Friday, December 29, 2006

Another year closes

2006 is nearly history. It brought a lot of good things into Carol’s and my lives, and a few bad things. Since my glass is always ¾ full, I think the good far outweighed the bad.

But I also tend to look forward rather than back, so I’m eagerly anticipating 2007.

The immediate future seems VERY bright for the company I work for. Demand for our product is surging, prices are up high enough that we ought to make record profits, and we’re installing some equipment to increase production and further improve quality. Not a bad mix!

Although I lost my mother in November, the rest of my family is healthy and doing well with families of their own, and with careers and finances. I’m probably closer now to my sister following Mom’s death than I have been for a number of years, and that’s good.

Now, if I could just make some progress on my current book project; and maybe get my golf swing under control...

I hope you have a happy and safe New Years celebration, and that 2007 is filled with good things for you and your family.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

An evening phone call

7:40 p.m. I answered. It was the evening shift leader from my plant with a quandary.

This was the shift that worked on Christmas day. Typically the company will provide a meal for that shift and have it catered and brought in. The idea is to provide a bit of special treatment for the folks who have to work on such a uniquely family holiday. But some shifts prefer to spend the money on raw food and cook it themselves. Sometimes they prefer to do this on a later date after Christmas. And that's fine.

Well, this shift had chosen to order some special cuts of meat from Sam's Club, and sent one of their members by on her way to the plant tonight to pick it up. She had with her a company-provided credit card for payment.

All was okay until she presented the card and it was rejected. She had neither a personal credit card (with enough credit on it), cash, or funds in her checking account to pay for the meat, so she left it at the store with a promise to pick it up the next day. The shift leader assured me that they had managed to eat something, so at least they weren't all hungry.

His concern was that a call to the card-issuer revealed that the card was blocked from purchases at Wal-Mart (and by extension from Sam's Club). We speculated about that, but quickly moved on to the real question: How were they going to get their meat so they could Bar-B-Que it tomorrow night?

It seems that nobody on the shift had an extra $100 in cash, check or credit to be able to stop by tomorrow and pay for the meat. (Afterwards, the company would immediately reimburse them.)

We talked about the problems we have buying small items from vendors with whom we do not maintain an active account. But before much time elapsed, I realized that I lived only a few miles from the Sam's Club in question, that they were still open tonight, and that I had sufficient cash and/or credit to buy the meat, put it on ice overnight, and bring it to the plant tomorrow.

So as I type this, two large ice chests full of meat and ice are in the back of my car in the garage. That way I won't forget to take the meat tomorrow morning. I'll ice it down afresh when I get to the plant (we have ice machines!) and it will be ready for grilling tomorrow evening.

And I'll get reimbursed within a week at worst. No problem.

Tomorrow I'll also try to figure out why our company credit card seems to be blocked at Wal-Mart. THAT should be fun.

But I wonder about the issue of no one having a spare hundred dollars at hand. What would they do in an emergency? Does everone really live that close to the edge, barely making it from paycheck to paycheck? Am I so out of touch with reality that my view of having a slight cushion is totally passe?

These people aren't making minimum wage. All make over $20 per hour, and most make over $25. That's over $54,000 per year, PLUS overtime. We have a LOT of overtime. And many are two-income families, meaning the spouse also brings in a paycheck.

Rainy days happen. Doesn't anyone save for them any more?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Arson? Suicide?

With reference to my last post about my neighbor's house, several readers asked how anyone knew for sure the homeowner's death was a suicide.

And the answer, of course, is that nobody really does know for sure.

Here were the circumstances:

She and a man who was also living in the house were arguing in the driveway outside the garage. In fact, Carol and I saw them there just minutes before the fire. She went into the house, slamming and locking the door.

Minutes later (maybe 10 to 15) the central portion of the house was engulfed in flames. The fire erupted VERY fast and flames were soon shooting through the roof. Later investigation showed that gasoline or a similar accelerant had been poured into the middle of the house. When it ignited, the fire raged into intensity very quickly.

The man who had been arguing with her outside ran into the back yard screaming her name and telling her to "Get out!" She was later found by the firemen lying on a bed in the back bedroom, dead from smoke inhalation or asphyxiation. The assumption was that the doused the central part of the house, ignited the gasoline, went into the bedroom and lay down. There was no sign of any attempt on her part to open a window or exit the house.

