Monday, September 10, 2007

Turning 53

Here's what happens when you turn 53. You realize you have to do something about that one ear getting older before you drive everyone nuts asking "What'd you say? You take a job that involves 12 hour shifts and you wonder why, on the day after your 3rd work day in a row, that you sleep in for several hours on the next day off. You realize that early retirement is only 6-1/2 years away and that you, along with many others in your baby boomer generation, will never be able to retire because your group is too big, has too much money, and somehow and some way all your money will be sucked right out of your wallet. You realize that you're feeling way too young for AARP but some of those membership benefits start to look good. You start to wonder when some major health disaster will befall you or your loved ones -- as you start to realize that others in your age group are either dropping like flies -- or as it begins to seem everyone has some type of cancer or something.

Here's what doesn't happen when you turn 53. You don't feel any older than when you were 18. You can still ride your bicycle 95% of what you could when you rode much more often 20 years ago. You don't feel any less horny. You may have more employment opportunities as employers realize that workers older than 40 or so have a better work ethic than many younger workers. So, the way I look at it, I think I still have a good 20 years to hope, dream, change, look for new opportunities. And I often pray that I can be a blessing to those around me.

KitchenAid Facts and Opinions

KitchenAid Facts and Opinions It took five years on on-again off-again finances to save up money for my gas stove but I finally did it and with Linda's help, we really went all out (at least all-out for us). We got a freestanding gas cooktoop/oven and a microwave/vent hood/convection oven. Both are KitchenAid Architect II series. We suffered a little bit of anxiety and consternation to find the cooktop/oven ranked at the bottom of the Consumer Reports list, but the good news is that the things CR ranked low seem to be non-issues, as long as the reliability is as good as it should be for spending that much money.The touchscreen menus are great. The automated cooking time and sensor cooking seem to be reliable and accurate. Both cooktop/oven and microwave/vent hood/convection oven appear to be smart (not just offering a bunch of options, but options that seem to work). This is somewhat surprising because we live at just about 5000 ft. elevation which is the cutoff point for high altitude cooking. I have not yet made any high altitude adjustments for cooking time but the stuff we have made so far came out perfect. The microwave oven adjusts itself to really cook at settings other than 100% -- i.e. 40% power is really 40% not just high power 40% of the time. This will make a difference cooking some things like oatmeal and eggs, but once you get used to it, it's a good advancement in overall cooking controllability. You know those rotisserie chickens they sell at the grocery store? The gas/convection oven on the freestanding cooktop/oven can cook them as good or better, without injecting them with anything with just the touch of a couple menu buttons. The microwave -- say you want to cook two baked potatoes -- just select the menu item, select two, and hit start. Perfect baked potatoes without even guessing at or entering a time.Our initial impressions of the units are very favorable. If you are purchasing kitchen appliances, definitely take a look at KitchenAid Architect II

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Blogger's Block or Something

Here I sit, contemplating my last blog entry. I just don't feel motivated to post a new blog -- is it that nothing interesting is happening? Or has job stability squashed my need to feel creative. Well, maybe that's not the case because I have been bending some strings on my new Martin D16 guitar -- which does involve elements of creativity for me as I learn. Then there's this new gas stove that's coming today. When I get it up and running that may stir some creativity since I love to cook and I've been trying to save money for a new stove for the last 5 years (while the current stove slowly disintegrated into a frustrating piece of garbage). So, look forward to a new stove blog coming soon -- along with some new goodies. Now that I have a gas stove, I can get a really good wok and really make some quick, easy, healthy stuff.

In the meantime, I'm off to the couch to catch a quick nap and listen to Michelle's Father's Day CDs.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Cool storm this evening. Didn't hit us but pounded someone nearby. Reminds me of one of my favorite Ray Bradbury stories "Something Wicked This Way Comes". This story is the best description of why I don't like carnivals. Never have. Probably never will. But Bradbury nailed it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What Day Is It?

Now for the evening news from this mid-52ish three-time dad (but not grandpa yet :-) Hey, I thought riding my bicycle up Mount Evans was a challenge. Then I tried 12-hour rotating shifts. Interesting observation, however. Working that last 2 hours of a 12-hour shift, whether day shift or night shift, has a lot in common with the mental effort it takes to ride up Mount Evans, Hall Ranch Hwy. 7 side or ride an unexpected 15 miles extra without enough water. So, besides riding for my heart, I'm now riding to sharpen my mental focus. Now, where did I misplace those last three weeks? Bottom line -- much to be said for a regular paycheck and working in an environment where I'm not fighting the weather on a day-to-day basis.

May your pedal strokes be round and your hydration pack full.

Monday, March 19, 2007


I chose to step out of retirement and enter the world of ultrapure specialty gasses. I must say I'm very grateful to the management for hiring me and to my neighbor for recommending me. After a long (and surprisingly productive) day of safety training, I will now jump into the fray of helping manufacture Tungsten Hexaflouride. WF6 or "Wolf" as some call it is used in the manufacture of computer chips.

I'm beginning to think that this latest chapter in my career saga will be very interesting and may last long enough to give me some pre-retirement stability. Not that I'm thinking retirement -- but the stability part seems nice.

