Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Some Days

Some days it's hard to know
Whether I'm making progress or not.
It seems that for every step forward
I take two steps back.

Some days it seems
The only progress is in making contact
That perhaps will strengthen a relationship
That with time will grow.

Some days it seems
That there are no right answers
And no wrong answers.
Only choices.

Some days it seems
That all we're doing is sowing
When we want to be reaping.
But it's not time for the harvest.

Some days it seems
That if it wasn't for that one compliment
You would wonder
Why you got out of bed.

Some days it is enough
Just to get through the day
And look back and say,
"At least there were no setbacks."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Chance Conversations on Energy

Often while traveling I run into other salesmen that I have met through the years. It is interesting how we often end up in the same places. The cattle industry is worldwide and yet fairly small in the number of people that are involved in it. Those companies that serve the cattle industry are few. Anywhere that cattle are concentrated, you tend to run into the same people. The advantage is that you occasionally have company for dinner that otherwise would be eaten alone.

Tonight I was visiting with an acquaintance from Colorado who happened to be eating in the same place that I was. We talked about all of the wind generation fields that are going in throughout the plains. For both of us it seemed that no matter where we travelled, we saw wind generators being installed. We both agreed that it was a good thing. We also were both in agreement that there are a lot of ethanol plants being built and they are not necessarily a good thing.

I think biofuel plants should be limited to converting human waste and garbage to fuel. They should not be converting plant mass to fuel. Ethanol production is a losing proposition for the taxpayers of this country. Converting crop acres to corn production that will be used for ethanol only drives up food prices. It is not an efficient use of our land resources. Ethanol production continues to be subsidized. It should not be. Spend the subsidies to develop technologies for converting garbage and human waste to fuel. Spend the subsidies to develop efficient solar and wind technologies. Lets develop nuclear fuel generation plants and fuel cells. Quit wasting our tax money on ethanol. It doesn't really help us.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


This summer our church sponsored a couple of different mission trips. One was to Paris, France, and the other was to Idaho. Tonight we listened to the two groups report of their trips.

The trip to Paris was an effort to reach out to the North African Muslims who have (mostly illegally) migrated to France in search of work. It is primarily men living in what could best be described as rabbit warren-like apartments. Much of the effort to reach out to these men was met with complete rejection. However, there apparently were many who were open and receptive. In many ways, the situation with these Muslim men in Paris is like the illegal Mexican immigrants in the U.S. They live in extreme poverty conditions hiding from the legal authorities. Much of their income is sent back to their families in their native country. I don't condone their illegal behavior but I do sympathize with their plight. I would do anything to see that my family is cared for -- even to the point of immigrating illegally if I could not afford to do so any other way. Until the situation in their home country is improved, the illegal immigration issue -- both in the U.S. and in France -- will not improve. When you are hungry and desperate you will do what is necessary to survive -- or you will lay down and die.

The Idaho trip also found desperate people. Many of them were Native Americans of Nez Perce descent. The communities were extremely rural and isolated with the majority of the residents living in or near poverty levels. Many families had histories of alcohol and drug abuse. The group that traveled there said that many responded to the care.

There are desperate hurting people everywhere. Many live in poverty, but others live in splendor. Their lives are empty and they are lost. Only the love of God can lift them from their pain.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Capture the Wind

There's another Wind Farm coming to the Panhandle...

Huge wind farm in works

Two big players raised the stakes in the wind power game Friday.

Shell WindEnergy and Luminant, a subsidiary of TXU, announced an agreement to build 3,000 megawatts of wind generation in Briscoe County. The plan would top the world's largest wind farm near Abilene, which produces 735 megawatts.

A megawatt can power about 250 average homes.
The planners think the reception has been very positive.

"People love it in Briscoe County," said Jerry Leatherman, managing director of ACE Renewables, which has contracted with Shell to help develop the project. "It is typical of rural areas of the Panhandle where the water table has declined (reducing irrigation) and other things have drawn people away. It's been shrinking."

The impact could be substantial.

"You've got 900 square miles and 1,700 people," said Tim O'Leary, communications manager of Shell. "There will be an economic impact and demand on infrastructure. There will be an economic impact for decades."

Employment will increase, both for construction and during normal operations.
"It'll give a big bump during construction," said Mark Wilby, senior business development manager for Shell. "And after construction, on a project of 85 to 90 turbines, usually there are two to three full-time jobs and another four or five for maintenance. Conceivably this could be 1,500 turbines is one estimate."

The power from the project would significantly boost the wind energy Luminant's parent company, TXU, can deliver to customers. It currently buys 705 megawatts and has a contract to start buying another 209 megawatts.

"We're the largest purchaser of wind power in the state now," said Tom Kleckner, Luminant spokesman. "So actual ownership of generation is the next logical step."

The announcement came after a lot of action on the ground trying to catch the wind.
"It's been very interesting leasing rights," Leatherman said. "There has been a great deal of competition. I'd say eight different developers have been in here and left. It's been a challenge."
Nobody wanted to talk about project costs, number of acres leased or exact locations. However, the plan is to build the wind farm on top of the Caprock in the southeast sector of the county.
"It's not only on the rim or edge of the Cap, the wind is very good as you approach the rim for several miles," Leatherman said.

Everyone involved is waiting for the Texas Public Utilities Commission to issue a final order that will start the construction of transmission lines to get wind power to the metropolitan areas in the eastern part of the state, so time lines are not firm.