In the months prior to the fire she had attempted suicide several times. She had confided to me and Carol that she was clinically depressed and addicted to prescription medications. There is a lot more to her story, but I won't go into that now.

Bottom line: the investigators determined that the fire was clearly deliberately set. Given the timing of the blaze immediately following the argument, her prior medical history, the evidence of gasoline, the lack of evidence of any attempt on her part to escape, all led to the ruling of arson/suicide.

But will we ever know for sure? Not really.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

...and the walls come a-tumblin' down!

Remember the house fire I posted about back in July? You know, the house right across my back fence, that...

No? Well, here's the link to refresh your memory. (There are pictures.)

Anyway, we learned later that:

1. The lady who lived in that house and died in the fire set the fire herself. Intentionally. Yes, it was an arson-suicide. That precluded the insurance from paying anything.
2. The heirs (her two adult children) had little money themselves, so they could not afford to have the house demolished.
3. The lady who lived there did have an estate and a will, but the only official copy was in the house and burned up in the fire. Thus the heirs had no access to THAT money to get the house demolished while the estate was tied up in probate.

Well, today somebody is paying to have the house demolished, because this morning a crew arrived with some heavy equipment and went to work.

Here's one picture I took.

To see some of the other pictures, click HERE.

"Joshua fit the battle of Jericho,
Jericho, Jericho.
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho,

Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday mood

Today at work (last day before a 4-day weekend!!) we held our office "Chinese Christmas Party."

What? You don't know what that is? I understand they're called different things in different parts of the country. (Don't know WHAT the Chinese call them.) I wrote a post last year listing the "rules" and how they work. Click HERE to read that post. They're a LOT of fun!

This year I wore my Santa hat again and walked into our lunch room with a hearty "Ho, Ho, Ho!" Immediately one of our female employees leaped to her feet, pointed a long finger at me and demanded, "Who you callin' a Ho, boy?! You gonna get slapped if you do that again!"

My face turned the color of my hat. The others loved it. That pretty much set the mood for the gathering.

We feasted on taquitos and cookies, drank coffee and/or orange juice, and had our 45 minutes or so of fun.

What? You don't know what taquitos are?

Pronounced "tacky toes" by some (who d0n't know that the accent is on the second syllable), they are simply a flour tortilla wrapped around your choice of breakfast foods. Popular varieties include bean and bacon, bacon egg and cheese, potato bacon egg and cheese, chorizo and egg, and many more.

No, I'm NOT going to explain chorizo. Look it up.

The feasting and gift-exchange party set the tone for the day. Little work was accomplished, but some did get done amidst all the people going from office to office wishing co-workers a merry Christmas, happy New Year, and so on. Usually as they were leaving early. Making the rest of us feel put upon for staying later.

But it didn't really matter. All of us were in a holiday mood!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


And no, I'm not talking about the car-maker from Bavaria.

I read an article in Golf Digest last month---

What? Did you say I have a 0ne-track mind and it's always on golf? THAT'S NOT TRUE! I occasionally think of subject other than golf. Right now, for example, I'm thinking about eating, because it's almost supper time.

Most of the time I think about sex, because I'm a man. At least, that's what the shrinks would have you believe. But that's off the subject at hand, so back to the article.

The topic was the various betting games that the writer would play on the golf course with his buddies. Now understand, please; I do NOT wager on the golf course. ESPECIALLY about the outcome of the match, or of a hole, or even of a particular shot.

I know better. I don't mind wagering on something at which I have a possibility of winning, but that precludes my golf game.

ANYway, this writer had one "rule" in a particular type of match in which a small wager had been made to heighten the level of concern about the outcome. The rule involved invoking the "B.M.W." penalty.

Here's how it works: Most golfer are perfectionists. Thus they are never completely happy with a given shot they make. Even if the ball flies to the green and goes right into the hole, some will complain that they meant to hit it higher, and with a little draw. The fact that it went in the hole was just good luck, and therefore it wasn't really a very good shot. (If you've ever played around others, you've heard this kind of comment.)

Well, the writer had a rule that if anyone hit a shot and immediately started to complain about how they hit it thin, or it felt funky, or they started it on the wrong line, or WHATEVER, and it turned out to be pretty good (on the green, or close to the hole, or even IN the hole)... Then any of the other competitors could announce loudly, "B.M.W!" and the complainer would have to replay the shot. A do-over! No matter HOW good it had turned out!