On a different note, a new restaurant experience. We went to Casa Grande Mexican restaurant a few evenings ago. It's fairly new to Longmont. But it's a strange restaurant in a strange building. Casa Grande shares the ground floor of a 3-story condominum building in a more or less industrial part of Longmont. The whole thing seems out of place. The upper floor(s) are these really high-dollar (outrageously so) condominiums. Get this -- in Longmont -- $450,000 for a 1600 sq. ft. condo that overlooks the mountains but also has a great view of some nearly defunct manufacturing facilities and their mostly empty parking lots. There's an underground parking garage and an elevator. Besides paying the outrageous price, then you pay annual dues. But you can eat at the Casa Grande or at an Asian Restaurant, or buy insurance or securities on the ground floor. We will go for the Asian food next time.

Casa Grande's food was O.K. but that's all. It was a nice place to sit and talk -- because no one was there -- underneath the overpriced and un-sold condos. It seemed like forced California-ism. Interesting, but strange.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Has Was Once an Are

Every once in awhile I find some little tidbit of wisdom that deserves better press than it probably gets in the normal scheme of things. Here's one I found today:

i'd rather be a could be,
if i can not be an are;
'cause a could-be is a maybe
reaching for a star.

and i'd rather be a has-been
than a might-have-been by far
cause a might have been,
has never been, but a has
was once an are.

Steff Mahan - Nashville

So there you have it. A good thought for a good day.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Pleasant Evening

There's a really nice independent coffee shop and cafe in Boulder, CO called the Rock 'n' Soul Cafe. Contact Sheryl Radetsky, They host quite an array of functions and special music. My wonderful woman and I managed to pick one of those evenings that are magical. Last Friday night we went to hang out at the cafe and listen to the Nashville singer/songwriter Steff Mahan Three hours of solid music and entertainment, with a good deal of wit, personal stories, appropriate angst, and a magical atmosphere. Steff's mastery of the guitar is superb. If you ever have a chance to hear her sing, we highly recommend her. The Guatemala coffee and iced chia were first rate too. And it was just a special evening to hang out with the one I love.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Good Coffee

Coffee Report: Had a chance to hang out with the kids at Radina's Coffeehouse and Roastery in Aggieville, Manhattan, KS. Good coffee is based on three things 1) geographic origin and how it is treated from picking to dehulling, 2) the skills of the roastmaster, and 3) proper brewing. Radina's apparently purchases good coffee, roasts it properly, and brews it correctly. I got a cup and a refill of their Guatamela. Very bold, with a full palate. Satisfying aftertaste. I drank slowly and it was even good as the temperature declined. It's nice to be able to go to a nice place like Radina's where they care about their customers and get a good cup of real coffee.

In addition, one of our Christmas presents from Christmas 06 was a pound of whole bean Powercat Blend coffee, also roasted by Radina's. Our Christmas family get together didn't happen due to the blizzard of 06 and the next weekend too. (See "Marshmallow Cars" at bottom of this blog). So we didn't get our Christmas coffee until early March. I brewed a cup yesterday evening. Same story as above. Good coffee. The Powercat Blend is lighter, somewhat fruitier, with more of a middle of the tongue effect. Good aftertaste. An excellent coffee for drinking black -- goes down easy, satisfying, less bitter than some coffees. In conclusion, a thumbs-up to both Radina's Powercat Blend and Guatemala. Check out Radina's in Aggieville when you have a chance.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Mazda 6 bye bye

Had some interesting adventures in the Kansas City, MO metro area on my way to a rollerhockey tournament. Drawing it was more fun than trying to tell it in words.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Suspended Belief

I like to look at the questions posted on Yahoo! Answers and try to answer a few of them. One of the questions currently posed is purportedly by Senator John McCain. He's asking how to cut government spending in Washington, DC.

I started looking at answers he had received and found what looks like a very blatant political spin (like this is anything new). You have to expect this type of stuff, but I had a hard time believing what I was seeing. If my eyeballs are correct, any answer that isn't in line with Mr. McCain's political views has received low ratings and has been hidden. Call me a novice Yahoo! Answer person, but in recent weeks of working on answers on this site, I have not seen hidden answers anywhere else. Even the flippant, rude, answers are not hidden. If I'm being naive, someone please give me an explanation. If what I am seeing is correct this is one of the most low-down, blatant, dishonest pieces of political garbage I've ever seen. I would like to think there's another explanation for what I think I'm seeing, but if what I am seeing is real, shame on you Mr. McCain. Take all your CAP/Arizona profits and retire.

Note to Legally Blonde

I referred you to my site then when I started to write, I realized the employment problem is a huge issue and I had so much to say I don't know where to start.

