Monday, May 31, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/31/2010

Middle of the long weekend yesterday, my favorite haunts were closed. So, we went to a bar/restaurant where we'd been before on Long Island because we'd heard it had been renovated and enlarged. The reason we'd gone there to begin with some time ago, was that they had a live entertainer that we enjoyed.

The entertainer backed himself up with a very sophisticated sound system upon which he played the background music and arrangements of some very popular singers (depending on the listener's age) and did an outstanding job of imitation. Thus we'd sit and listen to Frank, Dean, and Neil Diamond, or perhaps Billy Joel and spend an enjoyable evening. When, in time, the singer left the place to go elsewhere, so did we.

Anyway, we trekked back there last night to find that indeed the place had been redone. The bar was now twice the size, a huge rectangle, there were tables and chairs scattered here and there and even a space on the left that could have served as a smaller but adequate dance floor. The carpentry and decoration were impressive as to what had been before.

Now, if one were to stand in front of this establishment and scan the edifice, you'd see a pizza place on the left (looking like any other pizza parlor. Counter, a few tables, ovens in back and a flow of patrons filing in and out with their pizzas, mostly ordered to go.) In the center of the building was the enlarged bar itself spanning considerable space left to right, and next to that on the right was another, once separate space that had been some kind of large wine storage area. That area, still containing floor to ceiling wine racks, was now incorporated into the main space and had tables for diners, privatized by the floor to ceiling racks of wine. Out in front, on the left, there were a couple of umbrella tables for fresh-air type eaters and imbibers.

All in all, the place had the design and resources to be somewhere very nice to go indeed, and lo and behold, even had a live DJ who came on later in the evening.

We arrived early in the evening, just after six o'clock, and met two friends with whom we sat at the bar. And then, the fun began. Because, the way the bar was now built, the left hand side was now very close to both the connected pizza parlor's open door, and to the front door of the establishment itself. Consequently, a continuous flow of people, mostly kids, trooped in through both doors to reach the pizza counter and because of the limited space inside the parlor itself, a considerable number of bodies congregated behind us at the bar.

While that was going on a softball team of some sort or another arrived who also wished to have pizza, spreading another twenty or so folks around the place here and there talking loudly, laughing, joking and pushing each other around as youngsters will do.

While all this was going on, some other folks arrived to sit at the bar, which was now filling up and causing slowdowns of the bartending service, compounded by the fact that the second bartender was also a waitress who left to attend to seated patrons. There was a third person who periodically patrolled the bar, but was apparently a "manager," because if one requested a beverage from him he'd merely pass mention of your desires on to the one's who were actually working.

In time, the bartender himself stopped before us, took an order for beers and a wine, returning some time later with filled glasses. It was at that point that he told us he'd been a bartender before, but that was twenty years ago and this was his first day back. And, due to the span of time that had elapsed between bartending engagements he'd forgotten a few basics of the trade. So, since we were paying cash and he was extracting the cost of each pour as he served them, he asked how much he'd charged us for our drinks before, because he'd forgotten.

When it came to the price of one of the beers ordered by one of our friends, there arose a discussion about where the brew came from. Because, although there were several taps behind this newly enlarged bar, none contained Budweiser our buddies usual brew of choice. So, instead he'd ordered a something or other because, he said, he was familiar with it and it was brewed upstate in Utica, New York. The bartender asked him for six dollars and fifty cents.

"Six dollars and fifty cents for a glass of tap beer's a lot of money" my friend said. Then he asked how much a Bud was, even in a bottle since there was none on tap. "Bud's are four fifty, sir," the bar tender replied. Well then, my friend inquired, "Why the big difference in price?" To that, the bartender answered sincerely and directly, "Because, sir, we charge six-fifty for all our imported beers."

Beer prices and geographical issues aside, by now this place was quickly becoming a zoo. People were standing in groups all over, most of them desiring pizza which they could order by the slice at the restaurant tables or at the bar itself. And then, the DJ started. The pity was that he spun some really good music, but it was hard to hear over the noise of the hungry, restless kids and the dance space was wall to wall standees also waiting for tables or pizza.

As for us, we all decided we'd had enough when the coaches of the softball team linked arms in a row behind the bar for a series of photos requiring considerable conversation as to how to line up, where to stand, and who was smiling or wasn't. Until that session was over the bartenders were naturally precluded from their work, but didn't seem to care.

As we were leaving one of friends asked if we'd ever come to that place on a weekday evening. When we responded that we hadn't he said that was probably a good thing, because apparently the regular bartender was a smart alecky, creepy old guy nobody liked and went out of their way to avoid.

While driving home I thought back about the evening and was really quite sad and disappointed. Because the people who owned that place had reshaped and rebuilt it several times in recent years, trying to improve it. But their problems, I don't think, had anything to do with the size or shape of their establishment. Simply stated, they may know something about construction, but haven't a clue as to how to run or staff a restaurant.

That's it for today folks.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/30/2010

Middle of a holiday weekend, time to take a rest from "serious" stuff and reminisce some more.

Early on in my career I was afforded the opportunity to join an organization that was the world leader in it's specialty, leasing and financing IBM computer equipment. Now, as for me, I was employed by a separate division of theirs that financed all sorts of things from all types of suppliers, other than IBM, and that's where my expertise was.

When I came on board, I had a very successful working past and that's why I was hired in the first place. I was also quite independent in attitude because I truly believed people did business with individuals, not necessarily because of their employers.

Furthermore, my real underlying product was money and that all came from the same source, the Federal Reserve. Dollars also all folded the same way, and were only available in one color -green. Thus, everyone else in the chain beyond the Feds was simply a "packager" of one sort or another, but not really the manufacturer.

Well, since all I was doing was peddling repackaged greenbacks, and there were alternative suppliers all over the place, and I was really good at what I did, I picked where I wanted to apply my talents in most cases. And, if for any reason, a packager I joined was displeased with me in any way, I simply moved on, no problem.

Nonetheless, I naturally wanted to associate with the best I could, because it made my life much simpler in the long run. Because, if the packager had a recognizable name and good reputation, I didn't have to waste valuable time and energy establishing my own credentials. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying customers dealt with me because of whom I represented, because they didn't, I still had to win deals on their merit. But still, name recognition moved everything along faster.

So, that brings me to the employer I started writing about. Since their main thrust was leasing IBM mainframes and peripheral gear, they preferred hiring folks having backgrounds in that arena -Ex-IBMers', similar manufacturers, such as NCR or Burroughs and people like that. When I joined the organization I was put in a group covering the Metropolitan Region and headed by a guy named Tom C. who ran both sales groups, IBM and Financial Leasing. My territory was Northern New Jersey.

In almost no time at all it became quite clear to me that Tom C., while perhaps an IBM expert in its equipment, uses and applications, and having come from that erstwhile organization to boot, knew absolutely zip about any kind of financing, much less how to sell it, and even less than that about New Jersey.

Tom C's ignorance of my profession turned out wonderfully for me, however, because he certainly wasn't stupid. So, when he saw my sales numbers climbing like some some kind of rocket, without any input or interference from him, he stepped back, pleasurably accepted the managerial accolades (and commission override on my production) and stayed well out of my way. A perfect match of our objectives and talents.

Well, without Tom C. in the middle, my life became easier still, because now I didn't have to explain my pending business twice, first to him and then the Credit Department. I could go straight to the credit folks myself and get much clearer, faster and simpler responses. The process couldn't have run better if I'd planned it myself.

Things were running along smoothly as silk as far as I was concerned. I was doing deals all over the place, blowing my quota away and into some heavy duty production numbers that I only hoped would go on for the rest of my life. I wasn't merely a duck that took to the water sales-wise with this organization, I was the whole flying flock.

And then one fine day Tom C. called me into his office and closed the door. In our place, that was a very bad sign. He looked somberly at me, shook his head and said he'd gotten some very bad news. I didn't know what to expect. I couldn't imagine where or how I'd fouled up. Then Tom went on. He sadly said it had come to him from upstairs that my attire was out of place, because my jacket and slacks didn't match.

I replied that there was a reason for that. Because, I told Tom C., I was wearing a sports jacket, not a suit. He woefully replied that he understood that, and he himself in fact didn't mind. But, the word had come from "upstairs" and that was the crux of the problem. Look around at all the others, he said, Brooks Brothers dark blue pin-striped or olive drab suits, polished wing-tip shoes, button-down white shirts and silk rep ties. He didn't even want to broach the subject of my Gucci loafers with the brass buckles, they were so far out of dress-code he didn't have the appropriate words to discuss it.

Well, I told Tom I understood his dilemma and could identify with the predicament, but, as for me, the folks I call on in New Jersey don't really care what I wear, their only interest is an appropriate deal. He said he understood that, but hoped I'd gotten his message because, after all, he'd received what he'd told me about my attire from upstairs.

When our meeting was over and I went back to work, I quickly forgot about Tom's message and thus, did nothing about changing my attire. And then, a while later, Tom C. took me aside and repeated the same clothing mantra he'd given me before, again telling me it wasn't him that was upset, but the message had come from upstairs. As for me, I went on as usual, except this time I gave the matter even less thought because by then my sales star had risen even further.

After a bit more time elapsed, Tom C. wearily approached me once more to say that things were more serious now, after all I'd been warned twice before, and he wasn't sure what he could do about this pressure about my clothing that kept coming from upstairs. And thus, I was likely heading for serious trouble if I didn't change my sartorial style.

