New Shoes in the Rain

Monday, August 31, 2015

And so it goes

Good Monday morning, everyone.  Found a few quiet minutes to collect my thoughts and commit them to this space.

Last week was a pretty good week, followed by a good weekend.  We had unseasonably cool weather in central Kentucky until the last couple of days, and even got a little rain over the weekend.

I did not take advantage of this nice weather by playing golf, as I am fighting my way through a sore shoulder that arose from a pretty serious stiff neck almost two weeks ago.  This shoulder issue has flared up a couple of times in the past, but not to this extent.  It is a dull ache during most of my waking hours, but when I go to bed, it REALLY begins to be bothersome.  So far have been taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and applying topical stuff like Icy Hot to treat the symptoms.  Found something a little more powerful yesterday that helped, but it's a bit messy to use during a workday.

In case any of you are amateur doctors or physical therapists, most of the pain is on the outside of my shoulder, in the upper part of my arm.  Internet research indicates this might be related to a rotator cuff inflammation, but hard to say.  It just hurts, sometimes a lot.

Someone else who's hurting are my Cincinnati Reds, who have won a grand total of ten games in their last 33.  That's not going to put any team in a good place, and the Reds were already near the cellar of their division when this started.  The team appears to already be in rebuilding mode, and since all of the starting pitchers are rookies with limited major league experience, this does not look to get better anytime soon.  I suppose the good news is that the season only has about a month to go, and the Reds are still attracting fans to their ballpark despite their recent poor results.

Again last week we saw more senseless tragedies by people with guns.  I honestly cannot believe that something cannot be done to prevent this stuff from happening over and over and over.  And I'm not about to imply that I know better than the authorities in the states where these events occurred.  But there has to be a better way to keep people with emotional issues from being armed.

I heard that the Video Music Awards were last night.  They still have those?

Instead, my wife and I were watching a pretty amazing 2010 concert that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the first production of the musical "Les Miserables."  The production featured performers in costume throughout who sort of acted out their parts.  Stunning vocal talent by all who participated, especially by a performer named Alfie Boe, who is reported to be taking over the part of Jean Valjean in the current Broadway production of this play.  The most compelling part of this was when the concert was over, and the performers onstage by many members of the original 1985 cast, and some of these performers sang with their more contemporary counterparts.

If you had told me before I saw the movie version of this that I would have even a passing interest in a musical based on a book about the French Revolution, I would have questioned your sanity.

Gotta get back to work.  Have a good week!

Monday, August 24, 2015

The boss(es) of me

Good Monday morning to all.   Hope you had a great weekend.  Central Kentucky finally got a little rain, but not all that much, so the browning continues locally.

I know that I made a pact with my regular visitors not to discuss my job, and I plan to uphold that commitment to you now.  But the word "boss" came up with my grandchildren yesterday and I started to think about the bosses in my life, mostly past, and how they have influenced and shaped me.  And, no, this will not turn into some offshoot of that movie "Horrible Bosses."  As an aside, I think I read that the powers that be in Hollywood are either going to make or have made a sequel to that movie!

I began my working life as a 16 year old in Paris, Kentucky.  I got a job at a local supermarket, where my older brother had worked after school.  Eventually this store would also employ my younger brother and my mother, of all people, when she returned to the workforce.

The store was owned by an affable fellow who never met a stranger, and who had run a smaller market elsewhere in town before opening this operation.  He was not an especially good or bad manager, and relied heavily on personal sentiment or family connections to hire folks (as my family tree indicates).  But I have to say that I learned a lot from him about how to deal with people, mostly customers.  I worked there six years, and actually worked three years for this enterprise while in college--the owner was willing to work around my class schedule every semester to allow me to get 40 hours per week!

I left that job during my senior year of college.  I had become friendly with a local man whose family ran a funeral home, and he invited me to come to work for him part-time.  So I did.  The work was never for me, as I was never sure how to conduct myself.  And I went to work for him full-time after graduation, as I had not found anything better, but I only lasted a month.  Too much inconsistency of behavior.  He was kind of a screwball when he was not working with the bereaved, but when he was with the families of the departed, he was perfectly appropriate.  So even though I worked for him for maybe six months, I learned the value of appropriate behavior tailored to one's environment and situation.

About that same time a friend informed me of an opportunity with the local radio station, and through this connection I got a part-time job there as a weekend announcer.  The man for whom we both worked was a good man, a little different, but he always treated me well.  When my job at the funeral home was not to my liking, I visited with him, and he told me that he would gladly use me as vacation relief, thereby guaranteeing me eight consecutive weeks of work while I pondered my future.  And he helped me get a permanent job, combining announcing full-time with a sales position.  We all went our separate ways when the radio station changed ownership, but I have to say that I learned from him the value of versatility and adaptability.