I'm unemployed by choice. After 3-1/2 years of doing good work, I realized I was being taken advantage of with no reasonable hope of getting the wages and benefits I needed. Long story, and although I was in the right to resign and I'm glad I did, what I'm finding for alternatives is dismal. I had a 29-year track record of steady employment. I have always had a good reputation and have done good work. Since resigning, I've done a few handyman jobs and I have located one steady, recurring temp position (2 days per month). Despite having 29 years of experience and having an advanced degree, there just doesn't seem to be much out there. Like Legally Blonde, I'm finding that I need to take a different approach to career search. I have not figured it out yet. I've got some stuff started in a draft file, and when I pull my thoughts together, I'll publish. Until then, I'll say this: I think that those individuals who are between starting college and recent graduates are going to have a serious problem finding reasonable employment. I think those that are not going to college -- those going to tech school, trade school, apprenticeships, and similar -- are going to have a better time of it. I think it's time to restructure our thinking regarding "traditional" approaches such as college, law school, medical school, etc. The world is moving so fast that traditional educational approaches can't keep up with the change. By the time one graduates, the knowledge is often already obsolete. The expectations of graduating with a degree and finding work in that field is certainly obsolete. More on this later.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Bras

I'm struggling with a concept here -- maybe my aversion to political correctness. I can't put a finger on it. The comment "Real Mermaids Don't Wear Bras" is a statement on a bigger issue. If you put a bra on a mermaid, for instance, you change the mermaid into something she's not. You don't have a mermaid any more. What am I trying to say here? Someone read my mind.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I'm Boring

After viewing a few random blogs and taking a look at some of the blogs involved in "I Really Don't Like the Word Blog"s current competition, I have come to realize I'm boring. I need to do something wild and crazy. Maybe I need to develop some problems or become neurotic or something. My life is too normal.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Hippy Food Store

I just heard that the Whole Foods Market purchase of Wild Oats was finalized. Whole Foods plans to close some stores where there is overlap and they will remodel some stores. I hope they don't remodel the store at 30th & Pearl in Boulder. I think if they change it, it won't be the fun Hippy Food Store to shop at any more. I like their products, but what I go there for more than anything is the shopping experience. And it always is an experience at that store. So I say to you, Whole Foods Market, don't remodel the 30th & Pearl store. For sure, don't move to the Wild Oats store that either was set to open or opened in 29th Street Mall.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What do Caffeine and Incandescent Light Bulbs Have in Common?

Alright, I have good news. Our fine political leaders are really doing something to save us from certain destruction. We will finally know how much caffeine is in our food because labels will require disclosure. We will no longer have to make jokes about how many whatevers it takes to change a light bulb because we will almost never have to change an LED bulb (emitter, emitter/diffuser, device, emitter holder -- or whatever they are called) when incandescents are banned. I was really worried about both these things. Now I feel safe. Oh, the answer to my question about what these two things have in common? They are both political pawns in a legislature that has too big of things to solve so they feel powerless. Legislatures need to have power -- to feel like they are doing things -- like living up to their "lawmaker" label. So they make more laws. Vote Libertarian.

Bicycling Weather

The woodpeckers pecking on my neighbor's house apparently think that spring has arrived and they need to send out mating calls. I know it's not looking for food because they peck on the galvanized metal chimney caps, rain gutters, and window panes -- anything that resonates and sends their lonesome, lustful calls throughout the woodpecker neighborhood.

So, being abruptly notified that spring is here, I felt it necessary to install my road tires on my Mt. Bike so I can get in some miles. (I'd ride the mountain trails, but there is still too much ice, snow, and mud in the shaded areas. There's too much gravel on the road shoulders to safely ride my road bike with its slick, narrow tires.) Tomorrow, I will hit the road for a quick spin and blow off some of the winter blues. Then, I will go donate some blood at the local blood drive. I have a blood type that is always in short(er) supply. I figure it is payback for the blood we used after my son was born.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Parallel Universe

You've heard of the Rosetta Stone -- the ancient tablets that provided translation for some ancient texts. Now, I bring you the Nail Police Stone -- the key to one of our parallel universes. Here's the key: Those named Neuroth in the current universe are named Shaffer in the parallel universe. This should be sufficient info to allow code crackers everywhere insight into the parallel universe.

How did I make this profound discovery? In a recent temp position, the team leader turned out to be what appears to be an identical twin to one of my friends. I inquired of my friend whether he had ever had any intuition that he may have a long-lost twin brother he didn't know about. He didn't have any such intuition, but he said, "maybe in a parallel universe". So, there you have it. My friend has an identical twin brother in the parallel universe. Since we know both of their last names, we can now unlock the secrets of the parallel universe. Let's see -- N=S, E=H, etc. And we thought we would have to do massive astrophysical calculations Steven Hawking-style to unlock the secrets. Wow. You never know.

Peet's Coffee Update (as promised earlier)

We tapped into the Sulawesi Kalosi. Great aroma as whole beans and as freshly brewed. A good all around coffee. Definitely has traits of SE Asian coffees. A hint of earthiness. A bold, deep palate -- I'd describe it as clear and bright. More of a middle of the tongue sensation (as opposed to a full-tongue sensation for the aged Sumatra dark roast). The residual taste only lingers a short time. Some would like this. I prefer a longer "linger". So now, we have tried three coffee varieties from Peet's. (The third was Espresso Forte which we tried at the coffee shop in Boulder -- which was excellent.) They all have very distinctive aromas and palates. All three were excellent quality. This is good. It makes Peet's credible -- they appear to be giving us what they say they are.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Another productive day in the career search. I put together another resume, this time marketing myself as an Emergency Temporary Provider. I figure someone, somewhere needs an experienced agronomist -- and fast. I can do that. I now have four different resume types. I'm starting to get perplexed. Three of the resumes are what would be non-standard resumes, at least for me. I'll push the envelope and see if I can get one of the four to catch someone's attention. There must be someone out there that needs my set of skills, experience, and philosophy.

