizations are those that are the best at improving their own processes

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Publication #36.2 Every Organization Is Just Off the Rocks

During my recent tenure it was clear that keeping organizations afloat requires strategy, strongly committed people, continuously updated systems and processes and ongoing self-review.  Early on we had problems hiring people.  A job would be posted, scores of resumes would be filtered by the HR department, the forwarded documents would sit in your in basket for a while and they you'd look for good applicants.  After scheduling challenges you'd seldom get to see the best and after calls for second interview and debates over nominal salary and benefit considerations you'd often lose candidates to faster, more nimble organizations.  In the last decade you also started to see the strange situation where new hires simply would not show up.

Strategic planning, ongoing management, market changes and the challenges of delivering your actual end products was fraught with challenges to success and survival.  As a manager you needed to keep the bilge pumps working, even on calm days.

My departure was generally OK but there was some lose caulking.  One formal communication included dates for conversion and/or continuation of life and long term disability insurance.  Frankly speaking, it was not clearly worded.  Now I'm not planning on dying or becoming disabled, but who is.  If that was important during my employment it should be important outside of that employment, even on my nickel. 

As an employee or better yet as serially employed individual you have obligations to ensure that all is well on your watch and during transitions.  I missed a sign.  I was expecting clear communication.  I was expecting communication that was explicitly clear, perhaps complex but as weather-tight as a good contract.  That was not there.  While communication that is not explicitly tight is open to interpretation you also have to know all the players, and when there are third party players you do not know (the insurance companies) you can ensure that someone knows how to write, explicitly.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Issue #36.2

Winter 2011-2012 had very little snow.  Reclamation of the "Red Pines Lot" had a good start with the removal of about 40 large poplar trees in preparation for, what else, red pines.  A few blanks were ruffed out and became the source material for my primitive hand carved bowls for the 2012 season.

Basswood is really nice for greenwood carving and this summer's windfall on the Groningen Farm was timely.  It's not that there aren't a few hundred more poplars to fall on the red pine lot but basswood is smoother, less grainy and almost white, a nice backdrop for pyrographic efforts and the grain accepts watercolors nicely.

The downside is that a single tree is more than one part time carver can consume.  Even aggressive efforts as keeping it green, in a state of very slow drying, will fail.  It dries quickly but makes poor firewood.  All of the top branches were hauled out to the 'dump' where I put all the miscellaneous brush.  These piles attract and nurture wildlife and birds, preferably away from your house, not next to it.

Working outside and working inside
More time needs to be allocated for outside work and I need to move the nature and reward of inside work to the outside.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Release 35.2





This was a good couple of days 'up north' getting ready for winter which apparently coming late tomorrow in the form of 6" of metro area snow.  I'm almost done cleaning up the downed basswood tree and I have a winter's worth of carving material.

TUE AM I'm dropping off some power equipment at two repair places for scheduled maintenance and some upgrades.  After shutting down the pump/well in the barn I'm pretty much ready for winter.   As much fencing that can be done is done.  The deer have already pruned a few bushes that I missed.  That's OK because I have far more currant production than can be put to use or sold.

TUE I'll finish up the resume and put together a marketing document.  I'm going to include some system overview, process improvement and strategic planning examples & methodologies.

I'm finding the groove in this non-office time period.  I am convinced that I'd like an in-office groove, too, but less than 8x5x52.

The interest list is extensive.

Not being at the former place is definitely good.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Power Day #34 Month #2

A Short Retrospective Look

 The opportunity to lay down some De Stijl work recently was provided by some punk tagger.  After about twelve months a patron looked outside, turned, turned again for a second look and commented "that is beautiful."

Our best work is rarely appreciated at the time it is done.  That especially true when your work is a bit ahead of the curve.  Doing work in synch with the demand is key.  Know your audence.

The LHH guy made some good comments on the resume and moved the "good work" items to the top.  We left my somewhat out of the box intro comment about old experience being more "old" than anything else.  I'm playing the youthful perspective with a lot of experience card.

On a Practical Note...
This spring a basswood tree tipped over on the Groningen farm, avoiding the house.  With about 30% of the roots in the ground it leafed out and stayed green all summer.  Today I cut up most of it for bowls and a handful of large sculpture blanks.

