Friday, April 30, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/30/2010

Maybe I'm missing something or am unable to comprehend complex issues, like immigration laws in Arizona. But, I certainly can't figure out where the state went wrong with its recent new policy.

Arizona abuts Mexico and for years and years, has been dealing with the issues of illegal immigration and drug smuggling across the border. In Phoenix alone there's reportedly a drug-related kidnapping a day.

Before George W. Bush left office he tried to assuage part of the problem by offering a pathway to citizenship for Mexican workers with particular skills whom were willing to take jobs in the U.S. that U.S. citizens didn't want, and otherwise couldn't be filled. That suggestion never got any traction and was dropped.

The situation worsened in recent years due to the recession, because state citizens objected strenuously to facing competition for jobs in a shrinking market from people who were in their states illegally. The biggest influx of illegals took place in Arizona.

In 2005, Janet Napolitano was governor of Arizona. She placed herself on the front lines of the national debate over illegal immigration, declaring a state of emergency along her state’s border with Mexico, as did Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico. She then freed $1.5 million in disaster funds to help border counties fight illegal immigration and drug smuggling. She's since left the governorship to become head of the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration.

Now, along comes the new law which was set according to residents, political scientists and businesspeople in Arizona, by factors including shifting demographics, an embattled state economy and increased violence in Mexico, as well as the perception that the federal government has failed to act on their behalf at all. Arizonans find that particularly irksome, given that Ms. Napolitano now heads Homeland Security

Current Arizona governor, Jan Brewer, signed the nation's toughest bill on illegal immigration On April 23d. It requires police officers, "when practicable," and with provocation to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization and to verify their status with federal officials, unless doing so would hinder an investigation or emergency medical treatment. It also makes it a state crime -a misdemeanor- to not carry immigration papers. In addition, it allows people to sue local government or agencies if they believe federal or state immigration law is not being enforced.

When the law passed, Mexico's Foreign Ministry said it was worried about the rights of its citizens and relations with Arizona. Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles said the authorities' ability to demand documents was like "Nazism." President Obama himself criticized the bill shortly before Ms. Brewer signed it, saying it threatened "to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe."

The political debate leading up to Ms. Brewer's decision, and Mr. Obama's criticism of the law -presidents very rarely weigh in on state legislation- underscored the power of the immigration debate in states along the Mexican border.

So, let's boil all this down. If I understand this clearly, a border state besieged with illegal entry from those of another country who take jobs from American citizens, sell drugs and commit crimes is disdained by the president of the U.S. because asking those illegals to simply identify themselves is unfair and un-American.

Furthermore, the individual who heads up "Homeland Security" no less, and was vehemently opposed to illegal immigration when she ran the state, no longer sees any urgency to stemming the problem now that she's safely ensconced in D.C.

Well, I think there's a simple answer to this conundrum that will evidence itself in two and-a-half years. Let's let all the illegals vote in the presidential election, no questions asked. The last count I saw said there are approximately 12 million of them in the U.S. right now. And, when that final election count is tallied I think the Democrat party will lose the White House 299,998,000 to 12,000,000.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/29/2010

The day before yesterday, National Security Adviser General James Jones was speaking to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel think tank. According to the New York based The Forward a Jewish newspaper, the Institute was founded by Jewish donors.

To "warm up" the crowd General Jones told the following joke, which I've condensed a little bit.

"A lost Taliban militant wanders around the desert practically dying of thirst. He finally arrives at a store run by a Jewish merchant and asks for water.

The owner tells him he doesn't have any water, but can gladly sell him a tie. That sets the Taliban off and he begins cursing and yelling. Finally the merchant, unmoved, tells the militant that there's a restaurant beyond the hill and they can sell him water.

After some more cursing the Taliban finally leaves toward the hill and an hour later comes back to tell the merchant "Your brother tells me I need a tie to get into the restaurant."

Well, it seems that the General's choice of an ice-breaker to begin his talk was worse than forgetting to wear his bullet-proof shorts when he went through basic training. He's being branded as a thoughtless, brain-dead, racist, anti-Semite who purposely chose his words to insult, smear and demean Hebraics. The guy's being slammed so hard he doesn't know which way is up, and has set off on a round of apologizing.

Now, as someone who grew up in New York City a long time ago I simply don't understand what all the noise is about. I was called more horrendous things on my way to school every day than most people in the U.S. hear in the entire course of their lives. In fact, if you didn't tear each other up as kids by screaming ethnic slurs, you didn't have a clue as to who other kids were at all. We were identified by not only religious denigration, but other more visibly fitting labels like "four eyes", "gimpy", "geek" and "whale".

Back then, if you had some kind of physical defect, or "flaw" of any kind, which often was simply that for some reason or other you were "different", and the taunts of others bothered you at all, the best place for you to remain would have been at home, under your bed. And, the major reason that it didn't matter to anyone I knew then, and still doesn't matter today regarding what other people say, is that none of them are flawless either. So, if I'm one of these, they're one of those and if they have something to say about me, I've got something to say about them, too.

Thus, as a general rule, you realize sooner or later that whether it's out loud in the street, whispered behind one's back or left unsaid at all, people are going to keep on type-casting, categorizing and labeling others until the end of time. Now, whether they do that because it makes them feel superior, or part of some "in-club" which outsiders can never join, or are just simply too stupid to understand that none of the differences matter, it's still going to go on.

But, whatever the reason for others to insult your physicality, origin or ethnic persuasion, if they can get you to respond to them they've beaten you once. On the other hand, if you really take what they say to heart and let it actually bother you at all, they've beaten you forever.

That's it for today folks.


BloggeRhythms 4/28/2010

First thing this morning, I turned up the thermostat. When I looked outside, it was overcast again and likely to rain. So, the only May flowers this springs April showers are going to bring are Ice Plants. Yesterday I suspected that next year Al Gore was going to go into the sweater and overcoat business to capitalize on global cooling and I hope he sells some to me, because I'm sitting here freezing my tail off.

I spoke to a friend yesterday who told me that I seem to start off a lot of my entries by stating that this isn't a political blog, or sports blog, or whatever kind of particular blog, and then go into some story about one of those subjects.

The reason I do that, I replied, is because I don't want this site to become focused on any particular subject, but, if there's something interesting or timely in any of those areas, I like to comment about it. Furthermore, regardless of party or affiliation politicians do plenty of things worth talking about, and sports folks shoot themselves in the foot almost every day too, literally and figuratively speaking, so they make good subject matter, too. Beyond that, we live in a world at the moment wherein politics and sports make up about 99.8% of the news.

Additionally, I really don't want these entries of mine to become too serious, because I'm not that credentialed a writer, so things like politics fit that bill too, because just about everything politicians say or do is a joke. In fact, the only thing that isn't funny about politicians to me is that every time they open their mouths it costs every taxpayer lot's more of their hard-earned money.

As far as laughable goes one doesn't have to go far to illustrate the point. Just conjure up images of Schumer, Pelosi, Waxman, Reed and Frank, to name a few. Watching them file into a room is just like opening the door on one of those little clown cars in the circus and seeing them trip all over each other as they try to come through.

While writing this last sentence, something occurred to me that might protect us all and save us tons of money, too. If it was made mandatory that to enter congressional meetings attendees had to do so in alphabetical order, the vast majority of congress would likely have to stay out in the hall a very long time, maybe forever, until they figured out how to line up. Who knows, maybe a whole two years might go by and then, we could watch a whole new batch of electees try.

Now I know I left a slew of names off my dummies list and there's a reason for that also. The Republicans have been pushed so far out of the picture that they don't matter at all and Joe Biden is in a class by himself. He not only wouldn't make it into the room, it's doubtful he'd find the hall.

That's it for today folks.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/27/2010

The last few entries have turned out to be quite long. I had no particular plan to make them so, it's just how the stories worked out. Today, though, is another matter. I've got a tight schedule and so, I've got to keep it short.

My subject for now is the administration again, but, once more, I don't mean to make political comments. My purpose is just to look at some current issues and let them speak for themselves.

When the President began his campaign for election, he made many long, detailed speeches. And, during them he was very clear, I thought, in spelling out what his ideas and plans were in many, if not most, areas of governance. He also was quite specific about his perception and stance regarding foreign relations.

What became very clear to me during that time, was how dramatic the changes would be if he were elected, because he specifically aimed to do some re-modeling that negatively affected significant sectors of the typical Democrat voting base. Thus, what seemed quite odd to me at the time, was the support he continued to receive from those very same voters, because they tend to be types that are involved, stay on top of the news, know the issues, and freely communicate amongst each other.

I, on the other hand, don't read newspapers, keep the sound off on my TV and don't have the remotest link to any provider of political information. To this day, I've never even heard the sound of the President's voice and haven't a clue about his purported oratorical skills, because, frankly, I couldn't care less about them. Now don't get me wrong here, it's not the President's skills alone I couldn't care less about, I don't listen to any politicians rhetoric, regardless of party, primarily because it's a waste of my time and, most often, an insult to my intelligence quotient.

Yet, I, in my input free cocoon, was still very aware of what the candidate's plans were, and reasonably expected a backlash from those in certain Democrat strongholds whom were being sold out and would soon be on their way down the proverbial river. And now, with the Presidency into it's second year, and the administration performing precisely as promised, these damaged constituencies seem to be shocked. Taxes are being piled upon taxes, the best health-care system in the world is about to be leveled, contradictory comments are verboten, long-term allies are being threatened with severe penalties, perhaps ceasure of support, if directions from D.C. are not followed to a "T", and the remodeling has really yet to begin.