UPS comment: I emailed UPS with a couple of comments about their NASCAR sponsorship of Dale Jarrett and their advertising in general. Basically told them I appreciated both. They emailed me back and said thanks for the comments. That's big in my book. A big company that cares enough to respond! Go Brown!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Midnight at the Oasis

Time to call it another day. I really have to rethink my approach to this job search thing -- and hit it again tomorrow.

Until then, good night, world.

NASCAR Sponsorship Denver CO

Hey race fans and potential sponsors. I have a friend returning to racing at Colorado National Speedway, Sportsman Division, after being out of it for a time to attend to his farming and trucking business. He has been successful in the Sportsman Division in the past (2nd place in points twice). I sponsored him near the end of the 2001 season. My business situation has changed so I'm helping him look for a sponsor for the 2007 season. If you are interested, please leave a comment with contact information. Thank you.

Pondering Life

From my gift book (you givers know who you are and about which book I speak). My quote of the day:

"This day I completed my thirty first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this Sublunary world. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little indeed, to further the hapiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now soarly feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been jusiciously expended. but since they are past and cannot be recalled, I dash from me the gloomy thought and resolved in future, to redouble my exertions and a least indeavour to promote those two primary objects of human existence, by giving them the aid of that portion of talents which nature and fortune have bestoed on me: or in future, to live for mankind, as I heretofore lived for myself."

Here's a guy who has been traveling uncharted and unexplored (by the old world) territory. This guy is a very gifted (leadership, wisdom, flying by the seat of the exploration groups's pants) 31-year-old. He's sitting at an encampment called Camp Fortunate very near the divide between the Columbia River drainage and the Missouri River drainage, and he's been hanging out with the Shoshone relatives of Sacagawea. Sacagawea had been kidnapped by Hidasta's when she was 13 and this is the first return to her homeland since her capture. She acts as chief interpreter to the Shoshones. It turns out that the first Shoshone chief they encounter in their intent to barter for horses is Sacagawea's brother. And this 31-year-old is sitting there reflecting that he has done nothing for succeeding generations. Who's the author of my quote? Capt. Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis & Clark expedition fame. So, be yourself, do what you perceive is yours to do in life, and you just never know.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Human Machine -- What if?

Rita Carter (1998), writing about the human brain revisits an interesting psychosociological question. It's not the first time someone asked or discussed these things, but she touches on it in light of what was cutting edge research 9 years ago. Some of us balk at the idea that the functioning of the human mind is purely mechanistic. We dread the thought that what we perceive as a separation of body and soul doesn't exist and is rather instead just a complex set of neuronal activity in genetic response to our surroundings. A very complex interplay of stimulus and response, all geared to enhance our ability to survive and reproduce.

Some say if we are hard wired, that if there is there is no "God", no "soul", no "conscience", we would fall into sociological chaos. What if we could live by acting out every whim of desire, fantasy, violence, and whatever we commonly think of as "sin" as moderated by our "superior species" thought pattern. What if we prove there is no "God", no "afterlife", that we are no more superior than any other biological entity -- that perhaps these concepts are just hard wired patterns of neuronal firing that confer some type of enhanced survival of our genes. Carter says the brain doesn't work that way. She says it can't because the concepts of God, afterlife, a spirit realm, are so hard wired into us that our brain actually dupes us into thinking it is true, so we act in a fantasy world of conscience, etc. which allows us the ability to pass on our genes and keep living the fantasy.

If we somehow become able to rationally accept that we, our brains, our spirits are some inceivably complex interaction of sensory neurons in concert with our environment, we will continue to feel and act as though the mechanistic part of us operates as if we have conscience, free will, the ability to alter our daily existence through our own thoughts and will.

This is all very interesting. I feel there are other dimensions that we interact with which gives us the perception of afterlife, God, etc. We cannot prove these other dimensions because they are other dimensions, able to be sensed by us but not touched or studied (yet, anyway). I think this concept, along with many other scientific concepts are out there waiting to be proven. For myself, even if God is a hard wired concept of our own making, I choose to live as if God, conscience, free will, etc. are real parts of the spiritual unseen universe. And we must keep asking, what if we prove the hard wiring and there is nothing else? I feel that whatever our relationship to a real or perceived God, we must conduct trustworthy research and be ready to accept what is real and not what we wish, even fervently with all our hearts to be fantasy reality.

Faith, anyone? I have it, though it's a scientific struggle within me.

Reference: Rita Carter, 1998. Mapping the Mind. University of California Press.

RE Rita's fine book: I'm sure there have been a wealth of findings about the human brain since this was published. Very interesting book, although somewhat awkwardly edited. Needs more diagrams, less sidebar discussions that tend to get distracting to the flow of the text.

Honda Pilot EX 2006 and Peet's Coffee, Boulder

Looking at my last few blogs I see a trend developing. Apparently I am enjoying being sarcastic. That isn't my goal in blogging. I'd rather do something useful so I'll switch gears.

