Hey Kids,

A key staff member gave his notice today.

And by key I mean, master key. The operations of my staff have come to be independent on the talents he brings to the team. The loss is staggering.

He came as a custodian. Worked his way, through excellent ethics and willingnesss, to learn things outside his daily duties. He became the guy everyone wanted on their team. He learned fast, he worked hard, and he always made the job for those around him easier.

He rose to the undisputed leader of his new team. No one questioned his mastery of the process and program. If he said it was so, it was so. He pushed himself to know more than his team’s duties, but expanded to other groups and how their work connected back to his.

He was smart. A refugee from another part of the world. He studied, took the exam, and became a citizen of the United States- the first country that would ever call him its own.

And when I thought my opinion could be no higher, he abandons all that he has worked for, moves to another part of the country, and starts all over. Why? To care for an elderly in-law, a grand parent.

What some do with nothing to start with, embarrasses those who, like me, still worry about who travels in what lane, compares the size of pizza slices to fairness, and gripes about who left too many lights on at the house.

This staff member won’t just be missed, but the soul of the team has been wounded.


Post 3-158

Positive Negative Cash Flow

Hey Kids,

Last weekend, at a thrift store, I found an item that was marked for $5. I was familiar with what the item was, and that it was worth well above the asking price. I bought it as a matter of investment.

A quick search showed this item selling for anywhere from $40 and more.

My plan was to list this item and make a small profit.

I realized that the young couple who live above us might have use of it,

I showed it and seeing their excitement in the possibility of it being theirs, I gave it to them.

It was some of the best negative profit I have earned in a long time.


Post 3-152

A Personal Shame

Hey Kids,

At the age of 8, I knew sheet rock. I was paid as a scrapper, hauling out all the discarded parts and pieces. I didn’t pound the nails into the studs to secure the paper-lined “chalk” boards to form the walls of the homes and buildings that my father was building but I watched. By the time I reached 12, I had enough lead in my butt to be able to carry and stock the sheetrock and studs. I continued to learn and by then, I understood how buildings came together.

At age 14, I found myself atop bulldozers and front end loaders. I worked at an Alaskan gold mine. I learned about mining and gold; about machinery and maintenance. I learned about fuel, oils, and hydraulics. I serviced motors of all kinds and sizes. I understood how pistons, valves, and diesel injectors worked together.

After school, I spent a couple of years in France and learned French. I learned of international travel and of borders and of customs. I saw my own country and culture against the light of another. France does not represent every other culture in the world, but from being there, I learned a perspective that has helped me make friends from all over this globe.

In my early twenties, I trained on wind turbines. I learned electrical systems. I learn high voltage systems, I rebuilt gear boxes, and discovered rigging.

Later on in life, I learned steam systems, HVAC controls, and industry specific knowledge that landed me a column in a national magazine.

My head has been filled with understanding of all kinds.

But at age 51, I’m ashamed to admit, I cannot figure out how to fold a fitted sheet.


Post 3-144

Brought and Taken in the Wind

Hey Kids,

The wind blows from the south tonight.

This usually means a storm approaches but the forecast says otherwise. Instead this wind brings with it warm temperatures for the weekend, sunny skies, and blue skies.

The windows have all been open and the pulses of wind that cause the drapes to breathe in and out like the sides of a dragon in a deep sleep, bring with them the dust from parts unknown.

What carries on the wind? Perhaps the dust of a gravel pit, or the dried dirt of a construction site. Or perhaps the mountain that once stood great after being thrust into the sky from an ancient force from the core the earth, now weathered and softened by the winters of millennia. Within this dust carries the shores of an ancient ocean, of the remains of its inhabitants. A volcano’s blast might also be mixed with the dirt caught on the grid of the screen door.691e80fd1f9f0d637cc02177b6831dba

Each gust of wind carries with it, the geologic memories of the earth.

The wind carries with it this night, other memories; memories of times not so ancient. Memories of smiles and laughter, of little hands, and kisses good night.

The mountain is not the only thing tonight being ground by the sands of time blowing on the wind.


Post 3-132

For Those who Dare

Hey Kids,

In French it’s: “La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid.”

Or in English, or Klingon, it’s: “Vengeance is a dish best served cold.”Klingon_Symbol

Vengeance is payment sought for the misactions of others. Or at least actions that don’t agree with oneself.