These were all good foundation experiences.  I'll quickly note some others for whom I worked:

--Another radio station manager who informed me that "my job is to make sure you do your job."  Yes, he really said that.

--A female enterpreneur who would have you believe that she succeeded through her own ingenuity and drive, but was staked to her original business by her wealth father and then proceeded to use personal relationships to gain entry to businesses.  This woman also sued her own mother during my tenure with her, if you can imagine.

--A very good man who had sold his company (with his partners) to a larger concern, only to have it swallowed up by an enormous corporation.  He hired me in the midst of telling me repeatedly how much he hated his job and the company.

--A serial philanderer who made horrible hiring decisions and left me to clean up his mess.  I did that, and after he had been fired, I was fired, too.

--A succession of nurses who understood too little about business and even less about human relations and interpersonal dynamics.  The last of these asked me once why I didn't drive to more locations in my territory, and then complained about the high mileage reimbursements when I did as she suggested.

--A man who never met me before hiring me.  He relied on his own boss, who was located in the same area where I live, to meet with me and evaluate me.  This boss also seldom mentioned when he would be visiting the area, and would then let it slip in a conference call that he had been in Lexington.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.  I have most assuredly learned more about how NOT to conduct oneself or how to treat people from these managers.  From what I can tell, I've developed a workable style of leading and supporting others.  My current position originally was designed as a leadership role, but morphed into a position that does not have responsibility for others a few months into the job.

I'll close with some great words that Ted Turner used to have on his desk:  "Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way!"

Have a good week.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Credit where credit's due

Good morning to all.  Welcome to a rare Sunday morning post!

I've had a bit of a hectic schedule over the past week or so, but things appear to be getting back to normal now.  My wife returned safely from her trip to Colorado, albeit a bit delayed by severe weather in the Denver area last Tuesday.  And when she came home, she was fighting an upper respiratory disorder.  She is slowly getting better, but, of course, that takes time.

She told me that she experienced something that I never did during several years of frequent air travel--her plane and others in the airport complex that contained passengers had to be evacuated due to a tornado warning.  She said that she and her fellow passengers had to go down several flights of steps into a tunnel area for safety.

The weather here in central Kentucky is much more closely aligned with what we usually see in  And dry.  And when it rains, it storms.  Up until recently we have had wet conditions almost continually since March.  Not anymore.

Now some comments about good and poor customer service, which is something of a tradition in this blog.  Several recent experiences come to mind:

The first such is with my favorite supplier of "stuff," Colonel Littleton, LTD of Lynnville, Tennessee. You'll recall that I bought a new cellphone holster from the Colonel when I purchased my iPhone 6 Plus, and I liked it very much.  However, over time I noticed that the closure, which is a hole in the cover flap that a ball stud from the main body of the holster fits through, wasn't keeping the phone closed.  In fact, it looked like the leather was turned somewhat inside out.

Given their stellar reputation for service, I sent a photo of this with an e-mail to their customer service address, and within a day they had created a replacement piece for me (complete with my initials) and shipped it, along with a return label to send back my original.  The representative with whom I corresponded said that they wanted to see my original holster in person to understand what happened.  So they are most assuredly as good as their word, as the Colonel himself says that if you ever have a problem, just let us know and we'll take care of it.  They do!

Here's another good one.  Recently I bought a TwelveSouth HiRise charger base for my wife to use with her iPhone 6.  I wanted a gold one to match her phone and TwelveSouth makes this item in this color.  Got it a month ago, and it worked great.  Until she returned from her trip, that it.  Then it started giving a message via the phone saying that the charger wasn't "certified."  I did a little troubleshooting, but ultimately sent an e-mail to their customer service.  After a couple of followup questions they said they would send a replacement cable, which arrived yesterday.  And that fixed the problem.  Another satisfactory experience!

A third?  Here goes.....remember the story of Power Support and my wife's iPhone case and my iPad case?  Well, those folks are also as good as their word.  They gave a $90 credit for both items, which I will eventually put to good use....on other items.  And this was after both items were out of warranty!

On the downside, here's one you'll appreciate.  During our daughter's family's annual visit to Kentucky, we visited some shops in the little town of Berea, which is known for local crafts and such.  One shop featured a bottled food product we'd been having difficulty finding, so I bought three bottles, one for each household in our family.  Not long after returning to Colorado, our daughter noticed that the expiration date, on a small, faded label on the bottom of the bottles, had passed over a year earlier!  Needless to say, we all discarded this stuff.

But here's the took me to Berea last week, so I stopped by that shop.  The clerk first argued with me that they would have sold something expired, then said that "no one else complained" and THEN said that they don't carry that item any longer!  Hmmmm.....

Those are pretty good averages, I guess.  Three standouts and one really negative experience.

That's enough for a Sunday morning.  Enjoy what's left of your weekend!

Friday, August 7, 2015

The fix

Happy Friday, all.  I'm enjoying the second of a couple of days off, not to gloat....