At that point I decided the time had come to face the duds issue head-on. When Tom finished his admonition about my threads, I asked him a serious question. I inquired politely, "Tom, have you ever been upstairs?" A blankish look crossed his face as he asked me what I meant, to which I answered, "Exactly what I asked before. Have you ever been upstairs, Tom?" And then I went on.

"Because I have been "upstairs" myself, Tom, and thought you might like to know that we're on the top floor of a four-story building. And the only thing above us is a roof. And on that roof is an elevator tower, a water-shed, and some old broken TV antennas. The only live things up there in fact, is a bunch of birds. So, here's what I suggest, Tom. If you get off my back and stop harassing me about my clothing, I won't tell Senior Management that you've been been getting your directional input from a flock of pigeons." Case closed.

That's it for today folks.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/29/2010

Long holiday weekend, but the blog goes on. Got a comment from a reader yesterday which I responded to twice, in the blog and via email. Suffice it to say, I've typed enough about politics for one day, so I'm going on to something else.

Last night a woman was talking about a car she'd just gotten that "talks." I wasn't really paying that much attention to the specifics, but I guess the vehicle has a system that tells you pertinent information, such as you left your lights on, fuels low, and other stuff like that. I think this one also announces directions if you activate the guidance system -turn left at the corner, go straight ten miles or whatever.

That got me to thinking about the only Japanese import I'd ever used. About thirty years ago, 1980 or so, I had a company car. I got the import because when my lease expired on a Cadillac I was driving at the time, I went to the Lessor to arrange a new contract. My plan was, to get what I was now driving or maybe a Lincoln.

When I arrived at the Lessor's place of business, and stated why I was there, the customer service person said, "We've just gotten this new car in. We're the only people who have it. You've got to see it before you just sign a new lease and take an outdated car." When I inquired about the "outdated" part, I was told that the Japanese were far ahead of us technology wise, and Lincolns and Caddies were old hat.

Though somewhat skeptical, I did agree to at least look at the imported car. And, to my surprise I found out that indeed this car had everything you could think of, doors, locks, windows, sunroof, seats, radio, tape deck, gas cap, windshield wipers and just about everything else were completely automated. Once you programmed all that stuff, the car remembered all your settings and those of three other drivers if need be. I think Bill Gates may have been under the hood.

Well, I'm a salesman to begin with and thus within no time was persuaded to accept this import, because I am capable of very little sales resistance, especially when a spiel is delivered by a pro. So, in no time at all I was behind the wheel of my brand new import. And, I found out that what I'd been told was absolutely true. There were very few of these state-of-the-art little Datsuns on the road.

It only took me a week or so to discover that all-in-all this vehicle was wrong for me. Since it was small, my head frequently hit the roof, so I opened the sun-roof almost no matter the weather. The front seat traveled only a certain distance back, so my legs were always cramped, and if I leaned more than slightly to my right I'd have knocked my wife out of the car. And then I gave up golf because my clubs couldn't fit in the trunk.

Nonetheless, the car did have one really worthwhile feature. It could "speak" to me. And, in its vocabulary was all kinds of information that it happily imparted. Thus, I always knew when the oil needed changing because my vehicle told me so. And, unless I was in the middle of no place, I never ran out of gas. Because my little car reminded me, quite loudly, when the gauge neared empty. It really was amazing as to how much this Datsun had to say about practically everything.

Then one day I was in Manhattan, to call on a client, and parked in an underground garage somewhere in Midtown. When I stopped my car and got out to take a ticket from the parking attendant, I left my keys in the ignition and closed the front door.

I then proceeded up the ramp, to head for my appointment and within a few moments heard hurrying footsteps behind me. I just kept on walking, straight ahead. The footfalls behind me came faster. As I reached the top of the ramp and then turned right I felt a tugging at my sleeve. It was the parking attendant. He was panting, perspiring, and seemed somewhat agitated as he pulled on my jacket sleeve to try to stop me.

I finally stopped and told him I was in a hurry, and didn't have time to stay and chat, but would gladly speak with him later, when I came back from my appointment.

He looked at me, appearing quite bewildered and told me that my car had spoken to him. When he'd opened the door it told him that the keys were in the ignition, in fact. And, he wanted me to know because this was some kind of sign and I had a car that was either blessed or magic and asked if I wanted to come back and hear it.

I looked at him for a moment, never cracked a smile, said, "Cars can't talk" then hurried on to my appointment.

That's it for today folks.


Friday, May 28, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/28/2010

Though not really "political" news, there's finally an item worth some typing. It seems that Mr. Obama has decided to take a Memorial Day vacation and skip laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown military. And, while trying to write this introduction, to check my facts, I came across the following on a website called REDSTATE.

Since I certainly can't state the situation any better than they have, I'm just going to paste in their thoughts. "Barack Obama wants to go on vacation — the second vacation he has had since oil began spilling out of the gulf. That’s okay though because the oil spilling is George W. Bush’s fault, just like all the new dead soldiers are George Bush’s fault too. (So)Why should he care?"

Now, I'm only mentioning this because it serves as a backdrop for a conversation I was marginally involved last night in a tavern, that blew up into a potential fracas. But, at least I had the good sense to depart before any blows were thrown and the chance of physical harm was thereby avoided.

It all started when some guy interjected his thoughts into a discussion between myself, my wife and a friend. I mentioned that I'd heard that the president was going to vacation, rather than conduct the traditional event of wreath laying at the unknown's tomb. I went on to say that I thought as far as the military was concerned, they were probably pleased by the non-attendance, because the mutual hatred between Obama and uniforms is thick enough to cut with a knife.

Well, the other guy jumps in at this point to say that I was wrong, "Everybody needs a Boss, and for an event like this, the Boss ought to show up." I replied that Obama is no more the "boss" of the military than is Zippy the Chimp, and no soldier on Earth would lay down his life for him. So, the guy then responds, as a figurehead Obama is the boss and the event is symbolic, therefore, the man in charge should attend. To that I replied that if you really want the person in charge, the one to bring in is George Soros, because Obama's never run a damn thing in his entire natural life.

Now we'd both stated our cases and that should have been that, but for this obsequious worm it wasn't enough. He went on through this whole speech about how everybody needs a boss, for leadership and direction, and therefore it was unquestionable that the "leader" be there for the good of the people.

At that point, I lost it and said that at the present time there's a guy in the White House who because of an election is President of the United States, and along with that job comes the title of Commander in Chief. But this guy is no commander of anything and never will be and anyone with half a brain knows that. There's a chain of command in the military right up to the Joint Chiefs, and that's the leadership our enlistees respect, all the rest is pomp and political noise.

However, now let's look at the other side. Supposing that you accept the premise that it's the duty of the Commander in Chief to show up for such ceremonies, although he's cares not a whit. What kind of example does that set? Troops of military standing at attention saluting a fraud. No, I'd rather not see that. I much prefer dealing with someone who believes he's bigger than any issue and not encumbered by what others have done in the past. Because those actions add grease to the floor he'll slide out on as he exits the post he obviously had no use or respect for to begin with.

That's it for today folks.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/27/2010

Except for the oil spill, there's still really not much new. So, it's back to tales of the past. Today's isn't about any specific person or situation, just something that my recent entries about particular transactions reminded me of.

Throughout the years of my business career, the only thing of importance was, in one way or another, my personal production. Because everything I did for the majority of my business life was based on sales. And, regardless of the job levels I reached, and whatever the titles, or how many folks were on my various staffs, if the production wasn't there, neither was I. In sales, deals talk, losers walk and that's the way it should be. Folks don't hire people like me to listen to their excuses for non-performance.

Anyway, something I noticed about prospective customers was, that no matter how far up the ladder my positions, responsibilities, and authority went, in the customer's eyes there was always somebody higher. So, even when I ran my own show and prospects sought more accommodation of any kind, they'd ask questions like, "Can't you go to someone and ask for a better whatever?"

Now, in almost all cases there was always a limit to what could be done regarding customer accommodation, because sooner or later, you reach an optimum point and there's just nothing more left to discuss. Yet, from the customer's perspective they have really nothing much to lose by asking for more anyway.

And although in the vastest majority of cases you'd finally reach a point where the customer understood all questions had now been asked, all requests for accommodation had been made and, dealwise, that was that, often prospective customers wouldn't be satisfied until told that the highest of the high had examined the situation and had reached whatever the conclusion was.

Well, perhaps it's human nature, or business acumen, or simple common sense, but when almost any prospect was told that after final review the "powers that be" had concluded whatever the outcome was, such as a slight accommodation, a firm rejection of the customer's request or maintaining the original proposal, customers most often then accepted the results and went ahead with the transaction.

Since this end-game play by prospects came up fairly often, it consumed a lot of time, sometimes travel too because you'd have to go back to your office, re-review situations already decided then return at a later time. What was more, in many cases, I was the final decision-maker myself. But, customers rarely believed that.

So, in time I came up with I called the "drive around the block." When push came to shove and a prospect put their foot down, firmly demanding I take a pending transaction to some higher level for final adjudication, I'd pleasantly agree, take my leave, then euphorically, drive around the block.

I'd put the documents in my briefcase, and then depending on how far the customer's location was from my office, I'd return at a later time. If I was in a remote location perhaps, requiring real travel, I'd try to come back the same day, saying I'd held a meeting by conference call from my hotel room. If the customer was nearby I'd generally return a day later or so. In the meanwhile however, the transaction itself never left my briefcase, because being the final decision-maker, I'd actually be meeting with myself and reaching my own conclusions.