They weren't allowed to accept the good result, because they'd proclaimed loudly that it wasn't a good shot. They had to do it over, and see if they could do as well or better.

What? You want to know why they say "B.M.W?" It stands for "Bitch, Moan, and Whine."

He said invoking the rule a few times quickly broke players of the complaining habit.

Now, I LIKE that idea. I'd like to invoke it at my office to certain employees.

Employee: "Man, that fog was terrible this morning, and I got held up by the train at Bloomington. I meant to leave earlier and get here on time..."

Me: "B.M.W!! Get back in your car, drive home, and then commute to work again. We'll see how late you are THEN!"

Or how about this?

Employee: "Damn, the network is slow today. People must be dowloading stuff. My files are taking forever to load and transfer."

Me: "B.M.W!! Go erase those files, recreate them and come back tonight when nobody's on the network and transfer the files THEN!"

After a few B.M.W.s, I'll bet folks around the office would be a lot more chipper! (Or a lot quieter. Both results would be satisfactory, thank you very much.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Do I sense some?

In the comments and -- yes -- emails! I think I'm picking up a bit of tongue-in-cheek there.

Do you honestly think this is a laughing matter? Consider this:

Sports injuries happen every day, to multitudes of people. Did you know that sports injuries, often involving the actual sports equipment, are the leading cause of disability among both men and women under the age of 45?

(Actually I just made that up. But it COULD be true, if we all let our guards down!)

Yeah, I know, getting whacked by a golf ball sounds funny. And true, nothing serious happened. THIS TIME!!

But next time the ball could hit one of those "sensitive spots" that Karyn mentioned.

And get this: I have read of a man who actually killed himself by swinging a golf club at a ball that was too close to a tree. No, the BALL didn't hit him. The club shaft hit the tree in his follow-through, wrapped around the small trunk, and the club head broke off of the steel shaft with a sharp piece of shaft protruding from the hosel and impaled him in the neck. He bled to death! (I did NOT make that up, btw).

And Kirsten, don't think the cold weather can save you! Think about all the basketball injuries, and skiing, and ice skating, and... Well, you get the picture. You say you show the sports equipment who's boss by your winter quarantine? Well, I say you just give it a rest to gather its strength and make strategy!

So beware, readers everywhere. Another link to the "C" has now revealed itself.

Will it never end?? Will any of us survive?? How long will you continue to doubt!!?

(I think I need to find my "happy pills" and swallow a few.)

Monday, December 18, 2006

A golf-ball consp...? (Oops!)

I almost said wrote it!

If you read yesterday's post, and the comments by my alert readers, mayby something more was going on than simpy golf ineptitude on my part.

Okay, as we all know, the golf ineptitude is a given. Let's get past that, shall we, and focus on what's IMPORTANT here? Thank you.

I've always said it was the inanimate objects that were exacting their revenge on us. And although it often seems that golf balls are NOT inanimate (since they tend to jump out of the way of my fast-approaching clubhead causing me to hit the ground first, or miss-hit them into horrible places... wet places... dark, mysterious places where they are lost forever in a golf ball black hole where there is no flag stick), I am assured by better players (like Carol) that they ARE.

So what is our inescapable conclusion?

Sporting goods and apparati must be part of the "C"!

Consider this your warning. Watch out for those soccer balls and badminton birdies. Be careful around bowling alleys and billiard tables. Don't trust those golf clubs, the baseball bat or the tennis racket in the closet, or attic, or garage!

They're all potentially out to get you. When you least expect it, expect it!

It CAN happen. It happened to me! I have proof! First, there's the nasty bruise on my wrist. And then there's the nasty attack golf ball. It has a smug, self-satisfied smile on it. (Really!)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Freak injury

Over the past 20 months of blogging, I have in numerous posts regaled entertained bored you with tales of my golf game.

Today Carol and I went to our local course anticipating, if nothing else, a pleasant afternoon outdoors in the warm, breezy sunshine. We were indeed enjoying the weather (if not the golf game) up until the 8th hole.

I found my tee shot lying about 150 yards from the green. Trouble was, this hole was a par 3 and the distance from the tee to the green was only 150 yards.