"PUC Chairman (Paul) Hudson has said he anticipates transmission could be completed by 2011/2012," Wilby said.

While other developers have proposed large projects - Boone Pickens touts a 4,000 megawatt project and Airtricity and partners propose a 2,235 megawatt project - the Shell/Luminant plan is different.

The twist is to use the turbines to also pump air into underground formations to compress it. The compressed air is then released to turn generators, producing power when the wind is not blowing or demand is too great for the wind to keep up with. The geologic situation below the surface looks promising.

"One of two formations have to be present - a salt dome or depleted aquifers, either gas or water," Wilby said. "The Panhandle is an ideal place for that."


Everywhere that I drive I see wind generators -- either generating electricity or parts on a truck headed down the highway. This part of the world is fast becoming the Wind Power Generation Capitol of the World.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fred Thompson is Our Best Chance

The Right is abuzz
All because
They didn't like Fred's choice
To manage the race.

I think if they look
They'll see he threw out the book
And he's running his own

If you consider that Fred
Is already ahead
And hasn't yet
Even declared

And how the left wing
Has started to sing
All the sins of his past
On the air

You might stop and think,
"Would they raise all this stink
If they didn't think he
Was a threat?"

The left-leaning press
Just stirs up the mess
In an effort to
Split up the right.

They press all the hot spots
Tryin' to tie up in knots
The strength of Fred's
Fast growing base.

We should give it some time,
It will all work out fine
For our candidate's
Shrewd like a fox.

He's got the appeal
That can seal up the deal
If we'll trust him
To do what is right.

I know that's a bit tough
Because we've all had enough
Of the Washington
Inside elite.

If we want him to win
We'll just have to give in
And let him do this
His own way.

He's the best that we've got
Because a Democrat is not
Who we want to win
The big race.

Fred has the best chance
Of leading the dance
For a Republican
Victory in oh-eight!


Fred, if you or your staff happen to see this, you ought to give serious consideration to Kay Bailey Hutchinson as a running mate!

Thursday, July 26, 2007


When you move frequently
It is difficult to maintain
Friendships with those
From whom you move away.
It takes effort to maintain
The relationship.
It is always rewarding
But never easy.

Today I made the effort
And it was a wonderful
Side-trip to my travels.
It was only for a couple of hours
But it felt as though the connection
Was renewed and re-energized.

Not only did we visit
But I got the grand tour
Of the new home they are building
That overlooks a beautiful valley
With a creek flowing through.
It is an outstanding site on a hill.
The house is positioned
To maximize the view.
It is uniquely designed
Of native stone
With terraces and a veranda.
I am happy for them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Trustworthiness in Business

The meeting today went well. The format changed at the last minute. What was anticipated to be a more formal setting turned into a 2-hour informal discussion. It was all good though. It may take a couple of additional visits to get a deal put together, but it looks promising.

These meetings are exhausting. I get "keyed up" prior to them and then experience a big letdown afterward -- no matter whether they are good or bad. I think it is due to fatigue. After a good night's rest it will be easier to critically evaluate the discussions.

This particular opportunity could catapult our company to a much higher level of recognition in the industry while providing a steady stream of business. The prospect in this case is considered a major player in the industry. Part of the structure that we are evaluating is a co-marketing arrangement with them that would create a brand identity. It definitely has the potential of a large win-win scenario.

Tomorrow begins the follow-up and follow-through stage of the process. We each have tasks to accomplish quickly that will determine movement to the next stage of discussions. Say what you will do and do what you say. Reputation is crucial. We have worked hard to build a solid reputation of excellent service, timely delivery, and value for the investment.

I've always tried to teach my kids that the only thing you truly own in this life is your word. Everything else can be taken away from you (just read up on Job in the Old Testament). Whether or not your word is trustworthy defines who you are to a large extent. Will you deliver on your promise? Will you do what you said you would? The perception that others have of you in this regard can often determine your success or failure. Many businesses and individuals have lost sight of the value of honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. It's too bad.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Informally Formal

Providing a level of informality in a small-group formal presentation is best done through a team approach. Two people are adequate for the format. While one is presenting the planned program a second team member watches the audience for attention and for key points to emphasize. If the eyes glaze over, it is appropriate for the non-presenter to interrupt, interject, and question the presenter. This does several things. 1) It lets the audience know that it is alright to ask questions or to interject their thoughts. 2) It makes the presentation less formal and 3) It regains their attention.

It is critical to keep the audience fully engaged in what you are saying. It is also important to repeat key points in multiple ways. Typically a person must hear something 4 or 5 times before it is learned. This is especially true if you are attempting to shift their paradigm. If they are not used to the logical progression that you want them to follow or you are presenting something that doesn't fit their preconceptions, you will have to present the same information multiple times to change their thinking.

It is a fine line between presenting the same information in multiple ways versus repeating yourself. You don't want to just be repetitive. Sometimes you must be creative in order to reiterate a point. One of the oldest rules is to "tell them, tell them again, and then tell them what you told them." It is always better if you can tell them with pictures. Most people are visual learners. Paint the picture for them and they will learn it more quickly than if you just cover them with facts.

Well, once again it is obvious where my mind is focused. Tomorrow will be a long day but I always am excited about these opportunities. Whether I close the sale tomorrow or it is just a step toward the close, it is going to be a good day. It's the journey, not the destination.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Power of the Point

Sometimes my mind gets in "high gear" and I just write. There's no plan. I just write.