Yet, in the prospect's mind they'd taken a last but very important step. In an effort to insure they'd done all they could to secure the very best financial accommodations for their businesses, they'd not budge until that was done. And I, in trying to make sure my customer's had peace of mind in that regard, took their transactions for a drive around the block then returned them safe, sound, and unchanged a bit.

That's it for today folks.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/26/2010

Lot's of stuff to do today. Short entry.

I've mentioned a salesperson several times before whom I call the shmoozer. But, he certainly wasn't the only one I've encountered who had particular sales talents, yet had difficulty in actually "closing" business transactions appropriately.

One of the others was a person I'll call Jerry K.

In his own way, Jerry K. was a lot like the shmoozer in that he was a conversationalist of the very first order. Extremely likable, curious and outgoing, Jerry had no trouble finding opportunities at all, except, he too had no inkling of the worth of whatever he stumbled across. So, this was another case where considerable time had to be spent sorting out what was viable opportunity from what was not that he'd discovered in his prospecting efforts.

In Jerry's case, however, no matter how I tried to overcome it, he had some kind of block, fear or determination to never become involved in the specific negotiation or closing of any kind of transaction, regardless. "Finding" business opportunity was his unequivocal limit. In fact, when it came to actual contract signings with customers that Jerry attended with me, he would remain absolutely silent throughout.

While certainly disappointing to me, because I'd have far more preferred that he be totally self-sufficient in his customer dealings, there was no doubt considerable worth to the opportunities he found. So, I went along with his approach and used other means to finalize business.

Nonetheless, despite that I was quite aware of Jerry's desire to leave well enough alone, I prodded him about becoming more a "complete" salesperson and if nothing else, at least attempting to "close" a deal, after all, to a considerable extent, they were his to begin with. However, my pleas fell on deaf ears.

And then one day we were visiting a client to close a transaction of Jerry's. As I sat across from the customer, Jerry by my side, I explained the contracts and showed the client exactly where and how to sign. And then the customer hesitated a moment. Before continuing he asked one last time if the terms, conditions and costs were the very best we could provide.

Now, these were questions we heard all the time and very natural inquiries for any business person to ask, just to double check before finally closing. And then, when customers were told "Yes" we've done our best for you in arranging this financing, they'd move on and sign the paperwork involved. But, not today.

Because, although the customer seemed finally satisfied and was no doubt ready to continue with the signing, Jerry finally spoke up for the first time in his professional life at a business closing.

And, not having a clue as to what was structurally involved in the transaction, nor any element of understanding as far as the credit risks were concerned, much less an inkling about the costs of money, Jerry said, "Come on Mike, I've seen you do much better for customers than those rates."

Well, for the first time in a business closing for as long as I could remember, without an idea or clue as what to do now, I was the one who for a very long while after that remained absolutely silent.

That's it for today folks


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/25/2010

Heard from a good friend yesterday who doesn't like my political comments a bit, but thinks the rest of the stuff is okay. So, I know I have a chance at pleasing at least one reader today, because there's nothing worth commenting on in the political arena at all. Nonetheless, there are still some reminiscences that may be worth noting.

Many years ago, I was employed by the Bank of Virginia as a Regional Manager responsible for equipment financing in northern New Jersey. During that time I completed a transaction with a precious metals refiner who sought to raise funds by re-financing their non-real estate assets. Those types of deals are commonly called sale/leasebacks.

The reason the refinery wished to re-finance was that they earned their income from purchasing all kinds of items that contained various types of precious metals, then refining the items down and extracting what was of value. And, frankly, a considerable amount of what they bought to refine was discarded "junk" and trash.

Nonetheless, the discards had value to the refiners, and therefore they sought to purchase as much as they could, leading them to decide to turn whatever assets they could into cash. Now, I don't remember the precise terms and conditions of the transaction with them, but I clearly recall the paperwork.

When "documenting" a financing transaction the agreement is put in writing and, naturally, one of the most important components of the paperwork is a list of the specific machinery and equipment involved. In the case of the refinery, the re-financing covered every item in its operation that wasn't nailed down. There were slews of stuff.

So, to simplify the documentation process, I suggested that instead of typing in the details of each and every item on a list or "schedule", we take the original invoices and rubber stamp them with a blurb that contained the correct legal language, and then the invoices themselves could be signed or initialed making them a part of the contract. And, that's exactly what we did.

Several months later, I attended a week-long working meeting in Richmond, VA at the home office of my employer. During the course of the sessions various banking and financing personnel explained and demonstrated procedures regarding their particular functions. Though there was a value to the proceedings, it was the kind of stuff that could bore one into a coma.

One afternoon, midweek, I was nodding in my seat in an auditorium while an attorney droned on about proper procedure regarding completion of documents and forms, and what types of assets could, and could not, be leased or financed. He then went on to say something like "And, if Mr. Berke is in the audience, I'd like to mention specifically that we don't ever, ever, lease or finance livestock." Needless to say, that comment woke me right up.

The attorney then went on to use the documents from my refinery transaction in New Jersey to illustrate what was proper and what was not. And, it turned out that in this humongous pile of paperwork consisting of invoices for just about every item this refinery ever bought, was a bill for an attack trained watchdog. Because, since their inventories were so valuable, their theft insurer insisted that a dog patrol the premises along with armed guards all night long.

So, in that pile of invoices we received transferring ownership to us, The Bank of Virginia had "financed" and therefore taken title to this overgrown, vicious German Shepard.

For months and months to follow I'd receive calls from folks in the home office in Richmond wanting to know how "our" puppy was, and to ask if I ever stopped by the refinery to pet or groom him, or maybe, take him for a walk. Nonetheless, despite all the ribbing I took, of all that I've met in my career, and to this very day, that Shepard was by far the least expensive of all my business associates to buy a lunch for.

That's it for today folks.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/24/2010

The past few blogs have been personal vignettes, several from my business past. I've written them because something or other got me thinking about them and, there's practically nothing of interest in the news.

As far as the news goes, I still haven't heard much worth mentioning except for poll results I saw this morning saying that 74% of the public doesn't think congress is capable of solving the current financial crisis. I just wonder who the 26% are that think congress can solve anything other than taking good care of themselves. Then, of course, there's still the BP oil spill in the Gulf. The administration should send whoever was employed to sabotage that rig to Afghanistan because the saboteurs seem good enough to win that war by themselves.

Since there's nothing much else to discuss, I'll go on with reminiscing. Some time ago a young lady was my administrative assistant. Now, over the years I was never the sort who delegated a lot of chores to anyone else. First of all because I've always been pretty much a do-it-yourselfer and also because my job wasn't the kind that produced a lot of paper.

In fact, almost the only things needing typing were proposals to customers and contracts. And, as far as contracts went, most of those were done by folks in legal, not sales. So, let's just say that I doubt anyone ever burned out because of work overloads from myself.

Now naturally , most employers desired regular reporting from me about closed business and my favorite: projections. As far as sales went, ordinarily this was merely a list of transactions that had closed. In that regard, especially after automation was installed, that kind of information was available from various sources and didn't really need my input at all. Projections though, were another matter.

Projecting called for exactly what the word means -stating today what was expected to be produced in the future. That was more than a two-edged sword. Because, if one projected results seeming to be too low by management, they'd likely be deemed unacceptable and require re-doing. Yet, if they were too high, how in the world would the projectee (me) possibly accomplish the sales goal?

Now, of course, managements would say things like "Don't worry, Michael. We know your projections are only a guess, so we won't hold it to you if you fall short. We merely need the information to prepare for what lies ahead." Well, I don't know about you, but the moment anyone tells me not to worry about anything, that's the moment I start.

Consequently, as my productivity increased and I improved at my occupation, my attitude was, my sales speak for themselves. So, if management felt they could replace me with someone with a less abrasive attitude, so be it. Both of us knew where the door was. In that regard, then, I rarely cared very much about projections and in most cases ignored them completely. And, actually, if I'd really known what was going to happen tomorrow, I'd have quit my job and started going to the racetrack. In fact, I even went so far as to tell management that.

Yet, the most interesting thing to me was that I naturally did mental projections for myself, just never put them on paper. And, except for very rare cases I always expected much more of myself than anyone I ever worked for. Beyond that, I rarely, if ever, fell short of my own goals.

Considering the forgoing, it didn't take long for administrators to figure out that "working" for me wasn't very much of a chore. In fact, the most threatening job caused malady was likely terminal boredom. Naturally, if something needed doing, I expected it to be done, but that wasn't too often.

As far as the person I began writing this entry about, she very quickly figured out I wasn't too concerned about her "sick days," and that I'd work around her absence without complaint. And, as you might be aware, sometimes, in cases like this people can be become "spoiled", and take advantage, no matter how dedicated they are. Because, if there's nothing for them to do, what's the point of time-filling, useless busywork? No one was ever going to get that kind of brain-numbing pap from me.

With that in mind, one day she called in to say she wasn't feeling quite up to par, and asked if I'd mind if she stayed out. Well, I don't know remember why, but in this case I replied, "Hold on. Let me check the record." When I inquired internally about her attendance, even I was quite surprised.

I got back on the phone with her and said, "I've checked your attendance chart and have found that you have no sick days left, only dead days."

That's it for today folks.


Friday, May 21, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/23/2010

I guess once you start blog reminiscing, all kinds of memories come back. This one's about doing business with a household name.

Somewhere in the late seventies or early eighty's I had the opportunity to visit Turner Broadcasting's headquarters in Atlanta. They were acquiring a forty-foot truck-trailer equipped with every type of state-of-the-art broadcast equipment available on the market. We were asked to call on them because Turner's financial people wanted to examine all alternatives before deciding how to make the acquisition. The equipment manufacturer, located outside Cincinnati, suggested they speak to us and consider arranging an equipment lease.

