Impermanence-Impermanence

By George Smith

Impermanence.

It’s a word seldom used in situations involving conversations, but one which would give comfort to millions of Americans if they would tie it to specific events in their lives, from societal expectations to mind-numbing relationships to, yes, politics.

I have started mumbling and even doodling this word on occasion when I become despondent about the state of political affairs in the U.S., about the incredible philosophical abyss brought to citizens, courtesy of the candidacy and presidency of Donald J. Trump.

(Don’t hold back, George. Say it straight out!)

The man is a virus that infects the brilliant and the ignorant alike; like an Old Testament preacher breaths fire and brimstone, Trump exhales massive amounts of nonsensical pasture pancakes and it becomes mental manna for millions.

I cannot understand – and probably never will – the Trump attraction to anyone with a college degree or those who has navigated life’s obstacle to become contented and who have at least the basis of independent thought. Trump is selling himself and a special brand of hate and illusions of success and millions are buying his shameful product.

Impermanence.

There is hope out there; at some point the era of Trump will end, but it has to take the form of an uprising of a majority of citizens in key states – young and old, people of color, those who believe that voting does no good because nothing ever changes except the faces – to create the end of the reign of Trump.

Will that end come in less that two years or will the war of wills, the tweetstorms and the battle for ethical souls lasts another five-plus years?

Many are finally seeing that Emperor Trump’s new clothes are see-through and there are many sights that eyes (young, old, one patch (two?), with cataracts or glaucoma) should not see.  The president, by any “ohhhh-meter” one can conjure, comes up lacking. Yes, the economy is rocking along nicely, for now, but that is the continuation of the upward trend started in 2009. It is a fact unemployment is low, but it also a fact you will not hear Fox News declare the percentage of white to black/Hispanic workers is unchanged.

Yes, Trump appears to be a rough-and-tumble negotiator (except when negotiating with countries with dictators or despots); his talks with North Korea, Russia and Iran has been abysmal failures.

  • North Korea is back to shooting off missiles intended to scare the slapdoodles out of South Korea and U.S. soldiers stationed there.
  • Iran, after Trump pulled the nuclear arms treaty against every intelligence agency in the U.S. and by allies, has geared up its dormant nuclear program and must be considered, once again, a nuclear threat.
  • Russia holds the best hand in the game, with Trump being his talking hand-puppet. Russia cyber-trolls are messing with elections around the world, from Africa to Venezuela and Trump is saying “Putin assured me he was not interfering in (insert country’s name here).”

It will take two things to change the face and force of the administration in 2020 – a reasonable alternative and an uprising by millions that normally don’t vote.

If the prospect of another four years under this befuddled, addled-brained, abysmal knee-jerk reactionary and self-ordained Christian leader isn’t enough to switch voters to ABT (Anybody But Trump), then there is nothing but continued threats to allies, shrieks of bigotry, blatant misogynistic actions, cyber-bullying and kowtowing to Putin and Company…plus ignoring the sections of the Constitution that deal with separation of powers and obstruction od justice.

If that comes to pass, the United States will get what it deserves.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 14

14. ‘Tis better to shovel than bail

It is an old axiom, but a business truism just the same, that shit flows, rolls, or bounces downhill, depending on the individual consistency and age of said waste. 

It’s a fact of business life: You will have unimaginable and unimaginative chores to do in a corporate environment. There often are tough assignments that nobody wants to do, but almost everybody has to do.

The avalanches of shit you will face in business will be awe-inspiring – or downright scary. Learn to master and manage them, not to be buried by them, and to shovel shit with efficiency and aplomb. Learn to look over and past them to the emergent light on the horizon.

Lesson 1: Accept shoveling shit as a rite of passage. Know that the company CEO was a Supreme Shit Shoveler in his day. Follow his or her example: Do your duty, shovel to the best of your ability, and move on.