Product ratings:

Honda Pilot EX, 2006, 2WD. Kudos: After 1.5 months: Excellent first impressions. No effort to drive. It just feels right. 2WD gets around well in lots of deep snow, gnarly ice, and rutted/washboard old ice. Very good traction, very solid feel, excellent handling. Anti locks and traction control appear to work well in initial situations. Headlights/fog lamps work well. Great power for mountain driving and freeway acceleration. Downshifting works well on downhills. Nicely built. Quiet. Good luggage room and interior layout. Heating/climate control appears to work very well. Factory sound system w/6CD changer (no MP3) adequate to good. The backup warning system is excellent. Seat comfort (cloth) excellent. Visibility good. We really like the vehicle. I'd recommend it to others. For comparison we test drove '07 Hyundai Santa Fe, '06 Hyundai Tucson, '07 Chevy Equinox. The Pilot is obviously better than the others, but the Santa Fe was unexpectly nice. Price was an issue. We got a killer deal on a very low mileage unit -- apparently used in CA by a Honda Executive. Otherwise, we may not have been able to afford it.

Deficiencies: Annoying wind resonance with windows down in certain conditions. Rain drips off tops of door frames onto interior door switches (need to install aftermarket wind deflectors for this). Mileage in traffic sucks (we were warned, but part of the bad could be due to operating in extremely cold conditions with numerous short trips). We have not had a long-distance mileage test yet. Suggestions for Honda -- try for better mileage. Poll your potential market for acceptability of trading some power for better mileage.

Peet's Coffee, Boulder CO 29th Street Mall: This is what Starbucks wishes it could be. Why? Peet's had great espresso, good service, a well-trained barista, and they care. The espresso was beyond excellent. We asked "why?" The barista said it was because she was actually well trained. It was obvious beyond the training that she cared about what she was doing. Our suggestion: Ditch Starbucks, go to Peet's. I ordered some Peet's Aged Dark Sumatra and Sulawesi Kalosi. I'll let the world know how it is when it's delivered.

The delivery came today on UPS. We tried the Dark Roast Aged Sumatra. It was packaged with a roasting sticker dated the same day it was shipped. It was fresh, properly roasted, and had the flavor qualities that were advertised for this special variety. The earthiness was distinctive, I sensed overtones of chokecherry, and received a full tongue sensation with a complex, lingering aftertaste. Some would not like the earthiness or the lingering aftertaste, but I personally liked both and consider it truth in advertising -- here's why. I worked for a small coffee roaster in Boulder, CO who was a master at the craft of roasting. He cautioned me to beware of fraudulent claims made by roasters and marketers. Most who haven't worked for a specialty roaster or attended multiple cupping sessions would not be able to distinguish among varieties and roasts. It is a very learned art. I can't reliably tell the difference between varieties by taste, but I can tell whether a coffee marketed as variety X dark roast is different from variety Y. This first experience from Peet's convinced me that they deliver what they advertise. This is a huge quality for me -- to be able to trust my roaster. Congratulations, Peet's, on a favorable first impression. Haven't tried the Sulawesi Kalosi yet.

For all you casual coffee drinkers out there who drink coffee just for the caffeine potential (or don't drink it for some perceived or experienced ill effect such as acid stomach or similar) I challenge you to try some specialty roasts. There are huge differences among variety origins, caffeine content, acidity, etc. (IF you find a trustworthy roaster). Learn to grind and brew it properly, learn a bit about the cupping experience. Learn to experience coffee like fine vintage wines. Find one you can drink black and savor. Then try your usual additives. I used to be a drink it for the caffeine with cream and sugar guy. Any more, I'm almost always a black coffee drinker. I enjoy it more and every once in a while, I add up the calories I save.

Dixie Chicks

I'm positive that these fine women were awarded Grammys on the basis of their talents and politics had nothing to do with it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I'm Smokin in the Blog World

In an intense research effort, I found that my blog profile has been viewed by 27 individuals. I thought I was going to be famous or something! It's past my bedtime. Later, world.

Nouveau Black

Just watched Stephen Colbert's u-tube with Debra Dickerson. Very well done. The thought process conjured by this video clip brings up so many ideas for potential comments, I don't even know where to start. For me, the take home message is this: This racism/elections/ politics/reality/ valid content thing is too hugely off- course to even warrant an analysis from me, one of the world's formost analzyers. If I was to state my thoughts in a single sentence, it would be this: Can we stop going off on tangents and generate some solutions to some REAL problems -- like banning incandescent light bulbs?

God for President

O.K. All the '08 presidential candidates appear to have a skeleton or two in the closet. This must mean they are human. We apparently cannot have a flawed human for president, or so our fine mass media would have us believe. Therefore, I feel we should nominate God for president. My God, not yours. Anyone out there want to send God an email and find out if he wants to be a candidate? What's that you say? Everyone already seems to have God on their side? Well, there goes that idea!

I think I'll go read blogs and console myself. Now, where'e I leave those prunes? Oh, yeah -- on the countertop a few blogs back.

Don't forget to vote.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Oh! Hillary!!!

Take the profits and put them in an alternative energy program? Hey all you far left Democrats out there -- just what we need. Punish the companies that bust their butts to provide us with affordable energy, create a lot of dollars to waste on another government bureaucracy, and ignore the U.S. companies that are really hurting, like Ford Motor Company. I don't like high oil prices either, but seems like this thing called "food" is getting a little high too. Many don't realize the hoops that oil companies have to jump through to a) provide a standard quality, consistent product that works at all altitudes and temperatures, b) to meet the numerous standards due to emissions requirements at numerous locations, and c) to make available all that we need, when we need it at easily accessible locations in d) a generally safe setting so fires, accidents, etc. are a rarity. An engineer at Frontier Oil Company sent me a document detailing the gasoline standards. We should all be grateful for what the oil companies do for us. And, if we are wise, send Hillary packing back to Mr. Bill. Please, be wise -- don't send her to the White House. I grew up to respect our leaders. How can I respect a leader of our country that actually says and believes such things. (I can give you information on where to get the gasoline standards if you should desire to read such a technical thing. It even has mathematics equations.)