With the electronic capabilities of this mobile unit, it could not only be parked outside a stadium or arena and produce a live, on-air TV broadcast, it could also create and put out a sale-ready audio tape of a show or concert. It supported a number of TV cameras, audio feeds and relays and in terms of production quality, it's output was equal to any in-studio broadcast or taping.

When the trailer was parked at a remote location, one of its sides could be pulled away about ten feet, like an outer, movable shell. That created covered empty additional space in which producers, directors and crew-members could move around and work with the equipment which was laid out in aisles, grouped by type, and connected as if it were in an in-house studio. In other words, as far as broadcast equipment went, this baby was Star Wars, and priced accordingly so. Let's just say it was very, very expensive.

When I arrived at Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta I flagged a cab and gave the driver the address, which I vaguely recall was 100 Tech Street back then, but I wouldn't swear to that. Anyway, upon hearing my destination, the cabbie said "Going to Turner, huh?" Then he went on, "I saw in the paper this morning that the Braves fired Joe Torre, the manager. Now, why in the world would Ted do that? Everyone down here loves Joe."

Finally reaching Turner's location I was soon introduced to their Chief Financial Officer. As you'd likely expect in a business such as this one this gentleman looked like he took his mid-day meal in the Harvard Club. Tall, trim. dignified, immaculately clad, soft-spoken with a pleasance that you suspected would probably stay the same while he fleeced you like a sheep. In other word's he appeared as if he'd either fallen off the cover of Fortune Magazine's issue on Who's Who in finance, or was a center-fold star in GQ's pages on sophisticated business attire. Precisely the type you'd expect someone of Ted Turner's acumen to rely on regarding his business' financial affairs.

The CFO's office was huge, magnificently appointed and his desktop could easily accommodate ping-pong doubles.

Now, I was never one for small talk at the beginning of business meetings, and certainly never one for telling gags or jokes, because, quite honestly, I never considered myself a clown in those situations. But, as much as I would have preferred to get right down to business, something about this impressive person I was across from indicated that I ought to at least try to inject some small-talk before addressing this sophisticated block of professional ice about financial specifics.

So, remembering the cabbies remark about the Braves letting their manager go, I asked the very same question, simply to start a dialog. Well, without so much as another glance at me, the CFO whirled his chair 180 degrees and now was facing the biggest credenza I'd ever seen. And atop the credenza was a huge phone system with what seemed like hundreds of buttons (remember, this was more than 20 years ago.) Then he began punching buttons; one, than another, then another after that. And each time he'd blurt more or less the same question, asking why Joe Torre had been let go.

In time, I think he'd contacted every member of the Braves organization from the General Manager, to Assistant Managers, to coaches, perhaps even the bat-boys for all I know. Quite a bit later, he finally slammed the receiver down in its cradle, turned back to face me and said, "Boy, I'm always the last to know. I'm responsible for the team's payroll, contracts and legal issues and everything else associated with things like that and it seems, nobody remembers to fill me in until it's too late. And, aside from that, everybody I've spoken to this morning in our organization told me Joe Torre is still in our employ. So, where did you get your information about our terminating him, Mr. Berke?"

At that moment I found that the Great One, Jackie Gleason, was the only person I could think of who could answer a question like that from a man of the CFO's stature. I looked directly at him, shrugged and mumbled, "Homina, homina, homina." And I guess, in the CFO's eyes, that was likely the most intelligent thing I'd said all morning.

That's it for today folks.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/22/2010

There are many stories about the shmoozer, an individual I first addressed here yesterday. And to reiterate, I don't think he was a bad employee or person, just quite selective in the way he applied his talents and where and when. Beyond that, the busywork of business and technical issues were generally of no interest to him whatsoever.

But, as I wrote yesterday, business-wise this guy could find live one's at a morticians convention. To that extent, I don't know how or when, but the shmoozer came across a manufacturer of airplane parts. This business was immense. What's more, key to their operation were fully-automated, state-of-the-art, numerically controlled machines that were very, very expensive. And these folks not only had a building full of them, they needed more.

In time, the shmoozer was able to arrange an appointment with them -to talk about how we might be accommodative financing-wise, and I accompanied him on that initial visit.

To this day, I still remember that meeting vividly. Right after we arrived at the manufacturer's home location, the general manager took us on a tour. And, as we walked through their premises, what we viewed was awesome. There was equipment everywhere. Not only machinery used in the manufacturing process itself, but packaging machines, computer systems, palletizers and fork lift trucks, lot's of other automated stuff besides. This place was a Lessor's heaven.

After the tour was over the manager informed us that the business' owner's wished to meet with us. They held the company privately and wanted to be certain we were fully informed about their operation and also desired to answer any questions we might have themselves.

With that, we were ushered into a private conference room. Big, highly polished wooden table. Large, comfortable chairs, upholstered in luxurious saddle leather. Three walls covered with pictures, plaques and business photographs. A huge aerial shot of their extensive plant and surrounding property took up considerable space on one.

The fourth wall was a construction, floor to ceiling, wall to wall, of carefully placed aluminum parts. Countless samples of what the business produced. Aluminum airplane struts, girders, sprockets, gear wheels, housings, tubes, other intricately shaped items used for who knows what. The sizes of the various pieces in this magnificent aluminum mosaic varied from quite small, say a bolt or nut, to extremely large, a wing part perhaps. The structure was quite creative and extremely impressive to say the least. It wouldn't have been out of place in a museum of modern art.

As our meeting went on, I discussed various aspects of the business' operation and asked some routine questions about things listed in its financial statements. And these were the parts of customer calls that rarely, if ever, piqued the shmoozer's interest. Nonetheless, when given a chance to inquire directly of the owners of an enterprise like this, I myself was in no hurry to depart.

In time, the shmoozer not only lost interest in the proceedings, but found that the chair he was seated in rolled silently on some kind of casters. Not only that, it inaudibly spun on a swivel. Now, he didn't exactly go rolling around like some child in a toy car, but he did move forward and back a bit, and a couple of degrees off-center, swinging his seat slightly right and left.

With the conference droning on, the shmoozer became somewhat bolder in his travels in his chair, rolling forward until his belly touched the conference table and then gradually backing away -further each time. Sometime later, the shmoozer backed away to the extent that his chair-back hit a section of the aluminum mosaic of airplane parts, and guess what? They weren't glued together!

First a small piece of aluminum dropped with a quiet thud on the carpet. Then another. Then another after that. Momentarily, a chain reaction began as more parts became dislocated and in a very short while a huge portion, perhaps half, of the mosaic was dislodged and tumbling to the floor.

The shmoozer looked startled at first, then appeared terrified. The owners and their plant manager seemed to be in shock. I was mystified as to what to do next myself. Needless to say, no words could express the embarrassment and humiliation I felt as I sought to find some graceful way to apologize and quickly scramble out the door.

Some time later, as we were on the road and heading back to our office, the shmoozer leaned across and asked sincerely, "Mike, do you think we'll get that deal?"

That's it for today folks.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/21/2010

The last few days I've typed about a guy I met in business who had some ego problems making him quite undesirable to deal with. There are, however, several others who provide good story fodder, not because they're "bad" people, but just a bit off the mark for other reasons.

In one case, I joined a company as Manager of Sales that already had a sales force. And on that staff was someone whose history with the owner went back to the business' inception, and even extended to a preceding enterprise. Old retainers, though, are fairly common and tend to be measured by values outside the general guidelines regarding quality of performance or productivity.

In this person's situation, although he'd been a salesman for many, many years he lacked one of the profession's most important, if not paramount requirements. He, for whatever reason, was unable to "close" a deal. Now, he had other capabilities and talents, which likely were the underlying reason for his longevity with the owner.

Though I don't recall anything being taught about a particular ability in any business school curricula or text regarding sales, there's a skill called "shmoozing." And, first and foremost with my subject of today and, perhaps, his only trait having great professional value, was his proficiency at shmoozing.

Now, what is a shmoozer? A shmoozer's someone who could enter a room of strangers gathered for any reason, or visit a barber shop, or stand on a corner waiting for a bus and within an eye-blink meet everyone else there, learn their names and occupations, their age, their marital and offspring situation and whatever other key statistics shmoozers generally dig out.

Now, I don't think shmoozers have a particular goal in mind when they set out accumulating information, it's just that in their need to communicate with whomever is in earshot, discussing basic demographic information is natural in their patter.

As wonderful as this capability is though -meeting, greeting, and instantly comingling with virtually anyone with ease- there's a pitfall. Because while information gained can have tremendous value, one also has to be able to sort what's important and cull out the rest. And, in this case the sorting task was my part.

After this salesperson spent a day in the field, or on the phone, or visiting a trade show perhaps, I'd dutifully listen to his tales of who'd told him what and why, and then try to figure out which parts of his activities had value, then work with him to follow up. Of course, I also tried my best to impart some knowledge about what contracts were all about, how to price and present them, and why customers were asked to sign agreements to begin with. But, fundamentals and details went unheeded. Not out of disrespect for me or our organization, of course, but simply because he had no interest whatsoever in those kinds of matters.

And then one day, seemingly out of the blue, this person indicated some desire to at least take the first steps toward conducting some actual business. He even began paying attention to some of the detail involved. Shortly later, he went to visit a business whose application for financing had been approved.

