Thankful: May(be) or May(be) not

June 1, 2011 There is no maybe.May has been a tough month. We’ve made countless trips to emergency rooms and been admitted to more than one hospital, and as I write this we still are.My oldest grandson turned 11 and is loving baseball this year. My younget one (he is 4) thinks he should be paid for every time he scores in T-Ball and Annie (she is 5) just prays for rain so she doesn’t have to play. Em (she is 3) can be made happy with an all-you-can-eat buffet. And, on top of all that, my son and daughter-in-law celebrated their wedding anniversary.

Best pair

May 31, 2011 I was practicing the 100-meter hurdles when a young man came running up to me. “Coach wants you in his office immediately!”I hurried in, and found three other young men already there. Coach frowned as I entered. “Kinda slow, Howard.”“Sorry, Sir,” I replied. “I was at the track.”Coach turned so he could face all four of us. “You are to report to the journalism room.”“Should we change first?” I asked.“No, and there’s no time for that now anyway,” he grouched as he hustled us off.

Vacation? What vacation?

May 31, 2011 “Ah, Memorial Day. I know what that means. Summer has arrived, which means the wife and I won’t be taking any vacations again!”“Ah, yes, you speak of a spate of stories on the subject. CNN reports that ‘not only do American workers get less vacation time than workers in other industrialized countries, but they also opt to take fewer days off.’”“You’re singing to the choir, brother. The wife and I haven’t had a vacation since before the economy collapsed in 2008. All we do is work.”

How to …

May 31, 2011  You know who they are, they’re the people who can walk into a meeting and charm the socks off everyone in the room.They inevitably wind up with bigger budgets, more support for their ideas and more promotions than their less persuasive peers.Knowledge is not enough, being the boss is not enough, if you want to succeed you have to be able to persuade and influence.Three significant changes in the workplace have made the ability to influence and persuade absolutely critical:

The self service state

May 27, 2011 I must be getting old. I remember “full service” gas stations. Actually, I worked at one in high school. When I car passed over the rubber hose across the driveway and the bell rang, I’d come running out to “filler’up, regular or unleaded,” wash the windshield and check the oil. Those days are gone — now it’s all “self service,” pump the gas yourself after shoveling money through the slot in the bulletproof window.

Unanswered prayers

May 27, 2011 “It’s big, all right,” my wife gulped. It was her weak attempt to find common ground with the real estate lady. But I knew all too well Angie didn’t really want to be wearing that smile. Sure enough, as soon as the agent turned her back, that smile molded into a glare directed at me. I deserved it. Even the real estate lady didn’t seem too thrilled about driving way out here at my behest just to view this eye sore.

Websites raise free speech questions

May 27, 2011 Freedom of speech might logically seem to apply the same way whether the speech takes place on the street corner or on the Internet.But that basic First Amendment premise is as yet unsettled in our new web world.An intricate set of laws and judicial opinions on free speech and defamation has evolved over several centuries, from a system that existed mainly to protect the elite from criticism to one that enables anyone to seek compensation for what they see as unfair damage to their reputation.

Customer service, wired and dangerous

May 26, 2011 Are you dangerous?If you have a computer you are. And if you play the guitar, you can be positively lethal.Just ask United Airlines.When musician Dave Carroll’s guitar was severely damaged by United Airlines baggage handlers, he was unable to find anyone at United willing to make the situation right, so he made a music video about his woes.Customer loyalty expert Chip Bell describes Carroll’s hilarious video as “The guitar heard round the world.”

Deliver me from Facebooking

May 26, 2011 OK, I’m at the age where I just don’t “get” the attraction of social media. Facebook, in particular.When my son, Luke, opened a Facebook account for me on, I suppose it was Sept. 10, 2009 — because that was when I received the first “post” on my “wall” — I had hardly any idea what was going on with Facebook and I still don’t.If a message from my “wall” doesn’t automatically go to my email address, I usually will never see it.

Shock and awe

May 25, 2011 When I was in college I took a course in logic.  After listening to the reasoning behind the new shooting range I pulled out my old text to see what I missed. The land currently used for the new shooting range north of town sits on land bought and paid for by you, the taxpayer. We purchased the land at an exorbitant price, then ran all industrial strength utilities to it.