Job Safari

Well, another opportunity gone by. I was informed that an Illinois company who was otherwise interested in me felt that I had too much experience and couldn't be mentored into their operation (read "too old, you geezer!!"). Also, I wanted too much money. Never mind that what they were offering was more than I've ever made. But, the good news -- what they were offering would have been hard to live on in, I'm assuming, in the Chicago area. Funny thing is, I really don't want to move from here unless I have to -- it's kind of like home here, despite some of the problems developing with this area. I've always thought it best to go where the jobs are. Now, I can't seem to find them anywhere. A side effect of aging and being a past business owner -- nobody comes looking for me any more like they used to. The moral of the story is, keep positive, keep looking, keep up your network, always have a resume out there circulating, and, I hate to say it, cover your own butt by meeting your own needs and don't worry about anyone else (as long as you don't have to compromise your moral values). If anyone tries to take advantage of you, set them straight as soon in the game as you can, using your best assertiveness. I'm still glad I quit -- it was the only way for me to maintain my self image in that sick situation I was in.

Super Bowl Sunday -- it was interesting to have a super bowl party when nobody really cares which teams are in the big game. Much easier to talk and socialize.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Watch out, Panera!

One thing you can do when you are retired is try new things. Like baking real San Francisco-style sourdough bread. Here's one of my recent efforts. After getting the sourdough starter going, which takes a few days, then you have to go through about 2-4 days of refreshing the starter and what I call "ramping up" the dough. Interesting process. I've done it twice and have been successful both times. I think bread is interesting because basically the starter and the dough are living things. Also, San Fran style sourdough is interesting because what you get is no added fats and all natural. Supposedly, sourdough takes longer to spoil than yeast breads. Also, if you suspect you may have allergy or related problems (RE: "The Yeast Connection") with the baker's yeast in traditional breads, you may want to try sourdough because if done correctly, the starter becomes a mix of naturally-occurring yeasts and lactobacillus from the atmosphere. If I understand correctly, eventually the lactobacillus takes over the starter almost entirely. So, there you have it. Makes great toast, which reminds me I'm hungry for lunch so I'll go toast a piece now.

Elk: In from the cold.

It's cold here. How cold? Apparently we had an elk come in through the dog door last night and leave us a present -- right on the kitchen counter top. Actually, come to think of it, maybe I got out a handful of prunes (remember, I'm an old geezer) and left them sitting instead of eating them.
What a winter. The news said a couple of hours ago that the anemometer on the weather station at the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 broke in a huge gust. They also said cars were having their windows blown out by the gusts. Wow -- even when the wind hit 115 a couple of weeks ago at Rocky Flats it didn't destroy the equipment. I wonder how intense that wind gust was?

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I woke up this morning and thought "What do I have to do today? -- as in to-do list" My answer was "a lot". Then I thought "why?" So, I chose today just to live. I'm meandering, blogging, trying to get rid of a nagging headache (rare for me), and doing whatever I want to do. I created a new and (I think) unique type of resume yesterday. Today, I'll let the resume work for me on Monster. And I'll not work.

Readers of my Blog, Rejoice!

Under intense pressure to be blog-productive, The Gare Bear felt it necessary to publish part one of his next blog idea, "Could You be an Entrepeneur?"

Don't you just hate it when you are half way through creating an extensive new post and someone who is doing utility locates pulls your phone line off one of the local junction boxes. And now you have to start over on the new post? I suppose I should consider it a minor inconvenience given the fact that in my younger days we had no internet, no personal computers, no word processing machines, and if you wanted to edit something you zipped the page out of the typewriter and started over. Wow -- all that deprivation in my younger days. Makes me sound like an old geezer. Hey -- anyone remember slide rules? I had to learn that in high school. But, you know what -- lots of stuff got designed, calculated, and built using slide rules -- and the stuff is still standing.

Back to the Entrepeneur question. An entrepeneur is "one who undertakes an enterprise" according to Webster. But I think Webster is wrong. I think one who undertakes an enterprise is a Klingon. Beware, Captain Kirk!!

Reader's Digest (Feb. 2007) (now I really sound like an old geezer) had an article about entrepeneurship. They listed several characteristics gleaned from the Small Business Administration. I liked the list, and as usual, thought I should analyze it. Those of you who know me know I analzye everything. When my business failed, I needed advice. In a combination of unfortunate events, 1) I didn't know where to get advice, 2) I couldn't afford advice. So I'm thinking now, maybe I can use my experience and expertise to help some struggling entrepeneur somewhere. There's more to come.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Could You be an Entrepeneur?

As promised, my thoughts on entrepeneurship.