The business opportunity had been referred to us by an equipment supplier with which we transacted considerable volume, and was also one that the shmoozer had discovered in the first place. So when the shmoozer said he'd like to handle the contract closing himself, I was more than pleased, whereas this was a significant indication of progress and a sign of professional growth. With that the shmoozer took the paperwork and went out the door.

As it turned out, however, the shmoozer returned to our office empty-handed. For whatever reason the paperwork had not been executed by the prospective customer and that, apparently, was that. Then, soon after, I received a call from the customer, a woman who ran the operation and someone I'd never met. Without telling me why or what happened, she explained that her business really needed the equipment and would I please send someone other than the shmoozer to her office with the contracts.

Under the circumstances, I went to see her myself. The woman was somewhat frosty towards me, and let me know that had she not gone as far down the road with us as she had, she'd have sought another provider. But, in the end she signed the paperwork, never once even hinting at what the shmoozer had done to obviously upset her so.

When the meeting was over, I took the elevator down to the lobby of the building on Broadway in Manhattan where the client's business resided, stepped into the street and was about to head for Penn Station to go back to our office. And, lo and hold, who suddenly appeared before me? Why none other than the shmoozer of course.

He asked me how the meeting had gone and inquired if I'd been successful. I dutifully explained that all had gone well and the deal was done. With that he lit up a big black cigar, his victory treat to himself. And then he looked at me intently and addressed me absolutely sincerely without a blink, "You know, Mike. I could have closed that deal myself...if she would have only let me in her office again."

That's it for today folks.


BloggeRhythms 5/20/2010

The last few entry's have set me to reminiscing, because they occurred quite long ago. Nonetheless, they provided lessons for me lasting throughout and, I believe, still have value today. That's why I take the time to note them here.

As mentioned before, while these events might have great merit, they're not things taught in any school I know of. And, as I think back through them, they all seem to have a common thread. They're founded in basic, good old common sense.

Take temporary Dick for example. Here was a guy thrown into a situation totally over his head and considerably beyond his intellectual acumen. He however, latched onto the idea of being the "boss," albeit only for a while, as if someone had just ordained him savior. He went from common salesperson to grand imperial whizbang in the blinking of an eye.

And with that transformation, "managing" others became his self-proclaimed responsibility, regardless, and he was letting everyone know it. Consequently, most folks having anything to do with him were usually put off at first, but greater familiarity brought unbridled contempt.

In short order, those "reporting" to him looked for ways to avoid him. Avenues were created to complete business transactions clandestinely as far as Dickie was concerned. So, when it came to anything good taking place, he was the last to know. That way, he couldn't take an ounce of credit for participation in his underlings successes, because he hadn't even a hint or clue they'd even taken place.

On the other hand, when deals blew up or failed to close, we lackeys would report when asked why, that we'd done what our imperial leader, Dick had demanded and followed his orders to the letter.

In time, these kinds of things have the same effect as water dripping on a rock. Sooner or later, no matter how strong or dense the begins to crack apart.

Nonetheless, in the short time dense Dick and I were together, he was one of the most valuable teachers I've ever encountered, and very fortunately for me over time I've dealt with quite a few others like him.

Above all else, the most important things they've done is to save me time, effort, and therefore money, too. They've helped me immeasurably to become what I did, highly successful at my trade. They also showed me how to work with others successfully and get the best from us all, be it individually or in groups.

And, perhaps the greatest lesson of all they taught me was, that the most important thing in business management and having the greatest value between employer and employee is trust. Because without it, you have nothing.

Now, how did Dick and those others impart that knowledge to me?

Actually it was pretty simple. I observed everything I could that these folks did, and remembered precisely every procedure, step and nuance. And then made every, absolute, unequivocal, and dedicated effort to do exactly the opposite in every similar case. Because although these folks were without question walking natural disasters, by observing the results of their inept, anti-productiveness, I was able to avoid going out and doing the very same things myself.

That's it for today folks.


Monday, May 17, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/19/2010

Sometimes background information helps understanding particular entries. Today's preamble appeared a couple of days ago, about a "temporary" manager I'd once had named Dick.

He was the guy who liked to call me on a WATS line amplified through speakers permitting others, wanted or not, to listen in. The previous entry explains why that system was used, or perhaps you remember the story.

In any case, cost-effective Dick employed the WATS line for just about everything telephonic, contending that no matter what the subject was, the cheapest phone costs were his goal because he was driven by the "bottom-line."

Now, at that time I read the Wall Street Journal whenever I could because it always contained invaluable information. Company's relocating perhaps, planning new products, opening more sites, maybe hiring more people. Indications of growth. Whatever the case, the Journal provided goldmines of opportunity for company's like us in the equipment financing business.

Shortly, I realized the best way to obtain the paper was simply to subscribe. Then, after reading an issue I'd circulate it to other sales personnel in the building. Some time later, it dawned on me that the major beneficiary of the Journal was actually my employer, because of the additional business conducted. That being the case, I put the subscription cost on my reimbursable expenses account.

One morning later that week, Dick's stentorian tones boomed out of the WATS line speakers, seeking my presence on the line. When I responded, diligent Dick intoned that he'd reviewed my latest Expense Account and found that I was seeking repayment for money spent on reading matter. "If we consent to something like that, the next thing you know our organization will be paying for Playboy. So, I'm not approving a cent of this expenditure."

After I dutifully explained the value of the WSJ, going on to suggest he read it himself to learn its worth, he changed his approach. "Michael," he said, "there's a story about a salesman who was asked by his boss to run an errand due to an emergency."

Then penny-wise Dick went on to tell me about how the salesman lost his new, quite expensive fedora while performing the requested task for his boss. When the salesman sought reimbursement for his loss, the boss said, "Don't be ridiculous, our company doesn't buy salesman's hats." This enraged the employee, because after all, he was doing his employer a favor. And it was the employer's panic really causing the loss in the first place. So, the employee vowed to himself to recapture the cost in another way. From then on, he added a few unnoticeable amounts to various absolutely valid reimbursable expenditures. And in that way, in time, the employee eventually recovered the cost of his lost chapeau.

We were still on the WATS line while Dick told me this tale, and when he finished he asked me if I'd heard his message. I replied that, yes indeed I'd heard the story clearly, as had who knew how many others. After all, it had been imparted on a mic'd-up WATS line, loudly, through very large and first class speakers. "No, no," he said, "that's not what I meant. I want to know if you understand the meaning of the story. And what to do next about your Journal subscription."

I answered that although I'd absolutely heard the story, every word in fact, I wasn't exactly sure how it applied to me. Dick drew in an audible breath, then sighed an audible sign, both clearly done in frustration, and then said something like, " Okay, Michael. Let's try it again."

Still sitting by his microphone, Dick began imparting his story once more. Only this time, to insure his message being understood, he spoke much more slowly, stating each word precisely as if addressing someone learning-disabled, or perhaps, a recalcitrant child.

Now, listening to about half of droning-Dick's first sentence, realizing the reiteration would go on for quite a while, I silently backed away from the microphone on our Customer Service desk, then quietly opened the front door, left the building and drove off to call on a client.

When I returned later that day, I was met with a smattering of dignified applause. Because Dick had no idea that I'd left the premises, he was three hundred miles or so north in New England. Thus he'd slowly completed the whole story again, this time enunciating each word and phrase precisely as he was able, without a pause. And it seems the folks on my end had taken an empty waste can and covered our microphone to avoid Dick's hearing the click had they shut the microphone off.

All in all, the majority felt that Dick's second rendition of his tale was better than the first. Because in the painstaking, drawn out attempt to articulate his message clearly he'd apparently been very amusing. In fact, that's why they'd covered the microphone, to avoid their titters of laughter being heard. Dick didn't know that he'd been entertaining of course, being funny was surely nowhere in his agenda or plan. But the general conclusion reached was that listening to Dick's loud intonation was less boring than working, so that's what they'd all done.

Of course, the WATS lines themselves couldn't be used for anything else, while Dick tied them up for half a morning to save the organization the couple of bucks the WSJ had cost. And the employees certainly couldn't work if they didn't know what customers wanted because he'd overtaken a major resource for interoffice communication.

After hearing their story, I asked what he did when he realized I wasn't even there. They replied that they were absolutely sure he didn't know I'd left the building, because when he finished his lengthy reiteration, he again asked if I'd understood the message this time. Because he'd said, he'd tried his very best to be instructive. When I didn't answer, he spoke again, this time asking why I hadn't replied to his query. Then he asked once more. Still getting no answer he'd slammed what sounded like his fist on the desk, blurted "This Goddamn microphone doesn't work" and then, his voice simply disappeared completely.

That's it for today folks.


BloggeRhythms 5/18/2010

The past few entries have gotten me thinking about things learned in the "street" so to speak, or outside the general curriculum taught in even the best of business schools. And that brings me to an educator I met, Skippy McDonald, while working at Harborside Terminal in Jersey City, NJ

Harborside was the largest single warehouse building in the U.S. back then, a million cubic feet. This was the early sixties, and I was hired as Assistant Supervisor. My chores included assuring workers stayed busy -on ordinary days more than a hundred of them, all teamsters- and that freight moved in and out as quickly as possible.

My unit, one of Harborside's four, was designated 2 North. The unit's primary customer was Maxwell House coffee, and included other brands such as Bliss and Yuban among other assorted items from other clients. A hundred trucks or so would drop off or pick up cases of coffee daily at 2 North's twenty-five doors, and aside from the vehicle loading dock there was an indoor railroad siding, accommodating five standard box cars.