Because, like every incumbent, the most critical issue of all is re-election. Nothing else matters but to keep the gravy train chugging along. So, my question for today is: If common sense says that the administration is taking it easy right now, to try not to scare off dyed-in the-wool, slam-dunk, fall-in-line, drank the Kool-Aid voters, what's in store for these people after the President's re-election when he's got nothing to lose? Because I sense that if he's brought back for a second time around, it's reasonable to assume that the last Holocaust will look like a walk in the park.

That's it for today folks.


Monday, April 26, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/26/2010

What a spring. I'm sitting here enjoying another Al Gore moment. It's cold outside, it doesn't stop raining, and I think the last time I was really warm was sometime in the beginning of last August. I'm quite sure that one of these days we'll all find out that Gore recently invested in a raincoat and umbrella company and is considering manufacturing waders. Then, next year, when he starts promoting global cooling, he'll move on to selling heaters, sweaters, scarves and mittens.

Now, to move on. In reviewing the last few of my blogs, I realized how much disrespect I'd displayed regarding our educational system. While that certainly wasn't news to me, and I was surely aware of my feelings, I'd never put those thoughts in writing before. Most often, my comments were limited to conversations here and there or throwaway lines about the disastrous state of education in the U.S.

But, now that I've gone back to review my own writings and re-read the same barrage of negativism about education that I'd thrown at my readers, I thought perhaps I ought to explain in more depth where my conclusions came from.

To begin with, I'm one of those people that has trouble sitting and listening to anyone or anything, almost regardless of the subject. So, the basic premise of being lectured to doesn't work for me in the first place. And, to combat verbal assaults of my comfort zone, I learned early on how to tune them out. Consequently, classroom environments are alien places to me, and I'd do almost anything to escape, physically or otherwise. So, if I'm not able to actually flee the room where I'm held captive by lecturers, I've trained my brain to go elsewhere by itself.

Next on the list is subject matter. I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in anything scientific or chemical, and care very little about math. Geography, history and sociology don't do much for me either. Reading is fine, so long as I like the subject, but the interest I have in writing came much later in my life. I have no talent at all for music, or the arts and in fact am clinically tone deaf. Thus, for most of the curricula I've been exposed to in most of my dealings with schools, the only things really attractive to me were recess and after class sports.

Now, one would think, why would someone like myself be so negative about education and educators when from what I've written above, the obvious problem here is me? I'm the one who rejects the subject matter and tunes out those whom try to help me, while they're all trying their best to assist. It seems I've gotten the picture upside down and pointed the finger of blame in the wrong direction completely. I really should apologize to all of those in education that I've belittled and disrespected all these years. And I would...except.

If I didn't fit the mold educators prepared in which to shape my little mind, did they have any obligation to find out why? Actually, one or two did along the way in my case, and when they learned my problems they shrugged, happy to know it wasn't their fault and continued on to deal with me as they had in the past. If I didn't fit, so be it as far as they were concerned, though they did take time to tsk tsk as they gave me an "F".

In later school years I learned how to squirm through the system by just enough margin to survive, but did that because of my family's desire to keep me in school, never for my own objectives. And that says something, too. Because my disinterest was obvious to any educator who ever "taught" me. Yet, their conclusion always was, I had some kind of problem, because it certainly couldn't have been them. And, in this way, the educational system failed for me over, and over, and over again. So much so, in fact, that here I am all these years later and still can't point to a single thing the "system" ever did to help me.

Yet, I'm not an illiterate, have decent verbal and communication skills and, if pressed, can even write on occasion. Beyond that, I've learned enough to go out and get jobs and even become an officer of more than one public corporation. So, how did that happen? The answer is simple. I educated myself. I selectively read and learned as much as I could about things that mattered to me, instead of the curricula that some ditsy educators thought to be important. What's more, what they tried to teach me was fundamental and boring but was necessary to them, because if the subject matter had any real depth or required any intellectualization, they wouldn't have been able to comprehend it themselves.

Thus, in the end I think the way it worked out was best for us all. The teachers are still right where they belong, mired in their own worthless academia. And I went out into the real world to compete, unfettered by their limited knowledge. For had I really listened to their words and direction, I would have jumped off the dock to try to swim in the world of competition while holding a very large anchor.

That's it for today folks.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/25/2010

Since the last few entries have jogged my memories of college, I'm going to add one more. Because I have a relatively new friend whom I've told the following, and he seems to like the story.

I wound up sitting next to some guy I didn't know, in the student lounge one afternoon before classes began, and got into a conversation. He told me his name was Karl. Though a bit aloofish at first, he turned out to be friendly in a formal way, quite a nice person and extraordinarily bright. In time, we wound up in several of the same classes and began to study together for exams.

Now, studying was very important to both of us but in quite different ways. On Karl's part it seemed he was driven to achieve high grades, keep his place on Dean's List and squeeze out every ounce of knowledge available from every course. And beyond that, though I never asked, I assumed he was paying for the education himself and wanted his money's worth.

I, on the other hand, was an academic scholarship student and needed to maintain my B+ average or the scholarship grantor's would cease paying my freight. I certainly had no plan to cough up the bucks myself, thus high grades were as important to me as Karl's were to him, except he was far more sincere about them. Because I had no interest in the education, I just wanted my name inscribed on a diploma and to get the hell out as fast as I was able.

Regardless of our individual views of the education's worth, however, it was obviously critical in both our cases to achieve the highest grades we possibly could. To help in that regard we formed a study group of two (me and Karl) and bore down before exams to really scour our books, supporting data and notes.

And, it was in one of these cramming sessions that Karl made a horrendous mistake. During a break or lull or whatever in our endeavors, he told me that according to some article he'd recently read, excerpted from some medical magazine or other -the human brain had a finite capacity for the storage of information. Therefore, when any new item was added to your store of knowledge, some other piece of information of similar size was immediately knocked out.

"So, let me get this straight," I asked, "If you tell me something new right now, something else I've been carrying around in my head for however long is going to be pushed out?" Karl replied, "You got it! That's exactly how it works."

"Hold on a minute here, Karl," I said, "That can't possibly be true. I'm sure the brain's storage capacity is huge, perhaps infinite in fact. Scientists have been saying for years that humans don't even come close to fully utilizing their mental resources."

"That may be what you think," he replied, "But, I believe what I read."

And, that's when he'd made his fatal error. Because he went on to say, "Okay, so let's be quiet now, it's time to study and I need to memorize this information."

Upon hearing Karl's request for silence, and now knowing his concern about information-swapping tendencies caused by input overloads to brains, I began to sing the words of some popular song or other. Karl began to fidget and twitch and turn pages back, so he could study them again. That's when I asked him if he'd seen last nights basketball game. Without waiting for him to answer, I went on to tell him the score, and then list the Knick's next six opponents. In not too long a time beyond that, I touched upon quite a few trivial subjects, each chock full of statistics and data.

I don't remember the specific outcome of the test we were about to take, but I'm sure we came through with flying colors as far as grades were concerned, because we always did. Yet, I do remember my study partner that evening clearly, because I got a chance to see a dignified, mannerly, soft-spoken intellect of the highest power turn into a blithering, blubbering, barbarian then lose it altogether in a blinding, babbling rage.

That's it for today folks.


Friday, April 23, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/24/2010

Boy, when I'm wrong I'm really wrong and today is no exception. Because, after I finished yesterday's entry about remembering something that took place while I was attending college, another bolt of historical lightning hit me. And, guess what? This one involved the exact same professor, the guy named Professor Haasch.

As I mentioned, this professor taught a required course on public speaking, and if I'm not mistaken, the vast majority of the population fears public speaking worse than death. That may be an overstatement, so let's just say that most folks find it pretty scary.

Anyway, the final exam in this class required making a presentation regarding any subject the student wished, such as a hobby, pastime, job, career plan, unusual experience, special interest or something like that. The ground rules demanded that the talk take at least thirty minutes and class sessions ran two-hours plus. Therefore, ordinarily, four presentations or so were made each class session.

When my turn came up, I elected to speak about my profession at the time, selling materials handling equipment in Hudson and Essex counties in New Jersey. My employer, American Handling Equipment, was the authorized dealer for Allis-Chalmers (AC) fork lift trucks in the Northern New Jersey region.

The evening of my talk, I led off the presentations, and to support my efforts I drew a rough outline of a freight pallet on the blackboard, and a free-hand sketch of a typical warehouse platform. I used the diagrams to illustrate how and where lift trucks carried, raised and stacked pallet loads of freight for storage, loaded and unloaded vehicles, rail cars, trucks, etc. and moved various types of stowage around an assortment of typical facilities such as factories, plants, warehouses, yards, airports, docks and wharves and so on.

To further explain what was involved, I handed each student a packet of specification sheets regarding various models of AC equipment, including gas, propane, diesel and electric powered lift trucks. Then, during my talk, I referred to the hand-outs and used them to make various points about the equipment's primary functions.