Lesson 2: It’s impossible to pick up a turd from the clean end. Grab it with both hands and dispose of it as quickly as possible.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 13

13. Where’s my ladder?

Ambition is like a ladder. Without two strong sides and rungs arranged at regular intervals, chances of a safe climb are very slim indeed.

Young managers want to scamper up the ambition ladder. The faster the pace, the better they like it. Seasoned managers, either patient and not in an unrealistic hurry to be put in a position that might expose their weaknesses, or who have decided later in their careers to tackle the climb, use each rung as a learning experience to assist them on their vertical climbs in their chosen professions.

Is there one route that is best? To each his own.

But on principle, each rung of a career ascension should be used as an opportunity to learn about your company and yourself.

A career should not be judged by how fast a person gets to a certain position, but what the person brings to the corporate table when placed in a decision-making role.

 Whatever your pace, make it your ultimate goal to learn how to manage in a way that realizes the most efficiency and effective benefits for your company.

Find the company that you know is a good fit. Secure the ladder that fits your personality, abilities, and goals.

There’s no elevator to the top of the ladder. It takes hard work and you need to be in shape to climb it.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 12

12. The mind is a terrible thing in haste

Being able to work quickly can be a big help when that ability is combined with two definite attributes: accuracy and efficiency.

Unfortunately, “quick” and “sloppy” are more apt to be placed together in your personnel file than “quick” and “exceedingly accurate and productive.”

Any employee can be quick. Moving that ability to a high level of competence, thereby increasing the confidence of higher-level managers in your abilities, is a life-long chore.

Honestly, workers who are normally quick and accurate do occasionally turn out some sloppy work.  

You know you’ve done it, too: The quickly composed e-mail with an attachment – which was not attached; the report built from a template and the date the report was made was not changed; the expense report with a missing receipt; the e-mail you sent without stopping to check whether it went out to all recipients who should have been included in the information-dissemination chain …

As you enter your chosen profession, work to enhance your skills to be accurate, efficient, and on time before you combine those three with quick.

Refrain from poisoning your corporate profile with a quick response, of which the sole attribute is that you finished it in record time.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 11

11 Tunnel vision with eyes wide open

Just like the whaler who is so proud of his vigilance for his prey, all the time unaware that he has been plying his trade from atop a humpback, too many managers firmly believe tunnel vision is an admirable trait, useful for every project.

It never has been, is not today, and never will be. Tunnel vision — an accepted way to see projects that must be viewed and worked on with blinders in shower-curtain position — is a specialized tool for a specific job and only should be put into action on special occasions of the short-term variety.

A seldom-recognized trait of great managers is the ability to focus on tasks at hand while at the same time developing the peripheral vision necessary to watch out for unexpected opportunities.

That’s the hard part about being a see-all, do-everything manager: keeping focused on critical, short-term tasks while maintaining the secondary focus required to look around corners, over hillocks, behind obstacles, and past the horizon.

Focus, yet see beyond the obvious.

See unseen opportunities while keeping your focus.

Be able to shift visual and cerebral focus on command, yet never lose sight of the task at hand. It’s a trick that the world’s best have mastered.

It can be a difference maker between being successful today or being successful today and tomorrow.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 10

10 See the C’s. Be the C’s ambitions

There are three C’s that managers take to the Everyday Business Bank: Cooperation, coordination, communication.

A survey of the world’s top corporate managers would reveal startling similarities among their management techniques. Without exception, even if they use different words in different ways with different emphasis, all would agree that the Three C’s are the defining differences between passable managers and ones destined to be remembered as difference-makers.

Cooperation embraces ideas that come from other people and other departments or organizations, and their value. It is not a simple give-and-take action, but a give-and-receive method of operation with far-ranging benefits. The very basis of cooperation is two-way communication — it binds groups and individuals to a central project.

Coordination between the same entities deepens the personal, intellectual, and corporate relationships between them. One group’s success hinges on the actions of the other group’s participants. It is the corporate equivalent of the group hug.

By now, you can tell the most important of the three C’s is positive and uplifting communication.

