Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Almost July...

Way in the past, about 1965, one of the tasks in school was doing a "vocational notebook."  I can remember selecting a fire protection engineer.  Things that burn and saving things that burn remains interesting.  The second was beekeeping.  At the time I'd already been a beekeeper for two years.  The teacher laughed at me for that selection, perhaps more of a ridicule.  The third selected occupation is lost in that myriad of middle school images and thoughts.

Forty-nine years later I remain a beekeeper.  It requires a certain amount of strength, an aversion to
pesticides,  immunity to all sorts of things, a tolerance for never-ending questions, planning skills and the ability to sell to people and stores even when the last thing you want to do is talk.  For almost two decades bees have been declining due the mites and recently the neonecitinoid pesticides have been a mess.  This past week bears visited one of my yards.  Having seen bears in the area I was an idiot for not putting up an electric fence but my charger battery was dead and usually the fence does not totally do the trip unless it's like Guantanemo.  So bee it.

My knowledge management project has ground to a halt due to time.  It's what interests me most so I need to re-group.

The small business venture is expanding and taking lots of time.  We've expanded the catering, the retail outlets and the wholesale outlets.

I continue to find inspiration.  This sign motivated me.  I pulled over on a busy street to capture the image, struggled to get the right exposure and then looked up to find a state trooper checking me out, probably certain that I was texting while driving.  I wasn't texting, just stopped in a four-lane busy road capturing a dumb image.

This was posted on Facebook where I attempt some level of humor and cynicism.  My comment was
essentially some drivel about IOS and Android tablets which was a never-ending debate in my 27-year gig.  I argued for prudence and economy in that venue.  All of the user base, whose 50" flat screens had made their home lives better felt that corporate profits and corporate efficiency would skyrocket with the distribution of new iPads.  My approach of prototyping, facts and ROI and cautiously progressive innovation was not popular.  Everyone received new iPads.  It's a year later and all those are due to be upgraded.  I digress.  I have one of the first iPads.  I rarely use it.  I have an iPhone 5, my second iPhone, and it's fine.  There were two Android phones before that and they were fine, too.  My next phone will be a 'droid and when I upgrade phones, they, too, will be 'droids.  The sign was an offer of a career planning tablet as a Papa John's employee.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mid-June 2014

Three, perhaps four weeks ago I made a commitment to put about 60 hours into some online education re-freshing.  During my 27-year gig I was responsible for all information technology for a seventy-five year old firm that did about $750 million in business each year.  It was a lot of work and ate up most of my time.  About seven years ago we started a "lean process improvement" program.  Based on the work at Honda that revolutionized the manner in which companies measured defects, implemented rapid change and brought superior products and services to customers it was also a challenge.  During my three year tenure we made many improvements and were able to change the product delivery process dramatically...and improve sales and profits.

Early work at Motorola plays into this space in approaches to defect reduction that fall under the moniker of Six Sigma.  My commitment was to re-visit some of the Six Sigma foundations and write an article for publication blending Six Sigma, Lean Process Improvement, Information Technology (my strong experience) and commercial construction.

I need to get back on track on this effort.

One of my reader commented that beekeeping is interesting.  That is correct.  I've been a beekeeper for 49 years and I still learn new things.  At the risk of turning this into a beekeeping book I'll abstain from visiting all my favorite topics.  But....I will talk about a farmer friend of mine.  He milked cows for many years, spending quality time with his 200 cows twice a day.  As he added a milking parlor and an addition to his barn to add 100 cows and go to three-times-a-day milking his adult son said "I'm tired of this and walked away."  My friend sold the cows, a sad day for any dairyman.  The upside to the story is that he, too, found beekeeping interesting, and now has several hundred colonies and sells his honey in more than 100 retail outlets including regional and national firms.  He's 74 and spends most of his time in the same barn that held his dairy career.  I have two favorite questions and answers.  "How did you get the cow smell out of the barn?"  "I washed it until it did not smell."  "Beekeeping is a lot of work.  Did you know that?"  "You've never milked 200 cows have you?"

We chat every month or so on his farm.  Lady the farm dog no longer barks at me and runs to get some attention.  His sweet wife waves and me and shows me her flowers.  We talk about bees, our apple trees, changing weather patterns, his longhorn cattle, the importance of honesty, hard work and humor, a lot of things really, all standing in a barn that no longer smells like cows.  Two weeks ago his brother died unexpectedly.  We talked of life and of unexpected death and then I gave this new friend of just a few years a hug.  I have relatives I've never hugged.  Beekeeping has been good for both of us.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Even Without A Job We All Have Jobs

Father's Day, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day are all pretty much Hallmark Cards days.  A decade or two ago we had four retail stores, three of which sold greeting cards.  Like all retail businesses there are good and bad days and rewards.  It burned me out on holidays that require or suggest sending cards.