After finishing each segment of my presentation, I asked if anyone had any question to establish a give and take rapport with classmates and move the evening along. At some point during my talk I informed the class that AC had recently introduced their first electric-powered lift truck. This, by the way, would have been somewhere in the early 1960's although I really don't recall the specific year.

The importance of AC's new electric machine, however, was that until then all battery-powered lift trucks ran on a system equivalent to DC current. The motors tapped batteries directly and usage time depended upon how much capacity the battery had before re-charging was needed. In busy operations that usually averaged four hours or so, and full re-charging took eight or more hours. Larger batteries weren't the answer to extending life-per-charge either, because that would mean larger lift trucks to accommodate their increased size, and larger lift trucks were out of the question because they'd need too much room to maneuver in typical business spaces.

Due to the limitations of average useful battery life per charge until then, AC's new machines were indeed revolutionary, because they operated on solid-state circuitry, wherein free-floating diodes simulated alternating current. Every few milliseconds, the power switched on and off in pulses although the motor kept operating smoothly without a hitch. The power-off spans during operation permitted batteries to reserve roughly half their power, typically doubling useful life per charge. That enabled completing eight-hour shifts, or more, in most operations.

Now, unbeknownst to me, because I was so absorbed in my presentation, time had really flown by that evening. And then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the professor in the back of the room waving his hands and then silently pointing to the face of his watch. I quickly glanced at my own wrist and was shocked to notice that the entire two-hour session had gone by, considerably more than the thirty minutes I was supposed to have been allotted. Naturally, I immediately ad-libbed some kind of conclusion and brought my presentation to its close.

Later thinking about what had happened, and not really knowing the answer, I supposed the professor took advantage of the fact that he had a "professional" speaker in his class and just let me run on, because the class seemed so absorbed. Or perhaps, my oratory skills overwhelmed him (that was a joke folks), however that's not the end of the story.

When the class was over another student approached me in the hall outside the room. He'd not participated in the discussion that night and I had no clue as to whom he was. He quickly told me he was taking some required courses to qualify for an MBA program, and had a question or two about some things I'd mentioned and wanted to know if my description of the capabilities of the AC electronic trucks was really true. Though taken aback by the consideration that he thought I might have been fibbing, or even exaggerating the truth a bit, I firmly let him know that what I'd said was absolutely valid, each and every word, and that I could prove it.

Well, it turned out that this stranger was a senior manager in the purchasing department of one of the largest manufacturers in the United States. Their name was a household word. And, resultant of my presentation, he soon requested a demonstrator unit to test out in one of his employer's plants. The successful test run resulted in an order through the AC National Accounts office in Manhattan, for sixty-six electronic lift trucks, at somewhere around eight to ten grand a pop, to be shipped to various locations throughout the country. And, to my recollection, not one of them was in northern New Jersey.

So, all in all, I guess I found out what my words were really worth that night. Because, in the end, Allis-Chalmers made a small fortune, but I didn't earn a plug nickel.

That's it for today folks.


BloggeRhythms 4/23/2010

One of the things I try to do is correct mistakes I've made as soon as I learn of them. And yesterday I think I made one.

While writing about my experiences with formal education I believe I indicated that I remember absolutely nothing from them, nor recall any particular teachers or anything that any of them said. But now I've come to realize that that's not really true. Because while considering what I'd written, after reviewing it later, I now do remember one educator clearly and precisely what he said. I think I should also mention that at that time I was enrolled in college, attended evening classes and was more than twenty-one years old.

The educator in question was a college professor, teaching a required business course in public speaking. During the term several of us students who sat in close proximity during class talked amongst ourselves before the sessions began, though I can't say that we really became "friends". Anyway, at the end of the term when grades were posted, one of these acquaintances I'd made thought he'd been short-changed in grading by the professor.

There was one final class remaining, although we'd already been graded, and before that one started the short-changed student leaned toward me and told me he planned to invite the professor out for a drink after classes that evening. The school we were attending was the Stern College of Business at NYU, located downtown at Washington Square and around the corner on Eight Street was a then famous school hangout called Rocky's Bar and Grill. The student's plan was to take the professor there.

But there was more to the student's scheme. He went on to inform me that he wanted to get the professor, Haasch was his name I think, plastered and then, when Haasch was tanked and unable to defend himself, the student intended to beat him until he killed him. I listened to the plan, absorbed it all, and although I'd made no particular comment, for whatever reason the student invited me to come along.

When, after class, the student actually did invite the professor out, and to my surprise, the professor cordially accepted. I agreed to come along too, either out of curiosity or just the thought of free booze, I really don't remember. Shortly later, we three sat around a table sipping drinks and I must say that I clearly recall that the professor could really knock down whatever it was he was drinking. And unfortunately for the student, he did his best to keep pace. But, after some time went by, the student put his head on top of his folded arms and dozed off at the table, completely done in for the evening. Haasch and I, however, continued on together.

At some point later, sensing the evening would soon be over, the professor and I switched to ordering Remy Martin as an after dinner cognac, despite the fact that neither of us had eaten. And after a couple of those the professor indicated that he was going to leave us and head for home. But before he left, he raised his almost empty glass and tilted it first toward the still asleep student and afterward towards me. It was then that he spoke the professorial words I've jogged back from the recesses of my memory and never really forgotten. As he rose from his chair he looked at me and said, "Michael, please tell your friend there that I said thanks for the drinks."

That's it for today folks.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/22/2010

I guess the most appropriate word for today's musings is "clarification," because I'm going to try to add some about entries made here before.

In a visit last night to one of my favorite oases, I wound up on the periphery of a discussion regarding education, and more specifically...teachers. That's because a person sitting alongside a friend of mine happened to be one. This gentleman joined our conversation because he overheard a part of a discussion between my friend, myself and my wife.

What I thought was quite odd at the outset, when the gentleman first leaned over and interjected a comment, was that he apparently has some points of view regarding policies of the current national administration that differed from their rhetoric. In fact, I got the sense he may have voted for their opposition, though I have absolutely nothing valid to support that ascertainment. Regardless, however, he was quite willing to volunteer opinions that were far more in line with ours than I would ever expect, considering he was employed as a teacher. I've always believed that all teachers are dyed in the wool, knee-jerk, guaranteed, fall-in-line democrats.

So, that brings me back to my plan to add some clarification about prior blog entries. First and foremost, I realize that "all" is far to big an assumption to make about the practitioners of any occupation when it comes to how they vote. For example, you might even find a civil servant or two who didn't vote democrat.

Additionally, if all was quiet around the voting booth and not a soul or recording device was in sight, there might even be a wayward union member who disobeyed the party line and snuck in an opposing vote. But that might be stretching the point a bit I think, because, no matter how much a union employee wished to vote the other way, few, if any, I imagine would really vote their conscience and risk becoming the target of some thug with a baseball bat.

Continuing with my original point, however, that you can't just make gross assumptions and include everyone under one umbrella simply because of their occupation, there's another consideration. I read somewhere, and am pretty sure that even if I'm not exactly right, I'm somewhere in the ballpark, that roughly 15% of those employed in any occupation do about 99% of the work in endeavors that require some intellect. Now, that may or not be true across the board, because I have the sense that in my former industry the percentage of exceptional performers was closer to 5% than 15, except for my own organizations where practically everyone involved was waist, head and shoulders way above the norm.

But, if the statistic is true, that only 15% of those employed really perform and the remainder just slog along, lets apply that data right back to teaching. By definition or formulation, almost nine out of every ten educators are duds. Now, I have no reason to question that arithmetic conclusion because although I attended so-called exceptionally good schools at every level, I can't remember a soul who either taught me or was in administration that I can point to and say "that person really helped me." I guess that means that either I never encountered anyone who'd been part of the teaching elite 15%, or that I didn't recognize brilliance, caring and nurturing when it was foisted upon me.

Whatever the case, though, I really am sorry if I offended any educators out there who really care. But, in the end, the basis of my opinion was formed by personal exposure to educators and I'm one of those people who judge others by what they do, not by what they say. And in my case, whatever their original objective was they've done nothing to change my method of judgement. In fact, for me, no matter what the discussion's about, teachers have done nothing at all.

That's it for today folks.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/21/2010

I really can't tell whether or not some of the positions I take or statements I make in writing my daily entry's are in agreement with most others thoughts or not. Frankly, that's because I don't get enough feedback, one way or the other. Perhaps, in time, my reader base will grow, or those who log on now but keep their comments to themselves will forward more information to me down the road.

In any case, however, one thing that I've been hearing for many years, and has been mentioned to me even in past blog comments, is that I have a tendency to let people know what I think of them, good, bad or indifferent. And, many think that tendency is not a good one, because if my remarks aren't positive, others feelings may be hurt or at times they may feel insulted. And, one really shouldn't be blatantly negative because, if nothing else, it certainly isn't "politically correct."

Now, I've thought my attitude through many, many times over the years, and more or less always come to the same conclusion. And to illustrate my point, I'll try to provide an example.

Supposing one has a relative whom is a card-carrying dolt and beyond that is incredibly boring, yet in his or her own mind is a gifted intellect and fascinating socializer. For most, the approach to take toward this kind of person would be to smile, demonstrate interest, maintain a pleasant rapport and all the while hope for the encounter to be over ASAP.