Crews working the rail side were assigned four to a car, and the cars were "drilled" in and out by the railroad four times a day, morning, mid-morning, noon and lastly mid-afternoon. At day's end, each worker had accounted for loading or loading one rail car. And, in one of those cars, on one of those crews, was Skippy McDonald.

I didn't know him very well at first, in fact knew just about nothing about him at all. I was aware he did manual labor all day, was quite large (picture Hulk Hogan with dark curly hair, younger and bigger, no suntan) and as far as I could tell, minded his own business, but that was about it.

Very shortly after I was employed, my immediate boss, the warehouse supervisor himself, was terminated for some transgression or other. In the ensuing hullabaloo I was asked to "temporarily" fill in until a replacement was brought on board. Under the circumstances, I did my best to learn what I needed to know as fast as I possibly could. The result of my efforts was that I held that job myself for a year and a half, then went on to something else.

Very early on in my new situation, Skippy McDonald approached me one day and said something like "Mike, I think your only real interest is that these freight cars get handled properly and on time, and that it really doesn't matter how that gets done. So, if I can guarantee that will happen, do you mind if I send one of the guys out during the day to run an errand for me?" I couldn't see the harm in trying this out at least, so I agreed.

It turned out that Skippy was a minor league bookie and back then there was no such thing as OTB. So, he'd send someone from a crew down to Monmouth Racetrack to make and collect on bets. As far as I was concerned, I couldn't care less about Skippy's sideline, because he kept that whole rail siding running like a top. And, it was a perfect business deal, both parties got exactly what they needed at a fair price.

Now, the truck dock itself was a very busy place indeed, in fact much busier than the rail head, freight rocketed back and forth on lift truck forks, vehicles continually moved in and out, people busily handled freight everywhere you looked.

The out-bound freight was handled by lift truck operators bringing pallet-loads of items and placing them on the floor of waiting forty-foot trailers -today called eighteen wheelers.

A "checker" stood by open trailer doors, verifying the number of palletized cartons before the truck driver began stowing the freight away. Most of the experienced truckers would review a "Bill of Lading" before the loading began and ask that the items be brought in a particular order to properly distribute the weight. Typically, when the load was laid out that way, there'd be two feet or so of empty air space above the cartons stacked on the trailer's floor.

On one particular day a truck driver approached me saying he'd been "shorted" a carton of coffee. The carton in question contained 48 two ounce jars of instant Yuban coffee. Therefore, he was absolutely refusing to sign off on the Bill of Lading and further told me in no uncertain terms that he planned to stay parked at my dock until he got what he wanted -said carton of Yuban- no matter how long it took.

I was flabbergasted and flustered, not knowing what to do at all. What was more, the checker who'd counted the load was Bob White, the most reliable performer that existed. And then, a brainstorm hit me.

I suggested the driver unload the Yuban in the trailer and Bob White and I would watch while he carefully recounted. Then, if he was right, my guys would do the reloading for him. He refused flatly, saying he'd already handled all that coffee once, and wasn't about to do it again. And beyond that, the Yuban was way up in the trailer's nose, the very first items he'd loaded, in fact. I said, "Then I'm sorry sir, but I don't see any other solution because my checker insists the count is correct."

Now, this driver was a big, beefy guy, certainly able to do some bodily harm. He took a step or two closer to me, practically nose to nose, and reiterated that he wasn't going to be satisfied until he got his case of coffee, menacingly insinuating that he was sure I understood what he meant. And then, the guy just disappeared. One moment he was screaming epithets in my face, the next he was gone. Poof! Like magic.

As it turned out, it wasn't magic at all. Because unbeknownst to me, Skippy McDonald had overheard the fracas and quietly came up behind me, then he'd reached around, grabbed the driver and tossed the guy like a rag doll into the open space above the trailer load of coffee. Then Skippy slammed the trailer doors closed, secured them tightly and began hammering on the closed doors with his fists. Then he raised his voice and asked the driver if was ready yet to recount the load.

Within minutes the driver said he was ready to sign the Bill of Lading because he'd crawled up to the front of the trailer and was able to do a recount himself. And gee whiz, he'd found out that Bob White's arithmetic was perfect after all.

Now, I don't know if warehouse management is taught in business schools today, about how to get things done right. But if there's a text in use on the subject, I think there's a very good chance that Skippy McDonald wrote it.

That's it for today folks.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/17/2010

The last couple of entry's have really gotten my wife upset. She contends that by writing about fist-fights and tossing people out of cars, I'm describing myself as some kind of brute, lout or thug, lacking any measure of class, dignity or intellectual prowess. And, my disclosure of childish reactions in particular situations is quite embarrassing to her, at the very least.

I've replied that, as she certainly knows after our long time together, I'm a whole person, and as such, made up of many parts. And aside from my street-inspired reactions to those I find offensive, I graduated from some pretty good schools, held some big-time positions with some house-hold-name-type corporations and gotten myself published by The American Management Association, among others. So, I've told her I'm sorry for my other side, but as they say -like it or not, it comes with the dinner.

However, in thinking my response through again, I'm not sorry for the other part of me at all. In fact, I'm very glad it's there. Because, if it wasn't I'd be like every other wimp that gets walked over and pushed around by those who think they can. Or, worse yet, cringe, grovel and stay silent because someone says that to complain about or point out abusers and losers is politically incorrect.

My answer to that one is, you can take political correctness and stick it in your ear. Because I can't for the life of me understand why its my responsibility to make the tired, weak and incompetent feel better about themselves. If they've got some kind of problem or issue, let them go out and fix it. I've done that for myself all my life and so should they. I didn't make these people losers, they did it to themselves. And, even if whatever their problem is was caused by someone or something else, that someone wasn't me, so let them go out, find the perp and stay away from me in the process.

But now, coming back to today's issue and the miserable low-life creep that lives somewhere under my outward facade, I have to ask myself what would have happened over the course of my life if that SOB inside of me didn't exist. Would I have survived the streets of New York the way I did? Probably not.

Albeit I attended so-called good schools, even back then there were plenty of other students that weren't the dear, sweet little angels you'd expect from their generally above average parents. Thus it was pretty much guaranteed that if you weren't wary around them and fully able of taking care of yourself, these brats would eat your lunch in a flash. Because, after all, the city's still the city and kids will always be kids.

And how about the working environment, even in top drawer corporations? Regardless of how many coats of veneer you have over your competitive core, if you slip, trip or seem weak you'll get trampled before you can blink, by the scads of those who, quite naturally, want your job. And, their desire to replace you is not only an acceptable goal in business, it's simple human nature. So, even in that worldly, sophisticated, dignified, professional atmosphere, if there isn't some kind of toughness under your outward appearance, and you can't draw on it when you need it, your doomed to go up in flames so huge they'll be visible from Toledo. It's only a matter of when.

Now, how about social or public settings? People gathered together for pleasure in clubs, theaters, parks, beaches, restaurants, arenas, or in parking lots or shopping centers. Between cell phones, loud conversations, raucous laughter, elbowing, shoving or folks jockeying for better positions wherever they are, not caring a whit about whoever's deemed to be in their way -what do you do about them? Do you just tsk,tsk and mutter about how rude, crude and indifferent these louts really are? Or, do you try to do something about it, in whatever small way you can?

Well, I think one should try to do whatever one can to point out loutish behavior. And I further believe that if boorish practices aren't pointed out to the boors themselves, they'll only keep repeating the distasteful things they do. That's why I have no problem telling some loud oaf to shut up, or asking politely if some obnoxious creep would like to depart via the window. Because, if no one did things like that, how would these heathens ever learn proper behavior?

Of course, when all is said and done, I'm not really a teacher. And, even if I was, the misanthropes I've been writing about today aren't in my class, and never will be. Nevertheless, I still try to do what I can. So, looking at it that way, I guess I'm not really just a mindless thug at all, I'm actually a striving, good-hearted educator simply trying to teach certain folks valuable lessons they'll never forget.

That's it for today folks.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/16/2010

Yesterday's entry set me to thinking about things that happened while I was driving a car.

In the late sixties, I was employed by a company which primarily rented electronic test equipment. I worked for a subsidiary of theirs, involved in the long-term leasing and financing of the same things, a natural fit.

The company had several locations around the country and prided itself on its huge inventory, and how fast it could supply whatever rental customers needed. To expedite the process further, it used an open WATS line keeping the offices in continual contact, via microphones instead of standard handsets. That way, if any office didn't have a particular widget in stock and someone said so out loud, someone in another location could simultaneously hear that and say "We've got one here." The item could then be shipped immediately from the other location, quickly serving the customer's need.

In time, it was decided to take the company "public" and preparing the stock offering took key mangers out of the day-to-day operation for a significant amount of time. Unfortunately for me, my "boss" was one of them. In his absence he arranged to have a salesman, let's call him Dick...because that was his name, fill in until his return.

Now Dick was a true company man in every way, and quickly realized that the WATS lines were already in place and paid for, so why go to the additional expense of making private calls to discuss pending financing transactions?

In no time, people started coming into my office to tell me Dick was on the WATS line wanting to talk to me. And then, if I responded, Dick would start spewing information about potential customer's financial conditions and considerable other data that had been entrusted in confidence to us.

I asked him to kindly refrain from publicly disclosing information in that way, because aside from breaching basic customer confidentiality, who knew who else was listening in one of our other locations. Dick replied that he didn't care, the phone cost savings to our bottom line was far more important.

Having no other alternative at that point, I stopped responding to Dick's WATS calls. "Tell him I'm not in," I'd say when he called, then immediately call him back on a regular phone.

