Saturday, September 26, 2015

Dead in the water...

Tree Spud
We plant far more trees than we cut.  The downside to planting is that some of the trees die despite all ceremonial requests for rain and convoluted attempts to haul and distribute water.  Planting is accomplished with a single tool, a spud.  Each spring, by the end of our planting week, I hate this device.  Other tools that I use  in the woods have been marked with bright orange paint to provide simpler 'lost and found' repetitions.

It was my intent to to provide a photo of my personal tree spud but it's black (re-read the first paragraph) and it's lost in the garage which is full of every long-handled tool one might need in rural life.  Actually I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago when I had a notion of looking for work; somehow that (in my head) was worked into a tree spud, but I've forgotten.

My time is spent keeping up on technology trends for the corporate world.  I still have notions of returning to that grind at a point in time when I'm a bit more refreshed.  The second third of my time is spent actually using technology which involves multiple devices (PCs) and printing devices for the small business.  We go through a lot of specialty labels, toner and ink.  I'll put in a plug for two suppliers for which there is no kickback.  Labels most often come from and toner/ink from  One remodeling project for 2015 is done and two remain.  What I really like to do is cut down trees and since I'm pitching vendors I'll include and  This 'online' stuff caused me to do a quick search to see if '' was registered and as expected it is.  I could check to see if the 'blogger' name '' is register or if the Twitter name '' is registered but two sentences later it just does not seem that that good a name.  Isn't 'online' implicit with the internet age.  I should look up '' or '' or ...

The references provided earlier were for toner/ink and saw chains, which each in their own category have a zillion variants and nothing 'close' will work.  Work is a balance of concepts/innovations and details and it's tightrope (or slack line) between the two.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Your Most Important Job Really Does Not End

Raising a child from birth to eighteen costs about $250,000.  College adds another $100,000+.  Obviously we can debate the "hard costs" and the "soft costs" included or absent from that estimate.  We advance our careers, shirk our careers, move, stay, develop and stagnate in pursuit of that child-raising job.

There is a bit of flotsom and jetsom left when they leave.  Original comment: "It's good when the flotsam and jetsam of a child's life contains at least one dead fish, perhaps taken with a boomerang." After checking the definition of "flotsam and jetsam" its' meaning differs a bit from my recollection, more precisely referring to worthless encumbrances, objects of no value representing wasted time and effort. So I'm changing the comment to: "Each of these objects were important, serving real and imagined purposes for a growing child, a developing mind." Of course I'm still pondering the boomerang, inclined to partake in its' departure and return. I'll throw it at a neighbor I don't like.

The refugee situation in the Middle East plays into our general annoyance with immigration despite the fact that we're all immigrants.  Currently the birth rate is 1.8 or 1.9 per woman and the bulk of those children are still young.  Life here, certainly Social Security, is not sustainable without practical and thoughtful immigration.  My mother's family escaped lack of economic opportunity in Norway.  My father's family arrived a couple of generations earlier from Ireland undoubtedly due comparable economic issue although it may have been tied to potatoes.  Both Norway and Ireland are now places many wish to visit strangely just a hundred or two after which people were dying to leave.

Donald Trump has been aggressive in his characterization of immigrants from Mexico while perhaps missing the fact most coming north now are from Central America.  I like to refer to my Norwegian ancestors as whale-killing bastards who left red-haired bastards from Ireland to Italy.  They, too, were criminals and rapists.  Now my relatives are more or less law-abiding.  That's what happens to immigrants.  Most assimilate into the new country.

The stories and images of those attempting escape from the illogical violence in the Middle East are stark.  Europe is attempting to open their doors.  The more controlled countries of the Middle East, like Donald Trump, are fixated on building walls and accepting no immigrants.

I don't want to think about dead children washing up on beaches.  My Facebook post yesterday was as follows:

"Asylum. You have to leave now or be killed. Walk. Carry your children. Nothing else matters. Rely on the compassion of the world's free."

This Friday I'm meeting with my former outplacement consultant.  He's hooked with someone working on Monarch butterfly habitat preservation and wants to integrate more beekeepers into his plan.  I've been a beekeeper for fifty years.  So this week I'll do nothing to save the world's children, other than my own, but perhaps have an impact on butterflies.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Don't Look Back..

