Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sometimes Ya Just Gotta Know

This cool trivia from futurist Watts Wacker: “It is believed that Shakespeare was 46 around the time that the King James Version of the Bible was written. In Psalms 46, the 46th word from the first word is shake and the 46th word from the last word is spear.”

If you look long enough you can see all kinds of coincidences in life.

The scary part, and what we see in every area of society, is when people interpret coincidences as the word of God or the law or some force that shouldn’t be questioned.

And, if the interpretation is believed long enough it’s assumed and if it’s assumed sooner or later it will be wrong. (Of course, that’s an assumption on my part but it seems to be borne out by life.)

What we CAN do is call “BS!” if we see or hear it and ask for proof.

Granted, we can’t check the facts on every little thing in life. If we tried we’d never have time to go to Krispy Kreme or take a shower, the really important stuff.

But, sometimes ya just gotta know…soooooo, I checked both of my Bibles and realized that mine are New International Versions instead of the King James Versions. In my Bibles the word quake (which is pretty close to shake) is the 41st word after the first and spear is the 45th word before the last.

Well, how ‘bout that?

Sometimes ya just gotta know. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

From Swimming to Circus

The Olympics are in full swing and having a chance to watch the world’s best athletes perform is always amazing.

But, what do they do when it’s over. When you’re 25 years old and have spent 20 of them perfecting your ability to jump, run, swim, flip, and fly…what do you do when your career as world-class athlete ends?

Maybe you join the circus.

Over 50 athletes have joined Cirque du Soleil, the contemporary circus group, after their careers ended.

I saw Ka, the gravity-defying Cirque show, in Las Vegas and was stunned by the athleticism of the performers.

Changing life directions takes focus, effort and imagination. The cliché is “think outside the box”…sometimes, though, you need a new box.

The word imagination is wonderful. Hidden in the middle of the word is magi, the legendary Three Wise Men.

Using imagination wisely is what takes ordinary people to extraordinary heights.

Listen to Olympians when interviewed. You hardly ever hear them say, “I never imagined myself as an Olympian. I never imagined winning.”

They constantly imagine—visualize—their successes.

What do you imagine? 

Friday, July 27, 2012

In the Out

Raspberry Berry was a 1985 hit for Prince.

There’s a line in the song that always clicks with me; “She walked in the out door.”

Going against the norm makes you stand out. ‘Course, standing out can help you or hurt you.

I’ve never lived a linear life. Sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it hasn’t. 

When it works it’s joyful, when it doesn’t it can get problematic in the moment, lead to regrets down the road and get you pointed at at parties (OMG! Did you see what he just did?!)

But, all in all, occasionally walking in the out door leads to a life of discovery and excitement…a life that is lived.

If you spend a lot of time living life as others have lived it maybe it’s time for you to take a small chance and walk in the out door.

Have a great weekend and remember, the Olympics start tonight!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Making Life Happen

Saw two cool explanations yesterday: 1. A quote from Katharine Hepburn: " 'Impossible' means 'I'm possible.'" 2. In an online article: "Your personality creates you personal reality."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Livin' the Two-Ply Life

(If you are easily-offended you may want to pass on today’s message and wait for tomorrow.)

I’m a two-ply guy.

I learned a long time ago that, for a variety of reasons, it’s better for me to buy two-ply bathroom tissue.

When I was young, carefree and broke (as opposed to now when I’m older, burdened and broke) I chose the cheapest brands to save a little money and they usually were one-ply. But, I realized that I used twice as much.

And, when I went to the homes of friends, especially those who were married to women with senses of style and comfort, they always had two-ply. On business trips, when I stayed in better hotels I’d steal the extra roll of two-ply so I could enjoy it for a week or so.

The turning point was when I stopped and compared the prices. For a only a couple of dollars more I could enjoy the comfort of two-ply and it gave me a sense of living a…mmm…better life.

The investment has been more than worth it.

Look around in your life and ask yourself this question: “Where am I skimping, scraping and trying to save pennies that, if I invested just a little more, would raise my standard of living, give me a more positive feeling about myself and add more fun?”

I’m tellin’ ya, livin’ the two-ply life is worth it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hi KIds! The Word for the Day is Shamateur

I learned a new word this morning.

While reading all the accounts of the Penn State story I encountered the word shamateurism

The basis of the word is shamateurIt means a person who is officially an amateur but gets paid. Get it? It’s a sham that they are an amateur. 

The national attention paid to the penalties levied against Penn State is the best proof I’ve seen for handing them out in the first place. People are STILL talking more about the impact on Penn State than they are talking about the impact on the kids who were sexually and emotionally abused.

Here’s the lesson for today: Are you paying attention to the things that are truly important in life or to issues the media, popularity, society, greed or ignorance say are what you should be focusing on?

Monday, July 23, 2012

It Ain't The System, It's Sears

My stove blew up about two weeks ago. The folks I rent from danced around for awhile, finally bought a new stove at Sears, and it was supposed to be delivered the middle of last week.