It usually happens when I have something on my mind. Right now it's a big presentation that I've been preparing. I will be headed for Fort Worth early on Wednesday for a meeting with a large prospective customer. I've been working on my Power Point slides off-and-on all day -- between phone calls, e-mails, interruptions, etc.

I work best on these types of presentations in "fits and starts." Yeah, I know, that doesn't sound especially organized, but it's how my mind works. I spend time developing ideas in my head -- usually while I go about other tasks. I've been working on this in my head since my trip to Denver last week. Usually I am able to "dump" it all at once. To a large extent, that's what I did today.

I spent a couple of hours gathering material -- photos, statistics, etc. Then I spent most of the day developing the slides. Now I'm in the refining mode. I know that my mind is working on it even as I type because my head feels a little like a caffeine buzz. I also am not able to focus on other things for any length of time -- like blogging -- and making it rhyme. So, after about a half-dozen poetic starts I have abandoned poetry for the evening and will ramble my thoughts out on the keyboard. By morning I will know what refinements that I need to make and should be able to do any fixes fairly quickly. That will leave me most of the day tomorrow to practice and to work on transitions.

Power Point presentations are wonderful. I have been doing them for many years and find them to be very effective if done well or very boring if done poorly. The presenter MUST NOT read from the slides or tell what is on the slides from memory. The slides should be heavily image based -- NOT a continuous series of bullet points and charts. The images should fix the thought that is presented verbally into the mind of the audience. There also should be a few minor surprises slipped into the slides -- humor. The humor should be relevant to the presentation. It will help to emphasize points. It can be subtle but not overly so because the audience must get the point.

The oral presentation should include questions that require a small amount of audience participation. It can't get out of hand. It must be relevant. All parts of the presentation should be framed from the perspective of the customer/audience. Don't just get up and tell how great you and your company are, tell the customer how you are going to make/save him money or solve a problem that he faces. Orient around customer value NOT how valuable you think you are.

Give the customer facts and testimonials -- NOT opinions and company propaganda. Show him the benefits. Show him the money. Show him VALUE. If you play your cards right, price won't even come into the discussion until his decision has already been made. Sell the sizzle.

Well, I guess this post confirms where my mind is focused. It was good to review these points. Now I need to make sure that I've followed my own advice!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Foxhole

When I was a kid we lived in town
Right next to an empty lot
That became a battlefield
Which imagination sought

With vigorous quest for glory
To be just like John Wayne
Defeating the evil forces
That charged across the plain.

With shovel and spoon we dug a pit
That became our hiding place;
A foxhole in the heat of war
Or just a private space

To get away from parents
Who seemed always watching out
To keep us out of trouble
At which they would shout

"I see you!" And we
Would duck back in our hole
And plot some new mischief
That we felt was our role

As spies against the neighbor kid
That we didn't understand
Who was sometimes on receiving end
Of dirt clods from our hand.

We weren't trying to hurt him
But it was World War II
And he was just a Nazi
Who didn't have a clue

That we were laid in ambush
Against the evil foe
Who were trying to kill our brothers
And we knew they had to go

So we hurled the clods
Across the street
Which sometimes struck their house
And then we ran on wing-ed feet

Lest they should figure out
Who fired the shot.
But without fail it seems
We always did get caught.

Why couldn't our parents understand
That it was truly war
And we were just defending them
Against the tyranny at their door?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cultivating Cotton

A handful of soil trickles through his fingers
As he looks across the ground
So recently covered by the massive
John Deere tractor and plow.
Squatting on one heel
He digs into the loose soil
Testing the moisture
And the depth of the cultivation.
A smile creases the weathered face
As he heads back
To the pickup,
Cellphone pressed to his ear,
Directing one of the hired hands
On which field to cover next.
The blooms are setting well
And the promise of fall is heightened
By good rains that have fallen.
If it doesn't hail
And there's not an early freeze
And nothing breaks down
He might make a little money this year.
The banker will appreciate that.
They aren't too happy
When you have to carry the note over
Into the new crop year.
Let's hope the price holds...

Friday, July 20, 2007


I am constantly amused
By those who are confused
About simple things in life.

They buy a membership to the gym
To stay fit and trim
To look good for their husband or wife.

Then they head into town
To take a look around
For some labor saving device

That will make pulling weeds
A task of quiet ease
And not even think twice.

Then a mower for riding
Not a push one for striding
Around and around their lawn

Is the next acquisition
For their lofty position
Won't let them do work like a pawn.

Why work up a sweat
When you wash the Corvette?
Hire a college kid needing some bread.

Don't paint your own house
Pay a friend of your spouse
To apply it evenly spread.

And all of those jobs
That need labor in gobs
Are beneath the dignity

So have them all done
By somebody's son
Then you won't have to get dirty.

If work is so bad
That you hire some young lad
To labor out there in the yard

Why is it you spend
Most days and weekend
In the gym working so hard?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Back Home Again

It's the pits when I don't get a chance to blog. The last couple of days have been full, full, full! That's good though because there was quite a bit of it that was productive.

I am back home. It was a great trip to Denver to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) mid-summer conference. It is still going on, but I did not stay for all of it. Basically I traveled up to attend a committee meeting and to meet with a few customers and prospects. All of it turned out well. The meeting that I mentioned in the last post actually fell through and has been rescheduled at their place of business. I'm still excited about the opportunity and more so because they initiated the contact and in spite of scheduling difficulties, they continue to express much interest.

