Sunday, March 21, 2010

Travel, Travel and Travel!

Home from Fort Worth.  It was a whirlwind week.

Monday, I worked from the office in Hereford and then we drove to Mansfield for the night.  Tuesday we drove to my daughter's house and got to see our granddaughter.  Wednesday we drove to the in-laws and spent the night with them.  Thursday we went to Fort Worth for the Texas and Southwestern Cattlemen's Convention.  Today we drove home.  A lot of miles in a short/long week.

There are only remnants of the snowstorm that blew through yesterday.  Today is sunny and spring-like.  I hope the good weather continues.  I'm getting Spring Fever.

It looks like I will be back in East Texas this week.

This blog wasn't intended to be a travel journal, but that's what it looks like today!  I will see if I can come up with something more creative later in the week.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Optimist or Pessimist

There is an old saying
That you can tell the difference
Between an optimist
And a pessimist
By how they view the cup.

One sees only what is gone
And thinks that he is doomed
Because his share --
That which remains --
Cannot possibly be enough.

The other has a different view
And sees what lies therein
With the thought that he is blessed
To have something
In his cup from which to drink.

Me, I'm more of a realist
When I view the cup half-full;
I see what coffee there remains
And wonder,
Should I drink it cold or put it in the microwave?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spotted Cattle, Vodka, and Boat Rides

Dairy genetics is one of the more esoteric fields of modern animal husbandry.  The selection process in the U.S. is finely tuned to the productivity of the animal and their ability to provide a steady stream of profit to the ailing industry.

The art has reached such a pinnacle of success upon this continent that prize specimens of the species are in great demand throughout the world.  Therefore, it was no surprise when Ivan (whose country of origin you might guess) came calling on an organization known for developing such prime specimens to the point that their genetic potential was ready to burst forth with amazing productivity.  The problem being that a large body of water as well as a couple of extensive land masses lay between the developer and the ultimate recipient of said genetic wonder.

So, Ivan, through the good offices of a broker for such phenomenon, came calling. 

The ordeal of extensive time within the confines of the large silver bus with wings was quickly overcome by the selective offerings of various libations carried on large carts pushed by comely servants who soon found that Ivan was depleting their stocks quite rapidly.  But, never worry, the duration of the flight would eventually end and the charge would be handed to one whose skill at communication was limited to two languages -- that of Ivan and that of his intended victim -- er, I mean business acquaintance.

Ivan came with an entourage:  A Veterinarian whose years alone must have been the prime qualifying factor for his services, a government official whose youth indicated acquaintance with the most modern practices of animal husbandry, and a business partner whose nervous character was probably due to the lack of body guards which likely accompanied him in his native country.

Their visit brought the clash of cultures into sharp focus when they finally arrived in Southwest Kansas and immediately began to deplete the local supply of vodka.  Every brand.  Every bar.  Every liquor store.  It created something of a celebrity stir when they found that Crowne was but a poor substitute for their preferred libation.

Finally, however, they faced the task at hand -- selecting by careful inspection, the candidates for the long boat ride back to Ivan's homeland.

The process took several days as well as the timely review of each specimen and then the requisite battery of tests which proved no disease of consequence could possibly be contained within their ample frames.  Each patterned heifer, bulging with their growing progeny, passed through the confining strictures which allowed the Veterinarian and the budding government official to pass judgement on their individual merits.

It soon became apparent that merit was in the eye of the beholder for many exceptional specimens were passed off as unacceptable due to minor blemishes in favor of more questionable individuals that exhibited perfect eye-color, or perhaps a special pattern of markings which appealed to the judges.  Of course, the requisite fuel for judging consisted of barley, hops and the results of a fermentation process that had previously been confined to brown glass bottles.  That was before lunch.  After lunch, a higher octane was required to maintain an equilibrium that must only have developed in the womb and been carried to perfection through proper medication in liberal amounts.

Nevertheless, after hours of evaluation, the perfect specimens had been selected for the cruise.  They were loaded on trucks and shipped to port to await their pampered journey which by-the-way was delayed for ten days while appropriate paperwork was completed, stamped, sealed, signed and delivered.  For you see, stamps and seals are the sign of authority -- in spite of the fact that the local Staples can deliver -- custom-made, to-your-door -- the stamp or seal of your design and choosing within the same ten days.

Deal completed, selectees delivered, the entourage and Ivan departed.  The local bars celebrated their record sales and the U.S. export balance was momentarily moved in a positive direction.  Or, at least that was the thought until recently discovered that all was funded by the American taxpayer through the good offices of our current Administration in Washington.  For you see, it was our own USDA funding the enterprise.  It is now time for Paul Harvey to speak his famous line -- "And now you know......"