Far too many projects die horrible, screaming deaths; far too many careers crash and burn; far too many companies suffer because of people’s inability to talk to other people.

Regardless of your charismatic qualities, personal commitment to success, basic leadership abilities, vision, creativity, or multi-tasking acumen, you cannot become a great manager without the ability to accurately convey ideas to others, paint word images that can be easily seen by others, or effectively communicate verbally or with the written word.

If you are not an accomplished communicator, don’t sit around and whine internally about your shortcoming. Do something about it. Take a business communications course from a local college or university or online. Read recommended books about leadership and management techniques.

Be proactive about communication, one of the most important of all management traits.

While sheer will and determination can perform miracles, those attributes have only short-term value. Even the most gifted leader cannot be successful without working for, with, and through others. As a matter of undisputed fact, there is no one-person major company.

Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.

Great managers constantly search for ways for their efforts and the efforts of people in their department to help other departments and managers succeed for the good of the business.

Good managers become great managers by building coalitions through mutual respect, and offering assistance on common projects. Building a strong partnership on a single project can help you climb innumerable rungs on your career ladder.

Seeking a successive string of promotions and title enhancements is a sign of a focused manager. Managers only interested in bigger titles may get them, but they might be the only goals they attain, at the cost of greater and more valuable goals, like gaining deserved responsibility and respect through your ability to address challenges responsibly. Do that, and your titles will come.

A title is only as good as the character of the person who holds it.

Great managers never let their egos, turfs or quests for titles interfere with the primary goal of corporate wellness.

A mixture of a strong grasp of reality and a helpful spirit pours the foundations of strong corporate careers.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 9

9. Company goals drive ambitions

Great managers constantly search for ways for their efforts and the efforts of people in their department to help other departments and managers succeed for the good of the business.

Good managers become great managers by building coalitions through mutual respect, and offering assistance on common projects. Building a strong partnership on a single project can help you climb innumerable rungs on your career ladder.

Seeking a successive string of promotions and title enhancements is a sign of a focused manager. Managers only interested in bigger titles may get them, but they might be the only goals they attain, at the cost of greater and more valuable goals, like gaining deserved responsibility and respect through your ability to address challenges responsibly. Do that, and your titles will come.

A title is only as good as the character of the person who holds it.

Great managers never let their egos, turfs or quests for titles interfere with the primary goal of corporate wellness.

A mixture of a strong grasp of reality and a helpful spirit pours the foundations of strong corporate careers.

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Travel Log: Greece 2019

By Ron Munden

30 May 2019: On June 11 my wife Deloris and I will be in Greece. This will be her first trip to Greece. I will be returning after 40 years. I know it was 40 years because:

The Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor, near Middletown, Pa., partially melted down on March 28, 1979. This was the most serious accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history, although its small radioactive releases had no detectable health effects on plant workers or the public.

While this was happening in the United States, I was on a cruise ship that took me from the Canary Islands, into the Mediterranean and finally to Greece.

During that trip we visited many places but the place that still stands out in my mind is Mykonos. I have always felt I needed more time in the Greek Islands. That is what motivated me to book a return trip to Greece and the Aegean Islands. They say, “you can never go back – it is never as good the second time.” We are about to find out.

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Just Scream

By George Smith

Ever felt like you needed to just open your mouth and scream? Not just a scream, but a primal scream, an ear-splitting, guttural sound emanating from your lower intestine, tearing thought your stomach, resonating off your diaphragm and creating a noise that actually scares the virtual devil out of those around you?

That’s the way I feel today.

After almost three weeks visiting Scotland and Ireland, I came back to the United States ready to renew my affirmation and love of this country. But then the realization that this country – the 2019 version – is not the version of my youth. Nor is it the country I want for my grandchildren.

The innocence, the beauty of its people, the diversity, the respect of other religious the friendliness shown by strangers to strangers, the love of family and the belief that nothing is stronger than blood ties, is elusive, if not downright missing from the moral fiber of the country.