I know that I've mentioned it before, but I enjoy meeting with customers and prospects more than any other part of my job. We offer a service that is innovative and of high value. It is easy to get excited about educating people on how it can benefit their operation.

Education is another major component of successful selling. A good salesperson needs to be an exceptional educator. If you cannot explain, teach, show, etc. your product in a manner that highlights the benefits to your customer, you will struggle with sales. A good salesman knows his offering and can easily and quickly articulate its features and benefits -- with excitement! Your enthusiasm if genuine, is contagious. You should be excited about what you are selling. If you're not, you need to find something else to occupy your time!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Howdy From Denver!

Hello from the great state of Colorado. I'm in the mile-high city of Denver after making the drive up from Amarillo. They may have shot the Emperor of Colorado yesterday, but there are still plenty of crazies here.

Part of that drive is enjoyable, and part of it is the pits. From Amarillo to Pueblo is not bad. Once you get to Pueblo on I-25, the traffic starts to pick up and gets worse all the way into Denver where it becomes a parking lot. In the future I think I'll approach from the east. It usually isn't too bad.

From Clayton to Raton, New Mexico, is my favorite part of the trip. This year the grass is green and seems to stretch forever. I've always been one to count the antelope that I see across that stretch of approximately 90 miles. Today, I counted in excess of 200 of them that I could see clearly and "think" I saw another 50 or so. They have really thrived in that open stretch of country.

The trip took a bit longer than usual due to stopping to maintain a cell phone signal at various points along the way. Just because I'm traveling doesn't mean that business stops. In fact, I generally have to allow extra time in my traveling itinerary to accommodate calls. Most of the time they are routine, but today I had a great call from a potential customer. He was referred to us by an existing customer (referrals are wonderful). I spent nearly one-half hour on the cell phone while parked beside the highway educating him on what we do in our business. He had a number of misconceptions that needed clarification.

Misconceptions are something that every salesman needs to learn how to handle. The best way that I've seen to approach it is by asking lots of questions. You have to understand where the prospect is in his thinking before you can begin to fill in the gaps and clear up misunderstandings. Questions also get the prospect to loosen up because they get to talk. Everyone wants to say what they know and feel that it is important. That's why God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth. We need to learn to listen at least twice as much as we speak. One of the primary tools the salesman needs to develop is the skill of listening.

Tomorrow is meetings. These are not the most productive kind of meetings -- they're more political. Committee meetings. I like meeting with customers -- not indecision non-makers. The call today was fortuitous (I like that word) because I was able to fill in an open time-slot tomorrow with a meeting with the prospect that I talked to today. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tiny Hands

Bent and battered
With fading paint
It waits for tiny hands
To rest upon
The sagging cab
While pushing 'cross the lands
Of imagination
Filled with dirt and grass
And leaves and sticks
For building roads
And towns and
Bridges over creeks
Where live the toads
It rolls about its work
To the sounds of voooomm
And eeeerrk and bblluuudum
Filling the air
Beneath the tree
Where once it labored
Alongside the spoon
And a coffee can
That are now only
Memories for a grandfather
Who can hardly wait
For those tiny hands.

My Conservative Identity

I found this quiz over at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. I am a Faith-Based Fighter.

How to Win a Fight With a Liberal is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Conservative Identity:

You are a Faith-Based Fighter, also known as a religious conservative. You believe in Judeo-Christian values, restoring God’s rightful place in the public square, and in showing all the unwashed and unsaved liberal sinners the path to salvation, or at least to the GOP.

Somehow I'm not too surprised at the results.

Ice Cream and Ethanol

OK ice cream lovers. It's time to rebel!!!

Ice-cream makers frozen out as corn price rises

From The Times
July 16, 2007

Suzy Jagger and Carl Mortished

What’s the connection between ethanol, the biofuel produced from corn, and a cherry vanilla ice-cream?
Answer: the first is responsible for pushing up the price of the other.

This month, the price of milk in the United States surged to a near-record in part because of the increasing costs of feeding a dairy herd. The corn feed used to feed cattle has almost doubled in price in a year as demand has grown for the grain to produce ethanol.

Christina Seid, whose family have been making ice-cream at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for 28 years, said yesterday that she expected to have to raise her prices, along with all competitors in the short term. “We are holding out as long as we can, but prices will rise,” Ms Seid said.

Amy Green’s Ivanna Cone ice-cream emporium in Lincoln, Nebraska, has already raised its prices for a small cone to $3.50 before tax, up from $2.95 a few months ago. She also estimates that she is paying $150 more a week for the butterfat that she uses in her ice-cream.

The squeeze on ice-cream makers, chocolate manufacturers and pizza companies – all of whom use dairy produce as a raw material – is set to tighten as the price of a gallon of milk in the US – up 55 per cent in the past 12 months in some American states – is now the same as a gallon of petrol, with dairy prices accelerating faster than the cost of fuel.

Prices for dairy products have also risen because of increasing demand from China and the Middle East along with the drought in Australia, reduced subsidies in the European Union and the rocketing cost of corn.


I don't know about you, but I think that when the ethanol boondoggle starts affecting the price of ice cream they've gone too far!!

Sunday, July 15, 2007


In An Appeal for ideas, Big White Hat asked, "Where are the best locations to see the sunset?" The one above was shot on the Figure 3 Ranch near Amarillo. Can you guess what movie?

Sunset on the open plains
Is a sight to behold.
The sky is filled with blues,
Yellows, reds and gold.