My tee shot had been struck by the toe of the golf club, had slammed into the Plexiglas windshield of a golf cart parked just forward of the teeing area but well off to one side, and had come to rest about two feet from the concrete cart path farther off to the side

Not a good start to the hole.

I surveyed my next shot before addressing the ball. I had to hit it directly over the cart path, but keep it low to stay under some tree limbs. The old "line-drive bullet" was clearly the shot I needed to make.

I addressed the ball slightly back in my stance, closed the clubface to de-loft the shot, and took a mighty swing. My 5-iron contacted the ball cleanly and it fired off the face of the club!

However, I had evidently de-lofted the shot just a tad too much. The ball travelled two feet straight ahead, deflected off the edge of the concrete cart path (which couldn't have been more than a quarter-inch high at that point), and ricocheted up and back. Right into the back of my leading wrist as I continued my forward swing.

Now my wrist was traveling rapidly toward the green, but the ball was travelling MUCH MORE RAPIDLY away from the green when the two made contact. And let me tell you; a golf ball is MUCH harder than the back of my wrist.

Carol missed the rapid-fire action of the ball, but saw my club fall to the ground as I grabbed my wrist with the other hand. The ball meanwhile, proceded sideways about 20 yards and stopped by her feet.

To say that it "stung" would be like saying that hitting your thumb with a hammer "smarted a little."

That was the end of my golf for the afternoon, and tonight I have a nice, round reddish bruise on the back of my swollen forearm.

No, nothing's broken. I don't think anything is even significantly damaged.

Other than what little pride I still maintained on the golf course. That, I fear, is the major casualty of this whole affair.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

All you northerners, take note!

Today we had sunny skies, gentle breezes, and a high of 82. The golf course beckoned, and we followed its siren song.

I'm thinking of you, Kirsten, as I write this. But don't despair; you can make fun of me next summer when YOU'RE enjoying 70s and 80s and we're suffering through 110+. Or when a hurricane is threatening.

Tomorrow's weather should be similar to today's.

Let's just hope the golf is better. I think Carol and I were both feeling the effects of last night's Christmas party.

At MY party, the bar of decency stayed pretty high. Unlike T's party, where it evidently was lowered considerably. Wish I could get a copy of the video of the "naughty nurses" skit. (Hint).

And unlike Christina, I wasn't named "Employee of the Year" at my party. But my name WAS drawn for one of the nicer door prizes: a $50 gift certificate for what's probably my town's only "upscale" restaurant.

We'll definitely enjoy that! Even if it gets cold here (like in upstate New York), and we can't play golf some weekend. But what are the odds of THAT happening?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Party Time

Tonight's my company's Christmas Party.

We've rented a hall -- well, more of a barn, actually -- and arranged for a catered dinner of turkey and ham with lots of trimmin's, followed by a live band to dance to.

Last year we had a "family" party with Santa on hand for the kids (and a few adults who like to act like kids), hay rides, a big outdoor bonfire, a nice dinner with lots of door prizes, and that was it. Party over. No alcohol.

Tonight, in contrast, it's an "adult" party with a set-up bar and beer available, and the live music.

Not being much of a party animal, I enjoyed the family setting of last year. Tonight Carol and I probably won't stay past the band's first set.

Hey, it's supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow, and we don't want to be hung over on the golf course!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Somebody’s birthday?

Yep, today is. December 14, 1975.

No, it’s not mine. Nor is it that of any of my blogroll friends.

It’s my baby’s! My younger daughter was born 31 years ago today!

Carol and I thought her older sister was going to be the smarter of the two, because Carol taught Christina to read when she was just three. She always loved to be read to, and later to read. She still does.

But the younger daughter possessed logic skills that still surprise us. She was the one who could figure out problems. She became very good at relating seemingly random facts into a reasoned hypothesis. We called her “little miss logic brain.”

To this day she seems to know instinctively what to do or say in most situations. She can read people and usually impress them (positively) on a first meeting. She has also been referred to as “the queen of B.S.” (but she claims she inherited that trait from her father. Cheeky girl!)

Exactly ten years ago today she graduated Magna Cum Laude from college with a BA in Graphic Design. That evening Carol and I took her and her sister and some of her friends out for a celebratory dinner. She celebrated the completion of her formal education. Carol and I celebrated our freedom from paying the college about $1,000 a month! I likened the occurrence to getting a $12,000 instant raise in annual disposable income.