My children do contact me on Father's Day.  Typically my daughter will send me a text message, short and perhaps cryptic.  For those we are close to, not many words are really needed.  My son calls.  He's been quite a distance away for the past five years or so but we seem to be able to know when a conversation is needed.  A few words typically cover a topic.  I used to dislike greet cards because I never felt they said enough, typically adding my own.  With my kids it seems that fewer words work better.  I'm very thankful for them (the kids).

Yesterday during my drive "up north" I was listening to some academic guy on MPR droning on about liberalism and conservatism.  He had this theory which was reduced to five dimensions.  Liberals and conservatives were in total agreement on two.  Conservatives felt that the three dimensions on which they did not deliver led to communism or something.  One thing they did agree on was compassion.  The boundaries of compassion might be different for each faction.

My Facebook post yesterday:

As a father there's not a day that goes by that I don't think of my children, concerned about their happiness, their health and the life in front of them. Father's Day is just one day but the opportunity and responsibility continues. Who thinks of the children without fathers or with fathers unable to be there. I was lucky and had grandfathers and uncles who stepped up to the plate. This is the day each year that reminds me to be thoughtful of all children, young and old, and to make a concerted effort to be more fatherly and generous.

This blog is about finding a job.  I've really only been without a job that pays me in dollars and gives me a  business card and some sort of 8x5 obligation.  Setting the money aside, the best job, the most important job I have is that of a father.  My kids are on good paths, much different paths than I took but I never wanted them to be me so on that component of my job I will give myself a "5."  On the issue of being a better father to all children I guess there is room for improvement.  I'm putting that pretty high on my bucket list for "I Don't Even Have A Dumb Job."

If I remove the monetary aspect and think of what I do with my time I have quite a few
jobs, some of which I really enjoy.  For forty-nine years I've been in the beekeeping world.  That's been a good job, too.  I'm not going to drone on about it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 10, 2014 8.5 Months on the "Without A Job" Scale

Writing Reprieve

Time flies.  It's been a month without serious time at the keyboard.  As a reminder, my son said that I'd fail when I made the commitment to write every day about this post employment journey.  Now that lends itself to the question of when I'm failing if I quit writing every day in total or if I quit writing every day once in a while.  As a parent it's easy to set goals for your children, really logical things like "get an A in every course and I'll buy you a horse."  If your child gets four A's and one B is that really a failure?  It's success on 80% of the tasks and  not really that bad at all.  Perhaps you should get 80% of a horse of simply a less expensive horse or a horse with no riding gear.  To my son, I'd say that I've not failed and I'll still get that horse!


  • My co-conspirator on the the knowledge management project took a job.  I'm still going to pursue this but have to carve out some committed time.
  • The online store for the food products is going well.  Items are available at .
  • For a beekeeper this is the season of high hope and expectation.  The bees are all doing well, except for the colonies that failed to make it through this never-ending winter.  The populations are building up fast.  The late spring delayed the dandelions but they blossomed shortly before the apple trees and clover is right around the corner so I'm feeling good.  I'm focusing on raw honey and am starting to do what is traditionally called chunk honey which is simply a chink of honeycomb stuck in a bottle of honey.  It's gorgeous and a strong selling price.
  • Real estate renovation:  ground to a standstill.
  • Job pursuit:  I'm going to start looking for the fall, probably October or so.  One of 
  • Gentleman farmer:  It's been a summer of broken equipment, dead batteries, etc., but being able to think about things a bit more means equipment and tools are actually where they should be at the right time.
    • I had a high failure rate on grapes, especially from last year's plantings.  That's OK.  I simply don't have to do more building of support structures.
    • Three quarters of my garden space is in cover crops, simply to improve soil and due to a shortage of time.
    • My thirty-nine acre field is in corn and oats.  The renter kind of knows this is his last year.  I'm going to be working the the Extension people to put together a plan for this field.
  • Tree planting:  with all the late snow and spring rain it's been a good year for tree-planting and no need to haul water.
  • The former gig:  Everything ran well for 27 years.  Last week they had an ERP failure and were down for 48 hours.  The new guy is focused on communication and is said to have done a good job at communication throughout the downtime.  I focused on up time.  If you don't have flats you don't need a spare tire.