Looking Out

Why do we love to look out of windows?
What is it that causes us
To sometimes stop and stare
At nothing in particular?
We sit and gaze out the window.

Do you think perhaps
It is some deep-seated behavior
Wired into our very being
That is a residual of that time long ago
When we feared what might be out there?

Or, could it be a longing
To be out-of-doors
Where we feel less trapped –
Less surrounded --
Less fettered?

Maybe it is dissatisfaction
With what we are doing
And with what we are accomplishing
As we busily battle
Seemingly endless daily assignments.

Is it guilt bearing down upon us
When indeed we long for light?
Or, is it a shadow of our true self,
Trapped within an earthly vessel
Yet longing for freedom?

I choose freedom……

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lessons for Old Hands

Good lesson today.  Even us old guys can still learn.

I went out to visit a good customer -- one that has been a long-time customer.  I learned that there were some problems brewing that needed to be addressed -- and NOW.  There were no signs.  There were no clues.  There had been no red flags.  It was a situation where some issues were percolating on the back burner that needed attention but no one was noticing.

I had an hour and a half with 3 of the top 4 individuals in the organization.  A very open and frank discussion.  Within an hour of the conclusion of the meeting I was able to respond to the concerns.

The lesson is this:  Never take a customer for granted.  Take time to touch base on a regular basis.  Ask probing questions.  If there are concerns, address them.  Don't ever think their concerns are immaterial.  Deal with them.

We are now back on track.  I will be back at their operation tomorrow to observe and train.  The lines of communication are open and there is an even stronger sense that we are all on the same team -- trying to make things better.

Life is good.

John 14:6

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Batteries and Wires

Are you a battery, or a copper wire?

A battery is designed to accept a charge and store it until needed.  It then allows the power to flow out of it until it is empty.  It then must be re-charged to be useful again.

A copper wire doesn't hold a charge but it is a wonderful conduit of power.  It must be hooked into a power source in order to be useful.  However, as long as it is "plugged in" the power will flow through it.

I think Christians can fall into either category.  There are many who spend a large part of their time "soaking up" the power through attending church, praying, being with other Christians.  They often just store it up inside and only rarely, or possibly never, allow the power to flow out of themselves.  If they do, they are quickly emptied and need re-charging.  Often, if they don't find a useful task, the power seems to slowly seep out of them until they become useless -- sometimes not even able to hold a charge anymore.

There are others who seem to be constantly "plugged in" to the source of power.  They are a constant supplier of energy to those around them.  They are obviously connected because "things" happen around them that are unquestionably from God.

I don't know about you, but I would prefer to be the copper wire rather than the battery.  I want to be continually plugged into God's power.  I want Him to use me to work His will.

Jesus demonstrated that prayer is the way to stay plugged into God's power.  That is my prayer.  That I will be a conduit and not a battery.

Life is good.

John 14:6

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Gardening Lessons for Budding Entrepreneurs

Spring seems to be knocking on the door here in the Texas Panhandle.  The high temps all week have been in the 60's.  I'm getting in the gardening mood!  That's not a good thing though because I expect to be traveling much of the time through the Spring and Summer and won't be here to tend a garden if I planted one.

I tend to be fairly traditional in my gardening -- when I do plant one.  My gardens in the past have been fairly simple.  I like to plant tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, green beans, black-eyed peas, squash and okra.  Rarely do I add anything else to the mix -- UNLESS one of the kids wanted to plant something else.  In the past we have added pumpkins for a roadside pumpkin stand that was going to make tons of money but yielded only experience.  We also planted ornamental corn one year.  Similar source of experience.

If they were young and still at home and wanted to do something similar, we would plant some more "experiential" crops for them to tend.  It is the seeds of entrepreneurship that were the most important part of that experience.  Teaching them how to risk their capital, provide their labor, and approach the marketplace in the hopes of profit was the real benefit of planting those pumpkins and ornamental corn.

As a society, we have for the most part failed future generations in the area of teaching them about free enterprise.  It is obvious in the trends we see in our government today.  They believe that a great and benevolent government is the source of their livlihood.  They don't understand that it is not the government that creates the wealth, it is private business.  It is individuals who wake up every morning and risk their capital, their labor, their time, their future -- in the hopes of turning that small seed into a bountiful harvest.  It is time that we return to teaching our children those concepts.

I see hope in some areas.  There are many in the Millenial Generation who see the failure of our government.  They are looking for a better way.  I pray that the pendelum will swing back to a time of personal initiative and self-reliance rather than a collective dependence on Big Brother.

Life is good.