January in MN is typically overcast, cold, fraught with Arctic winds coming across the Dakotas and western prairies and short of daylight and sun. Small business sales are normally dismal. People hunker down in front of their fires (now natural gas fireplaces which replaced wood burners which replaced the cow pie burners of my mother's farmer cousins), stay home and do nothing while they watch people on their big screen TVs who are actually doing something.
January has been warm with little snow. After years of living here I have a small panic attack when leaving the house in JAN without good gloves (or mittens), warm socks, hat and a slightly too warm coat. You never know when your car or horse will die and you'll be marooned. This winter I rarely wear a hat or gloves or a coat when running out to the car, bringing in another load of firewood (we burn real wood, not natural gas or cow pies [we don't have any cows]).
Business has been slow. Many people go south. The rest stay in their houses.
My maternal grandfather, a Norwegian immigrant, said little, spent little, had little but went to work every day, glad to have an income. He moved cattle about in a stockyard, even losing an eye in the process. For that he was compensated $100 in the 1940s. He kept on working.
My paternal grandfather, a self-taught high-pressure boiler engineer, also had little, spent little and was also glad to have a job. He talked a lot and had a great, dry sense of humor and loved telling stories, some true, some not. Not making enough and perhaps not challenged enough he repaired mechanical clocks in his home, often explaining the workings and issues to me. I don't understand clocks.
From each of these men I brought a sense of commitment to my work. Work hard, do a good job, enjoy the people, be civil and compassionate, enjoy the challenge and do it a bit better than the person next to you, in front of you or behind you.
|Culver's Yogurt Hot Fudge|
Upon delivery I suggested that we return the hot fudge sundae. My first reaction was that that was not an adequate presentation. Forty-eight years after the Dairy Queen job and I'm still talking about how sundaes and cones should look. My boss at the time was a nice guy, a good mentor who taught me skills and perspectives that I've used my entire life. It's possible that most people who worked there simply ate all they could and moved on. A friend of mine described life as a series of conversation opportunities. The more popular and similar statement is that each moment is a teaching (or learning) opportunity.
My, 27, son has a good job. I explained the importance of how sundaes should work. My daughter has heard the Dairy Queen story before. Whenever I go to a Dairy Queen I ask the people how they like their job and what they're going to do with their life. With a brief overview I encourage them to build and educational and career plan with a firm foundation in making the sundaes (and Blizzards) according to specifications and with a little flair, with a sense of design and balance, and don't forget to say 'thank you.'
|Costco Unleaded Gas|
|The Sixth Extinction|
The North Dakota Bakken Oil Field trains rumble through our neighborhood all day long. All this fracking and sucking of the substrate simply seems to have an ultimate unfortunate and not very good outcome for us.
While honeybees are not native to the United States they have had a major challenge from other parasitic insects for the past twenty years and since 2008 we've had huge losses characterized by catastrophic losses. It appears that recent agricultural pesticides in the class of neonicotinoids are the source of the problem. Casually we like to kill insects with "bug spray." In military operations we have the options of nerve agents. That's what kills insects. The insecticides screw up their nervous systems. Honeybees collect corn pollen from neonicotinoid treated corn. They can't find their way home. My beeyard adjacent to corn has had huge losses. The other was doing fine until the black bear showed up.
Elizabeth Kolbert has written a text that addresses the multitude of ways in which life on this planet is once again headed for extinction. Having not read the book it would appear that good evidence shows this to have occurred before and it was not just the plight of the dinosaurs. The POTUS talked about the warming of the planet. That's just part of the change...and part of the challenge for future life.
This is pretty depressing stuff. It's the time of the year that I ponder the health of my bee colonies as they snuggle and munch their way through the cold and dark. How many will I lose is one question that was always asked. Now I ask if I'll lose them all as they consume neonicotinoid laced pollen, the major source of protein for honeybees and essential for the growth of the larvae. If healthy bees are exposed they may die but if the larvae consume the insecticide laden pollen they will die; the colony collapes. Without honeybees we'll be grain and meat consumers. The fruit and vegetable crops will disappear.
Eating feedlot beef and over-processed grains does have a downside...
Fifteen years ago I decided that I addressed two challenges. The first was that I was attempting to read too many newspapers, journals and books and watching too much news, assuming that bright successful people simply absorbed and leveraged more information than I was. Elimination of some sources was good.
The second challenge was recognizing that one did not have to be good at everything and if it were an activity that you simply enjoyed, being adequate was just fine.
Business casual brought about some challenges. Rather than the grey suit, white shirt and 'nice tie' uniform of the past we had the option to explore a few more options. At a point that, too, became a world of too many options. I standardized on grey socks, blue slacks and blue shirts. My closet is full of blue shirts, all within a theme. Since SEP of 2013 I've worn something from that collection one time. If I go back to the professional world I'm adopting the Steve Jobs look. Who could criticize Steve Jobs, a man who changed the world. He was an egotistic ass but the uniform worked.
Sixteen months into this life transition seems much longer than that. Clearly my connection to my past working style and location is becoming a less oft referred-to gig. Clearly I was a good manager, mentor and strategist. My focus now is on taking my own management skills, mentorship and strategic thinking and apply it to myself.
The waiting lines are short.