Now, not being the brightest bulb in anyone's chandelier, it took Dick some time to finally figure out that, quite often, I was in the office but merely avoiding public discussion of my customer's private information. After that went on for a while, and he became hotter under the collar, he informed me that in order to smooth things out he was flying down from Massachusetts to discuss the issue.

When the day arrived, I picked him up at Newark Airport, and headed down the New Jersey Turnpike toward our office in Metuchen. In almost no time Dick began listing all the insubordinate things I'd done, particularly my total disregard for his money-saving WATS line idea. I naturally responded with some thoughts of my own.

By the time we were midway between Exits 12 and 13, still quite a ways short of our destination, Dick was so enraged, he terminated me right then and there in the car. Upon my sacking, I pulled my vehicle over to the left, the high-speed lane and small open strip next to the center guard rail, then came to a stop. Now, this wasn't exactly like today with hordes of traffic, but there were still plenty of cars whizzing by us. Then, I turned to Dick and said, "Get out!"

He turned blue, then green, then a couple of shades of purple as he replied, "You can't do that. This is a turnpike, I could get killed out there." I told him he should have thought of that before he lost his cool, because the car belonged to me, and I didn't want him in it. And that's when this grown man, in his mid-thirties or so, began to blubber, whine, beg and sob.

Now ordinarily, I'd perhaps have said a few things more, just to be absolutely sure he knew what kind of person he was dealing with, then acquiesced and driven him to the office. But this guy was a boob of a magnitude I couldn't comprehend, and I'd met plenty of people by then. So I waited for an opening in the traffic, crossed the pike, forced him out on the "safe" side, threw his luggage at him and drove home.

To this day, I don't know what Dick did from there and certainly don't care. I do know there was a service center a few miles further along, and this was long before cell phones so maybe he walked there or thumbed a ride. As far as I was concerned though, I felt really fine, except, I was hoping to teach that guy a lesson. But as I sit here remembering it all, I sincerely doubt that pompous, self-important oaf had any capacity to learn at all.

That's it for today folks.


BloggeRhythms 5/15/2010

Yesterday's entry about traveling to Yankee Stadium alone by subway has me recalling other things that have changed significantly about New York City since I was a youth.

For example, that's where I learned to drive a car. From the time I first got a Learner's Permit there were plenty of places I practiced. Sometimes my family would go somewhere, such as Westchester County or Connecticut, that had quiet country roads and were the safest places for me to get behind the wheel.

Nonetheless, the best of all was really Manhattan itself, especially because that's where I lived. Of course, this was many, many years ago and the city was quite a different place. But compared to East Squodunk let's say, there was still plenty of vehicular traffic.

Cars and trucks still clogged the streets during rush hours back then, and pedestrians still had to watch their step, but all in all, you rarely got stuck for what seemed like an eternity just to make a light.

Although I'd been a passenger my entire life until then, and was very familiar with city streets, as a beginning driver I did my best to be careful, and was sure to strictly obey the traffic rules and regulations.

As time went by and the day of my driver's test neared, I went out to practice with some of my already licenced friends. Since we all lived in the same neighborhood I generally drove around with them on the city's uptown East Side.

At the same time, I played a lot of base and basket ball in Central Park and so was pretty familiar with the place. That's why it occurred to me one day that the park would be a perfect location for my friends and I to take the car. Because there was a roadway running along the perimeter of the park, inside the walls, that went from Central Park South (actually 59th Street) and up to 110th. Completing the oval covered about five or six miles.

A particular friend of mine, his name was Kenny, accompanied me quite a few times as my test date drew near. He was a pre-law student at Columbia University and was able to work out a reasonable amount of free time.

Well, one afternoon Kenny came over to accompany me on a practice session and I headed for the park. The car we were in was my mother's big, four-door, blue Dodge with a standard transmission. There was an entry to the park drive on 90th Street and Fifth Avenue, only a couple of blocks from my apartment. I entered the park there, turned right and headed uptown.

I leisurely began to motor north, chauffeuring Kenny, and listening to his motoring advice, eventually reaching 110th Street where I followed the roadway as it wound it's way back downtown. When we got to 59th Street, the southern end of the park, I exited onto the Avenue of the America's, still called Sixth Avenue back then.

I drove a block south on Sixth Avenue, staying in the far left-hand lane, so that I could make a turn at the corner, drive around the block, and then head back uptown to my home. As I sat there waiting for the light to turn from red to green, a cabbie neared my mother's car on the right side, angling the nose of his cab in a way that appeared to me that if I moved forward, I'd surely clip his taxi. Obviously, he too wanted to make a left-hand turn and planned to cut me off.

As a beginner, I had no idea of what to do in this kind of situation and was quite afraid that even if he made his turn ahead of me, the cabbie might damage my mom's car. For a seventeen year old, inexperienced in driving in city traffic, there was considerable pressure on me to begin with, now compounded by nervousness and high stress, bordering on panic.

So what I did was, I followed the instructions in my learner's manual precisely. I made sure that the transmission was in neutral, then carefully set the manual parking brake, then looked in the rear-view mirror to be sure that I'd be safe.

And then I opened my car door, quickly stepped out and scrambled over the hood. In only a moment or two I was at the cabbie's door. Since it was April, and before global cooling like we have now, it was warm outside. So, the cabbie's window was open wide.

I reached inside, shook him several times, then started to pound him with both fists, while trying to crawl inside to really do some bodily harm. A few moments later, Kenny's hands were on my belt and shirt collar and he dragged me out of the taxi, still thrashing and screaming as I kicked the taxi door as hard as I could.

We returned to our vehicle and continued our journey home without any further event. But, I truly believe that although I was supposed to be the student that day, I taught that taxi driver, and anyone else who might have witnessed the scene, a life-lesson they never forgot. And that's only one small reason as to why the streets of New York City are the greatest school in the world.

That's it for today folks.


Friday, May 14, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/14/2010

President Obama announced some very good news for New Yorkers. He says he's coming here soon to make some kind of speech. And since this has been the coldest Spring I can remember for a very long time, he's going to do us all a huge favor. We can use all the warmth we can get and all the hot air this guy blows out will keep us warm for a month.

My last entry got me thinking about what wonderful people baseball players are, especially ones with the Yankees. For them, what difference does a tradition make that's only been around since the 1840's? As I mentioned yesterday, I played a lot more than I watched as a kid, but still saw plenty of games. Not only on TV, but live.

In those days I lived on Manhattan's Upper East Side, 91st Street in fact. And, to show you how far the city's gone down the chute, when I was eleven years or so I used to walk to the subway station on 86th and Lex and take the train up to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx by myself. Today, I wouldn't let my kid travel up there without an armored car, bullet-proof vest and a SWAT team trained driver.

Anyway, one Sunday afternoon I went to see a double-header. I did that fairly often. Remarkably, in those days teams let you watch two games for the price of one. Today you're lucky if you can afford to see just one, unless you want to order food, drink or a beer. In that case, most folks have to take out loans.

But, most days back then, the excitement didn't stop for me when play was over. I used to hang out near the player's entrance after the games, and try to get autographs. In time I'd built up a fairly large collection, including the likes of Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, even the great DiMag.

Most often, when the players left the stadium, they climbed onto a bus. If you couldn't get a signature while they were walking to their ride, you'd "struck out" autograph-wise and would have to wait until next time around.

And then one day I had a baseball brainstorm. I put some saved allowance together and visited the US Post Office where I bought some post cards. At that time they cost one cent. Then I sat down and self-addressed the fronts, but left the backs completely blank. So, the next time I visited the stadium, and trotted alongside my hero's to their bus, I tried to hand my cards to whomever I could.

Surprisingly, sometimes a player would stop and sign a card right there, but others actually not only took them from me, I'd get some autographs sent back in the mail.

Well, I thought I was really on to something here. I mean, that was pretty good, having Yankee autographs show up in my mailbox. And then one Sunday afternoon, after the Yanks had boarded their bus, this player named Bob Cerv leaned out an open window, there was no air-conditioning in buses back then, and took some of my cards from my hand.

Then as I watched, Cerv handed half the stack of my cards to the guy sitting next to him, a utility infielder named Loren Babe. Babe had a lifetime 38 at bats for the Yankees, playing all told in 17 games in a very short NY career.

The next thing I knew, while I stood there on the ground watching, Cerv and Babe tore my cards to shreds and tossed them down on me like confetti. I didn't know what to do, I was so upset, and then one thing came to mind. The Polo Grounds field, where the Giants played, wasn't very far from where I stood that very moment, and that same afternoon I became one of their fans. I rooted for that team, and especially Willie Mays until two years after they moved to San Francisco.

But, why write this tale today? Because in my experience with the Yankees they've always turned out to be self-serving, arrogant, miserable creeps regardless of their record. And it's been years and years since I've had anything to do with them and in fact to this day, go out of my way to avoid learning any of their player's names.

Nonetheless, this NY clown who dissed the opposing pitcher the other day, causing the pitcher to go out and throw a perfect game, reinforced my almost lifelong opinion. To me, that team has always employed the lowest-life dirt-bags in professional sports, and this time they got the publicity they deserve. Because, I can't imagine anyone who knows diddly about sportsmanship at all would give them an ounce of professional respect.

That's it for today folks.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/13/2010

In trying to keep a mix of things in this blog, and not focus on any particular ones, I find that no matter how much I try to diversify, certain subjects keep coming up. Perhaps that's because, those particular issues get so much attention in the news. And, beyond that, there doesn't seem to be a lot else going on that's of any real interest to me.