Well, in that case, I think the route to take is to get away from the dolt in question as quickly as one can, and if one's exit appears impolite or rude, so be it. Because, I think one must consider the downside of being polite. In this case politeness would lead to perhaps great spans of time in the presence of a dolt who'd likely ruin any listener's enjoyment. But, worse that that, this same dolt would later subject that listener to even greater displeasure. Because, in the future, having already sucked this listener in before, it would likely be much easier for the dolt to snag this listener's ear again.

So, my answer to the preceding is, polite or not, get out as fast as one can. And, if one is perceived by the dolt and/or others as a boorish, self-centered, uncultured lout that's to the better. Because I can't for the life of me figure out why one would want to subject oneself to not only remaining in the presence of a total loser, but opening the door to going through it again further down the road. I believe in cutting out quick, in any way one can, and letting some other diplomat with exquisite manners have some flea brain bore them into a coma.

That's it for today folks.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/20/2010

Another day, but quite different. Because, though I know the people quite well who commented here yesterday, the important thing is they responded.

To the first one I apologize for misconstruing a comment he'd made and will try harder to be more accurate in the future. In the case of the second responder, here again I guess my writing just didn't make my point. Because, I wasn't trying to say that self-education is the best thing for everybody and the educational system that exists be ignored, but rather that depending on that system alone today most often isn't enough, because it's been so drastically watered down. Thus, I believe that to insure the best chance of success, people ought take every opportunity they can to educate themselves.

Now, going back to something the first responder wrote, he mentioned the name Jeffrey Immelt. And that reminded me of my former life.

I spent considerable time in the finance business during my career, and most of that focused on equipment leasing. And, if nothing else, providing leasing services is a highly competitive business. Most creditworthy businesses have many alternatives available to them when it comes to paying for needed equipment. Cash purchase or borrowing funds from a bank where they have established a good relationship are two quite common examples. Beyond that, equipment suppliers themselves often offer some kind of financing plan.

Now, in the majority of competitive situations the alternatives I just mentioned are almost always considered by prospective customers. But, beyond those choices there are countless alternative providers, too. Such as other banks, finance companies, financial brokers, other types of lenders and then a seemingly endless number of equipment leasing providers.

If readers are getting a picture of extensive competition in the field of providing equipment financing, that's exactly my point, the battle for new customers is fierce. Oddly enough though, in spite of the myriad alternatives most transactions fall within parameters set by current financial markets, because to remain viable and in business, financing providers must be certain their offerings make financial sense to both their customers and themselves.

Well, however many years ago with all the afore-mentioned battles for business being waged in equipment financing markets, quite fierce among providers, along came another player. This one's name was GE. The entry of a new source of financing wasn't so odd in and of itself, providers came and went all the time. But, this one had mega-dollars.

For quite some time, wherever this player showed up to compete a new dimension was added to the sales mix and a new question was asked more and more at the outset by prospective clients: What are your rates? The reason the question was so odd was, most alternative providers of financing, except for banks, rarely, if ever, mentioned costs until they had to. Because, until all of the facts of customer's situations were analyzed, ordinarily done later on, providers most often didn't know what to quote. They simply didn't have enough facts about the situation.

In not too long a time, pricing became more and more the primary issue for prospective clients, eventually altering the sales approach. Because putting financing costs on the table at the outset of sales presentations tends to muddy most situations, since the human nature of salespeople is to immediately offer their most favorable pricing. Then, when all things in prospective transactions are eventually analyzed, in the majority of situations what's been quoted at the start turns out to be too low. And, you don't have to know a thing about financing, or money markets, or equipment or creditworthiness to realize that it's very difficult, if not impossible in many cases to go back and adjust prices upward. Customers just won't allow it.

So, after that long story, when I was talking to my friend the other day he mentioned Jeffry Immelt. When he did so, I thought of GE Credit and said, “Gee I love that man.” My friend asked why and I replied because although it's taken all these years, someone's finally come along and disintegrated GE Finance. And, watching them crash and burn has to make folks like me happy, because he's done something from within that none of us could accomplish as competitors. And we've been trying for years and years.

That's it for today folks.


Monday, April 19, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/19/2010

Yesterday's entry addressed some thoughts about tenure and nepotism, simply because someone had mentioned the subjects.

And the writing set me to thinking once again. One thing I pondered was something a friend of mine has told me more than once. He says I often take a different view of what goes on in the world, and hence, some of my beliefs surprise him.

Naturally, I disagree and think that while my friend might label me a contrarian, in reality I'm not. It's just that I'm sometimes more willing to say aloud what I think, when others prefer to appear more "mainstream" or perhaps, politically correct. And that introduction brings me to today's thoughts.

One of the things I briefly mentioned yesterday was that I think tenure tends to inbreed mediocrity and a watering down of quality in particular occupations, such as civil service and education. While civil service is what it is and there are myriad reasons for that, education, on the other hand, is of wide concern and a hand-wringing disaster for most.

I just don't see it that way. Because, in the long run, who's really responsible for anyone's education, store of knowledge or intellectual performance? Well, my answer to that one is: the student, of course. For those in this world really wanting to succeed it's up to them to learn what they must, and if the mandated educational process doesn't do enough for them, they've got to find other ways to get that done. There are many, I'm sure whom think mine is a terrible position to take. Because, considering how many are not being helped today, how can one be so cold about it?

The answer to that one, I believe, is first to define the goal. If that goal is to become some kind of expert or professional where absorption of prescribed matter is a key to success, such as becoming an academician perhaps, than it's true; "quality" schooling is a must. But, if the object is to succeed in the "real" world, such as business and subjects related, or practically any other kind of endeavor, other types of smarts and learning serve quite well.

Consequently, in occupations where "formal" academic accomplishment is not specifically needed to succeed, the cream quite often rises to the top without it. And for those achievers the state of the educational system in the U.S. today is a Godsend. Because, those they compete with whom have been educated by the "system" are no competition at all. For the most part, comparatively speaking, as far as formal education goes, the crippled, blind and broken are leading the infirmed.

Most often, I believe, achievers take every advantage possible to educate themselves. They learn their trade, immerse themselves in professional knowledge and spend their time furthering their capabilities and enhancing their talent. On the other hand, the mass of humanity that sits and watches the world go by groans and moans about how the system is broken, screams that more funds need be thrown at the problem, and threatens powers that be that they're in danger of losing the vote because of the downfall of education.

Well, I've got some news for those that sit by the wayside and wring their hands, beseeching someone to help them. While their offspring are sitting in the cafeteria trying to read and understand the sign that says "Watch Your Coat," the go-getter's and achievers are sidling up to the tables and stealing their offspring's lunches.

That's it for today folks


Sunday, April 18, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/18/2010

Sunday. Lot's of things to do. Especially kids sports, then dinner with visiting relations. So, this'll be short.

In talking with someone this morning, the subject of job tenure came up. And naturally, that led to whether tenure is a positive or negative thing. I've always suspected that it tends to protect weaker or less competent performers, but have never really much cared. That's because tenure usually applies to relatively non-productive folks in the first place, such as civil servants or teachers who don't add much economic value to begin with.

The discussion, however, got me thinking and tenure led to nepotism which, in a way, is very similar.

And that reminded me of a story I heard many years ago. There was this man who worked hard and successfully, every day of his life. Almost nothing on Earth was as important to him as his occupation. Over time, he built a hugely successful business. When the time came for him to consider retirement, he spoke to his oldest son, and said proudly, "As you know, I started with nothing and built this business from scratch. I worked my fingers to the bone every day of my life. Now, the time's come for me to retire, so I'm turning this whole enterprise over to you. Here are the keys. The business is now yours."

So, the son turned right around and sold it.

That's it for today folks.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/17/2010

In putting together yesterday's entry, part of the writing concerned the New York Times. For many years I was a subscriber and avid reader of that paper. Then, more recently, perhaps five years or so ago, I began to have second thoughts about its content, particularly regarding politics, international affairs and socio-economics.

Now, I've been around long enough to realize that just about every entity in the media disseminating information publicly that deals with the issues I just mentioned, has some kind of bias or slant, and that doesn't bother or upset me. But, hiding behind an image earned for other reasons and then promoting a veiled but biased position does.

And, in the case of the Times, I believe their position was attained as "the paper of record" a long, long time ago and for then valid reasons. But today those reasons, particularly that of maintaining neutrality, have long been forgotten by them. Yet, they still employ that no longer valid reputation of fairness in reporting, to add credibility to their publication's promoting a particular political agenda.

I'm bringing this up today, because yesterday's mention of the Times got me to thinking again as to why particular people, especially liberals of Jewish persuasion read that paper. And from that pondering, certain pieces of the puzzle began to fit more clearly in my mind.

For example, I was reminded of spending some time visiting a friend who happens to be quite devoted regarding religion. There are quite a few television sets in this person's home and, most often, at least one of them is turned on. Regardless of how many sets are running however, each and every one is tuned to CNN.

Now, I mention that because every time that person and I have a discussion about politics, international affairs or socio-economics and I happen to state a differing point of fact I heard or read elsewhere than CNN, the response I generally get is "Gee, I didn't know that". And, that applies quite particularly to religion because so much of what's being done today will potentially have huge impact in that arena, but there's little my friend can do about it if he's unaware because it isn't reported by the news source he chooses to watch.

Well, that unawareness on my friend's part is only a small indication of the lack of input available to those having entrenched viewing or reading habits, particularly in the areas I mentioned above. And, obviously, if nothing else, their audiences' viewing and reading habits are intimately known and manipulated by the information providers.