Bold strokes paint the
Flame of day
To slowly fade
Across the way

'Til only memories
Of the vivid hues
Are left upon the
Minds-eye view.


The amount of dust and other particulates in the air combined with the unobstructed view is what makes the sunset on the plains such a beautiful site. Increased dust levels adds more red to the range of colors seen.

(The movie is Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Around and Around He Goes!

It seems like I spent most of the day mowing. Well, I guess it was most of the day -- from around 2:00 until dark-thirty. I took one short 20 minute break to grab a bite of supper.

We have 4 acres. It takes a while to cover it with a mower -- even a good sized mower like I have (Toro EZCutter Z380). It was almost like swathing hay. The grass was over 12 inches high in some places. No, it's not all lawn. Most of it is in native pasture. The rains have been so good this year that it has really grown. I have to mow it to keep the undesirable grasses, weeds and cactus controlled. There's really not enough of it to graze. It's too dangerous to burn it. So, I mow. Usually once during the summer will do because it normally is dry for most of the summer and it doesn't grow. This year I have cut it twice and it will probably need to be cut at least one more time.

Seven hours on a mower gives you a lot of time to think. It reminds me of driving a tractor. You go round and round and your mind wanders. It's no big deal on the mower. I remember letting my mind drift while driving a tractor and waking up to find that I had plowed up a couple of hundred yards of cotton -- 8 rows of it! Not a good thing to do. Worse, I had to go back and plow it again to get the water furrows straight so that it could be irrigated later. Telling the farmer that I was working for was not fun. He took it well though. After the black cloud over his head dissipated, he just said, "That will teach you to let your mind wander."

All that time mowing I kept thinking that surely I would come up with some brilliant subject to post about. Sorry. All you get is an account of my mowing. How I love this exciting life I lead!

More on The Cattle Show

Over on Neal's Blog you will see some pictures that I took at the videoing of the Cattle Show segment that I mentioned in a post earlier this week. It should help you visualize the conditions that we were in a little better.

From there you might want to check out Abby The Dog's Blog. Neal is Abby's "master."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Developing Relationships in Business

Ranando suggested that he liked for me to write about my business, sales and such in his response to An Appeal. Today I was able to arrange something for a customer that was a good example of how-to-do-things right.

Late yesterday afternoon I received a call from a customer that had "tested the waters" with us but never really committed to doing much volume. The customer is a mid-sized cattle feeding operation in Kansas that employs an "in-house" veterinarian. It was the veterinarian who called.

They have a customer whose cattle often present management problems for the feeding company due to their origin. The service that we provide is one designed to help eliminate some of the types of problems they have been experiencing through pro-active diagnostics. Our service is a great fit to solve at least part of their difficulties. The veterinarian saw the possibilities but is having difficulty convincing the feeding company's senior management and their customer that the service will be beneficial and provide a significant return on their investment.

I asked for a little time to put something together that might help him to which he readily agreed. I then contacted one of my suppliers to explore some ideas. Together we saw an opportunity to provide them with a discounted pricing for our service on a "trial number" of tests. The idea was to show them the benefits in a fashion that was palatable to both the customer and to senior management at the feeding company. I then arranged a conference call for this afternoon that involved the veterinarian, my supplier and me. It went extremely well.

By acting as an advocate for my customer, I was able to position my company favorably with him. By involving the technical services of my supplier, I was able to increase credibility with my customer and bring into play resources that I would not have been able to provide independently. By setting up the "trial run" we are able to gather data for my supplier as well as for my customer. The veterinarian looks good to his management because he is able to arrange the trial at a discounted price that ultimately will benefit his company's largest customer. It became a win-win-win situation.

The other benefit the call provided was in the enhanced relationship that it created with my customer. What was a tenuous foothold with them, is now a much stronger relationship. The potential with this customer is fairly large. We are currently providing only a small number of tests for them. The trial that we are doing will be for 2,000 tests. The potential is for around 80,000+ tests per year. The benefits will flow to all parties involved.

I love it when these kinds of opportunities develop.

The Task List

In the morning when I wake
I like to spend some time
Discussing with the good Lord
What He has on His mind
For me to do today.
Sometimes it seems quite clear to me
The tasks He has at hand
For they come welling up within my head
And it is easy to understand
How they fit within His way.
But there are other times it seems
The direction is not so clear
So I know that I should expect
Some new things to appear.
That's when anticipation
Of adventure to be found
Leads me through the daily chores
That always come around.
It is that sense of expectation
That the Lord is standing by
Directing things within my day
That makes the time to fly.
And it's because I keep on looking
For the way His guiding hand
Shapes events in people's lives
Who in adversity must stand
That I can face each day with confidence
Within this world of strife
For He has called me to His purpose
And works good within my life.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose." __Romans 8:28

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Cattle Show

Yesterday I spent an interesting afternoon at the taping of a television segment for RFD-TV. No, I am not in the segment, but a friend and fellow blogger, Neal Odom, was one of the guests on the show. The segment will air on The Cattle Show on August 7, 2007.

If you are interested in what I do for a living, that is what Neal will be talking about. His company provides part of the technology that we utilize in the services that we sell to our customers.

The segment was filmed inside of a garage located at a small feedlot in the Texas Panhandle. It was interesting to me how they controlled camera angles and positioning of the participants in order to limit what was seen in the background. It was humorous to me that there were sacks of feed lying on the floor in direct line with the camera that were from a competing brand to one of the sponsors. Those sacks will not be seen in the final edited version.