However, there's one story intriguing enough to me to spend a few minutes typing about regarding something that happened in professional baseball.

To my recollection I saw my first baseball game when I was six or seven years old. It was televised, and I had no real clue as to what was actually going on. But, after that beginning, I learned the game in time, eventually evolving into a fan. As I got older I found that I much preferred to participate than watch, and certainly played a lot, though much more in pick-up games than for any particular teams.

Despite my preference for playing, I became a fan of three different teams. First the New York Yankees, until I was age eleven, then the Giants who left me flat and moved to San Francisco. After that, in time, I gravitated to the Mets.

Despite being a fan, however, and pulling for my favorite team, as much as I watched them play most of the pap, hype and noise spewed out by broadcasters made very little, if any, impression on me. I was much more interested in seeing what players did when they pitched, hit or fielded in the game I was watching, then their histories, preferences in beer or what kind of car they drove.

So, due to my total disinterest in things such as players lifetime statistics, professional records or whatever other trivia there is, I rarely knew very much about any of them except their performance in the particular game I was watching. As a result, with very little exception, I know virtually nothing about most baseball players at all.

Then, a while ago, I'm not sure of the year, players started showing up with hair longer than my wife's and beards, mustaches and tattoos like jailhouse lifers covering their bodies. On top of that free-agency came about and, in my opinion, the player attitude then shifted from "I play for a particular team" to "Where's the money?" That means that in effect, the players themselves don't care who they play for, so why should I. So I turned them off altogether, haven't watched a game in years and don't plan to in the future.

And that brings me to today's story. It seems there's this guy who plays for one of the New York teams who, when leaving the field for the dugout, stepped on the pitcher's mound. Now, I don't know what that means, but apparently it's an age old tradition to respect the pitcher's turf and circumvent the mound when crossing the diamond.

The opposing pitcher got really upset and let his feelings be known that he thought the player's actions were crude, rude and indifferent, to which the player replied something like; forget about it, it's not important, get a life.

And then, a few days later, the pitcher turned around and pitched a perfect game when facing another team. It's only the 19th time its happened in the history of the game.

The reason I'm so interested in all this, even though I know nothing about the teams or players involved, is that I think the game was perfect, too. Except for me it was the perfect squelch. It doesn't get better that this.

Some bozo who thinks he walks on water disses a competitor, inspiring the competitor to go out and excel beyond his wildest dreams (oops, I don't think you should say "wild" about a pitcher, but I'm leaving it in.) And now the two will be tied together in future baseball lore forever, the pitcher because of his incredible accomplishment, achieved only 18 times before, and the jerk who tried to disparage him and came out looking like the major-league-dunce he apparently is. The guy's a total loser and will stay one for the rest of his life.

That's it for today folks.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/12/2010

More cold, damp, drizzly weather in the Northeast. Spring was here again a few days ago, then disappeared once more. Now, I don't know too much about flowers and plants, but I wouldn't be surprised if the petunias, begonias and whatever else tries to grow around here packed up their seeds and moved south.

And what I really want to do is to find AlGore, so I can borrow the overcoat he doesn't think he needs anymore due to global warming. Because AlGore can believe whatever he wants about climates, but all I really know is, I'm sitting here freezing my tail off.

There's not an awful lot in the news lately worth writing about, so it's just a couple of comments today about a few of the headlines. It seems good old Tiger Woods is back in the forefront for a change, but not about winning golf events. It seems yesterday he fired his swing coach, Hank Haney, who'd been with him for the last six years. Naturally the story Woods people gave to the press was that Haney resigned and they're still the best of friends.

That news got me thinking about how this whole Tiger situation has been treated from the beginning. The conclusion I reached is that whatever really took place, from step one when his wife chased Tiger out of his house, whoever's been handling the public relations end of it all has been making colossal mistakes. All the talk about addictions to women and undergoing clinical cures wouldn't convince a turnip that there was any kind of remedy to fix that marriage. It all came down to Tiger saving as many bucks as he could and getting off the front pages.

That fiasco was followed up by Tiger's departed dad visiting him in a dream right before the Master's Tournament. This time the public relations and advertising geniuses thought that disparaging the deceased and insulting viewer's sensibilities would help a sponsor sell a few more pairs of sneakers. Add to that the information leaking out about Tiger's gambling habits, and send in who else to explain that away? None other than Charles Barkley, a wonderful human being to be associated with. If that guy lives to be two thousand he'll still not have paid off all of his own gambling debts.

After Tiger's poor performance in the Master's Tournament, despite Tiger's dad's spirits attempting to lift Tiger's, the loss was explained away as an attempted recovery from a tragedy comparable to the one suffered by the legendary Ben Hogan. In actuality that disgraceful insult to Hogan's memory was like comparing someone broken and bleeding returning from the sill of death's door to a Girl scout with a hangnail.

Follow that up with the withdrawal from the Player's Tournament with a strained neck. Then a few days later his swing coach suddenly departs. What all of this adds up to is a player whose game is currently far above "par", both on and off the golf course. And in golf above par's not a good thing. But, what I seem to feel is wrong throughout all of this, is not specifically what Tiger's done, good or bad, but more about how the situations themselves have been handled.

I think whoever's been handling the public relations side of Tiger's travails is taking bad situations and making them considerably worse. Because I doubt very many folks really buy the stories, excuses and attempted cover-ups provided to explain away what really took place. And, when all of the dis-information is added up, Tiger's "recovery" becomes that much harder for him, because the press and public will keep hammering away until they feel they learned the truth. Or, if these tragedies keep piling up as they have in Tiger's recent life...perhaps quite soon, they'll simply stop caring at all.

That's it for today folks.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/11/2010

During the past two days I've started to get back in the rhythm of writing. Books that is, aside from this blog. And, as I mentioned recently, as far as characters are concerned, in my case they just seem to show up on the pages.

For example, a name that surfaced here yesterday is Alec Fleet, and as I mentioned, at this point I know little about him but am eager to find out what he's all about. Now, today a new wrinkle showed up. The hero in my books, Bobby Cole, is working a new job alongside another bodyguard, Tony Parisi whom Bobby just met for the first time. And, as it seems to be turning out, Tony Parisi works for Alec Fleet.

While that's all well and good, and the story will continue to wind on, I just found out something a little upsetting. According to Tony Parisi, Alec Fleet is a very reclusive person. He's not an extremist, such as Howard Hughes, but nonetheless rarely interacts with other people. The man is not only never seen in public, he's the same in private, too. So, even though Tony Parisi is a trusted, long-time employee, he doesn't meet with Fleet personally either. What that means is, I'm going to have to wait like everyone else to find out just who this guy Fleet really is, because, right now, nobody seems to know.

Meanwhile, President Obama nominated U.S. Solicitor General and former Dean of Harvard Law School Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Though as an academic she has little experience on the actual bench, her credentials seem impeccable. Yet, despite her seemingly glowing reputation her nomination appears to be causing some sort of confusion, if not real hesitation among Democrats.

Because, for right now it seems that Republicans have little objection to putting Ms Kagan on the highest bench in law. "Now why would that be?" is the question apparently circulating amongst the Dem's. The reason their concerns have been rising is said to be that they can't figure out why the nominee is so acceptable to the opposition. That means they're going to have to dig around her credentials and life until they find out the reason.

So, if all goes along as it usually does when these bozos in DC get involved, an apparently perfect candidate will either be disqualified or decide she's had enough and withdraw.

The good news though remains as it has for those of us residing outside of the Capitol. While all the pol's are chasing themselves in circles and babbling incoherently amongst each other, we can just get on with our lives. Although it's good to have them around to talk about once in a while, because just about everyone enjoys watching clowns now and then.

That's it for today folks.


Monday, May 10, 2010

BloggeRhythms 5/10/2010

Finally got a sale-ready proof of my new book, Cole Calling, this morning so we're off and running. Next comes marketing, promotion and all that sales stuff, and this time around, maybe some personal appearances and signings. After all, this is book number three so, pretty soon, I might become a real author.

Aside from that, I just finished reading the third book in a row or so by other authors, and that helps with inspiration. Because, it's been quite a while since I've read novels that I'd call very good, but these three certainly were, so that's motivational too. And now that I have no more editing or other changes regarding what I've already finished, my excuses are finished too.

So, it's back to the keyboard and finding out what Bobby Cole and his friends and foes are up to at the moment. I know I've touched on this aspect of fiction writing in earlier entries, but now that I'm thinking about it again, I thought I'd jot it down. Because, even though I do all the writing myself, I've no idea where the actual words and individual scenes come from.

The same goes for most of the characters. It seems to me that I just sit at my desk and all this stuff just shows up on my screen. A few blogs ago I mentioned that Albert Brooks, actor, author, director among many other things, said writers are always working, 24/7/365 though not always on paper. And, in my case, I agree with him completely.

Because I know Bobby hasn't been just sitting around waiting for me to show up to jot his exploits down, he hasn't got time for that. So, I'm going to put my fingers on the keyboard, to find out what he's been up to, and what's going to happen next. Because, even if I wasn't his author, I want to find out what's going on myself. And, aside from the fact that he does his job extremely well in my books, I really like him.

As far as the other characters go, they work pretty much the same way. I type and they show up. For example, there's this new guy, Alec Fleet. I don't really know who he is or very much about him, except he seems very successful, polished, articulate and charming. But, is he a good or bad guy? I haven't a clue and, for now, neither does Bobby. In fact, Bobby hasn't even met him yet. But he will. Then we'll both find out about the elite Mr. Fleet, and exactly where this gentleman will take us.

That's it for today folks.