So, with that, let's return to square one. I have very little doubt that the typical liberal Jewish person would have anything to do with a broadcaster such as Fox, after all someone like Sean Hannity is likely worse than the plague. And, God forbid one should come within earshot of Limbaugh...a fate worse than death itself. Beyond those two, it's likely the whole aspect of conservative talk shows or news outlets are to be condemned according to liberals.

Consequently, if the two alternative providers of information are so extreme, i.e. the Times and Fox as examples, and each of them is totally despised by those with other beliefs, where is one to go to get both sides of any story. The answer is, I believe, probably nowhere. And, that's how both sides get away with what they do. They can tell their devoted audiences just about anything they choose with little chance of contradiction. And, I sincerely believe, that in today's day and age, that's exactly what happens.

There are, of course, alternatives that claim to be simply providers of information and/or entertainment, such as NPR. But, I don't think that their neutrality is entirely true, because, regardless that they get a significant part of their funding from donations, government grants and support bolster their budgets too. One way to prove the point about the slant of their fare, if you have an open mind, is to simply tune into their station.

So, where does this leave us? It seems to me we have two major sides regarding the three issues I originally mentioned above. And, each of those sides is entrenched to the extent that any conflicting data to their beliefs is to be absolutely avoided. Because the biased data providers have axes to grind and thus are not to be trusted. Consequently, the two sides operate in informational vacuums regarding what's really the truth. And that, dear friends, is why as I wrote here yesterday, I think there's a very good chance that Israel is going to wind up being pushed into the ocean.

That's it for today folks.


Friday, April 16, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/16/2010

It seems I begin my entries quite often by having to state that this isn't a political blog. I do that because despite my intentions to stay non-political, politics, or perhaps it's more government actions, become the blog focus due to their being in the news. And because of their importance, impact and timeliness they naturally weigh on my mind. And, that's exactly what happened today.

A friend suggested I read an article in yesterday's New York Times titled "Obama Phrase Highlights Shift on Middle East". Now, I haven't read the Times or had any interest in their paper for quite a long time. That had to do with discrepancies I suspected between their political bents and the truth. In fact, prior to cancelling my subscription a couple of years ago, the only reason I kept renewing was to receive the Sunday magazine section. Because I enjoyed the puzzle although I tossed the rest of the paper out without reading a word.

I did the Times puzzle every Sunday for more than thirty years, and proudly completed it in ink (the completion part isn't really 100% true because I sometimes didn't know the answer to every clue, but would leave those boxes blank. In all though, there really weren't an awful lot of blank spaces over the years. I also never looked up an answer, both as a matter of personal pride and also because I rarely cared to find out things like who was the seventh king of Mesopotamia a zillion years ago just to be able to enter three letters in number 14 across. I further doubted the information would be of use elsewhere in my life.)

After that paragraphical aside, let me get back to the story. This morning I bit my tongue, held my nose, picked up the Times and read the suggested article. Boiled down, it suggests that the administration is gradually shifting its policies toward Israel and others in the Middle East. It seems Mr. Obama isn't pleased that Israelis don't immediately fall in line behind everything he suggests regarding their country, especially when his suggestions aren't necessarily in Israel's best interests. Simultaneously, there seems to be more acceptance of the desires of Israel's enemies in the president's rhetoric. In all, that, in and of itself, perhaps isn't so odd.

But, what is slightly different is that General David H. Petraeus, "military commander overseeing America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan" is now suggesting that Israel's positions may be slowing America's progress toward peace in the Middle East. Though he denied further saying that Israel's actions perhaps are putting American troops in harm's way, from the article it seems he was thought to have done so.

What interested me the most, however, was not specifically what was said by General Petraeus but the fact that there was "piling on" on the issue. Ordinarily, to my recollection, Mr. Obama usually does this sort of thing himself while others in the administration explain to the press that the president didn't really mean what he said about Israel, or that he was simply misunderstood. This time, he got military support for his comments.

All of this brings me to the crux of today's blog. Way back when the presidential campaign began one of the questions I had was not only why would folks of the Jewish faith vote for Obama, why would they vote for any Democrat at the presidential level? It got so bad during Obama's campaign they had to hide the Reverend Wright to keep his rants from the public. But, that's just the current situation.

Going back in history, while the Roosevelt administration was very favorable to Jews, and very strong bonds were created between them and the Democrat party, Roosevelt, the great idol of Jewish voters, refused to let Jews fleeing the holocaust land in the United States.

Jimmy Carter, too, was no friend of Israel or American Jews when he was in office, and still isn't today. I think he'd gladly see the Israeli nation pushed into the sea. And the Clinton's, especially Hillary, were extremely close to Yasir Arafat and his wife and met with them quite often. Yet I don't recall any particular friendship between the Clinton's and any Israelis.

On the other hand, Richard Nixon had his own rabbi whom he consulted with often. And Israel certainly had a friend in Ronald Reagan. Both Bush's, Herbert Walker and W, were very close to Israel as well as to American Jews...steps taken like the Gulf War and the war in Iraq are as much protective of Israel as they are anything else.

So, politically, I'm back at square one. Way back when the president was on the campaign trail his perspective of the Middle East, if not absolutely known, was certainly suspected by anyone who did their homework. Thus, if Israel is in the process of being hung out to dry, why is anyone surprised, especially those of Jewish persuasion?

That's it for today folks.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/15/2010

Happy tax day everybody. And, since this is the annual day when income taxes are due, it's the perfect day to discuss what government does for us in return for our hard earned money.

Last week the administration and congress maneuvered a massive revision of the best health care system in the world into a new configuration. That configuration, when finally in place some years down the road, and well after most of the perps of the bill have left office, will have our health care system mirroring those that have failed miserably in England, France, Canada, and most other socialist nations that have any health care program at all.

If I'm not mistaken, Cuba, Russia and Mexico also illustrate marvelous governmental health care provision. Of course, it's quite difficult to assess how these countries deal with elders under their systems, because most of their populations don't live long enough to really test it.

Anyway, although health care is the issue I mentioned, it's not really the focus of today's entry. The issue is, how government does practically everything: Incompetently with a dose of arrogance thrown in.

To start the ball rolling on this one, I think a good example of your representatives at work was provided by House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. When she was originally asked some time ago, what she really thought about the then proposed health care plan, she answered by saying something like she hadn't read it but was sure that it was excellent legislation and a good thing for all. I wonder if that's how she handles bills from her plumber or auto mechanic. My guess is, she probably does read those, because after all, that would be her money.

And then we have Henry Waxman, the Congressman also from California (Hmmm. What is it with that state? I think I see a trend here.) Anyway, immediately after the bill was passed, businesses began accruing funds for their present and future liability under the new program. Especially major, public organizations. It turned out that in many cases the accrual amounts are enormous. They're so huge, the news of the financial impact hit the papers and then the bulk of the national media.

Mr. Waxman took the spreading of the distasteful news about the hidden costs of the health care plan as a slap against the system and suggested that what was being broadcast was distorted, untruthful and unpardonable. To highlight his point and position on the matter, he announced that the CEO's of these deceitful organizations, such as AT&T, Verizon, Exxon, and John Deere, would be invited to DC to testify about their actions.

By that demand -that these gentlemen appear- I'm sure the honorable Mr. Waxman planned to publicly roast, toast, humble and vilify these anti-American louts who had the nerve to bring to light incredibly costly ramifications of a bill that was intended to benefit particular citizens of the United States. I guess he then slammed down his gavel and barked something like "If you know what's good for you, you guys better show up!"

Now, just yesterday I heard that the summon to Washington had been cancelled. While I don't know for sure, I would certainly think it's a pretty safe conclusion that Mr. Waxman took a step further down the health care road than Ms Pelosi. He either sat down and carefully read his own health care bill for the first time, or more likely, had somebody else read it to him. And that's when he found out that the businesses in question were simply taking the steps required by the legislation. Nothing at all extraordinary was done to embarrass or needle congress. All that really took place was, some people with brains and a sense of responsibility for their organizations and investors, did what the law required them to do.

And, it was in the simple performance of their jobs that these folks who run major organizations inadvertently pointed out the horrors of grossly mismanaged efforts by politically motivated boobs and disastrous legislation. All boiled down it had the same effect as shining a flashlight under a rock.

That's it for today folks.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/14/2010

As I wrote in my profile, one of the reasons I started this blog was because some people felt that some of my thoughts were worth sharing with others. And, this morning, reading an article about how a particular issue was being handled, reminded me of a recent email I'd sent to a friend.

At that time, February 2010, my friend sent me a link to an article in a publication that discussed the business practices of some "expert" who supposedly fixes troubled businesses and also turns down-trending operations around. My friend sent the article link to me to get my reaction, because we'd discussed various aspects of business management, technique and philosophy many times in the past.

Here again, I don't think it matters what the specific circumstances are, in this case it's business operation, but rather that particular types of people perform in particular ways no matter the circumstances. So, take a look at the article by clicking on this link. (Sorry -you have to copy and paste it into your browser):

After you've read it, you can read my comments below.