This daylight savings is killing me.  I need sleep.

In August I combined a couple of weak hives expecting that to fail. Surprisingly it thrived.  Two weeks ago I started my fall feeding which was about three weeks too late.  In the fall it's good to do a 'reversal' of hive bodies to ensure that the bees are at the bottom of the stack and the surplus honey at the top.  During the winter they slowly work themselves upward.  Starting at the top will leave them with no honey stores above them.  They will starve.  Bees are not smart.

When I started to do the reversal about five pounds of comb with honey and brood dropped out of the bottom of the super on my feet and the bees went crazy.  Today I attempted to complete the reversal but had lost my propane torch that I use to start my smoker.  When you smoke bees they eat some honey and immediately become calm.  I did it without smoke.  Apparently somewhere along the path of this summer I put a super on one of the two hives ultimately combined but it had five frames instead of the standard ten. The bees had built natural free form comb not on frames.  They did what they are supposed to do.  That's what ended up on my feet. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day #33 Month #2 ... the nature of work

Blue Collar - White Collar

The early days of work were the typical high school gigs although I will say that my time in the local sporting goods store gave me significant experience in retail sales and direct customer service and a perspective especially on the firearms industry that has remained of interest for almost 50 years.  The blue collar days were the meat packing plant, the milking machine factory and a laborer with a house moving crew.

College set me off on a series of white collar endeavors that included several major cycles at the last 27 year gig.  Increasingly my personal interests have moved from the software hacking to the hands on beekeeping and agricultural hacking and my growing interest in primitive folk art.  This photography probably is a good representation of my current interests.  Along with my home office I've found a number of locations that I can retreat to and immerse myself in writing and creating some future entrepreneurial plans.

The 1952 Ford 8n awaits a jump start and one happy operator with many projects on the small agricultural acreage.  It's where I feel increasingly grounded, no pun intended.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Day #32 Month #2 ... It's Called Work Because It's Not Fun

The Early Days

After some time spent at the trigger end of an M-60 in the late 1960s my first full-time job appeared.  Starting as a production monkey in the fabrication shop of the Universal Milking Machine Company I rose quickly from the ranks of those doing 'piece work' on the drill presses, turret lathes, shears, power brakes and punch presses to being a 'setup man.'  It was a relief to avoid the 1000 piece per hour days at all of those limb and digit consumers.  Actually they just severed, lacerated and smashed things.  Even if you kept your parts out of the works they did make you deaf.

This became my first 'management' job.  While I was not in a hire/fire role I did direct the activities of those 'on the line,' making sure that adequate parts were in place, that breaks were followed and ensured that the machines were set up correctly and I constantly measured the accuracy of the products.  That was not simple in that chaos.

This was one of the measurement tools that I used.  Purchased in 1969 I believe it cost $2.  After five years at that gig I've kept it in my desk to remind myself to always keep my parts out of the works when the works are dangerous.

The factory workers were a complete range of single and married people, some there for the duration, some there just long enough, some with hope and others with nothing but the vodka in their coffee.  Finding a common ground with each of them, each of them with different needs in that chaos taught me a great deal.

The output of your work, it's value is determined by it's correctness and it's quality.  You cannot do all the work yourself and actually you  cannot do much at all.  You become a coach.  Your people do the work with your coaching and mentoring and you give them all the credit.

A Flash Of 1973...
After the Milking Machine venture I ended up at the University of Minnesota as a sophomore, perhaps a junior.  One of my first courses was "The Sociology of Work" taught by a young professor, Dick Hall.  It was great.  Of course most of the people in the class had not spent any time with an M-60 and they certainly had not had five years of turret lathe tedium.  I had really worked.  I got it.  Today people might say that it resonated.  Having spent all that time in a factory I knew that work was much more a 'din.'  Dick Hall knew that, too, and spoke to the nature of work for both blue color and white color environments.

His influence made me a better manager and there many unstated references and a few direct quotes of him throughout my succeeding tenures as a manager.  My favorite remains "...they call it work because it's not fun..."

It can be fun and it can be creative.  That's next.