Reader’s Digest says: “Could you be an entrepreneur? Here’s a list of essential traits [referenced to]” and a brief opinion on each point. An entrepeneur is:

—Creative: You have to be aware of new approaches to marketing and problem solving. Things often don’t work like they should – which means you have to change your thinking. In some businesses, the competition is so intense the only way you will be recognized initially is to be more creative than your competitors.
—Innovative: What worked before may not work again. It seems people want change and new. This is not necessarily wise or efficient for a small business, but look for legitimate ways to make innovative and workable changes that may also satisfy needs of your clientele.
—Driven to Achieve: My brother and I have had discussions about the good part of arrogance. We’ve both been called arrogant and stubborn. Maybe “driven to achieve” is a better way of putting it. We decided that to be a small business operator, you have to be at least arrogant to the point that you think you can do it better than your competitors. Otherwise, why do it? If you can’t do it better, why should your customers and clients choose you over another who may be cheaper.
—Persistent: It will take you 3 to 5 years to even get started. It takes this long to get into a groove, to fine-tune your initial marketing, to be comfortable with the ebb and flow of business. There will be busy seasons, dead seasons, and maybe even a busy or dead year thrown in for various reasons. Once you start, you can’t quit unless you can afford to lose your initial investment in time and effort. Make up your mind before you start that you will be persistent and see it through at least 5 years. Then you can evaluate, reflect, adjust, or restructure if need be.
—Energetic: If you have enough energy to start a business, you are probably energetic enough. Your energy level will grow as you begin to generate cash flow and the business becomes self-sustaining. Generally, when you are an entrepreneur, the more energetic you are, as long as you have wisdom and good counseling to go with it, the more success potential you have. Sometimes the hard part is knowing when to pack it up for a day and call it a good day or to take at least a mini-vacation.
—Inquisitive: What motivates your customers and clients. What other strategies may work. Why is no one calling? Why are you succeeding. What changes may be coming your way? Ask questions about things you need to know. If you are in a problem solving business, what happens when you solve most of the current problems? It happens. Watch for the market to change.
—Competitive: Compete with quality, and quantity, not price. You have to research your market enough to know what people will pay. If people won’t pay what you calculate you need to cover operation and profit, you either need to rethink your business or not start in the first place. There are ways to estimate operating costs very closely. Do your homework. Part of being competitive is making enough money to stay in business and satisfy your personal needs as owner. Part of being competitive is being able to stay in business to start getting name and reputation recognition. You can’t stay in business if you don’t charge enough to succeed those first few years.
—Unafraid to Fail: My opinion – once you start a business you have two options – succeed or go bankrupt. Generating a saleable business would be success in my experience, but you may not be able to sell – then what happens if you get tired or bored and want out? So, the alternative is do the best you can and don’t be afraid to fail. Failing and bankruptcy is different now (in 2007) than it was a few years ago, but what happens if you have a good idea, a good vision, and you don’t at least try?
—Hard Worker. Don’t confuse lots of hours, running helter skelter without a viable plan for work. Good hard work incorporates insight, patience, diligence, accuracy, efficiency, good logistical thought process, all under an umbrella of good planning with contingency plans in place. I am sometimes thought of as slow. Rest assured, when I put a plan together and implement it, I will have a high degree of success – the first time.
—Independent: I think I disagree with this point. I think you have to be very dependent – on friends, the network you develop, your banker, your clients and customers. I think you have to depend on God for wisdom and strength. I think you have to have a very strong family you can depend on and that have the patience to deal with you as businessperson. I’ve found recently that if you lose your professional and personal networks, you could be in trouble. You can’t be in business alone.
—Self-Confident: Develop your ideas, trust your gut, be willing to adjust. Don’t let others try to talk you out of what you are trying to do. Then, evaluate and don’t let the pride of your original ideas keep you from adjusting to your market or to adjust your personal discipline or the way you think. Pride is not self confidence.
—Risk Taker: Have in idea, research its reasonable success, and go do it. Nothing happens if you don’t try. As an entrepreneur, you are unafraid to fail. A sure way to lose an opportunity is to do nothing. If you are unsure, test the waters in some low-risk manner, and hold onto the idea while getting the rest of the pieces of probable success together.
—Visionary: This is getting harder to do because of so many things already having been developed or tried. But what if one of those past failures could be linked to an identifiable and correctable flaw in the thinking and implementation of those who tried it before? Also, beware of litigation, safety concerns, copyrights and patents, laws, regulations, and insurance. Can you find an insurer willing to take a risk on your visionary concept?
—Problem Solver: This is what your are going into business for – to solve a problem, to satisfy a need, to feed perceptions, to do it better than others have done before, to help humanity.
—Organized: Keep records, notes, receipts, ledgers, QuickBooks, or whatever it takes to be organized. In my opinion, nothing makes a business more vulnerable and inefficient than being unorganized. Guard the inventory, catalog the parts and products, subscribe to a computerized bar coding system. Every bit of organization is worth many dollars to you for several different reasons. You cannot organize your thoughts on the nuts and bolts of what makes you money if your entire operation and the day-to-day operations of your employees are in disarray.
—Lucky: Be out there, circulate, network, talk, question, host meetings, give lectures, be on boards and committees. Put yourself to be in the right place at the right time, to talk to the right person at the right time, to be aware of the latest new development at the right time. Luck is having an idea of what will work, and implementing the idea, procedure, or product introduction at the right time.

Reader’s Digest (or left out the following. I think these points are very important. Here's why. I recently did a one-day temp. project for a biopharmaceutical company. During a break, our team leader, a full-time employee of the company, mentioned two values important to them: honesty and reliability. Based on my experience as a business owner, I feel loyalty, reliability, honesty, well-capitalized, and well-connected/networked are important. I offer my opinion on each topic.