She and her sister each celebrate their birthdays about 10 days from Christmas, one on each side (before and after). Thus they always felt somewhat cheated out of extra presents since the two holidays tended to merge together for them.

This year we bought Amy a cheesy card and called to wish her a happy day.

But I can’t help pondering the significance of one fact: both of my children have now passed the point where they are only half my age or less. And they never will be again.

Another milestone.

Happy birthday, Amy!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Are you ready?

Ready for what?

Well, CHRISTMAS, of course! Isn't that what everyone asks you each time you meet them for the next two weeks? It is here!

Gee, let me think...

1. Is my house clean and decorated? No.
2. Are there lights up outside? No.
3. Are all my Christmas cards written and addressed and mailed? No.
4. Are all the presents bought and wrapped and shipped off or otherwise ready to be opened on the big day? No.
5. Is my tree up and decorated? No.
6. Have we bought the Christmas turkey yet, and all the fixins for the big meal? No.
7. Well, have we started on ANY of those things yet? Yes, some.

So let's tally up the score here. What's the result? Am I ready for Christmas?

You betcha! I'm ready to have a celebration in about a week and a half of the advent of the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I'm ready to sing some carols and some hymns, and give thanks for the real reason of the season.

And if some of that stuff in the list above doesn't get finished (or even started), that's OK. I'm still ready.

Are you?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Meet the Fokkers Neighbors

One of our neighbors, just across the street and about three houses down, has a neat Christmas tradition. Well, they did it last year, and they're doing it again tonight, and I guess that makes it a tradition.

Wait. What are the rules here? For how many consecutive years must you do something before it officially becomes a tradition?

And then if you miss a year, does that cancel out the traditional aspect of the deed?


What they do is invite all the residents of the street for one or two blocks in either direction to come to their driveway at about dusk, share some hot cocoa or coffee or spiced cider and maybe some cookies or other sweets (and you can bring a plate of them if you like, but it's not required). And you just introduce yourselves and "visit."

("Visit" is a Texas term -- or at least a Southern term -- for sharing general conversation with someone. That's you all you non-southerners out there.)

We ambled over there last year and met people living in our block whom we'd never met before in all the 20 years we've lived here. Then (last year) it was cold, and the couple who live there built a fire in a metal outdoor fireplace right on their driveway and we huddled around it to keep warm. Tonight it's about 75 degrees, so the fire won't be necessary.

It's kind of a nice tradition. We plan to walk over there in a few minutes and see who shows up this year. There might be someone new. But that's won't really matter, because we'll have to introduce ourselves to just about everybody again anyway. We never see the people during the rest of the year unless they happen to be out mowing the lawn or something.

Time to go. I'll put this post on hold until we get back and tell you how it was.


We're back! It was nice again, just like last year. Only tonight was a lot warmer, with no fire. Just good friendly conversation with a little neighborhood gossip thrown in.

You know... "visitin'."

Monday, December 11, 2006

More cedar chest photos

This is an undated photo of my grandmother and her two oldest boys, my father and his brother. Since my father was born in 1914 and looks about three in this picture (don't you think?), it was probably taken in 1916-1918, give or take.

Love the sailor suits and the facial expressions!

This is a fascinating picture of my mother that seems to be printed on glass or ceramic.

This is how it looks displayed in an oval frame.

Then finally, here's a shot of me as a teenager. Check out that 1960s narrow tie! Looks like what used to be referred to as a "clean cut young man."

Friday, December 08, 2006


I've long been a fan of Scott Adams.

You know... The guy who created and draws the Dilbert comic strip.

He is able to capture with brilliance and sometimes subtlety the idiocy that goes on in so many of today's offices and workplaces.

And besides that, he's a man with two first names. Kinda like "John Earle." It's hard to remember which is his first name and which is his last.

This week I think he snapped to the "C" activity that's long been going on around us. Or at least part of it. As all of my regular readers know, the "C" (short for ycaripsnoc -- hint: try it backwards) affects nearly all inanimate objects, not just machines requiring electricity. But in this strip he points out that, given the tendency for all these machines and other objects to really be the ones in charge, changing over to electronic voting machines is just like throwing away any semblance we might have had of controlling our own destiny.