I also found the tele-prompters to be interesting. The producer's 9-year old daughter sat on a bucket and ran the tele-prompter from a laptop which she held in her lap. The tele-prompter itself was a flat-panel LCD display mounted horizontally on the camera tri-pod. The image was reflected on a one-way mirror mounted at a 45 degree angle to the display so that it could be seen by the participants in the show. The camera shot through the one-way mirror that displayed the prompts. The effect was that the subjects looked directly into the camera and their eyes did not move as they read the prompts.

I was disappointed that they didn't have what I call the "clacker" that you see in old movies that marked the beginning and end of a scene being shot. You know, the thing that went "clack" when the director said to roll the film for a shot. The technician told me that it was used to synchronize the old sound-tracks with the video. Originally the sound was recorded separately from the video and the editors used the "clacker" as a point-of-reference to synchronize the sound track and the video. (Yeah, I know it's called a Clapper Board, but "clacker" seems to fit.)

It was fun and educational. I suspect that we will be doing some promo videos in the future with the company that did the filming -- Hot Shots Video Productions. Who knows, some of my poetry might even end up on one of their segments.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Looking for Balance

Incognito has asked a question in response to An Appeal that has taken a lot of thought on my part. Her question is, "...as a creative Soul, how do you balance the need to express that creativity with the need to make a living?"

The short answer is that I don't do it very well. My job and responsibilities as a father, husband, and now grandfather often take a toll on the creative energies. Add to that responsibilities with my church and community and the demands of home ownership and the number of hours in the day that are available for creative endeavors diminishes quickly. So, I squeeze it in where I can. I make it a priority where possible, but often it falls low enough on the list that it is a struggle to fit it in.

Blogging has helped me to release that creative energy on a regular basis. I often am composing posts in my head throughout the day. Then, when I have time, I basically "dump" them into written form. Our mind is an amazing thing. If we will let it work, there are many tasks that can run "in the background" while we continue to deal with the "gotta deal with it right now" stuff. It adds a new dimension to effectively and efficiently utilizing the time that we are given.

Once upon a long time ago, a college professor told me, "There's more than one way to skin a cat." (apologies to you cat lovers) It is a phrase that I had heard all of my life, but for some reason, it had a deep impact on me at the time. It basically had to do with career choices. I took it to mean that there are multiple ways to pursue our dreams and that the direct path is not always the best or the only one. I tried to put that idea into the context of God's word.

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." __Psalm 37:4

This basically told me that I needed to have my priorities right. When that was done, he would grant to me the desires of my heart. At the time I didn't realize that he would also be shaping and refining the desires of my heart.

I dropped out of college to figure out who I was. I came to the realization that working to make a living that would just barely get me by was the pits. I felt strongly that God wanted me to do something with my music. I had written a few songs and wanted to become a star. So, I packed up and headed toward Austin, Texas, to try and break into the music scene via 6th Street. I went through College Station to visit a friend of mine on the way to Austin and he suggested that College Station was as good a place as Austin for pursuing music. He offered me a place to live and suggested that while I was there anyway, I should take a few classes at A&M. Smart guy. I don't know that I've ever properly thanked him for that advice.

I started playing music in one of the local hangouts. Some of the others that were making their way through A&M at the same time were Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keene -- both of whom have gone on to successful careers in the music business. I preceded Lyle Lovett on stage one night and have received a few pointers from Robert Earl Keene. I'm sure that neither of them would remember me.

As I began to develop a sense of my musical self I began to think of next steps for pursuing such a career. It didn't take long for the realities of the music business to conflict with my pursuit of God's will for my life. He brought me to the realization that my plans did not fit His will for my life. I re-focused on getting a degree and a job.

During my Senior year in college I became engaged and ultimately married and had children. Music was pushed to the edges. It became therapeutic for me in many ways. It was my outlet and my escape. In time, it became an offering to God. That is what it is today. My musical outlet is through my church.

Writing music slowly evolved into poetry and prose. I have a couple of novels started, but not well developed. Poetry and song are very closely related. I have journaled at various times as an outlet. I call my entries "Random Thoughts." I have boxes full of notebooks and loose pages of things that I have written through the years. It is disorganized and probably rubbish. In the back of my mind however, something tells me not to throw it out. Perhaps my grand children will find a few gems in it someday.

Blogging has become my primary creative outlet. I have attempted to discipline myself to an entry per day. Sometimes there have been more, a few times I have missed. Some of it hopefully contains something of value to someone other than me, and some of it is done hurriedly because I am strapped for time. The best of it is inspired by God. Sometimes I look back over what I have written and think, "where did that come from?" Usually they are the better entries.

I don't know if I've answered your question, Incognito, but maybe I've given you some insight on where I find some level of balance. I strive to go where God leads. Any talent that I might have is a gift from Him. I pray that I will use it according to His will.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Travesty of the Balkan War

There is a lengthy article over at American Thinker that should be required reading for all who are interested in the problems with face with Terrorism. In a nutshell, the article describes how the U.S. and Europe jumped in on the wrong side of the war in Kosovo. It describes how we labeled the Serbians as the agressors and supported the Islamic rebels in their fight against them. This thoroughly detailed article describes how the Serbians were labeled agressors when in fact their crime was to react strongly against the terrorism fomented by the Islamic jihadists supported by Albania. The treatment of the Serbian reaction to such terrorism is reminiscent of the press treatment of Israel in their fight against the Palestinians extremists. Please take the time to read the full article here:


If you find it to be of interest and something the public needs to be aware of, link back to the original article in a post on your site. Let's spread the word. Thanks to 1389 Mobile Blog for bringing this to our attention. Please read his post on this.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Trouble and Worry

In response to An Appeal, Blazing Cat Fur asks, "What worries you most?" That one required a bit of introspection. I hope that I can do it justice.