The major factor about this guy is: he’s a consultant. The businesses aren’t his, the P&L’s aren’t his, the employees aren’t his, the suppliers aren’t his, the stockholders aren’t his, plant and property aren’t his and on and on. Consequently, no matter how many bridges he burns, relationships he destroys or how much morale he undoes, so long as his clients pay him –he has no downside. He just collects his checks and moves on. It’s always easier to sit on the sideline with a megaphone and scream than it is to suit up and play in the game. Beyond that, somebody else built the businesses he supposedly critiques. He shows up after the fact. I think I read somewhere that second guesses are always 20/20.

It also seems to me that since this guy watches everything everyone does all the time and trusts no one’s word, you have two people performing every task -him and whoever the supposedly responsible person is. If that’s the case, what do you need the employees for? This guys doing all the work. No wonder he never goes home. I’m surprised he doesn’t work 24/7/365. But, as a matter of pure business efficiency and maximization of time and effort, the key to success is effective delegation. Hire the best, train, motivate and incent them properly, then let them run and leave them alone…that’s what instills, builds and breeds success.

Though I could go on for a while, I’ll just make one last point and shut down. I think the main reason that this guy is surrounded by incompetence is: no competent person would work for or with him. I sure as hell know I wouldn’t listen to some old gasbag routinely bitching and moaning about my performance and looking over my shoulder. I’d be out the door in a heartbeat.

PS. There are a couple of points I’d agree with, though. Never work for or with relatives or friends, and certainly never hire one except for situations where you're absolutely positive it will work for proven reasons. Most often, you’re better off just sending them money. It also can’t hurt to let slackers know that you’re aware and that they’re on a short leash. But, if they’re really slackers, you’re better off blowing them out in the first place. It’s very difficult to motivate those who truly don’t give a damn, and basically a fool’s errand to try. That’s why the phone company sucks.

A last thought occurred to me while I was re-reading the above. This guy’s life is about showing up some place for a while, doing whatever he does and moving on. There’s no long haul for him, so win lose or draw he’s on to the next one and doesn’t really care because he has no downside. To me, that evidences a flighty character and an inability or desire to see things through. The real evidence of that though isn’t in his business life, it’s personal. He can’t commit to marriage either. So, everything in this guy’s life is hit and run and moving elsewhere. So, the real issue here is: he probably can’t stand himself and keeps on trying to escape from that.

That's it for today folks


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/13/2010

Once again, this isn't a sports blog. But, so much goes on in sports that relates to how people act and do things in everyday life that some of the stories are worth commenting on, such as this one. A friend mentioned yesterday that he'd heard Tiger Woods interviewed right after the Masters Tournament.

In the interview, Tiger apparently said that one of the most important things he took away from the tournament was a better understanding of how to deal with adversity. And to underline the point he compared himself to Ben Hogan, who came back from a horrendous automobile accident that almost took his life. To get a better understanding of what Hogan went through some details follow.

Between 1938 and 1959, Hogan won 63 professional golf tournaments despite his career's being interrupted in its prime by World War II and a near-fatal car accident.Hogan and his wife, Valerie, survived a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus on a fog-shrouded bridge east of Van Horn, Texas on February 2, 1949. Hogan threw himself across Valerie in order to protect her, and would have been killed had he not done so, as the steering column punctured the driver's seat.

The accident left Hogan, 36 at the time, with a double-fracture of the pelvis, a fractured collar bone, a left ankle fracture, a chipped rib, and near-fatal blood clots. Afterward, he suffered circulation problems and other physical limitations for the rest of his life. His doctors said he might never walk again, let alone play golf competitively. He left the hospital on April 1, 59 days after the accident, rebuilt his golf swing and practiced ceaselessly to compete once more.

Hogan won the British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland in 1953, a season in which he won five of the six tournaments he entered and the first three major championships of the year (a feat known as the "Hogan Slam"). It still stands among the greatest single seasons in the history of professional golf.

He was unable to enter, and possibly win, the 1953 PGA Championship to complete the "Grand Slam" because it overlapped the play of the British Open at Carnoustie which he won. It remains the only time that a golfer has won the first three major professional championships of the year.

Hogan often declined to play in the PGA Championship, skipping it more and more often as his career wore on. First because the PGA Championship was, until 1958, a match play event, and Hogan's particular skill was much moreso in stroke play events. Secondly, the PGA required several days of 36 holes per day competition, and after his 1949 auto accident, Hogan struggled to manage more than 18 holes a day.

Now, let's consider the story of the man above. Hogan was so dedicated to the game of golf that he fought against all odds to return as a multi-time champion despite nearly being killed by a bus in Texas, while trying to save the life of his wife. In comparison, let's look at Tiger. Here's a guy who ran his own SUV up a tree at two o'clock in the morning, after being chased out of his home by his irate wife who'd probably just learned about some of his extra-curricular exploits.

I don't know, maybe it's me, but I just don't see the connection. Between Tiger's dad's visit from the grave to help him sell some sneakers, and now this comparison of a self-caused fender-bender to Hogan's incredible return after being mangled in a car wreck, I think whoever's writing Tiger's stuff needs to reconsider.

Before the sneaker ad and the interview comments, Tiger was just a no-account selfish cheater, but now he's a total loser. So, I guess it's a good thing that most of the fans he has left are brain-dead, because the chances are they won't understand how insulting and demeaning to just about everyone Tiger's recent actions have been.

That's it for today folks.


Monday, April 12, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/12/2010

After a busy weekend today was slow and a half. Really glad Phil Mickelson won the Masters. The general consensus on him seems to be that he's a down to Earth guy who loves to play golf and fortunately was gifted with incredible skills for the game.

There've been some stories about him making big sports bets and not paying off his losses, but I've never seen him really being gone after by the media. And, if there's one thing everyone's learned, especially professional golfers, if there's blood in the water the media sharks will smell it and tear a perp to shreds. So, unless or until some hugely damaging story comes out, I'll just assume it's a rumor that's overblown.

That brings us back to Phil's talent for golf. His longtime weakness as a professional golfer is a tendency to miss short putts. That's cost him dearly over the years in opportunities and tournaments lost. In fact, he blew quite a few short ones over the weekend. The rest of his game was so overpowering though, it really didn't matter.

I heard Phil's caddy, Jim 'Bone's MacKay, interviewed after the event. They've been together 18 years. He said, in effect, he's become one of Phil's biggest fans and in tight tournament situations just does his job, keeps quiet and watches. Phil selects his own clubs, so once he's been told the yardage and studied the layout, he then hits the shot. According to Bones, Phil often hits shots when his ball is in trouble that are so incredibly good and so creative, he wouldn't know what club to tell him to hit anyway.

On the other side of the coin, when talking about Bones, Mickelson says he wouldn't know what to do without him, either. So, like Arnie Palmer and "Ironman" and Jack Nicklaus and his sons (several caddied for him over the later years), though golf's an individual sport, relying on someone you trust in difficult situations, even if it's only that they be there, can't do anything but help.

That's it for today folks.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/11/2010

Well, I'm not the best predictor in the world, but sometimes I get it right. And, last night I expected to enjoy a concert, given by a friend. But as it turned out that expectation wasn't even close. My wife and I had such a good time, we couldn't believe how fast the time flew by and were very sorry when it was over. The evening was fantastic.

As I mentioned yesterday, we know the performer quite a while. More than twenty years, in fact. The reason for my original acquaintance was through business where I had the good fortune to work for an organization he was building at the time. The business itself was a successful, fast growing operation primarily engaged in the financing and leasing of equipment. We all worked hard, got things done and paid considerable attention to our professional goals and aspirations.

Throughout the years we worked together I knew this man as a consummate performer when it came to whatever was required to help insure business success, and in many ways within our industry he was uniquely above the crowd and well known for accomplishment.

Now, with this background to our relationship, working every day together to get business done, imagine my surprise some years after we began when I received an invitation. The invitation said something like: Appearing Live -some weekday night- Harvey Granat sings at Freddie's. Now, I didn't much at all about Freddie's, but was aware that Freddie, a lady, ran a club in Manhattan that showcased performers, primarily singers, who perhaps were on their way up the show-biz ladder or maybe long-established stars trying out some new ideas or arrangements.

Well, on the appointed night my wife and I arrived and somehow or other wangled a "ringside" table. If memory serves, and I'm pretty sure it does, we were only a few feet from the stage. We recognized some other guests, business folks and some of Harvey's relations, as we sat down and then ordered ourselves something to drink. We sat a while, while the place filled up, because aside from whomever Harvey had invited, this was a pretty popular nightclub. Then, in time, the lights went down and then went out altogether.

We sat in the darkness for a while, not really all that long, just enough to set the mood of anticipation. And then there was the sound of a lightly tinkling piano and a tiny spotlight focused on some man's head and shoulders who was standing on the stage, microphone in hand. Within moments this man, dressed in a dark suit, perhaps a tuxedo, I'm not that sure after all these years, began to sing. The song was one we knew and had heard many times before and sounded good, but...who was the singer?

As the lights came up again we could now see the singer's entire presence and also make out the pianist and bassist behind him. The song went on to finish, ended to well-earned applause, and then the singer began to talk. Welcoming the crowd, offering light patter and telling us all of what was to come in that night's entertainment. I sat there, like everyone else, remaining extremely quiet as the man went on, then suddenly said to myself, "My God, that's Harvey!"