He gets it. Genius!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Forget yesterday's poem, Tonight is when I need to be snorting Grey Goose!

I just came home from the dentist.

You know how some men have receding hairlines? Well, I have slowly receding GUM-lines. And as my gums slowly pull back from the normally visible portion of my teeth, they expose a portion that is not normally seen.

That is a very minor problem. The more serious problem is that the newly exposed areas are subject to attack, decay and wear.

Solution? Fill in the gap with a resin composite that is the same color as my teeth.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And it really is, except for one thing. The gum above my front teeth had to be “scalloped” to allow the composite to go under it.

Scalloping is done with a needle-like sharp instrument, initially intended as a torture device in the middle ages. I believe the “scalloping” of gums brought about more confessions of faith during the Spanish Inquisition than the rack and burning combined.

I am fundamentally a wimp when it comes to suffering the pain of dental work. The dental assistant swears I start stiffening up and moaning before the doctor even picks up a mirror. I’m sure she’s exaggerating. She also claims I break out in a cold sweat at the sound of a drill in the next office. (Now THAT may be true.)

Anyway, the good dentist shot my gums full of Novocain and scalloped away to his heart’s content. I told him I would scream if I felt any pain, and he asked me to please refrain as it might scare him. He reminded me that he didn’t need to flinch while he was manipulating a fist-full of sharp pointed objects deep in the recesses of my mouth with one hand and holding a two-horsepower high-speed zinger drill against my tooth with the other.

You don’t know what a zinger drill is? That’s the device he uses to vaporize tooth tissue. Its business end is turning so fast it produces a whine like an amplified mosquito. Remember the burning smell that always accompanies its use? Well, if he works on one small spot for just a little too long, no matter HOW much Novocain he gave you you’ll feel that sudden “ZING!” of blue, burning pain just before you pass out.

Anyway, I refrained from screaming (barely), and eventually survived to come home and wait for the Novocain to wear off. It now has.

Pass the ibuprofen and the Grey Goose, please.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A difficult post

I thought I’d post another poem upon my blog today.
But as I sat to write I found my muse had fled away.

I tried to think of topics that would lend themselves, just right,
To meter, rhyme, and humor, thus producing great delight

In each of you who read it. But as hard as I did try,
No subject did present itself. No, each was dull and dry.

I thought about the weather (boring!), maybe... holidays?
Or some sly rhyme about my kids as they went through a phase.

I started several; none seemed right. The rhymes just wouldn’t flow.
I even tried a snort of booze (to get a little glow).

It did relax me – that was good – and I began to think
That maybe words would flow if I had, well, just
one more drink.

I tried to be like Viki, who can chug that Grey Goose down
And write this crazy, funny stuff that won’t permit a frown.

I tipped my glass, then tipped again, and tried to get a start.
The keyboard soon became a blur, my focus did depart.

I typed some worrrds but couldn’t make the leters come out rite,
But now I found I didn’t care. It isn’t worth the fite.

I tipp my glas to Viki for her stamin-a and verve,
I’m gonna go and slep this off, it’s throan me quite a curve.

Yu gotta get in practice if yur gonna drink and rite.
Tomorra I’l be back, but now I gotta say g’niteeeee.....


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Why NOW?

The company I work for has hired a consultant to review how we are handling all matters financial. He is paid by the hour. $250 per hour, to be precise.

Now a periodic review of many things is generally good. In today’s business climate there are many areas in which a company must maintain compliance with myriad regulations. There is so much to keep up with, and the laws change so often that it helps to have an outsider take a look now and then to make sure we haven’t missed something.

So what’s my problem? Well, we also have an accounting firm who set up most of our procedures. They audit everything once a year... and to very exacting standards. The banks send in their auditors annually. Our insurance companies audit us annually as well, and not just for financial dealings. Some of them review all of the risks we encounter and audit our safety programs, Industrial Hygiene, and other loss prevention measures.

Then the regulators themselves come in and have their own inspections and audits. We see OSHA, the EPA, and even the Coast Guard (who audits compliance with our plant security plan.)

But this consultant has decided that we ought to have an independent review of all of our insurance coverage to ensure we are not underinsured, overinsured, or paying too much for the insurance we have.