I came back to these headlines and stories about the world’s most important nation:■ Transgender protections rolled back■ Mississippi, Alabama pass laws banning abortions even in cases of incest and rape■ Trump flails at companies hiring foreign workers; Trump hires foreign workers■ Trump puts $20 makeover on hold; slave master Jackson gets nod over Harriet Tubman■ Mike Pence tells West Point grads to “get ready for war. It will happen.”■ Florida lawmaker says “God told me to introduce abortion legislation”■ DOJ on crash course with intelligence agencies■ Trump mocks politicians opposed to tariffs as ‘babies,’ including some Republicans■ U.S. halting visas of same-sex partners of diplomats■ Trump helped his parents evade taxes, ‘including instances of outright fraud’■ ‘Good time’ to be a farmer, Trump says as he announces $16 billion in aid.■ Trump insists Chinese tariffs will cover $16 billion farm trade aid package■ Banker charged after lending millions to Paul Manafort in exchange for Trump job■ Judge suspended over anti-Trump remarks

And the list goes on…..

What has this nation become when millions accept an emperor-in-waiting as the political messiah and millions more see him as the rise of the end of democracy in the nation?

The bottom line?  The 45th president commits horrible acts of rudeness simply because of his title and personality; he is juvenile in his use of the “bully” pulpit and his utter distain for women and anyone who disagrees with him; he is not smart in protocols of diplomacy or understands the basics of the foundations of this country (including separation of powers and the responsibilities of the different branches of government.

This self-labelled “stable genius” does not read, has no realistic sense of history, no compassion for those suppressed simply for being “different,” no comprehensive of today’s global economy and America’s place in it, and does not trust men and women who have spent decades in specialized areas of global intelligence, he has no idea of the correct use of the global economy as a deterrent to aberrant behavior by rogue nations or how the U.S. economy and politics affects the world.

And most of all, thr president does not understand nor care that he is, (almost single-handedly with sufficient help from his so-called party  friends like Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Jim Jordan and Lindsey Graham) is destroying the Republican Party.

“Republican Party” actually no longer applies to the conservative branch of politics. It is now the Trump Party, lock, stock and elephant.

Past heroes of that party – the Bush groupies, the John McCains supporters, the true followers of Reagan – are all lamenting the position taken in total opposition to compassionate conservatism, balanced budget and the paring down of big government.

As a nation we must rise above partisan politics and personal pettiness. That is not possible with Trump, a pompously pious, personally pedantic, would-be dictator in the White House.

We’ll see what this country is made of in a short 18 months.

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Things Don’t Age Well in Marshall

By Ron Munden

Recently I received a couple of calls from people telling me that I really needed to go down and look at Marshall’s Wonderland of Lights carousel.  At the end of last week, I found the carousel and took a picture.

I though that the City paid $60,000 for the carousel but I was told that the number was $80,000.  I do know that when the City purchased it, they were not aware that it had a three-phase electric motor.  There is no three-phase power available on the Courthouse Square so the City had to swap out some of its electronics before it could be used and that did add additional cost.

While I questioned the City spending money on a carousel, I agreed it was a very attractive addition to Wonderland of Lights.  That was the first year.  I was told the canopy was damaged during the disassembly at the end of 2015.  The canopy has not been used since that first year.

Since the canopy was critical to the appearance of the carousel, the City was able to turn a first-rate carousel into a third-rate carnival ride in one year.

Even though the City purchased a trailer for storing the carousel, in the last few years many of the major components of the carousel have not been put in the trailer and stored outdoors in the weather for 10 months each year.

It is my understanding that some of the gears are now faulty and must be replaced before the next WOL. Another questionable expenditure for the City.

The bad news is that Marshall will never have an attractive carousel again.  The good news is that I shot lots of pictures of the carousel before it entered Marshall’s accelerated aging program.

Look at the photos of the carousel Marshall had but will never have again.

Click here to view the slideshow of Marshall’s carousel in 2015.

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