Find a place to write, minimize distractions
During a long drive last week I was thinking about small airplane crashes (that's been in the news) and thought about a former co-worker who pilots a single engine low-wing Beechcraft.  We shared a few common interests and a bit of a military background.  He was a decorated soldier rising in the ranks to E-8.  Temperamentally I was not a real natural fit for the military although I still dream about small infantry and artillery individual and crew-served weapons.  During my tenure as Chief Process Improvement Officer (CPO) in my 27-year gig my military experience arose.  The services are quite good at breaking down complex tasks to manageable pieces that literate but not necessarily educated people can follow.  My co-worker and I frequently discussed this.

A couple of years older than me he has experienced a few lifestyle altering physical issues and remarked once "I don't have long and I want to enjoy each day."  That was really good advice from a person who made sense about half the time.  Last week during our conversation he really wanted to know why we were talking after two years.  I said that airplane crashes has been in the news and I was checking to see if he was dead.  The response indicated that we would not be talking were he dead to which I responded "are you sure."  We chuckled about Verizon and "can you hear me now" and moved on to the next topic.  He'd heard that I was gone showing some surprise that I'd lasted as long as I did given the organizational changes.  With confidence and more happiness shown than during his working years he commented "I'm sincerely glad I'm gone, I have enough money and I never look back."  That was the second good piece of advice.

Obviously the focus was on finding new employment or sources of income.  Now as I approach two years of not having a good job or a dumb job I'm looking at the twenty-four months wondering what I've accomplished.  Certainly there are some tangibles, one house remodeled, a condo demoed and not remodeled, children's possessions removed and re-positioned, much progress in web monetization, new personal branding, small business stability, many old trees downed, far more planted, on and on.

One of the original goals was to post to this blog daily.  My son indicated that I'd fail at that and I did.  In setting goals one has to track the progress made, celebrating in that and re-considering the language and the metrics of the goals.  Doing that I have written a few hundred posts here and a couple of scores on our food blog.
Writer's Inc.

Both of my kids write well.  This past week I was going through books left by my youngest to donate and opened Writer's Inc.  My son indicated that my daughter used it in high school so it's been floating about our house for fifteen years and I'd never seen it.  Well laid out but written for a younger reader the first few pages addressed the challenge of all ideas, can't start, distractions, bad topic, no topic and I could say many more but the key is to start.

This afternoon after working on remodeling, donations, accounting, automobile sale and small business issues I stole an hour to do what one is supposed to do; find a place to sit and write.  Bruegger's is close by.  It's not crowed in the afternoon.

Of course you can spend more time reading about writing, planning a workout rather than sweating and complaining about government than being part of the process.  Not everything is epic.

Practical Items...

  • My outplacement consultant has left the firm.
  • I still have access to some of the online resources and have been beefing up on Linux
    • Wordpress training
  • It's pretty clear that from a branding perspective you have to use Wordpress, probably self-hosted.  That needs to be prioritized.
  • Monetization, advertisements need to be jacked up.
  • Downloadable content is important for blogs.
  • Don't look back.  Organizations change, sometimes for the better or the worse.  They often discard their most valuable resources.  Leverage that perspective forward.
  • The personal brand has waned.  Get cracking on the blogs (daily) and LinkedIn content weekly.
  • The small business web presence needs work.
  • There are a zillion food blogs, some of them very rich in return; leverage that into the "looking for a job" context.

Now in my six month window to sign up for Medicare I made my first pass at understanding it.  Everything I know:

  • Medicare is comprised of parts A, B, C & D
  • Parts A & B are standard essentially for hospital issues.
  • Regular doctor visits are not covered.
  • Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage.  You can work through local HMOs or PPOs who receive payment for Parts A & B.  
  • Part D is drug coverage.  This is optional.  Some Medicare Advantage plans have drug coverage, others do not.
  • Premiums are indexed to income.
That's all I know.  Thinking about Medicare and thinking about getting a dumb job are not incompatible thoughts.