It’s not the “drinking from the skulls of your enemies” type of vengeance that’s the most common (unless you’re Klingon), nor or the misactions in the realm of burning down the village of your ancestors. Instead I find other drivers who choose not to drive as I do, change lanes when I would, or, how dare they, go a different speed than I deem best for them to travel.

I wish upon such transgressors the issuance of a ticket, the curse of being trapped in traffic behind an 18 wheeler, or the dawning of the realization of their presence in the such a superior driver. Or at least the admittance of their inferior skills- possibly the best punishment of them all.

I find I get angry a lot lately. Things don’t go my way and I wish retribution.

Make me wait; I will curse you.

Buy the last of that which I wanted’ I will devalue that which you have.

Be happier than me; I will pray for your demise.

Don’t hold the door open for me; I will not hold it open for the person behind me.

Vengeance is a plate best served cold because it’s a dish you shouldn’t want to partake.

I need to relax and live and let live.

And as fun as drinking the blood of my enemies might sound, it’s the better person who settles for a nice iced tea, to let the others do as they would do, to maybe even slow down and let them through.

Aimer est plus fort que d’être aimé. To love is better than being loved.

Unless, of course, you’re a Klingon.



Post 3-130

To Thyself Be True

Hey Kids,

Loyalty. What exactly is that?

Devoted. Obedient. Trustworthy. Stalwart. Supportive. Safe.

People are loyal to family and friends; all others are secondary. Blood is thicker than water, it is said.

People are loyal to country. Death before surrender, death to all against.

People are loyal to brands. Buy no other, tell others by word of mouth, or by t-shirt.

People are loyal to routine. Practice makes perfect.

Loyalty is usually earned and maintained. The family never betrays, a country grants freedom, brands never disappoint, routine produce results.

It’s easy to be loyal.hamlet

Except to oneself.

Earn your own loyalty and be everything you respect in others.


Post 3-128

Sizzle Matters

Hey Kids,

Marketing rules says to sell the sizzle not the steak.sizzle

It seems, on the surface, to be disingenuous at the least and salesman sleazy at its worst. But outside of trying to sell someone something, there’s a truth to it.

Upon arrival at the apartments this afternoon, there was attached to the little clip by my door, the May newsletter. It contained a warning to clean up after your dogs on the grounds. A warning to keep your dog or cat (their words) on a leash. A warning to get your patio cleaned up. A notice about where the city will be placing dumpsters for spring clean-up. And an announcement for a kite festival this weekend, but the location is listed as: TBA.

Oh yes. And an invite to follow them on Facebook.

There was a picture of presumably May flowers but no attempt to make the overall look interesting. No interesting fonts, logo, or maybe even some positive news about something.

My goal is not to dog on this newsletter. I know it was most likely produced at the command of a management company, by employees who have too much to do already. Instead, my point is that when you are going to deal with people, be a person. Make at least part of it interesting or even pleasing to look at. This applies to a newsletter, a PowerPoint presentation, or a photo (photos are almost always more interesting if someone is in it- even if it you don’t know who it is.)

Talk like normal people talk, not like a lawyer, a doctor, or an apartment manager.

Have fun and don’t be afraid to try to be funny. Even if you’re the only one laughing- at least that’s one person laughing.

Steak as steak is just a chunk of meat. It’s when it starts to sizzle that people really get interested.

Sizzle matters.


Post 3-122

My Crew

Hey Kids,

I have a staff. We are all just people with jobs. We trade our time and talents and get paid for it.

I like to think I’m one of the crew, another employee with my own specific duties. I start the day and end the day, just like everyone else. I’m just one of the “guys”.


Ordinary Average Guy

Except I’m not.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing special about me. I’d be the first to doubt my abilities, my importance, and my book smarts. I’m pretty run of the mill.

But I am the leader of my small staff. They look to me to make sure their time gets turned into money. They look to me to watch for those things that are best for them. While they do their jobs, they expect me to do mine- make their jobs easier, valuable, and safe.

They come to me when they are troubled, mad, or disappointed. They tell me of their victories, their families, and their desires. They share their goals, their dreams, and occasionally their deepest secrets.

I console when family members struggle, get sick, and pass away. I offer advice when life delivers hard blows. I encourage when life puts up hurdles.

I’ve laughed with them. I’ve sat through tears with them. I’ve spoken at funerals of a couple of them, and hugged their grieving mothers.

None of these things make me anything great or special.

Except what an honor it is to be someone who is trusted to be part of so many people’s special moments.

What an honor it is to be given a second chance to be a dad once again.


Post 3-121