It seems that everywhere you turn
The news is not-so-great.
The world seems to be setting up
To fly apart with hate.

The Middle East continues
In never-ending conflicts
That many think will never end
Until the Good Lord interdicts.

Europe and Asia seem to seethe
With terror and unrest.
Africa is so far gone it can't
Be saved by all the resources of the West.

Here in the United States of America
We're faced with crime and drugs
And it seems our inner cities
Are populated by petty thugs.

Morality is something that
Has fallen in decay
To the same failed thinking
Of the Nihilists in their day.

The bickering in Washington
Is enough to make one sick
And I don't think a complete turnover
Of Congress would even do the trick.

The terrorists are crossing
Our borders every day
Prepared to unleash jihad
Until they get their way.

The world my kids and grand kids face
Is one that's filled with gloom.
It makes me wonder sometimes
If they're headed for their doom.

But then I think of Jesus
And how He died upon that tree
And I know that it will be OK
Because we have been set free.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." __John 16:33

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Timeless Words

Y'all jump on over to Abby The Dog's Blog and listen to the wonderful words of Red Skelton concerning the Pledge of Allegiance.

A Grand Role

This response to a question on An Appeal that was posed by Ranando has to do with grand parents. Ranando suggested that I tell something about my grand parents. I have done a couple of posts in the past about them here and here. I know that I will do more in the future. So, I think I will talk about the importance of grand parents in the lives of children and what it means to me in my new role as one.

I'm learning what it means to be a grandparent
Although I don't think I should be one.
In my mind I don't feel much different
Than back when I was about twenty-one.

I recall the role grand parents had
In the shaping of my life and I think,
"What an awesome responsibility I have
To this beautiful child who will grow up in the blink

Of an eye to become a young woman
With children of her own someday."
And I wonder if I'm up to the task
And if she will think of me in the way

That I think of my own grand parents.
I was fortunate in my younger day
That my mother's parents lived nearby
And I spent many hours in their way

Although I doubt they considered it
An imposition on their time because
They always made themselves available
And would take me with them without pause

For reflection on how I might impair their day.
While on the other side I never knew my Father's dad
Because he was looking on from heaven
To make sure his kid's lives weren't too bad.

But my grandmother, though she lived far away
Was always happy to see us when we came
To visit her and she would keep us busy
Even though she didn't have much to her name

But lots of love for her family that was scattered.
And I think of how my own parents love to see
My kids and will go to the ends of the earth
To watch them in whatever they may be

Participating even though at times it meant
A very lengthy drive. But they were always there
Cheering them on and supporting their efforts.
Although they live quite far from here

My children's other grand parents also have
Deeply shaped their lives by showing them
They care by taking them places like fishing in Colorado
Or to the Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham.

I think of all the memories that are deep inside of me
And how my life has been made richer by
The generations that have gone before and
I want to make a difference and will try

With all I am to be an inspiration to this
Child whose life is just at start.
I pray that she will know
That she has already captured my heart.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Hat or Cap?

It's time for another response to An Appeal. This one is to a question posed by Big White Hat -- "ball cap or hat?"
(Hat shown is a Resistol 100X Cattle Baron crease)

Boots are a virtual permanent part of my attire.
It's not because I consider myself a cowboy.
It's because I like them and because I've
Always worn them since I was a little boy.

They're good for stomping through whatever
Happens to be in the way and they provide
Protection for my shins if I happen to be
In a spot where something prickly is attacking my hide.

Most folks think that a hat is necessary
When there are boots upon the feet.
However, I think that the issue for most of us
Is what's practical rather than just neat.

It depends upon the occasion as to what sits on my head.
Sometimes it is a hat -- especially if I'm needing shade.
But most of the time it is a cap that covers up my dome.
I prefer a specific style and that it be U.S. made.

I like a low crown cap, not the traditional farmer style.
I don't like the high stiff front with mesh in the back
I prefer the soft cloth kind that fits close to my head
And in the backseat of my pickup truck I keep a stack.

There are times though when a cap just isn't quite
Dressed up enough you see, that's when the hat comes out
And sits on top of me. This time of year when it is hot
A straw hat is the thing that I wear about.

But in the winter months when it is cold my hat is made of felt.
I prefer a black one with a George Strait "Big Wells"crease.
But if one really wants to dress up nice there's nothing that beats white.
The bad thing is they dirty up and get smudges on with ease.

I guess the answer to the question is that cap or hat is a choice
That depends on the occasion for which I'm covering up my head.
Most of the time a cap's the thing that keeps my eyes in shade
But when I take a notion to I'll wear a hat instead!

Friday, July 6, 2007

The People, Not the Land

Thank you to those who responded to my Appeal. I will begin by responding to the question, "Why do you live where you do?" It was posed by both Rodney Olsen and Incognito.

What seems a simple question
Is actually quite complex;
It is one that each should give some thought
Although it might well vex.

The question is what led you
To the land where you now live?
What brought you to this wondrous place
That takes the time you give?