It wasn’t.

I was told I’d get calls about delivery from Sears.

I didn’t.

Then, a Friday/Saturday delivery was to be preceded by calls from Sears.

Delivery didn’t happen and no calls.

Did I mention this was Sears?

On Saturday afternoon I got a call and three employees now have the opportunity to talk about me being…mmm…dissatisfied with Sears’ service.

In every conversation the people I talked to kept bringing up problems with “The System.”

“It’s a new System.” “We’re fine-tuning The System” “We’ve had problems with The System.”

The System is based on large corporations such as Sears and Office Depot (two I’ve had experiences with) no longer having their own delivery…uh…systems. They contract out to have the products delivered from a central shipping location (maybe Atlanta) so there’s no more Joe Supervisor on the loading dock making sure the stove gets to Mike’s house.

Here’s what I told the Sears guys, “Customers don’t care about The System. Customers only care about whether or not they get what you promised in a reasonably positive manner. And, when you continue to talk about The System it just pisses customers off because you’re ducking your responsibilities.”

Well, ok, I was a little more colorful in explaining that on Saturday, but you get my drift.

So, my delivery guys call at 7:45 this morning, show up at 9:20, install my new stove and take away the old one.

When the delivery guy stepped through my door and asked, “How are you this morning,” I answered, “I’m waiting on my stove.”

The first thing he said was, “Sorry, we have this new System.”

Did I mention the stove came from Sears?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hot As Blue Blazes

Wherever you are in America it’s probably hot.

Not just summer hot, but real hot, damn hot, Affikka hot as a friend of mine used to say.

My grass needs mowing and I’m not getting out in the heat to mow it and I’m not going to mow it early in the morning because it’s…well…early in the morning and I’m still kinda on vacation…so there.

Folks in the lower latitudes have the right idea; in the heat of the day you slow down, ease off, maybe take a siesta.

That might be good advice in life. When the heat’s on maybe the thing to do is slow down a little, look around, get a better handle on the situation and then act.

Or, you could just do what I do…shed clothes. That’s right, I’ve found that the fewer clothes I wear, especially when it’s hot, the better I feel.

That might also be good advice for life; when you get agitated, stressed, wound up and strung out…start tossing off clothes.

Shoes first.

I promise you’ll feel better.

Stay cool and have a great weekend. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Which Are You?

Great sticker on a car: More Wag, Less Bark.

It’s summer time…wag more.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Thrift to Vintage Multiple

Last week on vacation I hit a lot of thrift shops. I have a friend who likes a bargain and I think going to thrift shops is kinda like going to museums; you see what was important to the culture.

Also, it’s cheap entertainment, you get to make fun of what other folks have been crazy enough to buy…a set of The King and I commemoratory plates, puhleeze!

One place we stopped had two…not one, but two…mounted boars’ heads for sale. They also had a nasty looking doorstop for…oops, that was the owner's nasty, little dog asleep on the floor.

Here’s what I discovered; there’s a multiple that applies to the same item depending on whether it’s sold at a thrift shop, a consignment shop or a retail establishment with vintage, retro or antique in its name.

If it’s sold in a thrift shop it may cost $5. If it’s in a consignment shop it costs $25 and if it’s in a Vintage-Retro-Antique Shop it’s $55. No kidding, we saw it. 

An antique shop was selling a box of broken glass for $20. The same Reader’s Digest Condensed Book I can buy for a dollar at Stephens Books in Raleigh was $10 at a vintage store.

Price is based on perception and as the cliché says, “perception is reality.”

So, is the bottled water you’re drinking really better than what comes out of the tap?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy Machines

Here’s a wonderful sign that there is a God.

At some 7-11 stores in Singapore and Italy they have machines that dispense mashed potatoes and gravy. They look like Slurpee machines.

How awesome is THAT! (Google “mashed potatoes and gravy machine” for video)

A company representative said no American franchisors have requested one yet but you have to believe seeing it on Good Morning America this morning will create enough buzz that they’ll soon be available somewhere in the South.

Y’all know how much I like gravy (sauce is simply gravy for pasta, salad dressing is gravy for lettuce and make-up is gravy for faces) so I’m wondering what the penalty would be for just putting my mouth directly under the spigot?

Mashed potatoes and gravy machines. Man! Ya gotta love it!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Reality of a Great Vacation!

My plan of  keeping up with blogs during vacation went in the dumpster when I began having a GREAT vacation.

Sometimes plans don’t go as you had…well…planned.

There’s an old saying in the fight game that, “Plans work until the first punch lands.”

A similar saying in business is, “All plans are great until you meet the first customer.”

If your plans aren’t working out the way you had hoped they would is it because you encountered reality?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Trailers, Sailboats and RVs

I love trailers, sailboats and RVs for one simple reason...every square inch is planned for and used effectively. Yeah, I get the idea that sometimes you don't have as much room as you do in a house or apartment, but I love the result of the planning. What if we did as good a job of planning in life as designers of smaller living spaces do? We'd have room for all the important stuff and some of the smaller, necessary items and there wouldn't be so much wasted space or time. Think about this for just a second: What area of life could you make better by using, some simple and quick planning?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fingers Crossed for Air Conditioning!