I've always remembered that night and told the story of my first visit to one of Harvey's shows because of the sense of shock of seeing someone I spent so much time with now appearing in such a totally different role. The music was so good, and singer's voice so rich, and then the semi-darkness -it just took some time for it all to connect.

A reasonable amount of time's gone by since the first night we saw Harvey perform and have seen him do it quite a few times by now. But, nonetheless, every time one of his shows starts and he begins to sing, I get this strange sense of not really being sure it's the same person I've known so well and for so long.

Last night was no exception in terms of great entertainment, and that's not a prejudiced comment due to long time friendship. Because I think if you drive by the place where Harvey Granat sang last night, you'll still be able to hear the echoes of a happy audience's applause.

That's it for today folks.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/10/2010

Spoke to a friend who said he began reading yesterday's blog and was sure I'd lost it all together. Told me he didn't figure out where the story was going until almost the end. Well, that was the whole point, I replied. Because, (now think about this one) if I told you the end at the beginning, why would you read the rest? And, better than that, why would I bother writing it?

Aside from that, there's really not much else going on today that's blogable. There's the Masters, of course, but I think I've already beaten that issue to death, literally and figuratively speaking. And more of the same bumbling and stumbling in DC. I'm pretty sure most readers of my blog are pretty tired of scanning my thoughts about that.

So, I'm just going to look forward to writing tomorrow's entry. Because as boring for me as this day is, that should all change tonight.

A long-time friend and in many ways idol of mine, is singing this evening. Now, that in and of itself isn't so odd, because lots of people sing. But, not too many of them do it in a room backed up by live musicians and in front of a good-sized crowd. Of course, there certainly are singers who appear on stage accompanying themselves with instruments or have others behind them from individual musicians to entire orchestration. Nonetheless, most of those others are show-business types, not guys in the finance business.

And that's what my friend is, a professional finance person. He's been engaged in the real business world his entire career. And now, when most folks who've been around for a while pick some place to sit in the sun, he's out there in front of audiences, making them applaud because they're having fun. Why does he do it? I've never asked but it seems obvious to me, because he loves it, and most important of all, he's really good.

As for now, I'm going to end this entry right here and write the rest tomorrow, because I certainly could go on for quite a few more pages. But I need to save my energy for all the applauding I'll do myself tonight.

That's it for today folks.


Friday, April 9, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/9/2010

What a start to the day this morning. Got an email first thing that nearly blew me off my chair. I know that receiving emails from parents isn't all that odd...but mine was from my father, and he passed away when I was eight months old. In fact, I've no recollection of him at all.

I guess he understands how frightful and unnerving hearing from one's long-time departed parent can be, because in the email he said that he was afraid I'd have a coronary had he just picked up the phone and called. So, he thought a simple email was a better way to introduce himself, and after all these years, hoped I wasn't too overwhelmed.

Then he got right to his point. He was writing, he said, because there was a new phenomenon going on up where he is. It seems that word had come from the basement, sixty or seventy floors below my dad's (apparently there's some kind of heavenly rating system up there that places people according to their performance on Earth) that some guy down there had communicated with a son whom was still alive. The dad was trying to help the kid out, because the kid, although married, had been caught doing some pretty distasteful things, mostly involving women other than his wife.

Well, my dad went on, when word got out about what this deceased guy was doing, pardon the expression but,"all Hell broke loose up here." Calls and messages were being sent by the millions from departed parents, to see if these departees could be of any help to their offspring still breathing down on Earth. Apparently, this heavenly offer of parental assistance was deemed to be a very good thing.

What was the most amazing part of it though, my dad thought, was that this kid's parent went out and apparently really tried to help him. Because, he said, you can't imagine, or maybe you can, the zillions of requests we get from folk's seeking help for all kinds of problems on Earth. Floods, famines, fires, plagues, holocausts, wars, people with incurable diseases, volcanic eruptions, stock market crashes, recessions, depressions and who knows what kinds of other tragic happenings and situations, the list just goes on and on.

So naturally, I became curious myself, my dad wrote on, and went down to talk to the kid's parent. Just to see for myself what had really happened. I found the kid's dad standing around talking with a bunch of other deceased and introduced myself. Before I could say anything else, the dad said, "There's a line over there, all you have to do is join those folks and wait, I'll get to you as soon as I can. Because, as I guess you already know, today I'm signing autographs for free, and they're usually fifty bucks."

I told the guy that I wasn't there for an autograph, my dad said, but only wanted to ask a question. The guy shrugged, and said "Okay, I guess. But make it short. I've got lots of people waiting." "Alright" I said. "I'm simply curious about why you helped your son out yesterday, when after all we get beseeched by millions who've got myriads of problems. What was the magnitude of the issue that finally caused a heavenly being such as yourself to reach out to someone back on Earth."

"You've got to understand," he replied, "that all these other tragic issues aside, my son's got a sponsor and because of my son's problem the sponsors got a problem too. Because, it might work out that people just stop buying the sponsor's products. And if that happens, the sponsor might have to go out of business. And if the sponsor goes out of business, there won't be any more sneakers. And there you have the crux of it all. Because, if there aren't any more sneakers, how in the world will my son be able to sneak out of his house?"

That's it for today folks.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/8/2010

I wasn't planning on mentioning the Masters Tournament today, because despite that I've been an avid golfer for most of my life, this blog really isn't about sports.

And then, I got a phone call this morning that got me re-thinking. I'll get into the gist of the call farther down the page, but first let me set the stage.

The Masters Tournament was started many years ago at Augusta Country Club in Georgia and in time became a pillar in the foundation of golf as a major sport. There have been many stories about the Masters and Augusta through time, and how and why the club and its annual tournament have gained their prominence and esteem. To many, many golfers Augusta is hallowed ground, to be spoken of in revered tones, perhaps only whispers. And, I've learned over the years but not experienced myself, should one ever be granted a chance to walk on, much less play this Mecca, a certain closeness to everything holy about the sport comes alive. Breath is taken away, knees shake, tears come to the eye. If golfers by any chance have a heaven, this would probably be it.

Now, golfer or not, think of the names who've helped to make Augusta what it is. Most people have heard of the likes of Bobby Jones, famous amateur golfer and the clubs founder, Walter Hagen, "Lord" Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and Sam Snead perhaps, who through earlier generations all won the Masters and began drawing attention to the event. They say the one who really put the contest on the map, though, was Arnold Palmer. A four-time Masters winner himself, Arnie is credited for bringing the entire game of golf to life and paving the way for the now world-wide impact of this continually growing sport. In golfing circles, and perhaps throughout the professional sports world itself, Arnie's known as "The King" and he's earned the title and worn the crown exceedingly well.

After Arnie, Jack Nicklaus, ten years younger, rose to fame. I assume most of you still reading have heard of him. He's done a wonderful job in keeping traditions alive and maintaining a deep respect and admiration for the game. There are numerous others too whose names likely ring a bell; Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Raymond Floyd, Ken Venturi, Hale Irwin to mention just a few.

As the list goes on, there's a certain commonality among the folks I've mentioned that starts to become apparent. Each of them brought a certain dignity to the sport and demonstrated a particular aspect of class and manners both on and off the course. Golf was their life, courses their home and they extended every effort to insure that those traditions continue.

But today, against the background I've reverently tried to describe herein, while waiting for the most important event of my year to begin this afternoon, I get the phone call I referred to above. And, what does the caller ask? "Did you see the TV ad about Tiger?" "What ad," I asked, "You of all people certainly know, I haven't seen a TV ad in years. In fact, I watch almost all TV, except for Jeopardy, with the sound off. And, if an ad does come on I change the channel."

"No matter," the caller said, "I think you should watch this one."

Well, I haven't seen the ad run, but I did some research. And, lo and behold here's what I found. It seems this ad is shot in black and white to add a certain sense of remembrance, sentimentality and gravity to the situation. The scene itself is a somber Tiger Woods silently hearing the voice of his departed father, who questions Woods about what, if anything, he's learned from his transgressions and if what he's learned will help him on his road to recovery.

Now, I looked at this worthless pap and thankfully was alone when I did so. Because, if anyone else had heard my screaming they'd have tied me up and sent for the cops or medics. I simply couldn't believe it. That against the backdrop of the most hallowed course in golf, on the opening day of its most prestigious event, they not only show this skirt-chasing degenerate pondering his past dalliances, but they compound the insult to viewers by dredging up the guy's deceased parent as well. And all for what? To try to sell another pair of sneakers I guess.

I've never believed that all advertising and word of mouth, good or bad, increases sales. It simply makes no sense. And ad agencies can doctor up their consumer feedback and noise about "exposure" all they want, I still don't believe it. What's more, after seeing the ad today I searched my closet for anything with Tiger's sponsor's name on it, because I wanted to burn it. Upon finding none, I did notice however some other things in my wardrobe.

My name is "Mike" and that's pretty close to the name of Tiger's sponsor. And I've got some things with my own name on them. So, just to get the issue out of my system, I dragged my own stuff outside and sent that up in flames instead.

That's it for today folks.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/7/2010

Yesterday's blog has generated some feedback, which I'm glad to see because it gives me an indication of reader's interests. In this case though, I'm not so sure the input is of real help. And that's because there seems to be a significant difference of opinion.

One side of the equation thinks that a description of an unidentified character I'd planned to include in one of my books had folks I know checking their mirrors to see if they were the grungy, seedy, decrepit, distasteful whatever I had mentioned. Just to be certain it wasn't them. Because, who on Earth would want to be perceived as a disheveled, disgusting, unkempt lout, much less have that image memorialized on paper.