My answer starts with ancestors
Of hardy pioneer stock
Who came out west in earlier times
Than this in which we walk.

My roots reach out to Scotland
Through Georgia and Oklahoma
And from Virginia through Kentucky
And the Ozarks of Missouri.

Each branch eventually converging
In these Plains of endless view
Where to my young parents
Came me, brand spanking new.

I grew up here on these open plains
That stretch as far as eye can see.
I grew to love the emptiness
That made me feel so free.

But then I left and went to school
In a very different place.
It was down in Central Texas
Where I was just another face.

I missed the wind -- it never blew.
I felt smothered by the humidity.
And almost everyone I met
Had grown up in a city.

I felt pressed upon at every turn
Like sardines in a can.
I needed space to get away
Where I could breathe again.

And so upon my settling down
I came back to the plains
And started a family
In this land of infrequent rains.

Eventually, as time went by
My work made me to move
First to Kansas and then the city
Where I never found my groove.

From DFW to Nebraska
We packed our things once more.
Then finally back to Texas
We set foot on friendly shore.

We were home. All was well.
It felt right again you see.
We live here now because
It's where God means for us to be.

It's not the open spaces
Or the wind that ever blows
That makes this Panhandle
The place where our heart grows,

It's the people. It's the family.
It's the friendly open hand
Of the folks that are life's blessing.
It's the people, not the land.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

An Appeal

I have a request for you my readers. In the comments to this post, please ask me questions about anything that you would like -- with a couple of ground rules:

1. Keep it clean.
2. Nothing personal.
3. The choice to answer is at my discretion.

What I'm looking for are things to write about. I know that this is probably a little unorthodox and I'm taking a chance that there will be no comments, but I thought it worth a try. For some reason, I find it easy to comment on other's posts but often have a difficult time coming up with something to write about.

So, this is an appeal to you for subjects about which to write.

I don't know if any of you remember the Glen Campbell show or the Mac Davis show, but one of the things that always impressed me was when they let the audience provide subjects for a song which they would then compose on the spot. When it seems appropriate, I will answer the question with a poem. There may be some subjects that require prose, but I will do my best to be poetic. No promises about the quality though!

A Dog's Perspective

OK, folks. Everybody needs to check out Abby the Dog's posts from yesterday. She has some interesting items concerning the English language as well as her usual wit and wisdom.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

But As For Me...

The excerpt below is from Patrick Henry's address to the Continental Congress in 1775. It seemed appropriate during this time as we face the War on Terror.

"If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard (read Islamic Extremist) shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

Our Congress needs to hear this message. We must be resolute in our fight.

Have a happy 4th!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Only One

In the heart of man
Lies deep desire
For something greater
Than himself.

Through timeless age
Man has sought
The source
Whom he calls God.

For some belief
Fell on the things
Of earth
They saw about.

They worshipped trees
And rocks
And hills
And even animals.

Others built
With their own hands
The gods
To which they prayed.

All of them
Sought to please
And to appease
By gift and sacrifice.

They could not see
That God was there
Among them --

He spoke to His chosen few
Who sometimes listened
But often
Turned away.

He continued seeking
Until in love
He came to live
Among them.

Still, even many
Among His chosen
Did not recognize Him
Because He was not as they expected.

They despised Him
He upended
Their world.

So they killed Him
And put Him in a grave
But He did not stay
For He had overcome.

Since that time
There have been others
Who would say that
He was wrong.

They claim to be prophets
With special knowlege
That made them the same
As Him.

But their bones
Still lie moldering
In a grave

Only One
Has overcome
This world
And death.

Only One
Ever claimed
To be

Only One
Can save
Us from

Throughout the ages
Man sought God.
Throughout the ages
God sought man.



When one is passionate
About his job
It isn't necessarily work.

When one is passionate
About a hobby or talent
He contributes to his art.

When one is passionate
About a cause
He can make a difference.

When one is passionate
About God
He can change the world.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Centrist Republican Capitalist

A more comprehensive political test:

You are a

Social Moderate
(41% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(66% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Centrist (66e/41s)

Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

I'm sure there's some deep-seated psychological reason that I keep taking these crazy tests, but I don't know what it is.


Congress has come to a standstill
And that's a good thing for us.
'Cause if they can't pass any bills
There will be less for us to cuss.

If they can maintain the status quo
In which nothing ever gets passed,
We the people might soon decide
That we don't feel quite so harassed

And will grant a more favorable rating.
They don't seem to get the message
That the best thing to do is nothing.
Instead of trying for passage

Of bills we the people deplore.
If by some quirk of the numbers
A bill makes it to the President
He might just make use of his powers

And veto it. And that is to our advantage.
So, as we look toward the next election date
For the office of President we need to consider
Our best result might be to maintain the stalemate.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

How Dumb Are You?

I found this on Hillbilly White Trash.

How smart are you?

I don't know. I guess I'm a sucker for these games.

Sweet Iced Tea

Sweet iced tea
Is my drink of choice.
I want it brewed,
Not instant.

It needs to be cold!
If it is fresh brewed,
I like a glass full of ice
Then add tea and stir it

So the ice will melt
And cool it.
It's even better

Some folks think
That tea should be hot.
They speak of Old Grey
And other varieties.

And while I don't mind
A hot cup on occasion,
I still prefer it iced
And very sweet.

Sweet iced tea
And cornbread
And beans
Speak country --

Southern country.
Nothing cools you quicker
Than an ice cold glass
Of sweet iced tea.