Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Hot Potato

Don’t hand me a burning ball of paper and ask me what to do with it.

I’ll tell you to put it out. How do you do that? You can drop it to the ground and step on it. You can stick it in water. You can put it on something non-flammable and wait for it to go out all by itself. All three options will douse it… use one of them. The important thing is you did it all by yourself.

It’s the hot potato. It's that daunting task that you know how to do but are reluctant to because it requires effort. So you blow it off or put it on someone else to complete. Sometimes you push blame to another individual to save your own behind.

There are hot potatoes every day. I don’t care to hear who did what where when why how… or any other excuse. I want to know how we are going to get the job done. Plan A may not have worked out. So what. What is plan B? Plan C? How are you getting around the wall that has been placed in front of you? Moving it front of someone else is not the answer.

The options for getting around walls are: go over or under, or around either side. Hey you can even use dynamite to blast a hole through it. That’s 5 ways.

So don’t put your problem on me. Take care of it yourself.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Lake

I’m very fortunate. Since the summer I turned six my parents have owned a cottage right on a lake. Last night I met my family there to cool off after work. The temperatures have been in the triple digits lately so it was a welcome diversion.
Mom and Dad were able to buy this place under bittersweet circumstances. My father was an only child. His parents both passed away in the same year. Grandpa in winter… Grandma in the spring. That summer we had a cottage. I never knew them well enough to feel a connection. But I do enjoy and appreciate their legacy in the cool water of the lake.
For 32 years we’ve spent every vacation there. It’s a second home to me both literally and figuratively. I grew up in two places. The Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania and in the Fingerlakes Region of New York. I always knew my way around both areas. After high school I attended a college that was midway between my two homes. Upon graduation I ended up where my heart felt most comfortable… near the lake.
Soaring real estate prices and taxes for lake property combined with the age of my parents, and the demands of my own family, are making upkeep for the cottage difficult. Every other year the town slams an additional 40% or so in assessment on us. There is now a risk that the cottage will become too costly to retain. There is no way I will let this place go. It‘s irreplaceable.
So we do what we can to keep it in good shape. It’s no million-dollar mansion. It’s a simple, un-insulated shelter from the outside. A cottage.
I learned to swim there. I caught my first fish there. I learned to water ski there. My first kiss was in the barn there. It was a safe haven for me during college. Everyone needs a place to center their thoughts and the cottage on the lake is that place for me.
As my kids are growing I want them to be able to enjoy all of the things I had as a child. They had a blast jumping off the dock and splashing around last night. They had a chance to play with friends we only see in the summer at the lake. I ate some ice cream and watched the sun set with my wife. The kids fell asleep in the car on the way home. A perfect ending to a hot and humid day.
The lake is cool in more than one way. Because of this I am fortunate.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Morning Guest

I have a morning routine like most people do. I wake at a predetermined time to prepare for a day at the big business I work for. I also have to make cocoa for my 4 year old daughter. I'’m the only one that can do this task right evidently.

Today was similar to most. I let the dog out to "“water the yard"”. I started the coffee brewing and gathered my clothing before I hopped in the shower. Everything was as planned. The dog scratched at the door just before I turned the water on. I let her in and scooped her standard two scoops of dog food into the dish. She glupped it up while I moved on...…
To the shower. Glasses and such off...… I jump in.
I start with shampoo. Start at the top and work your way down is my motto. The dirt will flow off in that direction anyway.
As I started the first rinse cycle I noticed a blurry object hop from one position on the stall’s floor to another. It was a good inch and a half in size and not something I expected to see. "Yikes!"” I had to get in for a closer look. Without my glasses on I'’m nearly blind. It jumped at that exact moment and hit me in the forehead. It was a Grasshopper. "“Jeezus!"”
I have dreamed of many guests in my shower, such as human and female, but never a six legged hoppy thing. How did this insect get in a shower stall with glass doors that are closed all of the time anyway? I conjure out a scenario with my 6 year old son putting his new pet "hopper"” in a nice secure cage until their next day of adventure. "A day to be shared with '‘hopper'’!"” he'd exclaim. Hopper almost became “mr.guts" on the shower floor I thought. So I slid the door open and coaxed my guest out of the shower.
As I finished my grooming ritual I pondered my morning. Work may be tedious, kids can be demanding, but the memories of childhood are always revered. My little girl will look back one day in the future and wish we were making cocoa in our special way. My oldest son would look back to the time he had taked care of a grasshopper for a week and the fun they had. I'’ll be a geezer in a home telling some cute nurse about the time a grasshopper pelted me in the forehead one morning. Life really is that simple sometimes.

What a dad I am! Master of cocoa making and lifesaver of my son's new best pal!
I left the bathroom clean and proud of my mastery. Ready for a new day of the rat race.
With my fresh outlook soaring I exclaimed that I was "“ready to make cocoa"” for my princess and that "Hopper was safe"” and secure!

My wife had already made the cocoa.
My boy didn'’t have any new pets that he caged in the shower.
... The dog ate hopper.

Oh well. Off to work. At least I thought it started well.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Business as usual

I'm back at work after a nice week off with my family. I really had a great time doing projects around the house. Why is it that the things we do for ourselves are much more interesting than the tasks we are committed to do to earn money?
Let's face it. Work is not something people enjoy anymore. There are so many rules and regulations to keep up on. The federal requirements are overwhelming.
The politics and reporting slow things down. It takes months to accomplish simple things… such as ordering a repair.
The community expects you to make lots of money to be successful. You need to own the latest greatest electronic device to be included. You need to at least understand and embrace changes as they tumble out each month. Perhaps it should be something simpler. Help people. That could be the best goal to hold.
My current and most pressing dilemma is: What business can be started by one person that has the potential to sustain a decent paycheck while fulfilling the enjoyment of the individual? This is a pursuit that may never be resolved. I am aware of that shortcoming. But I have to ask the question. And I have to seek the answer.
Now what is the resolution? "Seek and ye shall find". The findings could be positive, negative, or undefined.
Is a home business the right thing to do? Is that more viable? Is a patent on an idea most feasible? Maybe mass production of a single, un-customized product? A widget factory perhaps?
All great questions. What is the product? Who buys it? How much does it cost to create and how much time does it take? What is the profit margin on it? 100%? 50%? Would an individual buy the widget? Are they interesting enough to sell?
Our daily life is based on buy and sell. What do you have that is worth something to someone else? Can it be narrowed down to one thing? One skill. One idea. One product.
Can it compete with foreign labor? Can it earn enough to support my share of the income at home?
All good questions.