The other faction's opinion, however, is exactly the reverse. They believe that there are those who think the most important thing is simply to be noticed, regardless of the reason. And, therefore they're sure there are some out there who'd gladly grunge themselves up, if they thought that would gain them some attention. And, thinking this through as I write, I'm certain they're correct. A whole slew of actors, authors, creative types and certain cliques of musicians, to provide a few examples, come right to mind. For them, the more outlandish and ridiculous one's appearance and behavior, so much the better.

These two opposing schools of thought now leave me with a dilemma. Because, my editor's immediate response back then was to sternly command that my offensive words be stricken from my draft at once and erased without further mention. But now that I've received differing opinions, was our editing decision correct?

What if the sleazy, slimy, insidious scrounge in question dressed and conducted themselves that way willfully, and on purpose. As an attention-getting device or for some other self-promoting or self-pleasing purpose. If that's truly the case, then by removing my description of this slug from my pages, I've taken away a possible chance for their recognition, satisfaction or whatever, and perhaps, even future fame.

Alas, what am I to do now? This certainly illustrates why Solomon had so many problems. The burdens of trying to do what's right for all are simply humongous. But I think I see a solution. So, if it's not too much of an effort for you readers out there -in the future please print this blog and after you've picked a side of the issue that you agree with, simply cut the pages in half and keep the part you like.

That's it for today folks.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/6/2010

Gee whiz. Guess what? Yes, my new book proof showed up as promised. So now it's just some final adjustments and then its off to the bookstores for Cole Calling.

But, that leaves me back at square one as far as authoring goes, because now there aren't any more excuses. I've got to sit back down at the keyboard and start producing. And that reminds me of something I heard Albert Brooks the author/writer/actor/director once opine.

According to Mr. Brooks, writers are always writing, whether they realize it or not, and the physical aspect of putting words in print is simply an exercise to memorialize them for others. So, he concludes, you don't have to be physically typing to be writing, because the words have indeed been there, it's just that until whenever it is that they hit the paper, you've simply been carrying them in your head.

Now that I'm ready to test Mr. Brooks theory, I'll soon find out if I've been subliminally writing or not. And I certainly know what blank pages look like, I face them all the time. I just hope that the same blankness isn't what's really in my head.

Moving on to another subject, in the last few days I've found that I've had many recurring thoughts of my past, likely arriving there because I've stirred them awake while considering what might interest readers of this blog. Regardless of how or why these memories have resurfaced, however, the fact of the matter is, they're there, and many of them relate to my business career.

There was an instance, for instance (think about that one), where I was writing a scene about a character in Manhattan in one of my fiction books. A vision of a person popped into my head and I put that description on paper. As I wrote, the person in question turned out be less than savory, one might even say disgusting. And that's often what happens when I write. Characters, situations, scenarios just seem to show up on paper as I type, ala Albert Brooks.

Anyway as this character developed, I sent the work off to my editor, who reviewed every word I wrote, for consideration. And the editor in question was not only first rate, but someone whose wordsmanship talent I knew well because we'd both worked for the same employer in the past. The reply I got was immediate, the fastest one ever, and it was lethal. "You cannot write this." I was told. In fact, it was suggested I tear up the pages, then burn them. "Why? What's the matter?" I pleaded.

"Because," the editor replied, "everyone who knows you will know whom you've described, and you'll not only face a barrage of displeasure because of your words, you might even get sued for defamation." "Hold on a minute here." I answered, "Are you telling me that my description of this character is so clear, I've put something on paper that jumps off the page for readers so vividly, they'll shout 'I know that person?" The editor's answer was simply, "Yes."

I replied that while I certainly understood the editorial concern, especially in the area of potential litigation, I still had one more question. Are you saying, I inquired, that where I've put in my character description the information that the person was unkempt, grungy, decrepit, seedy, disheveled, marginally rational, and distasteful in appearance, and so on, people will immediately realize whom I've described? And furthermore, I asked, should this situation truly wind up in court, do you truly believe that when the person you're concerned about reads my description to the judge, that this person will say, "Believe me you honor. As sure as I'm standing here, I know that the author described me."

Needless to say, I followed the editor's advice and took the scene out of the book anyway. But, now that I've remembered the issue, I truly do wonder what would have happened had the description stayed in print and ultimately wound up in court. The scene in the courthouse could have become the storyline for a whole 'nother edition.

That's it for today folks.


Monday, April 5, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/5/2010

The check is in the mail, I've got a stock to recommend that's going to go through the roof and your new book's been shipped out today. Those are my three favorite stories for the moment. Except this time, I really believe the publisher has actually sent my work out.

So, unless some tragedy befalls the delivery, the ongoing story of publication is over. And that's why I wanted to make this entry today. Because I have to make a correction.

A couple of days ago, when I was mired in publication issues, I mentioned having a productive brainstorm. The idea struck me that, as busy as he is, I just ought to pick up the phone and call my son. To ask for his help and a solution. And that's precisely what I did. He immediately went out of his way, prioritized my problem, stuck with it and shortly got it fixed. I was so pleased that he did what he did and how he did it, I entered it in my blog.

Talking to him a short while later, he said "Gee Dad, thanks for mentioning me today and for the left-handed compliment." "Left-handed?" I asked. "What do you mean by that?" "Well," he replied, "You wrote that when I began trying to straighten out the publication issues, I encountered the same hurdles you did and had some questions similar to yours. That says to me, we both ran into trouble and I wasn't that much help."

Hearing him say that really upset me. Because that's not what I meant to write at all. I was trying to point out that even an expert had difficulty in trying to understand what some backroom computer weenie had asked reasonably intelligent folks to do to accommodate an overly rigid program that would likely stump the top folks at NASA. And to underline the issue, let me write here that there was no way on Earth I could have ever overcome the DP hurdles myself. Were I own my own, I'd likely be producing my novel in longhand. (Actually, I'd have to print because nobody can read my writing.)

So, a heartfelt thanks to my son, without whom there'd be no book. Obviously he knows whatever needs to be known about computers, systems and programs. As for me, I've got to go back and learn how to make myself clear when writing entries into my blogs.

That's it for today folks.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

BloggeRhythms 4/4/2010

I don't have a bonnet with all the frills upon it, so that's why I'm here typing instead of marching in the Easter Parade.

Actually, it's a very quiet day everywhere else. Most businesses are closed and just about everyone has somewhere to go today. That provides me time to think. And, what I was thinking of this morning was something that my son said to me just the other day. He told me that he'd never heard the story I'd posted here about providing computer equipment to American Express.

That got me to thinking about other occupational situations and happenings that might be of interest to others. Because, while business itself and the things that happen in one's career are likely of little or no matter to anyone else, perhaps a story or two may be worth the telling.

As I've noted before, I spent most of my working life in the finance business, particularly leasing equipment. But, that's not where I started. I began my real business life selling fork lift trucks, and did that for about six years.

For several reasons that really don't matter now, the time came for me to move on to something else. I had an open mind, was ambitious, but wasn't really pounding the pavement looking for new employment. I was certainly ready to change careers but not necessarily tomorrow morning.

That's why, when lo and behold, my home phone soon rang one evening, I was surprised that the caller was interested in offering me a new job. He was, he said, in the equipment financing business and had an opening for which I seemed an excellent fit. I had, you see, leased or financed a significant percentage of the equipment I'd marketed for the past several years.

After some time chatting, about credentials on my part and the job requirements and benefits on his, I asked him about the compensation package. When he explained what the job paid at the entry level, which would be my position as a new hiree, I laughed and abruptly hung up the phone. I thought that was the end of the story.

But that's not what happened. He called back a few days later. To up the ante and try again. As I recall, I was reasonably polite, but still hung right up again. This scenario went on for a while longer, he'd call, raise the offering slightly, then I'd disconnect. A few days later, he was on the phone once more, inviting me to New England to meet the honchos in management. If I passed their muster, he told me, he'd have a better chance of finding a way to afford my coming on board.

Well, he'd gone to bat for me I realized, so I agreed. I told no one, not even my wife and shuttled up to Boston one afternoon. I ran the gauntlet of capability questions, evidently passed the qualification test and was offered a job on terms and conditions I could live with. I was told that despite my arrogance, belligerence and totally obnoxious attitude I was, in their opinion, worth several bucks more than they'd planned to pay but they'd take the hiring risk. We shook hands all around and bang, I was in the finance business.

When I came home later that evening and told my wife of the news, that some company I'd never heard of had hired me out of the blue, she gasped and said something like "Oh, I forgot to tell you dear. But, a few weeks ago I saw an ad in the paper for the job you just described. I sent off one of those new resumes you just had printed. I guess that's why they called."

Now, imagine how the recruiting scenario would have gone had I known how they'd found me. I likely would have reacted to their initial offer hat in hand, politely trying to negotiate for something better. But I sincerely doubt I would have told them to get lost. So, as it turns out, one of the best business deals I ever worked out that set me on the road to a business-life long career, was an accident. A forgotten resume in the mail followed by plain old dumb luck resulted in a win/win for both sides of the equation. So maybe it isn't who or what you know that matters, but instead: what you don't know that counts.

That's it for today folks.