Took my wife and granddaughter to the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport (also known as CVG in the airline biz) for a flight to Colorado yesterday morning.  Rained the entire way there, rained the whole time I was onsite, and rained for the couple of additional hours I spent in the northern Kentucky area.  And rained all the way home, too.

There's a bit of a trend here....but as I am always quick to say, I have friends in drought-stricken areas, and I certainly sympathize with their current climate situation.  But I'm grateful for rainfall in early August, as it used to be such a rarity.

But it's kinda quiet here, not only because my wife is away, but also because there was a ten-year-old here for about three weeks after her family visited in July.

Later today I'll trek west to Owensboro, about three hours away, where a good friend has planted his flag and settled in the past few months.  He just bought a house, and, though he's not a bad guy in many respects, he did not acquire that do-it-yourself gene that is always necessary (in varying degrees, of course) for home ownership.

I just put my toolbox and drill in the car, as well as an extension cord.  He has already mentioned that there is not a single towel bar in the master bathroom, so I know we'll be addressing that.  I asked him to make a list, and I expect that we'll get after it following a trip to the local home improvement store.

My fee for this effort is a decent dinner and a night's lodging, which my friend is happy to provide.

As regular visitors to this space can attest, I am quick to complain about products and services that are not proving to be viable, and just as quick to give credit where due.  Here's another such example"

When we got my wife a new iPhone 6 last November, she picked out a case for it, a Power Jacket Air Support semi-clear case.  Thin, light, but with a matte finish that would allow the gold color of her new phone to show.  Nice, right?

Not so much.  After a few months it began to peel and crack, and we also had difficulty removing it.

Not long after that, I got an iPad Air 2, to replace an older model.  After trying something else, I got essentially the same thing, the Power Support Air Jacket Clear for the iPad.  Liked it initially, as my wife did hers.  But it did the same thing, the outer finish flaking off in splotches.

These items only carry a 90 day warranty, and we just replaced my wife's iPhone case with the same item I bought for my iPhone 6 Plus, the Tech21EVO.  And we discarded her ruined Air Jacket.  On a side note, I would be tickled if Tech21 made the same product for the iPad Air 2, but as far as I can tell, they do not.

After noting that the second of these cases disintegrated, I wrote to the manufacturer, and to my utter astonishment they offered to either replace the items (BOTH of them!) or provide a store credit to pick out something else.  I opted for the latter, so will decide at a later point what to get in exchange.

I appreciate a manufacturer who stands behind their product, even after the warranty period.

We're also dealing with the airbag replacement recall that has plagued so many brands of cars.  Our two Hondas (my wife's 2005 Accord and my 2007 Pilot) were both part of the recall, and our dealer has already ordered the replacement parts.  Once they come, we'll get those taken care of, and they say it's about 90 minutes per car.  The rep with whom I spoke said that these parts are on a greatly delayed backorder, so let's hope nothing happens with either before the repairs are completed.

Little else to report, so I'll close for now.  Have a good weekend!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Doing the right thing

It's Monday, friends.  Hope the week is off to a good start.

Since I don't go to therapy, my periodic confessionals in this space will have to do, but I've made a pact with myself to simply stop complaining so much and/or to stop conveying negativity to others.  The majority of my negativity revolves around work, as it does with many folks, but it creeps into other aspects of life, too.

Here's an example:

Recently I spotted a possible opportunity that might be a fit for a good friend.  I sent a note to the person who posted this opportunity on a business networking site, a former colleague.  He responded with a bit of information (turned out the situation wasn't a possibility for my friend) and then asked if everything else was OK in my world.

OK, I thought, now I'm at a crossroads.  But instead of my default response of "not bad, but my job is ____ or ____," I opted to say that I have "been better, been worse, but my family and I are all well, and that's what counts."  I was secretly and briefly proud of myself for not unloading on this former colleague, who's not seen me or spoken with me in a couple of years.

I just returned from a haircut.  The gal who cuts my hair (and my wife's and my daughter-in-law's) asked me how I was, and I just smiled and said that " if I was any better, I'd be twins."  We both laughed, but I know (and she does, if she'll remember) times past when she asked me the same question and I actually told her.

I know, baby steps.  But achieving a positive state is harder than those who are prone to negativity might think.

And for those who know me, I'm probably not as positive as you often THINK that I am....

This is all somewhat how I conduct myself on the golf course, and those who have played with me can attest that I am generally of a pretty even temper when playing golf.  I play a little less than once a week and try to keep my expectations modest.  So I get excited when I hit a good shot, certainly, but don't get too down on myself when I hit a poor one, because I don't play often and I'm not highly skilled or extensively trained.  I do the best I can, and accept what happens as one shot in many.

I know this is the right thing for those around me, and I certainly can feel that it will be for me, too.

Stay tuned....