That started out as just covering all of our “Property and Casualty” policies (called P&C by insiders). You know; like fire, theft, flood, windstorm, hail, business interruption, ocean cargo, transportation, auto, general liability, and more.

But then this consultant decided we ought to include Workers’ Comp while we’re at it. Next he said, hey, why not all of our benefits insurance as well? Like health, disability, group life, and all that?

He has arranged for three different brokers to “take a look at” all of these areas of coverage and, essentially, bid on providing those services for us so we can know if we’re getting a good deal or not.

Do you have any idea how much extra work that has caused me? I’ve had to gather and make copies of (and send out to these folks) huge stacks of documents, including all of our current policies and contracts, results of previous audits, and lots more.

Well, today was the last straw! Now he wants a review of our 401(k) plan! I balked, and told him, “Not no, but HELL no!” We like our plan. It’s less than 2 years old, the fees for administration are reasonable, and the psychological impact of changing plans after such a short time when NOBODY is complaining about it would be very bad.

I told him that even if someone else would offer the same plan FREE (no fees) I would not recommend a change, so let’s not waste everybody’s time gathering documents for these folks to review.

He was a bit taken aback, but agreed.

I didn’t tell him what I really think. I really think he’s just drumming up all these “reviews” because they sound good, and he can bill us for a lot more of those $250 hours!

Besides, it’s the end of the year and I’ve got more than enough regular year-end benefits enrollments and other HR stuff to keep me very busy, thanks.

Now is NOT a good time for all this.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Proud Papa Post

As my regular readers know, I have two daughters. Well, plus several others that are kinda sorta like adopted daughtes and who consider Carol and me to be their kinda sorta parents. But I'm talking today about birth daughters.

This weekend I have spent about 4 to 4 1/2 hours on the telephone with my two daughters. One lives in Chicago but works (from her home) for a Virginia company as a Graphic Designer/Creative Director/resident genius in charge of sales, marketing, advertising, promotion, and so on.

That may be a slight exaggeration of her real title, but it describes many of her duties and functions. And besides, remember the title of this post?

Anyway, THAT daughter told us stories about all of the creative work she and her team are bringing into their company, and it's pretty impressive. She sold her boss a year ago on the idea of hiring a marketing firm to suggest some direction for helping her group bring in this business. He invested several tens of thousands of dollars into the effort, and now it looks like it's going to pay off for them.

And my daughter (who is blogless and thus will remain nameless), working side by side with T (who DOES have a blog) are the co-department heads who lead this effort. Their group stands to bring into the company a significant amount of revenue in 2007, most of it at a higher profit level than the mostly government work the company has specialized in for years.

I'd love to pass on some of the stories about the work they're getting and performing, but there's just not enough time or space in this post.

Then there's Christina, who lives in Tampa. She has worked in an ophthalmology practice as a technician for the last 16 months, and just loves the work. This fall she passed a comprehensive exam and obtained her level A certification as an Ophthalmic Technician. Next year she plans to go for the "B" level.

Last night she attended her practice's annual Christmas Party, at which the doctors announce several awards to employees which carry cash prizes (bonuses). The biggest award is "Employee of the Year."

If you can't guess which award Christina won, please refer again to the title of this post.

Friday, December 01, 2006

More from the cedar chest

First I have another picture of Albert Boardman Earle (great grandfather) standing beside his car. This is a much better view of the car.

Next I have the earliest known sample of my writing. From this you can tell that my future as a novelist is very promising. It is my first published piece.

Here is the cover of the book. Actually it is an anthology of stories written by all the students in Miss Crater's Country School, located at 3526 Meadowside Road, Baltimore, Maryland. (The telephone number was Gwynn 532. Yes, that's all of it!)

I was all of 5 years old in June of 1951 when this book was published. My contribution is found on page 9. I'm sure it was typed by my teacher.

In case you can't make that out, here is the text:


One time we went for our vacation up in Maine. We went in our car half the way, and in a big boat the rest of the way. We took the car on the boat.

We went fishing in the ocean. We went fishing from the pier, and some days we went fishing in a boat.

Betty came up with us and she went fishing, too. We caught Pollock, and I caught more than she did.

Johnny Earle

Finally for today, I have a picture of a happy couple taken by the U.S. Navy on the occasion of him graduating from flight school (getting his wings).

Ain't they cute??