Keep your fingers crossed; hopefully, my air conditioning gets fixed today…it’s been out for the last week of record-setting heat..

The forecast is for 103 degrees by mid-afternoon. My AC guys said it was showing 142 degrees in my attic yesterday at noon. They had to knock off and come back this morning.

Stuff is scattered all over the house. Drop clothes, tools, nails, chunks of insulation and ductwork are strewn up and down the halls, in the foyer and around the unit outside. George, Cleat and Barry, the kings of HVAC, say they’ll clean up before they go.

Whether they do or not is fine with me. If I can get this house back down to what a friend calls meat-hanging temperature I’ll clean up all day long.

Having life like you want it to be isn’t easy or neat. You’ve got to move over, around and through obstacles and very often have to put up with…let’s face it…a lot of crap, stress and friction to have what you want.

Here’s the bottom line: Deal with the mud to get to the mountaintop…or resign yourself to putting up with the mud.

Have a great weekend. I’m on vacation and I’ll let you know how it’s going.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Short Work Week, Yeah!!

If you aren’t already on vacation you’re looking at a short, 2-day workweek; Thursday and Friday and then the weekend! Sweet!

Here’s a simple test…and I’ll tell you right up front that you may not like the results: See how much you can done in two days. See if you can get a week’s worth of work done in just Thursday and Friday. Treat the next two days like you would if you were going on vacation on Saturday; do some planning, get focused and get it done.

As we Southerners would say, I’m willing to bet money that you can get a ton of stuff done. You’ll be more productive, more focused, more efficient and more effective.

You may not like it because you’ll get a feel for how…mmm…unfocused and unproductive you might have been.

It isn’t that you’ve been a slacker, it’s that we all fall into bad habits about how we work. It happens slowly and after awhile we don’t even notice that we’re taking the path of least resistance and easing back a bit.

So, this little 2-day push is a way of reminding you how much better you could be. It also might give you an inkling of how successful you could be if you’d push a little harder.

Or…well…mmm….it could show you that you HAVE turned into a slacker.

Might not be a bad idea to wake up.

PS…it won’t make you more popular at work, but if you’re a manager you might go into your group today and introduce the little test. I can promise you that some of your folks are seeing the next two days as an extension of July 4th and they’re acting like R.O.A.D. Scholars (Retired On Active Duty).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

America, Be Proud!

Who’d have ever thought we’d have to tell Americans to be proud of America?!

So much of what we’ve seen, read and heard recently about America has been less than stellar.

Here’s what I keep seeing and thinking, though….there aren’t any other countries in the world that people will walk to, swim to, hide in something to get to, sneak into, beg to get into and spend their lives dreaming about coming to.

America has always been a big idea. Big ideas are risky and things don’t always work smoothly along the way. An election year in America is a wonderful example of just how stupid and silly and wasteful it all can be.

But, it’s still America and to paraphrase Winston Churchill, it’s still the best idea anyone has come up with.

Go America!

Happy July 4th!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Plan B

AC is still not working.

106 degrees this afternoon.

I rent my house and love it, but the owners see it as a cash cow and have done little to maintain it so the AC dying is not a surprise. My next door neighbor told me that whoever lived in the house had had problems with the AC for a long time. The heat wave we are experiencing made it work so hard it died.

Luckily, I have a Plan B that covers where I can work, sleep, hang out; so I’m not like the unfortunate people who have to sit and stew where they are when something like this happens.

A close friend of mine works in an industry with a lot of ups and downs, it’s like playing musical chairs. I’ve asked him, “What’s your Plan B if your company changes and the music stops and you’re left standing?”

His answer, “I don’t have a Plan B.”

Take a second to look around at your professional and personal life. In your personal life look at relationships and health.

Do you have a Plan B in each of those areas?

The music’s playing all the time. No telling when it might stop.

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's Not the Heat, It's....Yes, It's the Damned Heat!!

My air conditioning was out when I returned from Charleston on Friday. 105 degrees outside, 91 degrees inside.

Had friends over and guests who had flown in on Friday afternoon and were to stay with me.

Repair guy came, supposedly fixed it—AC was working when he left—and we happily applauded him as he left.

AC stopped working within an hour.

It’ll blow like crazy, but no cool air.

So, through the weekend it was about 87 degrees inside while it was 103 and 97 outside. Supposed to be 97 today and tomorrow.

Repair guy coming at 9 this morning.

And, while I’m a “keep it cold enough to hang meat in the living room” kind of guy these days have proven to me how spoiled we’ve all become. We used to be tougher, I remember being a little boy and lying in my bed at night sweating and trying to go to sleep.

Might not be a bad exercise to ask, “What could I REALLY do without and still live a good, enjoyable, happy life?”