—Honest . Honesty is very necessary when clients expect one to solve a particular problem. Solve the problem, don’t milk their pocketbook. Clients recognize and get uneasy when it appears your goal is their money and not success in solving their problem. Leave them a happy and satisfied that they no longer have a problem. Regardless of the status of your cash flow and profitability, you should never compromise honesty – for example, in creating a problem to solve so you can get a paycheck. If the pasture is bone dry, the weeds either aren’t growing or the leaf cuticle is so thick a nuke wouldn’t penetrate, tell the client you would love to spray but will need to monitor the situation and spray when you can do some good.
—Loyal. Existing customers should take precedence over new customers. Existing customers should get the discounts, schedule prioritization, emergency preference, and some free consultation time. Make the new customers and clients want to become existing customers and clients.
—Reliable. Return calls and show up. Manage your business in order to keep it that way. It is imperative to keep customer/client load manageable and profitable. If you don’t get a high enough per customer/client income and you burn yourself out on concentrating on volume, you will soon be unreliable. Besides which, you will fail to retain most of the other attributes of a successful entrepreneur. Develop a network of trusted competitors with whom you can trade specialties and refer overload (preferably consisting of new customer/clients) to. Let the customer/client know you care enough to care they will be taken care of adequately by your trusted competitors. If need be, better to say no than to say yes and be unreliable.
—Well-Capitalized. Well, it’s a goal we all strive for. Easier said than done. Build slowly, maintain existing equipment to foster longevity and reliability. Price your services accordingly – premium fees for premium, reliable and honest service. Don’t get tempted by every new whim of technology, but do rely on new technology when demonstrably more efficient or profitable. Spend wisely, hire wisely, keep control, and sacrifice for a few years until cash flow stabilizes.
—Well-Connected/Networked. You want your employees to be aware of their surroundings, their competition, their resources, their networking opportunities. You want the best employees in all ways. Hire good people and train them well. Pay them well, treat them well, expect loyalty, but expect them to network. Pay them for leads, tips, ideas, implementation, and sales. Send them to meetings for the people, connections, and exposure. They will attend the sessions whether or not they need the continuing education credits – because they like what they do, they like to be experts in their field, and they need to be aware of their surroundings and potential industry changes. They will get way more credits than they need – but who cares? If they help you stay connected, competitive, and professional in all regards, you win. Your clients and customers win.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I feel loved

Now my life is complete. I got a best answer award for a question someone posed on Yahoo about "How do deer stay warm in the winter". I'm pleased that I got the award, because I really tried to give a legitimate answer. However, now I shall move on to bigger endeavors -- like trying to find a good career-type job in an agricultural-related endeavor in our soon-to-be-paved-over Front Range Colorado meso-metropolis. (Ohhh! -- See that open space over there? Let's build a subdivision with a winding street named after a songbird, and we'll put in a trendy strip-mall with not enough parking spaces so the subdivision residents can spend their money at some chain restaurant. Then we will put little narrow strips of grass on islands in the parking lot and waste water trying to irrigate them as they bake in the 140F heat until all the trees grow up, block the wonderful view of the mountains and wreck the pavement with their roots and piles of slick, rotting leaves. Oh, I almost forgot -- we need to put in a high-dollar golf course so we can help make all of the front range shorter on water supply -- hey, hey, now -- the overpopulation of geese loves golf courses to graze and poop on. Our subdivision will have stormwater settling ponds so we minimize water pollution while thousands of geese nest on the ice and their tons of very nutrient-rich poop melts away into the clean water. But never mind, we will put in aeration for the ponds to prevent algae and other aquatic vegetation from suffocating the carp that keep the water turbid all the time. Oh, I forgot -- this subdivision and golf course and shopping mall will have a Super Wal-Mart and Home Depot and will be served by I-25 within minutes (oh, give me a break) of the Denver Metro area. Did I mention, we will forget who has jurisdiction for plowing the streets clear of 60 inches of snow? Ahhh! Now don't we feel better. We put that otherwise wasted open space into productive use and just watch the sales tax and property tax generate new jobs. And, we have a special treat for you. Those taxes we collect will be used to fund construction of a $100,000 welcome sculpture so you can tell when you went from one full-service community into OUR full-service community. Nah - we don't need any snowplows due to drought and global warming.

Well, enough said. You can tell I'm somewhat upset about the situation. This is all mostly true, and it has basically ruined what used to be a nice area to live in. Are there better ways to do things? Yes. Should we limit new development? Yes, but it may be too late because most everything is probably all planned and platted and approved for the next 10-20 years.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

6 Weekends of Snow

Welcome from snowy Longmont, CO. While most of the globe basks in global warming, we bask in snow -- 60 inches so far this year by my count -- and it feels like normal -- like when I was growing up in Lakewood, CO. The last few years really faked out our newcomers from places like Texas and California. In 1999 or 2000 we had prairie flowers blooming in January. Now it's normal and it feels like normal -- and now some of the ways I felt (seasonal depression?) when I was growing up start to make sense -- I didn't realize it was seasonal depression at the time. The good news? At 52 I generally feel better than I did at 18. A point to be thankful for.